Your Complete Guide to Replacing Cabinetry Hardware

brass hardwareAfter what seems like the longest renovation EVER we are finally starting to put the finishing touches on our kitchen! Obviously, one of the last steps (that arguably makes the biggest impact) is switching out the hardware. Unfortunately, sometimes that is easier said than done. There are so many things to consider before jumping in… how do you remove existing hardware? Is sanding and painting necessary? In what position should the hardware be mounted? What type of hardware makes the most sense for a given cabinet or drawer? These are all valid questions that deserve an answer, because sometimes this stuff isn’t common knowledge. After lots of researching, I’m sharing a complete guide to replacing cabinetry hardware, including cheat diagrams as to where hardware should be positioned.

kitchen hardwareThe above and below examples of my existing hardware perfectly depicts WHAT NOT TO DO.

kitchen hardwareYou may not notice right away, but the original hardware on these cabinets has been installed TOTALLY wrong. Not only is the placement in an extremely strange spot, someone thought it would be a smart idea to install pulls on the doors (rather than knobs), and use knobs on the drawers (rather than pulls). If it would have been done correctly, everything would be reversed. This can be an easy detail to miss and I appreciate Sarah helping me realize we needed a complete redo, not just a replacement of hardware. Before I jump into the tutorial, I wanted to share a few diagrams that make positioning hardware easier (pin these for later!!).

The following diagrams work for about 95% of cabinetry styles… I wanted to show you different scenarios and ways to mount hardware. Everything should feel nice and balanced, as well as functional.

Cabinetry Diagram 2This above rendering perfectly depicts how I chose to position my hardware. It’s a classic look that is perfectly symmetrical.

Cabinetry Diagram 3Some long and skinny drawers may require 2 pulls. Divide the drawer into thirds and mount each pull centered on the line.

Cabinetry Diagram 4Set one depicts Sarah’s kitchen hardware. She preferred to mount the top of the knob flush with the cabinetry detailing. She also opted for a cup pull rather than a traditional drawer pull. These are great for small cabinets! Set 2 would be ideal for a pull out trash bin or a large bottom drawer.

Cabinetry Diagram 1Every once in awhile, you come across a square drawer. These always stump people when it comes to installing hardware. I prefer the look of 2 pulls mounted directly in the center.

Cabinetry DiagramLast, but not least… large doors should be paired with vertical pulls. Obviously for extra large or heavy doors (like a built-in fridge or dishwasher), swap your regular hardware for an elongated appliance pull in the same finish. Ok, onto the actual tutorial…

kitchen hardwareStep 1 //  After removing the current hardware on each cabinet door and drawer, I used Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Filler in white to completely fill each of the existing holes using my finger and wiping away excess filler. Allow this to sit overnight. Depending on how deep the holes are, you may only need to fill once, but I had to repeat this step twice.

kitchen hardware

kitchen hardwareStep 2 //  Since I filled twice, I sanded between each filling using a simple piece of sand paper. Once you have a smooth edge that is completely flush, you’re ready to proceed.

kitchen hardware

kitchen hardwareStep 3 // In my opinion this is the most difficult step. Since this was already a long and tedious project, I wanted to keep it as minimal as possible. I did NOT want to repaint all the cabinets over again. So, I took one of our cabinets to the local paint shop and had them create a match for our cabinet’s color and finish. I used Benjamin Moore’s Advance Waterborne Interior Alkyd in a satin finish. The paint contained a self-leveler so once it dried it looked smooth and seamless. I painted over the holes using a small hand brush. For the drawers, I painted the entire inner rectangle. On the doors I painted the inner strip where the hardware attached, so it wouldn’t be too obvious.

cabinet doorStep 4 // Next, it’s time to measure and mark your holes for the new hardware. I measured center-to-center on the pulls and marked where I wanted to drill each hole on the cabinet. For the knobs, I just marked a hole in the center of the door where it should be placed. Then, I used a hand drill to drill the holes and insert the hardware. Waalaa!

brass pull

brass knobIf you’re interested in this exact hardware (they were one of my best Etsy finds!), here are the brass cabinet pulls and brass knobs. They’re good heavy hardware and I love the perfect warm brass tone.

brass pullAlthough we are still in the middle of this project, I’m really happy with the transformation a simple hardware replacement has made! Has anyone else taken on a similar project? For more brass kitchen cabinetry hardware, see the roundup I shared a few months ago!

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  1. Beautiful. Which regular drawer pulls did you use for the positioning photos?

    1. Thanks! They’re from a company called Colonial Brass. You can find out more about them in this post.

  2. I always see pulls on cabinet doors and like it. I didn’t know it was wrong.

    1. In my opinion, if you like a style or the way hardware functions… you should totally own it and make it your own! I’m just personally not a fan of the pulls on cabinets because it seems awkward (to me). xo

  3. I just purchased the same pulls and knobs that you have. I was surprised to find that the pulls are much more aged/dark than the knobs. Did you have the same issue? I’m trying to convince myself that it works.

    1. Jacqueline says:

      Hi Leigh! I notice a slight difference in the knobs and pulls but not enough that I doesn’t still work. Since they most likely won’t be side by side, you won’t really notice once they are on the cabinets. We used a variety of pulls and knobs and we are very happy with how they look! Hope this helps. :-)

  4. What color did you paint your kitchen cabinets? They are great with hardware!

  5. Beautiful Cabinets and ideas. I am struggling with Knobs and pulls on my new white craftsman cabinets. My initial thoughts are knobs on top cabinets and pulls on bottoms. However one of my top sets of cabinets are separated from the others by sink window and are 2 24″ glass doors. The nobs appear very small on those. I considered using pulls there instead of knobs. on the opposite side of the cabinets are long pantry cabinets where pulls may be best and balance off the pulls, but I don’t know if this variety is the best plan. Any suggestions? I could email a picture. I have paper knobs on the cabinets so I can look at them, but I am not settled!

    1. Thank you Lori! I love mixing and matching lots of different sized hardware… we have a ton of 7 different sizes in our kitchen. Don’t be afraid to order knobs, pulls of different sizes, appliance pulls, etc. As long as they’re the same finish, it’s an easy look to pull of. Hope this helps! xo