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Colder’s Ultimate Guide to Measuring for Appliances

by Pam Silvia

Picture this: You bought a sleek, new refrigerator to replace your out-of-service model in the kitchen. As you excitedly attempt to lug it into your home, you promptly realize that it’s too wide to push through your doorway. Feelings of frustration and heartbreak form a gray cloud above your head and utter despair reigns (er—rains?) over your day.

Fortunately, with just a little preparation and forethought, you can avoid the crushing blow of a disappointing purchase—not to mention the hassle and cost of a return. This is where measuring for appliances beforehand is your saving grace.

This measuring guide is designed to both help you narrow your search for a new appliance and successfully move it into your home. Before we dive in, here is our piece of sage advice: Check and double-check all measurements. It may seem like a nuisance, but trust us: This isn’t our first rodeo. 

A Note About Entryways

As we’ve depicted in our imaginary scenario, unless you or the delivery service can unload and drop off your purchase near a larger alternate entrance, it must be able to fit through your principal doorway—lest you are forced to go back to the drawing board. 

Before you start your shopping journey, we recommend measuring for delivery, i.e., the dimensions of your entryway. To do this, use a tape measure to first determine the height and width of your entryway door and subsequent hallway.  

Then, you will need to measure the depth for entryway clearance—that is, ensure there is enough leeway for your new appliance (and any potential cart dollies) to easily transport the merchandise toward its destination without running into tight turns. The key is to take and record this measurement for hallways and turns directly past the entryway door. In the end, either your appliance’s width or depth must be smaller than the narrowest doorway and hallway. 

young man uses tape measure to check width of kitchen doorway

Measuring for Appliances 

Now, here are some pointers for scoping out the space you hope to fill with a new appliance. To determine the dimensions of the space where your new appliance will be placed, remember to not measure the model you hope to replace but, rather, the space it occupies. 

Remember: These measurements are meant to guide your purchase as you filter for other requirements, such as fuel type for cooking appliances or door configuration for refrigerators. 

young man uses tape measure to check width of kitchen range

Refrigerator

Step 1: As applicable, measure the width at the countertop, beneath the upper cabinets, and the base of cabinets (if there is molding at the base, measure at the thinnest points). If your refrigerator (i.e., freestanding) is meant to rest against a wall without any cabinetry surrounding it, your choice of width is boundless. 

Step 2: As applicable, measure the height from the floor to the lowest point under the upper cabinets. Generally, a fridge needs at least one inch of overhead space for ventilation, so be sure to account for this minimum clearance requirement by subtracting this unit from your recorded measurements.  

Step 3: As applicable, measure the depth starting from the back wall and toward the front edge of your cabinets of the adjacent wall. Since at least one inch of space between the back of the appliance and the wall is needed for ventilation, subtract this minimum clearance requirement from your recorded measurements. 

Pro tips: 

  • If you’re considering a French door or bottom-freezer refrigerator, you must ensure the path of the freezer drawer is not obstructed. Make sure there is enough room in front of the fridge to accommodate this compartment when it is open. In other words, visualize your body position relative to the front of the opened drawer so that retrieving food is not a potential hassle.  
  • If you’re considering a French door or side-by-side refrigerator, check that the doors clear the cabinets on either side, making note of your body position relative to the front of the opened appliance. 
  • When shopping for a standard-depth refrigerator, the height to the top of the case (rather than the hinge) is the most critical height measurement, since the hinges are on the front of these fridges, rarely interacting with cabinets or enclosures. For counter-depth fridges, the hinge height should definitely be considered. 

Check out this video for a visual step-by-step guideline:  

Range

Step 1: Measure the height from the floor to the top of the nearby counter space. 

Step 2: Measure the depth from the back wall to the front of your cabinets. If there is molding at the base, measure at the thinnest points. 

Step 3: Measure the width from one side of the cabinet to the other. 

Pro tips: 

  • When shopping for freestanding ranges, account only for the height from the floor to the stovetop; the control panel should sit above the counter but should clear overhead cabinets. 
  • When shopping for ranges across freestanding and slide-in models, do not account for oven handles or any front-control knobs when evaluating the depth of the appliance; these should extend beyond the front of your cabinets. 
  • Ideally, your new range should sit flush with the flanking cabinets (except for handles and knobs) while the cooking surface is level with the countertops; however, be sure to read manufacturer recommendations in the product manual, as some models may require a gap between the wall and range in addition to clearance on both sides. 

Check out this video for a visual step-by-step guideline: 

Cooktop

Step 1: As applicable, before you remove the mounting screws to temporarily remove your current cooktop, be sure to unplug your electric cooktop or shut off your gas cooktop’s gas supply at the valve. 

Step 2: As applicable, carefully remove your current cooktop. 

Step 3: Measure the width of your in-counter cutout space, from left to right. 

Step 4: Measure the depth of your in-counter cutout space, from back to front. At this point, keep in mind that most cooktops will have a lip that will overlap the cutout by a half-inch or a full inch. 

Step 5: Measure the minimum clearances by measuring the space between the back edge of the cutout and the back wall—or counter, if installed on an island. Repeat this measurement for the front edge of the cutout.  

Step 6: Measure the area below the cutout space vertically, from the floor to the side of the cutout. This dimension is important if you have (or hope to have) a built-in oven directly underneath or use downdraft ventilation.

Step 7: On both sides of the cutout, measure the height from your countertop to the nearest overhead cabinet. If you don’t have a range hood or microwave above your cooktop, you will also need to measure the height from the countertop to the bottom of any unprotected cabinets. 

Wall Oven

Step 1: As applicable, before you remove the mounting screws and any trim pieces to temporarily remove your current oven from the wall, be sure to turn off your electric oven’s power source at the circuit breaker or turn off your gas oven’s gas supply at the valve. If your gas model also uses electricity, make sure both sources are shut off.  

Step 2: As applicable, carefully dismount your current wall oven, but be careful—many models weigh at least 200 pounds. 

Step 3: Measure the width of the wall opening (within cabinetry) starting at the top, from left to right. Do the same at the bottom of the opening. If both measurements differ slightly, rely on the smaller dimension when assessing your options. 

Step 4: Measure the height of the wall opening (within cabinetry) from top to bottom on the right side and left side; again, if both measurements differ slightly, use the smaller dimension for reference. 

Step 5: Measure the depth of the wall opening (within cabinetry) from the back of the opening to the front of your cabinets. 

Step 6: As applicable, replace your current wall oven and turn on the circuit breaker and/or gas valve. 

Check out this video for a visual step-by-step guideline: 

Range Hood 

Step 1: As applicable, measure the width from one side of an overhead cabinet to another. Generally—but especially if there are no overhead cabinets—the width of your range hood should span the full width of your cooktop plus three inches on both sides. 

Step 2: As applicable, measure the height from your stovetop to the bottom of your overhead cabinets. Generally—but especially if there are no overhead cabinets—you can determine the minimum height by referring to the manufacturer’s recommendations in the product manual. 

Step 3: Measure the depth for your range hood by taking the depth of your cooking surface and subtracting two to three inches from this dimension. 

Over-the-Range Microwave 

Step 1: Measure the height from the top of the cooking surface below (i.e., your range or cooktop) to the underside of the surrounding cabinets. Generally, the minimum height between the stovetop and the bottom of the microwave should be between 13 and 16 inches, but we recommend reading the manufacturer recommendations in the product manual. 

Step 2: Measure the width of the wall opening (within cabinetry) from left to right. In most cases, an over-the-range microwave will span the full width of the cooking surface, between 24 and 30 inches.  

Step 3: Measure the depth of the wall opening (within cabinetry) from the back of the opening to the front of your cabinets. As a note, newer models start at around 15¼ inches and stick out further than your overhead cabinets; this protrusion allows for more efficient ventilation. 

Pro tips: 

  • If applicable, be sure to mind your kitchen backsplash; depending on the height between the stovetop and the bottom of the microwave, you may choose to modify your backsplash or opt for a “shorter” microwave that does not clear the cabinet trim. 
  • If your over-the-range microwave is being installed between a cabinet and a wall with the wall on the hinge side, be sure to purchase a unit with a zero-clearance door swing.

Dishwasher

Step 1: Measure the height of the wall opening (within cabinetry), from the floor to the underside of the counter space on both the right side and the left side. If both measurements differ slightly, use the smaller dimension for reference. As a note, the standard height on most dishwashers is around 35 inches. 

Step 2: Measure the width of the wall opening (within cabinetry) at the top, from left to right. Do the same at the bottom of the opening. If both measurements differ slightly, rely on the smaller dimension when assessing your options. As a note, the standard width on most dishwashers is 24 inches. 

Step 3: Measure the depth of the wall opening (within cabinetry) from the back of the opening to the front of your cabinets. As a note, the standard depth on most dishwashers is around 24 inches. 

Check out this video for a visual step-by-step guideline:

Washer and Dryer

Step 1: To measure space for a side-by-side laundry pair, first, measure the height of the wall space, as applicable, from the floor to the top of any cabinets or shelves overhead. 

Step 2: Measure the width of the wall space as applicable. If there are cabinets flanking either side of the wall space, measure the distance between these. 

Step 3: Measure the depth of your wall space, as applicable, from the back wall to the front of any cabinets. If there is molding at the base, measure at the thinnest points. 

Pro tips: 

  • Before measuring, check if the floor is uneven by using a level tool. For installation, a level floor is ideal. 
  • Top load washers require at least 20 inches of overhead clearance for the door to open. 
  • If you’re planning on using laundry pedestals for your front load appliances, remember to include the pedestals in your measurements. For reference, most pedestals are around 14 inches tall. 
  • Most laundry appliances require one inch of space on both sides and six inches of space behind them for ventilation purposes.

Check out this video for a visual step-by-step guideline: 

Let Us Help You

We know there is a lot to take in when it comes to measuring for appliances, which is why we recommend reaching out to our trusted experts at Colder’s if you need assistance. Always happy to help, our friendly staff awaits your phone call or in-store visit. We’re also available to answer questions over chat

And stay tuned for Part 2, where we show you how to measure for furniture!