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Cabinets 101
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Lesson #5 - Overlays Prev Next
Overlay refers to how much of the frame is exposed by the door. Overlays come in three basic varieties. Standard overlay cabinets have about 1 - 1 1/4 inch of the frame exposed. Full overlay cabinets have about 1/8 inch of frame exposed. Inset cabinets have all of the frame exposed.

Full overlay doors use conceiled hinges that allow the door to open about 110 degrees. Standard overlay doors use either a conceiled hinge or a knife hinge that allows the door to open 160 degrees. Inset doors use a standard door hinge that is visible from the outside of the cabinet and can open the full 180 degrees.

Full and standard overlays are offered by most all manufacturers, however, inset doors are less common. Inset doors have to be exact to 1/32 of an inch and thus require much more care when building. As a result, most manufacturers feel they are not popular enough to warrant the extra expense. Therefore, inset doors are the most expensive. Within the same line inset doors will run about 20 - 40% more than full overlay, however, their real cost is closer to 50 - 100% more when you compare them to the value line cabinets that are not offered in inset. Full overlays tend to run 5 - 15% more than standard overlay.

Many cabinets with two doors can come with butt doors. Butt doors are two doors that when closed touch each other and thus do not need to have the center piece of wood behind them. Butt doors can come with both standard or full overlay cabinets but not with inset. The main advantage of butt doors is that you do not have that center piece of wood between the two doors and thus have access to the entire cabinet when both doors are open.

Below is a sample of the three types of overlays.
Full Overlay Standard Overlay Inset