Kitchen cabinets full overlay vs partial overlay [2023]

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Kitchen cabinets full overlay vs partial overlay, let’s find out what’s best for you! The kitchen is the heartbeat of a homestead, and it is essential to keep it updated as often as possible. Cabinets take up the most space in a kitchen. Therefore it would be best…

kitchen cabinets full overlay vs partial overlay

Here are the key points about kitchen cabinets with full overlay vs. partial overlay:

  1. Cabinet style choices can be overwhelming, but choosing the right one is essential for your taste and budget.
  2. Popular cabinet door styles include shaker style, slab cabinet doors, beadboard cabinets, glass-front cabinets, and raised panel doors.
  3. Framed cabinets come in three types: inset, full overlay, or partial overlay doors.
  4. Full overlay cabinet doors create a modern and seamless look, while partial overlay cabinet doors offer a more traditional look.
  5. Inset cabinet doors fit into the cabinet frame and provide a smooth and clean appearance when closed.
  6. Your choice between inset and overlay doors depends on your style preference and cabinet functionality.

…to choose the type that fits your style when planning a kitchen remodel. In addition, your kitchen cabinet door style is the most important factor to consider since cabinet doors are the most eye-catching design elements in the kitchen.

You might not know it, but full overlay, partial overlay, or inset cabinet door designs can give your kitchen a modern or traditional look. The type of cabinet door you choose affects the look of your kitchen and the project’s cost. It’s therefore essential to take time to research the design that fits your style.

We will guide you through the types of doors you can choose and the difference between overlay and inset cabinet doors.

Choosing Kitchen Cabinet Doors for Your Remodeling Project

When designing a new kitchen, choosing the cabinet style that is right for your taste can be daunting. There are hundreds of styles, materials, and colors to choose from, rendering the process stressful. On one hand, you don’t want to choose a modern cabinet that may become unfashionable in a few years. On the other hand, you don’t want to pick a more traditional design that could give your room an outdated look.

kitchen cabinets full overlay vs partial overlay daunting

Budget is another defining factor that can affect whether your cabinet doors are prefabricated or customized. The latter can be more expensive than the former due to the energy spent customizing a design.

It would help if you also considered your storage needs. For instance, cabinets featuring the inset door design use most of your storage compared to their overlay counterparts that utilize the available storage. With that in mind, there are so many kitchen styles offered by different manufacturers; and so you need to be careful while settling for one.

Different Cabinet Door Styles

The most popular kitchen cabinet styles to consider for your next kitchen remodel include the shaker style, slab cabinet doors, beadboard cabinets, glass-front cabinets, and recessed panel doors, among others. Here is a detailed description of the common cabinet doors:

Shaker Style is a timeless cabinet door style that can fit traditional, transitional, or modern kitchen designs. A shaker door features a flat panel with a frame that consists of stiles and rails. Stiles are the vertical pieces, while rails lay horizontally.

A Shaker door is also known as a “five-piece”, and it can complement various kitchen designs depending on the design elements you pair it with or how you customize it.

Slab Cabinet Doors are also known as flat panel cabinets. This style features a single smooth piece of wood, medium density fiberboard (MDF), or plywood. If you’re after a minimalist yet sophisticated look, you won’t go wrong with the flat panel cabinet doors.

This style comes in various finishes and veneers for you to choose from. Another perk of this cabinet style is that the doors are easy to clean since there aren’t crevices to attract dust or grease.

Glass-Front Cabinet Doors are yet another picture-perfect door style that adds to the perfection of a kitchen design. As the name suggests, glass-front cabinets feature a glassed face of the cabinet doors. This style breaks up a series of solid doors to display your choice of cookware, glassware, and other kitchen items. Many homeowners prefer this style since it reflects light and makes the kitchen seem brighter and larger.

However, remember that since glass is a delicate material, use it on a few select cabinets that you use less frequently or that store light and fragile items like glassware and spices.

Raised Panel Doors are classic and feature a raised center panel often surrounded by a frame. They add depth, emphasize a textured profile on your cabinets, and can fit both traditional and modern kitchen styles.

Cabinet Frame

Kitchen cabinets can either be framed or frameless. Framed cabinets have a face frame that resembles a picture frame covering the perimeter of the cabinet box. Frameless cabinets lack this feature but consequently allow room for more storage space.

kitchen cabinets full overlay vs partial overlay perimeter

Framed cabinets come in three types: inset, full overlay, or partial overlay doors. The frames can have exposed or hidden hinges and are made of plywood or hardwoods like maple, mahogany, or red oak.

Full Overlay Cabinet Doors and Drawers

Also known as modified overlay doors, the cabinet doors overlay on the entire cabinet face in this design. The doors and drawers aren’t set inside the cabinet frame; therefore the face frame around each door and drawer front doesn’t show. These full overlay door type designs can give your cabinets a seamless and modern look.

The one downside to full overlay cabinet doors is that their corners are exposed, making them prone to nicks and damage over time.

What are Inset Cabinets?

Inset doors fit into the cabinet frame and give your cabinets a smooth, clean appearance when closed. Inset cabinet doors require hardware like a drawer pulls to open. With inset doors, hinges can either be exposed or concealed.

In terms of cost, the sleek and smooth appearance of inset cabinets comes at a price. They are more expensive than overlay cabinet doors by a price difference of 15-30%. Also, this design provides the least amount of storage; so it is difficult to store large kitchenware. Maintenance is another issue regarding inset cabinets; you might have to adjust the doors due to the expansion of wood resulting from high humidity levels.

Framed Standard Overlay Cabinets

Framed Overlay Cabinets have a face frame at the front of the cabinet box. The doors attach to the face frame; so the cabinet box is more stable and strong. Framed standard overlay cabinets feature drawers and doors that are slightly larger than the cabinet openings. The door and drawer face overlap the face frame slightly.

Framed Full Overlay Cabinetry

Similarly, framed full overlay cabinets feature a face frame. However, their door and drawer faces are larger than the cabinet openings, and they overlap the face frame, leaving only a slight reveal. The reveal of the face frame is approximately ¼ inch.

Full Overlay Cabinets Defined

A full overlay cabinet door shows very little of the cabinet face frame around each door and drawer front. With only a ¼ inch of space that is not fully covered, this style results in your kitchen’s seamless and modern look.

Partial Overlay Cabinets

The doors cover a ½ inch of cabinet door and drawer fronts in partial overlay cabinet designs. Therefore, about 2 inches of the cabinet face frame is left exposed between the doors. This door style creates a more traditional look in the kitchen.

Standard Overlay

Similar to the partial overlay, the standard overlay cabinet door design is also known as traditional or half overlay. This design maximizes cabinet space since it completely covers the space between cabinets.

Partial Overlay Cabinet Doors

As already established, partial overlay cabinet doors leave a 2-inch visible strip of their frame across the face of the cabinet. The doors and drawers overlap the frame uniformly next to the opening of the cabinets. The half overlay design is more affordable than inset cabinet doors, giving off a traditional look.

kitchen cabinets full overlay vs partial overlay across

Partial overlay doors are also easy to install since they do not require the same precision as full overlay and inset cabinet doors.

Pros of Partial Overlay Cabinets

  • Partial overlay door is an affordable option.
  • They offer more storage.
  • They can fit in both modern and traditional designs.
  • They can be used on both framed and frameless cabinets.

Cons of Partial Overlay Cabinets

  • Although they offer more storage, half overlay cabinets provide a more restricted storage space compared to full overlays.
  • Partial overlay doors can sometimes dot the surface of your cabinetry instead of defining them.
  • Partial overlay cabinets give off a more traditional look, and are therefore not ideal in modern-design spaces.

Inset Cabinet Pros and Cons

Inset cabinets are a go-to choice for many homeowners during kitchen remodeling projects because of the following reasons:

  • They define the look in vintage and transitional designs.
  • The cabinet door corners do not get scratched or damaged easily.
  • They are easy to customize and come in different paint colors.
  • They feature minimal and clean lines.

Inset cabinet doors have several disadvantages, including:

  • They are expensive compared to overlay door designs.
  • They are framed and therefore take up more storage space than frameless cabinet designs.
  • Inset cabinets require a lot of maintenance, like door and drawer adjustments.
  • They require hardware since the door is flat.

Inset Cabinets vs Overlay Cabinets: Which Is Better?

After understanding the difference between the inset and overlay doors, the choice narrows down to your style preference and the functionality of the cabinets. If you prefer to preserve your storage space, overlay doors are the best option for your base cabinet space. With inset cabinets, you sacrifice functionality for your kitchen’s sleek look.

kitchen cabinets full overlay vs partial overlay understanding

Consider consulting with your custom cabinet maker to see if you can achieve both space and authentic looks with the full overlay doors.

Options and Customizations

Despite their pros and cons, inset and overlay cabinets can be customized to suit your style preference. With inset cabinet doors, you can use visible or concealed hinges, but full overlay only works with hidden hinges. Partial overlay cabinets can bypass hardware since you can easily open them without a drawer pull or knob. You cannot open inset and full overlay cabinets without hardware.

Inset vs Full Overlay vs Partial Overlay Cabinet Doors

Note that inset cabinets are more durable because their doors are located inside the face frame; therefore cannot scratch or nick easily. However, they are an expensive option compared to overlay cabinets. Take your time to weigh your options before deciding.

Ariel Path

With over three decades of experience in food manufacturing and kitchen design, I bring a wealth of knowledge to the table. My expertise spans across various aspects of the culinary world, from kitchen appliances to cooking techniques, food selection, and promoting a healthy lifestyle. My ultimate goal is to educate and inspire you in creating your dream kitchen, where functionality meets aesthetics. As a trusted source, I strive to provide valuable insights and guidance to make your kitchen remodel an enjoyable and successful experience. Together, let's transform your space into a culinary haven that reflects your unique style and meets your specific needs. See more details here.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Avatar photo
    Samantha Woodside

    I recently went through this process myself and ultimately decided to go with full overlay doors for my base cabinets. I found that this option provided the perfect balance of functionality and aesthetic appeal for my kitchen.

    1. cropped ariel path
      Ariel Path

      Thank you for sharing your experience with the cabinets! It’s great to hear that you ultimately decided to go with full overlay doors for your base cabinets and that they provided the perfect balance of functionality and aesthetic appeal for your kitchen. I completely agree that the decision between inset and overlay cabinets ultimately comes down to personal preference and the functionality of the space. I’m glad to hear that you found a solution that worked well for your kitchen, and I hope you continue to enjoy your new cabinets for many years to come!

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