How to Select Cabinet Knobs and Pulls

Choosing new cabinet knobs and pulls is an easy and affordable way to update the look of your kitchen or bathroom. With so many options to select from, it can be overwhelming trying to settle on the perfect knobs and pulls. Follow this guide on how to select cabinet knobs and pulls to make the process smooth and simple.

Determine Your Style

The first step is deciding the overall style you want your knobs and pulls to exude. Are you going for a traditional, sleek contemporary, or modern rustic look? The hardware style should complement the existing cabinetry and decor.

Consider the following styles:

  • Traditional: If aiming for an elegant, timeless look, opt for crystal, ceramic or porcelain knobs. Ornate bail pulls also pair well with traditional cabinetry.
  • Contemporary: For a streamlined, modern aesthetic, choose metal bar pulls or minimalist hardware shapes. Matte black and brushed nickel are contemporary go-to’s.
  • Rustic: Branch or twig-shaped pulls in burnished bronze, copper or antique brass convey rustic warmth. Textured ceramic knobs also match the cozy farmhouse style.

Once you decide on a style, narrow down the field of knob and pull options considerably.

Select Finish

The most eye-catching part of any cabinet hardware is its finish. The finish determines the color and luster of the knobs and pulls. Consider which finish best enhances your existing decor.

Popular kitchen and bath hardware finishes include:

  • Stainless Steel: A brushed stainless finish offers a modern, gleaming look. Fingerprints don’t show as easily as a high-polished finish.
  • Matte Black: This versatile dark finish suits any style from traditional to industrial. Matte black exudes sophistication.
  • Brass: Both polished and antique brass finishes impart timeless warmth. Brass beautifully coordinates with marble, granite, wood or white cabinetry.
  • Bronze: Oil-rubbed and brushed bronze have an antiqued appearance. The dark, brownish finish matches rustic, farmhouse or traditional decor.
  • Nickel: Brilliant polished or satin nickel finishes lend a sleek touch. Nickel resists corrosion and maintains its silvery color.
  • Chrome: This subtly shiny finish gives a clean, streamlined look. Chrome has a blue undertone and pairs well with cool grays and glass.

Once the style and finish are decided, now you can zero in on choosing the perfect shapes and designs.

Choose Shapes and Styles

Cabinet hardware comes in an array of shapes, sizes and designs. Consider the following shape options:


  • Traditional: Fluted mushroom, crystal or ceramic knobs work well for timeless settings. Ornate glass knobs complement antique furniture.
  • Contemporary: For modern interiors, opt for cylindrical, square or faceted knobs. Large diameter or statement knobs command attention.
  • Rustic: Ceramic knobs with visible crackle glazing have an artisanal charm. Knobs made from natural materials like antler, stone or concrete convey rustic warmth.
  • Novelty: Shell, fruit or other novelty-shaped knobs inject playful personality. Whimsical glass knobs with bubbles or colors suit kids’ rooms.


  • Traditional: Elegant bail pulls, sometimes decorated with glass drops, convey timeless sophistication. Intricately designed brass pulls complement classical interiors.
  • Contemporary: Angular bar pulls in matte black or nickel have an ultra-modern vibe. Pulls made from bent metal rods add sculptural interest.
  • Rustic: Twig-shaped wrought iron pulls, sometimes with an aged patina, enhance the rustic charm. Textured ceramic or reclaimed wood pulls also work for this style.
  • Novelty: Marine rope or leather pulls match coastal, nautical or farmhouse decors. Crystal or colorful glass pulls create an artful focal point.

Once you select the shapes, it’s helpful to visualize placement. Will you use the same knobs and pulls throughout the kitchen or bath or mix and match? Texture and shape variation can add pleasing visual interest. Just be sure the overall style remains cohesive.

Determine Correct Sizing

Proper sizing of knobs and pulls is both an aesthetic and ergonomic decision. Oversized hardware makes a dramatic style statement. But very large pulls or knobs may prove uncomfortable to grasp and pull open. When selecting hardware sizes:

  • Knobs should be at least 1 1⁄4” diameter. Larger knobs around 1 1⁄2” to 2” wide are easier to grip.
  • Pulls should be between 3 to 5 inches long. Very long pulls can make opening doors and drawers difficult for children or the elderly.
  • Spacing between pulls should be 8 – 12 inches apart.
  • Allow 1 1⁄2 – 2” clearance between the knob and surrounding cabinet or walls.

It’s smart to measure existing hardware or bring cabinet measurements when shopping. Also consider the cabinet overlay. Full overlay cabinets require smaller hardware than inset cabinetry.

Take scale into account. More substantial cabinet doors and drawers can handle bolder, larger-scaled hardware. Delicate cabinets and narrow drawers look best with daintier knobs and pulls.

Test Drivability

When possible, actually test open a cabinet or drawer fitted with the knobs or pulls you’re considering. Pay attention to:

  • Weight and smoothness. Hardware should glide smoothly without sticking.
  • Comfort and grip. Bigger is not always better if knobs or pulls are hard to grasp.
  • Clearance. Make sure there’s enough space between the hardware and surrounding cabinets or walls when opened and closed.
  • Sound. Opening and closing should be relatively quiet without irritating rattles.

Testing hardware in person allows you to determine true fit, feel and function.

Assess Quality and Durability

Examine knobs and pulls closely to detect any product defects or weaknesses:

  • Metal hardware should feel substantial in heft and be free of burrs and rough edges.
  • Moving parts like knob shanks and pull stems should slide smoothly without wobbling.
  • Reject knobs or pulls with cracks, dents, tarnish or discoloration.
  • Painted finishes shouldn’t show any drips or uneven coverage.
  • Growth rings on twig-style pulls should be tightly closed with no gaps.
  • Crystal or ceramic knobs should have securely glued fasteners with no cracks or wobbles.

Top quality hardware fashioned from solid brass, steel or iron endures better long-term than inferior metal alloys prone to tarnishing, corrosion and breakage. Reputable brands typically offer more durable, defect-free products than very low-cost hardware lines.

Determine Number Needed

Before purchasing, tally up how many knobs, pulls or hinges you will need.

Count the:

  • Number of doors and drawers on cabinets
  • Number of cabinets with hinges
  • Number of integrated hardware pulls on sliding drawers
  • Spare hardware for future repairs

Buying in bulk often results in cost savings. But take care to evenly disperse any mixed metals, styles or finishes. Too much variation looks haphazard rather than intentionally eclectic.

Compare Pricing

Cost for cabinet hardware varies widely from just a couple dollars per knob or pull for simple styles and materials to over $100 per piece for high-end designer brands crafted from crystal, semiprecious stones, cast bronze or rare woods. When comparing prices:

  • Weigh cost versus expected longevity. A higher initial investment often yields longer-lasting durability.
  • Mixed metals and combinations usually cost more than uniform hardware suites.
  • Larger sizing, custom finishes and ornate detailing impact pricing.
  • Consider whether the hardware’s style has enduring appeal. Timeless classics retain their value.

With some smart shopping, it is possible to find good quality cabinet hardware that fits in most budgets. Big box home centers, online retailers and specialty hardware stores all offer affordable options.

Install Correctly

Improper hardware installation can ruin your update. Follow installation best practices:

Remove Old Hardware

  • Fill any holes or dents left behind with wood putty; allow to dry completely.
  • Sand until smooth and match surrounding finish.

Install New Hardware

  • Use manufacturer’s template for accurate hole spacing.
  • Drill pilot holes to correct depth; avoid going too deep.
  • For knobs, only tighten base plate by hand or risk stripping screw threads.
  • Pre-drill holes for pulls to slide in easily without forcing.
  • Take care not to split wood with screws; ease up if resistance is met.
  • Wipe away any metal shavings; use painter’s tape to avoid scratches.

Correct hardware installation prevents damage and allows knobs, pulls and hinges to operate smoothly.

How to Select Cabinet Knobs and Pulls – FAQs

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about selecting cabinet knobs and pulls:

How do I choose hardware that matches my existing decor?

Select knobs and pulls in a style and finish that coordinate with your current cabinetry and interior design. For example, antique brass pulls would suit traditional styling while matte black bar pulls match a more contemporary kitchen.

What size hardware should I buy?

Standard sizing for knobs is 1 1⁄4” minimum diameter, up to 2” for ease of grasping. Pulls range between 3” to 5” long. Allow adequate clearance – 1 1⁄2” to 2” between knobs and surrounding walls or cabinets.

Should I use the same knobs and pulls throughout my kitchen?

For a streamlined look, choose matching knobs and pulls in the same style and finish for cabinetry. If seeking more personality, mixing and matching complementary knob and pull designs is an option. Just maintain the same overall aesthetic.

How do I buy quality hardware built to last?

Focus on solid metal constructions like brass, bronze, stainless steel and iron. Examine pieces closely and reject any with flaws in materials or finishes. Reputable brands typically offer better quality control.

What’s the best way to install new knobs and pulls?

Careful installation prevents damage. Use the hardware template and drill pilot holes to the correct depth. Tighten knobs gently by hand; pre-drill pull holes. Wipe away metal debris and use painter’s tape to avoid scratches.


The cabinet knobs and pulls you select can transform the entire look and feel of your kitchen or bathroom. By following this guide on how to choose cabinet hardware, you can make the redesign process easy and enjoyable. Determining the style, finish, size, shapes and pricing ahead of time helps you zero in on the perfect knobs and pulls to match your decor. Carefully testing and assessing the hardware’s quality ensures durability and functionality. Installing properly prevents damage and lets your new knobs and pulls operate smoothly for years of beauty and service. With the right know-how, selecting stylish, high-quality cabinet hardware is a simple DIY project that pays big design dividends.