Where Should Kitchen Cabinet Knobs And Handles Be Placed?

Are you trying to decide the best placement for your handles or knobs on your kitchen cabinets? You've come to the right place. We've done the research and constructed this guide to give you all the answers you need for a functional kitchen setup.

On upper cabinets, the handles or knobs should be placed 2-1/2" to 3" from the bottom of the cabinet, on the opposite side of the hinges. On the bottom cabinets, place the knobs and handles 2-1/2" to 3" from the top of the cabinet door, opposite the hinges. 

So how do you install cabinet hardware? And what finish should you choose? There is a lot to know about cabinet hardware, how to install it, and what type to choose. For more information on how to install cabinet hardware, keep reading.

White kitchen cabinets with stainless steel handles and cup handles, Where Should Kitchen Cabinet Knobs And Handles Be Placed?

How do you Install Handles on New Kitchen Cabinets?

There won't be pre-drilled holes for new cabinets for your hardware, so you will need to drill your own. The easiest way to ensure that the handles on all the cabinets are in the same place is with a cabinet hardware jig.

This jig is very easy to use and yields incredibly accurate results. Click here to see it on Amazon.

If you don't have a jig, there are other options like using a template, but you need to measure very carefully to make certain handle spacing is uniform between cabinets.

Using a Template

Some handles come with a template, but not all of them will. If your handles don't come with a template, you can make your own easily using a pencil and paper or purchase one specifically made for cabinet hardware.

You can use a template for relatively the same effect as a hardware jig, and it can even be clamped in place. This video will explain how to make and use your own template:

Using a Cabinet Hardware Jig

A cabinet hardware jig is a useful tool to have when installing handles and pulls. It is easier and more accurate than using a homemade template. Here's an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide and a video to show you how these tools work.

  1. Measure the distance between the holes on your handle and adjust the jig's spread to match.
  2. Measure the distance from the edge of the cabinet to where you want the pull and adjust the jig's height measurement accordingly.
  3. Prep the cabinet to ensure the handle will be centered properly; mark it with a pencil.
  4. Clamp the jig into place and drill through the holes in the jig.
  5. Remove the jig and install your handle into the freshly drilled holes.
  6. Without adjusting the jig's measurements, move it to the next cabinet and repeat the process.

How to Replace Handles on Kitchen Cabinets

If you are replacing your current handles with new handles at the same spread, it is as easy as removing the old ones and installing the new ones in their place with a screwdriver.

If the spread on your new handles is different, or you are switching out pulls for knobs, you will need to fill the old holes with wood filler before you drill new holes and install your hardware. After filling the old holes, you can use the same template or jig options to install the new hardware.

How Does a Cabinet Hardware Jig Work?

Cabinet hardware jigs work by using very precise measurements and clamps to keep everything where it should be. Once your measurements are set to your specifications, you can drill right through the holes provided in the jig for precise installation. The jig can be moved from cabinet to cabinet without adjusting the measurements for perfect spacing and beautiful results.

How do you Secure Cabinet Knobs?

Cabinet knobs are a little easier than handles and pulls because they only require one hole for installation. You can still use a jig for knobs, but it will only require drilling through a single hole.

You could also make your own template, purchase one, or just measure carefully before drilling. Once your hole is drilled, use a screwdriver to tighten the screw from the interior face of the cabinet door into the knob on the exterior face.

These kinds of templates are just a simplified version of a jig. Click here to check it out on Amazon.

How to Measure for Cabinet Pull Handles

To measure your pull handles, flip the handle over so the screw holes are facing you. Use a tape measure to find the distance from the center of one hole to the center of the next. This measurement, called the spread, is very important if you just want to replace your existing handles.

Can You Mix Knobs and Handles on Kitchen Cabinets?

You can mix knobs and pull handles on cabinets and drawers, as long as they have matching finishes. This is a great way to add some intrigue to your kitchen, and the results can be stunning.

Try to incorporate some type of order into it by making all the drawers pulls and the cabinets knobs, or vice-versa. Many people choose to use knobs on the lower cabinets and handles on drawers and upper cabinets.

A white kitchen drawer with a cup handle and black colored knobs

Can You Mix Different Cabinet Hardware Styles?

Mixing styles is a great way to create interest in your kitchen. Just make sure that the different styles have the same finish so the look ties together nicely. Start by finding a style you really love, then compare it to other styles to see how they look together.

Should Kitchen Handles be Verticle or Horizontal?

Traditionally, pull handles are used horizontally on drawers and vertically on cabinets. There are certain pulls made to be used one way or the other, with no room for adjustment.

However, most pulls are able to be installed according to your own preference. Keep in mind that having functional handles is the most important aspect, so consider whether vertical or horizontal pulls would be easier to use daily.

White kitchen cabinet with stainless steel handles

Do You Put Handles on Fake Drawers in the Kitchen?

It is common to install handles on dummy drawers and cabinets to create a consistent look throughout the kitchen. It is not required, but it does complete the look nicely. If you are worried that it may get in the way somehow, you can certainly choose to omit the handle from any dummy drawer.

Ravinte 5" Cabinet Pulls

These modern-looking pull handles would complement light-colored cabinets very nicely. Click here to take a look at them on Amazon.

How to Choose Hardware Color?

You should try to choose a hardware finish that will match the rest of the hardware in your home. Doing so will create a tailored look in your home and tie each room together seamlessly.

You should also consider the color of the furniture, cabinets, and surrounding materials. Contrast will add a dramatic look to your home, which can be a real showstopper.

Gorgeous gray cabinets with silver knobs and handles

Can You Mix Hardware Colors?

You can, but it can get tricky. To be safe it is best to choose the hardware in the same finish to use throughout the room or house. If you really want to use different finishes, try to stick with either warm or cool colors, and avoid mixing warm colors with cool colors.

Can Hardware be Painted?

If you are trying to update the look of your kitchen on a budget, painting your existing hardware can be a quick and easy way to do just that. You will want to choose a spray paint intended for use on metal items to ensure it adheres well and lasts with use.

Remove the hardware from your cabinet before spraying, and make sure the paint is completely dried before reinstalling your hardware.

This spray paint is available in a bunch of different finishes and is made for use on metal. Click here to check it out on Amazon.

When One Door Closes

Now that you know all the best ways to install cabinet hardware, you're ready to begin choosing your fixtures. Make sure to choose a finish that will complement the rest of your home and kitchen. Always remember to double-check all of your measurements before you start drilling.

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If you are looking for more information on cabinet hardware, you may be interested in reading our article "Do Kitchen Cabinets Need Handles? [Including Handleless Options]."

For some great inspiration on cabinet hardware, take a look at our article "17 Rustic Kitchen Cabinet Ideas You Should See."

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