What is all this talk about "overlay"?

What is all this talk about "overlay"?
Alex Barnes

Let's face it... when something breaks in your house, it can be VERY frustrating to find a solution. And almost always, the things most used in the home are the ones to go first. I don't know about you but in my house, the kitchen is always being used, creating smells of a delicious meal in the air. And for one of the hinges on my cabinet doors, shortly it's long-lived life will end.

And I'm sure there's a hinge in your kitchen destined for the same fate! Because of the hinge's old age, there might not be an exact match out on the market. But don't sweat it! All you need to know is the answer to two easy questions. Is it a European-style cabinet or Face Frame cabinet? And what is its overlay? So before it happens, let's save the frustration and inform!

What is a European-style cabinet? A Face Frame cabinet?

A european cabinet is simplistic in design, creating a modern look with stream-lined surfaces and no gaps between cabinet doors. This effect is created by making the cabinet box only have three sides, and having the fourth side of the box being the cabinet door with the hinges connecting straight to the side of the cabinet. In contrast, a face frame cabinet has three sides to the cabinet box, but has a frame AROUND the cabinet door, and having the hinges connect to the FRAME instead of the side of the cabinet. Face frame cabinets look older in style, and give a classy feel when correctly implemented.

        European Cabinet                                            Face-Frame Cabinet


What is an overlay?

The overlay of a face frame cabinet is simply how much the cabinet door is covering the frame (in inches). Some overlays available for face frame cabinets:

  • 1/4"

  • 1/2"

  • 5/8"

  • 1"

  • 1 1/8"

  • 1 1/4"

  • 1 3/8"

  • 1 1/2"

  • 1 5/8"

The overlay of a european cabinet is how much of the side panel you can see.

  • Full Overlay (the door completely covers the side panel)

  • Half Overlay (the door covers half the side panel)

  • Inset (the door sits slightly inside the cabinet, completely revealing the side panel)

So now you know the facts, weekend warrior. GO GET 'EM!

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  • Lois Barnes
    June 03, 2011

    Very informative. I now have the information I need if I should have a problem with the hinges on my cabinets and I also understand the different cabinet door options. I am thinking of replacing my cabinet doors and this gave me something new to think about if I want to change the look of my cabitnet face. Thankyou. Good job!