frameless vs framed cabinets

Frameless Cabinets

Just as the name suggests, frameless cabinets consist of individual boxes without frames. The strength and stability comes from attaching the boxes to one another and the wall. Unlike framed cabinets, the box part of the cabinet is completely covered, creating a sleek appearance. The hinges are on the inside of the cabinets.

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How Much Do Frameless Cabinets Cost?

The price of frameless cabinets varies widely based upon the type of wood or material you choose and the size of your kitchen. Generally, they start at about $5,000 and run upwards of $15,000. High-end frameless cabinets can run $30,000 or more. Because there are fewer materials, frameless cabinets are usually less expensive than framed cabinets.

Frameless Cabinets Pros

  • More storage – Because there’s no frame to create a narrower opening, frameless cabinets offer more storage space. Frameless cabinets are sometimes referred to as “full access cabinets.”
  • Faster to construct – Frameless cabinets are quicker and easier to install because there is no frame to construct. The shelves are easier to mount because they don’t have to be tilted to fit inside the frame.
  • Modern look – Frameless cabinets have long been popular in Europe, but they’re relatively new in the United States. They have a clean look that compliments modern kitchens.

Frameless Cabinets Cons

  • Unconventional – Because frameless cabinets are uncommon in the United States, the look is different than what most homeowners are used to seeing. This could be a pro or a con, depending on personal preference.
  • Fewer cabinet makers – Many custom and semi-custom cabinet makers only do framed cabinets; they don’t have expertise with frameless. You’ll have a harder time finding a cabinet maker who can or wants to do frameless.
  • Not as sturdy – Many experts say frameless cabinets are not as sturdy because they do not have the frame for support.
Frameless vs Framed Cabinets

Particle Board Cabinets Cons

  • Strength – Even high-quality particle board isn’t as strong as plywood. You might need extra supports if you’re installing a heavy countertop over particle board cabinets. Particle board also scratches and dents more easily.
  • Moisture damage – Particle board is not as water resistant as plywood, so it is more susceptible to moisture damage. Of course, neither is waterproof. Any major leakage or flooding can ruin both particle board and plywood.

Plywood Cabinets

Plywood is used more often than particle board for cabinet boxes and has long been considered the better choice for its strength. Just like particle board, however, the material has its pros and cons.

Plywood is made from multiple layers of wood veneer. The layers are built with the grain running in alternating patterns for added strength. Plywood is sold in different thicknesses. Expensive cabinets will use 3/4-inch plywood while less expensive models will use 1/2-inch plywood.

How Much Do Plywood Cabinets Cost?

Plywood costs between 10 and 20 percent more than particle board. A $10,000 set of cabinets with particle board might cost $11,000 to $12,000 with plywood. Not surprisingly, 3/4-inch plywood costs more than 1/2-inch plywood. However, the difference is usually only about $10 per sheet.

Some cabinet makers offer a combination of particle board and plywood. You can upgrade to plywood for the sink base, where moisture is a problem, but use particle board everywhere else. That minimizes the cost difference.

Plywood Cabinets Pros

  • Strength – Plywood is a stronger material that can hold greater weight, mostly because of the interweaving design of the boards. It is also more resistant to moisture, scratching and denting.
  • Look – Many people like the look of plywood better than particle board, although some people aren’t concerned at all with the way the inside of their cabinets look. Particle board also has a better color.
  • Easier to repair – Plywood can be patched and repaired more easily. And it is better able to withstand drilling.

Plywood Cabinets Cons

  • Variability – Plywood isn’t as consistent throughout. There may be gaps or holes where the boards were combined. This can make it more difficult to install because the cabinets won’t line up as perfectly.
  • Cost – Again, plywood tends to be more expensive.

Framed Cabinets

Chances are, these are the kind of cabinets in your kitchen now. Framed cabinets consist of a plywood or particle board cabinet boxes held together by a frame that is affixed to the front. With framed cabinets, hinges are placed on the outside of the cabinets.

How Much Do Framed Cabinets Cost?

The price of framed cabinets also varies widely based on the type of wood or material you choose and the size of your kitchen. Stock cabinets from a big box store start at about $5,000, a semi-custom set might cost $10,000, and custom-built cabinetry might cost $20,000 to $30,000.

Framed Cabinets Pros

  • Conventional look – Framed cabinets are ideal for traditional-style kitchens. They may also be better for resale value, given that many buyers are not accustomed to the look of frameless cabinets.
  • Sturdier – The frame brings additional strength and support to the cabinets. Framed cabinets are generally considered more structurally sound.

Framed Cabinets Cons

  • Less storage – Because of the frame, these traditional-style cabinets have narrow door and drawer openings, leaving less storage space.
  • More expensive – Framed cabinets tend to be more expensive than similar frameless cabinets because they require more material.

Author: Ashley Smith

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