Cabinetry 101

kosher kitchen contemporary design 

    As a critical feature of our designs and a focal point in most people’s kitchens, cabinetry plays an important role in the style and functionality of the room. Therefore, as you plan out your kitchen project, you should develop an understanding for door types, materials, face construction, style and price.

    From basic designs to more elaborate styles, our designers work with a large range of cabinets that vary in look, feel and cost. We offer completely customizable cabinets, so it is important to develop a strong understanding of the available options for your kitchen. Your designer will be able to point you in the right direction, towards cabinetry that fits with your kitchen’s style and within your budget.

    Houzz contributor, Anne Higuera CGR, CAPS, describes the basics of cabinetry in her recent publication. Below are excerpts of her work describing three styles of cabinet doors, edge branding and face construction. The full article can also be found here


Inset cabinet doors. Most cabinets built in place in kitchens in the early 1900s have inset doors. Small hinges are mounted right on the face frame (the visible frame around the cabinet opening) or just inside it; the hinges are often visible when the door is shut. The face of an inset cabinet door or drawer is in the same plane as the leading edge of the cabinet box. This very traditional look from the early 1900s can be replicated today but tends to be more expensive than other options.  The inset also reduces space inside the cabinet, which means smaller drawers and hardware that requires extra blocking in the box.

Partial overlay cabinet doors. A modern upgrade from inset, partial overlay doors and drawers are mounted over the face of the box, covering the opening completely and partially covering the finished face frame.  This construction also makes it possible to install more functional hardware, though the face frame still reduces the amount of accessible space inside the cabinet. The aesthetic downside is that there can be wide expanses of visible face frame, making it look like the doors and drawers are dotting the surface, rather than defining it. The partial overlay shown here includes visible hinges.

Full overlay or Euro-style cabinet doors. The most modern iteration is a full overlay, meaning that the door or drawer face completely overlays the box — it covers not just the opening but the entire face of the box.  There is no visible face frame with these cabinets when the doors are closed, which means hinges are utilized that allow the doors to open without hitting adjacent doors and drawers. The advantage of the overlay door style is that there are very small gaps between doors and drawers, creating a consistent and continuous appearance. It also allows the fullest possible access to the box.  That means bigger drawers, smaller drawer guides and more space for storage. The downside is that extra care must be taken to make sure the doors and drawers do not collide — particularly in corners and with drawer pulls or knobs installed.Every fraction of an inch is important with these, so they require a high level of knowledge on the part of the cabinetmaker and installer.

Edge banding. No matter the construction, when you open your doors and drawers, you will see an edge band. That is the material used to cover the cut ends of the plywood on boxes, drawers and shelving. Edge banding can be thin PVC plastic, melamine or real wood in a variety of thicknesses.  The banding comes in long rolls and is adhered to the edges of the plywood with an edge-banding machine.

Edge banding usually matches the wood species and stain or color of the other cabinet parts. This means the cabinetmaker must keep a large stock of options on hand, spooled up and ready to go.

Cabinet face construction. Cabinet faces are made from solid wood, an engineered and veneered sheet material like plywood, MDF or particleboard, or a combination of these.

Faces that are flat are usually sheet material overlaid with a premium wood veneer, a manufactured veneer like Thermofoil or a veneer surface that’s easily painted, like maple, poplar or MDF. 

The important thing to understand about doors and drawers is the limits of their stability and the dimensions of the wood.  You can’t have a solid wood door manufactured from a single wood species unless it has been pieced together.

Alicia Friscia