How to Install New Kitchen Cabinets

How to Install New Kitchen Drawers

Installing new kitchen drawers is a DIY task anyone of any skill level can do. Maybe you’ve just finished installing your new kitchen cabinets and it’s time to add the finishing touches with new kitchen drawers. Or perhaps you simply need to replace a broken drawer. Either way, it’s a straightforward process.

This guide will walk you through the different types of kitchen drawer slides, tools you’ll need and step-by-step instructions for how to install new kitchen drawers.

Types of Kitchen Drawer Slides

Before you get started, you’ll first need to get the drawers and drawer slides. There are several different types of kitchen drawer slides:

  1. Nylon Roller. These are the most basic slides. They are the simplest to install and roll smooth and quiet. These drawers provide a ¾ extension. They’re also usually the least costly.
  2. Steel Ball Bearing. These progressive or telescopic slides offer an excellent fit and open and close easily. A big advantage of the steel ball bearing drawer is its ability provide full extension. This makes it easy to reach everything in the drawer. Also called ball bearing slides, or precision ball bearing slides, these drawers can handle heavier loads than nylon rollers.
  3. Soft Close. These kitchen drawers have become very popular. They use the same steel ball bearing slides but add a small hydraulic dampener which “soft closes” the drawer, protecting it from slamming and the damage that can result. It also provides an almost silent close.

Kitchen drawer slides may be side mount or undermount. A side mount drawer attaches to the side of the cabinet and the side of the drawer. An undermount cabinet installs below the drawer; this makes it invisible when the drawer is open.

Tools Needed to Install New Kitchen Drawers

You don’t need a lot of tools to install new kitchen drawers. Once you’ve got your drawers and slides, schedule up to an hour per cabinet (once you get the hang of it, you can probably do it in 30 minutes) and get your tools together. You’ll need:

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Ruler/straightedge
  • Drill with a 3/32-inch drill bit
  • Power driver (or Phillips head screwdrivers)
  • Screws, as recommended by the slide manufacturer
  • Level
  • Compass, for scribing undermount drawers

Once you’ve got your tools, it’s time to get started!

Installing New Kitchen Drawers – Side Mount

These instructions begin with the space for the new kitchen drawers empty. If you’re replacing kitchen drawers, first remove the old drawer and the slide hardware. Once the space is empty, it’s time to install the new kitchen drawer.

Note: Some basic nylon roller drawers are built with drawer slides as part of the drawer. If this is your drawer, skip to Step 3.

Step 1. Find the middle of the side of the drawer. Mark it. Then using a straightedge draw a (level) line across the side of the cabinet. Repeat on the other side of the drawer.

Step 2. Center the drawer slide level using the line as a guide. Mark the screw hole locations. Remove and then drill pilot holes on those marks. Attach the drawer slide attachment. Repeat on the other side.

Step 3. Measure the height of the drawer opening on one side. Identify the center point. Set the cabinet slide in place and, using a level, adjust until level. Once it is level, mark the screw holes. Repeat on the other side.

Step 4. Drill pilot holes for mounting screws. Set cabinet slide in place and attach mounting screws. Important: Make sure mounting screws are not longer than the width of the cabinet wall. Repeat.

Step 5. Position the drawer at the angle necessary for rollers to move into place. Ease and lower the drawer in place. Test the drawer by gently opening and closing several times. The drawer should move easily, but not be pulled out of the cabinet, with the respective slides firm and fixed in place on the drawer and cabinet.

Installing New Kitchen Drawers – Under Mount

An undermount slide installs a lot like a side mount.

Step 1. First, you need to identify where the cabinet slide will mount. Set the slide guide with bracket attached in the cabinet and check it with a level. When level, mark the screw holes. Drill pilot holes and then screw the bracket in place. Do this for both brackets.

Step 2. Set the undermount clips in place on the bottom of the drawer. Mark the screw holes. Drill pilot holes and screw the clips in place. These clips will attach to the slide and let you remove the drawer, as needed.

Step 3. Set the slide on the already installed bracket. Attach to the side of the cabinet. You can prepare pilot holes but may find it possible to drive the screws in with the bracket in place. The bracket will hold the slide in place as you work.

Step 4. At the appropriate angle, gently set the drawer onto the slide. Test by opening and closing, observing for a smooth glide and proper hardware attachment.