Face Framed Cabinets: Increase Overlay to Reduce Reveal

Face Framed Cabinets: Increase Overlay to Reduce Reveal

“How can I make my cabinet doors bigger?” “I want the doors to almost touch”.  If you’ve asked these questions and thought you need to rip out your cabinets to achieve these goals – stop and read this blog that will teach you How-To!

Increasing cabinet door sizes to reduce the amount of frame showing is an easy process that any homeowner can tackle. Older framed kitchens usually show a lot of the cabinet face frame when the doors are closed. Many homeowners seeking a more modern look want to increase the size of the cabinet doors so that less frame is showing.

Key Terms for Face Framed Cabinets

Before we go through the steps to hide cabinet frames with larger doors, we’ll review some important terms around increasing your cabinet door size to reduce the amount of reveal.


The amount of face frame showing when the cabinet door is closed, sometimes called by DIY newbies the “gaps” around your doors. Reducing the amount of reveal is the goal for a sleeker, more modern cabinet look.

A picture of a bathroom vanity showing outdated cabinet doors and an arrow pointing to the cabinet hinge.
The arrow indicated the large reveal on these framed cabinets.

Door Overlay

The amount of frame that is covered by the cabinet doors is known as the overlay of the door on the cabinet frame. In older cabinets, the overlay is typically ½” meaning the door overlays the cabinet frame by 1/2’” on all 4 sides.

A bathroom vanity without cabinet doors with red highlight around the cabinet openings showing where the doors should sit when installed.
The red outline indicated the placement of half overlay doors on this vanity.

Hinge Overlay

Concealed soft close hinges are made for specific overlays. The overlay of your cabinet doors needs to match the overlay of the hinge you are using. Manufacturers make soft close concealed hinges in a variety of overlays, the most common being ½”, ¾”, 1”, 1 1/4”, 1 9/16”. The overlay measured for the hinge side of the door needs match the overlay of the hinge you will use. It helps to think of a door as having 2 sides; the hinge side and the handle side. The overlay on the hinge side needs to match the hinge, while the overlay on the handle side can vary depending on application.

A cabinet door divided into two with a vertical line showing labels for the hinge side and handle side of the door.
Handle vs. hinge side on a cabinet door.

Frame Width

The first step in determining the size of your new door is to measure the width of the face frame that the door will sit on. The width of the frame will determine how much overlay you can add to a cabinet opening and how much frame you can cover. A typical full overlay is 1/8” to ¼” less than the frame width.

A closeup of a measuring tape against a cabinet frame.
Measuring your face frame width will determine the overlay of door you can measure.

Inside Frame Dimensions

Also referred to as “cabinet opening” or “ICW – Inside Cabinet Width”, these measurements are taken by measuring the width and height of the cabinet opening from the inside edge of the cabinet frame. Make sure these measurements are exact to the nearest 1/16 of an inch.

Measuring for Larger Cabinet Doors in 5 Steps

Step 1: Measure Frame Width

Measure the width of the frame that the door will mount to on all four sides. The frame width will most likely be the same on all sides, but it is important to double check.

In some cases, a single frame may have a left door and a right door mounted to it, this is known as a “shared frame”. In this case, each door will share half of the width of the frame. For example, if the frame is 3” wide, each door is allocated 1-1/2” of that frame.

Step 2: Determine Hinge Overlay

Using your frame width, you can now select the correct hinge overlay for your project. A good rule of thumb is to select the hinge overlay that is a minimum of 1/8” less than your frame width. For example, if your frame width is 1 1/8” your ideal overlay hinge would be 1”. This allows for a 1/4” gap between doors which gives enough clearance for the doors to open without touching.

Step 3: Calculate Door Width

Use the hinge overlay and the Inside Cabinet Dimensions to determine the door width.

For a single door cabinet with an opening with of 12” and the 1” overlay described above, the door calculations would be as follows;

12” opening + 1” overlay on hinge side of door + 1” overlay on handle side of door = 14” door width

For a double door cabinet (large opening with 2 doors on it) with an opening of 30”, the math is;

30” divided by 2 doors = 15”.

15” plus 1” overlay on hinge side only of door = 16”.

16” less 1/16” = 15-15/16” wide door for each door (you will order a quantity of two)

Why deduct 1/16”? Deducting 1/16” from the handle side of the door after the overlay is added ensures that the doors won’t touch in the middle when they are closed. By deducting 1/16” from each door you are actually allowing for a 1/8” gap between the doors which is ideal.

Step 4: Calculate Door Height

The height of your doors depends on the amount of frame you want to cover. You can choose to add the same amount of overlay to the height of the doors as the width, or you can make the height overlay whatever looks best for your cabinet.

In this example, the height of the cabinet face from the underside of the countertop to the bottom of the frame was 25-1/4”. Allowing for a 3/16” gap between the top of the door and the underside of the countertop meant the doors were made at 25-1/16” high to completely cover the face frame.

An image showcasing a full overlay cabinet door on a face framed cabinet.
A visual demonstration of door height on framed cabinet to cover the cabinet face frame.

Drawer Above Door

When a base cabinet has both a door and a drawer front, ensure that you allow for a minimum 1/8” gap between the top of the door and the bottom of the drawer face.

The width of drawer fronts should be calculated in the same way as doors. Although there is no hinge to match overlay to, by using the same overlay as the doors you will ensure a consistent amount of reveal throughout the project. Remember, if a drawer is located above a door, the width of the drawer and door should be the same so that they line up.

Step 5: Double Check

Before spending hundreds, maybe thousands on new cabinet doors, its important to double check your measurements to ensure that you are achieving the look you want and that your newly sized doors will fit properly. Doors that are slightly undersize may be workable, but doors that are too large may be unusable.

The best method for double checking requires green painter’s tape and patience. With the existing cabinet doors removed from your cabinet, use your painter’s tape to layout the newly measured width and height of the cabinet doors as you have measured. Taking the time to do this ensures that your doors are sized correctly to cover the amount of face frame desired, while ensuring they won’t overlap or touch each other when closed. This can take a bit of time in a large kitchen but is time well spent compared to the cost of doors that were measured incorrectly.

Painter's tape covers the face frames of a bathroom vanity as a double check of dimensions prior to ordering.
Double checking your measurements with painter’s tape is a great visual check!

In Conclusion

Achieving a full overlay look on a framed cabinet is an easy DIY project that is doable by any homeowner with a little how-to knowledge and some patience. Correct measurements are the key to success, so be sure to double check your measurements for accuracy!

An updated bathroom vanity complete with full overlay doors on face framed cabinets.
After: Full Overlay Cabinet Doors on an updated bathroom vanity.