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Frame Only and Mullion Cabinet Doors

Cabinet Doors > Brushy Creek Custom Doors
Brushy Creek Custom Doors Frame Only and Mullion Doors
We have explained about Raised Panel Doors and Recessed Panel Doors (flat panel). A frame only door is just the four sides of the frame, like a picture frame. Nothing in the middle. Frame only doors generally will have a glass or some other kind of clear or translucent panel in them. Your goal is to create something that light passes through, for the most part. But, sometimes frame only doors will have a decorative grille fitted into them, or louvers, and sometimes even cloth, such as a Shoji Screen door. Yes, you potentially can make your own Sohji screens if you want to give it a try. Door maximum sizes are 48" x 96". A 3 or 4 panel Shoji screen usually has door frames that are 12 to 16" wide and then generally around 6 feet tall. So there is another use for cabinet doors, as Shoji screens. I mention this because I have done this myself three times already. Fun little projects.

Mullion Doors are technically frame only doors, but with divisions placed in them. Instead of one large opening, it is divided into Lites. The Lite openings are generally a grid. Small (short) doors will have 4 lites, taller doors may have 6 lites. You do not want the lite openings to be so small that they look ackward. Examples: when you have an upper cabinet door that is 16" wide by 24" tall, that would look good as a 4-lite mullion door. If you have some taller doors next to it, say 17" x 40" tall, you could opt for a 6-lite, or possibly an 8-lite door. If a 6-lite, you would have two columns and three rows. The height of the openings would be approx. 11" give or take a fraction, and the widths would be about 5-1/2". If an 8-lite for that same 40" tall door, width of the lites is still about 5-1/2", but the height would be about 8" tall for each. That can still look good because of the proportion. A 5-1/2" x 8" opening for all 8 openings is a nice looking rectangle in rectangle pattern. And the 6-lite pattern would look good too. BUT, say you wanted the 9-lite pattern in a 17x40 door, 3 columns, and 3 rows. That would make the width of the lites pretty skinny, and that is when they start to look not good. The lites should be of sufficient size to look through, not peep holes. As with any door, it is personal preference. Most of the time you would have only 4-lite or 6-lite mullion doors, those are normal. 8-lite and 10-lite are more common as the doors become taller. On a China hutch with 48 to 54" tall doors, a 10-lite Mullion may be the right fit. Almost always, you will opt for 2 columns. Then the row count increments as doors get taller.

On Mullion Doors, even though they are split into Lites, you will still fit one piece of glass, or whatever your panel fill choice is, into the back of the door behind the mullion rails. You do not fit individual pieces of glass in each lite opening. You treat the door as frame only, insert your panel choice, and the mullion rails lay in front of your panel insert. There will be a diagram below showing the routing that is done in the back of the door. You can choose to have the doors routed for a glass panel (or other panel choice), or choose to have them not routed. Best to let Brushy Creek route them, this way when you fit your panel in, you can set it into the frame nicely and secure it in from the back. Mirror clips are sometimes used to hold a panel in place. Tiny glass wedges are used too. As well as a silicon adhesive. Many cabinet makers and do-it-yourselfers have their methods.

Do note, when you have your doors bored for concealed hinges, and you are planning heavy glass in your frame only or mullion doors, sometimes it is wise to request an extra hinge hole to be bored in the door so an additional hinge can bear some of the weight of the door. Really depends on the size, both width and height.

Here is a representation of frame only and mullion doors. And also a diagram showing how the back of the door can be routed for glass panels, or other panels.
Brushy Creek Frame Only and Mullion cabinet doors
Frame Only and Mullion door routing example for glass panel
On the Raised Panel Doors Profiles page and the Recessed Panel Doors page, we show the door profile choices. ALL of those doors can be requested as Frame Only or as Mullion Doors. When creating your kitchen, glass panel doors are generally focal points in some, near all, or all of your upper cabinets. Seldom would you make every upper cabinet a frame only or mullion door, but it is sometimes done. You normally do not want to display your every day glasses, bowls, boxes of cereal, can goods, etc. You add a few mullion doors to show off some fancy plates, fancy glass-ware, vases, arrangements, and things you want to see. It is about adding flair. It is a design choice. It is a way to be less boring by having only solid panel cabinet doors. In an entertainment center in your living room, mullion doors with low voltage lighting inside the cabinets is really awesome. It creates your display lighting, you can see what is being displayed, you are keeping it safe and in a dust free cabinet, it is a nice improvement to a room. Same is true for the kitchen. Interior cabinet lights provide wonderful accent lighting.

So mullion and frame only doors are common in kitchens, dining room hutches, china cabinets, and entertainment centers. You most likely would not use mullion doors in bathrooms, laundry rooms, or on your base cabinets. That just doesn't seem to fly.

When ordering, and if ordering with other cabinet doors for your kitchen or cabinetry project, you will generally order them to match what else you are getting. For example: you have some Square or Cathedral design doors, and you select the Heartland Profile choice. All your base cabinets will be raised panel doors with the Heartland pass profile. Most of your upper cabinets will be either a square or catherdral design, with the Heartland profile. And then the 5 doors you are choosing to make 6-lite mullion doors will have "the frame" side of the Heartland profile. The panel will be cut out, the mullion dividers will be put in place of the panel, and the way the inside frame profile steps over and slopes down will still be present on the 6-lite mullion doors. Thus, an excellent match to your raised panel doors.

Below is Brushy Creek's Heartland profile diagram, and then our quick alteration showing the panel removed and routing added to the back of the frame.
Brushy Creek Doors Heartland raised panel profile choice
Heartland profile with panel removed for frame only application
When requesting a quote or ordering on our on-line form, there will be an Options field on each door specs line. In that field, you can add notes such as Frame Only, or 4-Lite Mullion, or 6-Lite Mullion, etc. If you require anything more special which requires more explanation, there will be a larger Comments field on the form and you can type any notes needed there.

Your frame only and mullion doors will have the same edge choice selection as your other doors. If ordering only frame only or mullion doors, then please do remember to select one of the 6 edge profiles choices along with your door profile choice. These three pages are a good idea to review when choosing frame only and mullion doors since that data is required in ordering: Door Profile with color images | Door Design Styles | Shaker Style Doors

And here are the 6 edge choices, same as shown on the other pages just mentioned.
If you still have questions, you are welcome to e-mail or call us. This page is reference for frame only and mullion door information.

There are other helpful pages referring to hinges, measuring, and other accessories. Links are at the bottom of each Brushy Creek Doors page, or in our menu at the top of every page.
And then after you piece it all together, you can request a quote by using our Quotation and Ordering Form.
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