Framed cabinetry utilizes horizontal and vertical pieces to form a frame on the face of a cabinet. With this type of construction, typically the door hinge is attached to the inside edge of the face frame. Face-framed cabinetry offers several design variants, mostly in the amount of the face frame visible between doors and drawer fronts. The face frame itself adds strength and rigidity to the cabinet. There are many distinctive design possibilities that can be achieved with framed cabinets, but they have less interior storage space and the openings are generally smaller than their frameless counterparts.
Frameless cabinet construction is a way of manufacturing cabinets that allows for a more sleek and simple design. Frameless cabinets are also described as Euro style, but this type of cabinet construction has also been popular in America for many years. This style of cabinet construction eliminates the face frame, to offer more storage and greater accessibility. Euro-style cabinets are often paired with contemporary materials such as laminates, acrylics, and exotic woods. The installation of frameless cabinetry is more finicky than for their framed counterparts, so sizing and clearances must be more exacting.
In cabinetry, the "overlay" refers to the extent to which a door, drawer front or panel overlaps the face of the cabinet. Framed cabinets are constructed with either inset or partial overlay. Frameless cabinets are typically full overlay, since the doors and drawer fronts only need to cover the exposed edges of the cabinet ends, bottom and top.
The space, or gap, between adjacent doors and drawer fronts is called the reveal.
With inset-style cabinets, the doors and drawer fronts are fabricated to be slightly smaller than the openings they cover, and the face of them is made flush with the face of the cabinet when closed. With this type of cabinet design, hinges can be concealed or exposed to achieve the particular style desired. Because such attention to detail needs to be taken when installing inset-style cabinets, the price is going to be slightly high for this level of craftsmanship.
Partial overlay cabinet doors and drawer fronts sit on the face of the cabinet and leave a larger reveal visible around the entire face and between adjacent doors and drawers. This style of cabinetry often conveys a more traditional appearance. The installation of partial overlay cabinets is more forgiving than inset or full overlay cabinets due to the larger reveals, so the price to install will reflect this.
Although similar in appearance to inset, full overlay doors and drawer fronts nearly cover the entire face of a frameless cabinet. Typically, there is only a 1/8-inch gap between adjacent cabinet doors and drawer fronts, so there is virtually no reveal at all. With full overlay cabinets hinges are not exposed, so the clean lines are never broken by unsightly hinge features. Full overlay is going to be the easiest to install, therefore making it the least expensive of the three options.