Are Frameless Kitchen Cabinets Right for Your Home? A Look at Pros, Cons, and Costs

Mizuki Hisaka
Written by Mizuki Hisaka
Updated March 3, 2022
Family hugging in kitchen
Photo: iStock / Getty Images

Highlights

  • Great for modern, contemporary, and minimalist kitchens

  • Ideal to maximize space

  • Easy to store items and clean

  • Finding frameless options can be challenging

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European-style kitchen cabinets are increasing in popularity in the U.S., thanks to their modern aesthetic. Frameless cabinetry provides the wow factor without any frills, and their neutral design allows you to have a wide range of freedom when choosing other kitchen design options like the backsplash, appliances, or lighting. 

These cabinets aren't just about their good looks either, as they offer some great perks (like more storage space) over their framed counterparts—but they have some downsides too.

What Are Frameless Kitchen Cabinets? 

Frameless cabinets exemplify the idea that less is more. They're simple and chic, appealing to minimalists that also want a luxe vibe. They’re called frameless because of the way they're built—they don’t have a face frame on the front of the cabinets.

Frameless vs. Framed Cabinets

Framed cabinets have been traditionally manufactured and favored in the U.S. They feature a 1.5-inch face frame that is attached to the front of the cabinet box, and the doors are installed onto the frame. When the doors are closed shut, they lay on the 2-inch stile in the middle of the cabinet.

On the other hand, frameless cabinets do not have a face frame. Instead, the doors attach directly onto the cabinet box.

Pros of Frameless Kitchen Cabinets

Woman opening kitchen cabinet
Photo: Leren Lu / Stone / Getty Images

There are visual and practical reasons for choosing frameless cabinets. Here are some points to consider.

Visual Appeal

When it comes to designing your kitchen, your choice of cabinetry is one of the most important decisions you will make. Frameless cabinets offer clean lines and a simplistic design that work extremely well for modern spaces.

A lot of the visual appeal comes from the full overlay doors that typically have a sleek 2-millimeter reveal. Also, the hinges are always obscured from view. You can take it one step further and opt for handleless doors so that your kitchen wall is totally flat with no visible hardware at all. Instead of handles, these doors have grooves or use magnet-and-spring mechanisms.

More Storage Space

Because frameless cabinets don’t have a face frame or a stile, you can enjoy unhampered shelf space. This is why frameless cabinets are sometimes referred to as full-access cabinets. It’s easier than ever to store your extra-large dishes or oddly shaped appliances. In addition, you’ll find that it’s simpler to install a trash can or organizers.

Frameless cabinetry offers an estimated 15% more storage. For each cabinet, you have easy access to 3 inches of more space than if you were to opt for framed cabinets. Moreover, each drawer is 1.5 inches wider. If you multiply the number of cabinets and drawers you plan to install, you can see that it adds up to be a considerable amount of space.

Easy to Clean

Another advantage of frameless cabinetry is that it's easy to clean. Since there is no railing on the front, you can wipe down the corners with ease. With framed cabinets, it can be hard to tell if there is dirt lurking in hard-to-see places.

Some frameless cabinet makers may also offer doors that have a quick-release button on the hinge. This makes it a cinch to wipe down the doors so you can keep kitchen cabinets looking like new.

Sturdiness

The general consensus is that frameless cabinets are just as sturdy as framed ones. Since frameless cabinets don’t have rails or stiles, the sturdiness is achieved by the heavy construction of the box.

These cabinets are typically constructed by attaching the top, sides, and bottom of the cabinet box to the back panel with dado joints. Dado joints are considered to be one of the strongest joints in woodworking.

Cons of Frameless Kitchen Cabinets

Even with all of the pros of frameless cabinets, it may not be the right choice for you. Here are some reasons why you may choose to stick with traditional framed cabinets.

Fewer Options

While frameless cabinets are increasing in popularity, most cabinet manufacturers seem to only offer a few options (if any) when it comes to frameless cabinets, so sourcing them may require a little digging. You can also consult a custom cabinet maker in your area to have them made according to your needs.

Overlay Doors 

Frameless cabinets will always have full overlay doors. If your heart is set on semi-overlay or inset doors, you'll have to go with framed cabinetry.

Cost 

The frameless option may cost more, with the most budget-friendly option estimated to start at $6,000. On the other hand, the most affordable framed cabinetry can start at $5,000.

Installing Frameless Cabinets

If you're planning on installing the cabinets yourself, know that frameless cabinets are considered to be a trickier install than framed cabinets. This is because any imperfections will be blatantly obvious. 

This makes it more difficult to install them on uneven walls, which are sometimes found in older homes. In these instances, it may benefit you to hire a cabinet installation company.

How Much Do Frameless Cabinets Cost?

Frameless kitchen cabinets can cost $6,000 to $30,000 or more, depending on materials and customizations. In comparison, framed cabinets can cost $5,000 to $20,000 or more.

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