November 10, 2022

Inset vs. Overlay Cabinets: Which Make the Best Choice?

When you need new cabinets, you can choose between many colors and styles. One of the first choices you will make when planning your next kitchen remodel project is whether to install inset, overlay, or partial overlay cabinetry.

If you order custom cabinetry from TBS Design Gallery, our team will help you select the appropriate materials, designs, and hardware to fit your home’s décor.

The primary differences between insets and overlay custom cabinetry are the size of the cabinet doors and how they attach to the frame. The structural difference between the cabinet types affects:

What Are Full Inset Cabinets?

Inset cabinets place the cabinet door within the frame and flush with it. The design leaves the frame completely visible.

Advantages of Inset and Overlay Cabinets

Inset cabinets are a popular cabinet design that takes expertise to construct. Consequently, inset cabinets tend to have better design and construction. Installers must ensure the doors are the correct dimensions and perfectly plumb with the frame. They can be safer because they have fewer exposed corners.

Limitations of Inset Cabinets

Inset cabinet doors lie within the cabinet frame, meaning their doors will be smaller than other cabinet designs.

Inset doors require the doors to sit flush within a framed cabinet. Positioning the doors within the cabinet frame makes the cabinets more compact without the doors jutting out, reducing storage space. If the doors swell, they might become stuck in the frame,

Because the doors lie flush with the frame when closed, you will need handles to open them.

The complexity of inset cabinet designs makes them the most expensive of the three options.

When To Consider Inset vs. Overlay Cabinets

Inset cabinets offer advantages over full overlay and partial overlay doors for:

Framed Cabinets vs. Frameless Cabinets

Frameless cabinets are an alternative to inset cabinets that attach to the side of the cabinet instead of a forward-facing frame.

What Are Overlay Cabinets?

Overlay cabinets are simpler than inset cabinets. Manufacturers of overlay cabinets mount the doors over the frame. The doors are larger than the frame opening so that they overlap.

Some space separates the doors of adjacent cabinets, allowing them to open without bumping into one another. However, the close-set doors create the visual impression of a wall of cabinets.

Advantages of Overlay Cabinets

Full overlay cabinets are less expensive and easier to install because the doors do not have to fit precisely within the cabinet frame. Installing the doors on the surface of the frame is easier than aligning them within the cabinet frame.

Overlay cabinets offer more storage space because the doors are set approximately an inch forward compared to an inset door.

Limitations of Overlay Cabinets

Overlay cabinets are not necessarily lower in quality than inset cabinets. However, someone who wants to finish remodeling projects quickly will likely choose an overlay design.

Who Should Consider Overlay Cabinets?

People looking for a simple, quick cabinet remodel without a lot of hassle can simplify the process with overlays.

Overlay cabinets are popular, so house flippers and developers can keep costs low while creating a pleasing décor.

Partial Overlay Cabinets

If you want the simplicity of overlay cabinetry with a look that emphasizes the individual doors, it could be a better bet than full overlay inset cabinetry. A compromise solution is to install partial overlay cabinet doors. Partial overlay cabinets are structurally similar to conventional overlay cabinets, but the doors are smaller so there is more space between adjacent doors.

Cabinet Materials

If you have full overlay cabinets, the doors and drawers completely cover the face frame, concealing it.

If you are looking for a flat cabinet front, you could choose a design that highlights the smooth cabinet face with a flat panel door style and hidden hinges or use the third dimension with raised or recessed doors.

If you choose inset doors, take advantage of the fact that the door sits within the face by adding decoration to the face frames to complement the doors.

Cabinet Doors

Inset and full overlay doors need door handles or a push system because there is no space for users to slide fingers between the doors. If you want finger space to open doors and drawers, choose partial overlay cabinets.

Choosing Between Inset and Overlay Cabinets at TBS Design Gallery

Whether you prefer partial overlay cabinets, full overlay cabinets, or inset cabinets, you can find a wide selection of custom inset cabinets and overlay cabinets as well as inset, partial overlay, or full overlay cabinet doors for:

Learn more about what custom cabinetry is and how to install inset or overlay cabinets. TBS Design Gallery offers the finest cabinet lines with a wide range of doors and drawers. Call (650) 416-8888 to plan your project today.

Book a Lunch 'n LearnMake a Gallery appointment
March 6, 2023
4 Timeless Kitchen Cabinet Colors
Enhance your next home remodel with timeless kitchen cabinet colors and more.
February 13, 2023
A Guide to Zero Net Carbon Home Design
Constructing a house with renewable energy systems and cabinetry, windows, and doors that are energy efficient will help you rely less on fossil fuels and lean on more renewable energy sources. Learn more>>
February 9, 2023
Energy-Efficient Window and Door Tax Credit Guide: 2023 Update
The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act introduced direct savings, beginning with 2023 tax credits and rebates, for homeowners who make cost-saving energy efficiency improvements to their homes. Learn more>
December 23, 2022
How Cabinet Form and Function Impact Your Custom Kitchen Design
Custom cabinetry is not only beautiful, but also incredibly functional. Learn how to design a kitchen that works for you.
December 7, 2022
Interior Door Design: How It Impacts Your Home
Learn how to choose interior door designs that give your home a cohesive feel. Have a vision for your custom interior door? Let our team turn it into reality!
December 2, 2022
8 Cabinet Styles to Consider for Your Custom Cabinetry
Looking for KITCHEN CABINET STYLES that fit your California home's interiors? Check out these popular cabinet styles or contact us to discuss your preferences!