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Framed vs Frameless Cabinets: All You Need to Know

Adding a new cabinet can be a fun part of sprucing up your living space. Today we guide you through a comparison breakdown of framed vs frameless cabinets.

Framed vs Frameless Cabinets

When it comes to planning your perfect kitchen, there’s so much that you need to think about. Something that you may not have considered is whether you want your cabinets to be framed or frameless. This actually with contribute to the look of your cabinet more than you’d think, so what can you expect here when picking out cabinets?

The Difference Between Framed And Frameless Cabinets

The first thing you need to know is the difference between these two styles of cabinets. What does it mean if one is framed or frameless?

Frameless: As the name implies, a frameless kitchen cabinet has no frame around it. Instead, the cabinet door will attach directly to the side wall. When the door is closed, you’ll see no surround or frame around it, which does lend itself to a cleaner look. It’s something you’ll see in a lot of contemporary styled kitchens as it’s a more minimal style. 

Framed: A framed cabinet is one that has a surround for the cabinet door. There’s typically around 1 – ½ inch frame around the door, and it very much resembles a flat picture frame. It’s a style that’s very popular in American homes, so it’s probably one that you’re familiar with. 

Strength And Support

This is something you do want to consider, when you’re picking between framed and frameless cabinets. While framed cabinets look good, they also have a structural use too. Having that frame in place offers extra strength to the cabinet, which is something you’ll want to consider. However, if the cabinet has a frame, that may mean that the box itself will be made out of thinner or weaker materials. That’s something to keep in mind when you’re shopping around. 

A frameless cabinet will usually be more sturdy as they have to be more capable of maintaining their shape without a frame. As such, you’ll usually see thicker wood and sides to support the shape. 

The materials used are important, as if a frameless cabinet is made with thinner materials, then you can see the materials sometimes start to warp and become uneven. Be wary of this when you’re looking at cabinets. 

Installation Needs

There’s not much that will differ when it comes to installation, but you will need to know the small differences that will happen when you pick between framed and frameless cabinets. 

For example, with a framed cabinet, you will have to understand how you’ll put shelves into a cabinet with a center stile. It’s not too difficult, as you’ll insert the shelf to one side by tilting it, and so it shouldn’t be a problem. 

With a frameless cabinet, you’ll need to be sure that you’re using longer screws to hold them in place. They have to go through the cabinet walls themselves, so ensure that you have the right length screws for the job. With framed cabinets, you can use shorter screws as they go through the frame itself. 

If you’re hiring a contractor to install your cabinets for you, they’ll be able to advise you on how they’ll install the cabinets, and show you how they’ll do it. 

Space Needs In Your Kitchen

When it comes to space inside the cabinets, you’ll see that there’s technically the same amount of space inside the two. The framed cabinets may look smaller at first glance, but there is the same amount of space inside when you’re using them. 

If you do go for a framed style, you may see that the center stile or frame does block some access to the cabinet space itself. You’ll need to consider this when you’re thinking about how you’ll use the space. When you have a frameless cabinet, it’s much easier to access the space inside as nothing is impeding it. That’s something that you’ll want to think about when you’re picking out the right cabinets for you. 


Appearance is going to be an important factor when it comes to picking out your cabinets. You’re going to have an image in your mind as to how your kitchen will look, and the cabinets you pick will need to fit into that. 

Going for a frameless cabinet style is better if you want a contemporary kitchen. You’ll be able to get a clean line on your cabinets, which is perfect if you want a more modern style. It’s very popular, for example, if you want a Shaker style kitchen. 

Want something that’s a little more traditional? Than a framed cabinet is for you. There are several options here too, such as full overlays, semi overlays, and inset doors. You can pick what would work for you, and have more control over the end look. 

Pricing And Budget

Of course, budget is going to be a big factor in your new kitchen cabinets. If you’re on a strict budget, you may find that rather than replacing the cabinets at all, you’ll instead repaint them. However, if you are replacing cabinets, you’ll want to consider the cost. 

Typically, the cabinets will be cheaper the thinner the material is. If you’re using framed cabinets, then you may find they can be bought cheaper, as frameless cabinets need to be more expensive thanks to the thicker wood involved. However, there’s nothing to say that framed cabinets can’t be made of hardier woods, too. 

If the cabinets are made of the same material, then you may actually discover that framed ones can be more expensive. That’s because you’re going to need more wood to create those frames. On average, you’ll spend around $500 to $1,000 more on framed cabinets, so this is something to consider.

In Conclusion

There’s a lot to think about when you’re considering what kind of cabinets you want to buy for your new kitchen. Framed and frameless cabinets all have their benefits and drawbacks, so it depends on you and what you’re looking for. Keep all the above points in mind when you start shopping around, and you’ll be able to get what you’re looking for.