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Face Frame vs. Frameless Cabinets: Which Is Right for Your Cabinetry Hardware?

Face Frame vs. Frameless Cabinets: Which Is Right for Your Cabinetry Hardware?

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Cabinetry plays a vital role in your kitchen’s entire design and style, where you will observe two sorts of cabinets. Yes, you will come across two types of cabinets while upgrading or designing kitchen cabinetry and they are – face frame cabinetry hardware and Frameless cabinets. The primary difference between both is the method they are constructed with. Frame cabinets have the extra door overlay type structure for supporting boxes, whereas frameless cabinets don’t.

Both face frame and frameless cabinets are used in different types of kitchen cabinetry sections. If you are moving for a more contemporary or traditional look, you can choose accordingly to bring your vision to reality. Read below to find out the right cabinet for you –

What Is It – Face Frame Cabinet And Frameless Cabinet?

Face frame cabinets offer the frame to the cabinet’s front, with doors attached to it. You can open or close when needed. Face frame cabinetry hardware has a bracket attached to the front of the cabinet box. It looks like the picture frame around the opening of the cabinet. This kind of cabinet is familiar with American cabinet manufacturers as it is a more traditional style and choice. They are adaptable to various door styles and are durable/classic choices. Benefits you get from face frame cabinets are –

  •   Face frame cabinets are more robust and suitable for heavy items.
  •   They are suitable for walls that are not in perfect square shape.
  •   They are adaptable to all door overlay types.

Frameless cabinets are in the shape of a box without the frame on the face of the cabinet. They are hinge type, quicker, and easier to manufacture. It is because there is no need to create face frames. Also, there is no need for special pocket hole screws. Frameless cabinet construction gives a European and modern look compared to the traditional look of face frame cabinets. They blend in a room and are perfect for contemporary and modern home designs. Pros you get from frameless hinge type cabinets are –

  •   Frameless cabinets provide the sizeable inner space
  •   They are easy to install

Appearance Of Both Cabinetry Hardware

Frameless cabinets have the doors attached directly to the sidewall of the cabinet. It means that when you close the cabinet doors, there are no surrounding doors. It is the main reason frameless cabinets offer you a clean, minimal, and contemporary appearance compared to face frame cabinets.

While face frame cabinet has around three options for door overlay type like a

  •   Full overlay (it means the door covers the surroundings entirely);
  •   Semi overlay (gives a small reveal); and
  •   An inset door (it implies that the door fits inside the surround that frames the door entirely like a picture frame)

Frameless cabinets are functional with contemporary-style doors such as shakers or slabs for complementing the cleaner design. In contrast, frame cabinets share more options and have doors with raised panels and decorative features.

You will see no overlay around the edges and no center stile whenever you open the frameless cabinetry hardware. It gives the cabinet a wide-open appearance, and you can also use it without doors if you want. Frame cabinet has a visible ledge around the cabinet when you open, including the center stile.

Construction Of Face Frame And Frameless Cabinet

The main difference between both is the solid wood face frame added in the middle of the door and the cabinet box of the frame cabinet. The face frame comprises horizontal components known as rails and vertical support known as stiles. Woodgrain combination in the face frame is helpful to reinforce the horizontal strength of the cabinet’s front opening. The addition of a face frame reduces the alignment problem called racking, where the cabinet box is titled easily out of the square.


Due to the difference in construction, frame and frameless cabinets need different hardware for installation. Frame cabinets are attached through the width of the face frame. Frame cabinets can accommodate a long screw length of around two and a half inches. It is due to the width of the face frame. Frameless cabinets attach through the cabinet’s side panels. Here, a short screw length is used of around one and one-fourth inches maximum.

Strength And Durability

Frames are used on cabinets to provide support and strength. Frame cabinet has three-fourth inch plywood and frame, whereas the frameless cabinet lacks the help on the exterior edge. Thus, the frameless cabinet will have more wood and thicker sides for supporting the weight without a frame. It is the reason why the frame cabinet appears more durable and may last longer for people.


Door Overlay type means the overlapping section of cabinet doors and drawers fronts. The region of the cabinet face frame or box visible when you close the doors and drawers is called a reveal. Frame cabinets have three-door overlay types – Inset, Full, and Standard.

  •   Inset Type: The drawer and door faces are slightly smaller than the openings in the face frame. It provides the biggest reveal, having most of the face frame visible.
  •   Full Type: The faces of the door and drawers are more significant than the overlap and openings, leaving a small visible reveal.
  •   Standard Type: The faces of the door and drawers are more significant than the opening and slightly overlapping the face frame. It also provides a small reveal and is more forgiving with drawer and door alignments.

And in frameless cabinets, doors, and drawers, faces are about the same size as the cabinet box. It only leaves the smaller portion visible. These provide a streamlined appearance. Also, ensure that fronts of doors and drawers do not bind into adjacent walls or cabinets.

Disadvantages Of Both Face Frame And Frameless Cabinets

Frame cabinets have less interior space than frameless due to the center stile. Frameless cabinets may warp when they are located on uneven walls.

Wrapping Up – Which One Is Right For You?

The choice between both frame cabinetry hardware and face frame cabinet depends on your personal preference. The critical difference between both is the construction of the box, where you have two different ways of building and their appearances. It is your choice which one to go for.