Although the cost of hardware is small in comparison to other kitchen upgrades, new kitchen hardware makes a huge difference in your space! Having the right hardware goes a long way in creating the style and feel you want in your kitchen or bathroom. In addition, though many people upgrade their hardware and cabinets at the same time, you don’t have to paint, reface, or replace your kitchen cabinets in order to upgrade your hardware.
The main downside to getting new kitchen hardware is that there are just so. many. choices! Figuring out how to choose the kitchen cabinet hardware that best fits your budget AND style can be really overwhelming. We created this guide to help walk you through the process of picking out cabinet hardware and making a great choice for your space with less decision paralysis.
And if you’re still feeling stressed out about the decision, remember that while new hardware is a bit of an investment, it’s not permanent. You can always update your hardware later if you get new appliances or just want to change the look of your space.
Kitchen Cabinet Hardware – Factors to Consider
When you’re beginning to look for new hardware, there are a few factors to consider. Here are the top five areas to think about that will help you make the best choice for your cabinets.
And if you need help, just ask! We’re happy to offer some of our favorite hardware suggestions as we work on updating your kitchen space with you.
5 areas to consider when choosing cabinet hardware:
- Knobs Vs. Pulls
- Hardware finish
- Hardware style
- Hardware size
In addition, depending on the time-sensitivity of your project, don’t forget to check on the availability of the hardware you want. If your kitchen project is coming up quickly, you’ll want to make sure that your hardware is in stock before ordering. Depending on the company you order from, it could take a few weeks for your hardware to come in. Make sure the hardware’s timing works with your project’s schedule.
During our refacing jobs, if the client is supplying the hardware, we ask that you have it on hand before the install begins. This ensures that there are no delays and that we can get your hardware installed for you before we leave your home.
1. Knobs Vs. Pulls
Cabinet hardware comes in various shapes and sizes. In your search for the perfect hardware, the first step is to decide whether you’ll buy knobs or pulls. In most cases, this is up to preference – there are no strict rules! However, there are a few factors to consider. You can either choose to use all knobs, all pulls, or both. If you choose both knobs and pulls, then typical placement is to have the knobs on your cabinet doors and pulls on your cabinet drawers.
What’s the difference between cabinet knobs and cabinet pulls?
The main difference between knobs and pulls is their size and shape. While knobs are fairly small and are usually screwed in with just one screw, pulls are generally longer and attached using two screws, more like a handle. Pulls can be easier to grab, and may be a better option for those with arthritis or young children with small hands. They’re often used on larger cabinets. On the contrary, knobs are smaller and more often used on drawers or smaller cabinets.
2. Choosing a Hardware Finish
Next come the fun choices! Choosing a finish and style for your cabinet pulls or knobs is where you can really infuse your style into your kitchen through the hardware.
Our best tip for choosing a finish is to match your hardware to your existing colors. Appliances, light fixtures, and other kitchen accessories can all be considered when choosing a hardware finish. This creates a cohesive look throughout your space. Some of the most popular choices are oil-rubbed bronze, chrome, brushed nickel, and brass.
Do you have a modern kitchen design with stainless steel appliances? Stainless steel, satin nickel, or silver satin are good options to consider.
For farmhouse kitchens, matte black or chrome are popular choices.
For timeless and traditional kitchens, consider brass or bronze.
It can be tricky to visualize how each hardware type will look in your space. If you’re not sure what finish will look best in your space, don’t be afraid to check out your local home improvement store’s cabinet hardware selection and grab a few different knobs or pulls in different finishes. While holding a knob or pull up to your cabinets definitely doesn’t give you the full picture, it’s a great option to at least help you get an idea of how your choice of hardware will match with your space, cabinets, and overall kitchen colors and finishes.
3. Choosing a Hardware Style
There are tons of choices and different styles when it comes to cabinet hardware, and really, finding the perfect hardware all comes down to personal preference. The right cabinet hardware will be something you love looking at and something that fits the overall style of your kitchen.
Modern kitchens often feature sleek, clean lines, in classic colors like black or stainless steel.
Traditional kitchens often have more decorative or ornate hardware choices in warm colors like bronze or brass.
Farmhouse kitchens often have more rustic, inviting hardware styles in warm tones, like black, brass, or bronze.
4. Choosing Hardware Size
The right size for your hardware depends largely on both the size of your kitchen and the size of your cabinets. As a good rule of thumb, larger kitchens and large cabinets look best with more sizable hardware. Smaller cabinets and kitchens usually match best with small knobs or pulls.
Especially if you’re choosing handles/pulls, make sure that they size is proportionate to the size of the average door or drawer front. Sometimes, certain handles will look oddly disproportionately small compared to larger drawers and doors. This is especially a problem with the 5-piece, large drawer trend. Many handles will have different sizes within the same style, so take home or order samples and play around with what looks best.
When it comes to placement, there are no hard and fast rules. For doors, we typically recommend that knobs (on typical rail and stile door construction) are centered on the stile and in line with the inside edge of the rail. Handles vary more. Sometimes one hole will be in the same spot as the knob would be with the second hole being the appropriate distance apart. Because hole to hole distance on handles vary, other times it looks best to move the handle up or down, but to still remain centered on the stile.
For drawer placement, knobs and handles are usually centered vertically and horizontally, in the dead center of the drawer. However, many times on larger, lower drawers, we will place the knobs and handles the same distance vertically from the top edge as the drawers above it. This helps to keep a semblance of consistency and also makes the handle easier to grab without it being too low to the ground.
5. Hardware Cost
Of course, assessing the cost of new cabinet hardware is an important part of the selection process for most homeowners. Cabinet hardware comes in many different options, and each type, style, and finish varies in cost.
So, should you splurge and go with the perfect choice? Or is new cabinet hardware a good place cut corners and save a bit of cash on your kitchen remodel?
Our opinion is that if you know the style and finish you want (and aren’t planning to change your style or experiment with different hardware in the near future), you should consider paying for hardware that’s going to last. With something that gets touched and pulled on every day (often many times per day), going the cheap route can mean having the finish wear off or your hardware or otherwise have it wear out quickly, which just means more money to replace them again in the near future.
As with most things, you get what you pay for. In general, cheaper knobs and handles won’t last as long as quality hardware that costs more initially but overall costs less per year.
How to Choose Kitchen Cabinet Hardware FAQ
What hardware is best for shaker-style cabinets?
Shaker-style cabinets are a popular choice for many homeowners, and rightly so. They’re a timeless option that’s been around for decades and blends in with various styles of homes. Bar pulls and classic knobs are especially common with shaker-style cabinets. Truly, though, there are very few cabinet hardware options that look bad with shaker-style doors, so go with what you love!
For finish, black hardware and silver or nickel cabinet hardware are especially popular with the classic and clean-cut white cabinets.
Where should I buy my cabinet hardware?
There’s not necessarily a “right place” to purchase your hardware.
Is it easy to install cabinet hardware myself?
Looking to save a little by DIYing part or all of the process?
If you’re comfortable with a drill and with taking precise measurements, yes, you can install your cabinet hardware yourself. The downside to installing your own hardware is that small mistakes can be costly.
When repainting, refacing, or getting new cabinets, installing hardware is usually the last thing to be done. This means that you’re probably going to be drilling into brand new or freshly painted doors. Mistakes are easy to make, and unfortunately, if the measurements are off or the drill slips, you may need to either get a new door or pay to have the door repainted.
Have More Questions About Your Kitchen Cabinet Hardware?
We’re here to help! We specialize in cabinet refacing and update our clients’ kitchen cabinet hardware in nearly every home we work in. We get the privilege of seeing firsthand the difference that small details – like cabinet hardware – make in a home. Although hardware is one of the final touches in our process, it definitely makes a big impact.
Whether you’re interested in refacing your kitchen cabinets or just want to update your outdated hardware and give your current kitchen cabinets a boost, new, updated hardware is a fairly inexpensive way to add visual interest and make a big difference in the look and feel of the room.