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Frameless or Face Frame Construction...What's the difference?

When choosing your cabinetry, the construction style sets the stage for how your entire project will look. Let's explore those options.

The image above show Face Frame (left) and Frameless (right) cabinet construction.

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What's the difference?

Face Frame

Face frame cabinetry construction is the most well-known construction option out there. The plywood cabinet box is 'framed' with wood for your doors to attach to. This construction style is most used in traditional homes or setting where partial overlay doors are most desired (where there is a usual 1/2"- 3/4" gap between doors). Another type of Face Frame construction is 'Inset Door' Face Frame. This application is when the doors sit inside the cabinet frame as opposed to sitting outside, or overlay. Here at Reveal Cabinet, we tend to use Face Frame construction with most refrigerator, wall oven, wall microwave, and open shelving options. Of course, when you want that extra special cabinet, we tend to use the inset door option.

This cabinetry set is utilizing the 'inset door' Face Frame Option. See how the doors are not sitting outside the cabinet but rather between the rails and stiles? Inset doors provide the least amount of storage room due to amount of space used for hinge application and door thickness inside the cabinet (roughly 3" of interior space). However, for a major impact, 'inset door' Face Frame cabinetry is a great option, especially paired with Frameless cabinets!

Adorable Laundry Room? YES PLEASE! This laundry space utilizes inset sliding doors, BUT it also utilizes standard overlay Face Frame cabinetry. Notice how the door and drawer on the far right is sitting on top of a frame? That is how you know your cabinets are face frame construction! Traditional Face Frame with overlay doors provide a little more usable space than an inset application, but they still have some wasted space because the frame is larger than the cabinet box, taking away a minimum of1 1/2" of linear space.


Frameless construction, or European Construction, is the least known (name) cabinetry option in the states, but it is a fast growing, dominating construction style. Frameless cabinetry is Reveal's most popular construction option! Where Face Frame cabinetry uses a frame at the face of the cabinet box, frameless YEETS that frame away and uses edge banding on the plywood box itself. This increases the width of usable cabinetry space by a minimum of 1 1/2", and your doors will attach to the cabinet box as opposed to the face. The doors are also overlay and sit on the outside of the cabinet box, and there is usually 1/4" between doors, giving a larger door profile and cleaner look.

Frameless construction is a great contemporary to traditional option to really make your cabinetry clean and impactful. With various door style options available and extra interior space, frameless cabinetry has a place for any home.

Mixing and Matching? No problem!

This image shows primarily Frameless construction, but can you guess where the Face Frame is? I'll give you a hint, it's the cabinet with the open bottom! That's right, Face Frame cabinets are a better option when there is an exposed interior without doors. The frame gives a more finished look by adding weight to the box and 'framing' the interior. (see what I did there?)

This Mudroom primarily utilizes 'Inset Door' Face Frame construction, but if you notice the bench seating? It looks like its framed in, but the bench is actually frameless! Frameless Construction can utilize larger 'stiles' on either side of the cabinet to give a 'framed' look while still utilizing the extra space inside the cabinet.

This beautiful, classic kitchen utilizes 'Inset Door' Face Frame cabinetry throughout the upper cabinets BUT uses frameless construction for the base units. You can have the best of both worlds!

We covered Frameless and Face Frame construction options and the benefits of each. Now, it's time for you to decide what will work best for your cabinetry needs!

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