The Best Drawer Slides for Soft-Closing Cabinetry

Rarely do we give a second thought to the way our cabinets and drawers open and close—that is, unless they squeak when they’re in motion and don’t glide on their tracks as easily as they should. The drawers of your furniture should function easily and quietly.

Soft-close drawer slides have high-quality dampers to prevent the drawers from slamming when you close them. They are also outfitted with springs that help return the drawer gently to the cabinet. Slides that offer full extension are useful because they allow you to easily see and access the contents of the whole drawer. Read on to learn more about how to choose the best drawer slides for your next kitchen or bath DIY project.

Types of Drawer Slides

There are several styles of drawer slides: side mount, under mount, center-mount, and European. The type of slide that’s best for your needs will depend on your budget, how heavy the contents of your drawers are, and how much clearance you have between the drawers and the cabinets.

Side Mount

The most popular drawer slides side mount drawer slides which, as their name suggests, attach to the sides of the drawers and cabinets. Although these slides do not support the bottom of the drawer, they can still bear a lot of weight. Side mount drawer slides are sold in pairs and operate via one of two mechanisms: ball bearings or rollers. Slides with ball bearings are typically made from high-quality steel and help drawers glide quietly and easily. Side mount drawer slides operate on rollers and are less expensive, but drawers on rollers typically cannot extend as far as those on ball bearings.


Undermount drawer slides are sold in pairs and mount to the sides of the cabinet. They connect to locking devices that attach to the underside of the drawer. Because they are not visible when the drawer is open, these slides are a popular choice for those who don’t want metal hardware distracting from the look of their wood cabinetry. Undermount drawer slides are typically silent and don’t make the metal clicking sound that some other slides do.

The disadvantage of undermount slides is that they are typically more expensive than other types of drawer slides. Though they don’t require a lot of clearance between the sides of the drawer and the cabinet, they do have specific clearance requirements above and below the drawer. For these reasons, under-mount drawer slides are typically used on high-end, custom-made cabinetry.

Center Mount

While most drawer slides come in sets of two, center-mount slides have just one bracket that attaches to the underside of the drawer. Made of either wood or metal and fairly easy to install, center mount drawer slides are less popular than other types of slides because they can easily come out of balance, causing the contents of your drawer to shift and slide around. Another disadvantage of center mount drawer slides is that they can’t hold as much weight as other types of slides. For this reason, they’re not a good option for drawers that will contain heavy items.

European Slides

Also known as bottom mount drawer slides, European slides are attached to the bottom edge of the drawer and the side of the cabinet. One advantage of European slides is they’re easy to install: They are simply attached to the bottom edge of a drawer, so there’s no guesswork involved when it comes to placement. And, because they use nylon rollers rather than ball bearings, they’re typically inexpensive, too. Two downsides to European drawer slides are that they tend to have lower weight capacities than side mount or under-mount slides, and the soft-close feature is not always available for this style of the slide.

Ball Bearing

Metal drawer slides come with either nylon rollers or metal ball bearings.

  • Drawer slides with plastic or nylon rollers, like European roller slides, are typically more affordable. They’re a good choice for drawers that don’t need to bear a lot of weight. Some are designed to work with self-closing drawers.
  • Slides with ball bearings are generally sturdier and have higher weight capacities. Most soft-closing and self-closing drawers have ball-bearing mechanisms.

Anti-Rust Feature

Some metal slides are coated with a chemical that protects against rust and corrosion. While stainless steel is designed to resist rust, other types of steel are susceptible to rusting if they are exposed to moisture, which is not unusual in kitchens and bathrooms. Anti-rust coatings will extend the life of your drawer slides and are commonly found on high-quality slides.

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