How to Place Cabinet Knobs and Pulls

Hardware placement often depends on the size and style of the kitchen cabinets.

Cabinet Hardware: Placement and Positioning

Knobs, pulls, and other handles are like jewelry for cabinets. The right kitchen cabinet hardware can complement and accentuate the lines, colors, and textures of your space. The placement and positioning of cabinet hardware also makes a kitchen more functional. Is there a correct placement for cabinet handles?

While hardware placement does affect the functionality of the space, it is a matter of personal taste. Looking at different arrangements of cabinet hardware will help you decide which styles and placements are right for you.

Tips for Placing Cabinet Hardware

  • Level and adjust your doors and drawers before drilling holes for hardware.
  • A template or jig makes it easy to mark the same measurement holes on each cabinet. Alternatively, you can build yourself a template using scrap wood.
  • Gripping and opening the cabinet should feel good in your hand. It’s not worth installing a handlebar that’s awkward or causes strain.
  • Re-use old screw holes if you’re replacing handles.
four gold cabinet hardware door pulls on cloud white cabinets

Cabinet Knobs

A cabinet knob is your most basic handle, suitable for doors and drawers alike. Knobs use a single screw and are traditionally round or circular. However, you can find them in shapes ranging from square to T-shape. When it comes to materials and finishes, there are choices ranging from wood to ceramic to crystal.

Cabinet knobs are placed opposite of door hinges. On wall cabinets, knobs are usually placed 2-1/2” to 3” from the bottom corner of the door. On base cabinets, they are placed 2-1/2” to 3” from the upper corner of the door.

On drawers and pull-out cabinets, knobs are typically centered on the drawer front. If you prefer, you can set your knobs on the upper part of the drawer front, as shown above. A knob in this position can provide additional leverage when opening a sink tilt-out tray. When installing knobs for pull-out cabinets such as a waste

If your drawer is 24” or wider, you may choose to place a second knob. Divide the drawer into thirds and place the two knobs at the one-third point and two-thirds point.

Bar and Wire Pulls

Bar pulls (also known as European pulls) and wire pulls have similar functionality in varying forms. They are easy to grasp and work well in modern and contemporary kitchens. Wire pulls are screwed into the cabinet at its two ends. Bar pulls are screwed in by two feet-like projections.

On doors, these pulls are typically installed with an upright, vertical orientation. Place the bottom hardware hole 2 1/2” to 3” from the bottom of the door front. Then center it horizontally on the door frame. Using the horizontal rail of the door frame, place your screw hole or orient the bottom end of the handle.

On cabinet drawers, these pulls lay in a flat, horizontal orientation. Off-center the handlebars for more of a contemporary feel for 3-drawer base cabinets. This makes for a graceful and proportioned look.  For pull-out storage such as this wastebasket cabinet, handles are often placed horizontally. They commonly centered on the top rail of the door frame. If the pull-out is especially narrow, e.g. a 3″ pull-out spice rack, you can also choose to orient handlebars vertically.

Cup Pulls

Cup pulls (also known as bin pulls) are an upside-down cup shaped pull popularized by Victorian-era kitchens. Instead of gripping a protruding knob, you slip your fingers underneath the ‘cup’.

Cup pulls have a wide appeal across a range of kitchen cabinet styles. They have a clean and timeless look that works with farmhouse, vintage, traditional, and transitional styles.

Edge Pulls

Edge pulls (also known as tab pulls or finger pulls) are a more contemporary style. They have a minimalist look that pairs excellently with slab-door cabinet styles. These pulls go on the top and bottom edges of your door or drawer.

Place edge pulls in the opposite corner of the hinge on cabinet doors. It is often best to center pulls on drawers.

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Showing 40 comments

  1. Rani Reply

    My husband and I are designing a kitchen. We both like the look of horizontal and centered cabinet hardware. However, the function is not there (the cabinet doors do not open ‘in the middle’… they open from one side only). His solution is the offset the horizontal hardware on the cupboard doors over to the corner where the cupboard opens. I think this will look odd. I can not find any images online to support his theory that it will look good. Thoughts on this unique placement please?

    • Dan Jones Reply

      One thing for sure is that decorative cabinet hardware, and hardware placement is personal. There are very few things that are “wrong” because, ultimately, it is your kitchen. With that said your husband’s idea will work – especially using longer pulls. What must be taken into consideration is the width of all the doors in your kitchen. If you have a few cabinets that are 15″ or less in width the off-center placement may look odd next to a 21″ wide cabinet using the same length hardware pull for your entire kitchen. Normally the widest single door cabinet you will encounter is 24″. At 27″ in width cabinets will have two doors and you are back to narrow doors. Off course there are varying widths to hardware pulls where this can compensate for the spacing. That may limit your selection and color. One thing for consideration is that remodeling your kitchen is one a “Top 5” purchase of your lifetime and risking your investment by going outside the box for hardware placement may not be the best place to take that risk.

  2. Liz Seitz Reply

    What about a turntable (in the bottom cabinets in the corner). Should there be a pull on that? Since you basically can just push in on the one side to start it turning, technically it does not functionally need a pull (although I think I would use it if it had one).

    • Dan Jones Reply

      None of our lines offer that style of lazy susan cabinet but you are correct.

  3. Elsa Reply

    We just moved into a 4 year old home and the previous owner/builder/or cabinet maker made a very poor decision in placing the cabinet pulls. They have all been positioned horizontally, to match the drawers, but they really need to be switched to vertical in order to open doors fully and not bump into appliances or each other. What options do I have and where do I start? Is this going to be an expensive endeavor? Cabinets are painted, not natural wood.

    • Dan Jones Reply

      The sad fact is that that once holes are drilled in the doors it is very difficult to fill. Being painted gives you a chance but most likely it involves re-painting the entire kitchen. The holes can be filled and sanded and then cabinets can be repainted. It may take multiple times to fill with a wood fill type product before indentation goes away.

  4. Cynthia Lema Reply

    Can and should an edge/tab pull be used on a dishwasher wood panel? It will be recessed into the panel. I have slab panels and using tabs everywhere on the slab cabinets- but not sure if I should use it for dishwasher panel. It would look more cohesive and clean, but not sure if practical in the long run. Advice please.

  5. Hilda Reply

    Hi, thank you for this blog.
    We are going to install pulls on our kitchen drawers and would like to know how to do this particular type. Our drawer fronts are attached to the front of the actual unfinished drawer. Do we remove the front to install the pulls? If we don’t we cannot center the pull. Or, do we drill through both front and drawer and install using longer screws? Or, do we not center the pulls?
    Thank you again for any suggestion you may provide.

    • Dan Jones Reply

      Drawer front hardware can be tricky depending on the cabinet manufacturer and the cabinet itself. An example for our standard (top) drawer for base cabinets more than likely you will have to drill through the drawer front and the drawer box. This is true with most cabinet manufacturers. On our deep drawer cabinet more than likely you only drill through the drawer front because it extends higher than the drawer box. Both require different length screws, which most cabinet hardware manufacturers supply.

      Hardware placement may also be different. If you want your hardware “high” on the drawer you’ll drill through just the drawer front and use the short screw like you do for doors. Measure twice! Drill once! Blue tape is your friend for marking – and use a template if you can.

  6. Veronica Reply

    Can single, 1” knobs be used for heavy drawers, 18” wide dishwasher handle, and spice pullout? I’d like to only do one single knob centered but I need to know if they will be durable enough for heavier drawers etc. Have you had clients do this in the past and have they worked out well? Please let men know! Thank you! ALSO! Would it look weird to mix chrome bars with crystal knobs in a white kitchen?? My husband likes the bars better and was considering mixing them as a compromise, but don’t want it to end up looking awkward. Let me know your thought, thank you!!

    • CliqStudios Marketing Reply

      Hi Veronica. Sure, all of your ideas would work. 1″ knobs may be visually too small in proportion to a heavy duty drawer though, depending on the size of the drawer.

  7. D. Mahon Reply

    Really helpful information here. Thank you for sharing it. I recently had my kitchen painted and am in the process of installing new hardware. The cabinets are original to the house (2003) and have the routed finger pulls. I have an island with 12 drawers. The 4 top drawers had the drawer fronts installed so that the routed finger pulls were at the bottom. The remaining two rows of drawers have the drawer front installed so that the routed finger pulls are on top. Since I’m installing pulls, should I keep this configuration or should I flip the front so that the routed finger pulls aren’t visible? What would a pro do? Thanks in advance.

    • CliqStudios Marketing Reply

      Hello. If you’re installing hardware, then go ahead and flip those drawer fronts so the finger pulls are not visible.

  8. Shell Reply

    I’ve been searching for an answer to this question- if you have a pair of cabinet doors with hinges on opposite sides, can you install edge pulls against each other on the vertical side of the cabinet doors?

    • CliqStudios Marketing Reply

      Hi Shell. The answer is ‘probably not.’ If you have two doors that meet in the middle of your cabinet, then they likely are sized to have a reasonably tight tolerance. Otherwise, you’d have a big gap between the doors. If you have a tight tolerance on your doors, then you probably would not have space to add the thickness of two edge pulls. However, if your doors don’t have an especially tight tolerance, and/or your edge pulls are very low profile, then it could possibly work. Good luck.

  9. Sang Lee Reply

    Thank you so much for share this valuable information.
    Also I would like to know the brand name of ‘crystal accent knob’ in the photo in ‘Cabinet Knobs’ section.

    • CliqStudios Digital Marketing Reply

      Hi Sang. The homeowner sourced the cabinet knobs from Anthropologie. You can view more of this project here. Please let us know if we can answer any more questions for you.

  10. Barb Reply

    I have a tall bathroom laundry cabinet with two top 15” doors for towels , a counter than below a 30” draw and below that two 15” doors. One is a pull out for laundry and the other is a traditional swing door. I am trying to figure out the knob/pulls placement. Basically the two bottom cabinets.

  11. Mar Reply

    So… the super installed the cabinet pull out handles on the sides rather than the tops of the cabinet pull out doors. To me, this is extremely awkward even though it looks as if the door is just another door. Any suggestions or opinions as to how this can function? I’m heartbroken.

    • CliqStudios Marketing Reply

      Hi Mar. We’re so sorry to hear that this happened. If you ordered your cabinets from us originally, give your designer a call. Our designers can help you order a new door for the pull out so you may replace the one that your contractor drilled in the middle.

    • phil Reply

      You can fill the hole with wood filler and touch up the paint and you’ll never know it was there.

  12. Jennifer Reply

    In response to Nancy’s question, the refrigerator looks like a Thermador.

  13. Ann Pfister Reply

    Very informative, thank you! I’m not sure what to call the “space” between a handle-type pull and the face of the cabinet. Some pulls leave more space for the fingers to get under without gouging your fingernails or ring into the cabinet! What is a good depth and what do I look for when searching for the measurements of the handles? Thank you!

  14. Abhinav Iyer Reply

    Thank you so much for this informative blog. Firstly, I would like to congratulate you on the amazing work that you are doing. I have also been purchasing a few hardware equipment from Decodeal. I have learned a lot about door pull handles and their types. Also where and how can they be used. I am glad that you guys are keeping people informed about your service.

  15. Barb Terrell Reply

    Site information and pictures were very helpful. Thank you for including options. Not everyone wants their knobs in the same location, your site clearly explains numerous options.

  16. Kathy Dean Reply

    Your thoughts on replacing 1 1/4 inch knobs with 2 1/2 inch knobs. The increase in size would bring the hardware to the edge of the cabinet door. What are your thoughts with that kind of upgrade? Thank You

    • Phyllis Reply

      we replaced our smaller handles with larger knobs and couldn’t be happier. They are more comfortable to use and less chance of nicks and scratches. I don’t mind them being closer to edge.

  17. Angel Reply

    I do not see any where the base cabinet pulls are across the top, horizontal, rather than vertical. For ease of use due to location of doors, is this uncommon? This also makes it easy to hang a towel on depending on the width of the pull.

  18. Susannah A. Reply

    Your site is really informational. Great photographs and ideas.

  19. Pip Reply

    Im using pulls on draws and knobs on doors, shaker style. I have 1 taller single pantry type door. Would it look odd or inappropriate to use a pull placed vertically on that door? If not, how far from the top should it be placed?

  20. Micky Belsheim Reply

    Thank you for your article. As someone else said other articles are vague and not helpful. I do have a question for you. I’m installing new cabinets and trying to figure out how many pulls I need for the drawers. They are 22” and 25”. The pulls are cups. The cabinets have recessed panels. How do I decide how many per door I need? 1 or 2? Thanks for your help.

    • CliqStudios Digital Marketing Reply

      Hi Micky! We’re happy to help. For drawers 24” or wider, you may choose to place a second knob. Divide the drawer into thirds and place the two knobs at the one-third point and the two-thirds point.

  21. Carl Reply

    Nancy, I would say it could be a Sub-Zero brand fridge. You might want to start there.

  22. Brian Johnston Reply

    Should you place handles or knobs on the fake panels like under the sink

    • CliqStudios Social Media Reply

      Some homeowners choose to add handles and knobs to under sink areas for consistency. Though some choose not to so that they don’t get confused with what doors and drawers are accessible.

  23. Nancy Reply

    Very helpful, thanks. I would love to know the brand of the refrigerator in the photo directly above “Tips for Placing Cabinet Hardware.”

    • CliqStudios Social Media Reply

      Unfortunately, we do not have that information as the refrigerator was sourced by the homeowners.

  24. Tricia Wright Reply

    Thank you for this comprehensive explanation AND images about drawer and door hardware placement. I’ve wondered about knob and pull location for years. Most of the information I’ve found seems either wishy washy or leans to current trends. Your site provides all the options and answers. Thank you!

    • CliqStudios Social Media Reply

      Happy to help! Let us know if you have further questions or need assistance from our design team.

  25. Sue T Reply

    Your site has been very helpful. Really appreciated the images!

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