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The Storage Differences of Frameless and Framed Cabinets

Jun 10, 2022
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When choosing new cabinetry for your kitchen, one of the first decisions you must make is choosing between framed and frameless cabinets. They’re similar in many ways but differ when it comes to storage space benefits. 

Our thorough guide will break down the storage differences of frameless and framed cabinets, the cost differences, the design potential of frameless cabinets, and more!

What Are Framed Cabinets?

Before discussing the differences between frameless and framed cabinets, you must know what framed cabinets are. Even if you know nothing about kitchen cabinets and don’t know their names, you’ve undoubtedly seen and used framed cabinets before.

Framed cabinets are the traditional American cabinets found in most kitchens today. They are “framed” because they feature a one- to one-half-inch frame around the lip of the cabinet opening that resembles a picture frame. The cabinet door is attached to the frame, giving it a more pronounced, forward dimension.

What Are Frameless Cabinets?

On the other hand, frameless cabinets are exactly what their name suggests—they’re cabinets that do not feature a frame. Because the frame is eliminated, there’s only the box left, which is slightly bigger and thicker to make up for the lost strength of the frame. 

Fun Fact: Frameless cabinets are primarily a European-style construction, and their prevalence in America grew with the increased popularity of IKEA stores.

You can only use full-overlay doors with frameless cabinets since the doors must be mounted to the side of the box instead of the frame. So, inset doors won’t work with frameless cabinets. Frameless cabinets are also sometimes referred to as full-access cabinets because they allow for more accessibility without the frame.

Which Cabinet Has More Storage Space?

We all want cabinets that look nice and go with our kitchen design, but we shouldn’t forget that the primary function of cabinets is storage. With that in mind, do frame or frameless cabinets have more storage space?

Since it doesn’t have a frame and center stile like framed cabinets, frameless cabinets offer more storage per linear foot. Why do these have more space? It’s as simple as the frameless cabinets have fewer parts and less hardware in the way of plates, appliances, and anything else you need to store.

How Much More Storage Space Do Frameless Cabinets Offer?

Frameless cabinets have more storage space, but how much? The frames of framed cabinets aren’t that big, so the two dimensions aren’t far apart. The significant discrepancy in space comes from the drawers and rollouts. Because frameless cabinets don’t have the center stile and added hardware, they get three-quarters of an inch of extra space on each side.

Using a cabinet with just a top drawer typically means a 2 percent increase in storage for a standard 24-inch cabinet. If the cabinet is all drawers or rollouts, that increases to about 8 percent.

Which Cabinet Is Easier To Install?

Whether installing your new cabinets yourself or hiring a professional, both framed and frameless cabinets are simple to install. The manufacturer mounts the frame of framed cabinets, so there’s no additional step for installers.

The only added challenge could come if you’re installing double-cabinet doors, as the center stall of framed cabinets can get in the way. But typically, this is more of a nuisance and won’t delay your kitchen remodeling significantly.

Which Cabinet Is More Expensive?

Along with storage space, a significant factor in the choice of cabinets is the cost. There are plenty of other factors that influence the cost of cabinets, from their size to the materials used.

Since frameless cabinets typically need to be bigger and thicker to offset the loss of strength from the lack of a frame, they usually cost a little more than their framed counterparts.

But, if you choose custom cabinets, Ultracraft frameless cabinets can be manufactured quicker since they don’t require the additional step of mounting a frame. Less time means fewer labor hours and more savings for you!

Benefits of Frameless Cabinets

Frameless cabinets don’t just offer more space, though. There are many other benefits of frameless cabinets, from the larger drawers to their contemporary style.


Since there’s no bulky frame taking up space in frameless cabinets, they’re easier to access than framed cabinets. Thanks to this easy access, frameless cabinets are easier to customize and adjust to your taste.

Homeowners can adjust the shelving with minimal effort, as there’s no center stile in the way, and the drawer and door margins are less than one-quarter inch.

Modern Style

If you want your kitchen to have a modern, sleek style, there’s no better choice for cabinetry than frameless cabinets. Frameless cabinets offer clean lines and a smooth, flush finish for doors, especially slab-style ones. 

This modern and minimalist design first took off in Europe, and since frameless cabinets were the predominant style, they made a natural pairing with the new contemporary trend. They’re so prevalent with modern kitchen designs that they’re practically a staple of the aesthetic.

Open Shelving Potential

Do you think you want open shelving, or at least want the option to try it? Frameless cabinets are the way to go because you don’t have the frame sticking in the way if you were to remove the doors.

With frameless cabinets, you can transition to new open shelving by simply removing the doors—no other costs or adjustments are needed!

What Kitchen Designs Utilize Frameless Cabinets?

The most popular kitchen design that frameless cabinets are found in is contemporary. Their clean and simple looks are ideal for those searching for a chic kitchen with little to no ornamentation.

But that’s not to say that frameless cabinets only work with modern layouts. Frameless cabinets have been around in Europe for a long time, before the rise of the contemporary kitchen. Any kitchen that needs to utilize every inch of space can benefit from frameless cabinets!

What Doors Fit With Frameless Cabinets?

You’ve decided to go with frameless cabinets, but what doors go with them? If you’re opting for a minimalist, contemporary design, slab-shaker doors would be your best bet.

Slab-style doors’ smooth, flush finish pairs ideally with frameless cabinets in a modern kitchen. But, frameless cabinets are by no means limited to slab-style. Raised panel, arch panel, shaker, and even cathedral doors pair seamlessly with frameless cabinets.

Today, we’ve covered the storage differences of frameless and framed cabinets, among many other things. If you have any other questions about frameless or framed designs or are ready to order your cabinets wholesale for your new kitchen, talk to the experts at iCabinetry Direct!

The Storage Differences of Frameless and Framed Cabinets

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