Is this a normal issue? 36" inch fridge won't fit 36" cabinet void.

We put in the hampton bay pre-manned hickory cabinets / pantry floor to ceiling with a 36" upper spanning between them. We bought a GE Profile fridge (1 year old model, refurb). The cabinet void is exactly 36" wide from top to bottom. Not 1/32 more, not 1/32 less. The fridge on the other hand seems to range from 35 1/2" to 36 1/8" wide!?

Is this a normal issue? Should I demand a refund? Or, start sanding the front panels down on the cabinets?

  • 2
    I would request a refund, since the mistake was yours, and seek a refrigerator better suited to a 36" opening. 0" isn't enough dimensional tolerance.
    – isherwood
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 19:55
  • Not sure I agree... Typically aren't all appliance sizes stating the rough opening, not the actual width of the appliance? If that is not the case, then why are all standard over fridge cabinet sizes exactly 36"? rempros.com/dimensions/kitchen_cabinets_sizes.html
    – maplemale
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 20:01
  • 1
    Appliances that you'd expect to fasten in place are undersized--range hoods, over-the-range microwaves, etc. Like has been said, refrigerators need clearance for airflow.
    – isherwood
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 20:03
  • 4
    See page 3. "The opening width must be at least 36-1/4." products.geappliances.com/MarketingObjectRetrieval/…
    – isherwood
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 20:06
  • 1
    Seems like there are only 2 options here... either this is extremely a-typical or having a pre-fab over-fridge cabinet of exactly 36" (all Lowes and HD over-fridge cabinets) is a-typical. My particular fridge states 35 3/4 in the manual. However, after speaking two different cabinet planers today, both agreed that they typical design for at least 36 /1/2 or even 39 opening. The pre-fab cabinets are all 36", but seems like designers are telling me they would have put a spacer in there. Not the end of the world, guess i'll take that one apart and do a spacer.
    – maplemale
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 21:28

1 Answer 1


The fridge's user manual should have clearances / installation dimensions listed. I would start there. It may be a 36" model but actually a slightly different dimension.

If the fridge is not the size described in the manual I would contact the store and/or GE. It's possible that as part of the refurbishing process it was dismantled and not put back together to original factory specs.

Also do not forget to check the required clearances. Most fridges require 1/8" of clearance on the sides, and maybe more at the top and back. (Also you will have a very tough time installing the fridge if there is literally 0 clearance.)

  • It is a 36" model and stated dimensions are 35 3/4". Nice one GE... Or... maybe nice one refurbish place? Of course, place I purchased it form claims that it is not possible they tweaked the size at all during refurb.
    – maplemale
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 22:24
  • I've seen several cases where even fairly high end refrigerators were wide than their nominal size. Apparently we are expected to (a) allow for air circulation space at the sides, which they then steal back, or (b) design thee cabinetry opening oversized and then install trim to fit if desired. Or both. I know this doesn't help, but ... Yeah, check specs, check installation requirements, measure, and try lo leave yourself some room to recover. They don't seem to have this problem with other appliances, but maybe that's because they aren't trying to advertise based on volume.
    – keshlam
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 0:04
  • 1
    @maplemale: So it sounds like your fridge is 3/8" wider than it is supposed to be. I seriously doubt that is a normal manufacturing tolerance. Personally I would complain to the store and see if they will replace it with another (hopefully measuring it first) and/or refund you a portion of the price.
    – Hank
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 1:30

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