How To Buy Drawer Slides

Fix a stubborn drawers with heavy duty drawer slides

Help a sticky drawer open and close smoothly by replacing the drawer slide. This guide will walk you through selecting the type of slide that works well with pre-existing drawers, and teach you what type of slide will be best for new drawers.

Tip: Before you buy new drawer slides, check your current ones to see if the problem is something you can easily fix. If part of the track is bent, simply use a pair of pliers to work it back into position.

Slide Types and Configurations

Consider how far out you’ll need to extend your drawer, as well as the weight of the items each drawer will hold.

Tip: Replacing old slides with slides of the same configuration will make your work easier. If you find the drawer needs to be replaced as well, remember that you can probably keep the face and attach it to a new drawer to save yourself the time and trouble of having to stain or paint it to match the surrounding drawers and trim.

When shopping for new drawer slides, keep in mind:

  • Load rating indicates the amount of weight slides can bear. If you plan to install slides on a drawer that stores heavy objects, or if the drawer is wide, you’ll need slides with a high load rating.
  • Telescoping slides move in increments. Progressive slides move smoothly along the entire length of the track.
  • For access to the entire drawer, install a full-extension slide. 

Style Mounting Location Points to Consider
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Bottom-Mount

Two rails installed on the bottom of the drawer, one on each side

• May be ¾ or full extension
• Requires ½-inch clearance on both sides of drawer
• May feature track and roller or ball bearing configuration
• Hidden from sight
• Lessens drawer depth slightly

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Center-Mount

One rail centered on the bottom of the drawer

• Use where side clearance is less than ½-inch
• Supports less weight
• Easy to install
• Best for small drawers

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Side-Mount

Two rails installed on both sides of the drawer

• May be ¾ or full extension
• Ideal for kitchens and bathrooms
• Requires ½-inch clearance on both sides of drawer
• Lessens drawer width slightly
• Finish options include white epoxy and black zinc

Disconnects

A disconnect is the mechanism by which a drawer is released from the cabinet, desk or other housing.

There are three common types:

  • Lever disconnects feature an internal lever that, when depressed, allows the drawer to slide out freely.
  • Rail disconnects feature a latch that enables you to raise the drawer off the slide to pull it away from the desk or cabinet it's housed in.
  • Friction disconnects do not require the use of a latch or lever, but instead use force to pull through the ball retainer that holds the drawer in place.

Features

Extend the life of your drawer slides with shock absorbing and self-cleaning ball retainers.

Shock absorption: Frequently slamming a drawer is usually what damages its slides. Avoid this by installing slides that feature shock-absorption.

Self-cleaning ball retainer: Dirt and corrosion can attack slides, but slides with self-cleaning ball bearings resist environmental wear and tear. In most cases, they are self-lubricating and won't require lubricant spray.