A Complete Guide on Proper Cabinet Knob Placement

colorful drawer

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Installing knobs may seem like a small task, but did you know that one wrong placement can dramatically affect your home’s interior design? No matter how many beautiful cabinets you have, your design style will look unbalanced if you don’t place the hardware correctly. 

Luckily, our home improvement experts came up with this guide to save you from costly DIY mishaps. 

Importance of Correct Cabinetry Knob Placement

You may not know it, but changing the look of your cabinet knobs and pulls can easily make your space up-to-date. If your personal preference includes modern styles, our resident home design experts and woodworkers assure you that installing cabinet hardware in the right place could elevate the room’s aesthetics to the next level. 

You should also remember that once you drill a hole for your cabinet knobs, there’s no turning back the easy way. The chances of ruining your drawer front are very likely as well. The cabinet hardware placement must be properly mapped out, or else your sight will burn with misaligned and crooked-looking cabinet doors. 

Different Kinds of Cabinet Knobs and Pulls

Knobs

There’s no denying that the most common cabinet hardware out there is knobs. Unlike other gears, cabinet knobs are a ton easier to install. You don’t need much equipment for this because they’re typically installed with one screw.

dresser with colorful knobs

And while most traditional knobs would come in circular shapes, manufacturers have come a long way to offer different styles to the modern market. If you want to decorate your upper cabinet doors with a distinct touch, our home design experts recommend going for cabinet knobs shaped in squares or hexagons.     

You can also consider installing cabinetry knobs with fancy finishes. When you shop for a cabinet knob, you’ll notice various types sold in the market, from acrylic, leather, metal, and even wood. These options are made depending on your cabinet door aesthetic requirement. 

Pulls

If you’re not keen on the good old cabinet knobs, some cabinet pulls can accommodate your knob placement requirement. While most people install knobs in upper cabinets, tab pulls are designed for base cabinets or the lower drawer panel. 

white kitchen cabinets with metal pulls

However, there are no same rules that dictate exactly what placement cabinetry hardware should be. If you want a drawer front that pulls vertically, there’s no shame in choosing this gear. One thing you should consider in this knob placement is its variety of options. They come in many types of finishes and sizes, so it’s quite daunting for a DIY newbie to handle. 

The trick of properly installing this cabinet hardware is considering its proportion with the door or drawers. Our resident woodworkers will guide you below on just what you need to do when dealing with different cabinet layouts and gears. 

Cup Pull

Cup pulls are the kind of cabinet hardware installed horizontally on lower cabinets. If you look closely, you’ll see the cup pulls are shaped distinctively to accommodate your fingers underneath as you pull the drawers out. 

brown drawers with cup pull knobs

Besides being a popular option for lower cabinets, cup pulls can easily blend with different interior styles. This kind of cabinet hardware is popular to many DIY professionals not only due to its versatility, but it can also add a modern touch in a bathroom or kitchen drawer front.

Finger Pull

Unlike a cabinet knob with drilling holes screwed all the way through the door, finger pulls are installed to the top or bottom edge of the cabinets. For this placement, you wouldn’t need to drill screw holes on the face of the cabinet door frame or the drawer. 

If you’re unfamiliar with this cabinetry hardware, you may encounter finger pulls as edge or tab pulls. Our team highly recommends these for homeowners who aim to make their cabinets look unique and minimalist at the same time. 

Rails, Stiles, and Panes

Besides the hardware used for your cabinet door and drawer, you also ought to learn that you’ll deal with a certain part of cabinets during the installation. First, the horizontal part on the top and bottom corner pieces of the kitchen cabinet are called rails. Depending on the design, you can also find a door rail in the middle of the cabinet door.

wooden kitchen cabinet

Another important term to remember is the door stile. You’ll find them vertically, enclosing the bottom and top rail pieces. Last but not least, the innermost part of cabinet and drawer fronts is the panels. These parts are considered the centerpiece of the door frame. However, you won’t encounter these said parts in flat-slab cabinets. 

Cabinet Knob Placement for Doors

Knobs

Considering how versatile this hardware is, a knob placement can be on both doors and drawers. All you need to do is mount the cabinet knob over the stile and place it on the other side of the door hinges

When marking the knob placement for upper cabinets, our DIY experts suggest measuring two to three inches starting from the bottom corner of the cabinet door. For base cabinets, the measurement for knob placement could range 2.5 to 3 inches from the upper corner of cabinet doors. 

Pulls

Cabinet pulls placement and installation during your kitchen cabinet restoration are slightly complicated compared to knobs. Why? Because they’re mainly inserted into the cabinetry using two screws. If one of those fasteners is loose, the cabinetry hardware may wiggle and damage its cabinet construction.

white flower vase on wooden cabinet

If you don’t want that to happen, we advise doing a test placement before the installation. When drilling a screw, it should be pinned 2.5 to 3 inches above the bottom corner of the door. The same measurements should be applied for the top rail, except the screw must be below it.

Cup Pull

For tall wall cabinets, installing cup pulls can be tricky. One of the options we can recommend is putting them in the center to make the overall drawer look balanced. For the other method, you can consider top rail installation for a more distinct design. 

The placement for this kind of hardware is similar to how you’d install regular cabinet pulls. They require two screws for fastening, so it’s best to drill them in properly to avoid unintended damage to your cabinetry.

Finger Pull

You may not know it, but finger pulls are often placed at the corner of the door if you’re working on upper cabinets. Be mindful of the door hinge as you’ll be needing to install the pull hardware at its opposite side. For the lower cabinets, the finger pulls should be placed on the top corner of the door. 

cabinets with finger pull knobs

Some of these placements can be a little too typical for a modern home. So if you’re interested in adding some edge on your cabinet designs, we urge you to install finger pulls closely at the door’s top edges to create an optical effect that there’s long hardware connecting the two doors. 

Cabinet Knob Placement for Drawers

Knobs

Unlike the knob placement for upper cabinets, installing cabinetry hardware on drawers can be a bit tricky, especially in sizing considerations. You’ll have no issues when dealing with drawers under 24 inches because all you need to do is to place cabinet knobs in the center panel.

If you’re up for some contemporary touches, you can try positioning the cabinet knob in the upper frame of the drawer vertically. 

white cabinet with antique brass knob

For drawers that are 24 inches and wider, one knob won’t suffice for a balanced look, unlike installing in a door frame. In this case, our team highly suggests putting on two knobs for a more natural aesthetic. These two knobs should be placed on both side portions of the drawer.  

Pulls

For a seamless and clean aesthetic, drawers smaller than 24 inches should be installed with pulls in the center of the drawer panel. Like cup pulls, the rule of thumb for drawers wider than the said measure is to include two pulls into the formula. 

Cup Pull

Truth be told, cup pulls are great cabinet hardware for drawers. Their traditional placement is often in the center panel of the slab doors. However, our DIY experts don’t recommend cup pulls if your cabinet drawers are wider than typical sizes.

little boy sitting on a dresser

The hardware placement for cup pulls also won’t suit long cabinet width and bin pulls. But if you really need to install it on wide base cabinets, we suggest installing two cup pulls with even allotted space in-between. The two-pulls rule applies for a drawer front sized around 30 inches. 

Finger Pull

To achieve full functionality of your cabinetry with finger pulls, always go for center placement. This type of design is common, but a classic touch will always serve you well in the long run. Another idea you can try is to fasten them on the top edges. It’s a typically seen design for pulls as well. 

Cabinet Knob Placement for Appliances

If you plan to integrate your new appliances into your cabinetry, you’d have to consider the knob placements as well. We don’t recommend using regular hardware for this installation because it’s inevitable that they’re not designed to carry the mass of appliance doors. 

colorful drawer

When you go shopping for knobs and pulls, you’ll notice that there’s a section dedicated to appliance pulls. Like regular ones, this type of hardware varies depending on the appliances in question. For example, the appliance pull for refrigerators may seem like typical hardware, but they’re obviously sturdier and a lot thicker in construction. 

And because these appliances have heavier doors, our resident experts recommend using stronger screws of the right size to ensure secure installation. The same ordeal applies to dishwashers. While not as heavy as the fridge, getting the appropriate hardware is still necessary to avoid any cabinetry damages in the future.  

What is the Best Size for Cabinet Pulls?

The best size for your cabinet pull ultimately depends on how big your cabinetry is. Like any other home improvement construction, small or big, the aesthetic balance is still one of the keys to a great design outcome. If you want to make your cabinetry pleasing to the eyes, we suggest getting pulls that are ⅓ the size of your cabinets.

drawers with finger pulls and brass knobs

If you did your calculations and the hardware still seems a bit too large for the cabinet, you can proceed to a lower sizing around ¼ the size of the cabinetry. Keep in mind that it’ll still depend on your measurement and judgment. 

Tips and Tricks for a Perfect Cabinet Knob Installation

Before working on any power tool for drilling screws into the cabinet placements, we recommend using safety gears to avoid dangerous mishaps [1]. Besides that, always consider the size of your cabinetry before selecting any hardware to install. You’ll find that proper measurements and proportions can save you money and time in the long run.

Next, if you’re planning to add more than a single knob, our DIY experts suggest marking portions into thirds for more accurate placements. For cup pulls, it’s always wise to install them within your natural reach. That way, it wouldn’t appear awkward and feel more comfortable to use. 

Also check: 

FAQ

Where should pulls be placed on kitchen cabinets?

The pulls should be placed in the stile on the kitchen cabinets. If you’re working on upper cabinetry, the screw hole should be drilled 2.5 inches above the door’s bottom. On the contrary, lower cabinets should have an upper hole vertically aligned and 2.5 inches below the top of the door. 

Where do you put knobs on shaker cabinet doors?

Knobs on the shaker cabinet door should be placed on the canter stile. It should be located halfway up the shaker door’s stile. The same requirements apply when you choose to install pulls as well. Place it just two to three inches above or below the corners for easy access and natural reach.

Should kitchen handles be vertical or horizontal?

Kitchen handles should be vertical according to the general rule of thumb. By doing this, the functionality of your cabinet pulls is maximized. It makes cabinet doors open easily as well. Meanwhile, horizontal hardware installations are often used for pull-out drawers as they’re more pleasing to the eyes. 

Conclusion

All big tasks start with small actions. So now that you’re armed with the know-how of cabinet knob placements, our resident design experts and DIYers urge you to canvass the market with all the things you’ll be needing for this project. You may find it intimidating at first, but the key to a successful cabinet remodeling is getting started. Hurry along, and we’re sure you’ll do just fine!

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen and women. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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