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Going European:  Frameless Kitchen Cabinets

Frameless or European cabinets are one of two primary types of kitchen cabinets. The most noticeable characteristic of frameless cabinetry is the apparent lack of a gap (about 1/8”) between cabinet doors. Homeowners in favor of a seamless cabinetry look are good candidates for the European style.

Frameless vs. Face-Framed Cabinets

While the gapless appearance is the most visual indicator, the substantial difference between frameless cabinets and their rival, face-framed, is in the framing itself.Face-frame kitchen cabinet remodel European cabinets are each framed separately. So if you have four 30” upper cabinets in a row, your cabinet installer will mount four individual cabinet boxes. Frameless kitchen cabinet remodelContrarily, four similar face-frame cabinets (historically more common this side of the Atlantic) would be part of the same 120” cabinet box with a face framed over the interior components (called stiles and rails). That face frame is typically 2 1/2” wide, which leads to a relatively large gap between face-framed cabinets, a design in stark opposition to frameless versions.

For European cabinets, cabinet boxes are mounted onto the wall, each succeeding box fastened to its predecessor to form a tight and seamless (if largely hidden) frame. Frameless cabinets also come with concealed hinges specially designed for just such an application. On face-frame cabinets, the hinges have traditionally been exposed and rather ornate, although hybrid cabinet types now exist (essentially face-framed cabinets with concealed hinges).

Frameless cabinets, also known as European cabinets, are great for homeowners that love the contemporary, seamless cabinetry look in their kitchens. The most noticeable characteristic of frameless cabinetry is the apparent lack of a gap (about 1/8”) between cabinet doors. Here are the basics to get you started.

Costs

The cost of frameless kitchen cabinets depends on the manufacturer, type and quality of the materials used, as well as the size of the cabinets themselves. Because these variables cause quite a bit of fluctuation in pricing, it’s best to get a quote from a cabinet installer and go from there.

Pros

Frameless cabinets are easier to install than models with a frame.

Perfect for a simple, streamlined look, and go especially well in contemporary, modern or midcentury-style kitchens.

Frameless cabinets are built without external frames, and therefore take up less room.

Cons

Frameless cabinets may be difficult to find in your area.

Depending on which style you choose, the look of frameless cabinets may not appeal to most potential buyers down the road.

Durability

The overall durability of frameless cabinets depends on the quality of the construction and specific materials used. However, they are usually sturdier and more durable than framed cabinets because the whole box is made from plywood or particleboard. This consistency provides a stronger foundation for the cabinets as a whole unit.

Maintenance

The maintenance required for frameless cabinets is just like any other cabinetry—keep them dirt- and grime-free with a clean, damp cloth. Get rid of tougher stains with a cleaning solution of dishwashing detergent and warm water. Avoid abrasive cleaners, as these can strip the cabinets of their stain.

Common Questions and Answers

What are the main differences between frameless and framed cabinets?

While the gapless appearance is the most visual indicator, the substantial difference between frameless cabinets and their rival, face-framed, is in the framing itself. European cabinets (another name for frameless) are each framed separately. So if yo

How are frameless cabinets installed?

For frameless cabinets, cabinet boxes are mounted onto the wall with each succeeding box fastened to its predecessor to form a tight and seamless (if largely hidden) frame. Frameless cabinets also come with concealed hinges specially designed for just

History

Frameless cabinetry became popular in Europe in the 1950s and '60s following WWII. They have since become a popular cabinetry design in the United States for the simple look they provide for modern and contemporary design styles.

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