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Kitchen Cabinet Door Styles

Nothing defines the style of your kitchen cabinets like the door. Cabinet overlays, woods, and finishes, are also important, but the cabinet door design anchors the overall look and style. There are two cabinet door style categories-frame-and-panel and slab door-which come in a great many varieties. For a better understanding of these choices, we've listed them below, along with brief explanations of available options.

Frame and Panel Doors:

In frame-and-panel construction (also known as five piece doors), each door features a rectangular frame built around a center panel. The center panel is slotted into grooves within the inside edge of the frame. Most cabinet doors made in this style have a single center panel, although doors with two more panels are not uncommon.

Frame-and-panel cabinet doors come in several styles:

Raised Panel Cabinet Door

The center panel of a raised panel cabinet door has sloped routed edges that make it seem as though it is protruding forward. This cabinet door design is available with either a square or arched center panel. If the door frame is wood, the center panel material is either a solid wood, or a lower cost, substrate such as MDF (medium density fiberboard) or particle board. With painted cabinet doors, MDF is the substrate commonly used and the paint is applied directly to it. For wood stained doors, a thin wood veneer covers the center panel substrate (either MDF or particle board). Because this veneer is so thin, it cannot be sanded and refinished in the future due to the risk of sanding through the veneer to the substrate below.

Recessed Panel Cabinet Door

In a recessed panel cabinet door, the center panel is flat and recessed back from the face of the door frame. This cabinet door style is available in either a square or arched center panel. In finished wood doors, most recessed panels are constructed with matching wood veneer over a substrate, typically plywood. The center panel is usually 1/4 inch thick. Some companies offer a thicker panel (3/8 - 1/2 inch thick) to prevent the door from rattling when closing during times of low humidity, which shrinks the wood. Another variation is a 3/4" solid wood panel that appears recessed, but is actually routed on the back side. This style is also called a "reverse raised panel door." It's main advantage is that it can be refinished.

Beadboard Cabinet Door

Sometimes referred to as Cape Cod, this cabinet door style has vertical grooves routed into the front of the recessed center panel. A beadboard center panel can be made of solid wood, veneered plywood or medium density fiber board (painted doors only).

Slab Cabinet Door:

The second category of cabinet door design is the slab door. It is made with either a solid wood or a covered substrate.

Solid Wood Cabinet Door

The door is constructed of solid wood pieces running in a vertical or horizontal direction. The cabinet door thickness is generally 3/4". Some manufacturers add a reinforcing wood strip on the back to prevent warping and reduce expansion and contraction from changes in humidity. Since solid wood slab doors do expand and contract more than frame and panel doors, they are available only with face frame cabinetry. This cabinet construction (as opposed to frameless) provides more clearance between the doors, allowing for expansion and contraction. With the solid wood door, numerous door edge profiles are available, including radius, square, beveled, ogee etc. These doors can also be routed for finger grooves, creating the option of eliminating handles or pulls.

Covered Substrate Cabinet Door

This cabinet door has a base such as MDF or particle board that is covered in one of several materials: laminates, wood veneers, thermofoil, paint and melamine. Edge detail options vary depending on the material. Thermofoil is unique in that it can be molded over an MDF panel that has been routed into the shape of a frame-and-panel door, providing a less expensive alternative to a wood frame-and-panel door. Cabinet box construction can be either face frame or frameless. The cost of slab doors varies depending on the materials used.


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