To frame or not to frame, that is the cabinet question. Like poor Hamlet’s dilemma, the answer to this query may not be straightforward. Both framed and frameless cabinets have their pros and cons, and if Out of the Woods manages your cabinet construction and installation, you can’t go wrong either way.
Framed and frameless cabinets are usually comparable in cost. The biggest difference between framed and frameless cabinets is the installation of a face frame between the cabinet box and the door. The inclusion of or decision against a face frame affects other aspects of the cabinet’s performance, accessibility, and style. Ultimately, the style you choose will depend on what features you value most in a cabinet, so let’s chat framed vs. frameless cabinets.
Framed cabinets, as their name implies, have a frame that faces the front of the cabinet and sits between the door and the rest of the cabinet box. The style is commonly referred to as traditional cabinetry or American style.
The face frame between the door and cabinet box has two components, vertical and horizontal. The vertical supports are called stiles, and the horizontal supports are called rails. Combining perpendicular wood grain directions serves to reinforce the cabinet’s structural integrity. The stiles and rails reinforcing the cabinet are typically 1-1.5 inches depending on the width of the rest of the cabinet’s sidewalls.
In the case of a framed cabinet, the cabinet doors attach to the face frame. The frame generally extends beyond the width of the rest of the cabinet with a reveal called a scribe. Most cabinet makers provide varying styles of frame, standard (or partial) overlay, full overlay, or inset. Inset doors are integrated to be flush with the face frame, and a full overlay almost mimics the appearance of frameless cabinets.
Pros of Framed Cabinets
Providing framing devices to the front (with a face frame) and back (with the backing) of a cabinet gives it greater structure and sturdiness. It also limits the risk of the cabinet “racking.” Racking is an alignment issue in which the cabinet box becomes skewed out of square. Racking shifts the vertical and horizontal components to the point where they are no longer level, and that alters the proper alignment of drawers and doors. This can cause frustration and the natural urge to try and force drawers and doors to close.
Framed cabinets can also be more customizable because you have design flexibility with the frames, keeping them simple or more elaborately embellished.
The Bottom Line
If your biggest concern is the durability of your cabinets, framed cabinets may be your best bet. Framed cabinets arguably offer more style choices, perfect if you have specific designs in mind or just favor a more traditional look.
Frameless cabinets are sometimes called “full access,” modern cabinetry, or European style.
Not surprisingly, they do not have a face frame. Frameless cabinetry is a good fit if you are looking for a more contemporary, sleeker look without seams.
The cabinet doors of a frameless cabinet attach directly to the side of the cabinet box. Because they do not have a face frame, access into frameless cabinets is not hindered by a center stile down the middle of the cabinet opening. The sides are perfectly level with the doors, leaving no seams on the sides.
Pros of Frameless Cabinets
Frameless cabinets offer slightly more storage which may make all the difference when putting away unwieldy appliances like blenders and KitchenAids. Without the center stile or the lip of a face frame, they are also more accessible, especially when dusting or wiping down the shelves and corners of your cabinets. They are also slightly more accommodating for drawers; drawers inside a frameless cabinet can be as much as two inches larger because they do not have to allow for interior side reveals.
The Bottom Line
If you value simplicity and clean lines and unimpeded access to the inside of your cabinets, try going without a face frame. Frameless cabinets will provide a bit more wiggle room for all your storage needs while giving the room a modern look.
If you need help deciding to install framed or frameless cabinets, or if you know exactly what you’re looking for and just need to make it happen, Out of the Woods is here to help. Our custom cabinetry and installation is sure to impress no matter which kind of cabinet you favor. Give us a call today to get started!