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Framed vs. Frameless
Article Index
Framed vs. Frameless
Frame Construction
Frameless Style
Frameless Construction
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When choosing cabinets you will have to decide between two cabinet constructions, framed or frameless.

Framed Cabinets

Face Frame Face Frame
Framed cabinets have face frames to which the cabinet doors are attached and the face frame has horizontal rails and vertical styles.  This cabinetry can be used in any area of the home.

There are three variations of framed cabinetry:  Traditional Overlay, Full Overlay and Inset.  Each type shows a different amount of the face frame.

Frameless Cabinets

Framed Cabinet Framed Cabinet
Frameless cabinets (also called European) have no face frame.  The hinges are secured to the inside of the cabinet, and the doors overlay the cabinet box.  This minimizes the space between doors when closed.

Frameless construction provides continuous symmetry of door and drawer lines outside with easy access to storage space inside. This style maximizes interior storage and drawer width.


Frame Construction

There are 2 broad types of cabinet construction: Face frame (also called traditional and framed) and frameless (also called european style or full access).

Face Frame Face Frame
Frameless Frameless
Face Frame Frameless

Frameless Cabinetry also known as European or accessible design where no box is seen. The door or drawer front sits over the box [usually ¾” or 5/8”] and is flush with the frame of the box. There is approximately 1/8 of an inch of space between the doors and drawer fronts, both horizontally and vertically.  This maximizes the interior storage space of each cabinet. Frameless box construction does not mean less quality. Most frameless cabinetry has thicker sides than comparable traditional cabinetry. Full access cabinetry increases your available storage by 15% or more with wider drawers, wider cabinet openings and higher top to bottom interior dimensions. Frameless cabinetry also has the added benefit of having a flush bottom allowing for a more finished look and cleaner installation of under cabinetry lighting.  Frameless cabinetry is generally recommended in all applications where the client does not want to see the cabinet box.


Frameless Style

Frameless cabinetry can achieve a wide range of looks; from ultra-contemporary to traditional and everything in between.

Cherry Summit Nutmeg Cherry Summit Nutmeg
Auburn Door Auburn Door
Maple Westminster Toffee Mocha Glaze Maple Westminster Toffee Mocha Glaze
Gloss Red Hutch Gloss Red Hutch

Frameless Construction

Traditional cabinet doors attach to the frame giving you 15-20% less usable space than a frameless cabinet.

Many suppliers produce a face frame cabinet with “Full Overlay” door construction.  As pictured below these doors cover most of the cabinet, but it is apparent where two cabinets meet with a larger gap and a less consistent look. These cabinets are designed to somewhat mimic the look of frameless cabinetry without the space saving benefits.

Full Overlay Full Overlay

Choosing face frame construction is preferable when the client prefers the aesthetic of seeing part of the cabinet box or desires what is know as an inset door. Inset doors are a form of framed cabinets where the doors actually fit into the frame rather than being attached on top of the frame.  This look is found in classic and vintage cabinetry and may have the timeless exposed “pin” hinge.  However, many cabinet makers use the thick face frames to conceal the use of thinner and/or lightweight box material.

Face Frame Face Frame
Frameless Frameless
Inset Traditional Overlay

Under cabinet lighting adds an elegant and useful touch.

Framed Undercabinet Lighting Framed Undercabinet Lighting
Frameless Undercabinet Lighting Frameless Undercabinet Lighting
Framed lighting Frameless lighting