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Framed vs Frameless Cabinetry: Functionality Over Design

Purchasing kitchen cabinetry is one of the most significant purchases when renovating or building a home. First impressions are lasting impressions and since cabinets are one of the main items your guests and family members are going to notice in your kitchen, they can have a huge impact on both the appeal and value of your home. Choosing between framed and frameless cabinetry can help provide the functional need over design style. When making this choice, there are two types of cabinetry construction to consider:

  • framed cabinetry
  • frameless cabinetry

Both provide endless design possibilities and their own unique advantages. Here are some things to consider as you decide which type of cabinet construction is best for you.

What are Framed Cabinets?

As the name suggests, framed cabinets are cabinets with a face frame that covers the front of the cabinet box. The doors of framed cabinetry attach to the face frame itself, allowing for more stability for the box, creating a strong, sturdy cabinet. It is most commonly known as American style or “traditional” cabinetry. Wellborn Cabinet’s framed door style options various door styles such as: contemporary or transitional door styles. Wellborn Cabinet offers framed cabinetry with three different cabinet styles:

  • inset cabinetry
  • standard overlay cabinetry
  • full overlay cabinetry

Inset Cabinetry

Inset cabinetry offers sleek lines, flush inset cabinet doors and features that can transform the look of a standard cabinet with a full overlay door. With an inset cabinet style, the doors and drawers rest inside of the cabinet face frame openings. This type of cabinet construction gives a full view of the cabinet frame, with only minimal spacing or gaps between the cabinet components.

blue and white shaker kitchen cabinets

Inset Cabinetry

Overlay Cabinetry

In cabinetry, an overlay refers to the amount of cabinet face the cabinet doors and drawer fronts overlap. The amount of cabinet face frame or box visible when the doors and drawers are closed is called the reveal. Framed cabinets offer two types of overlays:

  • Standard: The door and drawer faces are slightly larger than the openings, and slightly overlap the face frame. Standard overlays offer reveals if on the face frame and are more forgiving with door and drawer alignments.
  • Full: The door and drawer faces are larger than the openings and overlap the face frame, leaving only a small visible reveal.

What are Frameless Cabinets?

Just as the name suggests, frameless cabinets do not have a face frame. A frameless cabinet box offers more ease of access and storage space by removing the face frame. Frameless cabinetry has a sleeker look to it with seamless lines, and cabinet doors attached directly to the box. It is most commonly known as full access, European style, or modern cabinetry. Wellborn Cabinet’s full access frameless Aspire cabinetry line offers one overlay style, full overlay. Aspire’s full overlay style covers the entire box, leaving only a 2mm reveal that creates a sleek, seamless appearance, making it a popular choice for modern and contemporary styled kitchens.

modern high gloss navy frameless cabinets
Wellborn Cabinet’s Aspire Cabinetry

Advantages of Framed Cabinetry

  • Strength and sturdiness – the hardwood face frame on framed cabinets serve to greatly reinforce the sidewalls to which they are anchored – an advantage that is missing from frameless cabinets.
  • More versatile and customizable – Inset, standard and full overlay options give you many design possibilities for creating a customized look for your cabinetry.
  • More door style options – Wellborn Cabinet offers a vast selection of different door styles for framed cabinetry.

Advantages of Frameless Cabinetry

  • More accessibility – since there is not an inside edge of a frame projecting into the cabinet opening. This allows easier access to the cabinet interior as well as larger opening to store plates, platers, and cookware.
  • More storage space – since there is no face frame to create a lip around the cabinet openings, it is much easier to store appliances such as mixers, blenders, or juicers in frameless cabinets.
  • Additional flexibility in design and styling – frameless cabinets can be used in a traditional design as well as a modern design.
  • Larger spacious drawers – the space saved by not having a face frame attached to the front.

What is the difference between framed and frameless cabinetry?


The key difference between framed and frameless cabinetry is the addition of a solid wood face frame between the door and cabinet box of the cabinet shell. The face frame is constructed of horizontal members called rails, and vertical supports called center stiles. The combination of wood grain directions in the face frame helps to reinforce the horizontal strength of the cabinet at the front opening. Learn more about the construction of Wellborn Cabinet’s line of Framed Cabinetry.

Frameless cabinetry is constructed without the face frame located at the front of the cabinet. The cabinet construction is ¾” thick thermofused melamine end panels, shelves, tops, and cabinet bottoms. Learn more about the construction of Wellborn Cabinet’s line of Frameless Cabinetry.

Which Cabinet Type is Best For You?

Weigh the options and make the right decision for your preference and space needs. The only difference between framed and frameless cabinets is the box construction. The structural quality and durability between the two types of construction is equal, you simply have two very different construction methods that offer two different distinct looks. So, Wellborn Cabinet invites you to check out our website at wellborn.com, to start your next project. Let us be your guide to choosing the right cabinet style for your home!

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Since 1961, Wellborn Cabinet has been a proud cabinet manufacturer offering heirloom quality cabinetry for your everyday living. Click here to find a dealer nearest to you.

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