PUBLISHED: Wednesday, October 01, 2014 by Donna Cook

There are 5 critical points to selecting the correct drawer slide for your application. Whether you have new construction or you are retro-fitting drawer slides, these tips will help you select the right slide for the job. Not all drawer slides work for retro-fit projects so when in doubt, ask a Tech Professional for advice.

1- Cabinet depth: Cabinets come in a variety of depths. Knowing the inside cabinet depth is the main measurement needed when selecting the length of drawer slide to purchase. Drawer slides come in 2" increments. If you have a 23" inside cabinet depth, you would need to order a 22" drawer slide and the rear mounting bracket to make up the additional 1" of space for proper installation (if the slide needs to be mounted to the rear wall of the cabinet). Frameless cabinets do not need the rear mounting bracket as the slides mount directly to cabinet wall.

2- Drawer length:

Drawer length is critical for "undermount" drawer slides. Undermount slides do not offer the flexibility to "retro-fit" into existing drawer boxes. Also, there is a grooved drawer slide that fits into the recessed side of the drawer. The drawer box is typically made to match the length of the slide.drawer-slides-undermount

3- Installation width.....Space between drawer box and cabinet wall:
The standard installation width of drawer slides is 1/2" per side of drawer. To determine your installation width, measure the inside cabinet width and the outside width of your drawer. Subtract the drawer width from the cabinet width and you will have the installation width of the drawer slide you need to purchase. There are heavy-duty slides available for more substantial uses. Generally those slides have a 3/4" per side installation width. Keep in mind where the smaller weight capacity drawer slides have detachable members, the heavy-duty slides do not come apart for installation.

4- Weight of drawer box and contents (Weight Load): As a general rule, 100 lb. capacity slides are used for most applications. There are drawer slides with lower weight ratings that can be used for light-weight drawers. Drawers that carry heavier loads, (in the kitchen) for example, should have a 100 lb rating as they have heavier use and store heavier items than a drawer, for example, storing light weight DVDs. Keep in mind, the weight of the drawer counts toward the load the slide will carry.

5- Environment-(Coastal compared to being inland)Stainless steel drawer slides are used for coastal/humid regions where the slide has more exposure to temperature and humidity variations.

Zinc plated drawer slides are generally used for most applications as long as weather fluctuation is not a factor.

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NOTE:  Another point to consider is the function and cost of the slides. The cost of drawer slides can be relatively inexpensive for a basic partial extension slide. Upgrades such as full extension, full extension with "soft close" feature, undermount with "soft close", or the heavy-duty 500 lb. weight capacity rating, add to the overall cost of the slides.

When upgrading your cabinets, it may cost a bit more for the full extension-soft close slides, but the extra cost is a re-gained if you decide to sell your home. Buyers in the market for a new home, like the upgraded touches in kitchens and bathrooms that soft close drawer slides offer.  

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