Here we share our types of drawer slides guide including the different design styles, materials, sizes, features, and effective drawer slide measurement tips.
It is indeed logical why selecting the best drawer slide is crucial given how frequently you will open a drawer throughout its existence. Your drawer slide selection will be influenced by a variety of aspects, including the type, cost, features, finishes, and perhaps just a preference for the way a certain slide feels in your hands.
Chests of drawers, cabinets, and other pieces of furniture frequently have drawer slides. A piece of furniture will be equipped with at least one slide if it includes one or more drawers. A mechanism called a drawer slide enables a drawer to glide into and out of the piece of furniture where it is mounted.
A set of sliders hold each drawer in place. A drawer will slide along these rails whenever you pull it out. Although this technique of movement is shared by all drawer slides, there are many different styles available.
Drawer Slide Design Styles
Here we share the different drawer slide design styles with their mounting installation type, advantages, disadvantages and uses.
Side Mounted Drawer Slides
Side mount drawer slides are quite a common component in cabinet and furniture design. They are simple to install and adaptable, with numerous choices including self-close, soft-close, and touch-release.
Moreover, side-mount drawer slides are installed on the side of the drawer frame, just like their name suggests. They are typical on a selection of products, including kitchen cabinets, toolboxes, and storage cabinets. There is quite a good probability that you use side-mounted drawer slides if you inspect your kitchen right now.
However, there are usually two types of side-mount drawer slides – ball-bearing models and epoxy or Euro models, which have nylon rollers that move along tracks.
The advantages of ball-bearing side-mounted types include their quiet operation, large weight carrying capacities, and possibilities for complete expansion and over-travel. Additionally, they frequently come with a detent as default, which prevents the drawer from slowly opening if the cabinet is marginally out of level.
The side-mounted models with epoxy coating have an opening detent that keeps the drawer open for convenient access while you operate as well as self-closing action. These slides need a space between them and the edges of the cabinet opening, typically 0.5 inches.
Center Mount Drawer Slides
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Center-mount drawer slides represent a more traditional form of drawer slide that continues to be in operation today, but they are more commonly sold as substitutes for older cabinets.
They are completely covered just like under-mount drawer slides, but rather than being attached beneath both sides of the drawer, a solitary slide runs down the center. Center-mount drawer slides are designed for lightweight applications and are positioned underneath the drawer centers.
Moreover, center mount slides are recommended if the drawer is relatively lightweight and is equipped with unusual joinery such as finger joints. Center-mount slides are often only accessible in 3/4 extension and do not have features like soft-close and self-close due to their restricted weight limit.
On the market, single center mount drawer slides are available for purchase. They are usually offered in both traditional wood and ball-bearing models. The necessary clearance is determined by the width of the slide.
Under Mount Drawer Slides
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Under-mount drawer slides are hidden beneath the drawer box. They offer more stability than side-mount drawer slides. Under-mount drawer slides enable the drawer to slide open and close freely. Furthermore, they can bear greater weight and give more support than drawer slides situated on the drawer box’s sides.
Furthermore, under-mount drawer slides have two advantages over side-mount drawer slides – they are completely obscured underneath the drawer and, because they do not require quite so much space on the sides for clearance, they provide considerably greater storage space within the drawer.
Nonetheless, take into account that you will lose some drawer height within the drawer because the slides necessitate additional room under the drawer. Aside from that, under-mount drawer slides are also typically equipped with high-end features such as soft-close, making them a popular choice for high-end cabinets.
You can check the spec documents if you are installing drawers because they have precise specifications for side thickness, drawer dimensions, and typically necessitate notching at the backside.
Under-mount drawer slides are available in a variety of lengths, allowing homeowners to customize them according to their desired cabinet depths. There are also available full-extension under-mount drawer slides that enable drawers to be extended completely, making it accessible to the drawer’s rear.
Ball Bearing Drawer Slides
Ball-bearing drawer slides are among the most popular types of drawer slides. These drawer slides, as the name implies, are distinguished by the use of ball bearings. They have little metal balls embedded in the tracks that minimize friction, enabling drawers to close and open very smoothly.
Ball-bearing drawer slides are available with one-way or two-way motion. Notwithstanding, the rails are all equipped with ball bearings. Such slides are much sturdier and have a higher weight-bearing capacity than roller slides.
Progressive motion or telescopic slide versions are the most common ball-bearing slide options. Progressive motion drawer slides enable silent and slick closing and opening actions since all slide parts move at once.
Telescopic slides, nevertheless, are partitioned and move individually in stages, with each portion fully stretching or compressing before initiating the movement of the following portion.
Soft Close Ball Bearing Slides
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Soft-close ball-bearing slides are employed in a variety of settings, including industrial equipment and home furnishings like dresser drawers. Such drawer slides’ construction incorporates ball bearings, which increase its durability and capacity to support heavy loads. They can sometimes be employed at different angles and in both vertical and horizontal arrangements.
In order to provide telescopic action, soft close ball-bearing slides utilize ball bearings rather than rollers. The cabinet member, intermediate member, as well as drawer member, are typically their three individual elements. The drawer member is mounted to the moving part, while the cabinet member is mounted to a grounded or fixed part.
Roller Drawer Slides
Roller slides are connected to the drawer box’s edges and include a rolling wheel that allows it to slide backward and forward across the track. This style of drawer slide is commonly found on more affordable furniture pieces and cabinets.
Roller slides are commonly made up of two bonded, epoxy-coated metal profiles—one attached to the drawer and another to the cabinet frame. They also usually have nylon wheels that enable the profiles to travel smoothly and softly along one another.
These slides are more visible than wood slides since they connect to the sides of the drawer and, as a result, will require a false face or an elongated drawer front lip to cover the types of cabinet hardware that are being used..
Roller slides, which are available in either side-mount or bottom-mount, also known as European bottom-mount models, are often utilized for particularly lightweight purposes.
This type of drawer slide is frequently more fragile than the others and is more susceptible to bending under severe pressure. You must also attach roller slides that are absolutely level or the slide will move open by itself.
Euro Drawer Slides
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A Euro drawer slide is an epoxy-coated one-rail under-mount drawer slide. A nylon wheel, rather than a ball-bearing mechanism, is used to accomplish pull-out motion. Load capabilities range from 75 to 100 pounds, and such slides can be 3/4 or complete extension.
Euro drawer slides are often affordable, simple to install, and have a decent medium load capacity. They attach to the bottom part of the drawer side as well as the interiors of the cabinet. Because of their inexpensive cost and simplicity of installation, they are frequently an excellent alternative.
Top Mount Drawer Slides
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Top-mounted drawer runners or slides are connected to the drawer’s top portion as well as the cabinet opening. Under-mount drawer slides are the absolute antithesis of this.
Top-mount drawer slides are widely utilized in pencil drawers and keyboard trays that lack sides and bottoms. It is important to remember that the drawer and its contents are dependent on the screw that holds the slides, thus its assembly requires a good-quality series of screws.
Drawer Slide Materials
Metal On Metal Drawer Slides: Metal-on-metal drawer slides are usually the most ideal drawer slide material if you are planning on putting a considerable load in your cabinet. The vast majority of drawer slides on the market use high-quality metal slides with stainless steel bearings for smooth operation.
In general, conventional metal-on-metal drawer slides can withstand sufficient weight for daily usage in the kitchen. These slides are normally rated for loads ranging from 75 to 100 pounds.
Nevertheless, in other cases, a more formidable metal slide is required. Hence, you have to look for thicker metal slide in drawers that can withstand greater weight than usual, such as huge types of filing cabinets, pantry pull-outs, or tool cabinets. These are made of tougher metal and have additional ball bearings to increase sturdiness.
Wood On Wood Drawer Slides: Cabinet and furniture manufacturers employed wooden slides solely before the introduction of more advanced plastic and metal drawer slide designs.
These elements, made out of wood strips, act as horizontal rails upon which drawers sit and slide. Depending on the cabinet or drawer front, supports can be installed on the wood-on-wood slides to aid in the movement of the drawers whenever they close and open.
The use of wood-on-wood slides in furniture and cabinet items necessitates precise manufacture and installation to provide for smooth drawer motion without being excessively loose or overly tight. Although getting the right fit is tough, it culminates in a finished drawer that does not require any extra hardware or false face components.
Nevertheless, despite the stylistic benefit of employing wood-on-wood drawer slides, the difficulties of establishing a well-balanced drawer fit as well as the constraints on extension, make it unsuitable.
Full extension is not achievable with wood slides without sacrificing stability, and their proclivity to stick, particularly in humid situations, which makes them less ideal to be used than metal drawer slides.
Drawer Slide Sizes
The most important consideration when selecting a drawer slide is its depth. If your drawer slide is either excessively thick or thin, it will not function properly. It is preferable to measure the cabinets rather than refer to the preceding slides to determine the necessary depth.
For instance, if the drawer width is 15 inches and the drawer slot depth is 16.5 inches, the total space available for both slides becomes 1.6 inches. This implies it requires two 0.75-inch-deep drawer slides.
Take note that buying slides that are very thin is usually better suited because a shim can be placed between the cabinet walls and the slides to fill in the gap between them.
The drawer slide’s length is also important. A drawer slide that is excessively long or short might not open or close correctly, causing the slides to get overworked. Hence, you have to choose the longest slide that will fit without reaching the drawer depth.
Furthermore, it is difficult to establish a drawer slide taller than the drawer or pull-out. This is particularly the case for mounts that are incredibly thin. When installing thin drawers with a limited mounting area, you can use a tall drawer slide.
Finally, the appropriate drawer width prevents the drawer slides from flexing or twisting significantly. Wider drawers must be capable of supporting less weight than the weight restriction mentioned.
Most slides do not come with a standard size, although they are not suitable for lateral file drawers. As a result, the width of the drawer must not be greater than the depth of the cabinet.
Face Frame Cabinets: A short slide inhibits the drawer from completely opening, while an excessively long slide will not fit in the cabinet. To establish the right length, you have to measure the inner depth of the cabinet behind the face frame and select a slide that is one size shorter.
Frameless Cabinets: Under-mount slides are suitable for frameless cabinets with little horizontal space since they generally take up 0.188 to 0.25 inches per slide.
Another thing to keep in mind concerning under-mount slides is that they need 0.5 inches of clearance both above and underneath the drawer in a frameless cabinet opening.
Drawer Slide Features
Full Extension Drawer Slides: The entire drawer can be easily accessed using full-extension drawer slides. This form of slide is widely available in shops and is the finest choice for the majority of cabinets.
However, you have to verify the load rating to ensure you are not overloading them because they have a tendency to become less durable the more load they are carrying.
In addition, full-extension drawer slides are ideal for an average homeowner or enthusiast since they enable them to see and access everything within the drawers.
Self Closing Drawer Slides: When a drawer is tagged as ‘self-closing’, it means that it will close itself when it gets to the final few inches of its course. When touched too gently, the drawer stays partially open, whereas pressing too strongly causes it to bounce right back.
This problem is solved by self-closing drawer slides. A basic self-closing slide shuts the drawer quickly, using either a ramped rail, which is common on epoxy slides or using a spring operation, which is, on the other hand, common on telescopic varieties.
A set of slides replaces the normal components in a self-closing drawer slide. Once you insert these slides, the drawer travels to its hinges and glides back into position. Nonetheless, because it has little influence on closing, this slide is usually not advised for fragile cabinets.
Moreover, self-closing drawer slides are ideal for workshops as well as other busy areas where cabinets must be fully closed at all times. However, because it usually creates a sound, it is not suggested in places where peace is essential like baby nurseries or libraries.
Soft Close Drawer Slide: Soft-close drawers have a dampening mechanism that delays the movement of the drawer so it does not emit a noisy clang. This prevents items from sliding around and making noise within the drawer. It also extends the life of the drawer slide by reducing wear and stress.
In addition, soft-close drawer slides assist in keeping drawers closed without having to close them firmly by hand. Whenever the drawer reaches a specific position, either a spring or a little ramp that runs behind the slide causes it to close quietly.
Furthermore, soft-close slides are ideal for noise-sensitive environments such as workplaces, libraries, clinics, and high-end establishments. They are also ideal for sectors such as archives that require the storage of sensitive items. Soft-close slides are frequently utilized to create child-safe drawers.
Push To Open Drawer Slides: Push-to-open drawer slides remove the demand for drawer pulls, minimizing exposed hardware on the cabinet’s exterior. Pushing the drawer face opens the drawer broad enough for the spring mechanism to go inside and pull it away. This drawer slide feature provides a sleek and modern look while reducing costs.
Aside from that, push-to-open drawer slides are common in areas where clearance or space is restricted such as trailer homes or compact locations where a drawer handle could collide with a piece of neighboring furniture or other structural features when opened.
The vast majority of push-to-open drawer slides, however, rely on a spring, which degrades over a period and is subjected to daily abuse. This implies that the spring’s strength can be lost when pushing the drawer open or once it breaks.
Another issue is that if the spring system fails and the drawer closes, it can be difficult to open it by holding the outside of the drawer. Thus, when selecting this drawer slide, it is advisable to utilize high-quality materials.
Lock In Drawer Slides: With a lock-in drawer slide, you can safely lock the drawer into position when closed. This drawer slide feature is beneficial for kitchen appliance mounts, child safety, as well as boats and recreational vehicles where drawers may open while traveling. The drawer remains locked or open until a lever part gets triggered.
Heavy Duty Weight Capacity: Drawer slides that are labeled heavy-duty are indeed robust and long-lasting. These drawer sliders are perfect for both professional and recreational use. The construction of camper trailers, caravans, vehicle coverings, and customized drawers all make use of these incredibly durable drawer slides.
Massive loads of up to 170 pounds can usually be supported by heavy-duty slides. In fact, some of these slides even include distinctive properties such as lock-in and lock-out features as well as weight capacities of approximately 1,300 lbs.
Anti-Rust Slides: There are some rust-resistant drawer sliding systems available on the market. Stainless-steel telescopic drawer slides, chemically treated drawer runners, and aluminum rails are among them. These anti-rust drawer slides are ideal for cabinets located in high-moisture regions such as bathrooms.
Over-Travel Drawer Slides: Over-travel drawer slides are among the most versatile drawer slides available on the market. As a result, the drawer might stretch far beyond the front of the cabinet. It is ideal for keeping lidded containers since it allows the cover to be completely lifted without taking the container out of the drawer.
How To Measure Drawer Slides
If your drawers stick, jam, cannot open or close at all, or produce awful noises, it is indeed likely that the drawer slides need to be replaced.
Understanding how to measure drawer slides is essential for the usage and lifetime of your drawers, whether you are putting in new drawers or repairing slider hardware on your current drawers.
To accurately measure your drawer slides, you will need the following items:
• Measuring tape
Step-by-Step Instructions for Measuring Drawer Slides
Take The Drawer Out Of The Cabinet: Remember that this is not the time to guess since precision is very essential. Taking out the drawer may necessitate considerable effort. Most drawers necessitate you to completely extend the drawer before lifting it and it will come straight out.
If this does not work, you have to guide and reposition the drawer until it is fully extended. Afterward, lift the drawer back to release the wheels out of the supports. If neither of these alternatives works, you might find using a screwdriver useful to remove the wheels from the supports.
Get The Exact Measurements Box Instead Of The Drawer Front: The front face of the drawer must not be measured because it serves to prevent the drawer from entering your cabinet.
Thus, you have to begin measuring at the backside of the box and work your way forward, not including the front of the drawer.
Once you have determined the length, you have to round the figure down. For instance, if the drawer is 20.5 inches long, then you would need around 20 inches of drawer slides.
Take The Measurements Of The Drawer’s Width As Well As The Cabinet’s Opening Size: You can use full-extension slide supports if the distance between the width of the drawer and the width of the opening is 1/8 inches.
To ensure that the drawer functions with the new slides, you must utilize bottom-mount supports or perform some little woodworking if they are less than or greater than 1/8 inches.
Inspect The Drawer’s Exterior As Well As The Cabinet’s Interior: An imprecise installation or a poor layout could be to blame for the drawer slides’ sudden and unexpected deterioration.
It is possible that smaller slides were employed to prevent rubbing against a cabinet’s interior. If so, you will also need to utilize smaller slides to prevent the same problem.
Consider Taking The Drawer With You If, After Getting The Measurement, You Are Still Unsure About The Exact Size Of Slides To Buy: The person who is selling the drawer slides will almost certainly know how to measure your drawer and can supply you with suitable slides that will fit precisely.
• Take Note: You should always consider replacing your drawer slides in sets. If only one part of the drawer slide is replaced, the drawer may be unstable. This could shatter the drawer or potentially trigger it to tumble out of its enclosure, which might cause damage.
Center Mounted Slides Vs Side Mounted Slides
Center-mounted drawer slides are a single piece that attaches to the center of the drawer’s bottom part. Whenever the drawer is open, they are not noticeable.
Depending on the width of the slide, some might necessitate clearance. The drawer height may be restricted by center-mounted drawer slides, so the cabinet’s height must be taken into account.
Moreover, center-mounted drawer slides have the advantage of being simpler to install. Additionally, it is concealed, giving the drawer a more appealing appearance.
Nonetheless, drawers constructed of light materials are frequently used with these kinds of slides. They are not heavy-duty and can only handle little objects.
Unfortunately, center-mounted drawer slides are often only offered in a 3/4 extension owing to weight restrictions. Additionally, it is typically marketed as a single slide and lacks self-close and soft-close functionality.
Side mount drawer slides, on the other hand, are available in pairs and attach to the interior of the cabinet casing as well as the side of the drawer. Whenever you open the drawer, you can clearly see the slide on the side of the cabinet drawer.
They necessitate arranging for clearance between the cabinet opening as well as the drawer slides, which is normally 12 inches between the slides and the front opening of the drawer.
Slides for side-mounted drawers are linked horizontally to the drawer and cabinet structure. These slides, unlike center-mounted slides, can handle a significant amount of weight and survive for a very long period, making them appropriate for a wide range of situations.
They are perfect for storage boxes, multipurpose cabinets, kitchen cabinets, as well as other cabinets that hold heavy objects. Moreover, there are usually two types of side-mounted drawer slides, which we will discuss shortly below – ball bearings and rollers.
In European variants, a nylon roller that travels along a rail is present. The benefit of the ball-bearing side-mounted slide types is that they run smoothly, can support a lot of weight, and can fully extend or over-travel.
Additionally, side-mounted ball-bearing slides frequently have a detent that prevents the drawer from opening whenever the cabinet is marginally out of alignment. Epoxy-coated drawers, however, contain a self-closing mechanism and an opening lock that keeps the drawer open for simple access while operating.
Ultimately, the distance between the drawer as well as the cabinet opening must normally be at least a half-inch for side-mounted drawer slides. On the contrary, the only disadvantage of a side-mounted drawer slide is that it restricts the drawer’s lateral width.
Ball Bearing Slides Vs Roller Slides
Although there are different kinds of drawer slides, the two most used kinds are roller and ball-bearing. Wheels are present on roller drawer slides. Meanwhile, ball-bearing drawer slides have ball bearings. In addition to this design differential, roller and ball-bearing drawer slides differ in multiple ways.
Compared to roller drawer slides, ball-bearing drawer slides offer smoother functioning. Conventional wheels are less effective than ball bearings at reducing friction. Ball-bearing drawer slides are henceforth simpler to open. Compared to roller drawer slides, they are easier to pull open and press closed.
Generally speaking, roller drawer slides are less expensive than their ball-bearing equivalents. Thus, homeowners with limited budget opt for this prevalent type of drawer slide.
They are constructed from substandard materials. Roller drawer slides are frequently found in inexpensive, low-quality types of furniture styles. In contrast, ball bearings are more frequently seen in costly and luxury cabinetry.
Ball-bearing drawer slides often last much longer than roller drawer slides as they are made of harder and more durable materials. Steel, like cold-rolled steel, is used to make a lot of ball-bearing drawer slides. They will keep rolling effortlessly even if used every day for many years.
Difference Between Soft Close And Self Close Drawer Slides
Slides that self-close and soft-close share a number of properties. Meanwhile, there is one major distinction between all soft-close and self-close slides.
A self-close drawer slide pulls a drawer rapidly closed after the spring is activated by using a spring system to close the drawer. Nevertheless, soft-close slides feature a dampening system in addition to a spring to silently and carefully close the drawer.
See more related content in our article about the types of drawers on this page.