Flat Panel Cabinet Doors Explained
What is a flat panel door? What is a panel for that matter, at least as it applies to cabinet doors? A cabinet door panel, as it turns out, is that big section in the middle, sandwiched between the stiles and rails of the door.
Flat panels are, as you might have guessed, flat. This doesn't mean that the door needs to be simple, not by any stretch. Many flat panel doors have ornate stiles and rails, even with rope molding in some cases, but the door panel itself is simply a plank. Not all flat panels are created equal though, and you'll want to pay attention to sample doors when deciding on a flat panel style.
Some manufacturers have a thin piece of plywood as the flat panel. Others use a pretty substantial chunk of solid stock. Bertch flat panel doors, for example, are nice and beefy. They're really (at least in the doors I've seen) square raised panels that are flipped around, so that you get the strength of a raised panel door, but the look of a flat panel door. Some doors often talked about in the flat panel category are shaker and slab doors. These are the simplest styles, but keep in mind that there are more complicated versions of the flat panel syle cabinet door.
The biggest advantage of these over their raised panel cousins is generally price. If all other things are equal, the flat panel is probably going to be less expensive than the raised panel version.