Learn the Lingo of Kitchen Cabinet Door Styles
Monday, April 11, 2016
Understand door types, materials and cabinet face construction to make the right choice when you shop
Cabinets make a big style statement in kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms, and the doors, drawer fronts and side panels come in a wide range of options and prices.
3 Types of Cabinet Doors
Doors and drawers come in three types: inset, partial overlay and full overlay, also known as Euro style. Each has a slightly different look and function.
Inset cabinet doors. Most cabinets built in place in kitchens in the early 1900s have inset doors. Small hinges are mounted right on the face frame (the visible frame around the cabinet opening) or just inside it; the hinges are often visible when the door is shut.
The face of an inset cabinet door or drawer is in the same plane as the leading edge of the cabinet box. This very traditional look from the early 1900s can be replicated today but tends to be more expensive than other options. The inset also reduces space inside the cabinet, which means smaller drawers and hardware that requires extra blocking in the box.
Partial overlay cabinet doors. A modern upgrade from inset, partial overlay doors and drawers are mounted over the face of the box, covering the opening completely and partially covering the finished face frame. This construction also makes it possible to install more functional hardware, though the face frame still reduces the amount of accessible space inside the cabinet.
The aesthetic downside is that there can be wide expanses of visible face frame, making it look like the doors and drawers are dotting the surface, rather than defining it. The partial overlay shown here includes visible hinges.
Full overlay or Euro-style cabinet doors. The most modern iteration is a full overlay, meaning that the door or drawer face completely overlays the box — it covers not just the opening but the entire face of the box. There is no visible face frame with these cabinets when the doors are closed, which means hinges are utilized that allow the doors to open without hitting adjacent doors and drawers. The advantage of the overlay door style is that there are very small gaps between doors and drawers, creating a consistent and continuous appearance. It also allows the fullest possible access to the box. That means bigger drawers, smaller drawer guides and more space for storage. The downside is that extra care must be taken to make sure the doors and drawers do not collide — particularly in corners and with drawer pulls or knobs installed. Every fraction of an inch is important with these, so they require a high level of knowledge on the part of the cabinetmaker and installer.