Overlay refers to how much of the front frame of a cabinet or drawer front is covered by a panel. There are two primary overlay types: full-overlay and partial-overlay. While related, these terms are not interchangeable. When choosing the overlay type, all cabinets must conform to a choice of either full-overlay or partial-overlay. The measurements of the doors, frames, and drawer fronts will differ between the two types and must be specified to create a consistent appearance throughout the cabinet installation.
The most notable difference between full-overlay and partial-overlay is the visibility of the cabinet frame. Full-overlay gives a modern, seamless appearance by covering the entire front frame of the cabinet. However, full-overlay doors should not be substituted for frameless doors, as they leave a small 3/8 inch gap along the edges. Partial-overlay doors and drawers leave a consistent 2-inch gap across the entire face of the cabinet, showing a strip of the frame. This style is named for the fact that the doors and drawers overlap the frame equally on all edges around the opening.