How to Install New Cabinet Handles to Transform a Kitchen


Upgrading your kitchen cabinet hardware is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to give your kitchen a mini makeover. Simply switching out the handles or knobs can make a huge visual impact and completely change the look and feel of your kitchen. From modern matte black pulls to trendy crystal knobs, cabinet hardware comes in endless styles to match any kitchen aesthetic.

Installing new cabinet handles is also a pretty straightforward DIY project for most homeowners. With some basic tools, a little time, and a helping hand, you can easily tackle this update in a weekend. Transforming your previously dated or builder-grade kitchen cabinets doesn’t require a full renovation or spending thousands on new cabinet boxes. By just replacing the hardware, you can give your existing cabinetry a fresh, elevated look with the on-trend style you love.

Below you’ll find a step-by-step guide walking through everything you need to know to successfully install new handles and pull off a kitchen cabinet hardware makeover. With these helpful tips, you’ll gain the confidence to take on this project and love the dramatic yet effortless transformation new hardware provides.

How to Choose New Cabinet Hardware

The first step to installing new cabinet handles is selecting the perfect hardware to match your kitchen’s style. Cabinet pulls and knobs come in all different shapes, sizes, materials and finishes these days. Take your time browsing options to find the right look. Consider the following factors when making your hardware picks:


Think about the overall aesthetic you want for your kitchen. Is your style modern, traditional, farmhouse? Choose hardware that aligns with the look you’re going for. Sleek tubular pulls in matte black, oil-rubbed bronze or satin brass work for contemporary kitchens. Ornate crystal knobs and bin or bar pulls complement traditional decor. Go for round knob styles in antique nickel or brass finishes for a farmhouse vibe.


Along with style, the finish of your hardware is key to achieving your desired look. Polished chrome and stainless steel look modern and crisp. Aged brass, bronze and nickel finishes give a warmer, more timeworn appearance. Matte black is trending for sophisticated contemporary spaces. Go for an eclectic mix of finishes if you prefer a more collected look.


Cabinet hardware comes in a range of sizes, from dainty small knobs to big oversized statement pulls. Make sure to choose a size that fits the scale and proportions of your cabinets and kitchen. For standard cabinet doors that are 18-24 inches wide, pulls around 8 inches look appropriate.


Hardware can range significantly in price from just a couple dollars up to $50+ per handle depending on the materials and style. Set a budget to narrow down your options. Even inexpensive hardware can make a big impact over replacing all the knobs and pulls in your kitchen.


Some popular brands for quality hardware with lots of styles include Emtek, Richelieu, Amerock, Liberty, and Rejuvenation. Shop hardware specialty stores or websites to see all the choices. Big box home improvement retailers like Home Depot also carry a wide selection.

Once you select the perfect hardware, order all the necessary knobs, pulls or handles for your kitchen cabinets. You may need a few extra, so measure to make sure you purchase enough.

How to Remove the Old Cabinet Hardware

After your new hardware arrives, you’re ready to tackle this easy kitchen upgrade. First up is removing the existing knobs or handles. Having the right tools will make this process go quickly and smoothly. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Phillips head and flat head screwdrivers
  • Pliers
  • Hammer
  • Painter’s tape

Before removing any hardware, use the painter’s tape to label each cabinet door and drawer with a numbered piece of tape. Write the corresponding number on the backside of the hardware once removed so you can keep track of pairs and place them back in the original spot. This avoids mixing up your hardware.

To remove the old cabinet handles:

  1. Start by unscrewing any visible screws securing the hardware with the appropriate screwdriver. Turn counterclockwise to loosen the screws and place them in a container so they don’t get lost in the shuffle.
  2. Gently wiggle and pull off any knobs and pulls to release them. Place them immediately back on the labeled tape so you don’t mix them up with the hardware from other doors/drawers.
  3. If screws are stuck or hidden inside the hardware, use pliers and grip around the outside to twist and pry them off. Tap lightly with a hammer if needed to help break them free.
  4. For any remaining stuck screws, use pliers to grip the screw head and unscrew.
  5. Once all hardware is removed, carefully peel off labeled tape pieces and stick them to the backside of each knob or pull. Set aside the labeled hardware for reinstallation later.
  6. Take down all doors and drawers to clean thoroughly once they are knob-free. Use this opportunity to tackle any extra gunk and grime lurking inside cabinets and drawers too.

With all your doors and drawers neatly stacked to the side sans hardware, your kitchen is now prepped for the new handles to go up for an instant upgrade.

How to Install New Handles and Pulls

Installation is the fun, rewarding part where you finally get to see your beautiful new hardware on your kitchen cabinets. Follow these steps closely for proper placement and the best end results:

Gather Materials

  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Cabinet handle template (optional)
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Pencil

Determine Handle Placement

  • First decide on the placement for your knobs or pulls. Generally, placing hardware in the vertical center of doors/drawers looks best. Measure the height of each door and divide by two to find the center. Make a small pencil mark at this center point to align your handles.
  • For upper cabinets, position hardware around 3-4 inches from the top of the door to the center of the handle. For lower doors, allow around 6-8 inches from the bottom.
  • If installing new handles and keeping the old hinge holes exposed, make sure your new hardware covers them.
  • For paired doors and drawers, align hardware at the same heights for consistency.
  • If desired, use a handle template aligned at your center mark to get spacing exactly right.

Drill Pilot Holes

  • Refer to your new hardware’s product info for screw sizing. Use a drill bit slightly smaller than the screw diameter to drill pilot holes. This prevents splitting the cabinet door material when screwing in the hardware.
  • Drill pilot holes at any marks made for handle placement. Go slowly and drill perpendicular to the surface.

Install Handles

  • Line up new handles or pulls over pilot holes, inserting included screws. Use your screwdriver to tighten down screws gradually until snug. Be careful not to overtighten.
  • Attach any additional backplates lined up evenly with handle base.
  • Repeat process to install new hardware for every door and drawer. Refer to labels on old hardware if unsure of original location.
  • Once handles are secured on each door and drawer front, rehang them in place.

Enjoy Your Updated Kitchen!

Stand back and admire your gorgeous renovated kitchen! You can’t believe it’s the same space. Just by changing out those knobs and handles, your kitchen went from boring to beautiful. The new hardware ties your whole kitchen together and complements your cabinets perfectly. You’ll love gathering around and enjoying this renewed space for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions About Installing New Cabinet Handles

Still have some lingering questions about switching out your cabinet hardware? Below are answers to some of the most common questions homeowners have about this kitchen upgrade project.

How long does it take to replace kitchen cabinet handles?

The entire process from start to finish can be done in 3-5 hours typically. Removing old hardware takes about 1-2 hours. Installing new handles around 2-3 hours. This varies based on total number of doors/drawers.

Should all cabinet hardware match in the kitchen?

Having matching finishes and styles does look most cohesive. But mixing metals and styles is an eclectic trend too if you prefer a less uniform look. Just be intentional about combinations.

What is the best material for kitchen cabinet hardware?

Popular options include stainless steel for durability and a modern look, solid brass for natural patina over time, nickel for an affordable classic look, wrought iron for black color, or crystal for glam.

Where should handles be placed on kitchen cabinets?

For upper cabinets, 3-4 inches down from the top of the door. For lowers, 6-8 inches up from the bottom. Place in the vertical center of the door/drawer.

How do you fill old holes after changing cabinet hardware?

Use a filler like wood filler, spackle or even toothpicks. Fill holes, let dry, sand and paint over for seamless results. Or search for hole covers to stick over old holes before installing new hardware.

What is the standard size for kitchen cabinet handles?

The most common kitchen cabinet handle size is around 3-4 inches for door pulls and 1-2 inch diameter for knobs. But you can go larger or smaller depending on your personal style.

How do you clean cabinet hardware?

Use a microfiber cloth with mild soap and water. For stainless steel, rub in the direction of the grain. Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrubbing that can damage the finish over time.

Can I paint my kitchen cabinet hardware?

Absolutely! Spray paint is an easy DIY way to update metal hardware to any color without buying all new. Use painter’s tape to cover surrounding areas and follow spray paint directions for long-lasting results.

What is the average cost to replace kitchen cabinet hardware?

Expect to spend $5-$20 per handle, with $10 per handle a good average. So to replace all knobs and pulls in a small kitchen, you may spend $200-$500. Still very budget-friendly for the visual impact.


There you have it! Everything you need to know to successfully tackle installing new handles on your kitchen cabinets like a pro. With these detailed steps and tips, you can upgrade your kitchen in just a weekend with beautiful new hardware you’ll adore. This small change makes a huge difference you won’t believe until you see it. Finally enjoy the kitchen style you’ve been dreaming of with just a knob and handle swap.