Perfectly named, framed cabinets are cabinets with a face frame that covers the front of the cabinet box. Framed cabinetry is used for traditional, transitional and inset cabinetry. There are three main styles. You can choose a full overlay style that covers most of the face frame with a small reveal around the doors. Partial overlay shows more of the frame and is usually a less expensive option. A very popular framed style is called inset. This is when the cabinet doors are recessed within the cabinet frame fully exposing the face frame . There are beaded and non-beaded inset options. Framed cabinetry advantages include a very sturdy box and ease of installation. If you like crown molding, it can be placed right onto the frame. There is however, less storage space (including the drawers) due to the frame. Most framed cabinets have a center stile which limits access as well. Some brands (like Rutt), you can eliminate the center stile up to a certain height cabinet.
Frameless cabinets (also called full access) do not have a face frame nor center stiles. Modern Cabinetry is frameless. Most European cabinetry is frameless. Since there is no frame, there is more storage space (especially in the drawers) and easier access into each cabinet. The box is usually thicker to create more stability. Only full overlay doors are used. The hinges are attached to the side of the box. Frameless cabinets are typically designed with flat, slab doors to create a sleek minimalist look. Many brands build the box with particle board instead of plywood. Things to consider:
- Storing heavy items on shelves and bottoms can cause sagging on wide cabinets
- If your walls are not straight, installation will be more difficult
- Edge banding can peel over time
Before you or your client make a decision, the first consideration is what style you love. Definitely go in person to a showroom to view them side by side. If you have specialty items such as large plates or big pots, bring them. See how they fit and how you want to store and access them optimally.