Framed vs. Frameless Cabinets - Which Is Best For Your Build?

One of the largest elements within a space, especially a kitchen, is the cabinetry. Cabinets can act as defining features within your home and help builders achieve a certain theme or interior design style. There are two major types of cabinets: framed and frameless. Framed, or American, cabinets have the face frame visible with the cabinet overlapping, looking similar to a picture frame. This design can vary depending on the cabinet doors chosen. Frameless, or European, cabinets do not have a visible frame and the cabinet doors seamlessly connect with the outer edge of the cabinetry. To choose the right type of cabinetry for your build, you should determine the specific look you are going for and the functionality required.

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Framed cabinetry has been around for a long time and is often present in traditional kitchens. This American-style cabinet is extremely common due to its easy installation and versatility. It looks similar to a picture frame, with the door attaching to the frame resulting in extra dimension. Framed cabinets are easy to adjust or modify and can be built to almost any size. Cabinets and drawers often have a center stile and rails as part of the design. There are three types of framed cabinets: standard overlay, full overlay and inset. Each of these secure directly to the frame providing strength and stability. They also often incorporate hinges which can be custom selected to match your decor.

Standard Overlay
Cabinets overlaps the face frame by ⅜” and leaves a reveal of 1 ⅛”of the face frame exposed on all sides

Full Overlay
Cabinet overlaps the face frame by 1 ¼”, leaving a ¼” reveal of the face frame exposed

Installed flush within the face frame leaving the entire 1 ½” face frame exposed

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Frameless cabinetry became popular in Europe and offers a sleek, modern design. These are often known as “full-access” cabinets because they allow for more storage capacity. Drawers are often larger with a frameless design due to their expanded width. Without the frame in the way, there is more room to utilize the interior of the cabinet which increases functionality within the kitchen. Frameless cabinetry has fewer modification possibilities but complements many contemporary designs due to its simplicity and satisfying edges.


Only full overlay doors can be used in frameless cabinetry designs. The hinges are attached directly to the sides of the cabinet box. Once installed, all you see is the flat door and drawer fronts. This automatically flush effect is popular in high-fashion homes due to its elegance. These cabinets do not have a center stile which allows for a larger interior space. Shelving can still be added inside for adjustability.

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Choosing a Cabinetry Style

There are many factors to think about when choosing the style of cabinetry you want to incorporate into your build. Framed cabinets, or American-style cabinets, are often more traditional but can be customized to fit a modern design. They are more versatile in appearance but restricted in storage space. Frameless cabinets, or European-style cabinets, immediately present a modern feel and offer expanded storage. Both options present great structural quality and durability but have two very distinct looks. The overall theme you are aiming to achieve may be the defining factor of your cabinet preference.

Be sure to check out our cabinet accessories when planning your build! We offer various hand carved cabinet components, as well as pilasters, panels, wooden knobs and pulls, and moulding. Complete your stylized space with our full range of kitchen components including island legs, corbels and furniture feet.

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