Selecting the Best Cabinet Hardware

Shopping for cabinet hardware is a lot of fun because it involves putting the finishing touches on a brand new kitchen. Even if you decided to save some money and replace just the cabinet doors and cabinet hardware, it is still as if you are getting all new kitchen cabinets because the look of your kitchen will change drastically. The type of cabinet hardware you select says a lot about your personality, so it is very important to choose carefully. Here are some ideas to keep in mind as you go about choosing new cabinet hardware.

Style and Material
The two most important things to think about when you first start looking for cabinet hardware are style and material. Brushed nickel is currently one of the most popular materials, although there are also many others to choose from. Other options include copper, pewter, and stainless steel. Just think about the color of the hardware and what would look good with the type of wood you chose. In addition to color, also think about the style of the cabinets and the overall feel of your kitchen. Is it simple or fancy? Elegant or country? Modern or classic?

It is also important to take your appliances into consideration. If you intend to have stainless steel appliances, then you will probably want cabinet hardware that shares the same silver tone. Some pieces even have two toned looks to them, so it is certainly possible to get that silver look in the hardware you choose, while still paying homage to another metal-colored tone that is in your kitchen.

Pulls or Knobs
Another important question when it comes to cabinet hardware is whether you prefer knobs or cabinet pulls. Knobs tend to be a little bit more simplistic in their styling because they are often just one solid color with very little decoration. Cabinet pulls, on the other hand, are a full handle that can be used to open the cabinet. They have much more room to be fancy, so it is not unusual for those with a fancier kitchen to choose cabinet pulls instead of simple knobs for their hardware.

Ease of Use and Cleaning
One thing many people do not take into consideration when shopping for hardware is how easy the pieces are to use and clean. For example, some hardware has very intricate designs, but these intricate designs will be very difficult to keep clean. Also hardware pieces that come in some shapes are very difficult to use for people with arthritis or other problems with their hands. Keep both of these in mind as you shop for the right pieces for your kitchen.

Saving Money
One thing many people do not know about hardware for cabinets is the fact that it is so easy to save money on the pieces. Purchasing from a retailer is like asking to pay more for the same pieces. Most retailers or cabinet companies will sell these hardware pieces for three times what they are actually worth on a retail level. However, many companies that make hardware sell the same pieces wholesale over the internet. Purchasing hardware online is a great way to save a lot of money on hardware. However, always be sure to purchase just one piece of hardware to start. This will allow you to test the quality of the hardware and make sure that it really is comparable to what is marked up three times the price in the retail store. Heavier hardware pieces are of higher quality, so keep this in mind as you compare the feel of the pieces.

Cabinet Hardware Comes Front and Center

It wasn’t so long ago that cabinet hardware appeared to be a relic of the past. New Euro cabinet designs not only did away with the hinges, but the pulls and knobs as well. While this created a cleaner, more sophisticated look in the kitchen, it also robbed the home of a bit of its soul, as personality became secondary to clean lines and hidden features.

Thankfully, designers and builders have taken a second look at cabinetry, returning to the days when cabinet hardware wasn’t only visible, but used as a design element as well. This partially explains the huge selection of pulls, knobs, back plates, drawer glides and hinges on the market these days. There are literally tens of thousands of choices, which can be a bit bewildering to a homeowner contemplating an easy facelift in the kitchen or even bathroom.

Replacing cabinet hardware is one of the easiest things anyone can do to give their home an entirely new look. Depending on the type of hardware you choose, it can also be one of the least expensive remodels you can do and can be completed over a weekend.

When looking at new cabinet hardware, you want to start by looking at the cabinets you have now or the ones you are about to purchase. Cabinets all use different styles of hardware. For example, if your current cabinets have hidden hinges you may not be able to retrofit them with hinges that are visible, as the cabinets themselves aren’t set far enough apart to accommodate them.

So start by looking at the cabinets you have now and see how they can be refitted without having to do a lot of retrofitting. One of the easiest things to do is to change out the pulls with new pulls or knobs with new knobs. When working with pulls, you do need to be aware that not all pulls are the same width so you may not be able to match the bolt holes exactly. Knobs are the easiest to replace because you’re only matching one existing hole, not two as with pulls.

Assuming that a switch out is fairly simple, you want to give the most consideration to the style of cabinet hardware you want. These days you can go in nearly any direction you want to and it’s easy to get carried away. While it may be fun to add Wild West or nautically inspired hardware to your kitchen because you enjoy these looks, the cabinets themselves may not support the hardware. Every kitchen has a set style, whether it’s country, Provincial, modern, transitional, rustic – and it’s important that the cabinet hardware you are choosing supports the style of the cabinets you have. Otherwise they will look out of place and your kitchen d├ęcor will look uneven.

If you’re ordering new cabinets but haven’t signed on the dotted line yet, you may want to talk to your home improvement store, contractor or cabinet maker about your options. This is especially true if you have fallen in love with specific hardware and want to build your kitchen around a particular theme, color, trim or material. Nothing’s worse than writing a check out for a major remodel, only to find that your hardware, cabinetry and even colors are a mismatch.

As any designer will tell you, try twice and order once. Even if new cabinets are on the horizon, try out any hardware in your home first before you make a final decision, even if you have to use the old cabinets. Hardware can look perfect online or in the hardware store but once you start using it daily, you may find that it’s not quite what you thought it would be. Sure, the starfish knobs and sailboat pulls looked great for your beach cottage, but do you really want to spend the next 20 years pulling on a starfish to make the morning coffee? Live with your choice for a while before you finally make a change throughout the kitchen.

Cabinet Hardware Explained – From Decorative to Functional

Today’s cabinets vary as much in style as they do in functionality. Although styles can range wildly from simple big-box manufactured face frame cabinets with slab panel doors to intricately crafted custom cabinets hewn from the hands of generations of craftsmen, some things just never change. The cabinet hardware that makes these cabinets both functional and decorative is virtually universal throughout.

Yes, there are minor differences in cabinet hardware from one style of cabinet to another, however, the major types of hardware can be found in any style or construction of cabinet. The two main types of hardware are decorative and functional.

DECORATIVE CABINET HARDWARE

Decorative hardware, sometimes referred to as surface hardware, consists of the pieces that are mounted to the outside surface of your cabinet doors and drawer fronts. They not only provide the means with which to open your cabinet doors, they also give your cabinetry that finishing touch. The various types are:

*handle pulls

*cup pulls

*knobs

*backplates

*ring, bail and pendant pulls

Handle and cup pulls are rigid and require two mounting screws to attach to the cabinet door or drawer front. Bail pulls also require two mounting screws, however, they can be rigid or swinging type bails. Knobs are just simple post-pulls that require one mounting screw. Ring and pendant pulls can be rigid or swinging and normally require one mounting screw although some may require two with a small center-to-center measurement.

The mounting hole spacing measurement is the most important measurement of a cabinet handle pull if you are replacing existing hardware. This measurement is taken from the center of one mounting hole to the center of the other, thus it is called the center-to-center measurement (abbreviations include: C-C, C/C, CTC). Obviously if you are replacing existing cabinet pulls, you will need to match your new hardware center-to-center measurement with that of the holes already drilled into your cabinet doors. Common measurements are 3″, 3-1/2″, 96mm and 4″, however there are many more than just those four.

FUNCTIONAL CABINET HARDWARE

Functional hardware consists of the hardware pieces that make your cabinets do what they are suppose to do. Doors open and close, drawers slide out and back in, giving you access to the items you have inside. Basically, if your cabinets didn’t have any of this type of hardware in and on them, they would be pretty useless. These types include:

*door hinges

*drawer slides

Door hinges are simply the hinges that connect your cabinet doors to the actual cabinet but as simple as their function is, the types, sizes and options abound. The three main distinguishing types of cabinet hinges are concealed, semi-concealed and non-concealed. These all can come in a variety of opening angles, swing types (free-swinging vs. self-closing), overlay sizes, insets as well as finishes.

Drawer slides are the pieces of hardware that allow your drawers to slide in and out. They are sometimes referred to by other names such as drawer guides, drawer glides, drawer runners and drawer tracks. The three main types used on cabinets are: side-mount, side/under-mount and under-mount. These types can be further classified by the distance they allow a drawer to be opened such as 3/4 extension, full-extension or over-travel extension.

Cabinet hardware is not very complicated on the surface. It is the many options that these basic pieces come in that gets a little more in-depth, too in-depth for this simple primer on cabinet hardware.

Complete Cabinet Resurfacing With Cabinet Hardware

If you have spent time and money in choosing the cabinets in your home, or if you are looking to renovate or redesign the cabinets in your home, then you may already know that cabinet resurfacing is a great way to do this and save money while you’re at it. However, there is one aspect of cabinet resurfacing that sometimes goes overlooked. The cabinet hardware is a vital part of the renovation that is sometimes not given the proper attention.

Cabinet hardware has an important function of allowing the cabinet drawers and doors to be easily opened and closed. However, there is also an aesthetic appeal to cabinet hardware. People choose the hardware in order to match the existing decor of the room or to help to create a new design of decor in the space.

Because there is such a wide variety of cabinet hardware, homeowners today have more options than they previously did when it comes to choosing theirs. Since cabinet designs vary from home to home, you will need to choose the one that you prefer the most. If you move into a home that does not have the cabinet design that you would like, it is fairly easy and affordable to renovate them but when planning your budget, you need to remember the cabinet hardware as well.

There are so many different types and styles of cabinet hardware out there that you are sure to find something to meet your needs. The real challenge lies in determining which one is best for you and your needs amongst the many types that are out there. Some research will help you to make this decision more easily.

Cabinet hardware can be anything from traditional and simple to ornate and highly detailed. While the style itself does not matter so much, what is important is making sure that the hardware you choose matches the type of cabinets that you have. What may seem like a small detail can actually be a very important piece to the overall look of the design of the cabinets.

It’s especially important that your hardware complement your cabinets when you go with a more decorative or ornate design. A plain and simple design or a contemporary look can work well with a simple but bold hardware piece. There are so many different combinations that you can choose to complement your cabinet resurfacing project and have the perfect options for you.

Decorative Cabinet Hardware (i.e. Handles And Knobs For The Rest Of Us)

Adding or replacing decorative cabinet hardware is one of the easiest facelifts you could possibly do for your cabinets.

If your cabinets are in pretty good shape, and not too dated, changing pulls or knobs is an easy thing to do. You’ll need to invest $100 to $300 on average to replace all the pulls and knobs in your kitchen (figuring 25-30 or so pulls or knobs).

If you cabinets look really old, brand new decorative cabinet hardware might stand out like a sore thumb. Depending on the situation, though, you could add rustic pulls or knobs to your cabinets, and they’d still look good (and would fit right in).

Your cabinets might also just need a good cleaning to get them sparkling again.

If you are starting fresh, and don’t already have pull or knob holes in your doors or drawer fronts (good for you!), the choices are almost endless. You can get 3″ center pulls, or knobs, or 96mm, or 128mm, or just about anything you want.

Keep in mind though, that handles with 3″ centers are the most common decorative cabinet hardware that there is. If you ever want to change handles in the future, there will certainly be tons of choices. If you go with, say 128mm handles, your future choices for handles will be limited, because you’ll have to get 128mm handles again. Also, these handles are larger (longer) than normal, so cost more. For example, a 128mm handle in stainless steel could cost $13 or more, where the same handle with a 3″ center could be $5 or less. Finish is also a factor in your cost. Stainless steel will cost much more than a nickel finish, but will look almost identical.

Replacing What You’ve Got

If you already have pulls, knobs (or both) then you must keep that in mind when choosing hardware. You have some alternatives, but you may be limited.

If you have pulls, measure the distance from mid-point to mid-point of each hole. This will give you the size pull you will need. You will often find they are 3″ centers.

If they are 3″ centers, you are in luck, because you will find most styles of decorative cabinet hardware are available with 3″ centers.

If you have a measurement other than 3″, you can look for that size. It may be difficult to find pulls that fit those holes. If you do find something in that measurement, it might not be the style you like.

What You Can Do if You Have Odd Sized Holes or Need to Cover the Holes Left by Previous Handles

Add a back-plate to your door or drawer front before you put your pull or knob on. You can simply drill new holds that work for your new handles (usually 3/8″ holes are what you need to drill, sometimes 1/4″). In this way, no one will see the old holes because they will be covered up by the back-plate.

Another easy alternative is to put two knobs where the pull holes were. With this option, you are only limited in the knob’s diameter. You will want to make sure the knobs aren’t so big that they will be touching each other when you put them on.

STYLE! What’s available in Decorative Cabinet Hardware?

Recent years have seen a surge in sleek, new styling. There are literally thousands of styles of pulls, knobs, and back-plates to choose from.

Anything from contemporary to rustic, colored or clear glass to solid brass.

You will also find several choices in theme-based hardware. There are several choices for children’s rooms, hunting themes, fishing, bugs, butterflies, frogs, and stones to name a few.

There are even pulls out there (from Amerock) that look like knives, forks, and spoons.

Popular Finishes to Choose from Include:

Oil Rubbed Bronze

Polished Brass or Chrome

Brushed, Satin, or Sterling Nickel

Brushed Brass

Flat Black

Antique English (a bronze looking finish)

Wrought Iron

Weathered Nickel

Rustic Bronze

Burnished Bronze

Copper

Pewter

Stainless Steel

Champagne

Anodized Aluminum

Ceramic and Ceramic Crackle Finishes (be careful – ceramic looks nice, but will crack very easily)

There are several other decorative cabinet hardware finishes to choose from too, including solid colors and several actual woods, finished and unfinished.

Some brand names that manufacture good and reasonably priced hardware include:

Amerock

Belwith-Keeler

Epco

Stanley

Wood Technology

What’s This Going to Cost?

The cost will vary as much as how many styles are out there.

You might find small knobs for as little as $2.00 or less a piece.

Several pulls fall into the $3.00 to $6.00 range for each pull.

If you are going for a contemporary, sleek European style, where the pulls can be as long as 12″ or more, you may pay $25.00 or more for each pull.

Some glass knobs and pulls can also run you into some money, from the low teens to as high as $40.00 each.

Pulls for appliances (appliance pulls – that are used if you have a wooden insert over your appliance and basically need a handle for it) can be quite costly as well, over $20.00 on up (but they are very large and long).

Reminder

Be sure to count each door and drawer front you have, twice. You’d be upset with yourself if you ordered your pulls or knobs online or made a special trip to the hardware store, just to find you are short one pull or knob! It’s been done!!

Where to Get Decorative Cabinet Hardware

Online is a very convenient place to get hardware. Home improvement stores carry decorative cabinet hardware, but it may actually cost you more to get hardware there, and they won’t have as big of a selection as online stores.

You may even be lucky enough to find just what you’re looking for at your local thrift store. If you can, you’ll no doubt save money, but most likely won’t get good quality products.

Amerock hardware (and almost every good company has this guarantee for many of their hardware products), has several handles and knobs that have what they call their Guardian Finish. It is a lifetime guarantee on your hardware finish to never tarnish, or they replace the hardware free of charge.

If you enjoy garage-saling or auctions, you may find something there. Usually though, when you use those types of venues, you will be very limited in your choices and only find a few of what you need.

In my experience, the best place to purchase hardware is either online or at your local home-center. If you really want to see and feel your handles before you purchase them, go to your home-center and pick something out. If you have the time, write down who manufactures the hardware, its product number, and then check out prices on the internet. You’ll no doubt find the same product for less over the internet.

Bottom Line: Get what you Love

The possibilities for decorate cabinet hardware are endless. Look for hardware that is not only practical and will last a long time, but that you also fall in love with and enjoy!!

And remember – HAVE A HAPPY KITCHEN!!

Crystal co-owned a custom cabinet shop for 14 years (1992-2006). She is now a stay-at-home mom who writes on the web, sharing all that she’s learned from her years building and installing kitchen cabinets.