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March 04, 2021 8 min read

Framed vs. Frameless Cabinets: Everything You Need to Know

The cabinets in your kitchen take up the most space and are what people look at the most. They’re also the storage solution for your kitchen and serve as a unique decor piece. The cabinets you choose can affect the overall feel of your kitchen. However, this is mainly due to whether or not you use framed or frameless cabinets. When deciding what cabinets to go with if you’re renovating or remodeling your kitchen (or even your bathroom!), you’ll need to decide between framed and frameless cabinets. We’ve put together everything you need to know about framed and frameless cabinets to ensure you choose the right ones for your home. 

Framed vs. Frameless at a Glance

Framed vs. Frameless Cabinets

Framed Cabinets

Here at Wholesale Cabinet Supply, all of our cabinets come framed. Whether you choose RTA cabinets or fully assembled, our framed cabinets are built to be durable and fit any kitchen style. 

  • What are framed cabinets? Framed cabinets have a frame on the front that the doors and drawers are attached to. This provides extra strength to the cabinets and gives it a sturdier look. You’ll find framed cabinets in a majority of American kitchens because it’s the American style.
  • What type of door overlay can I expect with framed cabinets? There are multiple door overlays with framed cabinets. The overlay refers to how much of the frame is covered by the doors and drawers.  We offer both full overlay and partial overlay.  
    • On full overlay cabinets the door covers most of the frame, leaving only a minimal portion of the cabinet frame showing around the edge of the door (¼” in most instances).  
    • Partial overlay doors, on the other hand, only cover ½” of the frame, leaving an 1” to 1 ¼” of the frame showing around the edges of the doors and drawers.  These are also referred to as standard overlay or ½” overlay.  
    • One other type of overlay is the inset door, where the door is inset into the frame, making it flush with the frame.  This leaves the entire frame exposed and a large space between the doors. 
  • What type of decor style do you typically see with framed cabinets? Framed cabinets can be used in all different decor styles. While they might be known as more traditional cabinets, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice trendiness or a modern feel. With options such as our Dover White cabinets and soft close drawers, you can make your kitchen feel completely modern with framed cabinets. The key is in the color, the countertops and the hardware. A butcher block countertop, white subway tile for your backsplash and copper hardware will really make your kitchen feel modern, even with framed cabinets.  We also have sleek and trendy euro style cabinets available with framed construction.

kitchen cabinets with framed doors

  • Do framed cabinets have a center stile? If so, what’s the size? Yes, depending on the width of the cabinet, framed cabinets can have a center stile. It is part of the frame and is typically two to three inches. Some people often wonder if they can remove this stile on their own. Unfortunately, removing the stile can compromise the integrity of the structure – especially if you have granite or quartz countertops. Because both materials are so heavy, removing the center stile without having something to support it can cause it to break. You don’t want to ruin your cabinets and countertops. If you want to minimize them, we recommend you utilize our free kitchen design and talk with one of our friendly designers about center stiles and how to avoid them where possible.
  • Do I have to install framed cabinets myself? Never! If you don’t want to take the time to assemble or install framed cabinets yourself, you can always order them fully assembled and have a contractor do it for you. In fact, that’s probably the safest bet. Having a professional handle the cabinet installation will really save you money and time in the long run. While it might be an additional cost upfront, you’ll love the peace of mind that comes with professional installation and assembly.
  • How much do framed cabinets cost? As with any home improvement project, there’s a price range associated with framed cabinets. If you purchase RTA framed cabinets with standard features, you can spend as little as $5,000. However, if you add additional features such as increased depth or glass prepping, you can get closer to $20,000, especially if you order them fully assembled. 
  • What type of storage space will I get with framed cabinets? Framed cabinets have a moderate amount of storage space. While the stability of framed cabinets will ensure that your items stay secure, you might not be able to fit as much in your framed cabinets as you’d like. This is because of the size and thickness of the frame, as well as the center stile on some cabinets. However, installing some additional storage options, such as bringing in an antique hutch in your kitchen or installing some open shelving, can give you some extra storage space.

What size kitchen is best for framed cabinets

  • What size kitchen is best for framed cabinets? Framed cabinets are best for medium to large kitchens because of their smaller storage space. This means you can install more cabinets to increase your storage space. 

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Frameless Cabinets

Frameless cabinets are very similar to framed cabinets despite not having a frame. Here are some more details about frameless cabinets.

  • What are frameless cabinets? Simply put, frameless cabinets don’t have a frame. There isn’t a space between the cabinet shelving and the door or drawer. The door is attached directly to the cabinet box without an additional space for the hinges to rest on. These cabinets look much wider than framed cabinets. They’re also typically seen in European kitchens.
  • What type of door overlay can I expect with frameless cabinets? Because there’s no frame between the box of the cabinet and the door, most frameless cabinets are inset, meaning they are flush against the cabinet. However, full overlay is also an option, covering all but ⅛” of the front of the cabinet.  These give frameless cabinets an entirely seamless look, even when the doors and drawers are open. 

matte white kitchen cabinets

  • What decor style can I use with frameless cabinets? Unlike framed cabinets, frameless cabinets are a bit more limited in their decor style. While we’re sure any interior designer can make frameless cabinets beautiful regardless of decor style, frameless cabinets look very modern because of their width and overall look. Because they don’t look traditional, these cabinets are best suited for kitchens with a contemporary feel. This includes modern farmhouse looks and even rustic kitchens. As long as there are modern elements in your kitchen, you should be able to use frameless cabinets.
  • Do frameless cabinets have a center stile? Nope! Frameless cabinets, because they don’t have a frame, also do not have a center stile. However, a word of caution here: Because frameless cabinets don’t have that center stile, they also don’t have that extra layer of durability that framed cabinets do. That isn’t to say they aren’t durable. Plenty of frameless cabinets are built to withstand granite and marble countertops. However, for some consumers, that extra sturdiness of the center stile can go a long way. 
  • How do frameless cabinets come assembled? As with any cabinets, frameless cabinets can come RTA or fully assembled. You can also ask a professional to assemble or install them for you. Just like with framed kitchen cabinets, we recommend this option for anyone who hasn’t installed cabinets before. You want to be sure the task is done properly to help save you money and time later on. 
  • What is the cost of frameless cabinets? Frameless cabinets can definitely cost more than framed cabinets. However, as with framed cabinets, additional features can drive the cost even higher, while going with standard features can help you save. Depending on what you need for your kitchen cabinets, you might have a higher or lower cost.
  • What kind of storage space can I expect with frameless cabinets? You can expect to have more storage space with frameless kitchen cabinets. Because there’s no frame or center stile hindering the shelving, you can typically find frameless cabinets with a higher wall depth to increase the storage space. This is ideal if you have a large family or like to cook and bake a lot. You’ll have lots of dishes and cookware you’ll need to store. 

What size kitchen is best for frameless cabinets

  • What size kitchen is best for frameless cabinets? Frameless cabinets work best with small to medium-sized kitchens. This is because of the width of the cabinets and the increased amount of storage space. Because the cabinets don’t have a frame, they appear wider. This, in turn, makes your kitchen feel bigger. Frameless cabinets can definitely help to create an optical illusion with your kitchen space. They’re perfect for condos, outdoor kitchens and even tiny homes. 

Tips for Ordering Kitchen Cabinets

No matter what type of kitchen cabinets you order, there are still some additional considerations to have when you place your order. We’ve put together some of our helpful tips for ordering kitchen cabinets.

  • Stick to your budget. While you might be tempted to go above and beyond with all the features for your cabinets, take a step back and really consider what you use. Your cabinets should be efficient for your kitchen specifically. We love a beautiful kitchen design, but a functional one that looks beautiful is even better. 
  • Make sure you order them with enough time. The turnaround time for cabinets differs between styles, manufacturers, shipping and more. There are lots of reasons your cabinets could be delayed – or arrive early. Make sure you order them with enough time to accommodate any potential setbacks, and also have a place the cabinets can be stored if they come in early and you’re not ready to install them yet. 
  • Seek a professional. We know we’ve said this repeatedly, but we really can’t reiterate it enough. There are some things best left to the pros, and cabinet assembly and installation is one of them. If you’re feeling handy, offer to help. Some contractors love to teach their clients general skills, so this could be a good opportunity to learn how they’re assembled. Plus, if you ever need to fix a hinge, you’ll know what to do.
  • Draw it out. Creating a drawing of your current kitchen layout and what you’d like to adjust it to is very helpful when ordering your cabinets. If you’re adjusting counter heights, changing the location of the sink or moving light switches around, these can influence your cabinet design. 

kitchen interior modern cabinets

  • Take lots of pictures. Pictures can really help you in ordering your cabinets. Not only can you visualize the before-and-after of your cabinets, but you can also use them as a guide when picking out your new cabinets. If you’re just replacing the cabinets and not the backsplash or your appliances, then using those pictures to overlay the digital design of the cabinets can show you what they’d look like set up in your kitchen. It’s perfect for when you don’t know what you really want.
  • Consider colors. While white cabinets are trendy and all the rage right now, there’s nothing wrong with using other colors in your kitchen. You can even keep it traditional with darker woods. Your kitchen space has endless possibilities. Feel free to make it as bold with color as you’d like. If a bold kitchen cabinet color makes you anxious, consider using color in other parts of your kitchen – paint, backsplash, flooring, lighting fixtures. There are lots of ways you can give your kitchen personality through color. 
  • Consider material. Our cabinet boxes are made with 100 percent plywood. It’s durable and lasts for years – perfect for your kitchen cabinets. However, other cabinet suppliers might not use plywood. Or, if you’ve found salvaged antique cabinets, they might not have been made with plywood. Make sure you consider the material your cabinets are made out of, as well as the finish on the cabinets. Some are stain- and dirt-resistant or have a glossy finish that looks straight out of a magazine. These considerations will make sure you get the kitchen that’s perfect for you.

cabinets matte gray doors

When designing a kitchen – whether you’re remodeling or starting from scratch – the cabinet layout and design is one of the most important parts. Framed and frameless cabinets are two of the styles you can have in your kitchen, and they each come with their own pros and cons.

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