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  • With a comfort toilet , how high should a toilet paper holder be? How high or low should a towel bar be for guest towels?

    Posted : Jun 27, 2012

    The NKBA recommends the toilet paper holder be placed 8” to 12” in front of the toilet rim and 26” above the finished floor. Since comfort height toilets and standard toilets are lower than 26” the NKBA recommended height of 26” is good for both. Determining the height for towel bars is not as easy. There are several things to consider. How long are the towels? Will you have enough room for all of the towel bars you are mounting? Will some towel bars need to be double stacked?  Will robe hooks and towel bars be in the same area. Will grab bars be needed in the quest bath? We don’t want a guest getting out of the bathtub to a mistake a towel bar for a grab bar. Without knowing more about space requirements in your guest bath my recommendation would be between 30” and 48” above the floor. The low end is the previous standard height for vanities. Some people try to mount towel bars the same height as other horizontal items in the room such as the vanity countertop. This creates continuity and these continuous lines will visually add length to an otherwise small space. The high end is if towel bars needed to be double stacked and 48” is the highest comfortable reach suggested for the average person.

  • What is the industry standard height for a showerhead?

    Posted : Jun 27, 2012

    Typically the connection for the shower arm is stubbed out at about 78” above the floor with the shower head at about 74”. NKBA however, recommends the showerhead be placed so the tallest user can easily wash their hair while standing under the shower spray. Therefore, the height of 74” may be too low for many people. The best solution is a shower head mounted on a sliding vertical bar. If you do raise the showerhead we suggest the waterproof wall material within the shower extend at least 3 inches above the final or highest possible position for the showerhead.

  • My all wood kitchen cabinets are stained oak. Every couple of years only the grain "opens" to the "unstained wood" color, which I retouch. I clean and polish them with lemon oil. We have a (Winter) whole house humidifier and central air conditioning. What should I do to fix this permanently?

    Posted : Jun 27, 2012

    As you are well aware, your problem is the annual expansion and contraction of the wood panels making up your oak cabinet doors. During the winter the wood shrinks as it dries out because of low humidity in your vacant home. Low humidity in the winter is common in much of North America. Even though you have a humidifier to add moisture during the winter it must not be up to the task. The dry heat produced by the HVAC unit is competing with the humidifier and apparently winning. If you lived year round in the home you might not have this problem. Cooking, bathing and other tasks would add moisture to the home. To fix the problem you have at least two options. Add moisture to the home during the winter or replace the doors with wood products that are less subjected to drastic humidity changes. You have not mentioned what effect the lack of moisture is having on other furniture in your home. Solid wood tables and dresser tops should be experiencing the same problems as the cabinet doors. If they are made of “engineered” wood they would not experience the same expansion and contraction as solid wood. If you do decide to replace the doors, explain to the dealer your situation so the same problem will not reoccur. If you try to color the unstained portion of the open grain it will be difficult unless you remove the layers of cleaning solutions and lemon oil you have applied in the past.

  • I am looking for a kitchen designer that does not sell a particular brand of cabinets. I need someone familiar with many of the options available in the greater Cincinnati, Ohio area.

    Posted : Jun 25, 2012

    Here are a few suggestions but they all include working with designers in your area first. Kitchen and bath dealer services generally fall into three broad categories; design only, design sell only and design and/or sell. I would visit NKBA ProSearch.

    After entering your ZIP code you will find several kitchen and bath dealers/designers in your area. Some of the listings are for independent designers that do not have showrooms. Start at the top of the list and call the dealers/designers and explain your situation. Ask if they can help you with the design only or if they can think of a designer that offers the services you need. I worked for a company that did not offer design services only but I knew a few independent kitchen designers that would have met your needs. I would have referred a couple of them to you.

    You said you are willing to travel for a designer. Just continue down the list until you find a designer that meets your needs. I am sure you will find one local or at least within a few miles.

  • My builder is installing an OTR microwave over my gas range which vents 187 cfm. According to the formula I found online, I should have an appliance that vents at 445 cfm (and that was without even including the BTUs from the oven burners). Should I be concerned? One of your previous answers mentioned the need to vent the "unhealthy fumes" generated by a gas range. Do your guidelines speak to this?

    Posted : Jun 21, 2012

    The NKBA does address cooktop or range ventilation. The IRC (International Residential Code) requires a minimum of 100 cfm for a ventilation system vented to the outside of home. NKBA recommends a minimum of 150 cfm. But if a larger cfm figure is needed, NKBA recommends a properly sized ventilation unit vented to the outside of the home. In addition, the IRC requires that all instructions be followed during the installation of any appliance.

    I would suggest you contact the manufacturer and see if a ventilation unit is required for your specific range. If so, ask about the minimum cfm required. Then, to meet the code, the ventilation unit must be sized to meet the manufacturer’s requirements. However, your unit may not require a ventilation unit. If this is the case you are OK with the OTR installed. Even if a ventilation unit is not required most people want to rid the kitchen and home of unwanted heat, odor, steam, smoke and grease. Since cooking habits vary greatly the cfm can vary also depending on your use. If you typically use all burners and the oven at the same time you may want a ventilation unit with a higher cfm rating to remove the heat alone.

  • How high above the base cabinets & counter should the upper cabinets be mounted?

    Posted : Jun 20, 2012

    The industry standard for the space between the bottom of wall cabinets and the counter beneath is 15” to 18”. This allows work space on the counter and access to the first two shelves of typical wall cabinets. This information can be found in two NKBA Publications that are part of the NKBA Professional Resource Library. Charts illustrating cabinet heights are found in Chapter 1 of Kitchen & Bath Products. Access heights are discussed in more detail in Kitchen Planning.

    As far as the microwave, the NKBA recommends the microwave be placed no higher than 3” below the users shoulder height. This will allow the user to safely remove a microwave dish without spilling the contents since they can see inside the container. If your microwave bottom is at 62” AFF (above finished floor) it is about 2” short of the height of the average American female. This is a very unsafe height and should be lowered. As you mentioned, the NKBA recommends the bottom of the microwave be no higher than 54”. Until the microwave is lowered, be very careful when removing hot liquids from the microwave.

  • What kind of cabinet knob or pull looks best with white shaker cabinets in a bath?

    Posted : Jun 14, 2012

    The following is taken from the NKBA Professional Library manual Design Principles:

    “Shaker artisans made a large variety of wood turnings for everything from cabinet pulls to pegs for wall hanging systems. Therefore wood pegs (or pulls) would be the most authentic. Simple metal or hand-forged finishes are acceptable.”

    Think about wooden pegs for robe hoods and other uses.

  • I had new high-end custom kitchen cabinets installed 4 years ago. Over the past 2 years, the majority of the cabinets have developed patches of vertical cracking in the high gloss, clear coat finish. The cabinets are flat panel, natural maple veneer over apple ply. No other woodwork in the home has been affected. The damage is covered by warranty but repair requires removal of all doors/drawers and extensive on site work. Any idea what may have caused this?

    Posted : Jun 05, 2012
    The problem could be anything. I saw a similar problem several years ago. It was determined to be an expansion issue. Different materials can have different expansion rates. If the conditions in a room are just right something might shrink while another part might hold its own. Something has to give. The manufacture produced several similar jobs during the same time frame but only had one set of cabinets with the problem. I suggest you contact the manufacture for an answer. Another source is the National Kitchen Cabinet Association (KCMA) at
  • I am considering raising the floor for a basement bathroom so that the plumbing can go under the floor instead of digging up concrete. I am also considering an up flush toilet for the project. I want a big shower and of course a sink. Any suggestions?

    Posted : Jun 04, 2012
    The most important question; where is your sewer or drain line in relationship to the toilet location? If it is above your toilet you will need to use an up-flush toilet. The waste from this type of toilet is flushed into a tank where the waste is ground using a macerator then pumped into a drain line that will move the waste up and into a sewer line. The tank is typically located behind the toilet but could be recessed into a hole in the slab floor. Fortunately, a shower and lavatory near the toilet can also be drained into the tank for removal. If however your sewer line is buried in the concrete floor you might want to have a portion of the floor removed and the new plumbing added below the slab. Raising the floor just to avoid removing a portion of the slab may not be the best option. It will create problems with elevated areas and doorways unless you elevate the entire basement floor. I would suggest you contact a reliable plumber and ask their opinion. They will see things at your job site that you and I could miss. Compare the cost of an up-flush with the removal of a portion of the slab. You might be surprised at the difference when you consider all of the factors.
  • What is the industry standard height for a shower head?

    Posted : May 21, 2012

    Typically the connection for the shower arm is stubbed out at about 78” above the floor with the shower head at about 74”. NKBA however, recommends the showerhead be placed so the tallest user can easily wash their hair while standing under the shower spray. Therefore, the height of 74” may be too low for many people. The best solution is a shower head mounted on a sliding vertical bar. If you do raise the showerhead we suggest the waterproof wall material within the shower extend at least 3 inches above the final or highest possible position for the showerhead.

  • We purchased some sink and bath taps that have a 10 year guarantee and within the year the metal disc at the base of the taps which does not seem to be the same quality began to bubble and rust. The retailer got replacement discs and now the same thing has happened for the second time in a short time. Do you have knowledge of this happening before?

    Posted : May 14, 2012

    First, I would carefully read the 10 year guarantee. Is the disc (the problem) covered under the guarantee? Some guarantees do not cover everything and can be limited in some areas. Next, are you using a cleaning product that should not be used with the faucet? Finally, you have mentioned that your only contact is with the retailer. I would speak directly with the manufacturer. They should have the best solution. Most reputable manufactures of quality kitchen and bath products rely on referrals from people like you and are constantly improving their products based on comments from consumers. Your dealer works with many different manufactures. They may not have the best solution.

  • Do beiges, browns, greens limit what I can do for a backsplash?

    Posted : May 14, 2012

    In answer to your question about the Cambria "Shirebrook" being busy. Yes. You are absolutely right. Yes, it is advisable to do a simple backsplash. If you are going in the contemporary direction, I suggest using glass tile. Pull one of the light colors from the countertop, ie, bone with a muted green undertone. Make sure it blends with the hazy jade green wall color. Please do not use any bright colors on the backsplash.

    If you are going in the traditional direction, I advise using tumbled stone 4 x 4 in the light beige color.

    Don't bring in any color other than the countertop.

  • We are considering having an undercounter KitchenAid icemaker installed in our new construction. I'm concerned about the fact it constantly produces ice. Would it be better to just go with a standard icemaker in the refrigerator, or upgrade to the undercounter model?

    Posted : May 08, 2012

    This is a question that only you can answer. However, let’s see if I can help you with your decision. First, how much ice do you need daily? A 15” icemaker will store 25 lbs. and an 18” will hold 35 lbs. Both sizes are capable of producing 50 lbs. of ice in a 24 hour period. If you entertain frequently you will find either unit very convenient. However, if you do not need more ice that can be supplied by the refrigerator you would not need the additional unit. Next, would you be better off with 15-18” of extra base cabinet storage?  Are you concerned about excess use of energy? If you are not using a large quantity of ice on a daily basis you may be wasting energy that is used to hold the stored ice at a temperature below freezing. Check to see if the unit you are considering has an on/off switch. Some will have this feature. If so, you can turn the unit off until the day before you need extra ice. Finally, if the primary issue is cost of the unit, consider the expense of a trip to the local convenience store for a few bags of ice for your special event. I hope this will help you make your decision.

  • I am working on a project with a consumer product company. Mainly I need to understand which is the most common type of non-porous kitchen countertops in US households, as well as kitchen sinks and stovetops in the US Is there any specific study or recent statistics that the NKBA has that will be useful for my project and if so how can I have access to it?

    Posted : May 08, 2012
  • We are remodeling our kitchen and our cabinets are currently being installed. The contractor is installing the cabinets over the old tile floor where it exists. In areas where it doesn't exist, he is placing the cabinets on the existing slab and shims to raise up the height to match the floor. Is this a correct procedure?

    Posted : Apr 30, 2012

    I think your installer is following the best procedure based on the situation. I recommend that before a kitchen is installed for the first time the subfloor should be completely covered with the finished floor material. This eliminates the problem you are facing today. It the flooring is placed after the cabinets are installed you have you have created a “footprint” for the cabinets. This creates a problem when remodeling the kitchen years later. The installer’s other options would include removing all of the old floor tile and then installing a new floor covering. Based on the information you have provided me, I think the installer is doing what is best for you.

  • We're remodeling our small (9 x 12) kitchen. We're thinking of natural cherry cabinets which will, of course, darken. The floors are butterscotch stained oak. The house is a 1950's style ranch. We can't decide between black appliances with a medium colored granite countertop, and lighter tiled backsplash; or stainless appliances with a black granite countertop, and we're not sure what kind of backsplash. Neither of us are crazy about the industrial look of stainless appliances, no matter how popular they are, and we are going to be living in this house for the rest of our lives, so getting ss for the resale value is not in the picture. We both like the 1st option the best, but don't want our kitchen to look dated after all the work we've put into it. We don't live in a "high society" area, but even here ss is just about all you see in appliance stores. I'm starting to get "used" to the look of ss everywhere, but I still "like" the black better. My husband says he'll live with whatever I want. I know you can't make this decision for us, but what do you think would look the best in our small kitchen?

    Posted : Apr 30, 2012

    I am a proponent of black appliances in the right setting. I am glad you don't want white appliances. I know what you mean about stainless steel. It is not for everyone. Since you have natural cherry cabinets, that says to me that they are not too dark. Yes, they will darken but not that much. My advice to you is use black appliances (can be very elegant). Use a medium granite countertop and it can by busy if you want it to be but use a very simple tiled backsplash, not busy, light but remember the floor too. Everything needs to blend. Your kitchen will look like a million dollars.

  • What is the health code for communal kitchen? The communal kitchen is for residence to share the kitchen to prepare their individual meals, and it is also for residences to prepare the common mean.

    Posted : Apr 30, 2012

    The National Kitchen and Bath Association deals with building codes that impact residential kitchens only. While your question involves a residential kitchen it may also be covered under local health codes that involve the handling of food by others. Since local codes may vary, I would suggest you contact your area health department for their recommendation. When planning the actual design for your kitchen, follow the NKBA 31 Kitchen Planning Guidelines which include recommendations for large, 2-person kitchens.

  • We are getting new custom cabinets in our kitchen. The cabinet maker drew up plans showing several split doors where we currently have single doors. I was wondering if there was a rule of thumb as to how narrow a (split) door can be. The drawings look great, but we are unsure how they will look in person. We would be looking at (2) 8.75" doors in a couple of areas. Doors have a raised panel. Is this too narrow? Will this look okay?

    Posted : Apr 27, 2012

    The width of the doors will have more to do with the type and style of the cabinets than an industry standard. Typically, manufacturers offer single or double doors on their 24” wide wall and base cabinets. The opening and the interior of the cabinet would remain the same. Consumers could decide if they wanted a single door to open in one direction or double (butt) doors for their access or convenience. The drawings by the cabinet maker should be a good indication of how the kitchen will look once it is installed. If the cabinets are not constructed, you might ask if you could see a drawing with the doors shown as single. I would bet you will want the plan as illustrated with the double doors.

  • Our contractor is venting bathroom exhaust fan (from shower) to just below a roof turbine, assuming that the exhaust will vent to outside. Is this an acceptable alternative to cutting a vent in the roof and venting directly?

    Posted : Apr 24, 2012

    Moisture from the bathroom should never be vented into the attic. It is possible that the roof turbine will remove much of the moisture from the bath when the turbine is turning. But the turbine will turn less in winter months and while it is pulling moisture out of the attic space it is also pulling out any warm air in the winter months which is not a good thing. In fact, many people will cover the wind turbines up in the winter time to prevent air from leaving the attic. Additionally, if for some reason the turbine does not turn, the moisture stays in the attic. The best duct path for the bath ventilation is the straightest and shortest distance to the outside of the home. 

  • I'm currently doing a design for my kitchen. There is an angled wall and the island is an angled one too. I'm not sure what to do when doing a design for a kitchen that has angles. I was told to leave 12" on both sides of the base cabinets that forms the angle and 6" for top cabinets; But then I was told you can do that only when the angle is 45 degree. I'm so confused. I don't want to make any mistakes.

    Posted : Apr 18, 2012

    Will you be using stock cabinets (built in 3” increments) or custom cabinets? What is the degree of the angle? Is it the same for the cabinets along the wall as well as the island? Are the depth of the base cabinets 24” and the wall cabinets 12”? Is the angle an inside or outside angle? Without some basic information I cannot provide you with a great answer. Obviously I would recommend that you call an NKBA member a.s.a.p. for an onsite visit. However, if you insist on doing the work yourself, here are some tips. First I will assume the corner is an inside angle and you will be using standard size cabinets. Measure out from the back wall 12” and 24”. This will be the location of the front of standard wall and base cabinets. Next place masking tape on the floor along these 12” and 24” lines. About 48” in front of the base cabinet line locate the island. Use the masking tape to form the outline. You will notice that the masking tape placed along the wall will overlap in the angled corners. This is where the cabinets will meet. To allow the cabinet doors and drawers to open properly the base and wall cabinets must be separated. You will need fillers (or extended stiles) for the separation of the cabinets. The degree of the angle will determine the width of the fillers. Your NKBA cabinet dealer can help you with this. The distance required for separation of base cabinets and wall cabinets will typically not be the same. Mark the sides of the cabinets that will meet in the corners then start planning your kitchen from that point. The corners for the island will be “outside” if the wall and base cabinet corner is an “inside” corner. Now you will work backwards. Next, using the framing square, layout the base cabinets for the island. Mark their locations with the masking tape. The angled gaps between the cabinets can be filled with cabinet fronts or left open with shelving added. If you are planning on using 45° angles for the island you may find some cabinets that are designed as base angled end cabinets (BEC) but will be perfect for island corners. This will get you started. Remember to follow all code requirements and apply as many NKBA Planning Guidelines as possible for a safe and convenient kitchen.


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