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Everything You Need to Know About Cabinet Knobs and Pulls

Everything You Need to Know
About Cabinet Knobs and Pulls


Knobs and pulls are simple additions that offer an easy way to update the look of a kitchen, bathroom, or furniture piece. These hardware elements come in a wide variety of styles, colors and finishes, so there are great options to complement any home. They can function almost as accessories for your cabinets - a nice finishing touch that pulls the room together. But there a lot of different options to choose from, so here are some of the basics about different knob and pull types and features:

Knobs or Pulls?

Knobs vs Pulls Image

While knobs and pulls are differentiated from each other by their shape and number of fasteners, these options offer essentially the same functionality, so the choice between them typically comes down to preference. Some feel that pulls provide a sleeker, more modern look, whereas knobs might offer a classic or vintage feel. However, this depends on the exact knob or pull, as they both come in a broad range of styles.

Knob Types

The two main knob types are solid and hollow knobs. Solid knobs are sturdy pieces of metal that will feel more substantial. These tend to be a little more expensive because they require more materials. Hollow knobs are hollow inside and can feel lighter, however this is not indicative of their quality, but can be necessary to print textures and patterns on the surface. In terms of shape, the majority of knobs with either be round, oval, or feature a thematic sculptural design.

Pull Types

There are many different types of pulls to choose from, but some of the most common include handle pulls, bar pulls, bail pulls, cup pulls, and finger pulls:

Handle Pull Example

Handle pulls are one of the most basic shapes of drawer pull, featuring a handle that is attached to the cabinet at both ends. This type of pull is frequently installed horizontally on drawers, but vertically on cabinets.

Bar Pulls Example

Bar pulls, although similar in design to handle pulls, do not connect to the cabinet or drawer on either end and are instead suspended by less conspicuous supports under the midsection. Bar pulls offer a sleek silhouette and are frequently used in more modern designs.

Bail Pulls Example

Bail pulls, also frequently called drop pulls consist of two anchoring points with a pivoting handle suspended between them. Bail pulls are typically used exclusively on drawers, as they would not hang correctly on a cabinet door.

Cup Pull Example

Cup pulls, as their name hints, have something of an upside-down cup shape. They offer a smooth appearance and generally something of a country feel. This is another style that typically is used only on drawers rather than cabinets.

Finger Pull Example

Finger pulls are a bit different than other cabinet and drawer pulls, as they are installed on the back side of a cabinet door. These are made to be opened with just a couple fingers, and they offer a sleek minimalist look that would be at home in any modern home.

Choosing the Right Finish

When using metal hardware pieces in your home, one of the most important steps for design is selecting which finish to go with. Here are some of the most common options to consider:

Oil Rubbed Bronze Knob Example

Oil Rubbed Bronze is a chemically darkened surface that simulates aged bronze. This finish is very dark, varies from a deep brown to a dark gray, and usually has copper undertones.

Polished Brass Knob Example

Polished Brass is solid brass that is polished and lacquer-coated to prevent tarnishing over time. Polished brass is one of the most common finishes and is available for almost any style.

Polished Chrome Knob Example

Polished Chrome is achieved with polished chrome plating over the top of brass or steel hardware. This finish is frequently associated with very modern styles.

Satin Nickel Knob Example

Satin Nickel finishes have dulled and lacquer-coated nickel plating over brass hardware. Satin nickel is the happy medium of silver toned hardware with its glossy, yet understated tone.

Antique Pewter Knob Example

Antique Pewter finishes are usually not pewter at all, but are made with a dulled and darkened nickel plating over brass. This is typically a matte finish, and goes well with a wide range of design styles.

Copper Knob Example

Copper finishes typically have the characteristic reddish tint that the metal is known for, although there are antique and oxidized versions that tend more towards browns or greenish tints.

Of course, these are just the options for metal finishes. Many knobs and pulls are also made in ceramic, wood, and glass styles, so be sure to explore all the options.

Final Details


A backplate is a decorative element that can be installed behind a knob or pull to add a bit more depth or a more substantial look. They also have the added benefit of covering up old holes if you are switching from knobs to pulls or vice versa.

Backplate Image


Before getting to the actual installation, be sure to carefully consider the placement of the knobs and how far they will stick out when installed. Smaller bathrooms will do better with flatter knobs without sharp edges, especially if they are installed in an area that is easily bumped into. If you are installing knobs or pulls in an area that children have access to, also consider rounded, smooth hardware.

Replacing Knobs

If you are replacing existing knobs, simply unscrew the old ones and replace with the new knobs. If you are installing knobs on something that does not have existing knobs, you will need to drill a new hole.

  1. 1. Measure the thickness of the cabinet drawer or door and find the correct length of screws.
  2. 2. Measure and mark the cabinet exactly where each screw will need to go.
  3. 3. Ensure that you are using a drill bit that matches the size of screw that will go through the hole.
  4. 4. Drill holes through the cabinet on the marked spots.
  5. 5. Insert the screws from the inside of the cabinet.
  6. 6. Attach the knob on the outside and turn clockwise to secure.
  7. 7. Use a screwdriver to tighten if necessary.


Tip: If you are having difficulties with a loose knob, try adding a washer to wedge the knob in place.


How do I know how large of a hole to drill?

If you are installing new knobs, you will need to drill a hole to correspond with the screw width. This should be specified on the specific product or can be determined by gauging the width of screw that fits into the knob.

Do I need to buy screws?

Some manufacturers include complementary screws when they send pulls. However, since cabinets and drawers are not a standard width, you may find that the screws are not the correct length. Screws should be long enough to reach through the cabinet door and project into the knob or pull. Most instructions should specify the width of screw necessary for your specific pull. If this measurement is not included, simply take the pull to your local Lowes store and an associate would be glad to help you find the right screw size.

What does “projection” mean?

Projection is the amount that a knob sticks out from the cabinet or drawer surface. This is an important factor to take into account if you are purchasing knobs for a small room or placing them in an area that people are likely to bump into.

Now that you know the basics, check out our enormous selection of knobs and pulls to find the right ones for your home. If you’re having trouble picking, our Sample Knobs & Pulls Credit Program is a great risk-free way to try out different styles of cabinet hardware in your own home. So get started today and discover the difference that new knobs and pulls can make.

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