What are the Different Types of Drawer Slides?

Types of Drawer Slides

locking drawer slides

There are many different types of drawer slides available on the market for, some are a very simple Ikea single wheel cheap and cheerful style, others are more features to make drawers slide open easier and smoother and hold more weight.  The most common type for most cabinetry applications that happens to also be easy to install is the Bearing style Drawer slide. The video below shows you how the FIRGELLI Heavy-duty 400lbs weight capacity slides work, and how they are extended and separated which you need to be able to do for proper installation, this is a common type of drawer slide design you see in many cases, the FIRGELLI drawer slides just happen to be a little more rugged and can carry far more weight and offer much longer strokes than anything you will finds at your local hardware store, plus they are telescopic.  There are many other types of slides that may work perfectly well for your application. Lets review all of them one by one. 

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
  7. Locking Drawer slides (Lock in and Lock out)

Each type has its own very specific Pro's and Con's especially when it comes to the installation, 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. The technology used is really only split into two types, the others refer to the installation location on the drawer.  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 or rolling drawers 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.

What are the Different Types of Drawer Slides?

You’ll typically see roller drawers slides used in household applications like desk drawers where you expect fairly lightweight loads and a horizontal configuration using bottom drawer slides. 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 and cannot carry much weight at all, and they can very easily become un-lodged from the drawer or cabinet.

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 mostly, although cheaper versions have only 2 pieces. The 3 components are; 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. All these parts are self contained, you fever have to worry about them becoming disconnected from each other, unless you want to take them apart. 

The Soft close feature of a drawer slide is typically available in two different styles, one far more expensive than the other. One method is where a rubber coating is applied to a particular part of the slide rail component along with an indentation on the metal to create a soft closing feature on both the open and closed actions.  This method works very well for most applications where alot of weight is used.  The second method is where a damping piston type device is actually placed in the rail system to offer what we call a parachute landing style closing (only on the closing), This works fine for kitchen cabinets where the weight is not that high, but not suitable for heavy work loads. 

drawer 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 or 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 - Locking

  1. Under mount Drawer Slides
  2. Side Mount Drawer Slides
  3. Center Mount Drawer slides
  4. Locking Drawer slides (Lock in and Lock out)

These types of drawer slides are essentially the same type, all that differs if where in the cabinet they are installed. But the Locking Drawer slides (Lock in and Lock out) do offer a great function that make the suitable for applications where the cabinets are in Trucks are RV's etc. 

Locking Drawer slides (Lock in and Lock out)

Locking Drawer slides (Lock in and Lock out) are desirable for applications where the drawers are typically in a mobile applications where you don’t want  the drawers accidentally opening and closing when the vehicle is in motion.  The FIRGELLI style of locking drawer slides have a lever on the front of each slide that has a blue rubber handle molded onto it, to give it a nice soft feel. The process is simple, you simply press the lever down (one on each slide) and that unlocks the slide so you can open the drawer. Once fully extended the slides also lock into their full open position and cannot be closed until you press the lever again to close them.  These locking style drawer slides are available off the shelf in different extensions and can hold 500-lbs weight a pair. Custom sizes are also available. Click here to view them. 

Locking Drawer slides (Lock in and Lock out)

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 specifically the extension length (stroke) and the weight capacity you need.  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.

The most important part you need to know

1. Always try to match the extension (stroke) of the drawers slides to the distance you want the drawer to pull out.  Get this wrong and your drawers will either not pull out far enough, or they  pull too far out which may look odd.  
2. Make sure you account for all the weight that could possibly go into the drawer, plus the weight of the drawer to ensure the slides are going to be strong enough to carry all that weight.  Typical slides you buy from the local hardware store will not be strong enough to carry more than 30lbs of weight.   All our units can carry 400lbs plus 

3. When installing the drawer slides you want to ensure they are installed horizontally as much as possible using a sprit level to check. This ensures they don’t open or close accidentally  

4. Telescopic drawer slides offer the most compact size (when closed) and can carry more weight. If they are only a 2 piece slider, stay away, they are cheap garbage. 

drawer slideslocking drawer slides drawer slides

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