Overlay refers to the amount of front frame covered by a cabinet or drawer front piece. The two primarily used descriptions are full-overlay and partial-overlay. These three terms are related but not interchangeable. When selecting overlay type, one’s cabinets must all commit to a choice of full-overlay or partial-overlay. The measurements of doors, frames and the drawer fronts will be different between the two types and must be specified to create continuity throughout a cabinet run.
The most noticeable difference between the full-overlay and partial-overlay is the affect on the visibility of the cabinet frame. By choosing full-overlay, many kitchen designers create a modern appearance that gives cabinets a seamless appearance. Full overlay sized doors should not be substituted for frameless doors only because they do leave a small 3/8 inch gap along the edges. Partial-overlay doors and drawers will create consistent 2-inch spacing across the entire face of the cabinet run, which shoes a strip of the frame. This style is named for the fact that the doors and drawers will equally overlap the frame on all edges around the opening.