undermount drawer slides and side-close drawer slides

Smooth Moves: A Guide to Drawer Slides

Have you ever felt the frustration of pulling on a sticky drawer that just won’t open? The functionality of a drawer is paramount. Not only does a smooth drawer make for an enjoyable user experience, but it’s also a matter of safety. Think about it: Have you ever struggled to open an overloaded or jammed drawer?  Pulling hard to open it, you risk the drawer suddenly coming loose and falling out, dropping its heavy contents, possibly causing injury.

To prevent situations like this, it’s critical to choose wisely when it comes to drawer slide hardware. Drawer slides are the single most important component in the functionality of a drawer, and the marketplace is flooded with options. In today’s blog post, we’re comparing the two most popular steel drawer slides available today, and discussing the “watchout’s” and trade-offs between price and performance when selecting a drawer slide.

What type of slide do you need?
Drawer slides can be constructed of wood, plastic or metal, with the most reliable being made primarily out of steel with some plastic or rubber components.  We will focus only on steel drawer slides in this blog.

Steel drawer slides come in a variety of configurations with features and functions varying widely. The type of slide you choose will greatly affect the appearance and the performance of the drawer, and the two most common types are side-mount or undermount slides.

Side-mount drawer slides
Side mount slides come in pairs and connect each side of the drawer to the cabinet inner wall. The most common side-mount glide mechanism relies on either ball bearings or roller wheels, usually require clearance of about ½” between the slides and the side of the cabinet opening, and are visible on the side of the drawer when its open.  Drawers equipped with side mount slides can be easily disengaged from their cabinet-wall member for removal, repair or cleaning as may be required from time to time.  Adjustability of a drawer fitted with side-mount slides is limited, so fit up and alignment are critical during installation.  Whether they are standard functioning, self-closing, or soft-closing, a quality side mount slide can be a great low-cost option for reliable, smooth drawer operation that will work well for many years.

Undermount drawer slides
Under mount drawer slides are also sold in pairs, mounting to the underside of the drawer and to the sidewall of the cabinet, connected by locking devices underneath the drawer. These require less clearance between the drawer sides and cabinet opening, but need specific clearance at the top and bottom of the cabinet opening.

Unlike side-mount slides, undermount slides can be equipped with adjustment wheels and slider mechanisms.  These adjustments allow for easy alignment corrections by cabinet installers and homeowners to ensure that the drawer sits squarely in the cabinet and runs smoothly on the glide tracks.  Depending on the undermount slide performance and price, undermount slides can offer adjustability ranging from the most basic 2-way (up/down) to full 8-way alignment (in/out, up/down, left/right and tilt forward/tilt backward).

Perhaps the most compelling feature of undermount slides is that they are invisible to the user, showing no hardware when the drawer is opened, giving the cabinet and drawer a clean, sleek look that improves the aesthetic of both contemporary and traditional cabinet designs.

Balancing quality and price
It goes without saying that price can play a big role in drawer slide selection. But consumers and distributors alike will often discover that when their decision is based on price alone, disappointment is inevitable. To a certain extent, there’s truth in the old adage that you “get what you pay for”.

Many low-cost, import slides cut corners on important functional elements, including materials, packaging and quality control. Be wary! This can wreak havoc on many levels, particularly when a damaged or defective product doesn’t move smoothly, binds or simply falls apart.  The reliability of these slides can also vary widely from shipment to shipment. Its critical to choose a drawer slide that balances price and quality relative to your project goals and budget.  The key is learning to tell the difference between economical, quality products and just plain junk.

Two high-quality and affordable options
One of the most common struggles faced by distributors and consumers lies in selecting reliable import slides that consistently meet both budget and performance requirements.

Well aware of this challenge, we only sell King Slide and our own CGS brand of drawer slides that we know will be reliable, regardless of price-level or performance set.  For extra measure, we make sure our drawer slides meet or exceed industry-leading BIFMA, KMCA and WI standards, and then back them with a lifetime warranty.

CGS drawer slides
For the perfect blend of quality and affordability, CGS drawer slides are always an excellent choice. Over the last 30 years, our CGS line of products has been developed to fill the gap in the market for economical drawer slides that perform as they should, backed by the expertise and local support that our customers have come to trust and rely on.

King Slide

King Slide is a leading manufacturer of best-in-class drawer systems, slides and functional hardware products. Having won numerous awards, King Slide products are known worldwide for their impeccable quality, flawless slide action and innovative style.

With over a thousand patents granted worldwide and an ever-growing R&D team, King Slide has been our partner for top-quality, off-the-shelf products and custom hardware projects for over 30 years.

Your trusted partner for quality drawer slides
At Comtrad, we work tirelessly to source a wide selection of quality drawer slide hardware products that will meet both your budget and performance requirements. Our CGS and King Slide products are trusted by manufacturers, distributors and end-users across a wide range of industries throughout North America.

To learn more about our drawer slides, contact our team today.