Close up of the inside of a cabinet with shelving

Design Your room

  • print

Cabinet Construction

Construction Type

How a cabinet is built determines how it looks and functions. Hinges, shelving and even finishing options can vary greatly depending on the type of cabinet construction and materials used. These basics will help you determine what cabinet construction type is best for you.

Framed vs. Frameless Cabinet Construction

Close up of a framed cabinet with door open

Framed cabinets are the more traditional cabinet construction type, with rails and stiles forming a "frame" at the front of the cabinet box.

Frameless cabinets, sometimes called "full access" cabinets, do not have a face frame at the front of the cabinet box.

Inset Cabinet Construction

Close up of an inset cabinet with glass door

Inset cabinets are a type of cabinet construction that fits the doors and drawers inside the face frame openings, giving full view to the frame with only minimal spacing/gaps between components.

Box Cabinet Construction

Cabinet without side and top to show box construction

  • Face Frame – The structural portion of the cabinet to which doors are attached, consisting of both rails and stiles.
  • End Panel – The side of the cabinet that is grooved into the face frame and extends back to the wall.
  • Bottom – The floor of the cabinet. On a wall and tall cabinet, the same component is used as the top.
  • Back – The rear vertical surface used to mount the cabinet to the wall. Some brands have hanger rails behind the back.
  • Adjustable Shelves – Horizontally placed storage surfaces that are adjusted by moving clips used to hold the shelf in place.
  • Toe Kick – The recessed toe space at the bottom of a base cabinet.

Engineered Wood Materials

Full room shot of engineered wood cabinets shown in kitchen

Some cabinets utilize various wood materials to provide strength, durability and consistent quality. For example:

  • Particleboard – Board made from a mixture of real wood shavings and binding material such as resin, refined and bonded together, and then compressed with high heat and pressure.
  • Plywood – A panel made from an odd number of wood veneer layers that are bonded together with the grain of each layer running at right angles to the next.
  • MDF – Board formed by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into wood fibers. Heat and pressure are used to form a homogenous board excellent for machining and painting.
  • Thermofoil – Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) foil pressed onto a medium density fiberboard (MDF) core using a heated, flexible membrane. Thermofoil cabinets are available in high-gloss finishes or high-gloss woodgrain.
  • PureStyle – PureStyle uses continuous component wrap technology, which eliminates the potential for de-lamination, peeling or cracking as well as damage from UV light, aging, moisture, heat and staining.
  • Eco Veneers – Eco cabinet veneers are thinly sliced sheets of solid wood that are applied to a furniture core panel, providing the warmth and beauty of real wood with more consistent grain and color characteristics.