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.

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Cabinet Hardware for a New Home

Purchasing a new home is a pretty exciting event in one’s life, especially when it offers so many possibilities for decorating and making it uniquely your own.

For many homeowners, the last thought on their mind is cabinet hardware for a new home. Rather than choose new pulls, handles, back plates and hinges, they simply make due with whatever the builder or previous owner decided to install. But cabinet hardware for a new home can really transform your home’s kitchen and bathrooms for very little money, giving you a look that reflects your personality and tastes, not the contractor or previous homeowner.

Cabinet hardware for a new home isn’t expensive either. It’s actually one of the most inexpensive updates you can do to the home. Knobs, handles, pulls, back plates and hinges range in price from under a dollar to a couple dollars each and are easy to swap out. All you need is a screwdriver and a little elbow grease.

Like a new coat of paint, cabinet hardware for a new home can give a kitchen or bathroom an entirely new look. And thanks to the Internet, it’s easier than ever to shop in the comfort of your own home and select cabinet hardware for a new home that is perfect for your new abode.

As you shop, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind.

Style. First, there are endless styles out on the market today, from traditional and country to rustic, contemporary and even modern. While you have a lot of latitude within any style and plenty of choices, you do want to stay with the style of your cabinetry. In other words, if you have a country kitchen you want to stick with country cabinet hardware for a new home.

Finish. Once you have a style in mind, you want to decide on the finish. This is where you can exercise a lot of creative control over the look of the room. Hardware comes in a range of finishes, from antique copper and brass to brushed steel, aluminum, ceramic, wood – the list goes on. Again, the finish is really a matter of personal preference. Just be sure that the finish you select is available for all the pieces of hardware you need. You don’t want to commit to purchasing dozens of antique copper knobs, pulls and back plates only to find that the hinges only come in chrome.

Size/Scale. As you shop, remember that cabinet hardware for a new home comes in a wide variety of sizes. Scale is important. You don’t want to get hardware that looks too big or too small on the cabinetry. Also, you want to make sure that each pull, knob or handle fits your hands comfortably. A smart shopping tip is to purchase a couple different styles, install them and then decide on the cabinet hardware for a new home that fits you best and is easy to use on a daily basis.

Screws/Bolts. All cabinet hardware is not created equally, particularly when it comes to knobs, pulls and handles. Because drawers have different thicknesses, you need to make sure that you order cabinet hardware for a new home that has the same matching lengths of screws and bolts. Otherwise, you may not be able to tighten the hardware fully. The easiest way to ensure a perfect match is to remove an existing piece of hardware and measure the length of the screw or bolt. When you order or purchase new hardware, simply double check the measurements. If you’re adding a back plate, factor the additional depth in to the measurement of the bolt. If you’re still not confident, install one sample before placing a full order.

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Tips For Picking Out Quality Cabinet Hardware

When selecting cabinet hardware for your kitchen or bath you should first determine if your cabinets have existing holes in them. If you have existing holes drilled you will need to make sure your new cabinet hardware will fit in the holes. For example if your cabinets are drilled for cabinet pulls you will need to measure the distance between the holes. The new pulls will need to match your existing conditions. If you have single holes drilled in your cabinets you may have to use knobs in this situation as pulls normally require two screws and may not end up in the correct location on the cabinet door or drawer. Most cabinet pulls have a 3 inch screw hole spacing. However, pulls can come in many other dimensions. If your cabinets are brand new chances are they do not have holes drilled in them. In this case you have many more options.

When selecting cabinet knobs and pulls you should take into account the size of your doors and drawers to make sure the hardware you choose will fit. Most cabinet hardware is packaged with a standard size screw. You should measure the thickness of your cabinets to make sure the screws in the package will work for your condition. If the screws are to long or short you can purchase screws separately at any home improvement store.

When installing cabinet hardware on new cabinets I would suggest purchasing a template to help you locate the screw holes on your cabinet doors and drawers. Templates can be ordered online from most sites that sell cabinet hardware. The template will help you mark your cabinets before drilling screw holes. Before you measure use masking tape so you can mark the cabinets with a pencil. The tape will also protect the finish of the cabinets.Drill holes using a drill bit that is 1/16 of an inch larger than the diameter of your screws. Take your time when drilling holes. Do not push to hard or you could damage the cabinets when the drill bit comes out the back side of your door or drawer.

Popular brands of cabinet hardware include Amerock, Top Knobs, Dynasty Hardware, Jeffrey Alexander and Hickory Hardware. There are others but these brands offer affordable options. Check the internet for deals on cabinet hardware. Ordering your hardware over the internet is easy. There are several sites where you can view the various styles and designs. You can always order just a few pieces to make sure they are what you want before placing your order.

Cabinet hardware does vary in quality. Here are some things to consider when judging the quality of the hardware. Do the knobs or pulls have hollow backs. Most quality cabinet hardware is solid. Look at the finish. Does the manufacturer offer a warranty on the finish. Most quality cabinet hardware is made of zinc. Other metals include brass or bronze.

When shopping for cabinet hardware, consider the design of your kitchen. Are you going for a modern look or a traditional look. Do you want your cabinet hardware to match the finish of your other fixtures, like faucets or lighting fixtures. Choose a finish that will contrast with the finish of your cabinets. Do not be afraid to be bold. Have fun and enjoy your new hardware.

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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.

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Get a Handle on Installing Cabinet Hardware

Now that you’ve picked out the hardware of your dreams, you need only to install them to finish the look of your cabinets. If you’ve never installed hardware before, you might be intimidated by the idea of using a level or marking off the correct spots for placement; you might be particularly intimidated by the thought of using the dreaded drill.
Take a breath before you begin and don’t worry about the task ahead. The entire process is easy and fairly quick. Make sure to have the following tools on hand as you start. This will ensure a smooth process and will diminish the chance of a mishap.

1. Drill (most commonly a 3/16″ drill bit)

2. Level

3. Marker

4. Masking tape

5. Nail or center punch (to make an indentation for where to start the drilling)

6. Screwdriver (Phillips or flathead depending on your specific hardware)

Whether you are installing knobs or handles, you should first try to choose a piece that has the same drill center(s) as the existing hardware. If you are choosing hardware for cabinets that haven’t been drilled before, knobs are the easiest choice since they have only one screw. Some types of knobs and handles come with attached screws, making a simple procedure even more effortless.

If you’ve chosen to install pulls or handles, you’ll need to measure the distance between the drill centers. Do not measure the length of the handle, as the handle itself may extend beyond the drill centers.

Let the installation begin

Solid wooden cabinets and drawers might split as a result of drilling into them. In order to avoid this, refrain from drilling holes closer than an inch from the edge.
Standard contemporary flat-panel doors are complemented nicely by knobs installed 1 ½” to 2″ from the open corner of the door. Pulls should be installed 2″ – 4″ from the bottom horizontal edge of the door and 2″ from the open vertical edge. After you’ve marked off the correct places for drilling, simply drill holes and insert the hardware screws into the holes. Match up the screws and the handle or knob and, using your screwdriver, tighten until the hardware doesn’t wobble.

In general, cabinet doors are made of the ¾” lumber; in this situation, the standard 1″ screw will fit perfectly. Drawers with applied faces, for example, might be thicker than usual and will likely require longer screws. When purchasing hardware, be sure to specify to the vendor your special requirements.

Now, with all of this new information, you are ready to get busy! Install your new hardware and give your cabinets a facelift. Who knew that such a straightforward process could yield such beautiful results?

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