How to Measure Countertops

How To Measure Countertops

Few parts of your home make such a strong statement as your countertops. Whether it's your kitchen countertops or bathroom vanity tops, the proper material and color choices tie your décor theme together. Fit and finish are also important. To get it right, and to get a meaningful cost estimate, you need to know the correct way of measuring countertops.

You may be planning your dream home and estimating costs for new kitchen countertops. Or, you might be renovating and wondering about pricing for new granite countertops, quartz countertops or Corian® countertops. There are so many different products available, and they really do vary in price.

Pricing New Kitchen and Bath Countertops

To accurately shop and compare new countertop pricing, your perspective countertop supplier will want to know a few details. Factors such as surface, shapes, sizes, square feet area, finished edges, unfinished edges, cutout location(s) & size(s), dishwasher location, stove type and size, job site address, job site challenges (such as tight hallways with turns, a lot of stairs, accessibility issues, etc) and unique options affect your total estimate.

What You Need for an Accurate Quote

To get an accurate quote or estimation of what a granite kitchen countertop costs, you need to calculate your overall surface area. That's called the gross area or total surface. It includes any areas where your sink or cooktop locations exist. These sections are included in the estimate and get cut out during installation.

The best way to approach countertop measurements is thinking in rectangular sections. Galley kitchens are a common design where two rectangular surfaces face each other across the aisle. They're easy to measure. You just take the dimensional length and width of each and convert it to a square foot figure.

L-shaped and U-shaped designs seem more measurement-challenged. That's not the case when you divide them into smaller rectangular chunks. The same applies to right angle layouts, but there's a bit of a trick when it comes to corner sinks. You have to allow for an imaginary extension across the face of the sink area. That also becomes wasted material included in your cost.

Important Solid Surface Countertop Considerations

An important consideration is that all American countertop measurements use the Imperial system. That's inches and feet as well as fractions of each. You won't hear or use metric measurements like centimeters or meters. That's the European system and doesn't apply in the United States.

For your pricing measurements, use inches. Don't worry about getting any closer than one-eighth of an inch in accuracy. Measuring to the quarter inch is fine. Let your installer worry about the precise details, as they'll also have to compensate for off angles when they do the final production measure.

Tools to Measure Countertops

Tools Need to Measure for Countertops


You only need a few simple tools to measure for countertops. Probably, you have some or most of these around your house. If not, they're inexpensive to buy when you consider the overall investment you're planning to make with granite, quartz, Corian® or Silestone® countertops. Here's a list of your measuring tools:

  • Tape Measure: You're best to use a retractable tape with a steel blade. Make sure it's easy to read the fractions of an inch. Be sure to have a tape that reads in total inches as well as breaking into foot increments. Eventually, you'll be calculating total area from inches and converting to feet. Here's a tip. Stay away from cloth tape measures because of their flex and stretch.
  • Graph Paper: Although you can record your shapes and measurements on plain bond paper, it's easier and more accurate to use preprinted graph paper. Standard graphs are in quarter-inch squares and work well with Imperial measuring. When you plot, use a formula like one square equals two inches. You can also use a four-inch grid depending on your countertop sizes.
  • Pencil: Another good tip? Do yourself a favor and use a pencil to jot figures rather than a pen. You're human, so you'll invariably make a measurement mistake. It's far easier to erase pencil marks than blot out ink. Also, use a hard lead that doesn't streak. Ultimately, you'll be scanning or copying your sketch for your countertop supplier.
  • Calculator: A calculator is a must unless you're a math whiz. You're going to multiply and divide large figures, and that's not easy for most to do in longhand. Your calculator doesn't have to be complicated like the ones contractors use to figure roof pitches and concrete volume. Eventually, you'll only have to convert fractions to decimals, then do some multiplication and division. A regular calculator will do just fine.
  • Helper: There's nothing like another set of hands and eyes when it comes to measuring countertops. Your helper can hold the tape end solid while you stretch and record. But, make sure you stay on the reading end while your helper holds the tape at zero. Ask any carpenter or countertop installer what the smart end and dumb end of the tape measure are. This is a simple operating procedure, but keeps you consistent and far less likely to err.

Follow These Steps to Measure for Countertops


Begin with a scale drawing of your countertop layout or layouts. Keep your countertops drawings complete where sections join such as in a U-shaped or L-shaped design. For galley kitchens or in island situations, don't be concerned about scaling the aisle separations. You only need to accurately focus on the actual countertop surface you'll be ordering.

Break your counter surfaces into rectangular blocks. It's easier to keep to larger rectangles if you can and stay to as few breaks as possible. You'll work with two main dimensions. They are length, which is the lateral run across the counter surface, and width, which is the depth from the back of the wall to the front face. For island and peninsula designs, make length your longest measurement and width your shortest one.

At this point, only be concerned about gross measurements. Don't exclude backsplashes, sinks, cooktops or faucet locations. These are included in your total square foot takeoff. Also, make sure you include any counter overhangs like nosings and eating bars.

Transfer each measurement to your graph paper. It's helpful to label each rectangle with a letter such as "A," "B" and so forth. That lets you keep track of each zone and makes it easier to describe the layout to your countertop supplier. Also, at this point, keep your fractions written as 1/4, 1/2 or 3/4. You'll convert them to decimals once you start calculating final square footage.

Kitchen Countertops
Sketch for Measuring Countertops


Measure Twice for Countertops and Backsplashes


No doubt you've heard the old woodworker's creed, "Measure Twice. Cut Once". That's sage advice, especially when measuring for countertops and backsplashes. It's so easy to make a mistake or invert numbers from a tape measure. 34 inches and 43 inches on the tape get inverted all the time, even by the best craftspeople.

There are standard measurements or sizes used across the cabinet and countertop industry. Although there's no universal cabinet length, all standard kitchen cabinets are 24 inches in depth from the wall. Countertops overhang one and a half inches making them 25.5 inches deep. Bathroom vanities are shallower with 22.5-inch widths including overhangs.

Islands and peninsulas break this rule. They're built in whatever shape and size the designer dictates. However, you can bank on overhangs still being one and a half inches, so your island or peninsula countertops would be three inches wider than the cabinet box.

Just a note about backsplashes. Wall backsplashes aren't included in surface countertop measurements. They slightly extend from the wall and cover part of the counter surface. However, if you're ordering matching granite or other solid surface backsplash materials, you still need the individual height and length of your splash.

Typical backsplash heights are either three or four inches. Unless, of course, you want a full height backsplash. In that case, you'll need to measure the entire wall area from the top of the finished counter surface to the cabinet underside. Remember, changing your backsplash length or height will affect your estimate.

Kitchen Countertop with Text

Additional Notes to Get an Accurate Quote

When you choose a reputable and experienced solid surface countertop supplier, you'll benefit from their knowledge and resourcefulness to get an accurate quote. Bear in mind that no matter how good a supplier is, they can't contract a firm price until they do an on-site measurement. However, you can help them narrow down their quote with this additional information.

  • Supply them with digital photos as well as your scaled drawing.
  • Tell them what countertop edges need finishing.
  • Tell them the type of finishing profile you'd like.
  • Give them your sink, cooktop sizes and centerline measurements.
  • Mark your dishwasher location. Dishwashers affect seam location.
  • Let them know if your range is a free-standing or slide-in model.

Select an Experienced Countertop Supplier

Henry H. Ross & Son, Inc. is your one-stop headquarters for stunning bath and kitchen countertops. Henry Ross founded the company in 1956. We now have six decades of experience fabricating and installing solid surface countertops. You can trust H.H. Ross for all types of residential and commercial projects.

At H.H. Ross, we're capable of fabricating over 25 different types of solid surfaces. We specialize as a recognized Corian® fabricator, but we're proud to install excellent products like Caesarstone®, Silestone®, Granite Natural Surfaces and HanStone Quartz. We also handle an assortment of environmentally friendly recycled materials.

For a free and accurate quote, drop by our Lancaster, Penn., showroom with your countertop measurements today. You can also scan and send them along with digital photos. If you have any questions, feel free to call our knowledgeable customer service representatives at 717-626-6268 or reach us online.

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