Apr 142011

Kitchen Cabinet Knobs and Pulls

Courtesy of HomeStyleChoices.com

Kitchen cabinet knobs and pulls may seem like just mundane hardware, whose sole purpose is to provide a means for opening and closing the cupboards. But they don’t have to be just that. With hundreds of styles available you can dress up your kitchen cabinets any way you choose.

Choosing them however is probably the toughest job because there are so many choices available.

We can’t choose them for you, but we can help by pointing out some considerations before you choose (yes, they’re simple items but there are some things you might not have thought of when it comes to choosing cabinet knobs).

Knobs And Pulls – Lots Of Variety And Not Just For New Cabinets

The choices for kitchen cabinet knobs and pulls are as numerous as snowflakes in a blizzard. Their styles are just as varied too. And despite their sometimes diminutive size relative to the rest of the cabinets, they really can ‘make or break’ a cabinet’s look.

Buying new knobs and pulls can be an inexpensive way to upgrade the look of your existing cabinets. You might even want to replace your cabinet doors which, when combined with new knobs and pulls, could achieve a refreshing kitchen upgrade at a fraction of the cost and time associated with a full remodel.

Some Practical Considerations To Think About First

Often it’s easy to get swept up in the process of choosing the knobs and pulls for your kitchen cabinets, particularly with all the style choices available. What gets overlooked are some of the more practical considerations that go along with those choices.

Before you make any final decisions on which cabinet knobs and pulls to buy consider the following points. They may help you refine your ultimate choice.

1.  Knobs vs. Pulls – Cabinet knobs are harder to grasp and pull than cabinet pulls (handles). That’s because they utilize finger strength to ‘clutch’ the knob in order to pull it. Cabinet pulls are easier to open because they allow for the hand or most of the fingers to grasp the handle. This may be important for people who have difficulty using their fingers and hands such as arthritics, disabled or elderly people.

2. The Feel Is Important – How a knob or pull feels in your hand is important — you’ll be using some of them numerous times a day, everyday. Those interesting starfish knobs may look nice but they can also feel awkward. Make a point to actually feel the knobs and pulls you’re considering. You’d be surprised by the number of knobs that look benign that turn out to feel uncomfortable every time you grasp them.

This turtle-shaped cabinet knob adds an interesting look but it’s feet poke your fingers every time you grasp it to open the cupboard door.  


3.  Knobs/Pulls That Catch Clothing – Cabinet knobs, depending on style and shape, can catch on clothing such as pockets and pleats on waist-high and lower cabinets. The same applies to handles that have extensions. Fuller, round knobs are less likely to snag clothing than knobs with flatter faces or irregular shapes.

  Notice how the ends of this cabinet pull extend out beyond the posts that attach it to the cabinet drawer. These “free ends” are what tend to catch in pants pockets and other parts of clothing.


4.  Drop Handles – Drop handles are cabinet pulls that hang or dangle vertically from a small hook or loop. They require you to pick them up to the horizontal position in order to pull a cabinet drawer open. If you’re thinking of this style, consider the finger-lift motion you’ll have to do each time in order to pull them up to open the drawer. It may be annoying for some.

Size Matters – The size of the knob or pull makes a difference depending on the size of the door or drawer they’re attached to and how easy it is to open. The smaller the knob and the larger or ‘stickier’ the door/drawer is to open, the harder you’ll have to grasp and pull on that small knob. New cabinets usually have easy-open doors and drawers but some, including older cabinets (if you’re just replacing knobs) use mechanical or magnetic “catches” to keep the door closed. They offer more resistance to opening and require more strength when using a small knob.

  This knob doesn’t have much surface area to grasp (notice how much of the fingers are still exposed) therefore making it harder to grasp and pull. These types of knobs don’t “mushroom out” very much and have a wide mounting post making for a minimal grasping surface.

5.  Short vs. Tall – “Shorter” knobs and pulls (the distance between the surface of the cabinet and the grasping part of the knob or pull) make your fingers contact the cabinet more than taller ones. Over time that will tend to wear on the cabinet finish. Darker cabinet finishes will tend to lighten as the finish wears around the knob and lighter finishes will darken from dirt.

The cabinet finish around this knob has worn off revealing the lighter wood color underneath the stain. Preventing your fingers from touching the cabinet surface may not be completely unavoidable but taller knobs or using pulls (handles) will help.  


 6.  Get Samples – Get samples, both to see how they’ll look on your cabinets as well as to make sure they’ll feel right (see #2 above). You typically have to pay for the samples.

7.  Buy More Than You Need – Yes, cabinet knobs and pulls can be expensive but it may be good insurance down the road. Styles come and go and if you ever break or damage a knob or pull you’ll be able to replace it. If the style line is no longer in production however, you’re forced to find a close match (which is possible, depending on style), living with an odd-ball, or replacing all the knobs. Granted, it’s not often that knobs and pulls break but buying one or two extras might be beneficial.

8. Consider 2 Pulls On Long Drawers – Using two average-sized pulls instead of one on a long drawer (for example, a drawer >30″ long) may provide better visual balance even though you only need one to actually open the drawer. A pull with a 3″ center-to-center dimension may look dwarfed by the drawer. You could use longer pulls, such as an 18″ handle but depending on style, you might reduce cost by going with two smaller handles instead.

9.  Crooked Knobs – Square, triangular or irregularly-shaped cabinet knobs have a tendency to ‘go crooked’ whereas round ones don’t. If the knob loosens a bit, which does happen occasionally, it can rotate slightly, putting it out of line with adjacent knobs. It’s easily fixed but it’s something to consider if you’re a stickler on visual details.

10. Understand The Finish – Finishes on knobs and pulls may wear and change over time, depending on the material used. Oil rubbed bronze will wear and reveal a different color in the wear areas. Brass will tarnish if it’s not protected with a lacquer or periodically polished.

11. Knobs/Pull Get Dirty – Remember that kitchen cabinet knobs and pulls are prone to getting dirty over time. Grease spatters, dirty hands and spilled food stuffs all contribute to a buildup over time. Knobs or handles with intricate designs may be difficult to clean.

So whether you’re installing new cabinets or just looking for a way to freshen up your kitchen or bath, we can help you select the right hardware.  At Cabinet-S-Top, we have a large selection of pulls and knobs to choose from; so stop by our showroom located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina (Rt. 18) and let us help you put some bling on your cabinets this spring.

Betty Nairn

Company: Cabinet-S-top, Certified Kitchen Designer, GM
Phone: 330.239.3630
Email: designsbybetty@yahoo.com
Website: www.cabinet-s-top.com

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