You might hear kitchen and bath designers talking about frameless cabinets for your new construction or remodel project, but what difference does it make to you the home owner? Frameless cabinets are built without a faceframe. They will have minimal space between the doors and drawers to maximize space for interior storage and drawers. Frameless cabinets panels are built using wooden dowels and glue, and the back of the cabinet uses grooves (called dadoing). This style is sometimes known as European, or Full Access style cabinetry, and is becoming more popular in the United States. Framed cabinets are still more common, though.

Advantages & Features of Frameless Cabinets

  • Frameless cabinets give you 10-15% more usable space in the same footprint.
  • The frameless look is highly stylized, with uniform gaps between all the doors and drawers in your kitchen or bathroom.
  • The sides of frameless boxes are “flush finished” meaning that, when viewed from the side, there is no visible seam. This effect is much more difficult (and expensive) to achieve in framed cabinetry, and looks very attractive.
  • Frameless or “full access” cabinets do not have a face frame and rely on good design and quality construction for stability.

Shelves are usually adjustable, and door hinges attach directly to the sides of the cabinet box. Frameless styles offer greater access, however door options are limited to the more modern full-overlay style.

Framed Cabinets

Framed cabinets are the more traditional construction type, with a “frame” created by rails (horizontal) and stiles (vertical) at the front of the cabinet box. Framed cabinets attach door hinges to the face of the frame. Shelves are usually, but not always, adjustable. Door styles for framed cabinets include inset, partial, and full overlay. Framed cabinetry utilizes a solid wood “frame” that is dadoed to the top, bottom and sides of the box. This frame actually extends beyond the width of the box and covers up some small portion of the inside of the box interior. Framed cabinetry gets it’s structural integrity from this frame. Framed are a better choice for those who don’t need to worry about room and who want the frame to show between the doors.