You’ve decided to change out your cabinets. Maybe you are just updating the look or adding additional cabinets around your home. Either way, over the next two posts, we will discuss some elements of the cabinetry that should be considered. There are a number of choices to make, including material used, cabinet styles, cabinet types, and hardware.

One of the design options that is available when changing out your cabinets is how the cabinet doors will sit on the cabinet frame when they are installed. Now, this might not be anything that you’ve thought about, but there are several options to choose from. We’ll discuss that in this post.

Full Overlay

The full overlay type of door means that when the door is closed against the cabinet, only about 1/4”-1/2” of the frame will be shown. The cabinet door will cover almost everything completely. This can give a seamless look to your room. Since no part of the door will reside in the cabinet, the full capacity of the cabinet is available for storage.

Partial Overlay

Partial overlay is similar to full overlay in that both types of doors sit on top of the frame. This means that this door, as well, will have more storage capacity. The partial overlay mostly covers just the opening of the cabinets and does not go on a lot of the frame. There can be 1 1/4” of the frame showing around the cabinet doors. These doors do not necessarily need hardware and the hinges on the door can either be visible or hidden. One thing to consider when choosing this door type is whether the eyeline will be interrupted by the doors and frame or if the look will be smooth and appealing.


While the previous door types lay on the frame, this type lays inside the frame, with the ability to have the hinges shown or hidden. This door type shows the full view of the frame and can give a smooth look to your room. Due to the door being in the frame, the amount of storage is somewhat less. Additionally, since this door is flush with the frame, you will need hardware installed to open the doors easily.

Partial Inset

A partial inset door type is a combination of the overlay and the inset. Part of the door fits inside the frame and the other part creates a lip (overlays) on the frame. This type of door can also be described as a lipped cabinet door.

These are some of the options that are available regarding how the cabinet door sits in relation to the frame. In the next post, we’ll discuss the various styles of door that are available.