How to Measure Cabinet Doors: The Full Guide

Measuring for Replacement cabinet doors can make a lot of people uneasy. They worry about getting the dimensions wrong, ordering custom-cut doors, then ending up with something that does not fit. Take it from the experts – measuring your cabinet doors is a lot easier than you would expect.


How to measure cabinet openings for both single or double cabinet doors.

 

We have previously written guides for measuring cabinet doors, so due to the popularity, Cabinetdoors.com has prepared your complete guide to measuring cabinet doors. We have gathered all the information you need to measure your doors confidently and correctly. You do not need to be an experienced contractor either. Even a DIY novice can get accurate measurements for their cabinets!

Materials You Need Before You Start

You don’t need any special tools or materials to measure cabinet doors. All it takes to get an accurate measurement is a standard tape measure. Make sure you also have a pen and paper on hand to write down each of your measurements. We recommend drawing a diagram of each cabinet and the doors you want to replace. That way, it’s easy to ensure you’re measuring everything and getting the right measurement for the corresponding door.

Do You Need to Remove the Cabinet Doors?

We recommend you do. It’s generally easier to get accurate measurements when you don’t have to work around the existing doors. Removing doors is typically as easy as pressing a mechanism on the hinge. Once the door is off, take your measurements before immediately rehanging the door. Doing this one by one helps keep the doors organized and tends to be easier than rehanging all the doors at once.

Are You Replacing or Reusing your Hinges?

The easiest way to get the dimensions for replacement cabinet doors would be to measure the existing doors. Unfortunately, this can create a few issues. If you plan on replacing your hinges they may not have the same overlay (a concept we will explain shortly) as your existing hinges, which can create sizing issues. Also, depending on the age and condition of the existing doors, there is a chance that they have warped or shrunk so much that measuring the old doors won’t provide you with accurate dimensions. Instead of measuring your old cabinet doors, we always advise measuring the inside opening of your cabinet, then determine what overlay you’d like to do, and find a hinge that will work for you! This method involves a little more math, but it leads to accurate dimensions.

What is an Overlay?

When people ask how to measure cabinet doors, understanding the overlay is the one area where things get tricky. Most cabinet doors are not the same size as the cabinet opening they cover. They are actually a little bit bigger. They “lay over” the edge of the opening and cover part - or more - of the cabinet’s face frame. The amount they cover beyond the opening is the size of the overlay. The reason you’ll want an overlay is so the doors are all uniform, and flush with one another instead of being inset into the frame. Understanding overlays is important because it means the size of the doors you order will be a little larger than the measurements you take. Typically, they will be the size of the opening plus the overlay. Later in this guide, we will break down the numbers to make things a little easier.

Can You Change the Overlay?

It depends on the cabinets. If the edges of the existing doors don’t touch, you can increase the size of the overlay. Some people want to go bigger in order to make their new cabinet doors a more prominent feature of the kitchen or bathroom. Other people already have oversized doors and want to make the overlay smaller. Typically, shrinking the overlay is fine because you don’t need to worry about doors crowding each other out.

What Does an Overlay Mean for Hinges?

The size of the overlay you want determines the type of hinge you need. To think about it in the opposite way, the type of hinges you use gives you the size of your overlay. Here’s an example: we offer Blum hinges that all have a ½-inch overlay. So if you use these hinges, your overlay will be ½-inch. A ½-inch is considered the industry-standard for an overlay, but larger and smaller sizes are also available with different hinge types. All you need to do is find out how large the overlay is for those hinges and factor that figure into the formulas we lay out below.

How Do You Measure the Overlay?

It helps to know the overlay of your existing cabinet doors, that way you can either match it or contrast it. Follow these steps to get an accurate measurement:

  • Close the cabinet door you want to measure.
  • Make a pencil mark along the outside edge of the door on the hinge side.
  • Remove the cabinet door.
  • Measure the distance between the pencil mark and the adjacent inside edge.

It will likely be ½ inch but, 1 inch and 3/8 inch are also not unusual. Whatever the figure is represents the overlay of your existing doors.

A Quick Note on Measuring

You will want to record all your measurements to the nearest 1/16th of an inch. A standard tape measure has the inches marked with long lines, quarter inches marked with shorter lines, and 1/16-inches marked with small hash marks in between. Keep in mind that fractions of an inch can be expressed in multiple ways - e.g. 1/2 = 8/16 or 1/4 = 4/16. Fractions can also be expressed as decimal points = eg. 1/2 = .5 or 4/16 = .25. To keep things clear, we will be writing all our measurements in inches.

How Do You Measure for Single Cabinet Doors?

Now that we have the basics out of the way, it’s time to take your kitchen cabinet door measurements. Follow these steps to get the initial measurements for each individual door and drawer front.

  • Remove the door you want to measure
  • Measure the opening from top to bottom, and then left to right, then write down the exact width and the exact height of the opening.
  • Then add in your overlay.

A 1/2" overlay for example:

If your opening is 14"w X 26"h then you would add 1" to the width, and 1” to the height, so the door size you would need to order would be 15”w X 27”h to accommodate for a 1/2" overlay all the way around the opening.

For drawer fronts, you can follow the same instructions but you want to make sure to give yourself enough room above and below the drawer front. For example if there’s a countertop above it and another drawer front below it you might not have enough room to add in the entire 1/2" all the way around, it might be slightly less. We suggest leaving at least ⅛” between all drawer fronts/doors so the wood has room to expand and contract without rubbing.

If you are using hinges with a larger or smaller overlay, you simply need to double the overlay, then add that sum to the width and height of your opening measurements.

How Do You Measure for Double Cabinet Doors?

It’s not uncommon for one cabinet opening to be covered by double doors, when you’re replacing double doors the formula is slightly different when determining the width since you have to accommodate for a 1/4" gap between the two doors.

To calculate the width of each door, begin by adding your overlay to the width of the opening. Next, subtract 1/8th of an inch from the width, then divide that number by 2. This will be the width of each door you would need to order in order to accommodate for a ⅛” gap between the doors.

Again, a 1/2" overlay for example:

If your opening is 14"w X 26"h, then you would add 1" to the width, and 1" to the height, which becomes 15 X 27, You would then subtract 1/8th of an inch from the width, then divide that by 2. This will give you the width of each door that you need to order.

In order to cover the one cabinet opening, you would need to order two doors that both have the dimensions 7 7/16 of an inch wide X 27 inches high.

It's a lot easier to measure single or double doors accurately if you can watch how the pros do it first. Check out this video we produced for an in-depth tutorial.

Tips for Measuring Cabinet Doors

After more than 30 years in business, we know the kinds of mistakes people make when measuring for replacement doors. Use these tips to make measuring easier and more accurate.

  • Measure Twice – Even the experts get their measurements wrong sometimes. We advise you to take all your measurements, work out all the math, then repeat the process over again from the start. It never hurts to double check that all your numbers are correct before submitting your order.
  • Use a Good Tape Measure – Getting accurate measurements to the closest 1/16 inch is a lot easier with a quality tape measure. It may be more convenient to use whatever you have on hand – a yardstick or fabric tape, for example – but a standard tape measure that indicates 1/16 will always be more reliable.
  • Enlist an Assistant – It’s not hard to take kitchen cabinet doors measurements on your own, but it’s even easier with an assistant. Ask someone to write down the measurements as you call them out. Ask that person to check your math before ordering to play it safe.
  • Use logic – Review your numbers to verify they make sense. For instance, few cabinet doors are wider than they are tall. If one of the dimensions you have worked out suggests otherwise, it’s worth it to recheck your math.
  • Make a Diagram – The concept of overlays can get complicated. If it helps, make a drawing showing the size of the cabinet opening, then draw the overlay around it. Some people find a visual reference helpful, especially if there are multiple doors with varying widths to account for.

Why is it Important to Have Exact Measurements?

Taking accurate replacement cabinet door measurements is not as tricky as you may expect, but it’s more important than you’d think as well. Correct sizing ensures your replacement doors look, feel, and perform exactly the way you expect. Even a deviation of 1/16th inch can cause sizing problems. For this reason, take as much time as you need to confirm all your measurements are correct.

What Do You Need Besides Measurements?

Once your measurements are complete, the only thing left is to pick out your replacement cabinet doors. You may want to mimic the existing style. Alternately, you can pick something completely different to entirely switch up the aesthetic. There is a wide variety of styles, wood species, colors, and finishes to choose from at cabinetdoors.com. Start browsing our inventory before or after you take your measurements. Once your sizes are added up and styles picked out, you’re ready to order.

How Do You Order Custom Cabinet Doors?

Our order process is as simple and seamless as possible. Use a drop-down menu to pick the wood species. Then select whether you want us to drill hinge holes and whether you want to order hinges. Finally, enter the dimensions of each door as either a fraction or decimal point. At this point, you’re ready to submit your order. Note that many of our doors are available with finish options. If you want your doors to arrive with select paint colors already applied, that is possible as well.

What Happens if the Measurements Are Wrong?

We strongly encourage everyone to double check their measurements before ordering. If the wrong measurements are submitted and the doors are cut to those specifications, we are unable to offer a refund if the doors don’t fit. Rather than risk having doors that are too wide or not tall enough, recheck your measurements before ordering.

Can All Cabinets Receive Replacement Doors?

Generally, the answer is yes. As long as the structure of the cabinet is still in good condition, it will continue to perform as needed long after you install replacement cabinet doors.

What Happens When the Doors Arrive?

Perhaps the best news of all is that hanging your own cabinet doors is not much harder than measuring for them. This is especially true if you have us drill hinge holes in your doors and include Blum hinges in your order. Once your doors arrive, all you need is a power drill and a Phillip’s head screwdriver to complete your DIY upgrade. Please note that it helps to have an assistant during this process. The final step is to adjust the doors so that they fit your existing cabinets perfectly. We have created a helpful video tutorial to walk you through this entire process. You can also leave this up to a professional contractor.

Cabinetdoors.com – Your Source For Custom-Cut Cabinet Doors

The advantage of ordering custom-cut doors is that you know they will fit perfectly. Instead of trying to make do with what you can find at a big-box store, you get exactly what you need to upgrade your kitchen, bathroom, office or other cabinetry.

Cabinetdoors.com has been making custom-cut doors using premium hardwoods and advanced woodworking techniques for more than three decades. After fabricating millions of individual doors, we know how to produce a superior product. That expertise extends to customer service as well. Expect the ordering process to be simple and straightforward. If you have any questions when ordering, contact us or give us a call at 800-342-1010.

 

 

 

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