The Right Cabinets for Your Kitchen: Framed vs. Frameless

 In Guide

Choosing the Right Cabinets for Your Kitchen: Framed vs. Frameless Cabinets

When it comes to selecting kitchen cabinetry, you’ll encounter two main types: Framed and Frameless cabinets. Both have their unique advantages, style options, and design choices. To assist you in making an informed decision for your project, let’s explore the differences between Framed and Frameless cabinets.

Framed Cabinets

shaker cabinets

Framed cabinets represent a traditional American-style cabinet design. These cabinets feature face frames, which facilitate easier installation and adjustments for doors and drawers. They typically require separate skin panels to be installed on exposed sides. Framed cabinets offer more size options and modifications, making them versatile for various kitchen designs.


Pros & Cons of Framed Cabinets:


  • Greater durability
  • Minimal racking (out-of-square issues)
  • Less options for customization
  • Easy installation
  • Generally lighter than frameless


  • Can require additional skins for exposed sides
  • Slightly less interior storage space
  • Less styles available
  • More time consuming leveling process

Frameless Cabinets

Frameless cabinets provide a sleek and modern appearance, popular in European-style kitchens. The absence of a face frame allows for full access to the cabinet interior and larger drawer box capacity. Cabinet sides come finished from the factory. However, due to their construction, frameless cabinets offer fewer size and modification options.

Pros & Cons of Frameless Cabinets:


  • Greater accessibility
  • Factory-finished sides for a seamless look
  • Adjustable legs help with leveling
  • More door styles available
  • More customizability


  • Generally constructed from particleboard
  • More difficult installation process
  • No crown molding
  • Slightly more susceptible to racking during shipping
  • Heavier construction

Construction Differences

The primary distinction between framed and frameless cabinets lies in their construction. Framed cabinets feature a solid wood face frame between the door and cabinet box. This face frame consists of horizontal rails and vertical stiles, reinforcing the cabinet’s strength and minimizing alignment issues such as racking.

Frameless cabinets lack a face frame and offer a clean, seamless look. If not made with quality materials, they can become out of square easily.

Installation Variations

Due to their different constructions, framed and frameless cabinets require different installation hardware. Framed cabinets are attached through the width of the face frame, accommodating longer screws for secure attachment. Frameless cabinets, on the other hand, attach directly through the cabinet side panels, necessitating shorter screws.

Framed cabinets need to be shimmed during the leveling process which can be tedious. Frameless cabinets have adjustable feet for easy leveling.

Certain frameless cabinets necessitate a wall-mounted track system for cabinet placement, which may pose a technical challenge for less-experienced installers.

Overlay Styles

Overlay refers to the amount of cabinet face that doors and drawer fronts overlap. Framed cabinets offer three types of overlays: inset, standard, and full. In frameless cabinet construction, doors and drawer fronts are nearly the same size as the cabinet box, providing a streamlined appearance.

Choosing the right cabinet overlay and style is essential to achieving the desired aesthetic and functionality in your kitchen. Keep these considerations in mind when deciding between framed and frameless cabinets for your kitchen remodeling project.

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