Comparing Framed and Frameless Inset Cabinets: Advantages and Disadvantages

When renovating a kitchen, you might encounter unfamiliar words and find certain aspects of cabinet construction confusing. When renovating a kitchen, you may come across unfamiliar words and find certain aspects of cabinet construction confusing.

 

This article will explain framed, frameless, inset, and overlay terms. We will also discuss how these terms relate to cabinet construction and appearance. Your design and construction choices will depend on which style you prefer to look at and your budget.

Framed and Frameless Inset Cabinets​

The distinction between framed and frameless cabinetry lies at the heart of kitchen design choices. Framed cabinets include a face frame covering the front of the cabinet box. This style is traditional in American kitchens, providing a sturdy structure that allows for various door mounting options.

 

Frameless cabinets, which are more common in European design, offer a sleeker and more modern look. They are built to allow for easier access to the cabinet’s contents and a cleaner, more streamlined appearance. The choice between these styles can significantly influence the kitchen’s overall aesthetic, blending with traditional or contemporary designs.

 

All types of cabinets fall into one of two categories in terms of construction: framed or frameless:

Framed Cabinets

American cabinet makers have traditionally made framed cabinets. With face frame construction, the frame provides strength to the cabinet, and the hinges and doors attach directly to the frame. With framed cabinets, you have many design options: full overlay, partial overlay cabinets, and inset (more on these terms below).

Frameless Inset Cabinets

European manufacturers pioneered frameless cabinet construction, and it has become increasingly popular in the US. Frameless cabinets get their sturdiness and stability from thicker box construction. Also, with no frame to work around, the interior storage space of each cabinet is maximized.

 

With frameless (also called “full-access”) cabinets, the doors are full-overlay with very slim margins between the doors and drawer fronts. The hidden hinges attach to the sides of the cabinet.

Overlay and Inset Kitchen Cabinets

Inset doors are set inside a cabinet’s face frame and are classic. This frame can be beaded or non-beaded, with slight spacing outlining the door and drawer fronts. This look and the precision carpentry that creates it come at a premium price point. The hinges can be either hidden or visible.

 

Inset cabinets can fit with traditional, transitional, and even more streamlined modern spaces, depending on the door style and details chosen. With the expansion and contraction of wood, the spaces around the doors may grow or shrink, so adjustments may be necessary. This expansion and contraction will be minimized by controlling humidity levels in a home. Also, the storage space available with inset cabinets is slightly less than with other kinds of cabinets.

Inset Kitchen Cabinets

Inset doors are set inside a cabinet’s face frame and are classic. This frame can be beaded or non-beaded, with slight spacing outlining the door and drawer fronts. This look and the precision carpentry that creates it come at a premium price point. The hinges can be either hidden or visible.

 

Inset cabinets can fit with traditional, transitional, and even more streamlined modern spaces, depending on the door style and details chosen.

 

With the expansion and contraction of wood, the spaces around the doors may grow or shrink so adjustments may be necessary. This expansion and contraction will be minimized by controlling humidity levels in a home. Also, the storage space available with inset cabinets is slightly less than with other kinds of cabinets.

Full Overlay Cabinets

Overlay styles refer to how the doors and drawers are positioned compared to the cabinet’s frame or edges. Full-overlay cabinets feature doors and drawers that cover almost the entire cabinet frame or box, offering a sleek, modern appearance with minimal frame visibility. This style is trendy for its seamless look.

 

Frameless cabinets are designed as full overlay, meaning their doors and drawers cover the entire front of the cabinet. On the other hand, framed cabinets offer more options in full overlay, inset, or partial overlay styles. The doors and drawer fronts of frameless cabinets have a partial overlay. This is also known as a traditional or standard overlay, which exposes more of the cabinet frame.

 

This style traditionally shows more frames and offers a different aesthetic than the full-overlay design. Whether full or partial overlay, the interior storage space in framed cabinets remains consistent.

Luxurious white kitchen with a professional gas range and elegant hood, flanked by spacious cabinets.
Flat Panel Inset Dean Custom Cabinetry

Design and Aesthetic Appeal

The aesthetic appeal of cabinetry can set the tone for the kitchen. Frameless Inset cabinets are often chosen for their modern, minimalist look, emphasizing clean lines and a simple appearance. This style can make kitchens feel more spacious and open.

 

Framed cabinets, with their more detailed and varied designs, can evoke a sense of warmth and tradition, offering opportunities for customization through different door styles and hardware choices.

 

The decision between framed and frameless cabinetry ultimately depends on the homeowner’s desired kitchen style. There are options for every design style, from the classic charm of a farmhouse kitchen to a modern design.

Functionality and Storage of Inset Kitchen Cabinets

Functionality is critical in choosing kitchen cabinetry. Frameless cabinets are known for their efficient use of space and provide slightly more storage than framed models. This can be a crucial factor in smaller kitchens where maximizing storage space is essential.

 

Inset kitchen cabinets offer functional benefits, including durability and supporting heavier countertops. The choice may come down to personal preference and the household’s specific needs, such as needing more storage or a sturdy framework to support kitchen design elements.

Customization and Adaptability of Your Full Overlay Cabinets

Customization options vary significantly between framed and frameless cabinetry. Frameless cabinets offer a modern look that can be easily adapted to fit various kitchen layouts, including those with unusual dimensions or unique design challenges. This flexibility allows homeowners and designers to create a highly customized kitchen space.

 

Full overlay cabinets provide a classic look with numerous customization options through door styles, finishes, and hardware. This ensures homeowners achieve a personalized kitchen design that reflects their style and meets their functional requirements.

Frameless Inset Cabinets Installation and Construction

The installation process for cabinetry can influence a kitchen remodel or construction project’s timeline and complexity. Frameless inset cabinetry requires precise installation because of its exact fit and lack of a face frame. This can be challenging in walls that are not perfectly straight.

 

Framed cabinets are often seen as a more forgiving design style, offering flexibility during installation. Understanding the differences in installation requirements can help homeowners and contractors plan effectively. This will help you prepare for the project’s scope and ensure a smooth installation process.

Cost Considerations for Your Cabinet Overlay Options

Budget considerations are crucial in choosing between framed and frameless cabinetry. Supporting cabinets are perceived as more expensive due to their construction complexity and the materials used. However, the cost can vary widely based on the chosen finishes, hardware, and customization options.

 

Framed cabinets can also range in price, with costs influenced by the style, material, and craftsmanship. Homeowners should consider their budget, design preferences, and functional needs to make an informed decision. Our team of experts will help you pick a style of cabinet that balances cost with the desired outcome for your kitchen space.

framed full overlay base pullouts
Fabuwood Framed Full Overlay Cabinets

Choosing the Right Framed or Frameless Cabinets

The choice between framed and frameless cabinetry encompasses a range of factors, including aesthetic preferences, functional requirements, customization options, installation considerations, and budget.

 

Both styles offer unique benefits, and the decision should align with the homeowner’s vision for their kitchen, ensuring a beautiful and functional space. Work with your custom cabinet makers at Dean Cabinetry today to start your new kitchen journey.

 

Beautiful, functional kitchens can be created with all kinds of cabinet styles. Hopefully, you’re feeling more comfortable with some of the cabinet terminology in planning your new space, and we’ll be happy to help guide you!

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