Cabinet Build Types – What’s Right For Me?

Cabinet Build Types – What's Right For Me?

When it comes to the kitchen cabinets and bathroom cabinets we choose for our homes, most people start by thinking about what they will look like. Visualizing their appearance is what draws you in, prompting you to imagine how a particular style, wood type and stain or paint color will enhance your home. You want a look that reflects your personality, accentuates the area and one you can live with for 20 years or more.

However, keep in mind that beauty is only skin deep, and one should never select cabinets on their looks alone. An important part of your decision-making process should be what build style best suits your needs. Rather than risk making a costly mistake, you are wise to learn a bit about cabinet build types:


Full Access

Full Overlay


Framed build type is the tried and true style that has been around since the beginning of cabinet making. A Framed cabinet means that the main cabinet box was built with a face frame. When you look at a Framed build type, you will be able to see that front face frame around the door and drawer front. The door and drawer front typically rest against the face frame.

Framed cabinets are a little more forgiving to install, because you do not have to worry that the drawer side will drag against a wall that may not be 100% straight. In addition, framed cabinets can usually be used without the placement of any handles. The door and drawer fronts typically have a beveled like edge making them easy to open.

Full Access Build Type

New Home Owner

Full Access is exactly the opposite of Framed, because there is no front face frame on the cabinet box. When you look at a Full Access cabinet, all you will see is the door and drawer front; they are the full width of the cabinet box and together take up the full height above the toe kick area. On a basic 24-inch wide cabinet, the Full Access door and drawer would be larger than that door and drawer on a Framed style. This build is sometimes referred to as “European” or “Modern” style. Because there is no frame and all that you see is drawer fronts and doors, the Full Access style does have a sleeker, less traditional look. With no gap between the doors or drawer in which you can place your fingers, handles are an absolute requirement.

Full Overlay

Now for the build that blurs the lines between Framed and Full Access, the Full Overlay. You are basically looking at a traditional, Framed cabinet box with doors and drawer fronts that are just a hair smaller than they would be on a Full Access cabinet. On a Full Overlay cabinet, the door and drawer front will rest on the front face frame, but that face frame is not visible unless the door or drawer is open. As with the Full Access, handles are a requirement for all doors and drawer fronts.

What’s the point of Full Overlay? I can honestly say that I’m not sure there is one. I can only think that there are some people who want that sleek no frame look but with the security and comfort of a framed cabinet. If you are one of those fine people, then Full Overlay will definitely help you sleep at night.

Lawrence DePippa is the Internet Marketing Manager of Accent Building Products, a leading direct distributor of kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, Builders Edge vinyl exterior shutters, gable vents, door surrounds, and window headers. Online at:

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