Cabinet doors are seldom one solid piece of wood, but when they are, it is called a slab. Most cabinet doors consist of five pieces, using a rail and stile construction. The horizontal rails (top and bottom) and vertical stiles (sides) are approximately 2% inches wide (assembled) surrounding a center panel, with a notch cut for the center panel to fit into. This construction allows for humidity changes without causing cracks in the wood. The center panel is free to move as the wood shrinks or swells. The center panel is usuall % inch thick, which is one-third the thickness of the door. If the center panel is thicker in the center, it is called a raised panel door.
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Some cabinets have a face frame that the doors shut against. Doors of a traditional overlay show some of the face frame around each door. Doors of a full overlay cover the face frame completely. The advantages of the frame style cabinets are that they are stronger and less expensive to build.
Decorating Gallery 3.13 Cabinet Doors Are Usually Solid Wood, Whereas the Remainder of the Cabinet Is a Quarter-Inch Wood Veneer over Plywood.
Decorating Gallery 3.14 Solid Alder Wood Door in Rail and Stile Construction. This beautiful grain will look attractive when showing through a light or dark stain.
Decorating Gallery 3.15 Cabinet Door Construction Showing MDF Panel Insert Surrounded by Alder Rail and Stile. The combination of types of woods requires a painted finish.
Another style of cabinetry does not have a face frame. It is called frameless, or European style cabinetry. These cabinets have doors that fit flush with the cabinet, there is no overlay. The advantage of frameless construction is that it allows wider access to the inside of the cabinet. However, the cabinets cost more to build.