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Cabinet Contruction Types

Framed vs Full Access Cabinets

When choosing new kitchen cabinets, one of the first decisions that should be made is one many people aren’t even aware of - are framed or full access cabinets the better choice?

Fortunately, there isn’t a wrong answer to this question, as both types of cabinet construction can be equally durable and offer a wide array of style and design options. To decide which type of construction is best for you, it is important to understand the unique advantages provided by each.


What is Framed Construction?

In framed construction, a face-frame resembling a picture frame, typically made from ¾” thick solid wood, is attached to the cabinet front. Hinges and doors are mounted directly to the frame, which helps keep the rest of the cabinet box stable.

Advantages of framed construction include:

  • Framed construction is the most popular in North American cabinet-making.

  • Face frames give the cabinet added strength by supporting the weight of the doors and help keep the cabinets from racking (twisting) during transportation.

  • Depending on the manufacturer, the face frame may extend beyond the width of the cabinet, creating a ¼” reveal, sometimes known as a “scribe”. In tight installation conditions, scribes can be trimmed, making framed cabinets an installer-friendly option.

  • Framed cabinets allow for three distinct overlay options - Traditional Overlay, Full Overlay, and Inset.

What is Full Access Construction?

In contrast to framed cabinets, full access cabinets do not have a face frame. Hinges and doors are mounted directly to the cabinet box. The lack of a face frame does not mean full access cabinets are missing an important part.

In fact, full access construction (also known as frameless or European-style) offers several advantages:

  • Full access cabinets offer a 27% larger opening to the cabinet’s interior, making it easier to fit and move stored plates, platters, and cookware in and out.*

  • Drawer boxes are 23% wider and offer nearly 50% more cubic inches of storage space in full access cabinets.**

  • Double-door full access cabinets are designed not to sag without the use of center stiles, which divide accessible storage space in half in some framed cabinets.

  • Only 1/16” of the cabinet face is revealed, creating a sleek look with seamless lines that cannot be achieved with framed cabinets.

  • You can stack your dinner plates high and slide them out without lifting. The bottoms of full access cabinets are not obstructed by a face frame, making it easier to remove stored items and wipe the cabinet interiors clean of dust and crumbs.

  • Full access cabinets sold at Consumers are 13” deep, as opposed to the industry standard 12” deep, allowing you to properly fit standard 10” diameter dinner plates.

  • Our full access cabinets get their integrity from a ⅝” thick fully captured, machine-fitted back panel. It is like having the face frame on the back of the cabinet where it doesn’t interfere with your access!

* Comparison made using 12” wide wall cabinets
** Comparison made using 15” wide base cabinets


The full access advantage: 27% Larger, unobstructed openings. 

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