Installing New Cabinet Handles

Kitchen cabinets


TriggerPhoto / Getty Images

No doubt there are times you have looked upon your kitchen with disgust and thought, "How can I make this space look better?" Short of spending five figures on a full kitchen remodel, there is an easy and relatively inexpensive way: new cabinet handles and drawer pulls.
By installing new cabinet handles, knobs, or pulls, you can transform your kitchen. No, your kitchen will not win any design awards just with the addition or substitution of new cabinet handles, but it is one of those kitchen remodeling projects that has a greater reward than the work put into it.

Low Cost, Big Transformation

Let's look at a few reasons why new or substituted handles have such an impact:

  • Hardware is prominent—it physically sticks out more than any other feature of the kitchen cabinetry.
  • Amazing, colorful, and detailed designs are possible in cabinet hardware—aspects which would be overwhelming in other parts of the kitchen.
  • You can use materials and finishes not found elsewhere in the kitchen: everything from shiny, mirror-like finishes to weathered bronze to cast-iron finishes.

Not a Quick Fix

Adding cabinet pulls and knobs are not quite the "slam dunk" renovation project it seems. Here are some tips on how to make the process goes smoother.:

  • Visual Positioning, Not Mathematical: This is the most important tip. It's all well and good to make sure that your cabinet knob is exactly 7 5/8 inches from the side, and 2 13/16 inches from the top...but how does it look on the whole? Does it all come together?
  • You and other visitors to your kitchen will be taking in the "picture" of your cabinet hardware in a flash—one or two seconds, tops. In that short time-span, our powers of perception can determine if the hardware looks "off." Slavishly following measurements on a drawer-by-drawer or door-by-door basis, without an eye toward the entire stretch of drawers or doors, is a recipe for bad visual design.
  • Think Rows and Columns: In most cases, you are not installing just one cabinet pull, you're installing a line of them: either a horizontal row or a vertical column. Think in terms of completing entire "sets," not just in terms of the positioning mentioned previously, but as a goal to complete before lunch, before dinner, or whatever timeframe you choose. Believe us, you will need to set small goals.
  • Many kitchens, when you actually count them up, have 30, 45, 50, 60 or even more cabinets and drawers to deal with.
  • Masking Might Tape Prevent Damage: A square of masking tape in the spot you intend to drill prevents your drill from "walking" and creating unsightly grooves on the finish. However, it does not really do much to prevent the chipping-out of wood on the backend of your drill spot. Careful, slow drilling can mitigate this problem.
  • Single Screw or Double Screw: Some cabinet hardware is attached by means of a single screw (more correctly, a bolt). This is by far the easiest type of hardware to attach, not because you cut your drilling work in half, but because it makes it easier to position.