Measuring For New Cabinet Doors on Face Frame Cabinets Made Easy

Step by step instructions for measuring your face frame cabinets for new cabinet doors. Most cabinet companies want you to give them the actual door sizes rather than the rough openings. Rough openings are the actual measurements of the rectangular holes in your cabinets that you want to cover with cabinet doors. You will need to take these measurements and convert them to door sizes before you order.

Check your cabinet openings to see if they are square. This is easily accomplished by measuring diagonally from corner to corner both ways. If the measurements are the same, then your opening is square. If they aren’t, then you will want to measure the width at the top and bottom and take the larger of the two. Same thing goes for the height, measure height on the left and right sides and take the larger of the two. You now have the rough opening measurements. To make it easier to match your new doors to your existing openings, you might want to make a sketch of your cabinets and number them on paper. This will make mounting the new doors much easier, especially if you have several doors that are close to the same size.

Now that you have the rough opening measurements, what do you do with them? You now have to make a decision. How much overlay do you want to have on your face frame cabinets? Keep in mind how wide are the stiles between openings? Stiles are the vertical strips covering the edges of the cabinet box. If two doors are side by side and hinge to hinge, they will both need clearance to swing open without hitting the other door, even if that door is open as well. The amount of clearance is primarily a function of which hinge you are using. Check with your hinge manufacturer to find out how much you need. Most hinges will need anywhere from zero clearance up to a quarter of an inch. You will also need to see how much clearance there is between the top of the opening and your counter top or drawer fronts. Check the bottom for any decorative moldings that might hit the bottom of your doors and adjust accordingly.

Most face frame overlay doors have an overlay from a quarter of an inch to as much as three quarters of an inch. Rarely, you might have overlays outside this range, but they do happen and are usually for just a few doors on an odd cabinet. An overlay of one half inch is probably the most common, and the one we will use for our examples. We will also assume that there aren’t any obstacles such as narrow stiles, or drawer fronts, counter top lips, or decorative moldings to interfere with our half inch overlay.

For single openings, that is any opening in your cabinets that will have one door covering the entire opening, take the height and width of the opening and add one inch to the height and width and that will give you a half inch overlay on all four sides. For example, if the rough opening is sixteen inches wide and thirty-two inches tall, you will need a door seventeen inches wide and thirty-three inches tall.

For split openings, that is any opening in your cabinets that will have two doors side by side covering the entire opening, take the height and add one inch. Take the width and add seven eighths and divide by two. This will give you a small gap between the two doors so that they don’t hit each other when you open and close them. You will still have a half inch overlay on all three sides of each door and a one eighth gap between the two doors in the center. For example, if the rough opening is thirty-two inches wide, and thirty-four inches tall, you will need two doors sixteen and seven sixteenths wide and thirty-five inches tall. The math can be written as follows: