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The Choice Between Full, Partial Overlay, Inset Kitchen Cabinet Doors?

Choice Between Full, Partial Overlay, Inset Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Changing your cabinet doors is one of the cleverest ways to remodel your kitchen. Without changing the structure of your cabinets, you can completely transform the look and feel of your kitchen's primary storage. 

You can choose frosted glass cabinet doors with shelf lights that make them glow, or you can choose elegant hand-carved cabinets. You can update the finish, beveling, and the origin of your cabinet's apparent design. You can also change how your cabinet doors hang on the cabinet itself.

Depending on size, cut, and hinges, your cabinet doors could be set at full overlay, partial overlay, or inset into the face frame.

kitchen planning guide


What Is Overlay in Cabinet Doors?

Cabinet door overlay determines how much of the face frame, or framing cabinet panel, is seen around the door structure. The face frame is the cabinet piece that door hinges connect to and can be subtly decorative when exposed. Each type of cabinet door overlay exposes a different amount of the face frame, creating an added detail to your chosen kitchen style.

How do you know which overlay type to choose? It's all about aesthetics, so let's look at each of your options.

Full Overlay Doors

Full overlay cabinet doors and drawers cover the face frame completely. Each door and drawer come together snugly but just loose enough not to snag or drag so that the face frame is only seen when cabinets are open. Full overlay is popular for extremely modern and minimalist designs and has developed a signature for wide designs and hard edges.

Full overlay doors are also popular among farmhouse-style kitchen designs where each cabinet door is chunky and takes up a little extra space with rounded bevelling.

Partial Overlay Doors

Partial overlay is considered normal and is very popular in residential kitchen design. Partial overlay is defined by exposing some, but not all, of the face frame. Typically, there is about 1/2" left between the edge and each cabinet door or drawer face, creating bout a 1-2" gap between items.

This design is remarkably easy to use, as chefs can hook their fingers around the cabinet door to pull it open (or bump it closed) with ease using the small channel between each door's edge.

Inset Cabinet Doors

Inset cabinet doors are when the cabinet doors fit snugly into the face frame itself. This achieves a similar look to full overlay but by insetting the doors instead of a snug fit over the top.

Inset cabinet doors require different hinging and often come at a higher price due to the level of expertise necessary to perfectly fit the cabinet doors and drawer faces into the face frame.


How to Choose Your Cabinet Door Overlay

How do you choose between the types of overlay for your cabinet doors? It's easier than you think if you're ready to make both practical and aesthetic decisions.


The Look and Style You Want to Create

First, consider the look you want to see in your kitchen. Both full-overlay and inset provide a flush and smooth look for your cabinets and drawers, but inset has a more traditional look and requires artisan tooling.

If you're looking to create a cozy modern contemporary kitchen, then a partial overlay design may be ideal.


Easy to Use & No-Snag Cabinet Design

Don't forget that life in your kitchen is determined by ease of use - and freedom from snags. If your cabinets have too sharp of corners, they may start to snag household clothing.

Consider the cabinet handles you want to install on full-overlay and inset rooms or choose to go handle-free with partial overlay cabinet doors.

Keeping or Moving the Hinges

Lastly, don't forget the hinges. Each type of cabinet door requires you to hinge the door at a different spot. You will need to fill and repaint the old hinge location before installing hinges in just the right place for your new kitchen cabinet doors. Replacing your cabinet doors with those of the same overlay design may be rewarding.


Create Your Dream Cabinets with Edesia

Cabinet door design is a wonderful way to reinvent your kitchen without splashing into structural changes. Whether you're dreaming of glowing frosted glass, beautiful cutout art, or an update to your currently dated kitchen design, Edesia Kitchen & Bath is here to help make that vision into reality. Contact us today to learn more about cabinet details and how to select your exact tastes.

kitchen planning guide

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