A Quick Guide to Understanding Framed and Frameless Cabinets

Cabinetry is a focal part of any overall kitchen or bath design, adding function and beauty to your interior spaces. While there are a wide range of cabinet styles and materials to choose from, there are only two basic cabinet construction types —face framed and frameless. These construction styles lend themselves to many design possibilities and each has distinct advantages.  Face framed is extremely popular in the United States and frameless is most popular outside of the United States.  Although growing in popularity, frameless is about 30% of the US K&B marketplace.


This article will feature information you can use to determine which cabinet construction style — framed or frameless — is best for your next cabinetry design project.


Framed Cabinet Construction


Framed cabinets are also known as American-style cabinets, since they are the style traditionally used by American cabinetmakers. They are labeled as “framed” due to the frame on the front of the cabinet box that is created by the rails and stiles. This frame is normally 1.5” wide and resembles a picture frame, giving the overall cabinet additional strength and stability.


Framed cabinets attach to one another through the width of the face frame, so you can use longer screws to anchor the cabinets more deeply to adjacent cabinets for increased strength. In addition, framed cabinets allow for the cabinet door hinges to attach to the frame rather than the cabinet itself for even more strength and durability. This application also makes adjusting drawers and doors easier and gives you the option of using full overlay, or partial overlay doors for a wider range of styles. 


An overlay refers to the amount of cabinet face that the drawer fronts and cabinet doors overlap. Conversely, the amount of face frame (for framed cabinets) or box (for frameless cabinets) visible is called the reveal. As mentioned, framed cabinets are versatile — handling both overlay types, partial, and full. 


Pros of framed cabinets:


  • They are typically less expensive than frameless models.
  • When installed in projects where walls are uneven, they are more forgiving and allow for more adjustment.
  • They offer the widest range of style choices to match any design or décor.
  • Easier to install molding on top of cabinets. 

Cons of framed cabinets:


  • Because of the face frame construction, these cabinets may have slightly less area for storage.
  • More difficult to modify/customize because of front face frame.
  • The frame is still visible behind the doors, even when using full overlay.
  • Drawers are not as wide as frameless drawers.

Depending on your project, design needs, and décor choices, framed cabinets may be the perfect choice for your next kitchen or bath project.


Frameless Cabinet Construction


Frameless cabinets styling look more transitional or modern. Typically referred to as full access or European style, these cabinets lack the additional frame, and their door hinges are connected directly to the cabinet sides. 


This faceless style allows for larger drawers, more easily adjustable shelves, and larger storage areas for homeowners. Frameless cabinets only handle full overlay doors, leaving the smallest reveal possible. Because of this, they must be installed square to the walls, sometimes requiring shims.  Poor installations can make drawer fronts and doors bind or cause other operational issues.


Pros of frameless cabinets:


  • The low-profile doors result in up to 15% more usable storage space.
  • Gaps between doors and drawers are smaller for a more fluid, stylish appearance.
  • There is no seam at the sides of the cabinets since there is no face frame.
  • The cabinet boxes are made with sturdier, thicker materials to offset the need for a face frame support.

Cons of frameless cabinets:


  • They are not a good choice for uneven walls.
  • They can be more expensive.
  • They rely on cabinet construction for stability.
  • They are typically heavier than face frame cabinets

Again, depending on the design’s aesthetic and the needs of the homeowner, frameless cabinets may be a great choice for your next kitchen or bath new build or remodel.


Looking to choose the right cabinets for your next home build or remodel? Contact a representative from ProCraft Cabinetry and get help making the perfect choice!