Framed Vs. Frameless Cabinets: Overview and Construction

There are a few broad style decisions that you’ll be making when choosing new cabinets for any room in the home, whether kitchen cabinets or any other location. One primary example here: Whether you’ll be choosing framed or frameless cabinets.

At AWA Kitchen Cabinets, we’re proud to offer a wide range of kitchen cabinet options, including European style frameless cabinets that have become extremely popular in many homes in recent years. How do traditional framed cabinets compare with these frameless cabinet options, both in terms of general characteristics and more specific construction and other variables? This two-part blog series will look at all the important qualities of each.

framed frameless cabinets overview

Framed Cabinet Overview

Framed cabinets remain the most common style in the US, still extremely popular for their distinctive look. Their frames feature faces that allow for very simple installation and drawer or door adjustment, which is a major factor for many buyers.

Now, framed cabinets do require separate skin panels to be installed on-site, on the exposed sides. However, this is worth it for many clients, who enjoy the larger range of sizes and modifications available for framed cabinets than for other types.

Frameless Cabinet Overview

Frameless cabinets, also known as European style frameless cabinets, are a sleeker and more modern look that, as the name suggests, originated in Europe – and remains popular there as well. This style allows for full access into the cabinet interior, with a larger drawer box capacity than framed cabinets.

Cabinet sides are ordered finished from the factory, rather than installed on-site. More fillers are needed in frameless designs, just to ensure that minimum clearance is attained for door and drawer openings. This means there are fewer size and modification options for frameless cabinets, their one major downside compared to framed options.

Now let’s get a bit more specific in several of these areas.

Construction Differences

As their names indicate, the key construction alteration for framed cabinets compared to frameless is the solid wood face frame that comes between the door and cabinet box. This frame is made of horizontal rails, plus vertical supports known as stiles. In addition, wood grain directions in the face frame help reinforce the horizontal strength of the cabinet.

In addition, the face frame also limits a negative effect known as racking. This refers to a situation where the cabinet box tilts out-of-square, meaning the horizontal and vertical sections of the cabinet will not be level and the doors or drawers will not align properly. This is one issue that framed cabinets avoid entirely, but frameless cabinets may deal with if they aren’t constructed properly.

For more on the differences between framed and frameless cabinets, or to learn about any of our kitchen cabinets or other product, speak to the staff at AWA Kitchen Cabinets today.