How to Measure Drawer Slides for a Seamless Installation

How to Measure Drawer Slides

When your drawers stick, bind, won’t move at all or make unpleasant noises, the chances are you need to replace the drawer slides. Whether you are 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

Measuring Drawer Slides, Step by Step

  1. Remove the drawer from the cabinet
  2. Measure the box, not the drawer front
  3. Measure the width of the drawer and the width of the opening in the cabinet
  4. Examine the interior of the cabinet and the exterior of the drawer
  5. 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 manipulating. 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 mostly extended, then lift the back of the drawer to pop the wheels out of the guides. If neither of those options work, 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 a little 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 because of a 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!

Create Custom Cabinet Hardware

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>