Side Mount vs. Undermount Drawer Slides

side mount vs undermount drawer slides

The drawer slides you choose can impact your project’s aesthetics, functionality and cost. While several options exist, the two most popular types are side mount and undermount. Both have benefits and drawbacks, each suiting different projects and personal preferences.

The right drawer slides can transform your project. Understanding the differences between undermount drawer slides and side mount slides can help you make the best choice for your project.

What Are Undermount Drawer Slides?

Undermount drawer slides are pieces of hardware beneath the drawer box that allow it to open and close. They mount to the cabinet and connect to locking devices underneath the drawer. Unlike bottom-mount slides, which attach to the bottom corner of the drawer, undermount slides are entirely under the drawer. This location hides them from view for a sleek, modern appearance. These slides are available in several lengths, making them suitable for various commercial and residential applications.

The Benefits of Undermount Drawer Slides

Undermount drawer slides are popular due to their elegant appearance and advanced functionality. Some of their benefits include:

  • Elevated aesthetics: The slides are hidden since they’re installed beneath the drawer box. Their clean and uncluttered aesthetic suits contemporary homes and modern office designs.
  • Full drawer extension: An undermount slide allows the drawer to pull out entirely. This helpful feature offers easy access to the back of the drawer, helping you see everything in your drawers.
  • Maximized space: The sliding mechanism takes up less space in the cabinet, maximizing storage space.
  • Reduced noise: These slides use a smooth ball-bearing mechanism that minimizes friction and noise.

The Drawbacks of Undermount Drawer Slides

While undermount drawer slides have significant advantages, they also have potential drawbacks. Be aware of the following when making your decision:

  • Higher cost: Undermounts can be more expensive than side mount options. You may want to consider some alternatives if you’re on a tight budget.
  • Complex installation: Precise installation is essential for undermount slides. They require more time and skill to install correctly, as proper alignment and accurate measurements are necessary for functionality.
  • Reduced compatibility: Undermount slides may only be compatible with some cabinet designs. They are often unsuitable for older or unique cabinets without modification.
  • Limited weight capacity: Since an undermount mechanism is thinner, it can hold less weight and may not be suitable for heavy loads.

What Are Side Mount Drawer Slides?

Like undermount slides, side mount slides consist of two parts — one fixed to the cabinet and the other attached to the drawer. However, these slides are mounted on the side of the drawer and are visible when the drawer is pulled out. They often have ball bearings or rollers to reduce friction. Side mounts offer a traditional, versatile and inexpensive mounting option. They’re available in various lengths, making them suitable for different drawer sizes.

The Advantages of Side Mount Drawer Slides

Side mount drawer slides are a convenient and reliable option with significant benefits for many applications, including:

  • Easy installation: The side mount’s easy-to-install mechanism is ideal for time-sensitive projects.
  • Excellent compatibility: Side mount slides suit various cabinet styles, including older or unique designs. They’re versatile and easy to work with, making them a fantastic choice for complex projects.
  • Enhanced durability: Side mount options can withstand everyday use and are reliable in heavy-duty commercial applications.
  • Reduced costs: Side mounts are readily available and very affordable, making them an excellent choice for large commercial projects.
  • Higher weight capacity: Many side mount models have a higher weight capacity than undermount options. This often makes them better for storage in commercial spaces.

The Disadvantages of Side Mount Drawer Slides

Despite their advantages, side mount drawer slides have some downsides to consider. Keep the following in mind when comparing them to other drawer mounting options:

  • Reduced space: The slide mechanism takes up room on both sides of the drawer, reducing the usable space inside. Limiting the available space can be a drawback in large-scale applications or working with smaller cabinet sizes.
  • Extra noise: Side mounts create friction as the slides move, so they can be noisy. Although the noise level varies depending on the slide’s quality, the extra noise can be a drawback in some environments.
  • Limited extension: Side drawer mounts don’t allow the drawer to extend fully. With limited access to the back of the drawer, it’s easier to lose or forget items stored there.
  • Changed aesthetics: These slides are visible when the drawer is pulled out, so they can detract from the cabinet’s aesthetic.

Undermount vs. Side Mount Drawer Slides: How to Choose

Side mount and undermount slides have pros and cons, and choosing between the two depends on the size and scope of your project. Whether your project is commercial or residential, you want a slide that provides optimal functionality. Consider the following factors to narrow down your options:

Weight Rating

All drawer slides are rated for a specific weight load. Consider what you plan to store in the drawers and how much weight you need them to hold. Side mount options often have a higher weight capacity. However, you may find some undermount options suited to your application.

Functionality Requirements

Consider what level of functionality you need from your installation. Undermount slides provide full extension and are ideal for high-traffic and client-facing areas. Side mounts are suitable for heavy-duty applications where accessibility and quick installations are required.

Ease of Installation

Side mounts are quick and easy to install. Undermount slides are more complicated, requiring more time or money for outsourcing installation. Side mount slides may be a better option if you’re on a budget.


Undermount slides are often more expensive than other options, impacting project expenses. Side mounts are better for projects with high volume requirements and limited budgets.

Cabinet Size and Design

Your slide choice often depends on the design of the cabinet holding the drawers. Undermount slides are ideal for contemporary cabinets. Side mounts usually work better with more traditional cabinets. Compatibility is another essential consideration. Side mount slides are compatible with many different cabinet types, while undermount drawer slides have some limitations.


When choosing a mount, your selection must often balance aesthetics, functionality and cost. Undermount drawer slides are practically invisible. They provide a seamless, noiseless, modern experience. Side mounts are functional, durable and practical. They’re often better suited to traditional aesthetics.

Contact Jonathan Engineered Solutions for All Your Project Needs

The minor details can make or break a project. Different drawer slides can enhance the aesthetic and experience of using a drawer. Regardless of your personal preferences, you need components you can trust. Jonathan Engineered Solutions is a certified provider of fasteners for various industries. We offer precision ball bearing slides, cable management systems, brackets and other fasteners.

We understand the value of high volume and low customization, and we pride ourselves on exceptional customer service. You’ll work with an assigned expert to handle all your account requirements. We believe in excellence in motion and provide quality, reliable and durable engineering solutions specific to each client. Reach out to us to learn more today!

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