What You Need to Know When Shopping for Heavy Duty Drawer Slides

What You Need to Know When Shopping for Heavy Duty Drawer Slides

When specifying heavy-duty drawer slides, there are several important factors to consider.

 First, you want to make sure the slides you choose can hold the weight of the items that will be stored in them. This is especially important when dealing with heavier contents inside a drawer, such as tools, parts and other large objects. Different brands offer different maximum load capacities for their products, so it’s best to research and compare before making a purchase.

The construction material of the drawer slides is also an important consideration. Cold rolled steel is generally considered to be the strongest and most economical option available and is often used for higher load capacities. Aluminum, for light weight, and stainless steel for food service or marine applications, may also be used depending on the application, but those price points are high and may not be worth the price unless absolutely essential to the project.


It’s also important to consider where the slides will be mounted and how much space is available. Heavy-duty slides typically require more clearance, typically 3/4" for each side, compared to 1/2" for the standard drawer slide, so you need to make sure that the drawer is made to the correct dimensions for the opening.

Finally, it's important to read reviews and do research on a variety of brands and models before making a final decision. Who you are buying from is also important, heavy duty drawer slides are a specialty item and many distributors are not familiar with special applications or technical support for these products. Expect no support or guidance from retail DIY stores or Amazon Sellers. Buying from a reliable hardware supplier that specializes in heavy duty drawer slides will ensure that you get the best product for your money and are happy with your purchase in the long run.

Understand the Different Types of Heavy Duty Drawer Slides.

The right heavy-duty slide for your project should not be a problem.

Standard Heavy Duty Full Extension Drawer Slides

These available in two basic weight classes but vary slightly by manufacturer: 200lb. slides and 500 lb. slides. The 200lb option is typically used for medium load applications such as parts or tools, while the 500 lb. slide is used for heavier objects like power tools, and heavy fixtures. This configuration of slide is available in lengths from 10" up to 60" in 2" increments.

Locking Heavy Duty Drawer Slides

When it comes to locking drawer slides, they are always full extension drawer slides, the most common are 200 lb. heavy duty locking drawer slides and 500 lb. load locking drawer slides. Both options offer secure storage for heavier items such as tools and equipment. 200lb load slides are typically used for light to medium-duty applications and 500 lb. slides provide extra hold when storing heavy items.

In addition, these locking slides usually come with a spring lever release to lock the drawer in the fully open and lock in the fully closed position.

Regardless of which type of slide you select, make sure that the load capacity is high enough to support the weight of your contents. This will ensure safe and reliable operation over time.

Full Extension Ball Bearing

Most heavy duty full extension drawer slides are side mount and ball bearing. This ball bearing slide system is the perfect solution for maximum capacity drawers. The ball bearings provide superior strength and stability so that heavier loads can be carried with less effort. The full extension allows complete access to all items in a drawer, making it easier to find what you are looking for. Locking heavy duty drawer slides are available in a length of 12" to 60" in 2" increments.

Partial extension and Full Extension Roller Slides

The down downside to ball bearing drawer slides is that the bearing race can become contaminated with dust, dirt and debris. While the same can happen to roller slides, they are much more easily cleaned and don't require grease which acts as a magnet to dirt and dust. This is also why they are the choice for the food service equipment industry and can be NSF Certified, the drawers can be removed easily for daily cleaning. They also stand up to the hard use within the food service industry.

 Another benefit of roller slides is that if damaged you don't have ball bearings all over the shop or factory floor. This is especially important in aircraft maintenance or manufacturing facilities where FOD (Foreign Objects Debris) is a major, work stopping concern.

Another benefit of roller slides is that the drawer often rolls out with less effort that a ball bearing drawer slide. For those that are opening and closing a heavy drawer all day long you may be increasing their productivity over the course of the day by choosing a roller slide for your project.

Roller slides usually side mount or bottom mount to support the load. Roller slides come in partial extension and full extension options. Weight loads are 225lb. and 450lb. with lengths up to 1000mm or 40"

Consider the Weight Capacity and Length of Slide Needed.

All drawer slides have a load rating that is generally based on an 18" length. These are established by professional organizations that create standard testing methods for their industry. The load rating is always based on a pair and is considering the full extension of the drawer slide.

The longer the slide gets, the less weight it will be able to hold. If you can't find an exact weight rate at a specific length the rule of thumb is ength the rule of thumb is that the slides will lose 5% of the weight rating for every 50 mm or 2 inches over an 18" pair of slides. For example a 24" slide would lose 15% of the weight capacity. 

Standard types of heavy duty slides are usually rated in the 200lb. class or 500 lb. class range, with some models rating up to 800lbs or more for extreme loads. Although these are usually classified as Super Heavy Duty Drawer Slides, specially made models can have a load rating up to 3000 lbs.. Many of these slides are designed for industrial and commercial applications and can be used in a variety of settings such as parts racks, testing fixtures, electrical enclosures and so many more.

With mobile applications like service trucks, conversion vans, expedition vehicles, etc., we suggest reducing the weight limit to 50% of the standard weight class. This is because of the vibration generated by the vehicle while traveling down the road.

In other mobile applications like factory carts, that is not as much and issues. But do understand that high use or high-speed applications in automated processes need special care to specify the correct solution, please contact OVIS for a consultation for these types of applications.

Choose a Finish That Complements Your Design.

When it comes to selecting a finish, zinc plated is the most commonly used for heavy duty drawer slides. This zinc coating not only provides enhanced durability, but also provides a professional look and is the economic choice. For large customers, slides can be custom powder coated for improved protection from dirt and other environmental elements. Powder coating is available in a variety of colors but more common in black or white.

Aluminum and stainless steel can make a great look too; the cost of those options makes them a more functional choice.

Measure Carefully to Ensure Proper Fit.

Length of the Drawer Slides

First you need to know the depth of the cabinet or enclosure where the slides will be mounted. The space you have will determine the length of the slide you can fit inside. This is why all drawer slides are firstly designated by the closed length. Heavy duty drawer slides are mostly made in even number lengths in 2" increments. If you have a space of 25", the longest slide you can fit is a 24".

Width of the Drawer Slides

When installing your heavy duty drawer slides into your cabinet or other enclosure you must take into account the installation width of the slides. Most heavy duty drawer slides have an installation width of 3/4" +1/32" -0 on each side. This means your drawer should be 1-1/2" to 1-9/16" smaller than the slide mounting points on the cabinet. Please review the specifications sheet of each model for this information.

Extension of the Drawer Slides

Also, consider the area around where the drawer will be mounted. Some of these slides extend a great distance and you should be aware of the clearance when the drawer is fully extended. For instance, a 60" full extension drawer slide with double its length to 120". Thats 10 feet fully extended. Also, check to see if the lock handle will be accessible with the drawer open or closed.

Installation of Heavy Duty Drawer Slides

Heavy duty drawer slides should be mount directly to the side wall to the cabinet or enclosure with screws or other fasteners distributed evenly along the length of the drawer slide. This prevents twist in the slide as the load traverses the length of the slide. If you're mounting in a face frame style cabinet, you must block out the side wall for mounting. Mounting solidly to the side wall also adds stability to the lateral movement of the drawer. Screws are rarely supplied with heavy duty drawer slides since the applications and materials vary widely.

 TIP: Don't make your drawer too wide. How wide is too wide? The rule of thumb for the smoothest motion is to keep the drawer to less than 1.5 times the length of the drawer slide. For example, if the drawer slide is 24" wide, you should try to keep the drawer to less than 36" wide. Real wide drawers tend to get disorganized too, and the load can easily become uneven.

 Most 500lb.+ load rated slides do not come apart to de mount the drawer. Please read our detailed instructions on installing a heavy duty drawer slide for details.

 We get many questions about flat mounting drawer slides in general, but most are skewed to heavy duty drawer slides as they are used in unusual applications. We at OVIS do not recommend flat mounting a side mount drawer slide. Any side mount ball bearing drawer slides will lose 60-75% of their weight capacity when installed on the minor axis, i.e., flat. Mounting the slides flat on any length over 18" will get very springy and will be prone to fail and is not covered under the manufacturer's warranty. Please go to our guide on alternate mounting methods for drawer slides.

 In conclusion, heavy duty drawer slides are an essential part of many industrial and commercial applications. It is important to select a slide that has the proper weight rating and length for your application, choose a finish that complements your design and measure carefully to ensure a proper fit. Additionally, be aware of the clearance when fully extended and install directly to the side wall with fasteners distributed evenly. Following these tips will help ensure the successful installation of your heavy duty drawer slides.

 If you need heavy duty drawer slides for your application, OVIS has the perfect solutions for you. With our extensive selection of roller and ball bearing slides in various finishes and sizes, we have what you're looking for. Contact OVIS today to find the perfect fit for your project needs!

What You Need to Know When Shopping for Heavy Duty Drawer Slides
Chip August 22, 2023
Share this post
Sign in to leave a comment