Face Frame vs Frameless Cabinets
Face Frame cabinets, also known as “Traditional” cabinets, were the only way kitchen cabinets were built until the mid 1980’s. Slowly, the Frameless alternative became more popular and almost completely phased out the Face Frame cabinets in parts of North America. This article explores in more detail face frame vs frameless cabinets.
Face Frame (Traditional)
Easily recognizable from the exposed hinges and wide gaps between doors. The hinges are screwed into a solid wood frame that could be anywhere from 1″ to 2″ wide. When refacing, Traditional Cabinets require a lot more work due to the veneering that the frame requires all around.
I would like to categorize them in two types:
1. Pure Traditional:
The solid wood frame and shelves form one big block, sometimes for an entire wall. Basically, opening different doors will give you access to the same big cabinet box. Usually the shelves and sides are made of plywood. It is the oldest and most economic way of building kitchen cabinets. Very often the back of the cabinet box is missing…yes, the drywall or plaster is exposed on the inside of the box!
Pure Traditional kitchens are tedious to work with and often not worth refacing due to the fact that they are (usually) poorly built. One of the biggest challenges that I have encountered working with Pure Traditional is installing the cabinet doors. The frame is almost always out of square due to the missing back and the fact that it is one big box does not allow any adjustment to the walls unevenness.
These type of kitchen cabinets are better quality. They are individual boxes that are installed with 1 or 2 doors. Usually the boxes for Hybrid Face Frame cabinets are made out of melamine or plywood. I like to call them Hybrid because they are built with the Frameless cabinet mentality but have the Face Frame look. This is achieved by gluing a solid wood frame around the front edge of the box. Usually these cabinets have exposed hinges as well.
Hybrid Face Frame are usually better installed than the Pure Traditional and don’t have the unevenness, making it much easier to reface. Nowadays, when built from scratch, the Hybrid Face Frame cabinets are considered “high end custom cabinets” and often use special concealed (hidden) hinges.
Frameless cabinets are very popular these days. The gaps between the doors vary from 1/8″ to 1/4″, giving you a very clean look. They are individual boxes with absolutely no frame , and the front edge of the box is the thickness of the melamine used to build the boxes, usually 5/8″ or 3/4″ thick. This makes them very easy to install when new. I have installed several new kitchens without any help… 😉
The material used to build the new cabinet boxes 80% of the time is white melamine. Other colors or patterns are available, but not as popular as the simple white. Very rarely, you can sometimes also find the boxes built out of plywood.
Refacing Frameless cabinets involves much less work and material than the Face Frame cabinets as the veneer does not need to be wrapped around the frame.[maxbutton id=”1″]