Soft close drawers refer to the type of slide mechanism used to mount the drawer to the cabinet. The slides, also called runners, have hydraulic dampeners to ensure your drawers close quietly and smoothly each and every time, even when slammed shut.

How to Choose Soft Close Drawer Slides

Drawers that utilize soft close technology are one of the hallmarks of high-quality cabinetry and closet systems. Everyone wants the best they can afford, so this type of drawer is in high demand. If you are buying a new closet system with drawers, you want to be sure they are all soft close. However, there are a lot of choices out there. How do you know which to pick?

Choose your drawer slides based on whether you need side mount or under mount, the weight rating, and the extension.

  • Under Mount Drawer Slides:

    Under mount drawer slides are usually the preferred solution because they are hidden from view when you open the drawer. You must still screw the sliding mechanism to the sides of the cabinet. But the slides attach to the drawer using special clips mounted to the bottom of the drawer box. The entire slide is hidden from view once the drawer is in place. This type of soft close slide also has less maintenance than the side mount slide because less dirt collects on the slide under the drawer than the exposed side mount version. They also tend to keep the drawer better aligned inside the drawer cavity, meaning fewer adjustments over time for you.
    Under mount soft close drawer slides
    Drawer with under mount soft close drawer slides.
  • Side Mount Drawer Slides:

    Although the under mount soft close drawer slides are recommended whenever possible, there are times you may need to use a side mount drawer slide system. One such situation is when there is no bottom of the drawer to attach the drawer slide to. Pull-out baskets and hybrid cloth drawer systems are two examples. In these instances, you need a side mount drawer slide. Side mount slides are also available for regular drawers, but don’t buy this. Consciously or not, consumers always equate under mount slides with better quality. Side mount slides are a little less expensive than their under mount counterparts, but you will recoup the difference in price when you eventually sell your home.
    Wire basket with side mount drawer slides
    This wire basket for closets needs side mount drawer slides to function properly.
  • Weight Rating:

    Drawer slides are rated according to how much weight the drawer will be able to hold once they are installed. Don’t pick a light duty slide. For everyday use, you need a slide rated to hold at least 75 pounds. Everyone ends up sticking more in their drawers than they though they originally would. You also don’t want to have to weigh your belt buckle before you put it away just to be sure you don’t exceed maximum weight for drawer. Overweight drawers will wear out quickly or collapse entirely. Why bother to spend the extra money for soft close if you’re going with low quality? Avoid the mess and buy a better-quality drawer slide to start with.
  • Extension:

    This refers to how far you will be able to pull the drawer from the drawer cavity. Full extension slides allow you to pull the drawer all the way out. They give you the greatest flexibility for loading and unloading the drawer. They also allow you to see the entire drawer contents at once. Many slides, however, only open 3/4 of the way. This indicates a cheaper product. You can get by with a lower weight rating on 3/4 extension slides, but it will be more difficult to see what is in the drawer and things will tend to get lost in the back. Soft close drawer slides can be either full extension or 3/4 extension, so read the fine print before you buy.

 

How to Install Soft Close Drawer Slides

  1. Before you begin, make sure your cabinet or closet system is level and plumb. This is essential to proper alignment and function of the drawers. Next, position your slide/runner against the vertical panel of your closet or cabinet. Mark the location of where each runner will be placed. If you are installing multiple drawers one above the other, the spacing between each runner will depend on the size of the drawer.
    Drawer slide layout for installing multiple under mount soft close drawers
  2. Secure the first drawer slide to the system panel using screws. Your slides should come with the correct screws, usually 5mm x 7/16″. Install one set of slides at a time starting with the right side. Use the pre-drilled shelf holes in your panel and line them up with the pre-drilled holes in your slide. Screw in the front of the runner, then the back. Each runner will require two screws for stability. Repeat to install the left drawer runner. Then move onto the next set of slides. Install all drawer slides/runners to the panels before you attempt to mount the drawers.
  3. Next, secure the part of the slide that attaches to the drawer box with screws. For under mount slides this will be two clips that need to be fixed to the bottom of the drawer box in the front corners. Many drawer boxes are shipped with these clips already in place, in which case you can skip this step.
    Underside of drawer box with clips for the under mount slide.
  4. Next install the drawers by pulling out the installed slides and placing the drawer box over the extended slides. Pull the extended slides into the clips under the drawer until they click into place.
    Install under mount drawer
    Pull the slides onto the clips mounted to the bottom of the drawer box.
 

How to Adjust Soft Close Drawers

Adjusting soft close drawers is easy. Adjust your under mount soft close drawer by moving the adjustment knob in the corner of the drawer clip. Use this knob to fine tune the space between the drawer fronts. This can be done while the drawer is installed. You do not have to remove it. Each side can be adjusted separately. This allows you to get rid of any appearance that the drawer is crocked.

How to adjust soft close drawers
How to adjust soft close drawers.

Your drawers should open and close nicely after completing these simple adjustments. To shut a soft close drawer, all you need to do is give the drawer a gentle push. Watch how the hydraulics take over to ensure complete, perfect, and silent closure when the drawer is about 75% closed. If you are still having problems after completing these adjustments, there is probably something wrong with the drawer slides themselves and they should be replaced. For example, if your drawer resists closing and then bangs, the slides are probably shot. You will have to remove the drawer(s) and replace the slides.

 

How to Remove Soft Close Drawers

Assuming you went with the under mount soft close drawers, you remove the drawer by releasing the clip on the bottom of the drawer. First open the drawer as far as it will go. Reach under the drawer and depress the “Release Levers” in both the front right and left sides of the underside of the drawer box. The drawer can then be easily lifted out of the system. Remove the existing worn out runners and follow the instructions above on how to install new soft close drawer slides.

How to remove soft close drawers
How to remove soft close drawers.
 

Under mount drawers with soft close technology have become one of the hallmarks of high-quality cabinetry and closet systems. For this reason, they are standard on many custom cabinets and high-end closets. They are more expensive than other types of drawers. However, they are fairly easy for someone who is handy to install on their own. This DIY friendliness puts them within reach for most homeowners, even those on a budget. If you are going to put in new drawers or simply want an upgrade on your current drawers, go soft close. You won’t be disappointed.

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