If you’re shopping for new cabinets, you’ll likely encounter terminology you may be unfamiliar with. Knowing the most common kitchen and bathroom cabinet features will help you decide which cabinetry will best suit your home, style and budget.

Drawer Fronts

Many details can be customized on drawer fronts, especially the outside face edge for most styles. This can be especially useful when matching with existing cabinetry or specific design requests.

Solid drawer fronts are the most traditional. Sometimes referred to as slab front drawers, they’re sold with a wide range of options. This simple style allows you to get creative with colors and and types of wood.

Five-piece drawer fronts are constructed with a frame and center panel, creating a look similar to cabinet doors. The size of the frame is usually reduced to allow for smaller heights that drawer fronts typically require.

Three-piece drawer fronts are versatile enough to fit both traditional and modern styles. With straight lines and right angles, this design is attractive and clean.

Routed drawer fronts are a step higher in cabinetry design than solid drawer fronts due to the added detail. Flat pieces of wood or laminate are routed on the edges. Usually the drawer fronts are made with the same edge design as the cabinet doors. Additional designs may be carved into these drawer fronts if desired

Door Overlay

The overlay dimension is simply how much bigger the door is than the opening of the cabinet.

Full overlay draws attention to the door and drawer design, creating a seamless look. This type of cabinetry covers the entire face frame in framed construction and hides the cabinet box
in frameless designs. Full overlay is considered more modern in appearance.

Partial overlay reveals about an inch of face frame around the door, creating a traditional look. A portion of the cabinet box or face frame is left partially exposed.

Veneer or Solid Doors

This refers to the cabinet door’s center panel material.

Veneer doors are made up of a thin piece of wood that’s applied to a substrate of plywood or a composite material like particle board. Veneered components are more uniform in finish and consistency. These center panels in doors don’t tend to shrink or expand in dry and moist climates.

Solid doors are real wood and will have variations in color and grain with each board. Solid wood can be sanded and refinished, however the natural wood movement can sometimes cause lines to show up. Solid wood panel doors are generally more expensive than veneer panel doors, and they’re more susceptible to expansion and contraction due to changes in temperature.


Glazes are the finishing substances used to coat the cabinets to produce enhancements in door detail, wood color and tone. Glaze treatments and techniques can vary from heavy to light.

Wet glaze is sprayed onto the entire cabinet door. Some of the glaze is then wiped off, so it only slightly changes the overall finish color.

Dry glaze is hand-applied to only to the profiled areas, such as a lip or crevice, while the base color remains the same.

Finishing Techniques

Finishing techniques are a great way to give your cabinets a truly unique appearance.

Sanding the edges, distressing the finish, or adding dents and gouges can create a worn-in and perfectly aged look.

Antiquing offers a vintage feeling of natural wear on wood from prolonged use. The look can be achieved by lightly sanding over the cabinets as well as adding the appearance of dents before finishing.

Brushed finishes are hand-applied over paints or stains. Visible brush strokes solely depend on the desired style.

Stain gives a transparent color for a more natural look. The cabinet’s surface must be sanded so that the stain can absorb evenly and the wood’s natural characteristics can shine through.

Burnishing creates a warm, traditional look. The wood is randomly distressed and over sanded, then a stain is applied. A glaze is then added to provide a softened appearance.

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