Full Overlay Vs Partial Overlay – Which Overlay Cabinet Is Better?

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In addition to three crucial elements: construction, color, and material, the cabinet door style is undoubtedly one key factor in defining the overall look of a kitchen cabinet. Nowadays, there are two popular kitchen cabinet door designs: full overlay vs partial overlay

It can be challenging to decide which design is better, but don’t worry. Kick in this post right away as we have provided a lot of beneficial information that helps you select the right design for your kitchen remodel

Full Overlay Vs Partial Overlay – A Brief Overview

Full Overlay Cabinet Doors

As the name suggests, the full overlay cabinet door has a frameless construction, which means an imperceptible cabinet face frame runs around the front of each drawer and door. Such overlay creates a living space with a seamless look and contemporary style. 

credit: squarespace-cdn.com

Partial Overlay Cabinet Doors

Partial overlay cabinet – sometimes also called half overlay, traditional overlay, or standard overlay – has the doors sitting on top of the frame as the full overlay style. However, the partial overlay covers the openings solely, not the entire face of a box.

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Full Overlay Vs Partial Overlay – In-Depth Comparison

The Construction

A full overlay door style will cover the similar 1.5” face frame to a 1.25”, which leaves a 0.25” reveal on the stiles (sides) and rail (bottom). It is essential to have room for the crown molding at the top of wall cabinets and countertops overhead the base cabinet. 

As a result, the top rails spot the reveal greater than ¼”. To be specific, 1-⅛” and ⅝” are two gaps at the top of cabinets and the top of bases.   

credit: barkerdoor.com

Source credit: barkerdoor.com

Drawers and doors completely overlapping the cabinetry face often offer a streamlined aesthetic. Moreover, this style provides the space inside of cabinets with an extra inch since the doors don’t close into the cabinet as the inset cabinet design does. The full overlay is popular with frameless construction, where the baseboard covers all the legs of the cabinet.

On the other hand, the partial style overlays the 1.5” face frame ⅜” exposing a 1-⅛” gap on all stiles and rails. This construction allows the cabinet’s face frame to stand out. 

credit: barkerdoor.com

Half overlay means ½” overlay design of doors and drawers, leaving the cabinet face frame exposed at 2 inches between the doors, creating a more traditional kitchen look. 

The Storage Space

Thanks to its design, when compared to partial overlay doors. The full overlay offers a more significant amount of storage with ample room for many items such as pans and pots. 

Moreover, double door cabinets with a full overlay design offer easier access and better storage capacity. Between the two doors, these cabinets do not have a vertical face frame stile. 

Moreover, they also clear the need to handle the center stile needed in the partial overlay cabinets. However, full overlay cabinets do come with an additional charge.

Hardware Required

Full overlay cabinet design requires cabinet hardware such as knobs and pulls since there is only a ¼ inch gap between drawers and doors, which usually makes them difficult to open without hardware.

credit: factorybuilderstores.com

Meanwhile, you don’t have to add hardware to the partial overlay cabinet. Because of enough finger space on the sides of the cabinet drawer or door face for opening at ease.

Wood Portion

The quality of the partial overlay cabinet doors is equivalent to the full overlay door design. However, the partial overlay cabinets require less wood. The reason is partial overlay does not have to cover the entire face of the cabinet frame as the full overlay does.


With a more contemporary design look, a full overlay cabinet is a more expensive option due to more wood utilized for the complete coverage of the cabinet boxes. 

Meanwhile, the partial overlay cabinet is a less expensive choice for homeowners on a tight budget. As mentioned above, it requires less wood, and its fronts of doors and drawers are much smaller than the full overlay design.

Full Overlay Vs Partial Overlay – Which Is Better?

Full overlay and partial overlay designs are great options for homeowners to select and install in their kitchen. However, if you prefer a traditional look and can only afford the lower-cost cabinet door, go for the partial overlay design. This one not only helps save you money but also offers a good amount of storage capacity. 

But if you want your kitchen to have a modern look, choose the full overlay cabinet doors. They can be more expensive. But the full overlay provides larger storage space and easier access for your stored items when coming with double doors. But remember to add hardware like pulls or knobs to open the doors more easily.

credit: factorybuilderstores.com

Overall, to decide which is better depends on your affordability, preference, purposes of usage, or the current status of your kitchen. You can ask for a consultation from the professional home-makers as well.  

Furthermore, approaching the right decision on the overlay cabinet installment with little technical understanding can work wonders and help maximize your happiness with a long-run result.

Hence, scrutinize their differences carefully and thoroughly before coming to the final choice of which one is better. 

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The Bottom Line

Hopefully, after our detailed comparison article between full overlay vs partial overlay, you are all clear about each cabinet design. These two designs are both money-spent-worth options, so don’t worry about their quality. Based on your taste, budget, and current conditions of your kitchen, it would be a breeze to choose a suitable overlay cabinet design. 

If you have installed one of two overlay cabinet designs, share your experience with everyone and us. We will appreciate your sharing. Or, if you want to discuss more top cabinet door products with these designs, contact us for further information. We are always here to help.