Whether you’re building your own cabinets, or having them built by professional cabinet makers, you’ll need to determine what type of cabinet door overlay works best for your home. Overlay is how the cabinet doors lay on the frame of the cabinet when the doors are closed, and it impacts the look and feel of your cabinetry.
The three main types of cabinet door overlays are:
- Full overlay
- Partial overlay.
They’re all similar in function, so the choice is largely aesthetic. As with choosing your cabinetry hardware, consider the overall style of your home when you’re choosing what type of overlay is right for you.
Inset cabinet doors
With inset doors, the cabinet door is flush with and on the same plane as the cabinet frame, and the frame surrounds the entire cabinet door. They are called inset because the door is set into the cabinet frame. They offer a streamlined, high end look that is very popular in modern and European kitchen design.
Inset doors often use completely concealed hinges that are not visible from the outside for a sleek look. Because they do not require a frame to be installed, they offer full access to the interior of the cabinet.
- Budget: Most expensive.
- Style: Modern, custom look.
- Hardware: Knob or pull required.
- Storage space: Similar to but slightly less than full overlay storage space. Maximum access.
Note: If you live in an extremely humid area, the door material could expand, so plan accordingly.
Full overlay cabinet doors
Also simply called overlay, a full overlay door covers the entire cabinet opening when closed, and the inside wood edge of the cabinet box is exposed when the door is open. They look similar to inset cabinetry but have a different frame in between the door edges. If the gapping of the inset design bothers you, full overlay is a good (and less expensive) option.
Full overlay doors require hardware like a knob or pull to function unlike partial overlay where you can use the door edge to open and close the door. Full overlay offers the most space inside the cabinet because the door itself does not take up any space.