Home Project Tip 5 – Cabinet Pullouts


Increase storage space efficiency.


Room For Improvement


When we moved into our home, we were happy to see a big cabinet in the corner of our kitchen.  After all, we like to stock lots of items in our pantry and this one looked deep and tall.  Unfortunately, we soon learned the disadvantage in the design.  Though the cabinet came with two pullouts, the rest was simply shelves—deep shelves. And after realizing there really isn’t an efficient way to access all that space behind the items we stored on the front of those shelves, we decided to install more pullouts.


A Brilliant Idea


We constantly lost items in the back of the cabinet.

Our house came with a great kitchen cabinet, or so we thought.

A pullout is a drawer or rack that comes with gliders.  The entire unit sets inside a cabinet or cupboard.  You screw a specific part of the pullout to the cupboard shelf or wall.  That allows you to pull the drawer out or to push it back as needed. The really cool part about pullouts is they make any hard to reach space more accessible.  In other words, they become a way to increase the efficiency of your storage space.


With Or Without


I would reachly blindly into the back of the cabinet in search of an item.

It was hard to find things. We constantly had to shift them around.

If you were lucky enough to design your own kitchen, or if you had a real pro do it, you may already have pullouts.  However, they rarely come as a standard item as they are a way for the cabinet makers and cabinet installers to make more money off you.  Usually a kitchen cabinet install already costs so much it feels hard to justify the extra dollars.  Fortunately, pullouts are one of the easier items to install in a home yourself.  In fact, if you have a tape measure and portable screw gun or good screw driver you may everything you need to get started.


Leave enough room to let the pullout glide past the cabinet door.

Before shopping for pullouts you need to measure your space.

First Step


The first step in getting pullouts is to figure out exactly how much space you have inside your cupboard.  Your pullout has to fit in there, right?


Measure across the front of the cabinet and leave yourself enough room so that the pullout can extend outward without bumping into the edge of the cabinet door or hinges.  Also determine how deep your cabinets are.  Next, you’ll want to determine how much height you have to work with.




I installed chrome metal racks in my cabinet.

Pullouts come as wood drawers or metal racks.

The next step is to start shopping for pullouts.  If you know where your cabinets came from and want a more custom look, it may be best to go back to the source.  On the other hand, if you’re less picky about looks and just want a drawer or rack that will fit in your cupboard, you can try a store like Lowe’s.  For my shopping excursion, I figured the local Home Depot would have pullouts, but it turned out they only sell them custom order.  Thankfully, I already knew the Lowe’s near me carried pullouts as a stock item so it didn’t take me long to locate exactly what I needed.  By the way, you can also find cabinet pullouts online—just go to your favorite search engine and type in “cabinet pullouts”.


Not So Fast


You need room to drill.

You screw the stationary part of a pullout to the cabinet or shelf.

Home projects are great.  Once they’re finished, you end up with a sense of satisfaction for doing something yourself and saving some money in the process.  However, some projects just don’t go as planned.  Such was the case as I installed my pullouts.  You see, it turned out that pullouts are really designed to attach to the cabinet itself and not to the unattached shelving inside the cabinet.  The reason for this is fairly simple as you stop to think about it.  A shelf rests on pegs or brackets.  Now, if you screw the pullout to the shelf and then extend it outward, there may be nothing preventing the back of the shelf to lift up.  In turn, there may be nothing preventing all the items in your pullout to dump all over the floor.


I had to adjust to make my pullouts work.

I had to add these stops at the back of the cabinet to keep the shelves from tipping up.



My cabinet came with adjustable shelving.  This presented a problem.  However, the fix was fairly straight forward once I thought about it.


I needed something I could attach to back of the cabinet that would keep the shelf from tipping. That means it had to be secure enough to hold the weight of a fully loaded and fully extended pullout.


The solution? I found some scrap wood in the garage and then screwed it to the back of the cabinet so that it was resting firmly against the top of the shelf.  Thankfully, that’s all it took.  However, this simple fix, added another element of complexity to my installation and thus more time.


It wasn't hard once I figured out the proper sequence.

I needed more room to maneuver with this shelf. I had to take it out to screw on the pullout.

Room To Maneuver


One final obstacle I faced as I installed my pullouts was the distance between shelves (i.e. the clearance).  In my case, the clearance was insufficient to allow me to access the back of the shelf and I needed that access to screw in my pullout.  As it was, my pullouts required two screws in back and two in the front.  It was those back screws that created the most problems for me.  Had I thought about it a bit more up front, things may have turned out differently.  As it was, I had to uninstall the pullout I had just installed below, pull out the shelf above—the one with too little clearance—attach the pullout to the shelf outside the cabinet, insert the whole thing back in, reset the bracket to hold the shelf in place, and then reinstall the pullout below.  Piece of cake, right?


I like the way I can pull these out to scan the items that are availbable.

I’m glad I installed them. My food items are now accessible.

It Really Was Worth It


As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, my pullouts took more than the 5 minutes a piece they were supposed to take to install.  Thankfully, I have lots of tools and some experience handling the odd thing that comes my way, so I still finished this project in about an hour and a half.  That means I spent an average of 30 minutes for each of the three pullouts I installed.  However, my time included pulling items off shelves, sorting through food, restocking shelves and cleaning up afterwords.  I doubt the people who wrote the instructions considered those tasks in their estimate.


My project cost me about $180 overall.  That may seem like a lot, but I believe it will be money well spent as I go through the years.  I certainly won’t have to bend or reach as far to look for things and I’m less likely to lose food in the cabinet which means there is less chance it will slowly spoil.


Stay tuned  for our next Home Project Tip #6: Hanging Blinds.

If you enjoyed this tip, you may want to read:
Home Project Tip #4 – Plastic Containers

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