What are "framed" and "frameless" cabinets?

There are two types of cabinet construction - framed and frameless. At first, it may seem like nothing more than a cosmetic preference. But with some research, you’ll find there’s a lot more to the construction method than what meets the eye!


Framed cabinets have been the American standard for building cabinets for many years. The name of this method comes from the added frame that is attached to the front of a cabinet box, called the “face frame”. The face frame resembles a picture frame, and serves as a more durable spot for cabinet doors and hinges to be attached to during the construction process.


The best part about framed cabinetry is the extra durability that they offer. This can be especially useful in stand-alone cabinets, where they don’t have the support of more cabinetry on the sides.

This style works well to create depth and definitive style in a kitchen. It is also perfect for concealing hinges in kitchens with glass-front cabinets.


Due to the extra panel, Framed cabinets offer slightly less storage space than the Frameless counterpart. They can also be tricky to install, as you need to make sure you have enough space for the doors to open. Make sure that you use an experienced design and install team to ensure you end up with the perfect, functioning kitchen!

Image courtesy of  Bray and Scarff

Image courtesy of Bray and Scarff


As you may have guessed, “frameless” cabinets are defined by the lack of a face frame in the construction of a cabinet. This method is commonly known as the European way of building cabinets, but has grown more popular in the U.S. over the last few years. Frameless cabinets rely on thicker box construction for their durability, and the hinges are attached directly to the cabinet box.


Frameless cabinets are great for storage! Since they don’t have any extra pieces on the inside of the box taking up space, you’ll be able to store more inside of your cabinetry. At first that space may seem small, but with a room of cabinets it adds up!

This style works perfectly for homeowners looking for a sleeker look than the traditional Framed style cabinet. After installation, all you will see is the flat door and drawer fronts!


When considering a Frameless cabinet, keep in mind that they can be sturdy than Framed cabinets if they are not built with the correct construction methods. In lower quality cabinetry, hinges may also be less reliable if the box is made from MDF rather than hardwood. To avoid these problems, make sure that you purchase your cabinets from a quality, reputable manufacturer.