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So I just splurged on new Blum cabinet door dampers to upgrade my kitchen cabinets to soft closing doors. Because I built my cherry kitchen quite some time ago, I didn’t have access to soft close hinges to stop the doors from slamming shut.
So I’ve been living with slamming doors that I learned can be easily converted to soft closing. Keep reading to learn how to upgrade your doors with a few simple tips and tricks.
How a Cabinet Door Damper Works
Before diving too far into picking a damper, let’s take a look at three things that allow a damper to work:
- Cabinet dampers use a hydraulic system that is compressed when the door is closed and released when the door is opened.
- When the door is closed, the hydraulics generate a counter-force against the cabinet door and prevent it from slamming shut.
- The LARGER the hydraulic mechanism the better the force and recovery time.
Cheaper dampers are usually smaller and that leads to degraded performance. And I’ll show a picture of just that in a little bit.
Recommended Soft Close Cabinet Door Damper
As a cabinetmaker I’ve used hardware for decades. And Blum is an industry trusted name who makes everything from these dampers to high quality soft close drawer slides and more.
And after using these dampers they are the high quality I expect from Blum.
The Blum cabinet door damper* installs easily on both face frame and frameless cabinets with just one screw. And they adjust easily with a turn of a phillips screw.
- All metal construction
- 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
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.
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 like this Bosch compact cordless*.
- 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
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.