Inset vs Overlay Cabinets: What’s the Difference?

Inset vs Overlay Cabinets: What’s the Difference?

Remodeling your kitchen can be confusing if you are starting to research what cabinets to get. Inset? Partial overlay? Full overlay? What’s the difference? Why is one more expensive? Fortunately we’ve broken it down in the article below.

Inset Cabinetry

In the early 1910’s a building boom started in the US that established many of the design traditions we know today. One more notable styles is the style of inset (or face-frame) cabinetry. Many of the cabinets made during this time were inset cabinetry and established a lot of the traditional look we know today.

With inset cabinetry, the face of the cabinet is set in the frame and sits flush with the frame of the cabinetry (see picture below). Today most hinges are hidden inside the cabinet, but placing the hinges outside the cabinets can give a more traditional look.

Inset Cabinetry in a Traditional Kitchen

The upside of inset cabinetry is that they can give a more traditional look as well as create a very clean and seamless look. Unfortunately inset cabinets are typically a little bit more expensive and have slightly less space than their overlay style counterparts.

Overlay Cabinetry

While the US was developing the inset style of cabinetry in the 1910’s and 20’s, Europe was developing it’s own style. Influenced by minimal styles, overlay cabinetry was developed and after spreading to the US, began to take over the market.

With Overlay cabinetry the cabinet door covers the frame of the cabinet instead of sitting inside it. With it’s clean minimal look, lower cost, and slightly increased storage space, it’s not hard to see why Overlay (or frameless) cabinetry is used in most modern styles today.

Overlay Cabinets in a Kitchen

With overlay cabinetry however, there is also partial and full overlay cabinetry. Fortunately the difference is in the name. Full overlay cabinets cover the entire frame and give a very clean seamless look. Partial overlay cabinets are the most common, and don’t entirely cover the frame, but are a little bit cheaper.

That’s all there is to Inset and Overlay cabinetry. If you’re ready to start redesigning your kitchen, take a look at our design process for purchasing cabinetry or schedule an appointment with one of our designers today!