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Everything You Need to Know About Cabinet Knobs and Pulls

Buyer's Guide: Knobs Impala Elephant Head Knob

New knobs and pulls are a simple way to update a kitchen, bathroom, or furniture piece and require only basic installation. There are so many styles, choices and colors when selecting knobs, so there is something to complement any décor style. These unobtrusive, subtle embellishments are like jewelry for your cabinets - a nice finishing touch that pulls the room together.

Knobs? or Pulls?

Pulls can provide a sleeker, more modern look, whereas knobs can look more classic and vintage. However, this all depends on the exact knob or pull that you purchase, and some will buck this trend. A knob has only one fastener, where as a pull requires two.

Pull Types

Depending on your style preference and needs you will require a different style of pull. Some styles available are drop pulls, handle pulls and bar pulls.

Knob Types

You may encounter both solid and hollow knobs when you begin shipping. A solid knob is a piece of metal that will feel more substantial. These tend to be more expensive because they require more materials. A hollow knob is hollow inside and can feel lighter. Some knobs must be hollow in order to print textures and patterns on the surface.

Knob Fashion!

Remember the days when palettes were simple, fixtures were basic and cabinet hardware was either brass or chrome? Now with finish options such as "oil-rubbed bronze" and "satin nickel" to name a few, customers have a whole new set of design decisions to make.

"When selecting cabinet hardware its important to consider a style that is stylish but timeless," said James Tuggle, ATG Stores Showroom Manager. "Metallic finishes such as stainless steel were extremely popular, but as they became more mainstream, customers flocked for more copper-toned hardware. Both looks are classic and timeless."

Just remember: the perfect cabinet knob is one that brings together all components of a room and creates a feeling of completion.

Choosing the Right Finish

Choosing a finish for your home hardware if often one of the first steps when doing renovations. Here is a guide to help you decide which finish will help complete your home's look.

Oil Rubbed Bronze

Oil Rubbed Bronze finish is a chemically darkened surface that simulates aged bronze. This finish is very dark, varies from a deep brown to a dark gray, and usually has copper undertones.

Polished Brass

Polished Brass finish is solid brass that is polished and lacquer-coated to prevent tarnishing over time. Polished brass is the most common finish and is usually the finish displayed on the website.

Polished Chrome

Polished Chrome finish is chrome plating on brass or steel that is then polished. Chrome is similar to nickel in that they both have silver tones.

Satin Nickel

Satin Nickel finish is nickel plating on brass that has been dulled and lacquer-coated.

Antique Pewter

Antique Pewter finish is usually nickel plating on brass which has been dulled and darkened to simulate pewter.

Location, Location, Location

Consider the placement of the knobs and how far they will stick out when installed. Smaller bathrooms will do better with flatter knobs without sharp edges, especially if they are installed in an area that is easily bumped into. If you are installing knobs in an area that children have access to, also consider rounded, smooth knobs.

What does “projection” mean?

Projection is the amount that a knob sticks out from the cabinet or drawer surface. This is an important factor to take into account if you are purchasing knobs for a small room or placing them in an area that people are likely to bump into.


To enhance your knobs even further, consider purchasing a backplate. These decorative pieces give the knob a more substantial look and can cover old holes from previously installed knobs or pulls.


If you are replacing existing knobs, simply unscrew the old ones and replace with the new knobs. If you are installing knobs on something that does not have existing knobs, you will need to drill a hole.

To tighten loose knobs, simply tighten the screw. If there is still too much wiggle, try adding some washers to wedge the knob in place. Many knobs orders include screws. However, since cabinets and drawers are not a standard width, you may find that the screws are not the correct length. Your local Lowes store should have the length you need.

To Install Knobs or Pulls Where They Previously Did Not Exist:

  1. Measure the thickness of the cabinet drawer or door and buy the correct length of screws.
  2. Determine where you want to place the knob. Make a mark on the cabinet at this place.
  3. Drill perpendicular to the surface where the dot is marked.
  4. Measure this distance so you can place other knobs in the same place.
  5. Continue this process until all of your holes are drilled.
  6. Insert the screw from the inside of the cabinet.
  7. Attach the knob and turn clockwise to secure.
  8. Use a screwdriver to tighten if necessary.

How do I know how large of a hole to drill?

If you are installing new knobs, you will need to drill a hole to correspond with the screw width. This should be specified on the specific product or can be determined by gauging the width of screw that fits into the knob.

Do I need to buy screws?

Some manufacturers include complementary screws when they send pulls. These screws may or may not be the proper length for your cabinet. Screws should be long enough to reach through the cabinet door and project into the pull. Most instructions should specify the width of screw necessary for your specific pull. If this measurement is not included, simply take the pull to your local hardware store and test until you find the proper width.

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