Frameless vs Framed Cabinetry

Why pick a Frameless build of cabinet instead of a Framed cabinet?  Both offer great quality and longevity. There are a few advantages to Frameless that can make them more appealing to the average customer.  For the sake of arguement, I’ll use Kraftmaid Cabinets and Ultracraft Cabinets both with their standard construction options with a full overlay door.

Box Construction:

  • Kraftmaid – 1/2″ Compressed particle board with 1/4″ lip behind frame, must upgrade to furniture ends to get flushed sides
  • Ultracraft – 5/8″ Compressed particle board with flushed ends as a standard

Overlay:

  • Kraftmaid – When using a full overlay door on a framed cabinet you have to take into account an extra 1/2″ to 1″ next to any cabinet that abuts a wall or deeper cabinet in order for the door to open without rubbing.
  • Ultracraft – Ultracraft uses a 107 degree hinge as standard which pulls the door in towards itself prior to opening allowing you to place a full overlay door directly against a wall or deeper cabinet without the danger of rubbing. This also allows you additional storage as you are not having to sacrifice cabinet size in order to accommodate the doors.

Storage and accessibility:

  • Kraftmaid – A framed cabinet has 1 1/2″ stiles or rails surrounding the opening of the cabinet which winds up consuming 3″ of usable width (1/4″ lip + 1/2″ side panel + 3/4″ remaining stile width + 3/4″ stile width on the opposing side + 1/2″ side panel + 1/4″ lip). One must also upgrade to a BUTT door (full access) cabinet if you want access to the cabinet without the 3″ center stile that limits the size of objects that can be placed in the cabinet.  A framed cabinet also limits the size of a drawer box by 4″. For instance, you have an 18″ wide base cabinet. Due to the frame the drawer box opening is only 15″ wide. Add to that an additional 1/2″ on either side for drawer glide hardware clearance. meaning you get a 14″ wide drawer box with an interior width of 12 1/2″ when you take into account the drawer box material’s thickness.
  • Ultracraft – A frameless cabinet is always full access and only consumes 1 1/4″ of usable space (5/8″ side panel + 5/8″ side panel). Not having that frame in the way also uses far less space for drawer box clearance than a framed cabinet (Only 1 3/4″). As in the above example, we’ll use an 18″ cabinet. Minus the 1 1/4″ box material thickness leaves an opening 16 3/4″ wide. Next we minus the 1/4″ clearance for the drawer glide hardware on each side reducing the size of your drawer box to 16 1/4″ wide with an interior width of 14 3/4″ of usable space. An overall difference of only 3 1/4″ versus 5 1/2″ on a framed cabinet.  The frameless cabinet drawer boxes are also taller due to not having to compensate for the upper rail of a frame.

Frameless cabinets due tend to cost a bit more but far less than the cost of upgrading a framed cabinet to all the standard qualities of a frameless cabinet.