A Beginners Guide for Cabinet Hardware Shoppers
Choosing the right hardware for your cabinet doors and drawers should be the most enjoyable part of your kitchen or bath project. After all, you’ve endured weeks or months of visiting showrooms, meeting with designers, salespeople, contractors, and the disruption of having your kitchen or bathroom demolished. Now all you have to do is pick out a knob or pull and you’re done. The hardware is the icing on the cake, the piece that pulls the finished product together!
But your optimism may be short-lived. When you Google cabinet hardware, you’ll see a mish-mash of hundreds of retailers offering hundreds of thousands of cabinet knobs and drawer pulls, all claiming to have to have the “lowest price and best quality” anywhere. You’ll quickly discover that choosing the right cabinet hardware can be time-consuming, frustrating, and exhausting.
Drawing on my 30 years in the cabinet and hardware industry, I’d like to give you some ammunition that will help you fight your way through the myriad of hardware retailers and the insane amounts of info you have to shuffle through so you can make an informed buying decision.
-Charlie Schaetzle, Owner of Bayport House Hardware
- Center to Center – the distance from the CENTER of one screw hole to the CENTER of the other screw hole. This is the standard industry measurement for sizing cabinet handles.
- Overall Length – the distance from one end of the pull to the other end. This measurement is always greater than the “center to center” measurement.
- Projection - measures how far the pull or knob sticks out from the surface of the cabinet door or drawer after it is installed.
- Diameter – self explanatory in a round knob, but the diameter of a pull or handle, if given, refers to the width or thickness of the bar portion of the pull (the part you grab).
- Break-away Screw – a longer screw which is notched in increments which allow you to modify the length of the screw to fit your particular application. All Bayport House knobs and pulls come with 1″ screws and 1 3/4″ break-away screws for convenience of the installer.
While it is easy to ascertain the look of Stainless Steel, Satin Nickel and Matte Black from a picture on the internet, the real life appearance of most other finishes is not as readily discernable from a picture. Whenever color, tint or hue come into play, it’s best to look at a sample first before placing the full order. Nearly all suppliers of hardware impose a restocking fee on hardware returned to them for any reason other than a defect. That means that if you receive the order and do not like the finish or appearance of the pulls, you are going to incur return shipping costs plus a restocking fee (which runs between 15% and 25% of the order) when you return them to the supplier.
So, you can see the wisdom in ordering a sample first and then placing the full order after you are confident that you will love the hardware when it arrives. Bayport House offers a 50% refund on your sample order when the full order is placed and doesn’t charge a restocking fee when items are returned in their original sealed packaging.
Your other option is to window shop at a local hardware store to see samples in person. You can then shop online to find the best deal for the exact finish you want.
Since most kitchen appliances purchased today are finished in stainless steel, most pulls and knobs are finished in either stainless steel or satin nickel, which also compliments the steel look very well. Here are a few things to look for when choosing a finish:
Satin Nickel – Also referred to as Brushed Nickel, normally uses Zinc or a Zinc alloy as base material. Nickel is added by electroplating the zinc. Nickel finishes Should have a final clear lacquer coating applied which protects the nickel finish. While some manufacturers do not add this protective coating, all Bayport House Satin Nickel finish knobs and pulls are clear coated with this lacquer finish.
Stainless Steel – Comes in many grades depending upon the Nickel content in the stainless steel used to make the pull. Nickel gives the steel added resistance to corrosion. Best choice is a stainless steel pull with 4% Nickel content. There are stainless steel pulls on the market with 8% Nickel but, unless you live on the water in a boathouse, it’s overkill as they can cost double the price. All Bayport House stainless steel pulls and knobs are made of type 202 (4% Nickel) stainless steel.
Bronze – Also referred to as Oil Rubbed Bronze (ORB) is a finish usually applied over Zinc although Brass pulls are also available in ORB finish. ORB finishes are inconsistent from one manufacturer to another. Do not attempt to match any ORB finish from one manufacturer to another. It won’t work. For instance, Bayport House ORB hardware has subtle golden highlights while some ORB pulls on the market are very dark without any highlighting at all.
Cheap is Cheap
- Warranty – Does the supplier guarantee the pulls will be free of manufacturing defects and will they be replaced if found to be defective?
- Availability – Do they have the product they are offering to me in stock?
- Timing – How quickly can they ship it?
- Screws – Are screws included with the pulls?
- Buy Direct – Most manufacturers distribute their hardware through stocking distributors, retail showrooms or internet sales companies. In each case, the price is marked up one or more times as it passes from company to company. The result is an inflated price to the end user. Bayport House manufacturers and sells directly to the end user, eliminating distributor and middleman markups, thereby offering true wholesale prices to the consumer.
What size do I need?
Typically, cabinet pulls come in many sizes with lengths ranging from just under 3″ up to 30″ and more and projections (how far the pull sticks out from the surface of your cabinet) of up to 2″ and more. Some knobs can be rather large as well. Therefore, in addition to eye appeal, you must consider the following size factors before placing your order.
Will the projection of the handle or knob interfere with the opening and closing of adjacent cabinet doors and drawers or appliances?
This is especially crucial whenever there are cabinets opposing each other in a corner. Extending drawers or opening doors installed close to a corner may impact knobs or pulls that project too far on the opposing run of cabinets . Likewise when there is an appliance installed close to a corner, will the dishwasher or oven doors open without hitting opposing cabinet hardware? Trash and convenience cabinet pullouts can also pose the same problem if too close to a corner.
Will the pull or knob fit on the drawer front properly?
If your doors and drawer fronts are slabs (no raised or recessed panels) you can skip this one. But, if your drawer fronts have a center panel, be sure to ascertain that the knob or pull you select will fit properly on the center panel section of the drawer front.
In the case of knobs, the height of your raised panel (top to bottom) must be larger than the diameter of the base of the knob you choose. For example, many raised panels are only 3/4″ to 1″ high. A knob with a 1″ base will not fit properly on a 3/4″ raised center panel.
In the case of pulls, be aware that although your cabinet may be 12″ wide, the center panel of the drawer front that you wish to install the handle on may be only 5″ wide after taking into account the rails left and right of the raised panel and the slope of the panel. So, in this case, you would have to buy a pull with a center to center dimension of less than 5″ to fit properly on a 12″ cabinet.
Is there any cabinet door swing conflict?
It’s easy to picture knobs or pulls on your cabinet doors when they are closed. But we need to know what happens after you open a door with a knob or handle on it. If your cabinets are already installed, take the time to open each door fully and observe where the pulls will end up when the door is fully open. If cabinets are not installed, take a look at your layout and discuss door swing with the cabinet supplier and installer if possible. Be especially aware that diagonal corner base and wall cabinet doors commonly conflict with adjacent cabinet doors after hardware is installed.
The Bayport House Guarantee
At Bayport House we guarantee all items in our inventory. Any pull found to be defective or damaged in transit will be replaced immediately upon notification. We stock all items in our inventory in depth, keeping as much as 10,000 pieces or more of each item in stock at all times. Orders ship within one (1) business day and often ship the very same day if received early enough during the day.
Hopefully this guide has helped you through the process of choosing the right pulls, handles or knobs for your cabinetry. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or comments – firstname.lastname@example.org.