How to Measure and Size Drawers for Slides: Step by Step Guide

Whether you are about to buy a drawer for a cabinet or need to replace the existing one, you need to measure a drawer box accurately for the slides to function properly. But, how to measure drawers for slides anyway?

You need to unscrew the existing slides to remove the drawer from the cabinet at first. Then, measure the length of the drawer and the cabinet to get an idea of the furniture dimensions. Choose your preferable slides for the drawer and install them accordingly.

This article comes with aid to discuss in detail how to measure drawer width for slides in a proper way.

Let’s begin then!

How to Measure and Size Drawers for Slides:

How to Measure Drawer for Slides?

Well, it is the type of slides the makes the difference while measuring the size of the drawer. You need to size the drawer box depending on which slides you’re planning to use for the cabinet.

There are three major types of slides namely, side mount drawer slides, undermount drawer slides, and center mount drawer slides.  I’ll discuss here how to measure for soft close drawer slides in brief.

How To Measure For Side Mount Slides?

Well, side mount drawer slides are the most common ones and to install side mount slides, you need to leave a gap between your drawer and the cabinet. Here’s how to measure drawer width for slides-

  • Start with measuring the width of the drawer box. At first, measure the opening width of the cabinet. Usually, drawer tracks measure about a half-inch, so you need to leave that space from both sides of the width for side mount slides.

For example, if the opening width is 15-1/2’’, you should get a box of 14-1/2’’ leaving one inch in total.

  • Next, you have to measure the height of the opening. With the side mounted door tracks, you are not constrained to have a certain space at the top or bottom. Just order a box of any height as long as it perfectly fits in the opening.
  • It is time to measure the depth of the drawer box. It is going to be whatever size the slide fits.

For instance, suppose that the opening has a depth of 23’’ from the back to the face of the face frame. Side mount drawer tracks come in 2’’ increments. So, you can order a drawer box that is 22’’ deep with a 22’’ inch door track that would give an inch clearance at the back.

If you have a roller slide to fit in, see how to install roller drawer slides.

How To Measure For Undermount Drawer Slides?

  • Measure the width of the drawer opening. Assume that, the opening measures 15-3/4’’ and you have to leave a 3/16’’ clearance on each side between the drawer box and the opening. So, you have to order a box that measures 3/8’’ less than the opening leaving 3/16’’ on each side. Here, the drawer box measures 15-3/8’’ wide.
  • While measuring the height remember to keep space for the drawer slide between the bottom of the drawer and the bottom of the opening. Suppose, the height of the opening is 5’’ and the recommended bottom clearance is 9/16’’. Also, it is recommended to have at leave ¼’’ space at the top. So, the maximum allowable height of the drawer would be 4-3/16’’.
  • Finally, measure the depth of the opening. Undermount drawer slides come in three inches increments. Another important point to remember is that under-mount slides need an extra inch clearance beyond what it’s listed.

 How To Measure For Center Mount Drawer Slides?

  • Measuring the width of the opening is simple and easy as it hardly matters for center mount door tracks as long as it fits in the opening.
  • While measuring the height, keep at least half-inch gap between the bottom of the opening and the bottom of the box to place the slide. Also, make sure to order a box with a relatively thicker drawer bottom for effectively screwing.
  • Finally, measure the depth of the opening as described for the other two types.

So, these are the major types of drawer slides for which you need to measure the drawer box. Once you’re done with the box, see how to install soft-close drawer slides for a perfect fit.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How do you measure drawer size?

The drawer box is measured based on whatever door track you’ll be using for it. You need to measure all width, height, and depth of the opening based on the type of slides. For example, drawer width is about 1/2’’ smaller than its opening for side-mount slides.

2. Can drawer slides be shorter than drawers?

You always should use the highest drawer slides possible without exceeding the depth of the opening. However, you can’t install a slide that is taller than the drawer or the depth of the opening.

3. What do you need to measure a drawer opening?

You only need a measuring tape to size a drawer opening in most cases. You may want to keep a screwdriver sometimes, especially when you have an existing drawer in the cabinet to replace.


Measuring the drawer box for slides is pretty straightforward and you should not have any difficulty while measuring even if you have no prior experience.

I hope this article helps you find how to measure drawers for slides properly. In case you need to measure a cabinet door, how to Measure for Full Overlay Cabinet Doors would be a great resource. Thank you!