10 myths and misconceptions about cabinet hardware

Cabinet hardware is an integral part of your kitchen. It contributes to the functionality of this space that you use every day. Yet many people are misinformed about what these simple knobs and pulls can do for them. Here, we’ll examine some of the common misconceptions that you might find among a hardware buyer who’s building a new kitchen or remodeling an existing one.

1. “Kitchen cabinet hardware” isn’t just for the kitchen.

This is a FACT.

Just because an item is listed on a site that says, or features, “kitchen cabinet hardware” doesn’t mean that you can’t use it in other places. A whole host of cabinet hardware is usable in any type of location. Now, granted, some hardware types are less durable than others; for example, brass hardware will hold up better in the long term than zinc or aluminum. But, in general, if you want to use cabinet hardware on a furniture piece in your living room or office, or on a vanity in your bathroom, you should have no problems with it.

2. It doesn’t matter what kind of cabinet hardware I buy.

This is some MYTH and some FACT.

If you’re talking about aesthetics, it all comes down to personal preference (more on that later). If you’re talking about material or the underlying quality of the product, of course that matters. You get what you pay for, and cabinet hardware is no exception. That’s why Cliffside Industries’ cabinet hardware is designed to be the highest quality.

3. I can put any hardware finish I want on my cabinetry.

This is a FACT.

While the type of cabinetry you pick and the style of your kitchen can have an impact on your ultimate hardware selection, it’s truly your choice. That’s why Cliffside’s hardware line is so great. We have cabinet hardware suites for a reason: so that you can mix and match to get your own unique look and style.

4. I can only put contemporary hardware on a contemporary kitchen.

This is a MYTH.

The mixing of traditional style with contemporary elements is called transitional design. It’s been popular for several years, and there’s no reason to think that it won’t always have some place. Sure, there will always be those who want that specific “up-to-the-minute” white or gray kitchen design, or who want a feeling of the old days and will turn back to cherry cabinets and polished brass hardware. But you can make the choice and put whatever hardware you like on the doors and drawers that you choose.

5. The style of the cabinet door determines what type of hardware I can use.

This is a FACT… to some extent.

One of the most important elements of cabinet hardware are the hinges. Without hinges, you have a wood box and some slabs. With them, you have cabinets with doors attached. Your cabinet hinges are determined by the type of door that you have: inset, overlay, etc. Additionally, there are some types of functional hardware, like cabinet latches and magnetic catches, that are designed to work with specific door types. But when it comes down to purely decorative hardware, like a knob or a pull, the sky is the limit.

6. I have to use all knobs or all pulls in my kitchen.

This is a MYTH.

It’s extremely common to see designers and customers mixing knobs and pulls in a kitchen. This is exactly why Cliffside’s cabinet hardware suites include both knobs and pulls. Cup pulls and latches make a great accent to set off a drawer or cabinet as well.

7. I’m stuck with the cabinet hardware I have on my kitchen.

This is totally a MYTH.

Generally, you can find cabinet hardware out there to replace almost any hardware you have. There aren’t a lot of “types” of hardware: several different types of pulls (cup pulls, handles, ring pulls, drop and bail pulls, flush pulls), knobs, latches… and that’s about all. So if you have something that you don’t like or is going out of date, swing around the Web and take a look for some replacements.

8. The difference between a knob and a pull is the number of holes.

This is… COMPLICATED.

It used to be that you could easily tell the difference between a knob and a pull. Knobs were round, or some other blocky solid shape. They had one hole, took one screw, and it was really easy to replace them. Pulls, on the other hand, had two holes, and the only way to change those out was to find another pull with the same measurement on-center. What’s that, you ask? The measurement on-center (sometimes called center-to-center or abbreviated CC) is a fancy way of saying the distance between the screw holes, measured from the center of one to the center of the other.

Nowadays, though, things have gotten a bit more complex. Pulls still have two holes… sometimes. Sometimes they can have three. Sometimes they can even have more, as many companies now make what are sometimes called multi-center pulls, or modular pulls. They are usually longer pulls that have a base with multiple different drill centers on the back. For example, one pull may have a 3″ CC drilling near the inside of the feet, and a 3.5″ CC drilling further out. Cliffside even carries a pull that has 5 different CC sizes in one item!

Even more complicated, knobs now can also have multiple screw holes as well. On some items, it’s really important that the knob doesn’t rotate out of position. Cliffside has some knobs that use a steel brad in the back to prevent rotation. More recently, however, some manufacturers have resorted to a double-screw solution. Sometimes you’ll see tiny CC measurements like 16mm (which is around 5/8″) or 32mm (about 1 1/4″). That doesn’t make these pieces any less of a “knob”; it just makes them… different.

9. Home improvement stores are the best place to shop for cabinet hardware.

This is unequivocally a MYTH.

A big box home improvement store is exactly that: a big box, filled with big boxes. No employee of a box home improvement store is going to know the specific ins and outs of cabinet hardware. “Is cabinet hardware really that complicated?” you might ask. If it wasn’t, would we be writing this post? Box store employees have their heads full of lawn and garden supplies, appliances, and lumber. Without a doubt, you are going to get better service on cabinet hardware by going to a qualified designer or kitchen dealer, or by calling the company directly.

10. There’s a difference between box store hardware and other brands.

This is most definitely a FACT.

Most of the hardware you’ll find at box stores is packaged for bulk sale. This means you might be able to get the right amount of knobs or pulls… or you might not. If you have to buy a blister pack with 10 knobs, and you need 32… you have 8 extra knobs that you can’t use. Waste of money! If you need pulls with a 5 inch center-to-center, or if you need pulls for one of those appliances the box stores love to advertise, you’ll never find it at those places. All the hardware from the box stores is designed to sell in volume, but with high-volume mass production comes a higher risk that you’ll buy something that’s defective. Whether that’s a short-term defect that will show up in a week or a long-term defect that will come out 2 years after you’ve finished your kitchen – I don’t know. Can’t tell you. What I can tell you is that if you want quality cabinet hardware from a brand you can trust, you should check out other companies. And if you’re on the search for hardware right now, Cliffside Industries is a great place to start.

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