How to calculate linear feet for kitchen cabinets- A step by step guide

To calculate the linear feet for your kitchen cabinets can seem like a daunting task for anyone who has not done something like this before, or hasn’t had much experience with measuring tapes. That’s why we have made this step by step, easy to follow guide where we will try to help you along with the process.

We have used plenty of visual guides and examples to make the process as simple to understand and follow as possible. Follow this guide and get one step closer to designing your ideal kitchen.

checkout other handy kitchen tips that we have written just for you, or our article on how to repair chipped paint on kitchen cabinets

What are linear feet and why do I need it?

Linear feet are a straight-line measurement of the edge of a room. It is formally defined as the perimeter of a figure, measured in feet. In simple terms, it is the length of all the sides of a room added together, and everything is measured in feet. The diagram below illustrates the idea.

So now that you know what linear feet is, what are you supposed to do with it? The use of linear feet is to estimate the number of cabinets that you will need to furnish your kitchen.

Let’s take a quick look at an example. Imagine that you have 15 linear feet of space that you would like to fit some cabinets. You find that one single cabinet is 3 linear feet and costs $100. So that would mean that you would need 15/3 = 5 cabinets. With each cabinet being $100, that would cost you a total of $500.

What tools do I need to measure linear feet?

A measuring tape: You will need a measuring tape to find the length of the walls. Although a yard stick or ruler would work as well, the measuring tape will give the most accuracy by far.

A notebook and pencil: You will need to write down all measurements and sketch out a plan. A notebook and a pencil are ideal, but any piece of paper and writing instrument will do the job. You could even draw it digitally if you want.

Let’s get started

Step 1

Make two identical drawings of the walls of your kitchen from a top-down view. We will use one drawing for upper cabinets, one for lower cabinets. If you only want lower cabinets or only want upper cabinets, you will need only 1 drawing. Be sure to include the door in your drawings.

Step 2

Draw in relevant kitchen appliances. If you need a general idea for scale, the size of an average kitchen appliance is 30 inches (stove, oven, Fridge) Its best if you measure the length of your own appliances first, as that would give the most accurate results.

Keep in mind that some appliances will be in lower cabinets and upper cabinets (tall appliances like fridge) while other appliances will be only in lower cabinets (stove, oven, deep freezer).

Step 3

In the drawings, draw a straight line along the walls where you want the cabinets to be. Do it for both lower and upper cabinets. If there is an L shape (as seen in our Upper cabinets), don’t worry about it for now. We will make adjustments for it in a future step.

In the above figure, we have drawn a straight line across each wall where we want cabinets both on the lower cabinet and upper cabinet. We used a different color for each line to make it as simple to understand as possible. Notice that we kept adequate space for the door opening and closing.

Step 4

Measure the length of the cabinet wall in INCHES. Make sure the measuring tape so flat on the floor, measuring along the edge of the wall. Always measure twice, to check for any errors. Get a friend or family member to help you out if available. Write down the length after you double-check every measurement.

Step 5

Add up all the lengths for both the lower cabinets and upper cabinets. Then subtract 24 inches for every single L shape that is present. In our example, the lower cabinet has no L shapes, so no subtractions are required. The upper cabinets have one L shape, so we must subtract 24, which is shown in red in the illustration below.

The lower cabinet sums to 114 Inches, and the upper cabinet sums to 192 Inches.

Step 6

Divide the lower and upper cabinet sum by 12, and there you have it! You have successfully measured the Linear Feet of your upper and lower kitchen cabinets!

You are now one step closer getting that dream kitchen of yours. 

How many Cabinets should my kitchen have?

A standard 10 feet by 10 feet kitchen usually has around 12 cabinets. That’s just an average number though. The number of cabinets really depends on what you are going for. If you want maximum utility and storage space, feel free to venture beyond the average of 12. If you want a “less is more” minimalist type of vibe, feel free to have fewer cabinets.

Do windows matter when taking linear feet measurements for a kitchen?

Not really. The average window is in the middle of the wall, whereas lower cabinets and upper cabinets are below and above the windows respectively, unless you have extremely large windows.

There is one thing you should consider though. It is very common to use the counter top on top of a cabinet as a cutting/chopping station. If you place the cutting/chopping station in front of a window, temperature and breeze may become an issue in the future.

This is more about a design plan than measurement. So, when designing the kitchen, think about what you are going to do from multiple perspectives. That is how you catch little details such as this.

How much do Kitchen cabinets cost?

Well, the cost per linear feet varies greatly depending on the quality of the material that is used. The table below should give you an idea of what ranges of prices to expect. The list goes from most expensive to least.

Price rangeMaterial and features
ExpensiveMaterial may be Exotic hardwoods
Raised panel doors
Side mounted hardware
Plywood structure
ModerateMaterial may be Maple, red oak or ash
Shaker style doors
Inset panels
Drawer slides mounted on the bottom
Particleboard structure
BudgetMaterial may be Fir, birch, Adler
Plywood doors which are flat paneled
Center mounted slides placed underneath
Structure made of think particle board

There are some options which are cheaper than our budget idea, but we wouldn’t recommend them. The reliability and durability of the cheapest materials have been called into question multiple times by users.

Mistakes leading to kitchen cabinets paint chipping

If you want a better idea of how to repair existing cabinets, take a look at our step by step guide on How to repair chipped paint on kitchen cabinets

Final Word on How to calculate linear feet for kitchen cabinets

We tried to address one of the largest problems for home cooks trying to revamp their kitchen, which is how to calculate linear feet for kitchen cabinets. We explained what the concept of linear feet is, then we showed you that all you need is measuring tape and something to sketch on. Follow our illustrated six steps and you’ll have the linear feet for your upper and lower kitchen cabinets. It’s that simple.

After you have the measurements, you will probably need to start deciding what type of cabinet to make. So, we tried to answer frequently asked questions such as how many cabinets does your kitchen need, Do windows matter during linear feet calculations for kitchen cabinets, and how much kitchen cabinets cost.

We hope you found this guide helpful when calculating the linear feet of your kitchen cabinets. Not only that, but we hope we have helped you set up for the next step in creating your dream kitchen. Good luck, and Happy Cooking!

James is a plumber and handyman hailing from the southwest with over 20+ years of experience in his field. He has incredible knowledge on all the brands in the market and how to perform installation, maintenance and repairs of anything you need in the kitchen.

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