Framed cabinets have been around for centuries and are known to be more traditional, there are many good reasons why they are still being built and why they will continue to be built. Have you ever felt around your kitchen cabinets and encountered a “lip” around the cabinet? That’s a framed cabinet.
The frame strengthens the cabinet box and prevents it from getting “out of square.” If the cabinet does not maintain its 90 degree angles, the door will stick and other problems will ensue. The frame is a flat, strong place to hang the cabinet doors from. The frame is wider than the cabinet allowing more clearance space so you can butt two cabinets together and get a clean, seamless look.
This lip decreases storage room. The storage width of the cabinet is decreased by the width of the frame on either side. If you’re interested in options like roll-out shelves, these too will prove more difficult (though not impossible) to mount because of the lip.
Frameless cabinet construction is a European way of manufacturing cabinets that has become popular among consumers seeking contemporary cabinet designs. Frameless cabinetry is sometimes called “full access” cabinetry as it offers greater accessibility by eliminating the face frame. Instead, it relies on thicker box construction for stability. Only full overlay doors can be used, with hinges attached directly to the sides of the cabinet box.
In frameless construction, cabinets do not have a face frame attached to the front of the cabinet box. After they have been installed, all you will see are the flat door and drawer fronts, providing a sleek, simple aesthetic that can work with many design themes throughout the home.
Frameless cabinets do not have a center stile coming down in the middle of the two cabinet doors, providing easier access to the items inside, as well as more storage space to work with. The shelves are typically adjustable. Drawers in frameless cabinetry also tend to be larger because of the space saved by not having a face frame attached to the front.
So what’s the significance of these differences? Not too much, other than some style differences and a little less accessibility to the inside of framed cabinets. They both work well and just evolved from different design traditions.