Hardware (Cabinet and Drawer) Buying Guide

Hardware (Cabinet and Drawer)
  • Getting Started

  • Hardware for cabinets and drawers too frequently is an after thought. But, the hardware will enhance and improve — or detract — from the overall look of the room. Update or complete a room design by changing or choosing handles, knobs and hinges that make a statement.

  • What to Consider

  • Style of the cabinets/drawers will have an impact on the style of the hardware. Bring a cabinet or drawer front when choosing the hardware.

    Color or Finish of the hardware should coordinate or complement the finish and color of the cabinets/drawers.  Appliances and faucets may coordinate with the hardware, also, to provide a desired effect. Some manufacturers create families of pulls and hinges for ease of coordination.

    Size and Weight of the cabinet door or drawer may affect the size and type of pulls and will affect the number of hinges for doors. A large, solid wood cabinet door will require substantial hinges in size and number.

    CTC (center-to-center measurement) — when replacing hardware on existing cabinets/drawers, know the center-to-center measurement. The length from one pre-existing hole to the other is called CTC (center-to-center) measure. Most frequently, the length is 3-inches, but some may be three and three-quarter inches up to even five inches. Longer lengths are available but uncommon. If the design chosen for the new look is not available in the pre-existing CTC, a complementary back plate may be purchased separately to cover the holes; one or two new holes must be drilled to accommodate the new hardware.

    Timeframe— if refitting a door with new pulls or knobs, know that some materials or styles may have to be ordered, and may delay a project. The same with new cabinets, but ordering the hardware with the cabinetry should result in a simultaneous delivery.

    Installation into pre-existing holes will require a screwdriver. If a new hole is required, use the upper pre-existing hole and drill the new hole down the cabinet door. Creating a template will be necessary for installation on new doors so each pull or knob is at the same height across the length of cabinets or is centered on a drawer. If using a back plate, use the pre-existing hole and mark the new hole with a pencil before drilling.

    Budget counts! Know how many pulls or knobs, hinges, drawer slides, etc. are needed to factor the total cost for the budget.

  • Knobs and Pulls

  • Knobs are installed with one screw into the door or drawer front. Styles of knobs range from round, to elongated planes, to a variety of shapes — even animals, fish, shells, etc. Available in sizes from one inch to two inches to fit small to large hands and in materials for traditional to contemporary styling, knobs may be metal — polished, satin finish or hammered — glass, crystal, and ceramic.

    Pulls are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials.

        •  Bar pulls are straight or arched raised bars installed vertically or horizontally using two screws.  On drawers, usually installed in the center; on doors, along the front corner for ease of opening. Bars may be easier to grasp, and range from 3-inches, 3 ¾ inches, 4-inches, and 5-inches. Longer bar pulls are available and are used most often in contemporary styles.

        •  Cup pulls are full arches created for fingers curl up underneath for ease of use.  Situated horizontally in the center or drawer fronts, or on the opening corner of doors.

        •  Ring pulls contain a ring that is lifted to pull the door/drawer open. Ring pulls may contain an integrated faceplate or a simple knob-like attachment that accepts one or two screws.

    Faceplates are designed to cover pre-existing holes or for design elements with knobs and pulls. Faceplates are created out of several types of materials, usually a metal such as brass or pewter, and in a range of styles.

  • Hinges

  • Hinges hold the cabinet doors to the cabinet box. Hinges may be hidden, or mounted on the exterior as a design element. Knobs/pulls and hinges should complement each other.  The number of hinges required is based on the size and weight of the door. Minimally, two hinges will be needed; larger cabinets may need three or four, up to five for full-size pantry doors. When choosing hinges it is important to understand how the door fits the cabinet, and how wide the door will open. A door that overlays the framed cabinet is mounted differently from a door that fits within the opening of the frame or cabinet box.

        •  Traditional (butt) hinges contain two plates that are attached to the door and cabinet box or frame and a barrel around which the plates rotate. Traditional hinges are installed on cabinets with frames around the box.

        •  Euro-type hinges are installed on frameless cabinet boxes and consist of a cup attached to the door and a plate attached to the box connected by an adjustable arm.

        •  Exposed (Surface-Mount) hinges are used on the outside of the door and cabinet and are visible when the door is closed.

        •  Partially concealed hinge is mounted on the door and cabinet frame so the barrel is visible.

        •  Concealed hinges are installed on the inside of the door and cabinet box so they are not visible.

        •  Self-Closing hinges pull the door to the closed position when the door is within a few inches of the box.

  • Drawer Slides

  • Drawer Slides are the hardware used to extend the drawer from the cabinet box. The slides may use ball bearing, roller ball or friction fits, or a combination of these. When choosing slides, understand the weight of the drawer with its contents, the depth of the drawer and the amount of space from the drawer sides to the inside of the cabinet.


        •  Light Duty slides hold up to 75 lbs., which is usual for residential drawers.

        •  Medium Duty slides will carry from 75 lbs. to 100 lbs., which is heavy residential usage.

        •  Heavy Duty slides hold 100 lbs. to 150 lbs., which most frequently are file drawers or storage drawers.

    Slide Types:

        •  Side Mount slides are installed along the center of the drawer sides and interior of the cabinet. Available in a range of lengths to accommodate drawer depths and in a range of weight duties, the side mount slide will be visible when the drawer is pulled open.

        •  Center Mount drawer slide is a single railing installed under the center of the drawer.  It is used for very light duty drawers.

        •  Undermount slides are installed underneath the drawer on the outside edges. Efficient for Medium duty drawers, the slides are not visible when the drawer is open.

        •  European Mount slides attach to the bottom sides of the drawer and cabinet interior. Rated for medium duty drawers, the slides are visible but not obvious. They are low cost and easy to install.


    To remove the drawer from the cabinet, several methods are available with the slide systems:

        •  A Lever inside the slide to will disconnect the drawer.

        •  A Rail Latch permits removal of the drawer from the cabinet.

        •  Friction disconnect use is accomplished by pulling the drawer all the way through the slide.


    The distance the drawer extends from the cabinet; either ¾ extension or full extension. The length of the slide will determine the drawer’s extension.  Make sure there is enough distance from other cabinetry or appliances for the extension.

  • Price Considerations

  • Styles and Materials will have an impact on the cost of the hardware. Unique or rare metal pulls, knobs or hinges will be priced higher than stainless steel bar pulls. Add designs or carved materials, and the price will increase.

    Size always matters. Larger pulls, hinges and drawer slides cost more as more material is needed to manufacture them.

    Drawer Slides of ball bearings cost more than roller or friction types. European mount usually lower in cost as are Center Mount single slides.

    Installation by a professional will factor into the budget. On pre-existing cabinets and drawers, choosing new pulls of the same size will create a different look, but can be easily installed with a screwdriver and will save on drilling new holes, purchasing faceplates to cover the old holes, or hiring a professional installer.