Everything You Need To Know Before Buying Cabinets

When it comes to designing your kitchen cabinets there are many decisions to be made. It’s information overload when you don’t have a clear understanding of industry terms and standards. Thankfully, you have North American Cabinet. A quick read and you will understand just what to look for in your next cabinets. Making purchasing your next kitchen cabinets easy business.

Cabinets are a large part of any kitchen design. A great choice here and you will have something beautiful, practical, and at a good price.

Cabinet Doors

There are three main types of cabinet doors. Each have benefits & drawbacks in pricing, features, and style. We will just come out and say our favorite type of cabinet door is full overlay. We will get into exactly why and what makes a cabinet full overlay.

Inset Cabinets

Inset cabinets have doors that are recessed into the cabinet frame. They provide a clean smooth look on the outside of the cabinet. Inset cabinets are typically a high-end cabinet style because they are complex and need more precision.

Inset Cabinet Pros

  • Super clean smooth look
  • Because these cabinets are more complex to produce, they often have wonderful construction.

Inset cabinets Cons

  • Having recessed drawers and doors requires drawer pulls or knobs.
  • Recessed drawers and doors take away a small amount of storage space inside the cabinet or drawer.
  • Poorly sealed inset cabinets can swell and contract with humidity changes causing poor fitment. Sticking drawers or doors will wear finish over time.
  • Typically, higher cost than full or partial overlay cabinets.
white inset cabinets and blue island

Full Overlay

Full overlay cabinets are a wonderful middle ground when it comes to a clean look at less cost. The doors sit on top of the cabinet frame. This style shows less of the cabinet frame than partial overlay cabinets, resulting in a smooth look. The drawers and doors are more easily adjustable after changes in the wood from humidity.

Full Overlay Cabinet Pros

  • Great smooth look on a budget
  • Easier to produce and install, lower cost
  • More storage than inset cabinets because doors and drawers are outside the cabinet frame.

Full Overlay Cabinet Cons

  • You need to install drawer pulls and or knobs to open the cabinets
  • Edges and corners of the doors and drawers can be damaged and dinged
  • Since there are small gaps, poorly fitted or settling cabinet doors can show uneven gaps which require adjustment to doors.
white full overlay cabinets

Partial Overlay

Partial overlay cabinets are usually the cheapest of the three main cabinet styles. The cost reduction is mainly because the construction has more room for error and thus less complicated to produce effectively. The cabinet doors sit on top of the frame. This style cabinet style shows more of the cabinet frame than full overlay cabinets. Partial Overlay cabinets are not as popular as they once were.

Partial Overlay Cabinet Pros

  • Most affordable style
  • With larger gaps this style cabinet is easier to open without hardware
  • Partial overlay cabinets can provide a more historic look

Partial Overlay Cabinet Cons

  • Less popular
  • Not as clean in appearance
  • Less modern


white partial overlay cabinets

How to Take Cabinet Delivery

Flat Pack – RTA (Ready To Assemble)

If you are looking to save money on your next cabinet purchase, we offer RTA cabinets. Packed flat for delivery. You can save money by opting to purchase ready to assemble cabinets. On delivery you will have easy to store cabinet components, and all of the necessary hardware to assemble. This requires more install time and expense but might be a great option if you are handy. RTA is also a great option if you have limited space to store your cabinets. At North American Cabinet we will store your cabinets until you are ready for delivery… free of charge.


Just how it sounds, assembled cabinets are ready to install by you or a professional. If you have the extra budget this is certainly the way to go. It will cut down on your kitchen remodel time substantially.

Construction materials


Hardwood is a wonderful natural cabinet material. It is renewable and ecofriendly when responsibly sourced. Both our cabinet lines use environmentally friendly processes. Hardwood is a time-honored building material, used since humans could harvest it from trees.

The main things of note about hardwood cabinets:

  • Hardwood is durable and easy to repair
  • Hardwood is expensive and as such often used as a supplemental construction material


Plywood is vastly misunderstood as a building material. The reason being that not all plywood is created equally. Engineered plywood can be incredibly strong or brittle. Plywood is created by laminating layers of wood, sometimes cross-graining, and often using heat. The structural strength of plywood correlates to the absence of voids, resin types, wood types, and grain structure.

Plywood comes in many forms but should not be mistaken for MDF, Particle Board, or Chip Board. A fantastic quality plywood builds durable cabinets without the larger cost of full hardwood construction.

For nearly any home, high quality plywood construction is an excellent way to lower the cost of your cabinets.

Particle Board

Particle board LDF (Low Density Fiberboard) is created by laminating small pieces of waste or recycled wood. Most particle board is a very low-cost building material and not durable.

MDF – Medium Density Fiberboard

Medium Density Fiberboard is created with even smaller pieces of waste or recycled wood than particle board. MDF strength usually is somewhere between plywood and particle board.

Unsealed MDF can be highly susceptible to water damage. Unsealed Medium Density Fiberboard can also off-gas chemicals suspected to be harmful, so do your research.