The Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA) explains the best practice for design, looking at the optimal height for worktops, as featured in its Kitchen Layout Design Guide
Research into kitchen design states that worktop heights need to vary according to the height of the user and the task they are performing.
For example, preparation of food, washing up and kneading all require varying working heights to achieve optimal efficiency and comfort for the task.
Varying or uniform?
Whilst in principle the optimal height of the three main work surfaces is different, there is more to be said for a uniform height, reducing both the amount of handling of pots and pans and the risk of hitting them against the raised edges.
Ergonomics of the home (published in 1973) suggests a uniform height of 900mm; this is in line with most guidance, today, for the height of a worktop and is largely due to the height of appliances designed to go underneath the worktop.
Consider all users
A worktop height of 900mm may be suitable for a variety of users. However, it may not suit users who are on the extremes of the user population, for example very tall users and very short users.
In these cases a higher or lower worktop height may be preferred. But when making this decision all users of the kitchen should be considered.
Since worktop height is also dependant on the height of appliances specified to sit underneath it, this will generally set a minimum height the worktop can be placed at.
If a user has a requirement for a worktop that is lower than is necessary, to fit standard appliances under, the layout of the kitchen may need to be reorganised to re-position these appliances and allow for a lower worktop height to be prioritised.
Adhering to ISO
International standard ISO 3055:1985 states certain activities require different working heights.
When standing, food preparation should take place between 850mm and 1000mm.
For activities such as washing up, the working height is required to be higher, ranging from 900mm to 1050mm.
A general worktop level should be around 850mm and 900mm
To make allowances for differing statures and activities, a range, at intervals of 50 mm, up to 1 050 mm is desirable.
Adjustments in height can be made by different plinth heights and other means.
Reproduced with kind permission from FIRA