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A picture of a bathroom vanity showing outdated cabinet doors and an arrow pointing to the cabinet hinge.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.

How to Measure for Replacement Kitchen Drawer Boxes

How to Measure for Replacement Kitchen Drawer Boxes

Kitchen drawers endure a lot of wear and tear. Over the years they get yanked open and slammed shut thousands of times, and heavy contents shift with every movement causing the sides and bottom to loosen and eventually fail. If your kitchen came equipped with drawer boxes constructed using dovetail joinery, then they are probably still in great shape. But, if your kitchen has the typical builder grade drawer boxes held together with staples, they likely need replacement. 

An ideal time to replace old, worn out or broken drawer boxes is during a cabinet refacing project. Replacing your cabinet doors is an ideal way to beautify your kitchen and add value, replacing drawer boxes will increase the utility of your kitchen in just a few easy steps. You can even convert a doored cabinet to a pot and pan stack for added functionality. 

An image highlighting the dovetail joinery on a drawer box.

How to Measure for Custom Dovetail Drawers:

1. Remove Drawer Box to Measure 

Carefully remove your existing drawer boxes from the cabinet frame in order to accurately measure. Empty the contents of your drawers before removing as the drawers can be quite heavy when loaded. 

2. Measure the Inside Cabinet Width (ICW) 

Two factors will determine the width of your new drawer box: the Inside Cabinet Width of the cabinet that will house the drawers, and the type of drawer slide being used. The type of drawer slide being used will determine how much width is deducted from the drawer box in order accommodate the slide. For high quality soft close undermount slides like Blum (the preferred choice for most homeowners), the deduction is only 3/8”. A side mounted slide, which can be more economical, requires a deduction in width of 1”, making for a smaller drawer box. 

The ICW is determined by simply measuring the cabinet opening. On a framed kitchen this will be the inside measurement of the face frame from left to right. 

A framed cabinet shows the drawer opening.

On a frameless kitchen, the ICW is the inside width of the cabinet box itself. 

A hand holds a measuring tape in front of an opening in a kitchen cabinet. Measuring the space for a new drawer front for refacing the kitchen.
Measuring for a drawer box in a frameless cabinet.

3. Measure the Height of Your Drawer Box

Next comes measuring the height of your drawer box. Measure the height of the outside of the drawer box you are replacing. Most drawer manufacturers have standard heights ranging from 2.25” to 10.25” which cover the most common drawer box heights used in cabinetry over the last several decades. 

Altering the height of your drawer box is doable, for instance if you want to replace 2 shallow drawer boxes with a single deeper drawer box for pots and pans. Just remember to adjust the height of your drawer face to accommodate the drawer box. In general, the height of the drawer face should be 1.75” to 2” higher than the drawer box in order to accommodate the undermount slides and overlay. 

4. Measure the Depth

Measure the depth of the cabinet from the back of the cabinet box to the front. Most base cabinets are 24” deep. When measuring, check for obstructions in the back of the cabinets. In some cases, builders may run electrical or plumbing through the back of cabinets and you may need to deduct from the depth to clear the obstructions. The standard drawer depth for a 24” base cabinet is approximately 21”. A quality drawer glide like the Blum Tandem Undermount slide will allow for full extension of the drawer box for easier access. In general, the drawer box depth you select will be 2-3 inches less than the depth of the cabinet. 

5. Ordering New Drawer Boxes  

With the measurements you took using the steps above you are now ready to order your custom dovetail drawer boxes using our online order form. 

Select “Width Type” as Inside Cabinet Width and then enter your ICW width in the next box.  Select the Height of the drawer box required using the drop-down menu. Finally, select Depth using the drop-down menu. Selecting the Blum Undermount Slide will ensure your drawer boxes arrive ready to install. We will even mount the Blum locking device to the underside of the drawer box for you. 

Note – if you are replacing drawer boxes but intend to supply your own slides please select Exact Drawer Dimension under width type and input your drawer box width. Your measurements should be the exact size of the drawer box required (closest to our standard Height and Depth) .

Dovetail Drawer Box Features:

Custom dovetail drawers from Nieu include: 

  • 5/8” thick solid birch construction 
  • Dovetail joinery built for a lifetime of durability 
  • Low VOC, clear UV finish for extra water resistance 
  • 3/8” matched melamine bottom for added load capacity 
  • Shipped assemble for easy installation 
  • Blum locking devices installed for you when Blum slides added to your drawer order