What is the difference between raised and recessed panels?
Frame and panel construction, or rail and stile, holds a "floating" panel within a sturdy frame. The panel is not glued to the frame, allowing the seasonal movement of the panel's wood to occur without distorting the frame. The panel is made slightly smaller than the space within the frame to account for this movement. It is not unusual for the width of a large panel to change by as much as ½". The panel either sits in a groove within the frame or seated in an edge rabbet on the rear inside edge.
Recessed panels, sometimes called flat panels, are held within the perimeter of the frame's groove. Because of this, the panel appears to be inset. The panels are commonly hardwood-veneer but can also be solid wood. Clean and simple lines give many recessed panels a more sleek appearance.
Flat panels can also refer to slab doors, which is a panel with no rails or stiles. Slabs are usually solid wood or veneer on a stable substrate. Laminate, paint, or melamine can be used alternatively on the surface. The clean lines of a slab door compliment a minimalist or contemporary look.
Raised panels have a profile cut into their edge causing the face of the panel to be either flush with the face of the frame itself or extend beyond the frame. Raised panels can add more detail design to your cabinets. Routed edge profiles create a more elegant style.