How much frame should be visible with full overlay cabinets?

kiwi71April 5, 2014

Hello all,
I have to ask this. I have tried researching this issue and can't seem to find much on it. But I need to decide right now if this is something I am justified in being concerned about, before it's too late.

My GC just installed my full overlay shaker style cabinets and the space/gaps between the doors/drawers of my separate cabinets is kind of bugging me. In all the beautiful kitchen photos I see online, they seem so much more seamless than mine.

(I'm not sure how to attach more than one photo, so I will post additional photos separately. Sorry.)

Are the gaps between my cabinets within "normal limits" or should they reasonably be tighter. I know that the cabinets were placed as close together as they could be, as manufactured, but was my GC supposed to trim the sides of the front frames so that they fit more tightly together??

If you look at the photo of my range top, you can see that there is about a 1 1/2" gap on the left between the doors of the adjacent cabinets, but on the right, the gap was much less. Actually, when I pointed this out, my GC actually widened the gap on the right with a filler to make it more symmetrical, since on the sink side, there is a gap closer to 1 1/2' between the doors under the sink and the door to the corner cabinet.

To give a little more background, my GC is trying to stay on schedule (to his credit), but the cabinets were installed in one day so that the counter top people could come and do their template. So if I do end up making an issue out of this, the templating would have to be repeated, if they haven't already started cutting. This was just yesterday and the counter installation is scheduled the middle of next week, so I'm hoping I still have time. But obviously I need to decide now.

I had decided that I was fine with the gaps, but I've been looking at photos online all day and it's driving me nuts. Please help.

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Another photo.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 3:08PM
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Another photo.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 3:10PM
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have you measured the gaps? I know I spec'd mine to be 1/8" which was the tightest they could/would do. Others on GW have them even tighter.

It does look like some adjustments need to be made which I think is typical. The gap size themselves don't look bad to me though.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 4:11PM
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They can't be too close or you couldn't open the doors against the adjacent drawers/doors. It wouldn't bother me.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 6:09PM
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I don't know - I have full overlay frameless cabinets and there are zero gaps between cabinets. I've attached a picture of the sink cabinet with the pull-out trash to the left and a 6" cabinet door to the right.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 6:20PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Look at the gap at the base. That's a sliver of a filler or an exteded stile there. Probably for door clearance and to keep things centered where it needs to .

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 6:21PM
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The air gap between the doors and the edges of the cabinet box will vary depending upon the mfg (for framed overlay cabinets) Yorktown & Medallion cabinetry allows 1/4" on their "full overlay" doorstyles. That means that when joining cabinets you would have 1/2" between the doors of each cabinet. When you order a butt door application, for a two door cabinet (such as under your range top) the air tolerance is much closer.

Since the cabinets are framed, it is possible that the cabinet order specified an extend stile? Sometimes this is necessary to allow a bit of play in a wall to wall run. The extended stile can be cut of fit if the walls are off.

Generally frameless cabinets have a 1/8" air tolerance, as in the photo from SJhockeyfan.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 7:23PM
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Thanks for the replies. I would have loved for the gaps to be as tight as sjhockeyfan's cabinets, which looks great. However, another thing that occurred to me is that our sink cabinet is centered under the window, which was a new addition and installed a couple of weeks ago. It seems that the only way to tighten that gap to the right of the sink cabinet now would be to move it to the right (and out of center with the window), since the cabinet on the right is the corner cabinet that is basically the anchor of my L-shaped kitchen.

Coulda, shoulda, woulda, but I kind of blame myself for not being a little more on top of everything. In hindsight, I think I would have had them hold off on finalizing the window placement until the cabinets arrived and were placed and placed correctly. Part of the problem is semi-custom cabinets taking 4-6 weeks and GC's trying to stay within a time frame. Or I could have been more on top of them about having extremely precise measurements, though that may have been difficult given the amount of demolition we had to do before knowing the exactly what we had behind our walls. I really never anticipated this being an issue.

Unfortunately I'm afraid I may be stuck with these gaps. At least they're all pretty equal in size now, as I think different sized gaps would have looked worse, and did look worse in the case of my range top cabinet. Hopefully, over time they will stop bothering me.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 8:03PM
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Totally not an answer to your question, but your cabinets are beautiful. Are they custom?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 9:27PM
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Truffula - Thank you! No, they are not a full custom line. They are a Norcraft semi-custom line as 3 of my cabinets had to be custom sized.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 9:57PM
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On mine, the gaps between all drawers and doors is like the gap between each of your drawer heads. (Sorry, I'm on mobile and every time I try to upload a picture it fails)

The only places I have visible stiles are at the end of cabinet runs but my cabinets are full custom and built by a one man shop who doesn't outsource anything like doors, something I have heard other cabinet shops do.

Given that these are semi custom, there is always going to be some areas that won't be our "dream come true" but really, I have to say your cabinets are gorgeous!!

I would say try to remember what I have heard over and over again on this forum. When we are in the middle of a remodel, EVERYTHING is scrutinized, EVERYTHING has to be perfect but if we just step back for a minute, we will (most likely) realize that once we are in our kitchens and using them, we won't ever notice this "flaw" because we have an amazing kitchen!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 3:41AM
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kiwi71 - Not an expert but someone with the same issue in my kitchen. I had no idea what to expect (or order) and only after everything was installed did I slowly start to question the gaps.

Some of my gaps came because I converted doors from hinged to pullouts. Others, because of my non-standard layout and door sizes and just not knowing enough to plan for this up front. Also, DH and I installed the drawer fronts ourselves and I think at the time we were just shooting for 'equal distances'.

2 1/2 years later, I still look at the gaps. I'm pretty sure that I could improve them, by reinstalling the drawer fronts so that they were closer to each other, and then adding finished filler pieces in certain areas. Here's an example, where I mocked up this on the drawer bank to the right but not the left. I'd add a filler which would run from the right edge of the drawer bank to the corner. (Of course at this point, I'm starting to worry about color variation).

Could you add some filler to the left of your range? This is the only place which seems to stand out to me.

sjhockeyfan - what kind of hinges to you have, that allow the doors to be so close to the adjacent drawers? Your left is a pullout trash but the right..?

Your cabinets are beautiful and your kitchen is shaping up nicely. I will look forward to more pictures!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 8:48AM
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Oldbat, I honestly don't know but here's a picture. This is the hinge for the right-hand door of the sink cabinet. They are all the same, though. Isn't this normal for frameless cabinets?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 1:28PM
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What did the display or ad photos show that you are seeing something different than you thought you purchased?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 3:23PM
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I had my drawerfronts redone to have more of a gap between the drawers. The first set was just too tight. When I opened the drawers in some places they hit the cabinet next to it. I had them redone to show a bigger reveal. I have a feeling that you can have a closer fit if you are using doors, but with drawers there is always a bit of "play" when you open them so maybe you just need a little more space between the cabinets.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 3:40PM
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