When to Use Knobs vs. Pulls on Kitchen Cabinets

Sep 20th 2022

cabinet pulls on kitchen cabinet doors

Your kitchen cabinet hardware can really pull together the entire space and protect the finish of your cabinets. When you look for the right hardware to fit your cabinet doors, you have two options—knobs and pulls. However, in each of these options alone you have a long list of possible designs and finishes.

With so many possibilities, it can be hard to determine when to use each. By considering a few simple factors, you can create your perfect kitchen with your ideal design style.

Cabinet Knobs vs. Pulls

Knobs and pulls are the two most common types of cabinet hardware, and both offer great functionality as handles for your kitchen cabinet doors and drawers. They can also both provide great aesthetic advantages. Although both can be created with the same material and finish, they both still bring their own personalities.

Cabinet Knobs

1 1/4" Round Cabinet Knob

Cabinet knobs are round metal handles, usually about an inch in diameter. Knobs are a great choice when looking for a classic, more ornate look, but they can also be designed to be more minimalist and modern.

Cabinet knob placement is best when the knobs are placed near the corners of the doors at an equal distance, about an inch to two inches away, from each side. However, depending on the door style, you have the option to either place the knob on the corner of the frame or on the corner of the inset panel. On drawers, it is best to keep the knob centered for the best symmetrical appearance.

Cabinet Pulls

5 1/16" (128mm) T-Bar Cabinet Pull

Meanwhile, cabinet pulls appear more like handles, with two attachment points and a bar between them. Pulls are great for creating a minimalist look as many have a rectangular design, but some may be rounded or more detailed.

Because you can use more of your hand to grip cabinet pulls they are easier to grasp and open your doors. This is especially helpful if you or any of your family members struggle with grasping objects.

Similar to knobs, cabinet handle placement looks best when placed at the bottom corner of the door, or the top corner if the cabinet is underneath the counter. For drawers, you can have pulls installed at the center of the center panel, or aligned and centered with the top edge of the drawer.

A good size ratio to consider is to keep your pulls to about 1/3 the size of your cabinet drawer face. If you really want to be flashy, you can choose longer pulls that extend almost the length of the entire drawer front.

When Should You Use Knobs vs. Pulls?

How you use knobs and pulls is ultimately up to you, as much of the design comes down to your personal preference. However, there are a few things to consider before you make your final decision.

Kitchen Style

Your design style is likely to be one of the biggest factors in determining which hardware you use. If you are looking to pick a specific design style then you want hardware that meets the theme.

If you want a more traditional or classic look, then knobs may be the right choice. Knobs bring a warm character to a space, as they remind you of rustic or farmhouse styles. Knobs also tend to wear washed earthy metals a bit better. Of course, though, there is no rule that you can’t make this hardware work with other styles.

Modern styles generally look great with cabinet door pulls. Straight line, rectangular pulls are functional and often simple. They are great for adding a minimalist, straightforward design style to your kitchen. Although, round pulls can be a good option for more rustic styles.

Cabinet Door Style

Different cabinet door styles just look better with specific hardware. For example, detailed cabinet door styles, like Arched Cabinet Doors or French-Lite Glass Ready Doors are well complemented by a nicely-crafted detailed knob.

Meanwhile, edge-banded slab cabinet doors generally fit well with cabinet door pulls as the simplicity of the door allows the geometry of the handle to stick out. Shaker-style doors typically give you more versatility in your choice as they can work for either hardware.


Sometimes functionality is more important than appearance. If you live with children or maybe someone a bit older who has a hard time gripping, then pulls are going to be the better choice. Since you can grab a pull with three to four fingers, it is much easier to get a better handle.

Knobs can also allow for easy slipping when trying to grab them since they are smaller and more difficult to wrap your hand around. However, knobs are generally better for cabinets over the counter as they are easier to get your hands on in with an extended reach.

Can You Mix Knobs and Pulls?

Although there is something to be said for consistency, you do not need to choose strictly one or the other for your kitchen. In fact, you may even improve the appearance of the kitchen by diversifying the style.

Mixing knobs and pulls on kitchen cabinets is an excellent way to add to the atmosphere of your kitchen and include some added flavor to the design. A great opportunity to incorporate this strategy is to use knobs on the cabinets while using pulls on the drawers. Alternatively, you can use knobs for cabinets above the counters while using pulls for those below. This helps you to be consistent while still mixing things up.

Find the Right Hardware for Your Kitchen

Ultimately, how you decide to fit your kitchen cabinets and drawers with hardware is up to you. As you search for the right cabinet or drawer knobs and pulls, you can look to for help. Check out our complete inventory of cabinet hardware, including a range of styles and finishes.

If you are looking to update more than just your cabinet hardware, then we can help you find styles for brand-new cabinet doors as well. Explore our collection of custom cabinet doors to get started. With over 40 years of experience in the industry, we know what it takes to create a quality cabinet door. 

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