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Framed or Frameless Cabinets: What's the Diff?

If you're ordering kitchen cabinets from Boston Building Resources, you'll need to decide if you want framed or frameless. This fundamental choice will determine which manufacturers you can choose to order from. Here are the basic differences.

Face frame cabinets

These are made with a solid wood facing (usually 3/4” x 1-1/2”) surrounding the door and drawer openings like a frame. This facing is applied to the cabinet box, which is made of panels that vary in thickness from 3/8” to 3/4”. With face frame cabinets, you can choose inset, full overlay, or partial overlay doors, giving the cabinet a more traditional look than frameless. Hinges and drawer glides are attached to the solid wood face frame.

The horizontal members of the face frame are known as rails and the vertical members as stiles.

The horizontal members of the face frame are known as rails and the vertical members as stiles.

Frameless cabinets

Also called European or 32mm, these cabinets have no facings and always use full overlay doors and drawers. The box is 1/2” to 3/4” thick, joined by dowels and glue. Because there is no face frame protruding into the box opening, access to cabinet interiors is unrestricted and drawers will be 1” wider than face frame cabinets. All hinges and drawer glides are mounted to the inside of the cabinet walls.

Without the face frame jutting in to the cabinet opening, there is 1" more horizontal space with frameless cabinets.

Without the face frame jutting in to the cabinet opening, there is 1" more horizontal space with frameless cabinets.

Images used by permission of Imperia Custom Cabinetry.