Cabinet Hardware Buying Guide

Cabinet Hardware Buying Guide
Whether you’re updating existing cabinetry or installing them new, cabinet hardware is a quick and easy way to make your room unique. With so many options to choose from, the possibilities are endless, but they don’t have to be overwhelming. This guide will walk you through choosing and installing the right hardware for your cabinet, from the decorative pieces right down to the hinges.

First Things First

  Farmhouse Kitchen  
  Count how many knobs or handles you’ll need. Make sure you take note of whether you’re replacing handles or knobs and tally how many of each. Then, add a few more so that you have some spares if they’re ever needed.

If you're replacing handle pulls that use two screws, it's easiest to simply reuse the existing mounting holes. Remove one of the handles and measure the distance between the two holes. This will give you the center-to-center measurement, which will be needed in your search for replacements. Center-to-center measurements vary significantly, so write this number down—it's important.

Choosing the Right Hardware Style

Door and drawer handles come in many shapes, sizes, and configurations. What you choose to install onto your cabinets really comes down to personal preference and your design style. Match the theme of your room for a cohesive look, so if you're decorating a modern kitchen, the cabinet hardware should follow suit.

Types of Cabinet Hardware

While style is important, so is comfort. Once you've narrowed it down to a few different options, buy one of each and test them out in your home before you purchase the rest. Touch it, feel it, and make sure it's something you're comfortable with using multiple times per day. It'll be worth the extra bit of time and effort.
  Knob Small but impactful, cabinet knobs come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and materials. Round, oval, square, rectangular, and other geometric shapes are the most common, however, it shouldn't be difficult to find those that are irregular. Knobs typically require only one mounting screw to make installation simple.  
   Handle Pulls  
  Handle Pull Also referred to as drawer pulls or cabinet pulls, handle pulls have a rod- or bar-like design that attaches to the surface at each end. Many handle pulls are offered in the same shapes, styles, and finishes as knobs for coordination purposes. Unlike a cabinet knob, a pull requires two or more screws for securing, so choosing the right size is important. You'll want your new hardware to line up with your existing mounting holes to make installation easy. For a door or drawer that doesn't yet have mounting holes, there's no general rule of thumb for how large or small your pull needs to be. Go with a size that feels comfortable but also looks good.  
   Bin Pulls  
  Bin Pull Bin pulls are dome-shaped handles that are easy to grasp from the bottom. The alternate name "cup pull" simply describes its shape, which is enclosed on three of its four sides. This hooded design commonly features some sort of decorative embellishment and can be round, oval, square, or rectangular in shape. Like handle pulls, bin pulls typically require two or more screws for mounting.  
   Cremone Bolts  
  Cremone Bolt Most often seen on casement windows or French doors, cremone bolts are also offered for kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Also called surface bolts, this type of decorative cabinet hardware features a knob or lever handle that's attached to an upper and lower rod. Depending on which way the handle is turned, the rods will either slide into or out of their sockets that are located on the upper and lower sill. Essentially, cremone bolts offer a handle and latch all in one while giving your space a charming, classic feel.  

Cabinet Hardware Finishes

Cabinets are generally found in wet or damp environments, such as the kitchen or bathroom. As a result, quality cabinet hardware is typically made of brass or stainless steel and/or coated with a rust-resistant finish that will never fade or discolor. Other common cabinet hardware materials are acrylic, bronze, cast iron, ceramic, crystal, glass, wood, and zinc. For a cohesive look, match the color of your cabinet hardware to the color of your kitchen appliances or faucet finishes.
  Brushed Nickel  
  Brushed Nickel  
  Oil Rubbed Bronze  
  Oil Rubbed Bronze  
  Polished Brass  
  Polished Brass  
  Rose Gold  
  Rose Gold  
  Polished Nickel  
  Polished Nickel  

Four Tips for Cabinet Knob & Pull Installation

  Dry-fit with adhesive putty  
  A perfectly centered knob may not appear centered when it isn't eye-level. Before you begin drilling into your doors and drawers, make sure you're happy with where you're mounting your hardware. Use a bit of adhesive putty to temporarily attach your knobs or pulls to your cabinets. Then, take a few steps back and a stroll around your room to get a good view from every angle. Adjust as desired, then mark the mounting location you settle on.  
  Use a template  
  Most new cabinets will not tell you where to drill mounting holes for your cabinet hardware. Hardware stores and online retailers offer pre-made hardware templates for purchase, however, it's just as easy to make your own template at home using a sheet of cardboard. After you've found the perfect mounting location for your first piece of door or drawer hardware, make a template that shows you exactly where to drill the rest. Not only will this ensure uniformity, but it will make the job much quicker and easier.  
  Use backplates to hide old holes  
  When you're swapping out old cabinet hardware for something new, reusing existing mounting holes is ideal, but that doesn't mean you have to. If your new kitchen cabinet knobs are replacing handles, or your new handles don't have the same center-to-center measurement as the previous ones, you can use a mounting plate to hide the old holes. Mounting plates can be found at many local or online hardware stores.  
  A drop of glue keeps knobs from spinning  
  Knobs tend to twist and turn as they loosen over time. The problem is, not all knobs are round. It's especially noticeable with oblong, square, rectangular, and irregular-shaped knobs after they've worked themselves crooked. To solve this problem, place a tiny drop of super glue on the back of the knob just before you install it to keep it from spinning. Go even further by applying thread sealant on the knob's screw before it's tightened.  

Cabinet Door Hinges

Hinges, of course, are used to attach the cabinet doors to the frame. You may be surprised at the number of different types of hinges available, and that your cabinets require a specific style. Many of them are simply smaller versions of interior and exterior door hinges, but the options go beyond that. Use the following information to help you to choose the right type of hinge and the proper quantity.
   Butt Hinge  
  Butt Hinge This is the most common type of hinge, featuring a pair of leaves that are joined by a center pin. From the inside of the cabinet, one leaf attaches to the frame and the other attaches to the back of the door. From the outside of the cabinet, when the door is closed, the joint will be visible, so you'll want to choose a finish that matches your handle hardware.  
   Flush Hinge  
  Flush Hinge A flush hinge is virtually identical to, and mounts the same way as, a standard butt hinge. This difference is that a flush hinge takes up less room. When closed, the leaf that's attached to the door tucks into the leaf that's attached to the frame. The result is a smaller gap between the door and the frame, providing a cleaner look overall.  
   Face-Frame Hinge  
  Face-Frame Hinge Face-frame hinges are also widely used. This type of hinge will be needed for cabinets that have a frame around their openings, called a face frame. One side mounts to the face frame and the other to the back of the cabinet. These will not be visible from the outside when the door is closed, so no need to look for a certain finish.  
   Frameless Hinge  
  Frameless Hinge A frameless hinge operates very much like a face-frame hinge but can be used with any type of cabinet—inset or face frame. This type of hinge is great for doors that are too heavy for a standard butt hinge, or when you don't want any of the hinge showing once the cabinet is closed.  
   Overlay Hinge  
  Overlay Hinge You'll need an overlay hinge if your door is going to be installed in front of the cabinet's face rather than inset in the frame. An overlay hinge can either be a full overlay or a half overlay. A full overlay will be needed when the door covers the full face of the cabinet. A half overlay hinge will be used when two doors share a narrow partition, allowing each door to be opened without it interfering with the other.  
   Inset Hinge  
  Inset Hinge An inset hinge mounts on the outside of the cabinet by a narrow bracket. From that bracket, a single leaf wraps behind the door and attaches to its back. Since the bracket is fully visible, it typically features a stylish finish and some sort of decorative touch.  
   Offset Hinge  
  Offset Hinge Offset hinges are like inset hinges, but rather than the leaf wrapping to the back of the door, it extends out and attaches to the front. This means that both the bracket and the door's leaf (essentially the entire hinge) are exposed when the cabinet door is closed. Because of this, offset hinges are offered in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and materials to match your decor.  
   Strap Hinge  
  Strap Hinge Commonly called a T-hinge, a strap hinge consists of a long, narrow leaf that attaches to the cabinet door. That leaf pivots from a second leaf that fastens to the cabinet's frame. This is another type of hinge that is completely exposed, so you'll have many decorative options to choose from.  
   Wrap-Around Hinge  
  Wrap-Around Hinge A wrap-around hinge has a leaf that attaches to the back of the door, and a second leaf that wraps around the cabinet's frame and into the cabinet. While the same concept as a butt hinge, a wrap-around hinge can support a heavier door or give your cabinets a more solid feel. When closed, the pivot point of the hinge can be seen from the outside, so look for a complementary finish.  
   Invisible Hinge  
  Invisible Hinge Also referred to as a concealed hinge, an invisible hinge is small and completely hidden from view when the door is closed. Each side of the hinge is mortised into the edge of the door and the frame, so only a fraction of the hinge is able to seen when the door is open.  
   Soft-Closing and Self-Closing Hinges  
  Soft-Closing and Self-Closing Hinges Soft- and self-closing describes a hinge feature more so than a hinge type because many of the above styles are offered as such. Hinges that have this technology prevent the cabinet door from slamming shut, protecting the frame and ensuring smooth, quiet operation. When you're shopping for your new cabinet hinges, keep an eye out for ones that have this feature.  

Number of Hinges

Chart of number of hinges and door size
Since cabinet door hinges are very similar to full-size door hinges, you can learn more by reading our Door Hinge Buying Guide.

Door Latches and Catches

Catches, or latches, are hardware that's attached to the frame to hold the door in place when it's closed. Typically, there are two types of door catches.
  Magnetic This is the most common type of cabinet door latch, and easy to install. A magnet is attached to the frame which adheres to a metal plate that's installed onto the back of the door. While effective, opening the cabinet door takes very little force when it's equipped with this type of latch.  
   Spring Roller  
  Spring Roller A bit more secure than a magnetic latch, a spring roller catch typically features a pair of closely positioned rollers on the cabinet's frame. A metal prong attached to the back of the cabinet door clips in between the rollers to lock it in place. This type of latch requires a bit more force to get the door to open, so they’re great for homes with curious toddlers.  

Drawer Slides

Like cabinet door hinges, there is more than one option when it comes to outfitting your drawers with new tracks or slides. To ensure that you're getting the right hardware for your cabinets, the two common types of drawer slides and a description of each is below.
   Roller Slides  
  Roller Slides Roller slides are the common type that you probably recognize. This style of slide is available in a side-mount or undermount configuration, and best when used on lightweight drawers. Typically, a pair of tracks are mounted inside of the cabinet and another pair of tracks are attached to the drawer itself. The rails that are attached to the drawer slide into the ones attached to the cabinet, and each track contains a nylon wheel that moves the drawer along.  
   Ball-Bearing Slides  
  Ball-Bearing Slides For heavier drawers, or for a more premium feel, ball-bearing slides are a great option. As suggested by their name, this type of hardware uses metal rails—typically steel—that glide along ball-bearings for smooth, quiet, effortless operation. Most of the time, ball-bearing slides feature the same self-closing or soft-closing technology as high-quality door hinges to prevent the drawer from slamming.  

Check out these articles for design inspiration and to learn more about other decorative hardware for your home.

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