Types of Drawer Slides for Cabinets

Discover the different types of drawer slides and how they enhance drawer design.

types of drawer slides


Drawers are a fundamental piece of furniture in most households. They are used to store all kinds of things, from clothes to tools, and they come in various styles and designs. But have you ever thought about the mechanism underneath the drawer that allows it to open and close? That mechanism is called a drawer slide. 

In this article, we will take a look at the different types of drawer slides available and how they can be used to enhance drawer design. We will also discuss the benefits of the different types and provide tips on how to choose the right type and, of course, how you can effortlessly add these to your designs with SketchList 3D’s cabinet design software.

What are Drawer Slides? 

Drawer slides, also known as drawer glides or runners, are the mechanisms that allow drawers to open and close smoothly. They are mounted on the sides, bottom, or even underneath the drawer, depending on the slide type. 

Drawer slides come in various sizes and styles, but they all have the same basic components. They consist of two parts: a stationary part, usually attached to the cabinet or furniture piece, and a moving part, which is attached to the drawer itself. The two parts are connected by a set of rollers or bearings, which allow the drawer to open and close smoothly. 

Drawer Slides Types 

Drawer slides come in several different varieties. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to understand the differences between drawer slide types before making a purchase. 

1. Side Mount 

The most common type of drawer slide is the side-mount slide. As the name suggests, these slides are mounted on the sides of the drawer. They are typically made from metal and have a pair of tracks that the drawer slides on. Side-mount slides are generally less expensive than other types of slides, but they are also not as durable. 

2. Bottom Mount 

Bottom-mount slides are similar to side-mount slides, but instead of being mounted on the sides of the drawer, they are mounted on the bottom. This type of slide is more expensive than side-mount slides, but they are also much more durable and offer better stability. 

3. Undermount 

Undermount slides are mounted underneath the drawer, which makes them great for drawers that are too shallow to accommodate side- or bottom-mounted slides. They are more expensive than side- or bottom-mounted slides, but they offer a much smoother operation. 

4 .Push-to-Open 

Push-to-open slides are a newer type of drawer slide that does not require the user to pull the drawer open. Instead, the user simply pushes the drawer in a certain direction to open it. These slides are more expensive than other types of slides, but they offer a more modern look and a smoother operation. 

5. Soft Close 

Soft-close slides are a type of slide that slowly and quietly closes the drawer. This is great for keeping drawers from slamming shut, which can be noisy and can cause damage to the drawer over time. Soft-close slides are more expensive than other types of slides, but they offer a more luxurious feel. 

6. Center-Mount 

Center-mount slides are positioned under the center of the drawer and run from the front to the back of the drawer. They are often single slides, making them ideal for smaller drawers. While they don’t bear as much weight as side-mount or undermount slides, they are a popular choice for traditional wooden dressers and antique furniture due to their discreet placement. 

7. Top mount 

Top-mount slides are fixed to the top of the drawer, making them particularly useful for situations where side or bottom space is limited. They’re commonly seen in pull-out trays or bins. Their unique positioning allows for wider drawers, and they are often chosen for their ease of installation and adaptability to unconventional drawer designs. 

8. Self-Close 

Self-close slides are designed to pull drawers fully closed with just a slight push. They utilize a spring mechanism that ensures the drawer shuts securely every time. This feature is particularly beneficial in preventing partially open drawers, ensuring a tidy appearance, and reducing the risk of accidental bumps or snags. 

kitchen cabinet drawer slides

Benefits of Different Types of Drawer Slides 

Each type of slide has its own set of benefits. Side-mount slides are the most affordable option and are great for applications where cost is a concern. Bottom-mount slides are more expensive, but they offer better stability and durability. Undermount slides are great for shallow drawers, while push-to-open slides offer a more modern look and feel. Finally, soft-close slides provide a luxurious feel and keep drawers from slamming shut. 

How to Choose the Right Drawer Slide 

When choosing the right drawer slide for your needs, there are several factors to consider.  

Load rating 

Before making a choice, assess the items you plan to store in the drawer. For heavier items like tools or kitchenware, opt for slides with a higher load rating to ensure stability and longevity.  

Drawer Movement Direction  

Consider how you want the drawer to move. Traditional slides allow for horizontal movement, but there are also slides designed for vertical or multi-directional movement. The direction can influence both the functionality and aesthetic of the drawer.  

Extension Length  

The extension length of drawer slides dictates how far the drawer can extend outwards. Full-extension slides provide complete access to the drawer’s contents, while partial-extension slides leave a section of the drawer concealed within the cabinet.  


The durability of drawer slides is determined by their material and build quality. Metal slides, especially mounted slides, tend to offer more durability than their plastic counterparts. It’s essential to consider the drawer’s intended use and the surrounding environment when evaluating durability. 


While it’s essential to find a slide that meets your functional needs, it’s also important to factor in your budget. There are various options available at different price points, so assess the features you truly need and find a slide that offers the best value for your money.  

Weight and Size of the Drawer  

The physical dimensions and weight of the drawer influence the type of slide you should choose. For instance, a heavy and deep drawer might benefit from a bottom mount or undermount slide for added support. Conversely, a shallow drawer might be best suited for an undermount slide to maximize space.” 

Drawer Slide Installation Tips 

Once you have chosen the right drawer slide for your needs, it’s important to install it correctly. Make sure you read the instructions provided with the slide carefully and follow them step-by-step. It’s also a good idea to measure the drawer and the cabinet to ensure that the slide will fit properly. 

When mounting the slide, make sure to use the appropriate hardware. Many slides come with screws and brackets that are designed for the slide. If you are unsure of what type of hardware to use, consult the manufacturer’s instructions or ask a professional for help. 


Common Problems & Solutions 

Once you have installed the drawer slide, it’s essential to check it regularly to ensure it is working properly. If you notice any problems, such as the drawer not opening or closing properly or the slide making too much noise, you may need to make some adjustments. 

The most common problem with slides is that they become loose over time. To fix this, tighten the screws that hold the slide in place. If the slide is not functioning correctly, you may need to replace the rollers or bearings. 


1. What is the difference between undermount and bottom-mount drawer slides? 

Undermount slides are positioned beneath the drawer, hidden from view, offering a clean look and maximizing drawer width. Bottom mount slides, on the other hand, are fixed to the drawer’s bottom edges, often visible when the drawer is open and slightly reducing the drawer’s width. 

2. Are undermount drawer slides worth it? 

Absolutely. Undermount drawer slides provide a sleek appearance as they’re concealed from view. They also offer a smooth operation and often come with features like soft-close mechanisms. Their design can enhance the overall aesthetics and functionality of furniture pieces. 

3. What are the different types of drawer slide extensions? 

Drawer slide extensions refer to how far a drawer can pull out. The primary types include: 

  • Partial Extension: The drawer opens partially, leaving some of its contents inside the cabinet. 
  • Full Extension: The drawer opens fully, providing complete access to its contents. 
  • Overtravel Extension: The drawer opens more than its length, offering extra access, especially in deeper cabinets. 

4. Are all drawer slides the same?  

No, drawer slides vary in design, functionality, and material. They can differ in terms of mount type (side, bottom, undermount, etc.), extension length (partial, full, overtravel), and special features (soft-close, push-to-open). The choice of slide often depends on the specific requirements of the furniture piece and personal preferences. 

5. What are the common drawer problems and signs that it needs to be fixed? 

Common drawer issues include: 

  • Sticking or Jamming: The drawer doesn’t open or close smoothly. 
  • Misalignment: The drawer doesn’t sit flush with the cabinet. 
  • Noisy Operation: The drawer makes squeaking or grinding noises. 
  • Failed Closure: The drawer doesn’t stay shut or pops open. 
  • Damage: There’s noticeable wear, bending, or damage to the slides. 

If you notice any of these signs, it’s an indication that the drawer might need repairs or a slide replacement. 


Drawer slides are an essential component of drawer design and can enhance the look and feel of any piece of furniture. There are five main types of drawer slides available, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. When choosing a drawer slide, it’s important to consider the weight, size, look, and cost of the drawer. It’s also important to install the slide correctly and to check it regularly for any problems. With the right slide, you can ensure that your drawers open and close smoothly for years to come.  

SketchList 3D transforms the challenge of integrating drawer slides into a seamless experience. With its intuitive woodworking planner and design tools and real-time visual feedback, you can create precise slide placements, ensuring perfect alignment and functionality in your designs. Experience the difference firsthand with our 30-day free trial. Not sure where to start? No problem; our tutorial videos and furniture blogs stand ready to enhance your skills and spark creativity. Alternatively, feel free to contact us any time.

See this article on drawers in SketchList 3D

Key Takeaways 

  • Drawer slides, essential for smooth drawer operation, come in various types, each with distinct benefits and applications. 
  • Different types of drawer slides, such as side mount, bottom mount, and undermount, have their own unique advantages and applications. 
  • Factors like load rating, drawer movement direction, extension length, durability, and cost play a crucial role in choosing the right drawer slide. 
  • Regular checks and maintenance of drawer slides can prevent common problems like misalignment, noisy operation, and sticking or jamming. 
  • SketchList 3D offers an intuitive solution for integrating drawer slides, ensuring precision and functionality in designs. 


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