When building cabinet doors, the most important step is measuring. You always want to assemble your structure and then measure for your cabinet doors rather than cutting your doors upfront based on a cut list. Chances are, your actual measurements will differ slightly from the measurements you “should” have.
In this post, we’ll talk about how to measure for cabinet doors so that you can create beautiful DIY doors that fit just right! This method can be used whether you’re working on actual cabinets or on a project like this TV lift cabinet or this bathroom vanity that needs doors as well.
As you can see from the picture above, we have lots of experiences measuring for and building custom cabinet doors!
Yup, the tool list really is that simple! You’ll also likely want a piece of paper and a pencil to help you do the calculations.
How to Measure for Cabinet Doors
STEP 1: MEASURE YOUR CABINET OPENING
Getting accurate measurements is the key here. If you don’t feel confident in your measuring skills, check out this post for more tips on accurate measuring.
Because accurate measurements are so important for doors (and drawers), we highly recommend investing in a laser measurer. This will help you measure faster, and more accurately.
When measuring for doors, we highly recommend measuring each opening in 3 places (top, middle, bottom) and at least twice. This will allow you to double-check your measurements.
Once you have the width confirmed, measure the height. Again, double (or triple) check your measurements and measure in 3 places.
If your opening is not fully square, you want to use the smallest measurement to calculate your door size.
When measuring the opening, you’re simply doing that. Measure between face frames or cabinet sides. Do not extend your measurements to the outside edge of your cabinet box.
STEP 2: CALCULATE DOOR SIZE
Now that we have the cabinet opening measured, it’s time to calculate our door sizes (Join the waitlist for our door sizing calculator so you can skip this whole math section).
The calculations used to determine your cabinet doors will vary based on which type of door overlay you want. If you aren’t sure, check out our post comparing overlay vs. inset cabinet doors and the pros and cons of each.
Hinge type may also affect your measurements. The following calculations will be for concealed hinges. If using another type of hinge, please refer to measuring instructions provided by hinge manufacturer.
Please note: these calculations will give you the final door dimensions. You may still need more specific dimensions if going with something other than flat panel doors (another reason our door sizing calculator might come in handy).
Full Overlay Cabinets
With full overlay cabinets, your doors extend fully over your cabinet base. You’ll need to know the thickness of the sides of your cabinets (usually ¾”) for this calculation.
Add 2x the thickness of your cabinet sides to both the height and width measurement.
For example, if you have a cabinet that is 15×30 and the side of your cabinets are ¾” thick, you’ll add 1.5” to both sides to get a door size of 16.5 x 31.5.
Partial Overlay Cabinets
For partial overlay cabinets, you’ll add 2x the overlay amount (typically ⅜ or ½”) to your measurements.
For example, for a 15×30 cabinet with a ½” overlay, your door size would be 16×31.
Inset Cabinet Doors
For inset cabinet doors, we need to subtract out the gap that will be around the cabinet door. Ideally you’d want this gap to be 3/32” wide, but who is that precise?? Instead, shoot for a 1/16” to ⅛” gap on each side of your door.
Note: if you’re new to DIY doors, I’d highly recommend going for the ⅛” gap!
To calculate an inset door, you’ll subtract 2x the gap you chose from your measurements.
For example, for a 15×30 cabinet with a ⅛” gap on each side, your door measurement would be 14.75 x 29.75. You multiplied the desired ⅛” gap by 2 to subtract ¼” from the height and width.
Two Doors, One Cabinet Opening
If you have a wider cabinet opening and would like to fit two cabinet doors in that single opening, the math gets slightly more complicated. The height measurement will stay the same as the formulas listed below, but we need to add in additional steps to calculate the width of the doors.
First, calculate the width exactly as listed above.
Then divide by 2 to account for having two doors instead of just one.
Subtract 1/32 – 1/16” to account for the gap between two doors. 1/32” is likely too precise for most tape measures, so you can stick with 1/16”. Because the 1/16” is taken from both doors, your gap between the doors will actually be ⅛”.
Let’s do a quick example, if we have a 32×30 cabinet opening and want an inset door with ⅛” gap on each side:
The height would be 29.75, and the initial width calculation would be 31.75.
Then we divide by two to get 15 ⅞ aka 15 14/16.
Subtract 1/16” to get our final door width of 15 13/16”. This will give us two inset doors with a ⅛” gap all around, including between the two doors.
There you have it! Now you know how to measure for cabinet doors. If the thought of doing all the math makes your head spin, be sure to sign up for the waitlist for our door and drawer calculator.
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