Face Frame Cabinetry vs. Frame Less Cabinetry

Written By Jake Hinrichs

Traditionally depending on where you are from your Cabinetry had a face frame on it.  Kitchen cabinets were built in place with what wood they could get.  This was usually a plywood or solid wood that made up the boxes, then a frame was added to the front along with doors which could have been a plywood or solid wood slab doors.  The European style Cabinetry is basically the same box without the frame..  some will say one is better than the other.  

 Just like anything there are two sides to every story.  

 Style and cost and functionality should be your main focus when picking out a cabinet.   The box will hold up for similar amounts of time,  all the different materials will hold up for similar amounts of time. 

 If you take care of your cabinet it will last so no big worries on material or construction… more importantly would be who’s building it and if they are using quality grade materials to build there Cabinetry, but that’s another blog post…back to the main difference 

 On a frame cabinet, typically there is a 1.5 inch frame around the face of the cabinet.  On the frameless it will typically be a 3/4 inch material making up the sides so the front will be half as wide.  This could gain you more room one might say..? Although if you were to put a 3/4 frameless cabinet next to a 3/4 cabinet,  the 2 sides would take up 1 1/2 inches agreed..?  But if you take a frame cabinet with a 1 1/2 frame and place it next to another 1 1/2 frame you get 3 inches right? Well on the outside yes! But on the inside where your goodies go you could actually end up with the same or less amount of space (depending on materials used)…let me explain..  

On the frame style Cabinetry,  typically a cabinet maker will use 1/2 inch material or less on the sides of the cabinet,  they will usually dado that side into the frame 1/4 inch away from the outside edge so with 2 cabinets together you would have 1/4 of space for each cabinet along with 1/2 material thickness for each side adding up to 1 1/2 inches.  So the inside space is virtually the same so again style, cost and functionality… do you want your doors close together?  They can both do that… do you like a modern sleek look, most would go with frameless but frame can accomplish the same thing… do you really like the older traditional style houses, you might pick face frame Cabinetry.. Although the doors are the most visible part of the cabinet so a traditional door on a frameless cabinet could give you that look…

My personal opinion is that a frame cabinet is a little stronger and more versatile but you really need to go to a cabinet shop and inspect/ see what you like with each product…cost wise typically the European frameless cabinet will be less so if cost is an issue this could be an option for you.  I hope this blog helps you to understand a little more about the 2 methods of building Cabinetry. 

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