What are the Different Types of Drawer Slides?

 There are 6 types of Drawer slides:

  1. Ball Bearing Drawer Slides
  2. Soft close Ball Bearing Drawer Slides
  3. Under mount Drawer Slides
  4. Side Mount Drawer Slides
  5. Center Mount Drawer slides
  6. Roller Slides

Each Drawer slide type has its own very specific Pro's and Con's especially when it comes to the installation of cabinet drawer slides, which is critical to understand depending on your application. 

A drawer slide is a mechanism that allows for telescopic motion in one axis and are commonly found in a wide range of household and industrial applications. There are six types of drawer slides, however the technology used is really only split into two types, the others refer to the installation location.  Roller slides and Ball-bearing slides. This blog will aim to help you distinguish between these types of drawer slides. To learn more about the basics of drawer slides, check out our Drawer Slides 101 blog.

    Roller Slides

Roller slides consists of two components, the cabinet member and the drawer member, each having their own roller, usually made of plastic. As their names suggest, cabinet member mounts to a stable or grounded component, i.e. the cabinet, and the drawer member attaches to the moving component, i.e. the drawer. Each roller will fit into the groove found on the other member and will be at opposite ends of the mechanism when fully retracted with the cabinet member’s roller being at the front. As the mechanism is extended, the cabinet member’s roller allows the drawer member to move outwards and the roller of the drawer member follows in the grove of the cabinet member. When fully extended, the two rollers will meet. This two-roller design gives the mechanism horizontal stability and allows for level extension.

Roller Slide

You’ll typically see roller style drawer slides used in household applications like desk drawers where you expect fairly lightweight loads and a horizontal configuration. Due to their design, it is not recommended to use roller slides in any other configuration than horizontal. They also can only be mounted to the side of a drawer due to their design.

Ball-Bearing Slides with soft close

Ball-bearing slides make use of ball bearings instead of rollers to allow for the telescopic motion. They consists of three components; the cabinet member, intermediate member, and the drawer member. Like with the roller slides, cabinet member mounts to a stable or grounded component, i.e. the cabinet, and the drawer member attaches to the moving component, i.e. the drawer. The intermediate member interfaces with two sets of ball bearings; the first set interfaces with the grooves of the cabinet member and the second set interfaces with the grooves of the drawer member. As the mechanism extends, the first component to move is the drawer member, which slides over the ball bearings between itself and the intermediate member. Once the drawer member reaches the end of the ball bearings, the intermediate member will begin to slide along the ball bearings between itself and the cabinet member until fully extended. Like the two-roller design, the ball bearings within each groove of the mechanism gives it horizontal stability and allows for level extension.

Ball-Bearing Slides

You will see ball-bearing slides used in a wide range of applications from household applications, like dresser drawers, to industrial machinery. The use of ball-bearings in the design of these drawer slides provide greater durability and can carry larger loads compared to the plastic rollers of roller slides. As the ball-bearings of these drawer slides are fitted within the grooves of each member, they are capable of being used in horizontal configurations, vertical configurations, and at various angles. Some ball-bearing slides can be mounted to either the sides or bottom of the drawer, but you’ll need to check the manufacture’s specifications to ensure you can do so and how bottom mounting effect other specifications like load rating. You can also find heavy duty versions of ball-bearing slides that are design for harsher and heavier applications. If you are unsure whether you need heavy duty drawer slides, you can check out this blog on the key difference between heavy duty and regular drawer slides.

Other Types of Drawer slides

  1. Under mount Drawer Slides
  2. Side Mount Drawer Slides
  3. Center Mount Drawer slides

These types of drawer slides are essentially the same type, all that differs if where in the cabinet they are installed. 

How to choose Drawer Slides

Starting a DIY cabinetry project may seem a daunting task,  however, armed with the right  knowledge and equipment, you can  very quickly become a competent in drawer slide installations. The most important aspects of your cabinet drawers is going to be the actual drawer slides themselves.  Drawer slides are an important part of cabinet hardware, as they enable its utility and function for your cabinets drawers, if the slides become worn or damaged, the pull-out function of your cabinet drawers can quickly become a source of frustration, so its important to pick the right product to begin with. You don't want to have to deal with all that, sticking and jamming preventing the drawer’s ability to actually open and close effortlessly. Also weight needs to be a big consideration. If you don't buy the right weight capacity of the drawer slides and then you add more weight to the drawer than the slides can handle, you are going to have even more problems. 




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