Kitchen Cabinet Terminology

Just like anything else, kitchen cabinets have their own lingo associated with them.  Most people would not know right off the cuff what cabinet overlay or a biscuit join is.  This article will be filled with a bunch of definitions, so read on to quickly and easily enhance your knowledge of the terms associated with kitchen cabinets

RTA Kitchen Cabinets

Before we get into the definitions, it’s useful to note that these terms are associated with RTA kitchen cabinets, and that some of them are specific to this type of cabinet.  We here at RTA Cabinet Store love RTA kitchen cabinets (obviously!) and want you to know as much about them as possible.  Check out our FAQ in addition to these terms to learn a little more! (

The Terminology

  • Base cabinet – the cabinet box that sits on the floor. These units usually support the countertops.
  • Biscuit join – A type of wood join that uses an oval shaped disk to hold the two pieces of wood together
  • Concealed hinge – A hinge that is not visible on the front of a cabinet door. Concealed hinges are attached to the inside surface of the door.
  • Dado– A channel that is cut into a piece of material so that another piece can slot into it
  • Dovetail– A type of wood joint
  • Drawer face – The piece of wood showing on the front of the drawer
  • Exposed hinge – A hinge type that is visible on the outside edge of the cabinet door when the door is closed.
  • Face frame – The wood frame that is on the front of the cabinet
  • Finish – The type of coating you see on wood cabinets, such as stain, varnish, etc.
  • MDF – Medium density fiberboard: made out of wood and a bonding agent, usually much stronger than particle board
  • Overlay – Overlay is the amount of face frame that is covered by the door or drawer.  The three types are full, partial and inset.
  • Particle board – A wood product consisting of very small wood pieces fused together with a glue or resin under mechanical pressure.
  • Plywood – A strong wooden sheet made of many layers of wood.  The way it is assembled makes it much stronger than plain wood.
  • RTA – Ready to assemble
  • Stock cabinets – Cabinets that are manufactured in standard sizes with a fixed range of options, such as available wood types and colors. Stock cabinets include pre-manufactured and “off the shelf” products.
  • Thermofoil – Vinyl sheet which is thermally applied to a wood surface.
  • Veneer – Oftentimes wood, this is a very thin layer of actual wood which is applied to another surface.  One good example is the interior of a cabinet that matches the outside face.
  • Vinyl laminate – This is another material that can be applied to the surface of a cabinet.  It’s made with paper and resin, and is usually pretty hard and durable.
  • Wall cabinet – Cabinet boxes that are mounted to the wall

We hope that you now feel a bit more informed on kitchen cabinets!  At least, you may have a much better idea what everything means when you are browsing our website.  To further increase your knowledge, is pleased to offer three free reports that will help you optimize your cabinet design and avoid common mistakes. Download them now at

News & Promos

Chat with Us Online Chat