Inset Cabinets or Frameless Cabinets ?

Inset or Frameless Cabinets: Which is Best for Your Kitchen Remodel?

One of the best ways to get an instant update to your Tallahassee kitchen–in terms of aesthetics and functionality–is by replacing your cabinets. Kitchen cabinets are the most prominent single feature of your kitchen, and when they’re beautiful and functional, your whole kitchen feels better. If you’re considering updating your kitchen cabinets, you may find yourself considering whether inset or frameless cabinets are better. We at McManus Kitchen and Bath have strong opinions on the subject–read on to learn more.

What Are Inset Cabinets?

Even if you didn’t know the name before, you’ve seen inset cabinets and drawers on Pinterest, Houzz, and home design shows. Inset kitchen cabinets have doors and drawers that are set inside the frame of the cabinet, fitting flush with the front of the cabinet when closed. They must use knobs and handles since the doors and drawers sit flat within the frame. They qualify as a type of framed cabinet.

Inset kitchen cabinets are a favorite of designers and high-end cabinet makers all over the country. They’re very popular, especially in retro or vintage-style kitchens. In fact, if you were born in the ‘80s or earlier, the kitchen you grew up with probably had inset cabinets. They look both elegant and cool, so it’s no wonder that people love the aesthetic they give.


frameless cabinets

What Are Frameless Cabinets?

Frameless kitchen cabinets don’t have a face frame (like framed cabinets do–including inset cabinets), and they also don’t have inset doors and drawers. Instead, the hinges attach to the cabinet box, and when the doors and drawers are closed, there is a full overlay. This means that the cabinet face is fully covered by the door or drawer.

There are many types and styles of frameless cabinets, from traditional to ultra-contemporary. You can find a frameless cabinet to go with any aesthetic or look you want for your kitchen. Frameless cabinets are classy, easy to maintain, come in endless styles, and give you a ton of storage space. We always recommend them.

Frameless kitchen cabinets

Frameless cabinets (left) do not have a face frame applied like inset cabinets do. This means more storage and larger drawers.


Pros and Cons of Inset Cabinets

Sometimes you need to see a good pros and cons list to help you decide what type of cabinet is right for you.

Pros of inset cabinets include:

  • They are trendy, sleek, and stunning. The smooth face provides a clean look, which is very appealing. 
  • They give a refined, elegant, custom feel to your kitchen.
  • Because the edges and corners are flush with the frame, they’re less likely to be nicked or worn. 
  • They use less exterior space, which can help make a small kitchen feel bigger.

Cons of inset cabinets include:

  • They are more expensive. Because each door and drawer needs to sit exactly in its place with no room for error, they need to be carefully constructed and installed. In fact, they can cost 15-30% more than overlay doors.
  • They often require maintenance and adjustments to keep them opening and closing smoothly.
  • Since they are framed cabinets, you lose precious inches of space inside each cabinet and drawer.
  • They don’t work well with modern designs.
  • You must use hardware–knobs, pulls, etc. 
  • In high-humidity areas, like Tallahassee, they can swell and stick.

framed vs frameless kitchen cabinets tallahassee fl

framed vs frameless kitchen cabinets tallahassee fl

Frameless Does Not Mean Modern

A common misconception is that frameless cabinets are only used in modern designs. In fact frameless cabinets come in any style you want. The only difference is the cabinet box construction. Both kitchens above are done with frameless cabinets.

Pros and Cons of Frameless Cabinets

By now it’s no secret: we love frameless cabinets. We always prefer them and recommend them for every style of kitchen.

Pros of frameless cabinets include:

  • They offer more storage space. Since the job of kitchen cabinets is to store stuff, this is an important point. Frameless cabinets use every inch of storage space available in the most efficient way possible.
  • They last much longer and need much less maintenance and adjustments than their inset counterparts, since they aren’t subject to the continual wear and tear of the doors and drawers sliding in and out of the frame.
  • They are more affordable.
  • The drawers are bigger: they’re deeper and wider since all the available space is used by the drawer box.
  • They are easier to clean since there aren’t as many nooks and crannies for stuff to build up in.
  • They work well with all design styles.
  • Two-door cabinets don’t have a center stile, the rail that runs down the middle. This makes it much easier to get larger items in and out.

Cons of frameless cabinets include: 

  • They don’t look like inset cabinets. To be honest, that’s the only con we know of. But they do have their own aesthetic charm, and they provide truly versatile design options that look at home in all kinds of modern kitchen designs. Maybe that’s not really a con after all.

Frameless Cabinets by Decor

A lot of companies make frameless cabinets in the US but very few specialize in them. And since frameless cabinets are unique we always recommend working with a company that specializes in them. Decor Cabinety is our go to, though we also have frameless cabinets by Luxor and Kith Cabinetry.  They offer incredible versatility and top-of-the-line quality. Plus, they’re customizable, so you can get exactly the look and design you want without compromising on looks, functionality, or quality. McManus Kitchen and Bath is the only retailer in Tallahassee that carries this exclusive brand, and we are proud to do so.

But I Really Love Inset Cabinets–What Should I Do?

Even though frameless designs are our favorite and what we recommend, you should prioritize what matters most to you. If you love the look of inset cabinets, we can help you! While there are a number of companies that make semi-custom inset cabinets, including our Dura Supreme cabinet line, we recommend you choose custom cabinets. Why?

Dura Supreme makes excellent cabinets, some of the best in the industry, actually. But insert cabinets require extra attention to detail and higher quality control. It will cost you a little more, but since you’re already invested in spending more for the inset look, investing in really good ones is the way to go. It will make a difference.

Inset Cabinets From CWP

When it comes to inset cabinetry our go to is Custom Wood Products.  CWP makes a high qualify cabinet and use really good hardware. They also gang build their cabinets, which is unique. Gang building means instead of just building each cabinet individually they build multiple cabinets together whenever the design allows. This is very helpful when making inset cabinets because the tolerances are tighter.

Have we won you over to frameless cabinets? Regardless of the type you choose, if a kitchen remodel is in your future, we’d love to help. Contact us today and let’s talk about what your kitchen needs in order to become the beautiful and functional space you know it can be.

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Design Build Remodeling Contractor, Tallahassee

McManus Kitchen and Bath is a design build remodeling contractor with a full service showroom right here in Tallahassee. We help homeowners update their home with a turn key process so you can enjoy the remodeling experience as much as you’ll enjoy the result.

We start with a detailed and realistic budget. From there your designer will help you explore options, choose the perfect materials and create a final design specific to your needs.

Once design is complete we order everything for you and store it until needed. Your dedicated project manager supervises all on site construction and makes sure your home stays clean and safe throughout the project.