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Good Better Best: Cabinet & Door Hardware 

Although small, cabinet pulls and door handles can have a big impact on the design and functionality of your home. It’s important to carefully consider your options before choosing which products and materials are best for you. To make this decision easier, let’s break down your cabinet and door hardware options in terms of good, better, and best.

At Lamont Bros. Design & Construction, we guide homeowners through the kitchen and bathroom remodeling process, helping them explore which features and products will best enhance their spaces. When it comes to cabinet and door hardware, we recognize that the sheer volume of product offerings on the market can be difficult to sift through and find the ones that best fit your needs.

In this article, we’ll examine the various types of cabinet pulls and door handles, categorizing them into good, better, or best. By the end of this read, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of which hardware materials and products might be the perfect fit for your project. The specific options we’ll delve into include:

Good: Chrome and Stainless

When embarking on a kitchen or bathroom renovation, the choice of cabinet and door hardware plays a crucial role in both functionality and design. Among the vast array of options, chrome and stainless steel represent the “good” category—offering durability, style, and affordability for homeowners working within a budget.

For product designs in the good category, you’ll find primarily knobs and levers for both cabinet and door hardware options. Knobs and levers tend to be more affordable and subtle in their appearance but can be difficult to grab.

Chrome Hardware

Chrome hardware features a distinct, mirror-like sheen that makes it a popular choice for modern and traditional home designs alike. Achieved by electroplating a thin layer of chromium onto a metal or plastic base, chrome offers both a sleek appearance and a protective outer coating.

Advantages of Chrome Hardware:

Visual Appeal: Chrome’s shiny finish is visually striking, making it a standout choice for modern and contemporary designs.

Affordability: As a cost-effective option, chrome allows for an aesthetic update without a significant financial investment.

Disadvantages:

Maintenance: Prone to showing fingerprints and water spots, chrome requires frequent cleaning to maintain its gleaming appearance, which may not be ideal for busy or low-maintenance households.

Polished chrome cabinet hardware

Stainless Steel Hardware

Stainless steel is a metal alloy made of iron with a mixture of carbon and chromium. These additional ingredients give stainless steel its revered anti-corrosive properties. It is both strong and visually appealing, making it a go-to for decorative items that still need to be able to take a beating.

Advantages of Stainless Steel Hardware:

Durability: Known for its resistance to corrosion and tarnishing, stainless steel is particularly suitable for high-moisture environments like kitchens and bathrooms.

Cohesive Look: Because it is so commonly used, stainless steel hardware easily matches a variety of home appliances, ensuring a unified design across your space.

Disadvantages of Stainless Steel Hardware:

Subtlety: While durable and easy to match, stainless steel’s understated look might not make the bold design statement some homeowners seek, potentially blending too seamlessly into the background.

Stainless steel hardware can blend well with appliances of the same material.

Better: Brushed and Polished Nickel, Oil Rubbed Bronze

The “better” category features options that offer a blend of enhanced aesthetic appeal and practical durability. Brushed and polished nickel, along with oil-rubbed bronze, stands out for its ability to elevate home interiors with a touch of warmth and sophistication while remaining relatively affordable.

In this category, cabinet hardware shifts towards pulls rather than knobs or levers. Cabinet pulls tend to be slightly more expensive but offer better grip and a more engaging visual design. For door hardware, a wider variety of premanufactured styles become available, offering more tailored solutions.

Brushed and Polished Nickel Hardware

Hardware made from nickel comes in two main varieties: brushed and polished. Brushed Nickel undergoes a brushing process that etches its surface with fine abrasives, creating a matte finish. Polished Nickel, on the other hand, is buffed to a mirror-like shine, offering a brighter and more reflective option.

Advantages of Nickel Hardware:

Aesthetic Flexibility: Whether brushed or polished, nickel hardware complements a wide range of interior designs, from the modern to the traditional.

Durability: Nickel finishes are known for their long-lasting qualities, resisting wear and maintaining their appearance over time.

Visual Warmth: Due to its chemical composition, nickel tends to have more warm color tones. Nickel’s warmer tone can add a gentle richness to spaces, providing a contrast to the cooler, more industrial look of stainless steel.

Disadvantages of Nickel Hardware:

Maintenance: While less prone to fingerprints than chrome, brushed and polished nickel finishes may still require regular cleaning to keep them looking their best.

Cost: Typically, nickel hardware comes at a higher price point than the basic chrome and stainless steel options, reflecting its enhanced quality and design features.

Oil Rubbed Bronze Hardware

Oil-rubbed bronze offers a striking contrast with its deep, rich tones, providing a classic or rustic look that can add depth and character to any space. It is made using a chemical process that darkens the surface, simulating an aged bronze appearance. 

Advantages of Oil Rubbed Bronze Hardware:

Visual Impact: The distinctive dark finish of oil-rubbed bronze hardware makes a bold statement, ideal for adding visual interest to a room.

Classic Appeal: Perfect for traditional or rustic designs, oil-rubbed bronze exudes an ageless quality that can complement a variety of classic styles.

Disadvantages of Oil Rubbed Bronze:

Scratch Visibility: The unique finish of oil-rubbed bronze can show scratches and wear more easily than other materials, potentially requiring more careful use or frequent replacements.

Variability: The finishing process for oil-rubbed bronze can result in variations from piece to piece, which may complicate efforts to achieve a uniform look across multiple fixtures.

Best: Black, Brass, Brushed Gold, and Specialty Finishes

The “best” category in cabinet and door hardware is where design meets luxury, offering homeowners the highest quality options with unique finishes and custom design possibilities. Black, brass, brushed gold, and other specialty finishes provide a palette for truly distinctive interiors, elevating the aesthetic of any home.

In this premier category, kitchen hardware often includes larger, more prominent cabinet pulls, custom shapes and designs, and integrated appliance pulls for a built-in appearance. Door hardware also features more custom designs and introduces electronic components for smart home integration, adding both style and advanced functionality, such as keyless or remote entry.

Black Hardware

Black hardware stands out for its bold, modern appeal, offering a stark contrast to lighter cabinetry or doors. With matte or gloss finishes, black hardware can add contemporary style and complement other modern design elements in a space.

Advantages of Black Hardware:

Modern Aesthetic: Black hardware provides a unique and contemporary look that can anchor a room’s design.

Versatility: In terms of color design, black can match well with a variety of color schemes and materials.

Disadvantages of Black Hardware:

Visibility of Marks: Depending on the finish, black hardware can show fingerprints and dust more than other hardware types, requiring regular cleaning to keep it pristine.

Black cabinet pulls offer contrast and work with a variety of color palettes.

Brass Hardware

Brass hardware, known for its yellow-gold hues, adds warmth and vintage charm to interiors. It can range from bright, polished finishes to antiqued or brushed looks that offer more subtlety.

Advantages of Brass Hardware:

Warmth: Brass brings a rich, inviting tone to cabinets and doors alike.

Classic Elegance: The yellow-gold coloration can complement a variety of decor styles, especially traditional and vintage-inspired spaces.

Disadvantages of Brass Hardware:

Tarnishing: Over time, brass may tarnish, requiring occasional polishing to maintain its shine.

Brass hardware adds warmth and flair to a kitchen’s design.

Brushed Gold Hardware

Brushed gold hardware offers a luxurious touch with its soft, matte finish, providing a subtle shimmer that enhances the sophistication of high-end designs.

Advantages of Brushed Gold:

Luxury Appeal: There’s nothing quite like gold to elevate the overall look of a space with its refined elegance.

Subtle Shine: Unlike polished finishes, brushed gold softly reflects light, creating a more serene and subtle visual element.

Disadvantages:

Cost: Brushed gold is often more expensive, reflecting its premium status in the market.

Maintenance: It may also require special cleaners to preserve the finish and prevent damage.

Gold hardware brings a sense of refinement and luxury.

Specialty Finishes

Specialty finishes encompass a catch-all range of unique options, including but not limited to patinated, textured, or color-coated metals, offering an opportunity for personalization in home design.

Advantages of Custom hardware:

Uniqueness: Provides distinctive looks that can’t be replicated with standard finishes.

Customization: Allows for creative expression and tailor-made solutions.

Disadvantages of Custom Hardware:

Availability: Specific styles, materials, or designs may be harder to find and replace due to their unique nature. If you’re getting custom hardware, consider ordering extra in case the need to replace them arises down the road.

Cohesiveness: Mixing different specialty finishes can challenge achieving a harmonious look.

Want More Design Inspiration for Your Home?

Now that you have more context around the types of cabinet and door hardware available to you, do you feel more confident choosing the hardware items for your own home? If you’re still looking for more design inspiration, check out our Kitchen Remodel Portfolio, where you can see different examples of cabinet and door hardware in action!

Ready to start exploring your design options with professional help? If so, click the link below to schedule a free design consultation with a member of our team. We’ll help you plan for a great remodel experience while also avoiding common mistakes and challenges. Let us help you turn your current home into your dream home!