The Ultimate Guide: Different Types of Drawer Slides

Whether catering for homes or businesses, there’s a need for accessible storage that offers quick access to everything while keeping things safe and the area tidy. Hence, cabinets with drawers have become one of the most important furniture pieces.

Drawers come in various sizes and functions. Some can carry light items like documents, while others can hold heavier items ranging from kitchen supplies and utensils to spare parts, small materials, and tools. 

In light of this, drawers have different types of drawer slides to support the drawer’s functions. There are many things to know when selecting the right slide for the drawer, which this article will explain below.

What is a Drawer Runner?

Open drawer with an exposed drawer slide
Source: Maxave

Drawer runners are usually part of the construction of cabinets and other types of furniture. Any furniture with drawers has at least one slide, no matter how many drawers it has. A drawer slide is one of the parts that let a drawer move in and out of the cabinet.

Every drawer is attached to a set of slides in some way. As a drawer is pulled open, it will move along these slides. While they operate the same, different types of drawer slides or drawer runners offer various functionalities.

On the other hand, many ask, “what is a drawer slide” and” what are drawer glides.” The answer is simple: while there are some tiny differences between runners, slides, and glides, these parts offer the same function–to let the drawer move in and out quickly. Moreover, these terms are essentially interchangeable. 

With this in mind, paying closer attention to the types of drawer slides and the drawer’s function is more important than their names. Let’s look at the different types of drawer slides, their features, mechanism, application, and more without further ado.

Types Of Drawer Slides Sorted By Mounting Method

There are four types of drawer slides based on the mounting method: side-mount, undermount, top mount, and center-mount. Choosing the right drawer slide depends on the space between the drawer and the cabinet opening. Each type of drawer slide offers a unique feature. Read on to understand what type of drawer slide is best for specific use.

Side Mount Drawer Slides

Pair of side mount drawer slides
Source: Maxave

Side mount drawer slides are attached to the drawer and cabinet body horizontally. These slides are suitable for various situations because they can hold a lot of weight and last for a long time. They are ideal for kitchen cabinets, utility cabinets, toolboxes, and other cabinets for heavy items.

Side mount drawer slides come with either ball bearings or rollers. Euro versions feature a nylon roller that moves along a track. The ball-bearing types have the advantage of running smoothly, holding a lot of weight, and fully extending or over-travel. They also usually come with a detent that keeps the drawer from opening if the cabinet is slightly off-center. The ones with an epoxy coating have a self-closing feature and opening lock, keeping the drawer open for easy access while working.

Side mount drawer slides typically need at least half-inch of the space between the drawer and the cabinet’s opening. A side mount drawer slide’s only drawback is that it limits the lateral width of the drawer. 

Maxave offers full extension side mounted and full extension push to open ball bearing slide and full extension dual spring soft closing side mounted slide. These side mounted drawer slides can carry up to 30 kilograms.

Center Mount Drawer Slides

Semi extended center drawer slide
Source: Amazon

Center mount drawer slides are single slides that fit right at the center of the bottom part of the drawer. Center mount drawer slides may limit the drawer height, and it is crucial to consider the height of the cabinet. 

One good thing about center mount drawer slides is that they are easier to put in. It is also hidden, adding aesthetic to the drawer. However, these types of slides are typically used for drawers made of light materials. They will carry light items, and they are not heavy-duty.

Due to their weight capacity limits, center mount drawer slides are usually only sold in a 3/4 extension. Moreover, it doesn’t usually feature self-close and soft-close and is sold as a single slide.

Undermount Drawer Slides

Pair of semi extended undermount drawer slides
Source: Maxave

Undermount drawer slides are connected to the cabinet’s sides and attached to locking parts fixed under the drawer’s body inside the cabinet. Because they are hidden, undermount slides are an excellent choice to show off the cabinet’s features. Hence, these mounts are preferred for high-end cabinetry.

Undermount drawer slides are great when there’s not enough horizontal space because each slide usually only needs 3/16″ to 1/4″ of length. Under-mount slides also need a half-inch of space above and under the drawer in the cabinet’s opening.

Undermount drawer slides come in various lengths to match them to the depths of their cabinets. Full extension undermount drawer slides let the drawers open all the way to the back for full access. 

There are also slides that only let the drawers open halfway, which is best for cabinets in tight spaces. Moreover, undermount drawer slides can come with and without full stops, keeping the drawer box from moving out of its tracks.

Maxave has a range of undermount drawer sliders for various purposes and with additional features. These include undermount soft close drawer slides and full extension undermount drawer slides. We can also develop custom drawer slides for your brand. 

Top Mounted Drawer Runners

Pair of black top mount drawer slides
Source: Amazon

Top mounted drawer runners or slides are attached to the upper side parts of the drawer and the cabinet’s opening. It is the total opposite of undermount drawer slides.

It is commonly used in pencil drawers and keyboard trays where the side and bottom are absent. It is good to consider that the drawer and its content will rely on the screw holding the slides, so its installation needs a good set of screws.

Types Of Drawer Slides Sorted By Extension

Drawer slide extension has three types: 3/4 extension, full extension, and over travel. Each style of drawer slide has its own set of extensions. The drawer’s extension determines how far it may be dragged out. Some prevent the drawer box from entirely opening, while others allow the drawer to open all the way.

3/4 Extension

Pair of three fourths extension drawer slides with one piece extended
Source: Amazon

Three-fourths extension slides are economical and suitable for various applications. With this type of extension, the drawer will slide out 3/4 of the slide’s length. The remaining drawer slide will stay inside the cabinet. Hence, drawers using a 3/4 extension won’t be fully open, and the back of the drawer won’t be accessible. This extension is available on center mount and side mount drawer slides. 

Full Extension Drawer Slides

Pair of undermount full extension drawer slides
Source: Maxave

Full extension drawer slides let the drawer open all the way. This extension is the best option for the majority of cabinets. They become less stable as they retain greater weight, so it is critical to verify their capacity to avoid overloading the drawer. This extension is recommended for drawers that hold documents because they make it easy to see and reach everything inside, allowing a quick search.

Maxave has 35mm and 45mm full extension drawer slides with ball bearings and dual springs that can carry up to 30 kilograms. There is also a full extension drawer slides soft close for those looking for a soft-close option.

Over Travel Drawer Slides

Pair of drawer slides with one piece fully extended
Source: Amazon

Over-travel drawer slides offer the most extensive of any drawer slide, allowing the drawer to extend well beyond the front of the cabinet. It is excellent for storing containers with lids because it will enable the cover to be fully lifted without removing the container from the drawer.

Featured Drawer Slides

All of the drawer slides are easy to move back and forth. However, some slides have features contributing to the drawers’ functionalities. With these extras, the drawers can close quietly and open with the slightest push.

Self-Close Drawer Slides

Pair of self close drawer slides
Source: Amazon

When a drawer is labeled “self-close,” it signifies it will shut itself when it reaches the last few inches of its trip. When pressed too softly, the drawer will remain slightly open, while when pushed too firmly, it will bounce back. 

Self-closing drawer slides solve this issue. A typical self-closing slide closes the drawer fast, either with a ramped track, as is standard on epoxy slides, or with an optional spring mechanism found on telescopic types.

Self-close drawer slide works by replacing the standard hardware with a pair of slides. When these slides are put in, the drawer moves to its hinges and rolls back into place. However, this slide is not recommended for fragile or loud cabinets as it makes little impact on closing.

These drawer slides are perfect for workshops and other busy places that require cabinets to be fully shut at all times. However, it is not recommended in areas such as libraries as it usually makes a sound.

Soft-Close Drawer Slides

Pair of soft close drawer slides partially extended
Source: Maxave

Soft-close models have a damping system that slows the drawer’s movement so that it doesn’t make a loud clunk. This keeps things from moving around inside the drawer and making noise. It also makes the drawer slide last longer by minimizing wear and strain.

Self-close drawer slides help keep the drawers shut without closing them by hand. When the drawer reaches a certain point, either a spring or a small ramp that goes down behind the slide, it will shut itself.

These slides, like Maxave’s full extension dual spring soft closing side mounted slide, are great for sound-sensitive places like offices, libraries, hospitals, and high-end stores. They are also great for areas like archives that need to store fragile items. Soft-close slides are often used to make drawers that are safe for children.

Push-To-Open Drawer Slides

Pair of compacted push to open drawer slides
Source: Maxave

Push-to-open drawer slides eliminate the need for drawer pulls, reducing visible hardware on the cabinet’s exterior. Pushing the drawer face lets a spring system open the drawer wide enough to reach inside and pull it out. This feature offers a clean, modern style while still saving money. 

Push-to-open slides are standard in places where clearance or space is limited, such as mobile homes or tight spaces where a drawer handle might hit adjacent furniture or other architectural components when opened.

On the other hand, most push-to-open drawer slides use a spring, which wears down over time and gets stressed every day. This means that the spring can lose its strength when pushing the drawer open or when it breaks. Another problem is that if the spring mechanism breaks and the drawer is shut, it is hard to grab the outside of the drawer to open it. It is best to use high-quality materials when choosing this drawer slide.

Heavy Duty Drawer Slides

Pair of partially extended heavy duty drawer slides
Source: Amazon

Heavy-duty drawer slides (Learn: A Complete Guide To Install Heavy-Duty Drawer Slides) are durable and long-lasting. These drawer slides are ideal for use both at work and for pleasure. These drawer slides are used to construct camper trailers, caravans, vehicle canopies, and custom drawers. Heavy-duty slides can support loads of up to 170 pounds. Some of these slides come with unique features like lock-in and lock-out and for weights weighing roughly 1,300 lbs.

Drawer Slide Finishing 

Lanes of drawer slides undergoing anodizing process
Source: Maxave

Maxave understands that furniture’s life and aesthetics rely on its surface finishing. It is crucial that a drawer slide can withstand wear, tear, and high corrosion. To keep up with product reliability, quality requirements, and extreme cost pressure, upgrading the anodizing process is crucial to a business’s profitability. 

Anodizing provides an oxidized finish to cabinet hardware. It thickens the naturally occurring oxide layers in metals, increasing corrosion and wear resistance. The method provides a strong, long-lasting protective layer embedded in the metal rather than on its surface. This offers several benefits, such as:

Thinner Coatings

Anodizing creates thinner coatings than the other techniques. Because coating thickness impacts part size, it is helpful for precision machined parts.

Longer Lasting Color

Dye anodized materials are resistant to fading and UV radiation, making them ideal for usage outdoors.

Smaller Environmental Impact

Maxave uses an advanced water system, ensuring that wastewater from the anodizing production process is treated. We also make sure that we only use green chemicals.

Higher Durability

Anodized surfaces are more durable and resistant to abrasion than paint and powder coatings. Moreover, anodized materials last longer because they are less prone to scratching, chipping, and flaking.

Greater Corrosion Resistance

Anodized surfaces are exceptionally corrosion resistant, making them ideal for use in water, salt spray, and other harsh environments.

Lower Cost

The cost of anodizing metals is comparable to that of painting or powder coating. The anodized coating strengthens the item, allowing it to last longer and requiring less care.

Maxave tops the anodizing process in China. Compared to other companies, our approach is faster by 20% as we strictly control the entire process. We are also cleaner as we use double cleaning with high-pressure spray in rinsing all metal anodizing. Moreover, our performance is 300% better, thanks to our seal coating.

Drawer Slide Measurements 

Pair of semi extended black and orange drawer slides
Source: Maxave

The size of a drawer slide should be the top priority when purchasing. Drawer slides are usually measured in height, width, and length.

The Depth

The most crucial factor to know when choosing a drawer slide is depth. If the drawer slide is either too thick or too thin, it won’t work right, if it works at all.

Measuring the cabinets is better than looking at the previous slides to know the required depth. If the drawer width is 15 inches and the depth of the drawer slot is 16-1/2 inches, then the total space for both slides is 1-1/2 inches. This means that it needs two drawer slides that are 3/4 inches deep.

Keep in mind that it is usually better to buy slides that are too thin since a shim can be put between the cabinet walls and the slides to fill the space between them.

The Length

The length of the drawer slide is also significant. A drawer slide that is too long or too short may not open or close properly and may stress the slides. Always select the longest slide that fits without exceeding the drawer depth.

The Height

Installing a drawer slide higher than the drawer or pull-out is impossible. This is especially true for extremely thin mounts. Choose a tall drawer slide when installing thin drawers with a little mounting surface.

The Width

The recommended drawer width ensures that the drawer slides do not flex or twist excessively, causing damage and shortening their life. Wider drawers should be able to support less weight than the indicated weight limit. Most slides do not have a defined measurement, but they are not for lateral file drawers. Thus the drawer’s width should not exceed the cabinet depth.

Considerations When Sourcing Drawer Slides From China

Two open drawers with double wall slides
Source: Maxave

Before sourcing drawer slides from China, it is crucial to consider the drawer slide specification, order quantity and lead time, quality and certificates, and packaging and shipment management. 

Drawer Slide Specifications

A heavy-duty drawer slide is constructed of plated cold-rolled steel, stainless steel, or hard anodized aluminum. It can carry between 200 and 230 pounds. A heavy-duty or industrial drawer slide can also be made of steel or aluminum. 

Varied items have different cross-sections and different weight-carrying capacities. A full extension drawer slide is made of chromium steel and is equipped with precision ball bearings. This telescopic slide has cushioned stops inside and outside and a positive hold-in detent. 

A ball-bearing drawer slide is made from steel with a zinc coating and non-directional head screws. It could have front and rear mount brackets. A plastic drawer slide is used to align drawers on wood tracks and does not require oiling.

Product specs should be reviewed first to select the drawer slides. Most drawer slides contain high-quality metal sliders with stainless steel ball bearings that allow them to operate smoothly. Drawer slides are made up of the following components:

  • Mechanisms
  • Sockets
  • Self-closing hinges

A stainless steel T-handle lock makes it simple to open and close a drawer slide. A drawer guide makes it simple to open and close drawers. Drawer slides run on metal tracks known as drawer guides. Full-extension ball-bearing drawer slides come in sizes ranging from 16 to 24 inches and can support up to 100 pounds. 

A plastic drawer slide can support up to 50 pounds of weight and is suitable for light-duty applications. Drawer slides must also meet depth, length, and breadth specifications.

Order Quantity and Lead Time

Order quantity has a direct impact on the total amount of lead time. The higher the quantity, the longer lead time is required. When lead times are longer, delivery becomes less predictable, and a corporation must make decisions based primarily on demand estimates. After determining the lead time, the next stage is to take action to reduce it.

Quality and Certificates

Maxave has high standards for quality, production, sustainability, and customer satisfaction. We also know how important it is to let experts judge how we’re doing. Our testing reports and certificates show that we meet the standards and are always trying to get better. 

Maxave is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company.

Packaging and Shipment Management

We manufacture furniture hardware and have developed our own packing devices. We’ve been in the furniture hardware business for over ten years, so we understand where assembly improvement falls short. 

Our automated custom assembly solution is designed to save labor expenses while increasing output. Moreover, we cut shipping costs and enhance delivery efficiency by using unique boxing methods that maximize the space in standard boxes.


There are so many different kinds of drawer slides on the market that it’s hard to know where to start. If new or replacement slides are needed, this ultimate guide comes in handy with important information about the different types of drawer slides.  

When choosing a drawer slide, it is important to know the suitable mounting method, extension, features, and finish of the slide. It is also essential to get the proper measurements between the cabinet and the drawer to ensure that the slides will fit perfectly. Ultimately, it is crucial to consider the vital factors when sourcing drawer slides, such as the drawer slide specification, order quantity and lead time, quality and certificates, and packaging and shipment of the slides. Contact Maxave today for reliable custom drawer slide OEM/ODM solutions for your projects.

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