Pull handles on cabinetAfter spending hours choosing the color, style, and number of your cabinets, there is still one thing left to decide – hardware or no hardware? For the careful decision maker it’s about pros versus cons, so here they are for you to consider:

No Hardware

Let’s begin with the least expensive option, no hardware. It costs less because no further purchase is necessary – just leave the cabinets as they are. Plain cabinets look sleek and simple rather than having metal handles poking out everywhere. Although, some might think they look too boring.

The downsides to handle-free cabinets are that they gather more smudges from grimy fingers touching them all the time. This also wears out edges faster. Some complain they take a toll on fingernails, and if your cabinets are painted, those fingernails can chip the paint. And have you ever tried opening a handle-free cabinet only to discover that you’re pulling on the wrong side? That can be confusing, but you won’t face the same problem with a handle.


On the opposite spectrum, hardware contains those grimy fingers to the handles only, allowing the cabinets to stay smudge free…well mostly. Handles are more functional. For example, have you ever tried to open a cabinet with a wet or dirty hand while cooking? It’s difficult without a handle to grasp. Some people simply find it more pleasant to have something firm to hold onto when opening a cabinet – no “finger gutters.” While hardware can make your kitchen look busier, it can also add detail and interest.

Types of Hardware 

There are dozens of handle designs to choose from. It’s helpful to know where to begin. All of them perform the same job, but one may do it better than the other.

  • Knobs are smaller so they don’t broadcast hardware overkill. They only require you to drill one hole in the wood whereas pulls require two. Look for a knob that allows enough room between itself and the cabinet to comfortably slide your fingers around. One drawback is that knobs on lower cabinets can catch on clothing. They can also be difficult for those with arthritic hands.

  • Open pulls allow a firm grip because your hand wraps through the handle. A major advantage is the ability to grab the handle from above or below or even with your foot. Because they are comprised of more hardware, open pulls are typically more expensive than knobs.

  • Cup pulls have a bolder look than open pulls, which is one of their main selling points. But you can only grab cup pulls from one side. Perhaps the biggest disagreement lies with those who are apprehensive about sliding their hand inside a space they can’t see. Guess you never know what could be hiding there.

In the end, many homeowners who go with hardware choose a mix of knobs and pulls. But if all that sounds like too much of a hassle, you might be the handle-free type.