How to Choose Between Kitchen Cabinet Knobs or Pulls?

Perry Hiiman
July 20, 2022
How to Choose Between Kitchen Cabinet Knobs or Pulls?

How to Choose Between Kitchen Cabinet Knobs or Pulls? 

Cabinet handles are essential for a functioning kitchen. These little pieces are the finishing touch to every well-designed space. A well-chosen knob can provide added charm to your cabinets and drawers. After all, you’ll be grabbing onto them to reach your kitchen tools and ingredients daily.
These pulls and knobs also add a lovely finishing touch to your kitchen remodel. 

But how to you choose between kitchen cabinet knobs or pulls? How to know which will match your style and budget? 

As experts in home remodeling, with 20+ years of experience, NYKB elaborates on knobs vs pulls.

Kitchen Cabinet Knobs or Pulls? What’s the Difference?

The main difference between kitchen cabinet knobs and pulls is the shape. A pull gives you plenty of room for your hand to hold. A knob, on the other hand, is usually a round or square handle designed for several fingers to grasp.

Which Type of Handle is Best for Kitchen Cabinets?

Cabinet pulls are best suited for sleek, modern kitchen cabinets, while knobs work well with a more vintage or classic look. Pulls and knobs come in various sizes, finishes, and designs, so take your time choosing the best fit for your kitchen cabinets.

When deciding between knobs and pulls, keep these key benefits in mind so you can choose the best kitchen handles for your cabinets.

1.  Quality Performance

If you’ll be spending a lot of time in your kitchen, you’ll want cabinet knobs or pulls that can withstand constant handling. This is especially important if you have mobility challenges affecting your wrists, back, or hips. Good kitchen handles make it easy to open and close your cabinets and drawers at any height, even with your hands full.

2.  Cabinet Durability

Look at the area around your kitchen handles and check for wear and tear. If you have low-quality or inadequate cabinet pulls and knobs, the cabinets can get scratched and stained. Even worse, the handles build up dirt and grime because they’re so hard to clean. We highly recommend this DIY all-purpose cleaner for your kitchen cabinets, but there is still a risk of contamination if your hands move from the cabinet handles to your food while cooking. The right handle shape and design will give you ample space between your fingers and the cabinet doors, prolonging the life of your cabinets.

3.  Beautify your Kitchen

As the saying goes, knobs and pulls are like jewelry for your kitchen. This is where the finishing, scale, and style come into your choice of cabinet handles. Visit a kitchen fixture showroom to see and touch the kitchen handles yourself. This way, you can visualize your ideal kitchen design before investing in your new cabinet look.

4.  Customizable Options 

You don’t have to settle for basic cabinet handles. Find out if you can customize the size, shape, color, or finish to your specifications.
For example, sleek chrome cabinet pulls may be the ideal size and shape for you, but perhaps you can find the same design in a black or copper finish instead. Tailor your kitchen handles as much as possible for the best cooking experience and aesthetic.

Types of Cabinet Knobs

Cabinets knobs are usually either hollow or solid

Hollow cabinet knobs are typically made from two metal plates and a screw. The tops of hollow knobs can be smooth, embossed, or engraved. Hollow cabinet knobs are lightweight and easy to assemble.
Solid cabinet knobs can be a product of metal, crystal, or wood. They’re heavier than hollow knobs and have a more sturdy and substantial feel. Solid knobs are also more expensive than hollow knobs since more materials are needed  to manufacture them. However, high-quality hollow knobs can be just as expensive as solid knobs. The cost varies depending on the type of metal and knob design.

Types of Cabinet Pulls

Cabinets pulls are more versatile in terms of shape and design. The most popular and best cabinet pulls are:

  • Finger pulls form a “J” profile on the cabinet door with enough space to insert your fingers
  • Cup pulls are upside-down cup-shaped handles where you insert your fingers underneath them to pull open the cabinet
  • Bar pulls are narrow rails mounted on the front of your cabinet to grip from above or below
  • Bail pulls: These are hinged handles that you can mount onto a back plate and lie flush against the cabinet when not in use

Pro Tip: If you plan on mixing knobs and pulls on your kitchen cabinets, use knobs for doors and pulls for drawers. However, use a longer pull instead of a knob for your pantry door.

How to Choose the Best Kitchen Cabinet Handles

As you research the best cabinet pulls, knobs and handles for your kitchen, narrow your choices down to just a few dozen options in different sizes, styles, and finishes. If you want to easily add that final touch to your kitchen, keep the following expert tips in mind:

1)  Live-In or Resale?

If you’re looking for cabinet handles for your home, consider how frequently you cook in the kitchen. If you cook often, bar pulls work great because they’re roomy, easy to grip with wet hands, and easy to wipe down.
However, bail pulls may be the best option if you have toddlers around. Their design is naturally baby-proof since you have to lift the handle to open it – easy for you but tricky for little fingers.
On the other hand, if you’re renovating your kitchen cabinets to sell the home, go for finishing rather than design. The best-selling finishes for kitchen handles are chrome, bronze, and satin nickel.

2)  Faucet Style

If you’re overwhelmed by the sheer variety of cabinet knobs and handles, take a shortcut: you can match your cabinet handles with your faucet. You can find kitchen cabinet knobs or pulls to go with everything from vintage faucets to the latest touchless technology.

3)  Match the Style of Your Kitchen Appliances

Consider the handles on your refrigerator, oven, and microwave. You can coordinate the kitchen’s entire look if you have cabinets knobs that match those on your appliances. Another option is to get new device handles to match your cabinet handles. But this may require finding the right replacement parts or customizing them with paint.
Alternatively, you could opt to conceal your appliances altogether. Go for a paneled look where the appliances sit flush with your kitchen cabinets, covered by a matching cabinet panel door. This design style gives an entirely uniform look to the whole kitchens, allowing you to then choose matching handles for the whole kitchen.

4)  Novelty Handles

Install unusual novelty cabinet handles to make a fun statement in your kitchen. Novelty handles come in all shapes and types, from flowers to anchors, cacti to horseshoes, seashells to twigs, and so much more. Some even replace theirs to decorate for the holidays. The great thing about novelty handles is that they can be super bold and dramatic on otherwise plain kitchen cabinets.

Leather, glass, and ceramic cabinet handles are also quite unique, although not practical for a busy kitchen. Find a balance between function and aesthetic when choosing novelty handles for your kitchen cabinets.

Bonus Tips

  • Kitchen handles are notorious for catching on clothes. Bar pulls are the biggest culprits because they often extend past their screw mounts on both sides. One solution is to use knobs on your upper cabinets and cup pulls on lower cabinets. If you decide on bar pulls, choose a design that curves the bar inwards towards the cupboard.
  • When choosing your cabinet knobs and pulls, make sure they feel good to touch, either with wet or dry hands. Your choice will come down to preference. Some prefer a smoother finish, while others like a textured surface for better grip.
  • If you have painted cabinets, use cup pulls to avoid wearing the paint away. Bar pulls and cabinet knobs both allow contact between your wet or food-covered hands and the cabinetry.
  • Consider the size of your cabinets before you choose your pulls and knobs. If you have large or tall cabinets, go for a proportional measure of kitchen handles. Avoid tiny cabinet knobs for large cabinets and vice versa, for maximum ease of use and practicality.
  • Whatever you do, don’t skimp on your cabinet handles. You want your kitchen handles to look right, feel right, and last for years. If your budget is a challenge, try shopping at different suppliers for the same style of cabinet pulls and knobs. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save and still have the perfect kitchen handles.
  • Future-proof your kitchen cabinets by thinking about your needs as you get older. For example, cupboards with no pulls or knobs may aggravate your wrists since you’d have to reach underneath to open them. You may also bang your hips, head, or knuckles against cabinet knobs, so cup pulls may work better. You may also struggle to grasp small kitchen handles, so ensure they’re large enough to use your entire hand.
  • Square-shaped cabinet knobs are arguably easier to maintain than round ones. That’s because when square knobs rotate with use, they’re more noticeable and easier to fasten back into place. Round knobs often go unnoticed until they’re loose enough to fall off the cabinet.

Crunch Time for Your Kitchen Cabinet: Knobs or Pulls?

Expect a mind-blowing selection of cabinet handles when searching for the best finish for your kitchen. But with these tips in mind, you’ll quickly find the cabinet handles you’ll use and love for years to come.

If you’re looking for upscale, professional cabinetry service, New York Kitchen and Bath is here to guide you with all your bathroom and kitchen remodeling needs. No matter whether you’re choosing new kitchen cabinets, or deciding between different types of cabinet pulls, we will bring our expertise and experience to enhance your space. Guaranteed – we won’t leave until you are 100% satisfied with your renovation! Contact us today to book your free consultation. 

The goal of renovation and remodeling is to ensure satisfaction upon completion of your project. Construction can be very frustrating, and without a professional contractor, things can go wrong.

About Author

Perry Hiiman

Perry Hiiman was born and raised in Tel Aviv, Israel. He planted his roots in Manhattan, New York in 1992. A few years later, Perry met his wife and had three lovely daughters. Perry has always been excited about home improvement and design. He has been in the service industry for over 25 years. Perry and his partner founded New York Kitchen and Bath in 2001. They pioneered the One Stop Shop concept of home improvement and design firms. In addition, Perry is a New York State licensed contractor, OSHA certified, and a New York State licensed mold assessor. He specializes in custom design and is genuinely passionate about what he does—bringing people’s dream projects to life.

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