Choosing Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

Beth Asaff
Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

Allowing you to open and close your kitchen cabinets and drawers with ease, kitchen cabinet hardware fits seamlessly into any kitchen design. While some cabinets come with hinges or pulls included, others require you to find and purchase your own prior to installation. Find the best cabinet hardware for your kitchen to allow both ease of use and a stylish appearance every time.

Form and Function in the Kitchen

Like many elements of a kitchen design, your cabinet hardware needs to serve two purposes; it needs to look good and it needs to function properly. By examining both the style of your kitchen and the needs of the users, you'll find it easy to help narrow down your choices.

Complementing Your Decor

Cabinet hardware is installed right around eye level in many cases, which makes its style extremely important to the overall look and feel of the kitchen. Selecting the wrong type of hardware could provide a jarring note that stops the kitchen design from clicking visually.

Take certain design elements already in the kitchen into consideration as you choose your hardware. This can give you several options that will help your hardware fit into the style of your kitchen, such as:

  • Matching the metal finish of the hardware to the metal finish of your sink, faucet, appliances or light fixtures
    Contemporary kitchen hardware
  • Matching the escutcheon style of the hardware to the escutcheon style of the faucet
  • Pulling the color of a stain or glaze from the cabinets and using it as the color of the hardware
  • Matching the shape of the hardware to the shape of the cabinet's decorative elements, such as using straight pulls with slab cabinets and delicately curved pulls and knobs with more traditional style cabinets
    Matching cabinets and knobs
  • Matching a color or pattern from the backsplash or other decorative area of the kitchen with the pulls or knobs, such as using glass knobs with a glass backsplash or using hand painted ceramic pulls with a hand painted backsplash
    Decorative cabinet hardware
  • Deciding whether visible or invisible hinges complement the kitchen style more, such as using cast iron hinges on rustic cabinets and European hidden hinges on modern slab cabinets
    Exposed cabinet hinges

Providing Proper Function

First and foremost, cabinet hardware needs to help you get your cabinets and drawers open and shut. This means that what you choose has to be easy for you to use, in addition to looking good. Examples of this include:

  • Using large enough handles to give you a good grip when opening large doors such as pantries or very large drawers
    Large cabinet pulls
  • Using pulls you can slide your hand behind instead of knobs you need to grasp if you have arthritis
  • Using hinges that are large enough to support the weight of a door
  • Using slow-close or anti-slam hinges in cabinets installed in households with young children, households of people sensitive to noise or on heavy or light-colored cabinets that may show the marks of a slamming cabinet

In most cases the size of the hardware will be predetermined by the cabinet manufacturer; they will often either pre-drill the cabinets, or offer size suggestions. This is particularly important when selecting hinges; most cabinets are made to support either traditional or European style hinges.

Many hidden or European style hinges are mounted onto the door with a notch made in the back; switching styles is usually difficult if not impossible for this reason, as well as the size and shape of the frame. Hinges are made to support the weight of a door on its frame, including the distance the door has to travel from the frame.

European hinge

If you are replacing your cabinet hardware, you need to keep the overall size and placement of the hinges intact. Knobs and pulls can be moved by filling the old holes, restaining the cabinets and drilling new ones.

Shopping Tips

Here are a few handy tips to keep in mind when shopping for kitchen hardware:

  • Light cabinets reflect dark hardware best, and dark cabinets are accented well with light finishes.
  • If you're refacing existing cabinets or just replacing hardware, take along an old pull or knob to ensure you buy the right size.
  • Make a cardboard template of your doors and drawers to use as a guide for spacing and positioning.
  • Measure the depth of a cabinet door compared to a drawer facing. Depending on the wood and substrate used, there may be a difference in screw length.
  • Carefully review every kitchen surface to make sure you don't miss a necessary door or drawer pull, especially if placing a special order.

Installing Knobs and Pulls

Here are some general guidelines for installing cabinet knobs and pulls:

  1. Complete all exterior touches, including painting and staining before applying new hardware.
  2. If the new pull or handle is a different size than the old one, fill in the former space with a sliver of a wooden dowel rod and wood putty, sand it smooth and finish the exterior resurfacing.
  3. Even if you're following the outline of existing hardware holes, measure again when attaching new pieces.

Places to Shop for Hardware

Local hardware stores and home improvement centers carry a wide selection of hardware options. A primary advantage to shopping in person allows you to carry in your cabinet template and old hardware with you and make direct comparisons. However, online retailers have the largest selection by far. Try shopping at one of these retailers:

  • Knob Gallery carries top manufacturers as well as artisan and novelty pieces.
  • Cool Knobs and Pulls has a great selection combined with free shipping on orders over $85.
  • Kitchen Source specializes in traditional finishes as well as glass and rock knobs, and offers a free shipping deal on orders of $100 or more.
  • House of Antique Hardware is a helpful source for restoration hardware.

Prices for cabinet hardware extend over a wide range. Basic features start at $1.50, but designer models or special mortise hinges extend up to $40 or more per piece. Do some comparison shopping to uncover price breaks through different retailers or pieces within desired design features.

Complete Your Kitchen

Cabinet knobs, pulls and hinges give your kitchen the finishing touches it needs to be stylish and functional. Whether you are updating your kitchen decor, or completing a new kitchen design, take some time to find the right cabinet hardware for the space. You'll find your decision helps complete the entire room.

Choosing Kitchen Cabinet Hardware