If you are thinking about purchasing a shaker style kitchen, you might have come across both front frame and lay on shaker terminology. But what exactly do they mean, and how do the affect how your kitchen will look?

Both styles are used within shaker style kitchens, each giving a different finished look, with the finished result more often than not coming down to your own personal preference.

For decades, kitchen cabinets have been made using the front frame method; where the door of the cabinet is perfectly fitted within an outer wooden frame. However, advancements in manufacturing techniques, and a desire to reduce costs in the modern world saw the introduction of frameless kitchens (lay on shaker), which has quickly established itself as a popular and affordable alternative.

Whilst lay on shaker continues to be hugely popular, we’re seeing a revival of front frame cabinetry thanks in part to its durability and longevity, a by-product of the excellent craftsmanship that goes into this joinery technique.

So what are the pros of front frame shaker kitchens?


  •  Durability

 Front frame kitchens use traditional cabinetry construction and is more labour intensive, giving a higher quality finish than the lay on construction method. This utilises solid wood, and provides a durable and high-quality finish.

  • Choice of finishes

Your kitchen doors can be made from solid wood or veneered MDF, depending on the style of your kitchen and your budget. The result is also more traditional in appearance than lay on kitchens.

  • Finishing touches

Front frame cabinetry is fitted with butt hinges, with each one ‘chopped in’ by hand to ensure the perfect fit (this is actually a very skilled process, which our team are experts at!). Using hinges in this way, makes for an extremely strong bond which is unlikely to weaken with continued use. It also allows for the door to fit perfectly inside the frame without any further alterations needed over time.

The choice of metal used for the hinges is down to personal preference and can be brass, brushed, chrome and can be matched with sink, handles and accents across the kitchen.

But what can a lay on shaker kitchen offer me?

 Lay on kitchen doors are just another name for overlay, i.e. the door lays over or on top of the carcass (internal box) Choosing this option also has many advantages including:

  • Affordability

Less labour intensive, lay on kitchens are the more affordable option but can still create the shaker look that you are after.

  • Modern finish

The advantage of the lay on door style is that the finish is very consistent, with very clean lines and a continuous appearance.

  • More space to play with

Due to how the cabinets are made, with very small gaps between doors and drawers, it means you benefit from more space for storage – hurrah!

Finishing of both front frame and lay on shaker

 One similarity that both styles of kitchen cabinetry have, is that they can be finished using the same paint and spray painted techniques. Popular colours such as cream, greys, and blues work well across both styles. However, one difference is that front frame cabinets can also be hand painted for a brushed, more rustic finish.

We’re always pleased to showcase our work, and our Chelsea kitchen is the perfect example of a front framed shaker kitchen. You can read more about it here.





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