What is the optimal height for kitchen countertops? The answer to that question really depends on how tall you are, because the optimal height for kitchen cabinets is not necessarily the standard 36 inches. The standard height is an attempt to create an average that everyone at every height can use without too much discomfort. But that means people who are short and people who are tall are all forced to use kitchen countertops that are uncomfortable for them and may cause back discomfort daily.
Kitchen Countertops and Ergonomic Height
The standard 36 inch countertop is actually several inches below optimal ergonomic height for a person who is 5’9″ and taller. Most people will object to this only because they’ve been using a standard 36″ countertop their whole lives, but next time you’re chopping vegetables on your countertop, notice how you are forced to lean forward or tilt your head downward or droop your shoulders into a bad posture. This can be the cause of back discomfort. If you’re taller than six feet, this is all emphasized dramatically, and a standard 36″ countertop can be uncomfortably low for daily use.
Why is 36 inches the standard for kitchen countertops? Somewhere back in time this became the average height, and cabinet makers needed to have a standard size so they could reproduce cookie cutter cabinets for tract homes. But did you know the average height of Americans has been slowly increasing from generation to generation? Yet over the same time period the standard height of kitchen countertops has not increased?
I showed a home recently where the stove and hood above the stove were unusually low. I could not bend forward and reach to the back burner without hitting my head on the hood. The owners who had the home built are short. Now that their home is for sale, the average person, and especially the tall person, will not buy this home.
There are not many homes for sale with higher kitchen countertops. The home in the photo above has 40 inch countertops. The owners were over six feet tall, and this has been wonderful for their daily kitchen work. But this also means for the majority of buyers, their first impression will be that these countertops are too high, but they may actually be ergonomically more comfortable than the standard 36 inches. Isn’t it interesting what we take for granted after a lifetime of using countertops that are not the ideal height for us individually? See more photos of this home above with higher countertops at Sequim Countertops.
Last Updated on September 21, 2019 by Chuck Marunde