Drawer slides are mechanisms that allow the drawers in cabinets, desks and dressers to slide in and out. Back in the day, drawers would normally slide out crudely, requiring a lot of elbow grease to make them budge. This was due to the slide construction being made of molded or carved wood. Today, wood has been replaced by either aluminum or stainless steel slide mechanisms that allow for smoother movement when opening or closing a drawer.
There are four types of drawer slides, based on how they are mounted on the drawer and on the interior of the slot for the drawer.
Side Mounted Slides
This is a common type of drawer slide found in many kitchen cabinets and office desks. Even the drawers of heavy-duty storage cabinets are mounted with this type of drawer slide. The design is simple, stable, durable and easy to install.
The assembly is mounted on each side of a drawer. The aluminum or stainless steel bar extension is mounted on either side of the cabinet's interior, in line with the assembly mounted on the drawer's sides. Line up the assembly on the drawer with the bar on the cabinet's interior, and the drawer will slide in effortlessly.
Center Mounted Slides
These are drawer slide assemblies designed for light storage. Hence, they are normally installed on office desk drawers and side tables. The assembly is mounted at the bottom center area of the drawer, stabilized by a bracket on the interior of the desk behind the drawer. The bracket holds a metal bar fitted with a joint extension and is inserted into the slide crevice assembly mounted at the bottom of the drawer.
Under Mounted Slides
This type of slide is perfect for drawers that will be used to store heavy items. The assembly is fitted beneath the drawer at each side, providing a high degree of stability and support. The metal bars are mounted at the bottom interior part of the drawer or cabinet, particularly at the front and back interior edges. The slide assemblies are mounted on the bottom of the drawer at each side.
Side Mounted Underneath Slides
This type of slide is often referred to as the European slide. Technically, it is a design variation of the side mounted type but with a couple of twists. First off, the side mounts of the drawer are located at the bottommost part of each side and not centered as in the side mounted type. Secondly, the metal bar is not fitted with an extension, allowing for only a small opening as the drawer slides out. Hence, access to the drawer's interior is quite limited. However, this design has its advantages. Since the side slide assemblies are mounted at the bottommost part of each side, the drawer's weight capacity increases exponentially due to more stability and support.