Do Kitchen Cabinets Need Handles? [Inc. Handleless Options]

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Deciding on kitchen hardware can be a pain. From finishes to styles and size, it can make you want to do away with handles altogether. The good news is, you actually can forget about handles and knobs and opt for a modern and sleek kitchen design that eliminates the need for cabinet hardware. We’ve found several solutions for handleless kitchen cabinets!

Kitchen cabinets do not need handles to function properly. In fact, several handleless kitchen options can make your cabinets as functional as they are stylish. Use any of the following to achieve handleless cabinets:

  1. True Handleless
  2. Finger Pull
  3. Hidden Pull
  4. Push Latch

If you’ve seen today’s trending handleless kitchens but aren’t sure how practical they can be, keep reading! We’ve researched the different handleless options and weighed the pros and cons. Let this guide help you decide if a handleless kitchen is right for you!

A stylish light gray handles on cabinets, Do Kitchen Cabinets Need Handles? [Inc. Handleless Options]

Types of Handleless Cabinets

Before deciding if a handleless kitchen will work for you, you need to understand what they are and how they work. These aren’t simply cabinets that never had handles installed. Instead, they create a smooth finish for your kitchen while being utilized in the same way regular cabinets would.

1. True Handleless

True handleless cabinets feature a railing behind the top of the cabinet that allows you to slide your hands into the drawer or cabinet to pull it open. These rails are fitted after the placement of the cabinets, allowing for the cabinets to be completely solid.

These railings can either match the cabinets to continue the seamless look or be a darker shade to create depth for added styling.

2. Finger Pull

Kitchen drawer with compartments

Finger pulls have an indentation or groove along the top of the cabinet to act as an inverted handle. Unlike the true handleless design, this groove is formed into the cabinet door or drawer, making it visible from above. These are either placed as a groove in the center of the top of the cabinet or run the entire door length.

3. Hidden Pull

Opened kitchen drawer with cutlery tray

Hidden cabinet pulls are small, flat handles that lay against the top or side of the cabinet to create a lip for pulling. Some may not consider this a true handleless option because it does provide a type of handle along the edge of the cabinet that sticks out.

However, this option is smooth, clean, and lacks any embellished designs. You have options for more of an overhang or less to decide what’s comfortable for you. They also come in varying finishes and sizes for the right amount of visibility. Instead of acting as decorative centerpieces, the handles are purely functional.

4. Push Latch

Push latches are spring-loaded, magnetic latches placed inside the cabinet, allowing you to open the cabinets by pushing inward. Pushing on the spring pops the drawer or cabinet open. This is a true handleless option because the hardware hides inside the cabinet’s door, on the backside.

These latches will also help to keep your cabinets cleaner as they can be pushed open with an elbow or hip swing to keep dirty and germy hands off the cabinets.

Pros & Cons of Handleless Kitchens

Interior of modern kitchen equipment with grey and oak cabinets

Pros

Now that you know the different types of handleless options, let’s look at the pros of having this modern kitchen style.

Safety

Handles that stick out can be dangerous, especially if you have children. Babies and small children can easily fall into cabinet handles and harm themselves. They also allow easier access for tiny hands to open, which makes what’s inside the cabinets and drawers harmful as well.

They aren’t just dangerous for children. Adults can just as easily knock their heads and hips on cabinet and drawer handles, resulting in injury or ripped clothing.

Trendy

Handleless kitchens create a smooth and minimalist look that is currently popular. However, these kitchens will have a hard time going out of style. The simplicity of this trend lends itself to match many other kitchen styles that may come and go.

These cabinets eliminate the need for cabinet hardware to be updated as often as your kitchen decor does. They are easily styled to suit changes in interior fashion, making handleless cabinets immune to changing trends, at least for now.

Cleaning

If you have push latch cabinets, know that cleaning can be a breeze for handleless kitchens. As we covered before, hands aren’t necessary for opening push latch cabinets, so greasy fingerprints can become obsolete.

Handles also provide crevices and creases for germs and dirt to get trapped in, meaning extra scrubbing is a must. For the most part, handleless kitchens provide you with fewer places for grime to hide.

Cons

Now let’s look at what negatives you can run into if you choose a handleless kitchen.

Cost

Due to the mechanics of handleless kitchens, they are generally more costly than kitchens with handles. When planning to remodel your current kitchen or purchase a new home, this is a factor that you should consider.

This cost works in the same way as updated appliances work. The sleek and modern design will raise the cost of the home or the renovation.

Why are handleless kitchens more expensive?

It may seem like a simple change, and removing the handle would decrease the cost of the cabinets. However, more craftsmanship goes into creating these kitchens. The sizing as to be exact, locations of handleless options like back bars and J-pulls have to be placed perfectly, and professional installation is important.

Cabinetmakers have to craft the space to allow each cabinet to be easily opened by even larger hands to make this seamless option as functional as it is beautiful. This work raises the cost of a handleless kitchen by about 15% compared to a kitchen with handles.

Cleaning

Woman cleaning the kitchen cabinet

Cleaning some handleless cabinets can also be a negative aspect of these cabinets. J-pull and hidden handles can work in the same way regular cabinet handles work. They will provide extra spaces for grime to hide, which means extra scrubbing on your part.

When you have the entire top or side of a J-shaped cabinet, the areas for dirt and greasy hands to touch increase compared to one handle. Not only will scrubbing be necessary, but you will need to cover a larger area to make sure you’re getting them completely clean.

How do you open cabinets without handles?

Based on the types of handleless options we discussed earlier, the simplified answer is to pull the cabinet open by the side of the door. However, handleless cabinets and drawers may not be the easiest to open if you can’t slide your hand into the grooves along the door.

They can be inconvenient for some, whether they are in a location that doesn’t allow for much grip or provides a small area to grasp the cabinet. Thankfully, you can add the easier-to-open options to your cabinets without taking away from the modern look.

Add hidden pulls

If you find you enjoy the seamless look of handleless cabinets but don’t find them as functional, you can add hidden handles to your cabinets. Drill these easily into cabinets for a discrete handle on the top or side. If you want these handles to essentially disappear, you can purchase them in a similar color to your cabinets –or paint them.

Click here to view on Amazon.

Add push latches

To completely maintain the look of your handleless kitchen, you can add the push latches onto your cabinets. There are many different versions of these latches, some that open easier than others.

Consider how accessible you want your cabinets to be, especially with small children around. Ones that require a more forceful push may benefit you.

Click here to view on Amazon.

What is J pull kitchen?

Solution for placing kitchen utensils in modern kitchen

J-pull cabinets are handleless options with a “J” shaped groove in the top or front of a cabinet or drawer to create easy opening.

Aesthetically, J-pull kitchens are an appealing option. They don’t disrupt the flow throughout the kitchen as bulky handles can. Unlike the true handleless option, these grooves tend to be the same color as the cabinets, so even the indentation will blend.

A disadvantage to the J-pull cabinets is that they may break or become damaged more easily. The thinner handle created by the J-shape can wear out or peel away over time, unlike true handleless cabinets.

Do handleless kitchen doors get dirty?

Woman cleaning kitchen cabinet handle with disinfectant product

Handles and knobs are some of the dirtiest areas in the kitchen. From touching messy and raw food and reaching for dishes inside cabinets and drawers and the general splatter of food from cooking, grime and germs build up quickly.

Handleless cabinets don’t prevent this type of dirt build-up. In fact, the cumulation of everyday mess can sometimes be more noticeable on handleless kitchen doors. On cabinets and drawers with hardware, the grime is often secluded to that one spot. It may be a filthy spot if not properly cleaned, but it’s still confined to just the handle.

On handleless doors, the sides and bottom of the cabinets are fair game for dirty hands when you need to open them. This can mean dirt, fingerprints, and germs spread out along all sides of your cabinets.

How to clean kitchen cabinets

Whether you are going for the handleless option or just need to deep clean your cabinets and handles, cleaning your kitchen doors and cabinets is simple. Ideally, spot clean weekly and deep clean every three to four months.

To remove grease or oily fingerprints, you can use a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar and a soft cloth. Stuck on grease stains may require repetition of the cleaning process to remove fully.

A water and dish detergent solution or an all-purpose cleaner will wipe away dust and grime build-up for general cleaning. Be sure to clean inside crevices and the edges of cabinet doors to get the dirtiest areas of your cabinets and prevent further build-up.

In Closing

Kitchens don’t need handles at all. In fact, homeowners are moving away from hardware in kitchen design. Handleless options are practical and modern and can take your kitchen to the next level.

If you’re in search of more kitchen cabinet ideas, check out these posts:

25 Awesome Corner Kitchen Cabinets Ideas

How Tall Are Kitchen Cabinets? [3 Types Examined]

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