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Whether you’re updating existing cabinetry or installing them new, cabinet hardware is a small yet effective way to bring your entire room together, adding stunning dimension through shine (or lack thereof) and texture. Plus, its one of the quickest and easiest DIYs one can do for the home. With so many options and a multitude of finishes, the possibilities may feel endless—but they don’t have to be overwhelming.
How Do I Choose the Best Cabinet Hardware?
Door and drawer handles come in many shapes, sizes, and configurations. What you choose to install onto your cabinets, whether it's sleek kitchen cabinet handles, unique door pulls, or eye-catching vanity handles, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 kitchen cabinet handles to that of your appliances or faucet finishes.
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.
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.
A flush hinge is virtually identical to, and mounts the same way as, a standard butt hinge. The 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 overall look.
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 there’s no need to look for a certain finish.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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- 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.
Since cabinet door hinges are very similar to full-size door hinges, you can learn more by reading our Door Hinge Buying Guide.
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.
This is the most common type of cabinet door latch, and it’s 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.
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.
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, you’ll want to be acquainted with the two common types of drawer slides.
Roller slides are the type that you’ll 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.
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.
While both styles are available in modern designs, pulls are inherently more modern than knobs. This is due to their sleek, clean lines that perfectly complement contemporary spaces.
For a cohesive look, you’ll want to match the finish of your cabinet hardware with your door hardware (as well as other hardware in the room). Though if matching finishes isn’t your preference, use mixed metals to achieve a more layered, lived-in look.
Mixing knobs and pulls on kitchen cabinets adds stunning visual interest. To do this effectively, you’ll want to keep it to one style each and have clear separation within the space. For example, use pulls on upper cabinets while using knobs on lower cabinets, or use pulls on drawers while using knobs on doors.
Tip: Hardware collections often include both styles, so if opting for knobs and pulls within one space, select them from the same collection for guaranteed cohesion.
Versatile in design, shaker cabinets can have either knobs or pulls for a cohesive look. Consider the accessibility of your cabinets to decide which silhouette to choose (i.e. if they are upper cabinets, using pulls might help with grabbing), then you can choose from a variety of styles and finishes to best complement your space.