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Frameless vs Framed Kitchen Cabinets: An Overview

When you think of kitchen remodeling, the first thing that comes to your mind is kitchen cabinets. Putting your thought, energy and soon the resources in the remodeling of your kitchen cabinets constitute a lot of work and effort in research. Kitchen cabinets constitute a major part of your kitchen outlook which are likely to furnish the final look and appeal. Hence kitchen cabinets create the first impression in your kitchen, therefore choosing their type based on proper understanding and knowledge makes a rather important decision for homeowners once they decide to revamp their kitchens. 

Another factor to consider is the cost involved in investing in cabinetry that is huge, therefore you can’t just play on a chance here. Kitchen cabinets put up the right appeal and value to your home and complementary cabinetry is important keeping in mind the design aesthetics of your home decor. 

When we talk about the construction element of the cabinetry, we divide it into two parts- Framed and Frameless Cabinets. Choosing either of them leads to abundant design options. The choice depends on the functionality and the appearance of it that you might consider before making the final decision. Therefore here we list a few framed vs frameless cabinets pros and cons which might help you make the decision better. 

Before that, let’s start with understanding each of this type in detail: 


Framed kitchen cabinets are a traditional way of construction that is very popular in America. In simple terms, these are the kind of cabinets that have a face frame covering the cabinet box. Framed cabinetry is made with ¾’’ thick solid frame attached with ½’’ box frame.


Another striking feature of framed cabinets is that they present more than a few options to choose from in case of their door type which is missing in the frameless kitchen cabinet type. This gives us three options to choose from when it comes to overlay patterns of the door here.

In order to understand this better, shifting slightly off the topic, we talk about what exactly is overlay. In a simple definition, the amount of cabinet face of the door and drawer that overlap is known as cabinet overlay. 

Now in Framed Cabinetry, there are three types of options available.

  1. Standard or Partial overlay 
  2. Full Overlay 
  3. Insert

Let’s understand each type in a brief below: 

Standard: It has more gaps between each of the drawers and doors than that of the full overlay. They offer less reveal since the faces of the drawer and door are slightly larger than the opening and hence overlap the face frame. This option is cost-effective and is quite popular in traditional homes. 

Full: They cover the entire front face of the cabinet, leaving the small visible space revealed since the door and drawer faces are larger than opening and they overlap the face frame. It gives away the seamless look to the cabinet. 

Inset: This particular overlay offers maximum reveal as the most amount of face frame is visible. The faces of the door and drawer are slightly smaller than the openings and are recessed to align perfectly with the face frame. This is the most expensive but provides the striking feature of the design. In the case of humidity, it is really difficult to keep the drawers and doors from binding and sticking, therefore, special hinges are used to make the adjustments. 

Face Frame Cabinet Doors

Now, coming back to digging deep in framed kitchen cabinets, below are the pointers that signify the varied features:

  • Known as the American style of cabinets, framed cabinets give a traditional look which is popular and common among people living in the USA. 
  • Framed cabinets are known for their strength and sturdy appeal. Since they are secured by the frame, it gives them more strength. 
  • Framed kitchen cabinets are more suitable in bigger kitchens where there is a possibility for more design options. 
  • Installation of framed cabinets is easier with door and drawer adjustments. The framed cabinets in this are attached through the wider width which makes the screw go deeper with the width of the face frame, accommodating longer screws. 
  • This kind of cabinetry offers more design options because of its flexible placements. It offers more options in designs and modifications as well. 
  • The construction of the framed cabinet comes with the solid face frame between the door and the cabinet box which is not there in frameless cabinets. 
  • The framed cabinetry comes at a cheaper cost since the material used in its construction comes at a lower cost as compared to frameless cabinets. 


Frameless kitchen cabinets are built without the face frame and are designed with ‘European’ aesthetics.  Also called full access cabinets which have 3/4th broad furniture panels. They have a flush finish since there is no face frame or seam. 


Frameless cabinetry offers only one style of FULL OVERLAY (explained above). 

The full overlay of frameless kitchen cabinets leaves a little 2mm reveal, covering the entire box. 

This leads to a modern sleek outlook of the cabinets.

In frameless cabinet construction, the door and drawer faces are nearly the same size as the cabinet box, leaving only the smallest portion visible. This offers a streamlined appearance and must be very carefully installed to ensure the doors and drawer fronts do not bind into adjacent cabinets or walls.

Below mentioned are few of the features of Frameless kitchen cabinets:

  • Frameless kitchen cabinets are constructed with the European style of manufacturing, giving it a contemporary and stylish look. 
  • These cabinets have less stability since they don’t have a frame between the door and the cabinet box. Hence one has to rely more on the cabinet’s construction. 
  • The frameless kitchen cabinets have a flush finish meaning there is no seam and frame in between. Hence they have clean-cut lines in the design that provides a sleek, simple and modern appeal that can work with varied design themes.
  • These cabinets provide more storage since the drawer size is bigger given the fact that they don’t have a frame in between. This also leads to easier access to the things available inside giving more space to work. The drawers in this cabinetry are adjustable. 
  • Also known as ‘full-access’, frameless kitchen cabinets not just eliminates the frame between the door and cabinet box but also center stiles between the two cabinet doors.
  • Frameless kitchen cabinets are the most common choice in small kitchens where every inch matters. 
  • The construction type of frameless kitchen cabinets provides more flexibility in design and styling. For instance, they can be designed in modern or traditional design both depending on your choice. 

Now, we list the striking difference between the two types of kitchen cabinets so that the decision making becomes an easy task for all of you: 




European Style 

American Style 

Contemporary Appeal 

Traditional Appeal

No Face Frame 

Face Frame 

More Storage 

Less Storage 

Open Shelving is possible 

Open Shelving is not possible 

Less Sturdy 

More Sturdy 

Difficult to install 

Easy Installation 

Adjustable Hinges 

Cannot adjust hinges 

Suitable in small kitchens as takes less space 

Suitable  in bigger kitchens as takes more space 


Less costly 

Limitations in design and selection 

More design and selection flexibility 

Lacks versatility 


Can use only full overlay

Can be made in three overlay patterns- full, partial and inset 

Shaker or slab style cabinets work well in frameless cabinets 

Traditional raised panel doors work well in framed cabinets 

Stating the above-mentioned points throwing light on frameless vs framed kitchen cabinets, it is evident to make the striking difference between the two types. The decision of choosing either option depends entirely on what you are looking to achieve in your kitchen. You can try and answer these questions which might make things more clear for you:

  • What is the size of your kitchen? 
  • What is your lifestyle? 
  • What are your visual identity and your home? 
  • What is your storage usability? 
  • Your budget
  • Appearance, ease of installation, space, and versatility required

No two kitchens are similar and neither is the vision of the homemaker. And kitchen being the eminent part of our homes requires a lot of thought and energy in creating a unique yet functional change. 

We hope that the above-listed pointers of frameless vs framed kitchen cabinets help you make a better assessment. But the ultimate decision relies on your preference and liking. The only difference which is signed between the two kitchen cabinets is in the construction of the box. You can look for the final appearance and functionality of the both to finally come at the conclusion.