How to Choose the Right Hardware Size

Choosing the right hardware size requires a balance of function and style. Sacrifice one for the other, and you probably won’t be happy. You’ll be frustrated every time you try to pull open a drawer, or you’ll be disappointed whenever you walk into the room. Narrow down the wide selection by determining which size best opens and closes your cabinets, drawers or appliances. From that group you can pick hardware that best reflects your taste.

Getting the Right Hand Fit

You want hardware that looks great and works well. But you also need pulls and knobs that fit your hands. If yours are particularly large or small, select pieces that you can wrap a hand around comfortably. Size is also a concern if your hand strength and dexterity are hampered by arthritis or another condition.

As you choose hardware, pay close attention to the distance from the cabinet surface to where you’ll be gripping the hardware. A piece that’s too small to fit your hand makes opening and closing difficult. In addition, if your hand continually touches the cabinet finish, it’ll start to wear off.

Picking Hardware for Existing Cabinets

When replacing hardware on cabinets and drawers, people often choose to use existing holes — if not, you’ll want to fill and finish unused ones. To switch out hardware, it’s a matter of determining the right size.

  • Find the correct size for a pull by measuring from the center of one hole to the center of the other. When hardware is sold, the center-to-center (cc) measurement is typically shown in inches or millimeters. Common cc measurements are 3 inches, 4 inches, 96 millimeters and 128 millimeters. If your measurement is in one unit and you and need the other, use a handy online conversion tool.
  • Depending upon your cabinets, the mounting screws that come with your hardware may or may not be the right size. The correct length for a screw is the distance from the inside surface of the door or drawer to its outside surface, plus one-quarter inch.

Choosing Hardware for New Cabinets

When selecting hardware for new cabinets, options can be almost overwhelming. Start narrowing down your choices:

  • For standard-sized cabinets, 3- or 4-inch and 96- or 128-millimeter pulls are most common. Typical sizes for knobs are 1 1/4- or 1 3/8-inch. “Standard” size doesn’t mean one-size-fits-all. Standard base and wall cabinets typically run from 12 to 36 inches.
  • Larger cabinets generally require larger pulls: 6 to 12 inches cc.
  • The width of a drawer matters. If it’s 18 inches or less, one pull or knob is enough. Many people find larger drawers move more smoothly with two pieces of hardware. An extra-long pull is an option if you want to use just one hand.
  • Knobs 1-inch or smaller are suitable for specialized pullouts, such as apothecary drawers, spice drawers and cutting boards.
  • Larger knobs — at least 1 1/2 inches — are appropriate for larger cabinets. However, they’re also useful if you want a dramatic appearance.
  • If you want knobs on both doors and drawers, use the same size throughout.

Considering Details

  • Depending upon your cabinet, the mounting screws that come with your hardware may or may not be the right size. The correct length for a screw is the distance from the inside surface of the door or drawer to its outside surface plus one-quarter inch.
  • Doors with special decorative accents, rounded edges, raised panels or five-panel construction affect your hardware options. Hardware needs to be flush to the surface. For instance, if a standard 3-inch pull won’t fit properly, try a slightly smaller or larger size.

These guidelines will steer you in the right direction for hardware size, but they’re not hard and fast rules. For cabinets that’ll make you happy, you should also listen to your own preferences.

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