How to Replace Drawer Slides

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Like everything else, drawer slides wear out. Then drawers begin to stick or they won’t close all the way. That’s when you know: it’s time to replace drawer slides. Thankfully this is one of the quickest and easiest of all household projects. So say good–bye to dysfunctional drawers.

Things You'll Need

  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Maybe a slotted screwdriver
  • New drawer slides
  • Eight 1/4 inch screws for each drawer

How to Replace Drawer Slides

  • Pull the drawer out as far as the existing slides allow. Rest the drawer on a raised knee and pull up on the back of the drawer box. If the drawer won't come off its slides, push up on the front and try pulling further back. If neither of these maneuvers liberates the drawer, then check near the front of side mounted slides for a swing latch. These keep drawers from falling while they’re pulled out. Just push the drawer back in a little and move the latches to allow the wheel to slip out of the track.

  • Measure the existing drawer slides. Check the length of the drawer slides on each drawer you’re outfitting. Drawers are not all created equal, so check every one. Check the length of the drawer boxes to see if they’re able to use longer slides. Stores don’t always stock all sizes.

  • Purchase new slides. Make sure the replacement slides are the same lengths and the same widths. If the slides are not an equal width they will not accommodate your drawers. Most side mounted rolling drawer slides are the same, but some are made slimmer to conserve space.

  • Remove the old slides. Take the staples or screws out of the slides on drawer boxes and inner cabinetry. Some of the older models are affixed with staples. Slip a slotted screwdriver under these and lever them out. Most are attached with 1/4 inch Phillips head screws. Use a screwdriver to gently turn these counterclockwise. You may be forced to place a screw into the same hole for your new drawer slides, so try not to damage the wood.

  • Line up the installation. Identify and lay out the slides for both sides of the inner cabinet and both sides of the drawer box. Manufacturers clearly mark the left and right sides, and which end goes up front.

  • Attach the slides inside the cabinet . Place the front of one slide in the drawer opening. Let the bottom of the rail rest on the bottom of the opening. Line up the front edge to be even with the outside. Drive one 1/4 inch screw into the front side. Use a level on the rail to be sure it’s properly level before putting a screw into the back end of the drawer slide. The second screw can go almost anywhere along the rail from the center to the rear. Follow this procedure to install the slide on the other side of the opening.

  • Attach slides to the drawer box. Line up the front of the slide with the front of the drawer. The wheel goes to the rear of the drawer box. There’s a ledge along the bottom of the drawer slide that sits against the bottom of the drawer. Hold these in place while inserting a screw at the front and rear of the rail.

  • Insert the drawer. Drop the wheels of the slides on the rear of the drawer box into the rails on the inner cabinet. Lower the drawer until it’s level and roll it in. The drawer should easily roll in and out, and rest completely closed.

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