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Framed vs. Frameless Kitchen Cabinets: Which Style is Right for You?

June 26th, 2024 | 5 min read

By Callie Lovejoy

Think about your relationship with your kitchen. 

Do you love the vibe it brings to your home? 

Or is it an eyesore that you would rather get away from as quickly as possible?

You should love to be in your kitchen where “Americans spend more than 400 hours a year” according to the New York Post. A recent popular trend in kitchen cabinet styles is frameless cabinets, creating a modern, minimalist aesthetic common in European kitchens.

We here at JSB Home Solutions have been remodeling central Ohio kitchens for over 45 years. We have installed frameless kitchen cabinets. We have torn out frameless kitchen cabinets. We have also designed modern-style kitchens using framed cabinets. From this experience, we know there is often confusion about the differences and benefits of framed and frameless kitchen cabinets. 

In this article, we will help you compare framed and frameless kitchen cabinets by evaluating them in many categories including costs, installation timelines, customization, space, and maintenance. Presenting the information this way allows you to decide which type of cabinet is best for your kitchen remodel project.

Table of Contents:

What Are Framed and Frameless Kitchen Cabinets?

In framed kitchen cabinets, there is a face frame attached to the front of the cabinet box that resembles a picture frame around the cabinet opening. This type of cabinet construction is typical of American cabinetry to create anything from traditional and rustic vibes to modern and industrial designs.

Frameless kitchen cabinets do away with the face frame. It’s a European style that lends itself to modern, contemporary, minimalist kitchen aesthetics.

Something as simple as the face frame adds many things to consider as you plan to replace kitchen cabinets. The table here will give you a summary of the information covered in this article.


Frameless Cabinets

Framed Cabinets


$25,000 - $30,000

$22,000 - $28,000

Installation Timeline

5 or more days

2 to 3 days

Installation Difficulty (scale of 1 = easy to 5 = difficult)



Compatible Design Style 

Modern, Contemporary, Minimalist

Nearly Any Style

Design Customization (scale of 1 = limited to 5 = wide range)



Organizer Options

Any (drawer dividers, roll-out shelves, trash can pull-outs, spice racks, etc.)

Any (drawer dividers, roll-out shelves, trash can pull-outs, spice racks, etc.)

Usable Drawer Space

Same as Cabinet Width

1” - 3” Less than Cabinet Width

Usable Shelf Space

Same as Cabinet Width

Same as Cabinet Width

Maintenance Requirements

Adjusting of Hinges Seasonally (twice a year)



How Much Do Framed and Frameless Kitchen Cabinets Cost?

A medium-sized (14’ x 16’), entry-level kitchen remodel will cost $22,000 - $28,000 if you use framed cabinets with no additional organization options. This includes installation costs.

If you choose frameless kitchen cabinets, this same kitchen remodel would cost $25,000 - $30,000. The biggest reason for the cost difference is the labor of installing frameless cabinets.

How Long Does it Take to Install Framed and Frameless Kitchen Cabinets?

Installing the kitchen cabinets is just one piece of a kitchen remodel project timeline. 

Not including demolition of the original kitchen, framed kitchen cabinets take 2-3 days to install. Framed cabinets will come wrapped in protective packaging and will be delivered to your house when your project is ready. Once on site, the packaging is removed, cabinets are set in place, and then they are attached securely to the walls or floor. This process is also easy enough for beginner craftsmanship skills.

Frameless kitchen cabinets take 5 or more days to install. Because frameless cabinets don’t have a face frame, they easily get twisted out of alignment during transportation. Extra attention is necessary to make sure that the cabinets are square and level throughout the installation process. If frameless kitchen cabinets are installed out of alignment, you can end up with a whole list of issues including:

  • Cabinet doors will not be able to be adjusted so that they line up
  • Drawers and Roll-Outs will not pull out smoothly 
  • The strength of the cabinet can be compromised

The function and strength of frameless cabinets depend on correct installation. Therefore it is best to leave frameless cabinets to the experts - even if it’s not us.

Can I Customize Framed and Frameless Kitchen Cabinets?

Design style is one of the top reasons homeowners choose frameless kitchen cabinets. Frameless kitchen cabinets create a modern, contemporary atmosphere in your kitchen with sleek lines and high gloss finishes. You can add any available kitchen cabinet accessories to frameless cabinets such as built-in utensil organizers, pull-out spice racks, double trash bin pull-outs, and many more. 

Framed kitchen cabinets can be designed to fit almost any aesthetic you want to create in your kitchen. From traditional, farmhouse, or beach cottage to modern, minimalist, or contemporary, framed cabinets are the epitome of flexibility. You also have the option to include any of the same kitchen cabinet accessories as frameless cabinets.

How Much Space Is in Framed and Frameless Kitchen Cabinets?

It’s often thought that frameless kitchen cabinets give you more usable space compared to framed cabinets. However, this is only true when comparing the drawers between the two cabinet types.

The size of the drawer box is determined by the width and height of the opening in the front of the cabinet. A framed cabinet will have a slightly smaller opening for the drawer than a frameless cabinet, usually a difference of 1” - 3”. That’s about one extra fork slot in a utensil organizer. Many framed cabinets maximize the drawer space by using under-mount drawer glides. These attach to the bottom of the drawer so no width has to be sacrificed to make room for the drawer glides.

When you compare shelves in framed and frameless cabinets, the amount of space is the same. Framed cabinets will have a small lip around the opening because of the face frame. Frameless cabinets will also have a small lip from the cabinet doors. In both cases, it is minimal and doesn’t affect the accessibility of the cabinet. 

One caveat is that if you choose a partial overlay framed cabinet, there will be a center rail of the face frame that will cover the middle portion of the opening so there isn’t a gap when the doors are closed. Some homeowners don’t like having to work around this rail. 

A full overlay framed cabinet will not need this rail in the center and are often indistinguishable from frameless cabinets.

What kind of Maintenance is Associated with Framed and Frameless Kitchen Cabinets?

Framed kitchen cabinets have virtually no maintenance. They may need to be wiped down from daily use, spills, or dirty handprints but a washcloth with just water or some mild soap will usually do the trick.

Frameless kitchen cabinets are known to need regular adjusting of the door hinges. Humidity can affect kitchen cabinets and cause them to shrink or swell. Since frameless cabinets don’t have the added stability of a face frame, they tend to move more than framed cabinets. When they do, you will need to adjust the door hinges about twice a year so they are aligned with each other. You may also end up with drawers that rub or get stuck.

Are Framed or Frameless Kitchen Cabinets Right for Me?

The largest and most used feature in your kitchen is easily the cabinets, especially if they contain snacks! They can set the tone for your entire kitchen design. It’s critical to select kitchen cabinets that are beautiful and functional for you.

If you want the modern look and are okay with paying a little bit more and doing regular maintenance, then frameless kitchen cabinets could be for you. 

If you are more budget-conscious and searching for stability, strength, and design customization, then framed cabinets would be your best fit. 

Check out our kitchen project galleries (including before & after photos) for inspiration as you plan your kitchen remodel. You can also learn more about what it takes to replace kitchen cabinets.

Imagine yourself in your space as you explore design styles and the functionality of your kitchen. A successful remodeling project turns your vision into a reality. For help planning and executing your vision, schedule a free in-home consultation with a JSB Home Solutions design consultant.

Schedule Free In-Home Consultation