What are Framed Kitchen Cabinets?

Framed Kitchen Cabinets
Framed Kitchen Cabinets. Steve Cole / Getty

Framed kitchen cabinets have a flat frame on the front of the cabinet. In fact, it looks somewhat like a picture frame. These cabinets are considered the older, more traditional way of producing cabinetry, as opposed to the newer method of building frameless cabinets.

Why The Frame?

Have you ever felt around your kitchen cabinets to apply contact paper, move a shelf, or put in some dishes--and encountered a "lip" around the cabinet?

That's a framed cabinet. While framed cabinets can be annoying when you are trying to move shelves, they do have great value.


Framed cabinets have been around for centuries, there are many good reasons why they are still being built--and why they will continue to be built.

  • The frame strengthens the cabinet box and prevents it from getting "out of square." If the cabinet does not maintain its 90-degree angles, the door will stick and other problems will ensue.
  • The frame is a flat, strong place to hang the cabinet doors from.
  • Because the frame is wider than the cabinet, it allows you to abut two cabinets and get a clean, seamless look.
  • More reliable exterior hinges may be used, rather than the flimsy interior hinges used with unframed cabinets.


As mentioned already, the "lip" on framed cabinets can be an obstruction when you are trying to move shelves.

This lip decreases storage room. The storage width of the cabinet is decreased by the width of the frame on either side.

If you're interested in options like roll-out shelves, these too will prove more difficult (though not impossible) to mount because of the lip.