Types of Cabinets
Choosing the right type of kitchen cabinet can be a daunting task as cabinets come in endless styles and types; stock, custom, semi custom, shaker, flat, tall cabinets, base cabinets, recessed panel – the list goes on. Most kitchen cabinets are simple and can be chosen for their simplicity, while others, like custom cabinets, show-off that elegance and luxury. This guide will help you to understand how most of the kitchen cabinet styles you see are actually related to each other. Essentially you’ll be able to pick the perfect cabinet design that fits the decorative theme of your kitchen.
Kitchen cabinets are one of the most important elements of any kitchen redesign. They can make or break or a kitchen, and at the same time, easily chew up close to half of your budget. So it’s worth putting a lot of time and thought into selecting the best type of kitchen cabinet for your home’s décor. A skilled designer can walk you through understanding different types of cabinetry and choosing the best cabinets for your new kitchen. This article is dedicated to sharing some of the practical examples and tips that we provide our customers when it comes to helping them choose the ideal wall cabinets for their kitchen.
Types of Doors
There’s a lot of different kitchen cabinet door styles out there – flat panel, raised, slab, even glass. All look equally good, but it matters what style you’re going for. Flat cabinet doors, for example, look very sleek and modern, while inset doors are a bit more classic and timeless (and also a bit more expensive). Below are the most popular types of kitchen cabinet doors and a quick overview of each.
Starting with the simplest types of kitchen cabinet styles, flat wall cabinets are minimal but have a lot to offer for simplicity. These can be made from wood, composite materials, laminates, or veneers. The surfaced can also be shiny or semi-glossy, while others are matt finish or flat. This style is associated with modern or contemporary since it sticks to the low maintenance idealism.
These panels are easy to clean and for the most part, give a nice tidy look for everyday kitchens. Depending on the type of cabinet handle that’s attached, the more dramatic and modern they appear. Often with this style panel, the hinges are attached on the inside with nothing showing outside.
Another name that is thrown around is the slab cabinet door which is essentially a flat panel. In this version, it’s associated with a European look that has rich wooden panels. Many of the cheaper variants offer a fine veneer that’s just as rich and doesn’t cut into your budget. Just like flat panels, a slab door also offers the same clean surface that is easy to wipe-off. Since most of these are natural wood surfaces, they are sealed with natural wood sealers.
It’s better if you find a slab panel that has urethane sealant, so regular cleaning always leaves them looking new.
There is a defining visual impact of the raised panel that reveals how these are constructed. Just like a picture frame, each section includes four pieces that create a raised decorative edge. The inner panel will almost always mirror the pattern used on the outer edge. Instantly the entire panel has visual appeal when all the kitchen cabinet doors and drawers follow this pattern. The material that makes this style more appealing is a rich wood grain that’s pleasingly simple.
Other variations of this design can offer solid painted colors or specially formed wood composites. Since composite wood is easier to produce, complex raised panels can be pressed into shape using molds and covered with laminate.
This panel design is similar to the raised panel with one obvious difference. The outer frame can still be elegant or simple, so there is no shortage of frame choices. The center panel that goes inside the frame however is set further back in the frame. This gives a recessed appearance instead of a raised center panel. This gives a kitchen the perfect transitional or contemporary look.
While this is often related to flat panel cabinets for the sleekness of their design, recessed panels can be modified. The center panel can be swapped out so that it can turn into a raised panel instead.
Shaker frames are very specific in this category because they vary in style and level of detail. There can be as many as five pieces of wood to make a custom shaker frame that has no beveled edges. Often, the wood pieces are clean-cut edges that form a recessed-like frame. What makes this style stand out more is the recessed frame sits lower towards the bottom of the cabinet panel.
There can also be a clean-cut panel on the top leading edge or it can mimic the panel pieces just like the large panel. These aren’t limited to incorporating beadboard and decorative edging along with the stiles and rails.
At first appearance, the full overlay panel does resemble the raised panel design. The immediate difference is how a full overlay appears. As most raised panel pieces are created, each wooden section is glued together. Full overlays will include using a router to create decorative edges. Each router bit will make a different shaped edge. Some edges that are inset have beveled angles for the inner panel.
The beauty of a full overlay includes all the potential decorative accents on the panel and can contain several individual parts. There are raised edges, beveled edges, and machine router edges. Each panel that is attached to the wall cabinet fits end to end with all the panels attached with only 1/4 inch between them. The finished panel is a thing of beauty and has a classic traditional look.
Partial overlay panels are similar to the full overlay, but have will have gaps between each connecting panel. This gap starts at 1¼ inches and is often more popular in the kitchen because of this gap. This allows a finger or two to grab the edge of a cabinet instead of using the knob or handle. Visually, the panels are virtually the same in style so it only comes down to the spacing.
Partial overlay panels also can be a simplified version of the overall frame, but it depends on the level of detail you like. If you like a traditional look of kitchen cabinets, partial overlays are very popular compared to full overlays.
The last section for this type of panel is a stunning look but can be trickier if you live in humid areas. Inset panels fit into the cabinet rather than hung from the outside on hinges. If the cabinet is made from wood and not composite materials, there can be some expansion due to humidity. They can stick or warp which is something that many people don’t want to deal with.
If humidity is not an issue, the overall look is very impressive. As far as hinges are concerned, these cannot be hidden as with the full or partial overlay. Since the panels are inset, the hinges must sit on the outside edge where the panel swings open.
The next level of decorative panels you add to your kitchen falls into the accent frame category. The last entry on this list includes glass frame, however, it’s a category that is often lumped into the accent frame category. They are separated on this list because of the style and usage. What makes this style lend more to accent framing is that the decorative touches can be as creative as the next when it comes to custom cabinets.
These are panels that have slanted horizontal strips that create louvers along the inside edge of the panel frame. This style is more functional than anything else since these cabinets are excellent for ventilation. Humid regions that experience a lot of moisture can take advantage of having airflow inside a cabinet. This will allow your dished cups and plates to remain less prone to having moisture build-up on them.
Another nice visual aspect about the louvered panel is they make any kitchen look tropical and light. Some people like using this style for hiding a dishwasher or microwave oven inside the cabinet and still very nice airflow.
Beadboard is a specific type of wood that appears to have vertical lines cut into the surface. This is placed into the panel frame and gives nice clean lines for kitchen cabinets. The frame is the only thing that can change in shape or pattern. The angles and curves that can be built into the frames involve many styles that aren’t limited to straight lines. Beadboard panels can have arched edges of the inside frame.
The color of the wood is preferred to be natural although staining is another fine option. In most cases, the lighter the wood, the better the beadboard shows-up on the inner panel.
In the last entry, we are covering glass panels. These are often frames that are made of wood so the glass can fit into place. As each style gets more intricate, the more elegant these frames become. Here are two different frame styles that are housed inside wooden frames. Many of these are premanufactured or semi custom, but some of the more impressive styles are better when they are crafted by a wall cabinet maker.
What makes a mullion frame so special? The level of detail is simply amazing. Most people will think that Mullion frames are stacked in a 2 by 3 grid of glass. This is only the beginning since the shape of the inner frame isn’t limited to rectangles. There can be complex curves, ovals, half-circles, and triangles. Depending on where you order your mullion frames from, the elegance level you desire is adjustable.
Unlike other types of cabinet panels, mullion frames can be hung on the outside of the cabinet or be inset panels. Depending on how your kitchen cabinet is designed, either style can be visually appealing.
These panels are self-explanatory since there is just a single panel of glass that is framed inside a wooden frame. The style of each frame can be negotiated on the level of decorative edges. If you prefer the style of the raised panel frame over a standard flat frame, that’s up to you. Open frames aren’t limited to clear glass since it can be frosted or etched glass designs.
If you want to take this concept further, the glass can be replaced with clear plastic. This is so there is less chance of anything breaking. In some cases, you can order glass that is tempered or has a sandwiched layer of vinyl sandwiched in between. This is also called safety glass.
Framed VS Frameless
A framed wall cabinet is generally considered a more classic, traditional look. Frameless cabinets, on the other hand, are a European style meant to give a simpler, more modern and up-to-date look. Frameless wall cabinets allow for easier access and a cleaner appearance but are limited to full overlay kitchen cabinet door styles. And at the same time, framing adds a bit of sturdiness that frameless cabinets simply do not have. You’ll have the option here to go with premanufactured cabinets as well as a completely custom cabinet creation.
Finish & Glazing
Finish is most likely the first thing you’ll think of when choosing cabinets.
The most popular types of finish are Hand-painted, Timber and Water. See below for a few examples of the most common cabinet finishes as captured by Kitchen Cabinet Kings.
It’s worth it to spend a bit more on a finish and stain you like, as it is such a significant part of the kitchen design. And while it may be cheaper to buy unfinished cabinets and your own finish, it’ll be far easier to just buy them finished the way you like them, and skip paying anyone to finish them. Glazing – a semi-transparent layer of color over the finish, that add depth, detail and a bit of shine – is also a great way to add a beautiful finish to your cabinets but can bump up the final price by 10-20%.
Take a look at your budget. As mentioned, new kitchen wall cabinets can easily take up close to half your kitchen budget, so it’s important to go in knowing exactly how much you can spend on them. If you’re trying to save on the budget and your new kitchen redesign isn’t too massive, it might be worth simply resurfacing your current cabinets, provided they go with the new look you’re going for. Premanufactured cabinets can provided a more affordable option while still obtaining a design that looks like a semi custom, or fully custom cabinet.
If you decide to purchase new cabinets, here at Hunt’s Kitchen Design we create custom cabinets onsite at our Scottsdale showroom location. We can also help you save money by selecting prefabricated cabinetry that will best fit your kitchen. The key to saving money is to pay attention to the small details, below are a few things to know when selecting cabinets.
When it comes to the drawer design, look for an “over-travel slide,” which lets the drawer extend past the front of the cabinet, letting you reach in even further. Also be sure to choose mounts that can handle enough weight; side weighs can handle 75-100 pounds, while center mounts might only take 30-50 pounds safely.
Don’t Forget the Hardware
Hardware is subtle, but essential to the kitchen’s overall appearance.
Brushed nickel is the most popular hardware you’ll find, but brass and silver are also common. Choose a finish that matches both your cabinet finish and complements the overall look of the kitchen. And if you’re going for an ornate, intricate look, maybe substitute pulls for regular knobs.