Best Cabinet Door Dampers for Soft Close Cabinet Doors [2021]

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Home » Projects » Kitchen » Best Cabinet Door Dampers for Soft Close Cabinet Doors [2021]

With cabinet door dampers costing just a few dollars a door there’s no reason you shouldn’t have soft close cabinet doors. Better yet, a damper will install in just seconds a door and the best dampers are completely adjustable to your size door. In this article learn what the best cabinet door dampers are and how to install them.

When I built my cherry cabinets in 2005 soft close cabinet hinges were just becoming mainstream.

So, while I should have been ahead of the curve, I missed the opportunity to install soft close cabinet hinges from the start. 

However, I’ve remedied this by installing the only cabinet door damper I can recommend: the Blum 971A Damper  and now all 50 or so cabinet doors are soft close.

In this article we’ll cover:

  • What a cabinet door damper is
  • Features of a cabinet damper
  • Why brand and design matter
  • How to choose the right damper for your cabinets
  • Cabinet damper reviews
  • How to install a cabinet damper
Before we begin, I have tried a few different dampers and I just can’t recommend anything other than the Blum dampers. While it’s the largest damper, it’s also backed by the #1 brand in cabinet hardware. In fact, Blum are my recommended soft close hinges and soft close drawer slides too as they are industry certified and have decades of experience.

Top Picks

Best Performing Damper: Blum 971A  will work with any concealed hinge or cabinet construction (face frame or frameless).

Blum Hinge Upgrade: Blum 973A  if you have Blum Clip Top hinges, these simply snap on and offer instant damping action.

Note: there are cheaper dampers but they are made from plastic, or the damper is so small they don’t perform. For that reason, I will only use Blum on my projects. While a budget option is something I looked for, with dampers there isn’t one…

Overview of Soft Close Mechanisms and Cabinet Door Dampers

If you haven’t used a soft close mechanism before one of the first things to understand is that these are small parts operating heavy doors.

Which makes choosing which damper (or hinge) you use an important decision for longevity. 

So how does a damper work? Well, there are two main styles to consider:

  • Hydraulic dampers work with compressed fluid that is adjusted to control the rate at which the door controls. Easy flow equals a faster close, and a slower flow results in a slower close.
  • Hinge cup dampers leverage springs and unique gears that engage to slowly close the cabinet door.

Lastly, the best dampers are all either adjustable or have an on/off switch.

Can I Use a Cabinet Door Damper?

First, and unfortunately, not all cabinets can use a damper.

So how do you tell?

Well, if you can see your hinges from outside the cabinet then dampers are generally not recommended. Why? Well, the dampers will work against the hinges and work to loosen the hinge screws.

But the good news is most cabinets built in the last 20 years use concealed hinges (aka European hinges). And, both face frame and frameless cabinets support dampers.

Blum Cabinet Door Dampers

Blum 971A9700.22×10 971A BLUMOTION Cabinet Soft…
  • Installs on the hinge side of the cabinet for use with both full and…
  • Fluid dampening system is completely silent
  • Mounting method: screw-on, hinge side
  • Nickel plated zinc

Last update on 2021-01-27 at 06:43 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Blum cabinet door damper installs easily on both face frame and frameless cabinets with just one screw. And, no need to touch your existing cabinet hinges. 

Also featuring a hydraulic design, the Blum series is adjustable with a screwdriver. And, as a bonus, has nearly infinite adjustment to accommodate wide, short, narrow or just about any other size cabinet door.

Key features:

  • All metal construction
  • Only one damper is needed on most cabinet doors
  • Simple adjustment with a Phillips screwdriver
  • Catches doors without bouncing
  • Wide range of adjustment for small to large doors
  • Includes offset adapter to position the damper further away from the hinge on small doors
PROS
  • Large damper
  • Easy to adjust
  • Includes an optional offset clip for improved adjustment
  • Blum brand (a leader in this type of hardware)
CONS
  • Slightly higher priced than competitor dampers
Soft Close Cabinet Door Damper Blum Bulk
Blum Soft Close Cabinet Door Dampers I Used in My Kitchen (Feb 2020)

Other Cabinet Door Dampers I Considered

In your search for these soft close adapters you might find a damper for half the price. But did you know it might be half the size and made of plastic?  I thought I’d try one and immediately returned it.  

In the picture below you’ll see the Blum on the top and a Rok soft close damper on the bottom. Sure, the smaller form factor and adjustment screw are tempting, but they didn’t perform and I immediately returned the plastic devices.  

Also note the rounded head on the Blum offers a non-mar, large surface area to prevent door damage.

Soft Close Cabinet Door Damper Blum vs. Rok
Blum Damper vs. Rok Damper

Lastly, I didn’t purchase these but Grass has another damper on the market. Perhaps in a future update I’ll try one of these out and report on it. But in the meantime I’m happy enough with the Blums to recommend these as a great solution.

Tools Needed to Install a Cabinet Door Damper

Fortunately you won’t need many tools, but there are a few tools to possibly add to your order:

  • A compact cordless drill works best due to the 90-degree drilling and screw installation. Due to this, I recommend a small cordless drill.
  • A set of small drill bits for pilot holes
  • Phillips screwdriver

How to Install a Soft Close Cabinet Door Damper

Installing a soft close damper is one of the simplest projects for a kitchen. And, in just four easy steps you’ll be able to install these in your cabinets:

Step 1 - Determine if a face frame partial overlay spacer is needed

If your cabinet doesn’t have a face frame then skip to Step 2.

But, if your cabinet door hinges are attached to a (usually) 2″ wide wood frame and you are using the Blum damper you’ll need to use the supplied spacer.

Step 2 - Drill a pilot hole for the damper installation screw

While you can risk inserting the included screw without a pilot hole I don’t advise it. Instead, use a drill bit with a diameter that is the size of the screw shaft (not the threads).

Oh, and for frameless cabinets, follow the included instructions for best placement on your type of cabinet. I’ve installed fifty of these in the exact upper corner of my face frame cabinets.

To mark the location of the pilot hole simply place the damper, insert a screw and start the screw about 1/8″ of an inch. Then remove the damper and at the same angle as you started the screw (90-degrees in all directions, typically) drill the pilot hole as deep as the screw is long.

Step 3 - Install soft close cabinet door damper

With the pilot hole drilled the third step is to install the damper.

A few tips:

  • Set the clutch on your cordless drill to a light pressure. Because the goal is to not strip or break the damper screw.
  • If your drill is too big and you are having trouble with clearance simply turn it on it’s side. Most cordless drills have a narrow side profile as speed controls are on top.
  • Install one damper first and experiment with subsequent ones to find what works best for your cabinets.

Step 4 - Adjust the damper to the door

After the damper is installed open and shut the cabinet door a few times. If the door closes too quickly then adjust the damper to have more closing force. But for smaller doors the damper may prevent the cabinet door from closing altogether. In this case simply adjust the damper for less pressure.

In my kitchen I have doors as small as 10″ wide by 14″ high and the Blum dampers have adjusted down to their weight.

Finally, with the Blum damper the only downside is you’ll need a Phillips screwdriver to perform the adjustment. But, for upper cabinets this is also a benefit as you can reach most without a ladder. Don’t be drawn into cheaper versions with a thumb screw adjustment. With my Blum dampers I have had to adjust just a handful over a decade of use.

Frequently Asked Questions for Soft Close Cabinet Door Dampers

Frequently Asked Questions

How many dampers do I need per cabinet door?​

You’ll typically need only one damper per door unless you have an exceptionally heavy and tall door. And, in my kitchen I have heavy cherry doors 18″ wide by 42″ tall and one Blum damper has worked just fine.

Will a slow close adapter work on any type of door?​

These dampers are built to be universal for cabinets where the hinge is fully concealed. And this includes both face frame and frameless construction. However, if you have a surface mounted hinge these *might* work for your doors and the best way to find out is purchasing one to see if it will work.

How do you adjust soft close dampers?​

Most soft close adapters have a screw that can be used to set the tension of the fluid damper that controls it’s action. This is often required for smaller and larger doors to precisely control the speed and closing action of the door.

Summary

While soft closing cabinet doors are great – what about your drawers? Well, there are soft close adapters for drawers that you can consider for your project. Or, for more ambitious DIY’ers, a number of budget friendly replacement soft close drawer slides.

References

Dampers on Amazon

Last update on 2021-01-27 at 06:43 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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