How do you measure for a cabinet door overlay?

Mar 16th 2020

How often do you see cabinets where the doors sit flush with the cabinet face? Rarely, and that’s because those types of cabinets are harder to manufacturer and unsuited to many spaces. Most cabinets have doors that sit on top of the cabinet face, instead. People take this feature for granted, but it’s significant in terms of structure and style, and it becomes especially important when you replace your cabinet doors. Fortunately, it’s not hard to learn how to measure your overlay, especially with help from the experts at The Door Stop.

What is a Cabinet Door Overlay?

Before doing anything else, it’s important to understand exactly what “overlay” means. As the name suggests, it refers to the amount a cabinet door “lays over” the cabinet face on all four sides. Without the overlay, the door would travel into the cabinet opening, but since the door is slightly larger than the opening it stops at the cabinet face. Though most doors have a 1/2-inch overlay, the size can be larger or smaller depending on the cabinets, doors, and your personal preferences. That means the door lays over the top, bottom, left, and right edges 1/2-inch on each side. Once you know how to measure your overlay, you can quickly figure out what size replacement cabinet doors you need.

How to Measure Cabinet Door Overlay

All you need is a pencil and tape measure or ruler. Start by closing the cabinet door. Go to the hinge side, and make a small pencil mark running down the side of the door onto the cabinet face. Now open the door, find the vertical line you made, and measure the distance between the line and the cabinet opening – that’s your overlay. It will likely be 1/2-inch, but like we said earlier, it could be different, so don’t assume you’ve done something wrong if the numbers vary. The overlay should be identical on all four sides, except when you’re using double doors to cover a large opening. In that case, you will only have an overlay on three sides – top, bottom, and hinge side – because you won’t need an overlay where the doors meet in the middle.

After you measure the overlay, measure the opening the door sits on top of. With these measurements plus the overlay, you can calculate the proper dimensions of your replacement cabinet doors. Imagine your doors are 13-inches wide by 15-inches tall and you have a 1/2-inch overlay on all four sides. Here’s how the math works out:

½ inch + ½ inch + 13 inches = 14-inches wide

½ inch + ½ inch + 15 inches = 16-inches tall

Therefore, your replacement doors need to be 14×16 for single doors. For double doors, begin by measuring the width of the cabinet opening and dividing by two. Each door need to be this wide plus a 1/2-inch overlay, but there also needs to be a small 1/8-inch gap between the doors so they can close. If each double door needs to be 14-inches wide, use this math:

14 inches – 1/16 inch = 13 15/16 inches

13 15/16 inches + ½ inch = 14 7/16 inches

The width of each door should be 14 7/16 inches, and the height is the same as single doors (height of opening plus 1 inch). As with any project, it helps to recheck your measurements and your math before you order the replacement doors. You should also measure the doors you want to get rid of to confirm that the replacements you plan to order are the same size.

How to Install Overlay Cabinet Hinges

The hardest part about replacing your own cabinet doors is getting the hinge holes in just the right place. That’s why most people ask us to drill the holes for them. It saves a lot of mess and stress. We also offer soft-close Blum hinges that keep your doors from banging shut while also being really easy to install. We have already created tutorials on how to install overlay hinges, so reference those when you’re ready for this step. In terms of the overlay, one of the reasons we prefer Blum hinges is because they adjust in multiple directions. If your overlay is uneven for any reason, you can balance it out with a few small twists of a screw driver. This is especially helpful when you have double doors that need to close smoothly without leaving a huge gap between them.

Get the Perfect Fit With The Door Stop

Now that you have the technical steps out of the way, it’s time for the fun part – picking out your replacement cabinet doors. Since your replacement doors will be the exact same size as the previous ones, they will fit your existing cabinets perfectly. More importantly, you have free rein to pick whatever style, wood species, and finish options you want. The sky’s the limit. Start exploring the extensive selection at the Internet’s leading supplier of custom-built cabinet doors – The Door Stop.

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