Kitchen drawers are used so regularly that they’re likely to end up damaging themselves or even you, given enough time. So, you are probably wondering how to convert your kitchen drawers into a soft close. It can make the drawers safer, and quieter too. Most kitchen drawers, especially older ones, just don’t come with the equipment. So, we’ve carefully researched if kitchen drawers can be converted to a soft close system.
It is absolutely possible to convert existing kitchen drawers into a soft close upgrade. Rather than purchasing an entirely new set of drawers, you can simply buy and install the hardware alone. This way, you can keep the paint and style of your current set of kitchen drawers. The new hardware includes special sliders and mechanisms that will need to be installed on both the cabinet and the drawer box through some basic steps:
- Remove the old drawers
- Uninstall old hardware
- Install soft close hardware
Soft-close upgrades will protect both you and your kitchen drawers, but the installation can be very time-consuming and even a little challenging. So, keep reading to learn how to properly install soft close hardware, how much it costs, and the correct way to make adjustments afterward.
What Is The Difference Between Soft Close And Self Close?
Most of the time, these two kinds of hardware are spoken of interchangeably. Experts such as Accuride explain that there may only be a slight difference, involving their catching mechanism at the far end of the slides.
A self-closing drawer has a small spring and piston system that catches your drawer around an inch before it shuts. Meanwhile, soft closing drawers use a damper, which instead catches your drawer at least two inches before it closes. However, both systems are basically designed to prevent your drawer from slamming shut, and they can even be found for sale online with the same name.
How To Convert Drawers To Soft-Close
Step One - Remove the Old Drawers
The existing drawers in your home probably have an ordinary set of metal or plastic sliders, which are what allow the drawer box to glide back and forth. So, in order to remove the drawer, you’re going to need to trigger the release levers underneath the drawer box.
Usually, they are orange in color, but this can vary from one brand to the next. Pull the drawer box all the way out, gently squeeze the release levers, then lift the drawer up. The box should freely pry from the current sliders.
You may also want to consider removing any obstacles that would keep you from having more free, open space as you move on to the next step.
Step Two - Uninstall Old Hardware
Once the old drawers and obstacles are out of the way, you can begin to remove the slide hardware. This can be found on both the interior walls of the kitchen cabinets and on the outside of the drawer boxes.
Most of the time, these sliders are simply held together by screws. These are generally traditional screws, which don’t require more than a typical screwdriver. You might want to group all of the screws and matching hardware together in marked sandwich bags. This will make it easy to remember which hardware corresponds with which drawers and pieces.
Step Three - Install Soft Close Hardware
Soft close drawer systems come in one of two slightly different options. The hidden sliders are installed directly underneath the drawer box, which requires special clips. The other is mounted on the side of the drawer box like usual, so these tend to be less expensive.
Possibly the most crucial thing to get right during this step is keeping your drawer level when you install the new equipment. In order to do so for side-mounted hardware, you should probably use a drawer slide jig.
This is a triangular tool that is specifically designed to make sure your drawer remains perfectly level. The drawer slide jig has one tab that holds onto the face frame of the base cabinets, while a lower tab connects with the side of the cabinet interior.
That will save you a lot of headaches later on when you would otherwise need to make countless adjustments or even reinstall the hardware. Bear in mind that you will also need “face frame clamps” to hold the drawer slide jigs in place.
While the jig is in place on either side of the drawer, you can rest the new slides into position. Now, your hands are completely free to begin screwing in the soft-close slides. You may want a power drill to speed up the process if you plan on installing many drawers in your kitchen. Also, remember that the larger side of the soft-close slides should face away from the drawer box.
Add the Drawer Box Back in
With the new hardware installed, you will need to replace the kitchen drawers you’re converting. The first thing you’ll need to do is reverse the direction of your drawer slide jigs. Remove the clamps, turn the jigs around, and clamp them to the face frame again while facing outward.
Now you can evenly align the drawer boxes with markings on the jig to make them level again. Make sure the drawer boxes line up with the small, interior drawer slides of the soft-close system. This will allow you to add in the new screws, working from the nearest hole to the deepest one.
If the drawer face looks awkward or tilted, you can read the post How To Adjust Kitchen Drawer Fronts in order to easily adjust the position.
How Do You Adjust The Speed On Soft Close Drawers?
Most of the time, you will find that soft-close drawer mechanisms offer a built-in adjustment tab. This will usually be set to the highest possible resistance when you first install the new slides. You will have to lower this tab, which can easily be done using a conventional screwdriver.
Keep in mind that each notch of the adjustment tab can create a serious difference in speed. So, you rarely get to select any kind of middle ground for your speed.
How Much Does It Cost To Install Soft Close Components?
Naturally, the price is subject to change based on the number of drawers you want to convert. On average, it costs around ten or twelve dollars for the hardware for each drawer. If you shop online, you’ll find that you can purchase around ten pairs for a hundred dollars.
But this can change based on the brand or the business. Full-extension sliders can cost more, too. You can read the post How Far Do Kitchen Drawers Come Out? to learn more about the limits of your drawer sliders.
You will also have to consider the tools you may need. That may include a drawer slide jig, face clamps, a power drill, and a screwdriver. This may cost around a hundred dollars more, assuming you don’t have a power drill or screwdriver on hand already
Can Kitchen Cabinets Be Converted To Soft Close?
It is absolutely possible to purchase special, soft-close hinges that will provide the same advantages as the drawer systems. The process for installing soft close cabinet hinges is quite similar to the steps necessary when working with drawers.
You can unscrew the existing cabinet doors, then lay them flat and remove the old hinges. But, here you may need side cutters to remove any plugs that worked with the old mounting plates. Again, you’ll need to align the new hinges so they’re level with the cabinet door edges. Then, you can screw in the new hinges.
However, it’s actually possible to find snap-on adapters which can be fixed right on standardized hinges. While this won’t work for every hinge, it can save you a lot of tools and assembly if you happen to have compatible kitchen cabinets.
While it may take a lot of time and effort, it can really be worthwhile to upgrade your current kitchen drawers with soft-close technology. Whenever your morning feels rushed, you won’t have to worry about shutting the drawer on your finger. If you have kids, this is especially useful. You also don’t have to worry about the drawer chipping, either. Now that you know how to install soft close hardware, and what it’ll cost you, it’ll be an easy decision to choose between new slides or leaving your kitchen as is.