Drawers Versus Doors with Pull-Outs

Which makes more sense: drawers, or cabinet doors and pull-out shelves? January 26, 2008

I have a kitchen job (remodel) pending. The lady wants to know, "why not just put in drawers instead of having to open a door or even two doors and then pull out the shelf?" This means most all base cab doors will be eliminated. I know this is uncommon for kitchens. Any comments?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor T:
She's right, whatever she wants. I often use all drawer stacks - even when I did my own kitchen. They're just easier to get things out of.

From contributor K:
I do a lot of them. Whatever she wants is what you need to build. That makes the most money and happy customers. I go with five piece drawer fronts on the large ones, because I am concerned about warp on very large slab drawer fronts. I will offer my suggestions and advice, but I always build what they want.

From contributor J:
It's not uncommon, it's just more expensive, and people who make decisions based strictly on budget make that choice. From what I've read on a consumer's kitchen remodeling forum, the vast majority of people who've tried both prefer drawers to slide-outs. It's usually good to have some conventional base-cab space for drawer-unfriendly items like small appliances, but you really need very little of that.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the input! I am drawing up the kitchen now on E-Cab. Will incorporate what you told me. Makes sense.

From contributor J:
This is certainly the trend these days and I like it. I'd rather build a drawer with a drawer front than put pull-outs in a base cabinet any day. That's particularly true if the customer likes/wants the look with a mullion between the doors. Having two pull outs like that is a waste of space, in my opinion. We just finished a fairly large kitchen that only had doors on the sink base. Everything else was drawers or large and small spice rack type pull outs.

Drawer banks also, in most cases, eliminate the need for a finished interior. I use pre-finished birch plywood for my case work but substitute less expensive unfinished plywood for the drawer banks when nothing will show.

From contributor F:
The drawer slides on pullouts always seem to either interfere with the hinges or at least require extra thought.

From contributor M:
It's more work for the cabinet contractor to do doors with pull out shelves, as far as I'm concerned, since you still essentially have to make drawer boxes for the roll out shelves (the shelves everyone wants now have sides, a front, and a back), but have to install doors in front of them as well.

I never paint or finish both sides of drawer fronts, but of course with doors you have to. You also have to screw around with furring out the roll outs to miss the door hinges. And, as already mentioned, you have to completely paint or finish the interior of a cabinet with roll outs. With drawer cabinets, you don't have to. All-drawer base cabinets are better for both the customer and the contractor.

From contributor L:
I've never understood why anyone would do roll-outs. In my own kitchen I only had one base cabinet with doors. Ever noticed the doors on roll-out cabinets always get scarred up from the rollouts?

From contributor F:
The only reason I see to include rollouts is on pantry units so that you don't have a bunch of individual drawer fronts, although this method would be much easier to manufacture than building long doors. Has anyone besides the Shakers tried this approach?

From contributor V:
I always suggest more drawers in place of doors and always give great explanations to those who want pull outs. For some, the pull out issue is aesthetics versus usability. I tell them that with pull outs they will lose an additional four inches of storage per pull out, for face frame cabinets. The first time I saw an all drawer base kitchen, except for sink, I was astounded and asked the lady why. Her explanation was great. Since I myself like to cook and spend a great deal of time in the kitchen, it makes sense. But for those who use the kitchen for little more than a show place, pullouts are the way to go. I also charge more for pull outs.

From the original questioner:
I appreciate all the comments. The more I design this kitchen, the more it all makes a lot of sense. Space is better utilized, accessibility improves, and the expense of having all those door hinges is eliminated. There is one thing I notice, though. Pullouts, slideouts, rollouts - all referring to a shelf on slides behind a door, I expect?

From contributor F:
They can be either sliding shelves for stuff like appliances or basic drawers without drawer fronts.