When you design your home or undertake a remodel, it’s important that you find the right elements to fit your space. This means you have a lot of choices to make. The choice between framed vs. frameless cabinets offers another level of customization. When making this decision, it can come down to a question of functional need vs. design, but it doesn’t have to. Both choices, framed vs. frameless, offer different structural and functional benefits, and both have a distinct look. Let’s delve in and discover which best fits your vision.
Also called face-framed cabinetry, framed cabinets are more traditional in the United States. In fact, they are sometimes referred to as “traditional” or “American style” cabinetry. The biggest pull framed cabinets bring to the framed vs. frameless contest is that they are sturdier by design. The biggest drawback is slightly obstructed access to the interior of the cabinet, along with a fractionally reduced amount of storage space
As the name implies, framed cabinets have a face frame that mounts to the front of the cabinet box. This reinforces the sidewalls and keeps the cabinet from warping or “racking” over time. Double cabinets also have a stile down the center, reinforcing the shape of the cabinet further. The cabinet doors are secured to the face frame, not the box itself.
The width of the face frame is a matter of choice, and where the doors sit in relation to it is also customizable. Most face frames and center styles are about 1.5 inches on all sides of the cabinet’s opening, but that will vary with your preference and manufacturer. “Inset” is a type of framed cabinet that appears frameless. The cabinet doors are mounted inside the frame to create a flush appearance. There is also a full overlay option that leaves a fourth of an inch of the frame visible, and a partial overlay option which reveals a larger part of the frame, perhaps an inch or so.
Pros and Cons
If you want to maximize every inch of your cabinets, framed cabinets suffer in the framed vs. frameless debate. While they are stronger and sturdier, the storage in framed cabinets is slightly reduced because the frame takes up part of the space. Drawers especially are smaller on framed cabinets. It is also important to note that it is more difficult to access the things stored in framed cabinets because of the interior lip the frame provides.
That being said, framed cabinets are overall more customizable because you can choose where the doors sit on the frame, even giving the appearance of a frameless cabinet while maintaining stability. If you really like the look of the frame, you can display more of it, choosing to keep it unadorned or embellishing it, perhaps with a pattern or a different color of paint.
Frameless cabinets are a newer style, sleeker, and more common in Europe, though the trend is certainly crossing the pond more and more often. That doesn’t stop them from being called “European style,” “full access”, or “modern” cabinetry. In the battle of framed vs. frameless, they offer less stability but more accessibility.
There is no face frame to be found here. Without it, the options on how to mount the doors are limited to exactly one: cabinet doors are attached directly to the cabinet box itself. It is possible to leave the hinges of the cabinet exposed, though, so there is some variability. Frameless cabinets do not have a stile down the center, so they trade the stability of a stile for better access to the cabinet.
Pros and Cons
A frameless style offers unobstructed access to the interior of the cabinets, hence the “full access” mnemonic. This means you get the most of your storage space and it is much easier to wipe down or dust the corners and shelves inside. The little extra space may also make all the difference when it comes to pulling out bulky appliances. Without a frame taking up space, frameless cabinets are also more accommodating for drawers, allowing them to be wider, sitting right up against the cabinet frame.
Though they offer less stability, frameless cabinets have a sleeker look with seamless lines, and if that is the style you want to incorporate, they may be the right choice. If you’re still not sure who wins in your book, if you’re still stuck on framed vs. frameless cabinets, give us a call at Lloyd’s Remodeling and Cabinetry. We can help you find the perfect choice for your home.