Are you redecorating your kitchen or bathroom? Looking to rejuvenate a favorite cabinet? Maybe you just made a great vintage furniture find and want to give it a cool new era-appropriate look. Whether you’re decorating something old or something new, the right cabinet knobs can define the look you want with their shape, material, finish, or period style.
The knob is the simplest of hardware pieces. It’s mounted with a single screw and bolt, though it’s sometimes complemented with a decorative back plate. A knob is smaller than a bar-shaped pull, with a typical diameter of 1 to 2 inches.
Most cabinet knobs are made from metal, with brass , bronze, zinc, stainless steel, and pewter finish. But if you want just a hint of different textures on your cabinet front, knobs would be a great way to achieve it. Our selection at Hayneedle includes designs that incorporate leather, crystal insets, glass, bamboo or wire weave, and ceramics.
With metal cabinet knobs, the finish is usually more important than the material in terms of its decorative effect. A hammered finish, which is common with pewter, creates a dimpled, worn-looking surface that adds a suggestion of age to cabinets. Antiqued or weathered finishes create a similar effect with richer metallic colors. For a more modern style, we recommend a black or bright metal finish, such as polished chrome. If polished is a little too bright, try a satin finish, i.e. a brushed finish that reduces the metal’s luster (brushed nickel is a popular choice).
A cabinet pull is typically an arched or raised bar that attaches to the cabinet or drawer front on either end, and thus requires two screws for installation (on some designs the centers, i.e. connectors, are indented, creating more of a bridge-like appearance). The space behind the raised bar is meant to provide an easier handhold for opening.
The distance from one screw hole to another is referred to as “Center to Center” or CTC, though a pull’s width measurement may also be used when referring to its size. If you’re replacing outdated pulls, a matching CTC measurement is helpful, but not always necessary. Old drill holes could also be filled with putty or covered with a decorative back plate. For cabinets, the most common CTC measurement is 3 inches or more. Appliance pulls for refrigerators or ovens have much longer CTCs.
The larger size and elongated shape of pulls make them ideal for grabbing on to, and thus a good choice for kitchen cabinets. Unlike knobs, they can be installed vertically or horizontally, which gives you more options if you’re decorating high-use cabinets. Horizontal is the standard mount orientation on drawers, but on cabinets, vertical is often easier to grasp. As with knobs, the diameter or depth measurement indicates how far the hardware will project from the cabinet front — a bigger projection is easier to grasp, but more likely to get bumped in smaller bathrooms, bedrooms, or kitchens.
Pulls are often more elegant and traditional than knobs, and their shapes lend more of an architectural quality to cabinets. There are several different types available at Hayneedle, including:
- Bar pulls: these include decorative traditional styles such as braided or fluted bars, and clean contemporary lines in T-bar, bridge, and arch shapes.
- Cup pulls: these pulls have a hooded, awning-like front that’s easy to grasp from beneath, and typically features a decorative motif.
- Ring pulls: the ring style features a handle that hangs down from a back plate and/or two centers. The swinging handle must be lifted up for opening.
If you’re replacing old cabinet hardware with new knobs or pulls, you should be able to use the existing drill holes. If your new pull’s CTC measurement doesn’t match the old one, fill the old holes with putty or add a decorative back plate to cover them.
When adding new hardware, an inexpensive tool that would come in handy is a cabinet door and drawer template. This device has pre-measured holes for marking your drawer or cabinet front with a pencil, ensuring accurate, consistent measurements and even installation. You’ll also need a screwdriver and electric drill.
Buying the right type of cabinet hinges requires a little technical knowledge about the various ways in which cabinets and doors are connected.
The face frame cabinet is the traditional American style of construction. It’s named for the wooden insert applied to the front of the cabinet. There are three primary hinge types that are used in such cases, depending on whether the door abuts or covers the face frame (covering, in cabinet construction-ese, is referred to as overlay):
- An overlay hinge should be used if the cabinet door totally overlays the face frame and doesn’t have a rabbet cut (that’s a recess or grooved cut on the back of the door, not teeth marks left there when Flopsy the Rabbit got out of her cage).
- In cases where the door partially covers the face frame and has a rabbet cut on the back edge, then you’ll need a 3/8-inch inset hinge.
- If the door is inset and flush with the face frame, then it requires a full-inset, aka butt, hinge.
When deciding how many hinges to buy, you’ll need to know the height and weight of your cabinet doors. Then purchase hinges where doors measure as follows:
|Hinge Buying Guidelines|
|Less than 40||Less than 11||2|
|41 - 60||12 - 20||3|
|61 - 80||29 - 33||4|
|81 - 85||40 - 48||5|