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The Benefits of Full Extension Drawer Slides

The Benefits of Full Extension Drawer Slides

We bet that you open and close the drawers in your home a hundred times a day and don’t even think about how far they come out. That is, until you find yourself feeling around the back of a drawer looking for that tape measure you just know is back there somewhere. Did you know that the mechanism that allows a drawer to slide in and out is actually called a drawer slide? Did you also know that a full extension slide allows you to reach even the very back of your drawers?

When you are shopping a cabinet, a dresser, or a desk, what is the first thing you do? You pull out the drawers. A superior drawer slide will slide quietly and smoothly, giving the impression of a high-quality piece. But beyond how they feel (heavy-duty, soft close, etc.), do you give any thought to how far the drawer actually pulls out? You can choose from drawer slides that have different lengths of extension. Some slide out from their cabinet only partway, while others will slide out fully. There are many different types of drawer slides to choose from. But if you are looking for easy access to the entire length of your drawer, a full extension drawer slide might be just what you’re looking for.

What is a Full Extension Drawer Slide?

Full-Extension Metal Drawer SlideDrawer slides allow a drawer to slide in and out of the cabinet in which it resides. They are usually placed on either side of the drawer but can also be located on the top or bottom. It all depends on the desired design. Drawer slides come in three different configurations, 3/4 extension, full-extension, and an extension known as over travel. People consider 3/4 extension slides to be the most economical. They’re fine if you do not need full access to the drawer. Overtravel drawer slides allow the drawer to pull out and away from the cabinet, allowing you to get behind it if necessary. Full extension drawer slides are usually the most desirable. This type of extension slide allows full access to the drawer while keeping it tucked into the cabinet, resulting in a nice, clean, finished look.

How do They Work?

A drawer slide is actually a quite complicated piece of hardware. They are made up of a pair of heavy-duty stainless steel pieces that mate together. One part is installed on the drawer box, and the other is attached to part of the cabinet. One of the pieces has a lip that prevents the drawer from moving back and forth as it’s being opened or shut. The sliding motion is created by using either nylon rollers or a ball bearing system. A full-extension slide has several different mounting options:

  • Bottom-Mount: Here, the slides are installed on the bottom left and right sides of the drawer, and most often use a roller system instead of a ball bearing system. Usually, bottom-mount slides only offer a 3/4 extension, but you can get them in a full extension slide as well.
  • Center-Mount: This slide consists of a single slide that attaches to the bottom center of the drawer box. Center mounts are easier to install. However, they are not used as often because they have a much lower load rating as opposed to other types of mounts. So they aren’t as heavy-duty.
  • Side-Mount: Just as the name suggests, these slides are mounted on either edge of the drawer box and the corresponding cabinet walls. This slide mount is very popular because it can be used across many different applications. A ball bearing system is standard on most side-mounted slides.

When the drawer is opened, the ball bearing system allows the two steel pieces to glide smoothly against each other. The slide ends in a telescopic action, giving you the extra few inches needed to gain full access to the drawer.

How to Remove a Drawer With Full Extension Slides

No one removes a drawer from a cabinet just for fun. Something is either stuck behind it, or the drawer itself comes off the track. Removing a drawer with full extension slides can be tricky. Especially since you’re probably already frustrated about having to do it in the first place. But if you know the trick, removing a drawer with full extension slides is actually quite simple.

  1. Even though you may be tempted not to, it’s best to empty the drawer before attempting to remove it. The less weight in the drawer, the easier it will be to maneuver.
  2. Once you have emptied the drawer, pull it all the way out of the cabinet.
  3. Look on the side of the drawer. Examine the guide that slides the extension in and out of the cabinet. You should see a lever or push tab on each side of the drawer slide.
  4. Activate the levers and pull gently on the drawer. Note that one of the levers will likely push down while the other side will require you to pull up. Doing this with both levers simultaneously releases the drawer slides and allows you to remove the drawer from the cabinet.
  5. When you are ready to put the drawer back into place, push the guides that are sticking out back into the cabinet. Line up the grooves, or notches, of the guide on the drawer to the slides attached to the cabinet. As you slide the drawer into place, you’ll hear a click when it mates up with the telescopic part of the drawer slide. Now you should be able to push the drawer completely back into place.

Where Are Full Extension Drawer Slides Used?

Craftsman use full extension drawer slides across many different applications. You’ll find them in kitchen cabinets, dresser drawers, desk drawers, and file cabinets. You will want full extension slides anytime you require full access to a drawer. All of our Amish Outlet Store furniture is made with heavy-duty full extension drawer slides as a feature. For example, take a look at this beautiful Arlington dresser with mirror. It features gorgeous dovetail joints and full extension slide drawers. It’s handy to have a full extension drawer on a clothes dresser or armoire. Have you tried to put clothes away in a drawer that does not open all the way? Other places where full extension drawers are entertainment centers and filing cabinets. These drawer slides hold a lot of weight and are heavy-duty enough to withstand being moved around a lot.

Drawer slides are available in many combinations of lengths, mounts and extensions. Deciding what type of drawer slides you need will depend on what the drawer will be used for. A full-extension drawer slide is wonderfully convenient, allowing you full access to the drawer with minimal fuss on your part. If you need drawers that will hold a lot of weight, choose a side-mounted extension slide with a ball bearing system. You can even get full extension drawer slides that have special features, such as a soft-close system that prevents a drawer from slamming shut. So, the next time you find yourself opening or closing one of the drawers in your home, take a moment and pay attention to the extension. If you aren’t happy with how the drawer is working, it might be time to check out some of our products!


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