Inset vs Overlay Kitchen Cabinets


When it comes to installing new kitchen cabinets, there are a lot of different options that you’ll want to consider, options that can affect both the appearance of your cabinets as well as their function. For example, one of the decisions you’ll need to make is whether you want inset cabinets or overlay cabinets.

The following is a breakdown of both types:

What are Inset Cabinets?

Inset cabinets are basically cabinets in which the doors are set into the frame of the cabinet. This means that when the doors are closed, they fit flush with the face of the cabinet. This creates a smoother look that some homeowners prefer, especially if they don’t their kitchen cabinets to draw as much attention as a focal point in the kitchen.

However, if you choose inset cabinets, you’ll need a door pull or knob installed in the doors in order to pull them open. Because they are flush with the frame, it will be impossible to open them up by just pulling on the door itself. As for the hinges, they can be concealed or exposed depending on your visual tastes.

While having to install doorknobs or handles isn’t much of a hassle, inset cabinets do have other drawbacks to keep in mind. Because the doors are set into the frame, there’s less storage space within the cabinets. Additionally, if your home has high levels of humidity, then the wood could expand as a result, which can cause rubbing to occur between the cabinet frame and the door. However, these are minor drawbacks that can be easily dealt with if you really like the look that inset cabinets provide.

What are Overlay Cabinets?

Essentially, overlay cabinets are the opposite of inset cabinets. Instead of having the door flush with the frame to create a smooth, uniform look across all of your cabinets, overlay cabinet doors completely cover the cabinet face, which means that like inset cabinets, you’ll need knobs or handles to open them up. However, because they are not set within the frame, it also means that overlay cabinets tend to have more space for storage. Overlay cabinet doors are also easier to open.
Additionally, because overlay cabinet doors are easier to install since they simply cover the frame instead of having to be fit inside of the frame, they tend to be a little bit more on the affordable site as well.

What are Partial Overlay Cabinets?

There is a third option that you can choose as well. Partial overlay doors sit on the face of the cabinet, just like overlay cabinets. However, there is a gap between the doors, which means that you can actually see the face of the frame. This also means that unlike inset or overlay cabinets, you don’t actually need cabinet hardware in order to pull the doors open — you can just grab the doors by the side to open them up.

Partial overlay cabinets also tend to be more affordable than the other two types and are one of the more popular options as a result. Last, but not least, partial overlay cabinets tend to have a more traditional appearance than overlay and inset cabinets, and they do provide more visual depth to the kitchen space as well.

These are the main differences between inset cabinets and overlay cabinets. Hopefully, this provides you with the information you need to make an informed decision when it comes to choosing your kitchen cabinets. For more information about the RTA cabinets from Conestoga that we carry, be sure to contact us at Lifestyles Cabinetry and Millwork today.