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Are frameless cabinets sturdy? 3 Common Questions about Frameless

June 18th, 2024 | 4 min read

By Callie Lovejoy

A fast-growing trend in kitchen design is frameless kitchen cabinets. Inspired by European styles, frameless kitchen cabinets create a modern, minimalist atmosphere. Do they live up to all the hype?

We here at JSB Home Solutions have seen kitchen trends come and go over the last 46 years of remodeling central Ohio kitchens. A kitchen remodel is a large investment and something that you will be living with for years to come. We want you to be confident in the selections you make so that your kitchen will be the best that it can be for your lifestyle.

In this article, we will explain the difference between frameless and framed kitchen cabinets and answer the most common questions homeowners ask as they consider frameless cabinets.

Table of Contents:

What Are Frameless Kitchen Cabinets?

diagram of the difference between framed and frameless cabinetsFrameless kitchen cabinets are a modern/contemporary style of cabinet that does not have a face frame. Instead, the doors and drawer fronts cover the entire front of the cabinet, including the bare cabinet box. Frameless cabinets are also called full-access cabinets.

The other main category of kitchen cabinets is framed cabinets. These usually have a more traditional style and a 1 ½” - 3” face frame that resembles a picture frame around the cabinet opening. Framed cabinets are not limited to traditional styles though. You can choose cabinet door/drawer styles and kitchen cabinet overlays that cover the entire range of kitchen design styles.

Explore these common questions about frameless cabinets as you consider the style you want to create during your kitchen remodel.

Are Frameless Cabinets Sturdy?

The unhelpful answer is, “It depends.” To achieve frameless cabinets that are square and sturdy, they require expert craftsmen to install them correctly.

While the cabinet may be able to hold as much weight as framed cabinets, frameless cabinet boxes are prone to being out of square after transport and installation. This leads to a whole host of problems including:

  • The cabinet will no longer lay flat against the wall.
  • The doors cannot be adjusted to align properly.
  • Drawers and pull outs will not function properly.
  • Added strain is put on the construction of the cabinet which then weakens the structure.

There are many other characteristics to consider when assessing the quality of a cabinet. When comparing cabinets from different companies, be sure that these characteristics are the same to make an apples to apples comparison.

  • Type of Wood: Cabinets can be made out of many different categories of wood: hardwoods (i.e. poplar, maple, oak, cherry, walnut, and hickory), softwoods (i.e. soft maple, beech, and birch), plywood, medium density fiberboard (MDF), or particle board. Hardwoods are more expensive but result in a much stronger cabinet.
  • Drawer Guides: Drawers can only hold as much weight as their drawer guides will allow. Usually, the guides will have a weight limit listed on them. For example, the full-extension, soft-close drawer guides on JSB’s kitchen cabinets are rated for up to 100 lbs, making it very hard to overload your drawers.
  • Image of the dovetail joint at the corner of drawer boxesHow Drawer Boxes are Constructed: There are many ways that the sides of a drawer box can come together at the corner. One of the strongest joints is called a dovetail joint and doesn’t require any additional fasteners like glue, nails, or screws. This joint also gets tighter over time as the wood shrinks with age. Dovetail joints are considered by woodworking experts to be the hallmark of traditional quality.

Can Frameless Cabinets Give You More Usable Space?

In a kitchen cabinet with shelves, a frameless cabinet will have the same amount of shelf space inside as a framed cabinet. The opening of a framed cabinet will be slightly smaller but you will still have the same amount of space inside the cabinet. Good framed cabinets will only have a small lip from the face frame and should not interfere with accessing the cabinet.

A frameless kitchen cabinet with drawers will only give you 1 - 3 extra inches of space. With a maximum 3 extra inches, that’s about one extra fork slot in a drawer organizer. Good quality framed cabinets will allow you to easily access all of its contents on a shelf or in a drawer without the face frame getting in the way.

Framed kitchen cabinet showing that the space inside is not blocked by the face frameImage showing that the drawer boxes are as wide as the cabinet opening

Kitchen Cabinet Organization

There are countless organization options for your kitchen cabinets such as roll-out shelves, adjustable shelves and pull-outs, drawer organizers, pull-out spice racks, cookie sheet organizers, double roll-out trash cans, and much more.

Image showing the adjustable shelves with metal shelf clips
Adjustable Shelves
Image showing adjustable pull-out shelves for cabinet organization
Adjustable Pull-Out Shelves
Cabinet pull-out spice rack for beside cooking area

Built-In Pull-Out Spice Rack

Image of a built-in pull-out cookie sheet or cutting board organizer for cabinets
Built-In Pull-Out Cookie Sheet or Cutting Board Organizer
Image of a double trash can cabinet pull-out
Double Roll-Out Trashcan Cabinet
Image of a built in drawer organizer for utensils
Utensil Drawer Built-In Organizer


Consider how you will use each cabinet based on your kitchen layout rather than only how large a cabinet is. Here we show you a few examples of what is available with our custom Amish-built kitchen cabinets here at JSB.

Can Frameless Cabinets be Updated with Cabinet Refacing?

If you have frameless cabinets in your home already, they cannot be updated using a true kitchen cabinet refacing process. While you could replace the doors and drawer fronts, you’ll be left with an edge of your cabinet box and any filler pieces that you can’t do anything with. When frameless kitchen cabinets are worn out, scratched, or dented, they have to be removed and discarded.

Navy blue, full-overlay framed cabinetCan I get a Modern Kitchen Design without Using Frameless Cabinets?

Yes, you absolutely can! Choosing a full overlay and high gloss finish will make framed cabinets nearly identical to the frameless aesthetic. Simple door and drawer front styles like a “slab” door or shaker door also help create the minimalist look of frameless cabinets. You will still need hardware on your cabinets but selecting exaggerated, long pulls in bold colors like gold or copper will only add to the modern atmosphere of your kitchen.

Are Frameless Kitchen Cabinets the Best Choice for My Remodel?

Kitchen cabinets are a used and abused piece of your kitchen. You need to make sure that the cabinets you choose will withstand everything that your lifestyle throws at them.

If your number one priority for your kitchen remodel is to achieve the modern, European aesthetic, then frameless kitchen cabinets are the way to go.

If you need more convincing, compare frameless and framed kitchen cabinets to give you peace of mind over your decision.

Remodeling a kitchen involves a lot of intricate decisions and it can be challenging to find clear and complete information. Ask the same questions to all contractors you interview for your project and write down each of their answers for comparison later. And then trust your gut! After all your research, you’ll be able to recognize the best kitchen remodeler to help you reach your perfect kitchen.

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