How To Install a Door Pull the Right Way

Tips & Techniques

While adding a pull can seem like a minor home project, if not done correctly, it can quickly make your head ache. I have drilled pilot holes in the wrong place, made them too big, too small, jammed hardware in the door, broken hardware in half, cracked knobs, and lucky me, ruined fresh paint in the process. Follow these simple steps to learn from my mistakes.

As they say, the devil is in the details and there is no smaller detail than the consideration of hardware for your cabinets, drawers, and closets. Pictured above, clockwise from top left, is a selection of hardware I've installed in my kitchen, coat closet, and bathroom, respectively.

1. Select hardware that not only looks great with your decor but more importantly that is functional. For this closet hardware project, I needed a small knob that would fit within the 2" wood paneled edge but would be big enough to grip onto to open and close the door.

2. Think about where the hardware should live. For closets, a good rule of thumb is to make pulls or knobs the same height as your door knobs. It makes a consistent line throughout the room and seems to blend better. (I installed a set of pulls on a closet door higher than the door knobs recently, and they jump out a bit.

3. Center or align the pull and mark the location with a pencil or by using the end of the hardware. If you are installing a pull with more than one hole, use a template for accuracy and always measure! Measure twice, drill once, measure twice, drill once. This should be your mantra.

4. Find a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the hardware rod. I have made the mistake of drilling the hole the same size which makes it very easy to push the knob through, however the hardware loosens very quickly and will ultimately become non functional. If you make the hole slightly smaller and the rod is threaded, the teeth will latch into the wood and will stay put.

5. Make sure the door is secure before drilling (have a friend hold it perhaps) and drill a straight line from front to back. I have recently started using a small cordless drill and it makes all the difference! It is light and fits my hand comfortably so I have more control guiding it.

6. In this particular example, there is no screw head to screw the knob in, so I had to use a wrench. Turn the rod gently clockwise into the door. Word of caution: Be very careful not to dent the threading, scuff your paint on the door, or bend the rod by putting too much pressure on it. You may want to use a piece of cloth or a rubber band for a layer of protection between the wrench and hardware.

This part of the installation moves pretty slow. It took 5 minutes or longer of rotating the screw to get it all the way through the door but depends on how thick your door is and how long the rod is. Have patience.

7. Once the rod is through, attach the washer and the bolt and tighten with a wrench.

Shopping sources for the pulls shown above:
(Clockwise from top left)
1. Vinna door pulls from IKEA and hinges from Kitchen Cabinet Door Pulls
2. Door pulls from IKEA (No longer available.)
3. Glass pulls from Anthropologie (Plain glass no longer available.)
4. White glass knobs used here are from Anthropologie (White is no longer available.)

Images: Tanya Lacourse

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