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What Kind of Cabinet is Best For You - Framed or Frameless?

Choosing cabinets for your new kitchen can be exciting and full of choices that need to be made. From cabinet style, hardware, and countertops, the selections are endless. When designing any kitchen whether it’s in a new custom home or renovating an existing space, one of the first decisions you’ll be faced with is choosing the way the cabinet is manufactured. Framed cabinets were once the most popular style but more recently we have seen a rise in frameless options.

There’s a big difference in how the two styles are built. To start, framed cabinets are constructed with rails and stiles creating a 1 ½” frame at the front of the cabinet box where the doors and drawer fronts rest. Usually manufactured in hard woods, framed cabinets are usually sturdy and durable. There are many options available for the door fronts and finishes, making them an easy fit with most personal styles and home furnishings.

Popular in Europe for years and moving quickly to the States is a more contemporary cabinet known as frameless or Euro-style. This cabinet has no face frame. The drawers rest across the edges of the cabinet boxes and the hinges attach to or are hidden within the sidewalls.

This style has been available for many years, but it wasn’t until 2012 when a major retailer exploded in the US, that it became popular. Available in many materials including wood, laminate, glass, and metal, the cabinet can lean either traditional or contemporary. If you’re looking to go modern, this is a strong advantage with the frameless cabinet, as you can rarely achieve with a framed cabinet.

While the traditional framed cabinet still leads the pack in our custom home designs, frameless models are starting to make a presence. If this is something you’re considering, we’d like you to be aware that there are definite advantages and disadvantages to this purchase.

Advantages of frameless cabinets

  • Modern and Smooth: With flush butting cabinets, an elegant and sleek look can be achieved in any kitchen. This same effect is hard to deliver with any framed cabinet.

  • Easy to mount shelves. With no center stile interrupting the space, you can slide shelves straight into the open cabinet area which is why they are often referred to as full access cabinets.

  • Offering more storage space. Frameless cabinets have no lip around their opening, which makes it much easier to store bulky appliances such as food processors, juicers, and bread machines.

  • Shelves. Open cabinets or shelves can be created by simply omitting the door fronts entirely.

Disadvantages of frameless cabinets:

  • Less reliable hinges. The hinges on the doors can loosen over time and cause the doors to sag. Routine adjustments can be made to keep fronts looking symmetrical.

  • Installation difficulties. "Squareness" is essential to the modern look. Existing surfaces are not always square which can create issues with the installation. Any good contractor will be able to work around this type of issue.

  • Sturdiness. The materials used in manufacturing frameless cabinets are more often less sturdy than hardwood. With that said, the lifespan of a cabinet that endures regular and heavy use could be shortened and need to be repaired or replaced sooner than a traditional framed model.

  • Trendy. Frameless cabinets are trendy and therefore, may cost a little bit more. You may not feel the difference until you move into a more costly, high-end cabinet.

Weighing the functional advantages against the disadvantages may be where you begin when trying to choose between one style or another. What seems to stand out to us and one of the most notable advantages to frameless cabinets is the modern, contemporary look that they deliver.

As a custom homebuilder and in a business where we work closely with our clients every day, we recognize the importance and satisfaction that comes from delivering on a vision or dream. If a contemporary style is what you have been wishing for, then the minor inconveniences with installation and slight cost difference shouldn’t hold you back from designing and building the kitchen or bath of your dreams.

As always, do your homework and employ the help of a professional where needed. You’ll thank yourself with savings in time and money along the way.

Paquin Design/Build 410-643-7811

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