Cabinet Building Concepts and Terminology

Kitchen Countertop Design Options

There are many cabinet building concepts, themes, and terminology that are used throughout the industry. If you’re not familiar with these terms, it can be hard to communicate with woodworking professionals and clearly convey your goals for remodeling or construction.

Here are a few common cabinet building concepts and terms that you might hear while planning a remodeling project. …

Cabinet Building Concepts and Terminology

Base Cabinet

Sometimes called a “floor” or “lower” cabinet, this is the part of your cabinetry that sits on the floor and usually holds the countertops above. Generally this part of the cabinet is deeper in the kitchen than the bathroom, but it can range in depth from 16 to 36 inches from the wall, depending on your needs.

Wall Cabinet

Also called an “upper” cabinet, this is the section of the cabinetry that hangs on the wall. They are usually 12 to 14 inches deep, but can be made to fit just about any need. However, there are restrictions on depth as the entire weight of the cabinets (and anything you store in them) will be pulling on the wall mounting.

Full-Height Cabinets

These cabinets can be 7 feet tall or higher, making them extremely versatile for storage in the kitchen or bathroom. For obvious reasons, they are sometimes referred to as “utility” or “tall” cabinets.


A free-standing area of base cabinets that you can walk entirely around. As the name suggests, an island is not attached to a wall but simply mounted to the floor. Islands can include sinks, countertops, and bar tops. They can also hold a combination of cabinets and drawers as needed.

Diagonal Corner Cabinet

As you might have guessed, this is the type of cabinet that fits into the corner. Another term for this cabinet building concept is a “wall angle.” This style of cabinet is used to create smooth transitions from one wall to another.

Lazy Susan

A spinning storage area, usually used in the corner of cabinetry designs to store canned goods and other non-perishable foods.

Domestic Wood

This is a term used by American cabinet professionals and other woodworkers to describe wood and lumber that was grown in the United States. According to American Hardwoods, red and white oak are two of the most abundant domestic wood types.

Face Frame

This is a cabinet style where the door, when closed, sits inside a recessed area. Think of your home’s doors that sit inside a door frame; the concept is the same.

Overlay Door

An overlay door, as opposed to a face frame, sits flat over the cabinet opening. The door is larger than the cabinet opening and does not go into a frame when closed.

Overlay Measurement

This is the amount of wood that is covered by the overlay door when closed. It is usually around one to two inches.

End Panels

This is the part of the cabinet that is used to finish the visible end of the woodwork. It is also sometimes used to describe hidden ends of the cabinet that are adjacent to walls and appliances.

Engineered Lumber

These are wood materials that have been manufactured to be stronger and more affordable from a size standpoint. They are usually wood fibers bonded by resins to make a stronger (although less visually-pleasing) material. Plywood is a common type of engineered lumber.

Exposed Hinge

A visible hinge that is attached to the door and the front of the cabinet. It is mounted to the exterior of the cabinet, making it visible from the outside.


Although this isn’t really a cabinetry term, “fixture” generally refers to any attached part of a design, such as sinks, lights, trim, toilets, and more. It is important to know because cabinet makers usually have to work around fixtures or design styles that complement these elements.

Recessed Door

Also referred to as a “recessed panel,” this style of cabinet building concept or style has a large middle section that is deeper in the door with a raised frame around the sides. It is used to give depth to a cabinet design in a simple and elegant fashion.

Wood Grain

This wood-working term refers to the natural pattern in the wood. Wood grain can can come in different styles and appearances depending on the wood selected.


A portion of a branch or limb that is visible in the lumber. It is usually darker and can be seen as a circular shape in finished lumber.

If you want more terms from cabinetry, check out the Glossary from the National Kitchen & Bath Association.

Get Outstanding Results with these Cabinet Building Concepts

At JK Cabinets, we are dedicated to outstanding service and amazing cabinets. We’ll do what we can to make sure you get outstanding cabinets that keep you happy for years.

Contact us today and we’ll help you get the gorgeous cabinets you have always wanted!

Cabinet Building Concepts

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