Kitchen hardware: questions to ask

Recently, I read an article on Cultivate about the most common kitchen mistakes to avoid. While most don’t apply to cabinet hardware as a whole, it made me think about the common choices facing homeowners and designers when selecting hardware. Although choosing your cabinet hardware is ultimately a personal decision and there are truly no “wrong” answers, we’ll highlight some of the different pitfalls to avoid and questions to ask when choosing hardware for your kitchen or bath.

Question 1: What finish of hardware is best for me?

Often more of an aesthetic question than one of function, the selection of finish can nonetheless be very important when choosing cabinet hardware. For color concerns, a designer or cabinetmaker may choose a finish that is meant to blend in with the cabinet, such as Polished Nickel latches with white cabinet doors, or Venetian Bronze knobs with dark brown drawers. If you would like your hardware to be more of an accent to your cabinets than simply serving the function of a “door-opener”, consider using a contrasting color instead. The use of Silver Satin, Cliffside’s brushed nickel finish, with a cherry cabinet is often seen, or consider the Artisan cabinet hardware Suite in Black for a rustic, old-country look in a white or ivory kitchen.

Pick a finish, any finish!
Pick a finish, any finish!

Question 2: Where, and how heavily, will this hardware be used?

Lead crystal knobs are beautiful in the bath, but may be a poor selection for the kitchen.
Lead crystal knobs are beautiful in the bath, but may be a poor selection for the kitchen.

Another factor to consider when selecting hardware is the heaviness of use, especially for homes with young children. A finish like Polished Chrome, for example, which shows wear and sticky fingerprint marks quite easily, may not be the best choice for a family of five with three youngsters. In a high-traffic area, like the kitchen cabinets around the stove and the drawers or cabinets where commonly-used pots and pans are stored, a delicate lead crystal cabinet knob would be less appropriate than a strong and sturdy solid brass cabinet handle.

Yet another factor to consider is the composition of skin oils! This is different for every person, but keep in mind that skin oils, over time, can wear down the lacquer on any plated metal. Any jeweler with high-quality personal accessories, any musician with an instrument plated in silver, and any hostess with fine silverware can tell you that even the finest pieces of metalwork do tarnish over time due to use, and cabinet hardware, your kitchen’s jewelry, is no different from any of these. Finishes with a clear-coat lacquer, such as Silver Satin and Antique Brass, or natural “to-the-core” finishes such as the colors of the Sedona Suite or stainless steel will be the strongest and most durable for everyday use.

Question 3: Which type of hardware should I buy?

This is often a concern of older buyers, who have concerns about the grip height of pulls or the manipulation of latch-style hardware. The simplest hardware piece is always a knob, which requires no manual manipulation, needs a single hole for install, and is easy to change out in case you decide on a change at a later date.

Latches are an eye-catching addition to a craftsman kitchen but might be difficult for older residents to manipulate.
Latches are an eye-catching addition to a craftsman kitchen but might be difficult for older residents to manipulate.

When considering pulls, pick something with an easy-to-duplicate center-to-center measurement. Some of the most common are 3″cc, 96 mm cc, and 128 mm cc. Cliffside’s 5″cc solid brass pulls are also very close to the 128 mm size (5″ is approximately 127 millimeters). If you have an older pull that has an odd measurement on-center, you can usually find a pull with a backplate to cover it up, or you can use a cabinet bin pull to cover up the holes left by smaller pulls in the drawer front.

Speaking of cup pulls, these can be used for easy manipulation of drawers, especially since they do not need as much grip height to get fingers underneath to operate the hardware. Cabinet latches are a beautiful way to enhance the look of your cabinets, but they may not be the best option for those homes with older residents. Homes with children can use latches to keep cabinets relatively secure, but keep in mind that they do not lock; they merely secure the cabinet door to the stile. If using latches on doors that meet in the middle without a stile, Cliffside recommends using the hardware in conjunction with magnetic catches.

Question 4: What hardware material is the best choice for me?

If you are looking for your kitchen to last a lifetime and your hardware to stick right there with it, Cliffside Industries always recommends the high-quality solid materials that make up a large majority of our product line. Materials like stainless steel, solid brass, and our forged Sedona bronze will go much further with your kitchen and last much longer than inferior materials such as die cast white metal. White metals can include a variety of materials such as zinc, aluminum, or other melted scraps of metal. Brass, on the other hand, includes 60% copper on average, blended with zinc and other trace metals to create a durable brass core.

Cliffside’s stainless steel hardware is stainless to the core – the same material the whole way through the piece. Likewise, the Sedona Suite’s three finishes (Antique Iron, Antique Silver, and natural Bronze) are blended, rather than plated, to maintain a lifetime of durability and beauty. Bronze is one of the strongest metals we offer; as a blend of copper and tin, it is much stronger than even brass. Its finishes are created by mixing the blended bronze material with different amounts of pewter (itself another blended alloy) to create different amounts of gray tint to the product.

The Sedona Suites three finishes are some of Cliffsides most durable and timeless hardware.
The Sedona Suite's three finishes are some of Cliffside's most durable and timeless hardware.

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