Cabinetry 101: Framed or Frameless

By: Kitchen and Bath Designer, Danee Bohn, CMKBD


Investing in new kitchen cabinetry is a significant purchase when renovating a home. First impressions are lasting impressions and cabinetry is one of the main items you and your guests are going to notice in your kitchen, which can have a huge impact on both the appeal and value of your home.

When looking at kitchen cabinetry there are a few fundamental elements, such as the construction and materials of the cabinetry that you may want to consider prior to purchasing them. First and foremost, cabinetry is divided into two major categories when considering construction methods: Framed and Frameless cabinetry.

Framed Cabinetry

Framed cabinet construction is considered a more traditional to transitional style and is a very common method of construction for cabinets manufactured in the USA. Framed Cabinets have a frame around the face of the cabinet and a door that overlaps or overlays on the frame.

Standard Overlay

Standard Overlay

A benefit to framed cabinetry is that it offers three (3) different overlay door styles to select from: Standard (or partial) overlay, Full Overlay or Inset. The term overlay pertains to how much the door covers the face frame of the framed cabinets and leaves a reveal around the door.  

Framed Door Styles

Standard (or partial) Overlay door generally overlaps the face frame by 3/8” and leaves a reveal of 1 1/8” of the face frame exposed on all sides (left, right, top & bottom).

A Full Overlay door style typically overlaps the face frame of the cabinet by 1 ¼”, leaving a ¼” of the face frame exposed on all sides.

Inset door styles are installed flush (integrated) within the face frame opening of the cabinet and expose the entire 1 ½” face frame around the door.  

Inset Cabinetry

Inset Cabinetry

Frameless Cabinetry

Frameless cabinets, also referred to as “European” or “Full-Access” cabinets do not have a face frame as the name indicates.

Frameless cabinets offer more accessibility verses framed cabinets, since there is no inside edge of a frame projecting into the opening of the cabinet. This allows easier access to the interior of the cabinet to maximize on storage space and accommodate larger platers and cookware. The larger opening also allows for a wider drawer box in frameless cabinetry compared to framed cabinets of the exact same width. For example, a 15” wide four (4) drawer base cabinet in a framed construction will have a 10 ¾” opening width while in the frameless cabinet of the same size will give you a 12” opening width. The additional 1 ¼” per drawer really adds up when you are trying to maximize your storage space.

Another benefit to frameless cabinetry is that this style of construction allows for more flexibility in the design and styling. For example, a frameless cabinet can be used in a Traditional design as well as a Modern design.

However, Frameless cabinets only offer one overlay style, Full Overlay. The Full Overlay of a frameless cabinet completely covers the entire box, leaving only a 2mm reveal that creates a sleek, seamless appearance, making it a popular choice for modern and contemporary styled kitchens.

When choosing between framed and frameless cabinetry, the choice is ultimately up to you and your personal preference. The only difference between framed and frameless cabinets is the box construction. The structural quality and durability between the two types of construction is equal, you simply have two very different construction methods that offer two different distinct looks.

At Studio M Kitchen & Bath, we believe an informed customer is the best customer. Cabinetry is our pride and joy and we hope you feel inspired after learning about the types of custom cabinetry and the high-quality products and service you’d receive working with us and their talented kitchen and bath design team. Stop in our showroom or schedule an appointment to talk about your cabinetry needs!

Leave a Comment: