Ultimate Guide to Drawer Slides

Nothing can make or break the quality of a project you have been working on more than the drawer slides you choose. Whether working on the kitchen, bathroom, closet, pantry remodels or personal projects, choosing the right drawer slide makes the perfect final touch. Here is a useful guide through all of the options that are available to homeowners today.

Choosing the Right Drawer Slide

When deciding which drawer slide is right for the job there are several important things to consider.

The Ideal Type of Mount for Your Project
The Slide Length and Extension Type You Need
The Type of Motion You Want it to Have
The Amount of Weight your Slide Will Need to Hold.
Different Types of Disconnects
Color & Finish Choices
Popular Slide Brands

As a side note, if you are unfamiliar with any of the topics terms used in this tutorial, feel free to jump over to our Drawer Slide Term Glossary for a quick explanation.

​The Different Mounting Options

 There are five basic types of mounting options offered today. The amount of space available for the drawer inside the cabinet, weight holding capacities, visibility, and cost usually determine the type of drawer slides that people typically choose.

Bottom-Mount Drawer Slides

With bottom mount drawer slides, the slides attached to the bottom left and bottom right-hand sides of the drawer box.

These are generally a roller guided drawer slide instead of ball bearings. Also, the most common is the partial extension, but are also available in a full extension.

The bottom mount has an angle flange that supports the drawer box which also has the benefit of indexing the side for easier and quicker installation.

These are most commonly used and were designed for frameless cabinets, but have also been adapted and used for face frame cabinets here in the U.S.

Shop for Bottom-Mount Drawer Slides Here

Side mount drawer slide diagram

Side-Mount Slides

With side-mount drawer slides, the slides themselves attach horizontally to the drawer and the cabinet body. Side mount drawer slides are useful across a wide variety of applications because of their weight bearing capacities and durability.

Side-mount slides are available with either a ball-bearing or a roller mechanism. OVIS sells more of the ball-bearing variety because of their load-bearing capability, their increased durability over time and little deflection. 

Required clearance is typically around a ½” between the drawer slides and the sides of the cabinet opening and generally the only downside to a side-mount drawer slide is that they will limit the horizontal width of your drawer. If the horizontal width is a concern, you might consider getting an undermount slide with comparable features.

Most of our Side Mount Slides are here, but there are many more available in other categories.

Center mount drawer slide diagram

Center-mount slides 

Center-mount slides are single slides that mount directly under the center of a drawer. 

Center-mount slides may restrict the height of the drawer and you need to mind the size of your cabinet. One benefit is that center-mount slides are easier to install. However, most center-mount slides hold less weight than side mount alternatives.

Shop for Center-Mount Drawer Slides Here

Undermount drawer slide diagram

Undermount slides

  • Undermount slides mount to the sides of the cabinet and connect to locking devices that are attached to the underside of the drawer body inside of the cabinet. 
  • Undermount slides are ideal when you want to highlight the quality of your cabinetry itself because the slides are not visible.
  • Undermount slides are ideal when horizontal space is limited because they typically only require 3/16" to 1/4" of space per slide. The other thing to note about under mount slides is that they require ½” of clearance above and below the drawer in the cabinet opening.
  • Shop for Undermount Drawer Slides Here

Groove mount drawer slide diagram.

Groove Mount Drawer Slides

Groove mount slides are NOT commonly used in the US. Here in the US we commonly see these on imported furniture from Europe.

These slides mount in a groove milled into the side of the drawer box and are commonly identified by the groove height. The common groove heights are 17 mm and 27 mm. OVIS sells the 17 mm style, but not the 27 mm groove option. 

This type of slide generally has a light load rating and is generally only used in a partial extension variation.

Shop for Groove Mount Drawer Slides Here

Slide length

It is important for users to consider their ideal slide length and extension when choosing drawer slides. Because drawer slides can last for years it is worth making an investment in the exact configuration you would be most likely to enjoy over a long period. Nothing is more frustrating than having shorter drawer travel than you need or having your nice granite countertop keep you from being able to access the items inside your kitchen drawers. 

In general, most people buy slides that range in size from 10" to 28". Additionally, at OVIS, we offer a variety of heavy-duty drawer slides that are 30”, 36”, 40”, 42”, 48”, and even up to 60” long. Shop by size.

For side-mount and center-mount slides, typically measure the distance from the front edge of the cabinet to the inside face of the cabinet back and then subtract 1". For undermount slides, measure the drawer length. Slides must be the same length as drawer to work properly.

Extension: Figuring out the Right Size of Drawer Slide

One thing to be aware of when choosing drawer slides is how large the drawer space is in the cabinet. While there are a variety of options for how a drawer will ultimately extend, you also need to buy a drawer that is the right size for your cabinet. Furthermore, when there is a lip, or overhang from a countertop or the top of a cabinet it is ideal to get drawers with over-travel so that you can easily access everything in the drawer.

Drawer Slide Types

3/4 extension: (See illustration Fig. A) Restricted access to your drawers' contents is probably what most people have become accustomed to. Slides with ¾ extension allow you to pull the drawer out ¾ of its total specified length and are still better than older wooden guide drawers you might still have around the house. While these are an economical solution to replacing an old drawer slide there are also some exciting new options available from OVIS. 

Full extension: (See illustration Fig. B) Full extension drawer slides are recommended for the average homeowner or hobbyists because they allow you to easily view and access everything that is inside of your drawers.

Overtravel: (See illustration Fig. C) Drawers with the overtravel feature allows drawers to open beyond full extension, meaning that you get more inches (See illustration Fig. D) of clearance than you would with a full extension drawer slide. Drawer slides with over travel are ideal if you have kitchen countertops that hang over the edge or have a lip on your cabinets. They will still provide total visibility and access to your cabinet contents. 

Features/ Motion

Today’s slides offer a wealth of complex features that allow you to have a luxury experience at a reasonable price. Some important features to look for when purchasing drawer slides are:

  • Shock Absorption: Hard closing or slamming is often what causes damage to the internal mechanism of a drawer slide. In order to help protect the quality of your slides, look for slides that feature shock-absorbing capability which will also limit noise if anyone inadvertently slams them shut. 
  • Push to open: Slides that open with an easy nudge give you the ultimate in minimal appeal and keeps you from needing an extra handle or knob. These are a great choice for kitchens and bathrooms where obtrusive hardware might interfere with the look of your space, or give the kids something to bump into.
  • Self-close: Slides return the drawer all the way into the cabinet when the drawer is pushed slightly in that direction. 
  • Soft close: Slides add a dampening effect to self-close feature returning the drawer into the cabinet softly, without slamming.

Weight Rating

Weight Rating is an important consideration because you want to have a drawer slide that lasts for a lifetime of use. The key to getting your money’s worth is to ensure that you are getting a product that is rated to hold as much weight as you will require. 

In general, most slides are rated to hold 75, 100 or 150 pounds. This is a key consideration in places like the kitchen where heavy cooking pots & pans could easily break down lesser slides. OVIS offers you expert guidance on the usage and installation of heavy duty drawer slides which can handle up to 500 lbs. or more of static load. 

Drawer slide weight ratings are determined following the specifications of the following standards programs. In general, all drawer slides are rated based on an 18-inch length. Longer slides will have less weight capacity, slides shorter than 18" will have a higher capacity, and the really short 8-10" can have less capacity. Consult list the below listed governing bodies for details.

There are two types of load ratings that exist. The load rating must include the weight of the drawer as part of the total load to consider.

1. Static Load: The weight limit of the drawer without cycling. The slide should support the load without buckling

2. Dynamic Load: This load is determined by cycling a weighted drawer for a specified number of cycles. The slide should function with minimal changes to the required opening and closing force throughout the test.

In general, load ratings are for a 450mm (18 in.) long drawer slide on a 450mm (18 in.) wide drawer. The test drawer is pulled open from the center of the drawer and cycled to a predetermined number of cycles according to industry standards. Factors such as speed, number, and frequency of cycles, the stopping force, distance traveled, excessive vibration, unevenly distributed loads, improper installation, and abuse can cause premature failure and reduce the performance and life expectancy of the drawer slides.

Testing Body Standards

  • ANSI/BIFMA X5.5-2008 American National Standards Institute/Business Industrial Furniture Manufacturers Association
  • ANSI/KCMA A161.1-2006 American National Standards Institute/Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association
  • ANSI-BHMA A 156.9-2010 American National Standards Institute/Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association
  • NSF/ANSI 2 Food Equipment National Sanitation Foundation (International)/American National Standard Institute
  • SEFA-8-2007 Scientific Equipment and Furniture Association
  • WI Woodworking Institute (California)

Please note that the above standards are not released publicly, you must be a member of the association to view the details of the copyrighted standards. 

Installation Considerations


Disconnects are the mechanisms that allow you to remove a drawer from its housing. There are three common types of disconnects: lever, rail, and friction. Each one is a little different depending on the brand:

  • Lever disconnects feature an internal lever that, when depressed, allows the drawer to slide out freely. 
  • Rail disconnects feature a latch that enables you to raise the drawer up off the slide to pull it away from the desk or cabinet in which it is housed. 
  • Friction disconnects, unlike lever and rail disconnects, do not require the manipulation of a latch or lever but simply allow you to open your slide against the force of the ball bearing holding it. 
  • OVIS also offers a variety of locking drawer slides. Some have slightly more complicated release mechanisms and are ideal for mobile applications such as use in an RV.


  • There are also a few options on the color or look of the drawer slides you desire. 
  • The majority of slides offered in the industry today come in a metallic zinc finish, which keeps them from getting corroded in relatively non-humid environments.
  • Some brands are starting to offer black drawer slides which blend well with dark or black stained wood. 
  • OVIS also carries some chromated steel drawer slides which provide your drawer slides a more polished look.
  • Don’t forget, there are always undermount slides as well if you would like to highlight the natural features of the drawer wood itself.
Chad Lyons November 24, 2023
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