Full Carcass or Front Frame Wardrobes: Which Is Best?
It's not just what you see on the outside... what's on the inside counts, too! Although many wardrobes can look very similar from outside, with the doors closed, behind those doors can be a very different story, with huge variations in quality from one manufacturer to the next.
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Fitted wardrobes are brilliant. They offer fantastic storage space, they look like they were built into the house and can even improve your house value, too. Built in wardrobe retailers will generally sell one of two types of wardrobe: full carcass or front frame wardrobes.
We're often asked by customers... firstly, how much do fitted wardrobes cost? And secondly, which is best... front frame or full carcass wardrobes? Let's explore the differences, advantages and disadvantages of each so that you can make an informed decision.
At Online Bedrooms, we manufacture and supply both full carcass and face frame fitted wardrobes to customers all over the UK. Because we understand both, we can give the pros and cons of each without any bias towards one product.
Front Frame Wardrobes
The front frame method is, as the name would suggest, based on a frame that is created at the front of the space, onto which the doors hang. Sometimes this is known as a face frame wardrobe. Some of the biggest fitted wardrobe retailers on the market (eg Sharps and Hammonds) offer front-frame wardrobes. Sharps only offer this, whereas Hammonds offer both face frame and full carcass, with very limited colours.
A front frame wardrobe doesn't have backs or sides, meaning that when you open the door you can see your interior walls.
There are some benefits to this method... the first being that you get to make the absolute most of every millimetre of space, with internal storage going from wall to wall and from front to back. If you have a particularly narrow and small home with tight stairs, it might not be possible to get full cabinetry panels up the stairs, meaning a front-frame wardrobe is more suitable for you.
There can be cost savings too. Whilst our full cabinet wardrobes actually come out much cheaper than front frame wardrobes from "the big two" in the market, our Essentials face frame wardrobes offer even bigger savings.
In fact, an Essentials wardrobe from Online Bedrooms is around 30% cheaper than a full cabinet equivalent from us. Many of these fitted wardrobes can be under £1000, depending on room size!
There are some disadvantages to front frame, depending on your perspective:
Firstly, the fact that you can see your walls, which isn't necessarily ideal. You'll likely scrape belts, shoes, hangers and other objects against the walls, scratching and marking them which makes them look unsightly.
Potential For Cold & Damp Clothing
If your wardrobe is going against an external wall, there is a higher likelihood of your clothing and other items inside getting cold and damp, as the coldness transfers from the wall. This can cause mould and for clothes to have that musty smell, especially if they're seasonal items in the wardrobe for months at a time.
For this, we recommend using damp-proof paint on all the walls where the front frame wardrobe would go.
Boring To Look At
Because you don't get to have beautiful cabinetry, when you open your wardrobe doors, you'll be greeted by your walls, which are likely just matt white if you're like the majority of the country. You don't get a premium-feeling wardrobe. For some, this is OK as it's a functional item. For other customers, the look is everything. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
Not As Strong
Because the doors are hung on a frame, over time this could start to warp, particularly if you've chosen a retailer who uses MDF or cheap, thin wood. The doors could become misaligned over time and drop, requiring occasional tinkering to level everything up.
Our face frames are made from the same strong 18mm MFC as our full cabinetry.
Cheerful But Not Always Cheap
Finally... you're paying a large outlay for your new fitted wardrobes, so shouldn't you get something premium? Some of the bigger high street names charge more than double our usual prices but for front-frame wardrobes... you're essentially paying double for half the furniture!
However, as we mentioned before, our Essentials face frame wardrobes are 30% cheaper even than our full cabinetry options, so there are huge benefits for customers looking for best value.
Full Carcass Wardrobes
A full carcass wardrobe is what most people tend to aim for, because they want to open their doors and enjoy beautiful, bespoke cabinetry that's made to measure for their space, not a front frame with some spacers and some off-the-shelf doors.
The advantages of full carcass wardrobes are numerous:
Firstly, as previously mentioned, you get to enjoy stunning cabinetry in a range of different colours, finishes and décors, for something really special.
Truly Made To Measure
Secondly, your wardrobe can be truly made to measure, rather than made to look like it's bespoke. With full carcass wardrobes, each cabinet section is made to your exact requirements down to the millimetre, so you get exactly what you want. People often ask about how deep fitted wardrobes are and this is another benefit... they can be as deep as you need them to be!
This also goes for sliding door wardrobes, which can also still have beautiful cabinetry behind the doors (see below).
Next, strength. By choosing a fitted wardrobe with solid backs, sides, tops and bases you get a much stronger wardrobe that's likely to last a lot longer. Thanks to our patented joint system, we're able to offer an industry-leading 15 years guarantee on all our furniture (shameless plug!).
Full cabinetry offers better noise insulation, aiding with stopping noise ingress from the adjoining wall. It also stops cold air and dampness from any external walls, which is one of the main reasons fitted wardrobes should have backs.
We like this one way of thinking...
Roughly 80% of your fitted wardrobe is what's behind the doors... so why wouldn't you want the best?
What are full carcass wardrobes made from?
Again, this varies wildly depending on which company you go for... so make sure to do some proper investigation to make sure you're getting the best quality fitted wardrobes for your money.
The materials that are used and the quality of the components vary. Here's what we offer:
- 18mm MFC on all five panels
- Full edging on all visible sides
- Wide-angle hinges, as standard
- Soft close doors, as standard
- Soft close drawers, as standard
- Full décor cabinetry, throughout
- Cabinetry & doors matching or contrasting
When it comes to the thickness of the material, this is important when it comes to quality and longevity of the wardrobe. We've all seen cheap wardrobes with floppy 4mm thick backs that never last very long. The thickness of the panels isn't just about how nice it feels, it also contributes to the structural integrity of the furniture.
Spend your money wisely on something that's well-built and well designed.
Which should I go for?
Which version is right for you is a very personal thing, of course. You can choose whichever you think will suit your requirements or your preferences the best. Either way, to upgrade your home storage, we definitely think fitted wardrobes are worth it.