Kitchen Cabinet Knobs vs. Pulls: Which is Right for You?

Your kitchen is the central hub of your home, and most people consider it the most important room of the house. You probably begin your day in the kitchen with a cup of coffee or a quick breakfast with your family. Everyone gathers in the kitchen to socialize, and it’s where you cook meals and eat together. Kitchens are a main bonding area of the home. When you, your family and your guests are attracted to your kitchen and want to spend time in it, your kitchen is a success.

A highly functioning and aesthetically pleasing kitchen is an investment in your family’s health and happiness — and all the little details matter. When designing your kitchen, you typically start with the cabinets and appliances, and from there you can personalize it with corbels, aprons, pulls or knobs. There are many hardware details to consider — and the smallest often make a big impact.

The Importance of Kitchen Cabinet Knobs & Pulls

One of the smallest details in your kitchen is the knobs and pulls on your cabinets and drawers. The hardware you choose should not be an afterthought in the process of remodeling or updating. Cabinet knobs and pulls aren’t always given the consideration they deserve, but the style you choose can significantly impact the overall feel of your kitchen space. The hardware is equally as important as the cabinets themselves!

As you begin to shop around for knobs and pulls, you’ll quickly discover a dizzying selection of finishes, shapes and styles. For example, moderno-style pulls pair excellently with cabinets in a modern kitchen, casting a sleek essence of elegance upon the space. If you’re looking for an old-world feel, antique-style knobs might be just what you need to complement your décor. It can be overwhelming to approach the topic of knobs vs. pulls, but it’s a choice that deserves your time and consideration.

After you choose new cabinets and appliances for your kitchen, the last thing you want to do is agonize over the hardware, which is why many people don’t give much thought to knobs and pulls. Many people also realize their kitchen space needs an update, but they don’t want to sink thousands of dollars in a complete remodel. Fortunately, swapping out your knobs or pulls can make a significant difference in the look of your kitchen — and you’ll spend a fraction of the cost that comes with a traditional renovation.

The costs for knobs and pulls can vary greatly, depending on the option you choose. Knobs start at a few dollars for one but can be a hundred dollars or more if you choose a high-end option, such as a knob made of Swarovski crystal.

Pulls are generally more expensive because they’re larger, but like knobs, there’s a wide range in price that depends on the option chosen. Regular kitchen cabinet pulls begin at a few dollars but can be over a hundred dollars or more for a single pull, such as an embellished antique bronze option. Cup pulls are a little more expensive to start, with the less expensive options starting around $7 for one.

General Guidelines for Choosing Kitchen Cabinet Knobs and Pulls

It’s important to choose hardware that will complement the rest of your kitchen décor and accentuate its worthy features. Generally, most people want their cabinet and drawer hardware to coordinate with the handles on their appliances. The colors should work well together, and the finishes shouldn’t clash. Drastically different shapes can also make your kitchen feel cluttered. You should use functionality and your personal preference to approach choosing knobs vs. pulls, but there are a few general guidelines to follow that correlate with your style of cabinets.complement your kitchen

  • Shaker style cabinets. The most common style of cabinet offers flexibility in design, and they work well with knobs or cup or bin pulls. Shakers are known for their simplicity and clean lines, so simple hardware is often used, such as round knobs.Traditional nickel or steel knobs or pulls are common, as well as vintage glass or ceramic knobs. Vintage pulls with exposed screws provide a classic touch or industrial feel to a new kitchen with shaker cabinets. Tubular bar pulls — which can be short or long and dramatic — modernize a traditional kitchen with shaker cabinets. Flat bar pulls offer a contemporary edge, while wire pulls keep your décor traditional. Arched and footed bar pulls offer a classic look on shaker style cabinets.
  • Flat-panel cabinets.Most often seen in modern or contemporary kitchens, flat-panel cabinets embrace minimal embellishment to focus on natural materials. Subtle hardware choices are best, such as stainless steel bar pulls. You often see long, extended versions placed on the door or drawer.If you prefer square edges, you can choose a flat bar pull. Recessed pulls offer a functional option that work especially well for high-traffic kitchens. If you’re aiming for a minimalist look to your kitchen, you might consider discreet tab pulls for your flat-style cabinets.
  • Inset cabinets. Inset cabinets offer flush, inset doors with an edge detail that evokes fine craftsmanship. Many insets have exposed hinges, giving you something else to consider as most people prefer knobs or pulls to match them. Both pulls and knobs are often paired with inset cabinets.
  • Distressed cabinets. Rustic hardware pairs nicely with distressed cabinets. Consider adding back plates for a Mediterranean style, rustic or antique knobs, or sandcast bronze pulls.
  • Louvered cabinets. Both pulls and knobs work with louvered kitchen cabinets, but knobs are most common. Keep in mind louvered cabinets have more detail than a plain, solid cabinet. There’s more to look at, so they naturally require more attention, which is why many people choose simple or classic knobs or pulls to complement louvered cabinets.
  • Beadboard cabinets. These cabinets offer a cottage chic look, which pairs nicely with knobs and cup pulls. Like louvered cabinets, there’s more detail to view, so simple hardware tends to work best. Adding elaborate hardware might be too distracting and take away from the character of the beadboard.

Ultimately, you should choose your hardware according to your personal preferences, kitchen style and goals for functionality. If you’re concerned about resale value, recognize that the most popular hardware finishes are satin, nickel and bronze. There are no hard-set rules to follow when it comes to adding the final details to your kitchen, and many people choose a combination of knobs and pulls. If you’re unsure of which to choose for your kitchen cabinets or drawers, it’s wise to examine the pros and cons of both.

Knobs or Pulls: The Pros and Cons

The choice between cabinet pulls and knobs isn’t easy — both come with positives and negatives. Keep in mind that you’ll be using your knobs or pulls every day. Whatever you choose should feel natural in your hand and flow with the décor of the room. You should consider your kitchen’s décor and style, the look you want to achieve, your budget, ease of cleaning, ease of use, the weight of your drawers and more.

Everything You Need to Know About Knobs

Knobs are the most basic type of kitchen hardware, and they’re easy to swap out yourself. They’re usually installed using a single screw. Knobs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they’re made from various materials such as stainless steel, brass, stone, zinc, crystal, glass, marble, ceramic and more. Common shapes for kitchen knobs include round, square and birdcage. There are also plenty of novelty pulls to choose from, so you can add an element of your personality to your space.knobs over pulls

The pros of choosing knobs:

  • You enjoy many options. You have seemingly endless options for kitchen knobs. You can choose something economical or opt for a luxurious knob to accent a formal, elegant kitchen. Large or small, colorful or wood, round or square, there’s an option to suit any kitchen. You can get as personal and detailed as you like when you choose knobs for your kitchen.
  • Knobs are generally less expensive. You can purchase standard knobs at a lower cost than standard pulls. Of course, high-end knobs will cost more than a standard pull, but if you’re looking for the most economical choice, you will find a larger variety of inexpensive knobs than pulls.
  • Knobs are easy to install. Within minutes, you can transform the look of your kitchen by switching out the knobs. They are attached using a single screw, so all you have to do is unscrew the old knob and screw on the new one.
  • Round knobs will never go crooked. Knobs are attached with screws, and screws can become loose over time. If you choose a round knob, it will always be centered. Novelty knobs, square-shaped knobs, and knobs that aren’t round can lose their center and look unbalanced when a screw inevitably becomes loose. Although not a difficult problem to fix, it can be annoying to see crooked and uneven knobs throughout a kitchen, which is why many people prefer round options. Cliffside’s knobs have brads at the base of the knob that stick into the cabinet and prevent rotation.

The cons of choosing knobs:

  • Knobs are harder to grasp. When compared to pulls, knobs are typically harder to grasp and pull. This can be an issue for people with arthritis or people with a disability.
  • They can be hard to clean. If you choose novelty knobs or highly embellished knobs, they may be hard to clean. Grease splatters, messy hands and occasional spills are common in kitchens. Intricately detailed knobs will add flair and personality to your kitchen, but if you can’t easily clean them, you may end up replacing them too soon.
  • Some drawer knobs and knobs on lower cabinets can catch on clothing. Although pulls that extend on both sides are more likely to catch clothing, knobs can also pose the same problem. Depending on the size, shape and location of the knob, it can catch on clothing and become an annoyance.

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Everything You Need to Know About Pulls

Pulls are also easy to install, but they usually involve more than a single screw. Most pulls require two screws, and like knobs, there are many options to consider. The most common types of pulls include:

  • Bar pulls
  • Cup pulls/Bin pulls
  • Arch pulls
  • Ring pulls
  • Drop handle/Bail pull
  • Birdcage

pulls over knobs

There are many lengths available, but the most common are three to four inches. Length is an important consideration because if the pull is too small, the size of the cabinet will overpower it. This can also be a problem with heavy appliance doors. If you are using a small pull, it can actually become warped over time. If the pull is too large, it can look overwhelming. You can mark your cabinets with a piece of painter’s tape to determine which length you prefer.

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Choose What’s Best for Your Kitchen

So which is better: knobs or pulls? It’s clear there’s no definitive answer. It’s a matter of personal preference and considering the other elements in your kitchen space. You should give extra thought to the function you want your hardware to serve, and then make the best choice for your needs. Homeowners often find that a combination of knobs and pulls works best for their needs, and there’s no lack of variety and options from which to choose.
whats best for your kitchen

Consider Cliffside Industries for your decorative kitchen hardware needs, including your kitchen knobs and pulls. We’ve been in the bath and kitchen industry since 1987, and we look forward to helping you! Browse our impressive inventory of kitchen cabinet hardware, sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive product information and updates, or contact us today to discover how Cliffside Industries can help you choose the right hardware to update or put the finishing touches on your kitchen space.

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