Framed vs Frameless Cabinets

  • If you’re working on your kitchen design and it’s time for choosing cabinets, prepare for quite a ride! Materials and door styles are just the beginning of tough choices. The real fun starts when you have to decide between framed vs frameless cabinets. 
  • It doesn’t help that both framed and frameless cabinet construction provide endless design possibilities, and both have their own unique advantages. 
  • In this article, we talk about the differences between framed construction and frameless cabinetry to help you decide which option suits you and your kitchen best.

Cabinet construction

With endless design possibilities such as wood species, material, door style, finish, embellishments, and so on, picking a cabinet of your exact liking is a lot of work. 

But the award is worth the chase—cabinets explicitly customized to your taste and needs. 

Framed and frameless cabinetry

With all the design possibilities for your cabinet interior, you’ll also have to decide between framed vs frameless cabinetry. 

With all the choices available, you’ll have to consider some features to find the solution that matches your kitchen’s overall style and vibe.

What’s the difference between a cabinet box’s frameless and framed construction?

In a nutshell, the framed cabinet has an additional layer of hardwood, while a frameless cabinet is usually manufactured solely from engineered wood. 

Important: If you were wondering, frameless cabinets aren’t less sturdy even though they feature different cabinet construction than framed cabinetry. It’s thanks to the thicker box that frameless cabinets rely on for strength and stability.

Let’s look at the main differences to facilitate the choice between these two options.

Framed cabinet

Since framed cabinetry is how American cabinet manufacturers have built cabinets traditionally, you’ll often come across this cabinet style. 

Framed cabinets, also known as American-style cabinetry, work best for kitchens with lots of cabinet space. They are built with a face frame covering the front of the cabinet box. 

The doors of framed cabinetry attach to the face frame itself. Therefore, this cabinet construction stands for stability for the entire box. 

So if your main goal is a robust and sturdy cabinet with a solid wood face frame—framed cabinets offer the structural quality you desire.

When it comes to the cabinet construction, the face of framed cabinets has a 1-1/2 inch frame resembling a flat picture frame. And since the door is then attached to the frame—it adds an extra dimension to the door front.

Since they have additional design possibilities than the frameless option, framed cabinets are more flexible to create a customized look. Think about: 

  • a regular, homogeneous look—to make it happen, simply mount the doors inside the frame (full overlay), or 
  • play with your design—reveal part of the frame by mounting the doors to the front of the frame (partial overlay). 

These frames can be cut from one solid piece of wood. As a result, different arrangements of drawers and doors are limitless.

Get to know more about your options from Degnan Design Built Remodel.

Frameless cabinet

On the other hand, we’ve got frameless cabinets. This style reflects a European way of manufacturing cabinets, but it has become popular with time also in American kitchens. 

They are also called Euro-style, contemporary, or modern cabinets. 

Here, the idea is based on a cabinet construction where the cabinet face frame is absent. 

Instead, there is just a box visible immediately when you open the door, and cabinet doors are attached directly to the sides of the cabinet box. 

The doors can only be mounted to the sides of the box and cover the entire cavity; hence there’s only a full-overlay doors option which translates to fewer design options!

Visually, the cabinet and drawer fronts are relatively more extensive than in framed cabinetry because they have to cover more area. 

This type of construction is also known as “full-access” because they allow easier access, i.e., more accessibility—by eliminating not only the frame but also the center stiles between two cabinet doors as well.

Frameless cabinets are an excellent option for smaller kitchens.  

Even though frameless cabinets offer more traditional designs, they look excellent in contemporary styled kitchens.

Actually, frameless cabinets became popular thanks to their contemporary cabinet designs—sleeker, cleaner, and classier look. 

This kind of cabinet also provides extra storage space, and we know how useful it is to declutter the kitchen counter. 

With frameless cabinetry, you can finally have all your kitchen tools, devices, notes, gadgets, pots, pans, and glasses behind the cabinet doors—both hidden and at hand.

All in all, frameless cabinetry stands for a modern look, more drawer and cabinet space, and no center stiles getting in your way.

Related articles

Frequently Asked Questions

If the type of wood, style, and other parameters of the cabinets are relatively similar, framed cabinets will cost roughly $500-$1,000 less than frameless ones. The latter's price varies, but they generally start at about $5,000 and run upwards of $15,000, or even $30,000 for high-end models. Installation cost is the same for framed and frameless cabinets, around $2,000 for a 10x10-foot kitchen.
Installing frameless cabinets isn't harder or easier than installing framed models. Yet, if your walls aren't flat and you don't have the European hardware designed for this type of cabinet, frameless cabinetry will be trickier to tackle.
Leave a Comment