Framed vs Frameless Cabinets: 7 Key Differences

Cabinetry plays an essential role in both the functionality and aesthetics of your kitchen. Among the various choices available, framed and frameless cabinets are two of the most popular types.

But what exactly are they, and how do they differ? In this article, we’ll provide a detailed comparison between the two styles.

What are Framed Cabinets

Framed cabinets are the type you often see in American homes. They have a frame on the front which makes them easier to put up and adjust. But, you’ll need to add extra panels to cover any sides that show. Moreover, they’re great because they come in many sizes and you can change them up more than other kinds.


  • Powerful and durable due to the face frame
  • Offer more design flexibility with different overlay options
  • Easier to install as the frame can hide minor imperfections


  • May have slightly less storage space due to the face frame
  • Can appear outdated or traditional, depending on your design preference

Framed Cabinets may have slightly less storage space

What are Frameless Cabinets

Frameless cabinets are a modern style popular in Europe. They have a clean, neat look. With their design, you can use all of the inside space, and the drawers can hold a lot. Moreover, you might need to use extra pieces to make sure the doors and drawers open properly. However, these cabinets may not offer as many sizes or options for changes due to their design.


  • Provide a modern, sleek look
  • Offer slightly more storage space
  • Have full overlay doors, which gives a seamless appearance


  • More expensive due to the need for thicker material
  • Require precise installation
  • May not be as durable if not constructed properly

Frameless cabinets are a modern style

Framed vs Frameless Cabinets: A Detailed Comparison


When we talk about the look or the visual appeal of cabinets, framed ones tend to give a more classic, old-school vibe. So, if you want to find a cozy vibe or maybe the traditional kitchen. You can consider choosing this one.

On the other hand, frameless cabinets offer a smooth, up-to-date look. When you look at them, all you see are the doors because they cover the entire front of the cabinet. So, this style spends for the home style to look like a sleek, modern appearance.


Framed cabinets get connected through the wide front ‘frame’. This setup lets screws go deeper into the next cabinet, making a stronghold. The frame’s width and sturdy wood mean you can use longer screws, usually about 2-1/2 inches. But remember, you should first drill small starter holes in the frames to stop the wood from cracking.

Besides, frameless cabinets are joined directly through their sides. This means you’ll use shorter screws, usually no more than 1-1/4 inches. Because these screws don’t go as deep, you might need more of them to make sure the cabinets are firmly attached.

So, in really simple words, framed cabinets link together through the wide frames on their fronts, using long screws. Frameless cabinets connect directly side-to-side and need shorter screws to keep them together.


The key difference between both types is the solid wood face frame of framed cabinets.

In detail, the face frame is made up of horizontal pieces, called rails, and vertical pieces, called stiles. The way the wood grain runs in different directions in these pieces adds extra strength to the front opening of the cabinet.

Another good thing about having a face frame is that rackings help keep the cabinet square and avoid tilt. Without them, the vertical and horizontal parts won’t be level, and the doors and drawers won’t line up right.

Generally, framed cabinets have an extra wooden frame that makes the cabinet stronger and keeps everything square and level. This frame locates between the cabinet door and the main cabinet box.


The overlay refers to how much of the cabinet faces the doors cover. Framed cabinets can feature full, partial, or inset overlays, offering more design variety. Frameless cabinets, due to their design, always feature a full overlay.

Normally, there are three types of overlays in framed types: inset, standard, and full.

Inset: With inset overlay, the doors and drawer fronts are smaller than the openings and they sit inside the frame, flush with it. This leaves a large portion of the frame visible, which is the reveal. However, this type can be tricky because changes in humidity can cause the doors and drawers to stick and not close properly.

Standard: Here, the doors and drawer fronts are slightly larger than the openings, meaning they partly cover the frame. This leaves less of the frame visible. The advantage of a standard overlay is that it’s easier when it comes to align the doors and drawers.

Full: In the full overlay, the doors and drawer fronts are even larger, meaning they overlap the frame a lot, leaving only a tiny bit of it visible.

For frameless cabinets, the doors and drawer fronts are almost the same size as the cabinet box. This means almost none of the cabinets are visible when they are closed. So, they look neat and clean, but they need to be installed very carefully to make sure the doors and drawers don’t get stuck on neighboring cabinets or walls.

Storage Capacity

When it comes to storage capacity, frameless cabinets usually have an edge over framed cabinets. The simple reason is that frameless types don’t have a face frame. This frame, although useful for installation and sturdiness, does take up some space within the cabinet.

In frameless cabinets, since there’s no such frame, you get that extra bit of space for storage. This means, in practical terms, you might be able to fit in an extra pot, pan, or a few more cans of food.

But it’s important to remember that this difference isn’t usually huge. The additional space you get in a frameless cabinet might not dramatically increase your overall storage.


Both cabinets can be sturdy and long-lasting if they’re built correctly. However, framed cabinets often have higher ratings than the two types. This is because they have a face frame. So, if you’re looking for a cabinet that can take a bit more of a beating, framed types might be the suitable choice.


Frameless cabinets are usually more expensive due to the need for thicker materials and more precise construction. However, prices can vary based on factors such as the quality of materials, finish, and hardware used.

Frameless get an extra bit of space for storage

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Both framed and frameless styles have their unique advantages and disadvantages. Your choice should depend on your style preference, budget, and storage needs. By understanding the key differences, you can make an informed decision that best suits your kitchen.


Which type of cabinet is easier to install?

Framed cabinets are generally easier to install because the face frame can hide minor installation imperfections. Frameless ones require more precision during installation due to the absence of a face frame.

Which is a better choice, frameless or framed cabinets?

The main distinguishing factor between framed and frameless cabinets is how their structure is built. Both types offer equal durability and structural integrity. They just represent two distinct construction styles, each contributing to a unique look.

Which cabinet type is more expensive?

Frameless cabinets tend to be more expensive due to the need for a thicker, more durable material and more precise construction. However, the cost of both framed and frameless types can vary widely depending on factors such as the quality of materials, finish, and hardware used.