Cabinetry 102: Framed, Frameless, and Cabinet Door Types

Cabinetry 102: Framed, Frameless, and Cabinet Door Types

Andover door style in Cherry with Coastal Grey stain.

It’s time for Cabinetry 102! Last month we discussed the differences between stock, semi-custom, and custom cabinets. This month we’re getting a little more technical by comparing framed and full access cabinets, as well as the different cabinet door types available.


Framed Cabinetry

Framed cabinets are the most common type in the United States. They are called framed cabinets because of the 1-1/2” lip (frame) around the front of the cabinet box. The doors are attached to the frame rather than the box. This type of cabinet works well in traditionally designed spaces, like the one shown below. If you look closely, you can see the frame between the cabinet doors.

Framed Cabinetry

Frameless Cabinetry

Full access cabinets are popular in Europe. They do not have a face frame. The doors are attached directly to the cabinet box and are flush with the edge of the box.   Frameless does not mean less quality! Frameless only means there is no frame. This allows full access to the cabinetry. Most frameless cabinets have thicker sides than framed cabinetry, and because there is no lip and the drawers/doors are wider, full access cabinets have about 15% more storage space than their traditional counterparts.   This type of cabinet works well in contemporary or traditional spaces, depending on the door style selected.

Frameless Cabinetry Example


There are four types of cabinet doors/drawers. Framed cabinets can have inset, lipped, and traditional overlay doors. Both full access and framed cabinets can have full overlay doors/drawer.


Inset Cabinetry Example

Inset cabinet doors sit within the face frame and are flush with the front edges of the cabinet frame. The door’s hinges are exposed. This type of door is most often used to achieve a formal look and works well in a colonial style kitchen.


Lipped Cabinetry Example

Lipped doors have a rabbet/groove cut all the way around the door on the back side. This cut makes the back part of the cabinet door fit tightly into the box, while the front appears like an overlay (shown below.)

Traditional Overlay

Traditional Overlay Cabinetry Example

Traditional overlay doors are mounted against the face frame with ½” – 1” of the face frame exposed. The exposed section of frame is called the reveal. This door is the most common type and is best in traditional settings.

Full Overlay

Full Overlay Cabinetry Example

Full overlay doors are mounted to completely cover the face frame. Hinges are concealed and the doors have less than 1/8” between them. This type of door can be used with framed or frameless cabinets. They are steadily becoming the most popular type of door because of their versatility.   Check back next month when we finish our cabinetry series! We’ll discuss door styles and glass inserts.

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