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.
Full disclosure: we only supply full carcass wardrobes, which we strongly believe are superior. That being said, we wanted to explore all the facts and the benefits of each method and, in the interest of being fair, we've started with front frame.
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. The 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. That being said, it's rare to find a house with that problem.
The disadvantages are numerous...
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.
Cold & Damp Clothing
Second, 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.
Boring To Look At
Third, related to the second: 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.
Not As Strong
Fourth, a front-frame is far less structurally sound, meaning that it's not likely to last as long. Of course, there will be many stories of people who have front-frame wardrobes that have lasted them years, but there are also many stories of people who's doors became misaligned over time, or fell off entirely, or the frame collapsed.
Cheerful But Not 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!
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. We know what we prefer... but of course, we're biased! We think fitted wardrobes are worth it. If you're going to splash out on some beautiful bespoke storage, do it properly.