top of page
Post: Blog2_Post
  • Writer's pictureCFM Floors

Guide to Cabinet Doors

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

Medallion - Apollo full overlay in Dockside on Cherry
Medallion - Apollo full overlay in Dockside on Cherry

Cabinet doors are the most visible part of your cabinetry and key factors in defining your style and bringing your personality to life. With this in mind, CFM offers many unique kitchen and bathroom cabinet door styles for you to choose from, including slab, shaker, arched, raised and recessed panel options. Cabinet overlay means the correlation of your cabinet doors to the cabinet face frames. This overlay affects how much of the cabinet frame shows and can change the appearance of your space from traditional to a contemporary-style kitchen.


Full Overlay Cabinets

In full overlay cabinet styles, the doors and drawer fronts almost completely cover the cabinet face, revealing as little as 1/4″ to 1/2″ of frame between doors. This creates a continuous look and minimizes the visible gaps between each cabinet door. The smooth profile enhances a transitional or contemporary style.

Benefits of Full Overlay Doors

Since overlay doors are more common, they offer lots of styles and consistent performance at a lower price. It doesn’t take too much experience, or expertise, to hang these doors yourself. If this sounds appealing, you only need to decide between full overlay doors vs. partial overlay doors.

The pros of full overlay doors are:

  • They require less precision compared to inset doors

  • Gapping and misalignment are not as large of an issue

Challenges of Full-Overlay Doors

Full-overlay doors do not offer many drawbacks, but they can provide a few inconveniences. The cons of full overlay doors are:

  • They require more precision to stay aligned than partial overlay doors

  • Their close alignment makes them more susceptible to wear and tear

  • You need hardware to open and close the doors since they are so close together

Partial Overlay Cabinet Doors

Partial overlay (also known as standard overlay) cabinetry was the industry standard for many years and looks exactly as it sounds; the door only partially covers the cabinet face frame, leaving large gaps. The design exposes 1″ to 2″ of the cabinet face frame between doors.

Benefits of Partial-Overlay Doors

Ultimately, partial overlay doors are such a common style for a reason. These doors are practical and easy to install, making them a go-to for a building project or refresh. The pros of partial overlay doors are:

  • The design is most conducive to natural warping or expansion of the wood

  • There is more margin for error during installation

  • They are the most affordable out of each option

  • You can easily open and close them without hardware

Challenges of Partial Overlay Doors

Partial-overlay doors do not offer many downsides, but there are a few points you should consider if you are leaning toward this option. The cons of partial overlay doors are:

  • The vertical frame makes less storage space than in full overlay doors

  • They are a more dated, less modern look

  • They are more common and less unique if you want your home to stand out

Inset Cabinet Doors

The inset cabinetry style is dramatically different than overlay doors. The door and drawer fronts sit inside of the cabinet face frame openings, flush with the face frame. The inset door, closely associated with Shaker, Craftsman, and Mission styles, was the first cabinet door type and has been around for centuries.

Benefits of Inset Doors

Homeowners and designers often choose inset cabinet doors because they offer a clean, sleek look. Modern homes often incorporate these streamlined and stylish doors. The pros of inset doors are:

  • They provide a unique and classy look

  • The tucked-away doors create cleaner lines

Challenges of Inset Doors

There are a few downsides to inset doors. Since they have to fit precisely inside the cabinet frame, they are harder to make, take longer to complete, and typically cost 15-30% more than the alternatives. Many outlets that sell cabinet doors do not sell inset options because they take so much careful customization.

Plus, if the doors are thrown out of perfect alignment (something that happens inevitably with regular use), they will begin to show gaps between the doors and frames.

Altogether, the cons of inset doors are:

  • The gaps between the doors and the frame can become obvious and unsightly over time

  • They are more expensive and may require different hardware

  • An inset construction reduces the storage space inside the cabinet

  • Humidity can warp the wood and affect the appearance or function


When you walk into a kitchen, what’s the first thing you see? Cabinets. Particularly cabinet doors. Cabinets create the foundational look of your kitchen, both from a functional standpoint as well as aesthetics. Choosing the right cabinet door styles to elevate the look of your kitchen or bathroom will ensure you have cabinets that look great while serving their function.

Since cabinets create the foundational “face” in your kitchen or bathroom, here are the styles and types of cabinet doors to know so you can establish your chosen style.

Cabinet Door Style Guide
Cabinet Door Style Guide

Shaker Style Cabinet Doors

To the untrained eye, Shaker cabinets and recessed cabinets can look the same. and in many cases, recessed cabinets and Shaker cabinets are used interchangeably. However, there are a few subtle differences. Shaker cabinets are designed with a clean-cut, 90-degree recess in the panel.

Popular in traditional, contemporary, transitional, cottage, farmhouse, and industrial styles.

Recessed Panel Cabinet Doors

Recessed or reversed raised panel cabinet doors have a center panel that is lower than the rest of the door, with a higher outer edge that defines its style. Traditional recessed panels often have a slightly beveled or angled design at the seam of the recess. Typically used in transitional and modern designs.

Used in modern, contemporary, farmhouse, and transitional styles.

Shaker cabinet doors vs Recessed cabinet doors
Shaker cabinet doors vs Recessed cabinet doors

Raised Panel Cabinet Doors

Raised panel cabinet doors have a center panel that is raised from the rest of the door, many times with a contoured edge that gives it a specific style. These doors are typically used in more traditional designs.

Used in traditional, classic, cottage, farmhouse, coastal, Mediterranean, and transitional styles.

Slab or Flat Styling Cabinet Doors

Slab cabinet doors are flat-panel doors that don't use any contours to make the cabinet door look raised or recessed. They are, quite literally, a flat slab that can instantly transform your kitchen cabinets to a more modern or european look.

Popular in modern, minimalist, contemporary, Mediterranean, and industrial styles.

Arched/Cathedral Style Cabinet Doors

Both raised and recessed panel doors may feature an arch in the top panel in the shapes of the classic or cathedral arch. Various arch shapes and sizes are available. Double arched doors have the arch on the top and the bottom rails, creating an ornate and traditional design. The cathedral arch is similar to the classic arch; however, it’s indented and often steeper.

Popular in traditional, cottage, or Gothic styles.

Glass/Mullion Front Cabinet Doors

Mullion cabinet doors feature glass panels surrounded by a wood or wood-like frame. They are also known as glass panel doors, though mullion designs include grids with wood for additional style. The glass allows for showing off your beautiful belongings. Mullion cabinet doors are also seen in bookshelves and bars.

Popular in all styles.

Beaded Styling

Beaded inset cabinets have an additional decorative detail on the face frame immediately surrounding the door or drawer. This detail is known as a bead, or a slight groove and rounded edge cut into the wood. The bead acts as a “frame within a frame” to outline your doors and drawers.

Popular in cottage and rustic styles.


Louvered cabinets provide a subtle sophistication and ventilation through narrow open or closed slats. This design helps a room feel more spacious. They are not only used in kitchens, but louvered doors are becoming more popular in other spaces.

Popular in modern styles.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page