site search
Call Us at 1.800.667.8721
Shopping Cart
1.800.667.8721 or Live Chat (9AM - 6PM EST)
Today's Deals, See What's On Sale Now!

Buying Guide: How to Choose a Drawer Slide

Jump to: Measurements | Mounting | Weight | Clearance | Extension | Disconnects | Feature
How to Choose the Drawer Slide you need Drawer Slides are an integral part of home hardware, providing utility in every room. When your slides become damaged, your drawers and pull outs simply don't work well and quickly become a source of frustration. Replacing your Drawer Slides is a easy and cheap DIY project once you know how to pick the right Drawer Slide! 

This guide will help you through the process of selecting the right slide, roughly in order of importance. This guide discusses Drawer and Pull-Out Slides': Measurements, Mounting, Weight Considerations, Extensions, Disconnects, and Features.
Slide Measurements
The most important quality to keep in mind while selecting your drawer slide is its physical size. According to our convention, we measure drawer slides in terms of Length, Depth, and Height.

The Drawer Slide's Depth is the most important measurement in finding the right slide. A drawer slide that is too thick or thin will prevent your drawer slide from working properly, if at all.

It is best to measure your cabinetry, rather than your old slides, to find the depth you'll need. If your drawer measures 15 inches wide, and your drawer slot is 16-1/2'' inches, then the total space you have for both slides combined is 1-1/2'' This means that you require 2 drawer slides, each with a 3/4'' depth.

Remember, its always best to buy a slide that is slightly too thin, as its possible to put a thin material, a shim, between the slides and cabinet walls to make up the difference.

The Length of your Drawer Slide is also a vital measurement. A drawer slide that is too long or short will not only prevent your drawer from opening and closing properly, but will also put additional stress on your slides. You should always use the longest slide possible for your application, without exceeding the drawer depth into the cabinet.

The Height of a Drawer Slide is usually only a limiting factor, in the sense that you can't install a slide that is taller than your drawer or pull-out. This is only a concern for very thin mounts. Your average silverware drawer may not be tall enough to fit a heavy duty filing cabinet drawer slide. If you're planning on mounting thin drawers or pull-outs with a short mounting space height, makes sure you're picking the drawer slide with the right height.

The Recommended Drawer Width, is an important specification that ensures that your drawer slides don't twist and flex too much, which can easily cause damage and reduce the slide's life span. While a Recommended Drawer Width is not a hard limit, wider drawers should carry significantly less weight than their specified Weight Capacity. Many slides don't have a specific measure, but are not intended for lateral file drawers, which means that the drawer's width shouldn't exceed its depth into the cabinet.
Mounting Types
A drawer slide's Mounting Type describes how and where the drawer slide attaches to the cabinet and drawer. Some slides can be mounted several different ways, and some slides feature accessory brackets to adapt them to different mounting types. 

Side Mounted- This is the most common type of slide we offer. It attaches to both the side of the drawer and the side of the inner cabinet. This type of mounting is very efficent at carrying weight, and usually requires no modification to the drawer box.

Center Mount- One of the oldest types of slides, this mounts onto the drawer's bottom face, along the center, width-wise. Center Mount slides are usually only a single rail, unlike most other slides. This makes them a great budget option, however they usually have a very low weight capacity. Center mounting is a great option when there isn't any gap between your drawer walls and cabinet.

Under / Bottom Mount- We offer several bottom mount slides, which attach to the bottom or bottom edge of a drawer and to the side of the drawer. This supports the Drawer from the bottom, which is useful in sistuations where side or top space is limited, such as TV and other Electronics slides. This type of mount is also used stylistically, to conceal drawer slides below the drawer and out of sight.

Top Mounted- This type of slide is extremely useful for pull out surfaces, and is common in electronic and tray applications. The drawer slide attaches to a surface above the drawer or pull-out, and attaches to the top edge or side of the pull-out.
Weight Capacity Considerations
Drawer Slides are designed to be used with a load close to their weight rating. Over loading a drawer slide will cause damage by putting extra stress onto the slide and its moving parts. However, under-loading a heavy duty slide can also cause damage as these slides are designed to flex into their ideal alignment under heavy weight. Extension without that weight can cause damage similar to overloading.

Weight ratings also change with drawer slides' length and your drawer's width. Wider drawers put extra stress onto a drawer slide, and most slides come with a recommended maximum drawer width. Installing a slide onto a drawer that's longer than recommended will seriously diminish your slide's safe maximum load, and is not suggested.
Required Clearance
Clearance is the space around the drawer box that a slide needs in order to work. To attach slides to your drawer box, it must be a little smaller than the cabinet cubby it fits into.

This image shows a large Horizontal clearance, and a smaller vertical clearance. In most types of cabinetry, these gaps are hidden by the drawer face. When we make measurements for drawer slides, the drawer face is ignored.

Side / Horizontal / Width Clearance is the difference between the Cabinet Opening Width, and the Drawer Box Width. Measure from the outside left to the outside right of the drawer box walls.

Vertical / Height Clearance is the height of the Cabinet Opening minus the Drawer Box's Height. There is often a difference in the Top and Bottom Clearance, which should be added to get the total ammount. This is often broken up into TOP and BOTTOM clearance. Added together, they equal the total Vertical/Height Clearance. Measure as the height of either side wall.

Depth / Back Clearance is the distance from the back of the drawer box to the rear cabinet wall when the drawer is closed. Measure from the inside of the drawer face to the outside of the back drawer wall.

Measuring Clearance

To measure the clearance Horizontal Clearance of a cabinet system, take the width of the cabinet hole and subtract the width of the drawer box as shown below. The process is the same for Vertical and Depth Clearance.

Extension Types
Drawer Slides come in three basic types of extensions: 3/4 Extension, Full Extension, and Over travel.

3/4 Extension Slides are budget slides, and are very useful for most applications. This type of extension will slide the drawer 3/4 of the length of the slide outwards. The back 1/4 of the drawer will remain inside the cabinet, so this type of slide isn't recommended if you require access to the back of the drawer, which can be particularly difficult to reach for shallow drawers.

Full Extension Drawer Slides will pull your drawer so that the back wall of the Drawer is flush with the cabinet face. This allows you access to all of your drawer's contents with ease.

Over Travel Drawer Slide is designed to move the drawer further than full extension, such that there is a gap between the back of your drawer and the front of the cabinet. One common application is for kitchen cabinets where its common to find overhanging countertops. By using an over extension drawer slide, you can make sure that you can access all of your drawer's contents without having the last inch of space blocked by the countertop. Many file drawers feature an Over Extension drawer slide, which makes removing these heavy drawers easier and safer.
Disconnect Types
Most drawer slides offer a disconnect feature, which allows you to remove your drawer from the cabinet without disassembling the entire slide system.

Lever Disconnect- A lever on the drawer slide locks the drawer into place. When the lever is pressed, the drawer is released, allowing you to pull and remove it.

Rail Disconnect- This type of slide usually lifts out without any special mechanism, which makes it ideal for heavy loads where lifting the drawer is safer than pulling it out, as with other types of disconnect mechanisms.

Friction Disconnect- This type of disconnect simply requires you to pull on the drawer through a small amount of resistance, and the drawer will disconnect. This is an extremely common disconnect mechanism for drawers such as those found in dressers.

Non-Disconnect- This type of slide doesn't disconnect and will require dismantling the drawer slide, to some extent, to free the drawer or pullout. Carefully consider how the slide will be used before choosing a non-disconnect slide.
Drawer Slide Features
There are several features that can add some character to your home. Currently, we offer drawer slides with the following motion features:

Easy Close, Soft Close- Both of these terms refer to the same feature. Easy or Soft Close drawer slides will slow down your drawer as it closes, ensuring that it won't slam.

Self Close- This drawer slide features will pull your drawer closed when you gently press it inwards from the option position. This feature isn't gentle, and it will shut your drawers with some conviction, so be sure that the drawer you choose this type of slide for doesn't contain anything fragile or loud.

Touch Release- One of the more aesthetically minded features, touch release allows you to use drawers without pulls for handles on the front face. To open the drawer from the closed position, simply press inwards slightly and the drawer will pop open. Touch Release adds a little bit of magic to your home.

Progressive Movement- For Full Extension and Over Travel Slides, progressive movement improves upon the normal slide to provide a smoother rolling motion. Instead of having each sliding element bump into and catch the next as the drawer opens or closes, all of the sliding members move at once.

Detent and Locking- A very common feature, detents and locking help to prevent unintended drawer motion, especially on slightly uneven surfaces. Detent In and Detent Out slides will provide a small amount of resistance to opening and closing respectively. This helps drawers stay open or closed when mounted slightly off level. Locking provides additional resistance, and usually locks outwards. This is ideal for applications including pull-out cutting boards and keyboard trays where one requires the slide to stay in the option position when you walk away. Logo
An Aoife Company LLC Store
6 Landmark Square, 4th Floor, Stamford, CT 06901
Tel: (203) 374-5425    Fax: (203) 373-0810