|Guides are what allow the drawer to open and close.
A nice smooth guide is much more important than a nice looking drawer. Guides come
in two main varieties: epoxy coated and metal ball bearing. Epoxy guides are
your standard guide in most all drawers. They work fine but over time they
wear out and cause the drawer to shake side to side when opening and closing.
Ball bearing guides are much nicer and last longer. With them, the drawer feels
like it glides to a close. Also if you put heavy objects into your drawers it's
a good idea to get a ball bearing guide. Most cabinets come with epoxy guides
that can be upgraded to ball bearing for $50 to $100 each.
In addition to the two types there are also standard and full extension guides.
This refers to how deep the drawer is. The cabinet itself is 24" deep, a standard
guide drawer is about 18" deep and a full extension guide 20". Thus
you gain a little bit more drawer space with a full extenstion guide. For some
strange reason cabinet makers refer to full extension guides instead of full extension
drawers (which really are the ones being extended). Also, in many cases, the epoxy
guides only come in standard length and the ball bearing in full extension. Last most
manufacturers only offer full extension guides with dovetail drawers. So there aren't
as many options as you might think.
Finally, the lastest feature to be added to guides is the autoclose feature. With
one of these guides, once the drawer reaches a certain distance from the front
of the cabinet the mechanism automatically closes it the rest of the way. Since
people tend to use their drawers more then their doors, I always recommend
upgrading the guides to ball bearing with full extension. It usually adds about
$50 - $100 per drawer but it makes the cabinets feel much classier.