When your drawers stick, bind, won’t move at all, or make unpleasant noises, you may need to replace the drawer slides. Whether installing replacement drawers or replacing slider hardware on existing drawers, knowing how to measure drawer slides is integral to the use and longevity of your drawers.
What you need to measure drawer slides:
- Tape measure
- Possibly a screwdriver
A Step-by-Step to Measuring Drawer Slides
- Remove the drawer from the cabinet
- Measure the box, not the drawer front
- Measure the width of the drawer and the width of the opening in the cabinet
- Examine the interior of the cabinet and the exterior of the drawer
- After measuring, if you are still uncertain about the size of slides to purchase, take the drawer with you
1. Remove the drawer from the cabinet
This is one time when you don’t want to estimate – accuracy is key. Removing the drawer may require some manipulation. Most drawers will require that you fully extend the drawer, then lift up, and it will come right out. If that doesn’t work, guide the drawer so it is mainly extended, then lift the back of the drawer to pop the wheels out of the guides. If neither of those options works, it may be necessary to use a screwdriver to remove the wheels from the guides.
2. Measure the box, not the drawer front
Since the front face of the drawer works to stop the drawer from entering the cabinet, it should not be measured. Start at the back of the box and measure to the front of the box without including the face of the drawer. Once you have the length, round the number down. For example, if the drawer is 20 ½ inches long you will need to purchase 20 inch drawer slides.
3. Measure the width of the drawer and the width of the opening in the cabinet
If the difference in the width of the drawer and the width of the opening is within 1/8 inch, you can use full-extension guides. If they measure less or more than 1/8 inch, you need to use bottom-mount guides or do some carpentry work to make the drawer work with the new slides.
4. Examine the interior of the cabinet and the exterior of the drawer
Premature wear on the drawer slides may have been caused by improper installation or poor design. Smaller slides may have been used to avoid rubbing an interior part of the cabinet. If this is the case, you will need to use smaller slides as well to avoid the same issue.
5. After measuring, if you are still uncertain about the size of slides to purchase, take the drawer with you
You may be confused, but it’s a pretty sure bet that the person selling the slides will know how to measure your drawer and can provide you with slides that will fit perfectly.
Bonus Tip: Always replace drawer slides as a set. Replacing only one side of the drawer slides can cause the drawer to become unstable. This could break the drawer, or the drawer may fall out of its housing and cause injury.
Arthur Harris is a leading producer of stainless steel cabinet hardware with over a century of experience in the industry. If you have questions about outfitting your cabinetry with quality hardware, contact us today!