Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Kitchen unit doors to fit the cupboard: Overlay or inset?

by Sara Kmiecik
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

When refacing kitchen cupboards, it is often easy to get confused about the different types of kitchen unit doors. A kitchen unit door refers to the type of door that fits over a cabinet box.

You should choose kitchen unit doors based on what is functional and what fits your personal taste and style. However, the construction of your existing cabinet boxes will determine whether you require inset unit doors or ones that overlay the cabinet. If the latter, the amount of door overlay--the percentage of the door that will cover the front of the cupboard--can vary.

These are the three most common types of kitchen unit doors based on cabinet construction:

Full overlay kitchen unit doors

Full overlay is a popular contemporary style of cabinet door that lays directly over the cabinet. When fully closed, these kitchen unit doors fully cover both sides of the cabinet, as well as the top and bottom. All cabinets that are frameless have full overlay doors. Many cabinet manufacturers will also make full overlay doors for framed cabinets.

Partial overlay

Partial overlay doors are another popular choice for homeowners and are similar to full overlay. While full overlay hides the entire cabinet box, partial overlay doors conceal only part of the face frame. The reveal of the cabinet with a partial overlay can be either horizontal or vertical.

Inset kitchen unit doors

Inset cabinet doors are another common choice for those refacing their kitchen cabinet units. Inset doors sit within the frame of the cabinet box and can work on both frameless and framed cabinets. If a face frame is used with an inset door, it is most often made from wood, which may swell and could make the door hard to open.

Choosing kitchen unit doors will probably come down to the style you like, but be sure to consider how they fit and operate. You'll be opening and closing them a lot.


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