Basic Cabinet Styles & Construction

Framed vs Frameless

Framed cabinets are also called face-frame cabinets so you may see them referred to both ways. There's not too much difference between framed and frameless in the way they're constructed, however there is a slight difference in the amount of accessibility you have to the inside of the cabinet and in how any interior accessory features are installed. This gives a bit less inside space on the framed vs frameless style.


Framed cabinets incorporate a wood 'frame' made up of several pieces of wood that are fastened to the forward edge of the cabinet with the hinges mounted directly onto the face frame.

The outside edges of the frame are flush with the outside surfaces of the cabinet box whereas the inside portion of the frame extends past the inside edges of the box slightly on either side.

The face frame provides some rigidity to the cabinet box, helping it to remain square and sturdy. Framed cabinets are generally considered more traditional, less streamlined looking but do offer a bit more style variety and depth than do frameless type cabinets.


Frameless cabinets are often described as a "European" style of cabinet. They are considered contemporary, provide a more streamlined look, offer a bit more 

accessibility and ‘usable’ space than do framed cabinets.

However with frameless cabinets the hinges are attached to the inside of the cabinet which in turn take up some space on the inside to a certain extent as well.

So other than some style differences and a little less space and accessibility on the inside of framed cabinets there is not much difference between the two types. They both work well and and provide functionality and a variety of design options to best suit your style preference.


Base/ Wall/ Tall Cabinet Components

Beyond framed and frameless design, the other primary elements of cabinet construction are their basic units or components that are built separately at the shop and then attached together on site during installation. Detail and trim work are also made at the shop but installed on site once all the components have been put together.

Base cabinets are the cabinets mounted on the floor that usually support the counter or desk tops. Kitchen islands are also a form of base cabinet and can be a combination of several base cabinets joined together or a custom-made base.

Wall cabinets as their name implies are mounted on the wall, with no connection to the floor. They're typically located above the countertops and stoves/ovens.

Tall cabinets are essentially tall base cabinets. They stand on the floor and may be free-standing or attached to other wall and/or base cabinets. These are typically used to make book cases and wall unit type pieces and home library units.


Another feature to consider are the doors and how they are attached to the cabinet.

Partial-overlay simply means that the doors and drawers cover only part of the frame with some spacing in between the doors and drawer faces.

Full-overlay means the doors and drawers completely cover the face frame

Full-inset means the doors and drawers are made to fit within the face frame opening.

With full-inset designs the edges of the cabinet box are usually finished with a wood or laminate veneer or some other material to mask the raw edges of the cabinet box.