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Over time, your kitchen cabinets may need a style update. Paint can go a long way, but not every cabinet needs a fresh coat. Updating your hardware by replacing cabinet handles and pulls can make a bigger difference than you think. You won’t have to break the bank to get that new look either.
Use this guide to learn how to install cabinet handles. These instructions apply whether you’re replacing old hardware or installing a different style on new cabinets. They also work for knobs, pulls and an assortment of handle styles.
Remove the Old Cabinet Handles
If you are replacing cabinet handles, you’ll need to first remove the old handles.
- Use a screwdriver to remove the cabinet pull’s fastening screw(s). These are usually found on the back of the cabinet door. Measure the distance of the screw holes from one another and from the edge of the cabinet door. Determine if they are appropriately spaced to be reused for your new cabinet pulls.
- If you need to create new screw holes, patch the old holes with a wood filler that matches the finish of your cabinet. Paint over or refinish the patched holes as needed.
Measure and Mark Locations for New Handles
If you can reuse the existing screw holes, insert the new fastening screw into the hole and tighten the new handle into place. If you are creating new screw holes, measure and mark the new screw hole locations.
- If your cabinet doors have stiles (also called framing), cabinet pulls are usually 2 to 3 inches up from the bottom edge of the door. They should be centered on the width of the stile.
- If your cabinets have slab doors without stiles, cabinet pulls are usually 2 to 3 inches up from the bottom edge of the door. They will be the same distance in from the side edge.
- Measure and mark this location with a pencil.
- When installing a knob, this marked location will be where you drill your screw hole.
- When installing a handle with two fastening screws, this marked location will be the middle of the handle. Measure the distance between the two fastening screws on the cabinet handle.
- Divide that number in half to get the distance between your center mark and two new marks that indicate the top and bottom screw hole locations.
Tip: To avoid having to measure every cabinet door, make a template using a piece of cardboard. Assume the corner of the piece of cardboard is the corner of the cabinet door. Mark the screw hole locations accordingly. Line up the template with the cabinet door and poke a nail through to start the screw holes on the door.
- Most cabinet screws need a 3/16-inch diameter hole, so use a power drill with a 3/16-inch twist bit to create the screw holes. The cabinet pull manufacturer’s instructions will specify the required drill bit size as well. If you’re unsure of the size, drill a test hole into a piece of scrap wood to see if the fastening screws will fit.
- Hold the door open with one hand as you drill or prop it open with a towel to avoid drilling into the cabinet frame.
- Drill through the door at the marked screw hole locations.
Install New Cabinet Handles
Your holes are now drilled. It’s time to start installing cabinet hardware. This process is the same if you’re learning how to install cabinet knobs as well. Here’s how to install cabinet hardware correctly:
- Insert the fastening screw(s) through the backside of the hole.
- Thread the knob or handle onto the screw(s).
- While holding the knob or handle with one hand, use a screwdriver to tighten the fastening screw.
- Avoid over-tightening the screw, as this can crack or damage your cabinet door.
Tip: Cabinet and drawer pulls usually come with two screws of different lengths. The shorter screw is made for cabinet doors with a standard thickness. The longer screw is made for thicker cabinet doors or false-front drawers.
Installing cabinet hardware and updating the drawers isn’t a difficult process. Transforming your spaces with new pulls and knobs is also quite rewarding. Best of all, you don’t need to be a DIY professional to upgrade your hardware today. Now that you know how to install cabinet handles, you can easily change the style of your cabinets.
Need help identifying a tool or material for installing cabinet handles? Find products fast whether you’re at home or on-the-go with The Home Depot Mobile App. Our smart app also makes it easy to find what you need by snapping a picture of an item you like. We’ll show you similar products and help you find all of the accessories you need to handle big and small home upgrades like a pro.