Standard Overlay or Full Overlay Cabinets – What’s the Difference?

By Amy Kahler

There are several choices to consider when a homebuyer is choosing options for their home, one of which is cabinets. A homebuyer can choose from different styles, colors and wood types. An additional option that homebuyers must also consider is whether they want standard overlay or full overlay cabinets. Often times, a homebuyer has not considered this option and may not understand the difference.

standard overlay vs. full overlay cabinet doors

Standard overlay cabinets (also called traditional overlay) tend to be less expensive and do not require hardware because there is enough finger space on the side of the cabinet door or drawer face. They also have more exposed face frame, with at least 1 ¼ inches on all sides of the doors and drawers.

Full overlay cabinets give cabinets a more custom look. They require cabinet hardware because there is only ¼ inch of space between doors and drawers, which can make them difficult to open without hardware. Double door cabinets with full overlay come with an additional benefit. They do not have a vertical face frame stile between the two doors, which allows homeowners to store larger items in the cabinet without having to work around the center stile needed in a standard overlay cabinet. Full overlay cabinets do come with an additional charge.

At McKee Homes, we encourage our buyers to choose the options and upgrades that best fit their lifestyle. Whether a buyer chooses standard overlay or full overlay cabinets, we ensure that they have been given enough information regarding the choices to make an informed decision, and one that best suits their needs.

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Edited and posted by

McKee Homes online marketing manager

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5 thoughts on “Standard Overlay or Full Overlay Cabinets – What’s the Difference?

  1. I’m a first time kitchen remodel / homeowner and my wife chose full overlay cabinets which are very nice. However, I am finding the tiny space from the top of the upper cabinet doors to the top of the cabinet very difficult to work with. Our previous cabinets were standard overlay and they had a quarter round mounding between the soffit and cabinet to cover gaps between the level cabinet and the less than level soffits. Even with the doors adjusted down to being flush with the bottom of the cabinets I seem to have about 1/2″ of exposed cabinet to land my trim and make up for the varying gaps to the soffits. I may leave the gap at the top uncovered and adjust the doors up a bit. Gaps are not visible with doors closed and I have 6″ dimmable LED ceiling lights which make the gaps invisible even with the doors open.

    Had I anticipated this problem, I could have added a filler board to the upper cabinet top so my trim could land on that, just above the cabinet top. I may tackle that at some point in the future.

  2. We are building a new house and paid for full overlay kitchen cabinet doors. Does full overlay have a stile inside the cabinet?

    • Thanks for your question Paula! With full overlay cabinet doors there is usually not a vertical style between the cabinet doors allowing you to easily store larger items. However, full overlay cabinet doors generally require cabinet door hardware to make them easy to open.

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