How to Choose Cabinet Hinges and Drawer Slides

Select the best types of hinges for your cabinets

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Cabinet hinges and drawer slides are basic but crucial parts of functional storage systems, so it may surprise you that there are different types. The construction of your cabinet – most notably, the overlay of the face frame and the cabinet door – will determine which cabinet hinge you need. Similarly, the location that your drawer slides need to be mounted dictates what type of drawer slide you need. This guide will teach you the different types of cabinet hinges and drawer slides so you can make sure you get the right one for your cabinet.

cabinet type

In order to determine what type of hinge will work best for your cabinet, you must identify what type of cabinet you have.

Frameless cabinets are originally of European design and have recently grown in popularity in contemporary American homes. There is no frame, allowing you two feel around the entirely of the cabinet opening smoothly. The hinges on frameless cabinets are installed directly on the inside of the cabinets.

Framed cabinets are the more traditional style of American-built cabinets. They feature a frame around the face of the cabinet, similar to a picture frame or you can imagine a front panel with a space cut out of it. The hinges on framed cabinets are installed on the frame and the cabinet door sits on the outside of the face frame.


The “overlay” on framed and frameless cabinets describes the amount of the cabinet door that lays on top of the cabinet opening.

You can measure your cabinet’s overlay by making a faint pencil mark or putting a piece of tape along the edge of your cabinet’s doors when closed. Open the door and measure in from the cabinet opening the distance between the opening and the mark/tape.

You could also simply measure the width of your cabinet doors from end to end (both doors together) and subtract from that the width of your cabinet’s opening. Divide that difference by two to get each door’s overlay length.

The most common overlay lengths on American cabinets are:

  • • Partial overlay: leaves some space between doors. Most common overlay lengths on American cabinets are 1/2-inch, and 1 ¼-inch overlays.

    • Full overlay: leaves little to no space between doors

Types of Hinges

  • • Also called “semi-concealed” hinges
    • Mounted on the frame
    Frame wing is visible while door wing is attached to back of door
  • • Hinge is completely concealed or only knuckle is exposed
    • Both the frame and door wings are mounted inside
  • • Hinge can be interior or exterior
  • • Attaches to doors in which the end of the closed door fully covers the cabinet frame 
  • • Hinge either completely interior or exterior
    • Attaches to doors in which the end of the closed door fully covers the cabinet frame
  • • Installed inside the cabinet frame and flush with the closed cabinet face.
  • • Can either be concealed or exposed.
  • • Requires a doorknob to open the cabinet.
  • • These hinges allow typically a 1-inch gap between doors, which allows the face frame to be seen.
  • • No hardware required to open.
  • • Hinge mounts to surface and is fully visible from the front.
  • • Does not require a hole for installation.
  • • Designed for overlay doors on framed cabinets.
  • • The leaf on the hinge wraps around the frame.
  • • Can be partial wrap, which touches two sides of the frame, or full wrap, which touches three frame sides

Additional cabinet hinge types:

  • Butt hinges – have two rectangular leaves joined by pin or rod which can be removed if you need to take off the door. Only the pin shows when the door is closed.
  • Continuous hinges (aka "piano hinges") - the long, beautiful leafs with multiple screw holes often seen on pianos.
  • Corner hinges – generally with a wide angle opening used for corner kitchen cabinets.               
  • Friction hinges – slows the pivoting motion of cabinets; some models can keep the door held open in any position.
  • Butterfly hinges – resembles a butterfly in that both sides are fully visible when the cabinet door is closed.
  • Pice cut hinges – to attach two doors together that are part of a corner cabinet
  • Semi-concealed hinges – also known as semi wrap hinges, where part of the hinge shows when the door is closed
  • Self-closing hinge - spring-loaded so door can close on its own (whether manually or automatically.)
  • Soft-close hinge - reduces the noise of closing cabinet door.

Slide Systems

When selecting the best slide system for your drawer, examine where the drawer is installed. Does your drawer slide using a slide system installed on the bottom of the drawer, along the side of the drawer, or along the drawer’s bottom joint?

Popular Drawer Slide Systems

  • Available in soft close and non-soft close slides.
  • Ball-bearing slides that mount on drawer sides and connect to locking device mounted underneath.
  • Slides attach on each side of the drawer.
  • Slides attach on the bottom or wrapped around the bottom joints of the drawer.

Drawer Slide Features:

  • Push to open drawer slides eliminate the need to use handles or other hardware. Simply push the front of the cabinet or drawer in and it will pop out to open.
  • Self-closing slides smoothly close the cabinet or drawer automatically, eliminating loud slams or squished fingers.
  • Hanging drawer slides install under a shelf or cabinet.
  • Drawer slides with ball bearings slide open and closed very smoothly, no matter how many times they're opened.
  • Keyboard drawer slides are designed to attach to the bottom of a desktop for keyboard storage.