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Choosing Drawer Slides

Choosing Drawer Slides

Kitchen and bathroom cabinets almost always include drawers, unless they are cheaply designed to have fake drawer fronts. Drawers are used in storage rooms, entertainment rooms, basements, guest rooms, and more. Since these storage compartments experience a lot of weight and movement, they need to have the right drawer slides. When building your custom kitchen or bathroom cabinets, it is important to get the right drawer glides to ensure long lasting use and reliability.

The reason for the popularity of cabinet drawers is that they conceal lots of items without creating bulky, visible clutter. When selecting drawer glides for your custom kitchen or bathroom cabinets, you need the right lengths and the right type. You’ll also want reliable movement that will last for years. Otherwise, you’ll have crooked or unaligned drawers that are difficult to pull out or push in.

Getting The Right Types Of Drawer Slides

Drawer slides are widely available with different mounting options and functionality choices. The mounting is commonly determined by use, but can also be determined by choice to work with your custom cabinet drawers. The functionality is primarily determined by preference, but comes in handy for certain uses like under a cabinet overhang.

Drawer slide mounting options include:

  • Side mount: Side-mount drawer guides attach on the sides of the drawer and typically require a 1/2" gap between the drawer side and the cabinet’s drawer opening.They are available in ball-bearing styles and roller styles.
  • Center mount: Center-mounted drawer guides attach to the bottom of the drawer in the middle section.They are available in wood and ball-bearing options.
  • Under-mount: Bottom-mounted drawer guides attach in pairs to the bottom of drawer with one on the left and one on the right (1/2" inward from bottom’s sides). This type of drawer glide is hidden from view. It allows for tighter gaps on the sides, requiring only 3/16"-1/4" gap from the drawer sides.

Drawer pullout options include:

  • 3/4 extension: The 3/4 extension drawer guides pull the drawer out most of the way, but leave 1/4 of the glide inside the cabinet opening.
  • Full extension: A full extension drawer slide pulls the drawer out the full length of the drawer glide.
  • Over-travel: Over-travel drawer glides pull the drawer out as much as 1-1/2" more than a full extension slide.

Drawer Slide Weight Limits

Drawer glides are most commonly available with weight limits that include 75, 100, and 150 lbs. However, other weight limits are offered, but less common like a 220 lb. heavy weight drawer slide.

Choosing The Right Drawer Glide Length

Typically, drawer guide lengths range from 8"-28" in length, but other options are available. For center drawer slides and side drawer slides, measure the depth from the back of cabinet’s interior wall to the outer edge of the front opening. Reduce the measurement by 1" to determine the needed length. Under-mount slides, measure the complete depth of the drawer’s bottom. The slides need to completely cover the bottom for proper functionality and operation. Bottom-mount drawer slides experience more weighted pressure than side-mount guides, but have no vertical, downward friction pressure.

Drawer Glide Color Options And Materials

Drawer slides are available in several different colors, but the choices are still fairly limited. For side-mount drawer slides, color is more important because they will have visible exposure. Match the closest drawer glide color you can find to the color of the drawers’ external sides.

Common drawer slide colors include:

  • White
  • Almond
  • Ivory
  • Brown
  • Black
  • Silver

A lot of the color options are based on drawer slide materials, but metal has the most choices available.

lastic or Vinyl Drawer Slides

Plastic and vinyl drawer openers are the cheapest option, yet are prone to damage more frequently than other materials. Plastic glides are usually white color, but you may find some in ivory or almond.

Stainless Steel Drawer Glides

Stainless drawer glides will usually be a silver color, due to the material and the fact that they are not painted because their uses don’t usually require it. Stainless drawer slides have more strength so they are great for heavier loads.

Steel, Zinc-Plated Drawer Slides

Zinc metal drawer slides are basically made of bare metal with a protective zinc coating. The zinc protects the metal from moisture and corrosion, which also helps prevent rust to some extent.

Galvanized Steel Drawer Glides

Cabinet drawer slides that are galvanized offer better corrosion and rust protection than zinc plated slides. The galvanization still uses zinc, but the bare metal is hot-dipped into molten zinc verses a simple plating.

Wooden Drawer Guides

Wood cabinet drawer slides offer opportunities to paint or stain to match the cabinet’s and the drawer’s existing internal tone. Of course, it is strictly optional, but it can really make your custom cabinet look professionally done. The slides will look like part of the cabinet too. The only drawback is durability and longevity. Wood drawer guides are prone to chipping, wearing, and cracking. They are often made out of pine, but you may find other options too. Of course, you can always make you own!

Types Of Drawer Pull Mechanisms

As if you don’t have enough choices in choosing the right cabinet drawer glides, the operation/mechanism design determines how they move. You can choose drawer slides that automatically close when tapped, pop out with a nudge and get pulled out the rest of the way, or opt for soft-close slides in which the drawer closes more gently when automatically closing.

In summary, building custom kitchen or bathroom cabinets is a work of art, but it does require an understanding of options so that you can customize it to your liking while also making it last a lifetime. If you would like to see what cabinet design options are available, CabinetNow™ offers a wide selection of cabinet boxes, doors, drawers, and drawer fronts in various wood species, sizes, and designs.