Full Overlay vs Standard Overlay Cabinets

modern kitchen with white full overlay cabinets

One critical decision that needs to be made when choosing kitchen cabinets is whether to purchase full overlay cabinets or standard overlay cabinets.

Of course, first, you need to know what the key differences between these cabinet types are. Below, we’ll take a closer look at each one in order to help you make the best decision for your kitchen renovation needs.

What Are Standard (Partial) Overlay Cabinets?

Standard overlay cabinets (also called partial overlay cabinets) tend to have a more visible face frame (the front of the cabinet itself) around each individual door and drawer.

This often allows these cabinets to not require hardware. You can simply use your fingers to grip the thicker edges of the doors and drawers, and they will open easily.

partial overlay cabinets
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Pros & Cons of Standard Overlay Cabinets


  • Price: Standard overlay cabinets tend to be less expensive than full overlay cabinets
  • Hardware requirements: If you like the minimalist look of having no hardware, standard overlay cabinets allow for this


  • Sizing: These cabinets are often too small for wide bowls and other dishes — largely because of the centerpiece required between the spaced-apart cabinet doors

What Are Full Overlay Cabinets?

Full overlay cabinets are often the cabinet choice you’ll see in higher-end homes. That’s because they offer a more sophisticated and customized look. Also, the cabinet doors and drawers are closely and carefully aligned, and as a result, hardly any of the face frame is visible.

Many homeowners prefer this style because it allows for easier storage of their dishes, food, and other items. Because of the closeness of the cabinet doors, for instance, there isn’t a centerpiece blocking wide bowls or platters from being stored on shelves. The overall effect is more space and a better visual of what’s in your cabinets.

full overlay cabinets
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Pros & Cons of Full Overlay Cabinets


  • Sizing: You can store much wider items in full overlay cabinets
  • Storage: As a result of the lack of centerpieces and wider openings, storage is generally easier; nothing gets hidden behind the cabinet face frame


  • Price: Full overlay cabinets often come with a higher price tag
  • Hardware requirements: These cabinets always require hardware because they will have little to no space on the edges where you might otherwise grab with your fingers to open

Full Overlay vs Standard Overlay: Which Should You Choose?

Naturally, much of your decision will come down to budget. If you’re really trying to eliminate unnecessary expenses during your renovation, you might be more in the market for standard overlay cabinets. Keep in mind that just because these are less expensive, this doesn’t mean they look bad. Standard overlay cabinets can look quite refined and stylish.

On the other hand, if money isn’t as pressing an issue, the appearance of full overlay cabinets is often more sought-after. You should also think about what you’ll need to be storing where. The extra room offered by full overlay cabinets may come in handy. Finally, consider whether or not you prefer knobs and handles or the more minimalist “no hardware” look.

Custom Cabinets to Fit Your Dream Kitchen

As you search for the ideal kitchen cabinets, please consider allowing us to help! Our extensive experience installing all different types of cabinets gives us unique insight into which style may work best for you.

Contact a Diamond Kitchen and Bath location in Phoenix today to see more cabinet options for your kitchen and to book an appointment with a design specialist!