The majority of high-volume producers and individuals alike think of side-mounted tracks when they think of drawer slides. While these are the most common option, they’re not the only alternative, and they can have distinct advantages over their side-mounted cousins.
Logistics Of Undermount Drawer Slides
As the name suggests, undermount slides are set up underneath the drawer. In essence, the drawer slides on top of the rails, rather than sliding along them on the sides. With correct assembly and setup, there is no need to have any kind of stabilization along the sides of the unit. Everything can be handled from the bottom.
There are many different styles of undermount drawer slides available. All of the typical differences found within sliders exist here. The profile is how much the metal extends and is visible beneath the unit. A lower profile makes it less likely that the hardware will be seen even when the unit is pulled entirely out. Extension is how far the unit can be pulled out during normal operation. The typical lengths are partial, which is about half the length of the actual hardware, or full, which offers the full length of the hardware or potentially more.
Comparing To Traditional Side Drawer Slides
One of the biggest disadvantages of conventional side mount hardware iscustom drawer slides that the metal itself must often withstand a large amount of strain. The entire weight of anything placed within the drawer sits directly on the mechanism. Often, this mechanism is made out of folded metal, which may already reduce its strength. Although advanced techniques such as roll forming can help prevent metal from weakening, the force almost inevitably lands on the weakest part of the metal. The result is a mechanism which undergoes more strain than is necessary. The exception to this is industrial strength sliders, which are made in such a way that strain is minimized. However, high tech sliders like this are rarely found outside of the highest quality units.
Making The Choice
Both undermount and side-mount hardware options can provide good support and long-term functionality for any project. There is one clear advantage of using undermount sliders: their ability to be almost completely hidden. If there is an aesthetic or logistical reason why the hardware cannot be visible, choosing to mount underneath is usually the superior option.