2015 Popular Kitchen Cabinetry Brand Comparison.

Main Line Kitchen Design compares Kitchen Cabinetry Brands Circa 2015 

Note: Several of the brands mentioned here have as of 2019 upgraded their cabinet construction. For example, Yorktowne now offers excellent construction. 

7 Rolling Road Proof

 

 

There are two basic ways cabinetry is made. Cabinets can be framed construction or frameless construction also called European or easy access construction.

Bishop-Frameless-Plywood-Cabinet
Frameless Construction
Bishop-Framed-Ultimate-Box
Framed Cabinet Construction

 

Frameless cabinetry is made with either a 5/8″ or 3/4″ thick plywood or particleboard box.  Of course, thicker is better and a plywood box is superior construction wise but will not work with some of the high gloss laminate and foil finishes that are popular in the European style cabinetry. With these finishes only particleboard sides are possible.

 

Knowledgeable cabinet professionals usually agree on a few things. First, that streamline frameless cabinetry looks better with modern door styles because of how close the drawers and doors are. This is due to how the European style hinges operate. Second, that traditional and shaker style doors look equally well in both framed and frameless cabinet lines. Third, that a well-made framed cabinet is a much more durable cabinet.

steam punk
Example of a Frameless Kitchen

 

415 gilpin scott
Example of Framed Kitchen

 

In a framed cabinet the frame holds the cabinet box square and each solid wood cabinet front is screwed to the ones next to them adding considerable strength. The hinges and drawers are attached to solid wood in framed cabinetry as opposed to the particle board in most frameless lines.  A well made framed cabinet will last almost forever, however, will simply become scratched and possibly out of fashion with the passing years. Frameless lines require designers to consider the frameless cabinetry’s construction limitations and to keep door widths and drawer widths to a minimum to avoid undue stress on the cabinetry. Even designing this way, the average lifespan of a well made frameless line is probably 20 years, especially if you are hard on things in general.

 

With frameless cabinetry lines since the construction is nearly identical from line to line the construction quality difference between each European line is negligible. Expensive lines will have better drawer options but if the drawers are upgraded to at least a solid wood box and blumotion tracks the longevity of each cabinet line will be very similar whether you are buying inexpensive IKEA or very expensive Poggenpohl cabinetry.

 

Popular frameless cabinetry lines are:

 

IKEA, Kitchen Craft, Poggenpohl, Merit Kitchens, Pedini, Ultra Craft Cabinetry. Design-Craft and most Merillat and Omega styles. The majority of the cabinetry coming from Europe and Canada is frameless.

 

All of Main Line Kitchen Design’s frameless cabinetry is upgraded to the best construction possible. Frameless construction is available in our Bishop, Wellsford and Fabuwood cabinetry lines.

 

With framed cabinetry there are many variations in construction. To make framed cabinetry durably you need several construction minimums or the construction advantages of a framed cabinet are lost. Cabinet fronts are always 3/4″ solid wood. All plywood box construction is far better than having any particle board. Cabinet sides, tops and bottoms must be at least 1/2″ thick. Base cabinets can have plywood tops or  beam construction. Drawer tracks should always be upgraded to either Blum’s blumotion tracks or the equivalent and drawer boxes should be solid wood dovetail drawers with a captured plywood bottom. Soft close doors are a nice feature as well as full depth shelves.

 

Main Line Kitchen Design only sells cabinetry with all these features. Our framed cabinetry brands include Fabuwood, Timberlake, Bishop, Brighton and Wellsford.

 

Berwyn PA Kitchen after
Berwyn, PA Kitchen after

 

Even some more expensive framed cabinet lines will need to be upgraded to this minimum level of construction quality. Examples of more expensive lines that need to have their construction upgraded to meet these minimums are DuraSupreme and Medallion. Often, if you can’t find out on a cabinet company’s website how the cabinets are constructed it is because they don’t meet these minimums. A company’s website might highlight their cabinetry being green, carb compliant, or American made but if they are avoiding showing you how the cabinetry is constructed watch out!

 

One of the largest cabinet distributors in the United States is MasterBrand Cabinets. Up until a couple of years ago all of the popular lines that they carried with the exception of their Decora and Homecrest lines fell short on construction quality. They have since upgraded about half of their lines.

 

The popular framed cabinet lines below CANNOT be upgraded to this level and DO NOT meet these minimums:

Yorketown, Aristocraft, Armstrong Cabinets, Showplace Cabinetry, Marsh, and Mid Continent Cabinetry.

 

Many builders use these lower quality lines as the standard cabinetry in their homes. Even though the added cost for better made cabinetry is usually no more than 10%. When a builder uses these inferior lines I wonder where else they are cutting corners.

 

One important fact that consumers should be aware of is that both Consumer Reports and JD Power publish inaccurate cabinetry ratings based on customer satisfaction. IKEA and other lesser made cabinet lines always do very well in these reports because customer satisfaction is rated immediately after the cabinets are purchased. Consumers buying less expensive cabinetry have lower expectations which are easily met and the cabinetry hasn’t had time to develop the problems caused by poor construction.

 

Kraftmaid, the best made cabinet offered at both Lowes and The Home Depot, consistently does poor in these reports despite being easily upgraded to the best framed construction. This I believe is due to the much higher expectations of the consumers buying a home centers “top” brand and to the fact that home center designers are usually less knowledgeable and have less time to explain the properties of the cabinets that they sell.

 

Both Consumer Reports and JD Power also rate the same cabinetry being sold under different names at different places completely differently. Cabinet professionals know that these reports are misleading and consumers should be advised not to consider them when evaluating the quality of cabinetry. 

 

Here are some of the other relevant blogs we have on this topic:

https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/kitchen-cabinet-ratings-2017-reviews-top-selling-cabinet-lines/

 

https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/let-the-cabinet-buyer-beware/

 

https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/what-cabinet-line-is-the-best/

 

 

Paul

Main Line Kitchen Design

One Reply to “2015 Popular Kitchen Cabinetry Brand Comparison.”

  1. Pat

    I appreciate the helpful info here. I notice Waypoint is among the cabinets on the list. Are they a good, midline cabinet? We’re looking for a white painted cabinet.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Pat,
      Here is our 2018 reviews. You will see that there are higher rated inexpensive cabinet lines like Fabuwood, Wolf, J&K, CNC(less expensive) and others.

      https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/kitchen-cabinet-ratings-for-2018-updated-reviews-for-the-top-selling-cabinet-brands/

  2. Paula Paradis

    Very interesting article…appreciate the information. I am looking at the cliqstudios line of cabinets. All on line – great catalog that shows the quality construction of their cabinets, made with all of your recommendations for quality.

    Wondering if you know anything about their line of cabinets and their quality.

    Thank you

    1. ITSAdmin

      Hi Paula,
      We sell CliqStudios cabinetry under the 6Square brand.

      However, buying cabinets on line is a mistake. Saving a little bit of money but having no professional help measuring and designing your kitchen other that remotely is a terrible idea. Kitchens are far more complicated than people understand. If you send us your CliqStudios design I would bet we would find many mistakes. Send it on a Friday and follow up with a phone call between 2-4 pm EST and one of us can help explain the mistakes we find. email to Paul@mainlinekitchendesign.com. After the mistakes are shown to you don’t compound the problem buy then buying cabinets on line thinking that you are now good to go. Find a local qualified professional to help you.

      Here are our funny videos on the topic:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxJgxCeeNTo&t

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGEoRixuyWg

  3. Carol

    Hello, what do you know about Siteline Cabinetry by Corsi Group.
    This line and Decora have been recommended to me
    Carol

    1. ITSAdmin

      I have never heard of Siteline. The siteline web site creeps me out a little though. Decora is a very good brand.

  4. Brian O’Donnell

    Hi Paul! So appreciate your site and taking time to respond. Wish you were near me. I am trying to decide between Executive frameless cabinets (3/4 inch box) or kraft made framed cabinets (1/2 inch) The kitchen designer likes Executive. They’re going to be in shaker style painted white with five piece drawer fronts. I think MDF fronts because of expansion over time but would consider wood too. The prices are about the same- maybe a little less for the Kraftmaid. Schuler was an option too but is a couple thousand more- would consider if you think it’s worth it. Thank you!

    1. ITSAdmin

      I would always pick a framed cabinet over a frameless cabinet for a shaker door style. Fabuwood is at least 30% less than all these lines and is better made than Executive and has as nice a painted finish as Schuler. You just won’t get as many custom options in Fabuwood which you may not even be getting. Kitchen designers that push frameless don’t win my heart.

  5. Paul McAlary

    hi Hawkfan,
    That should be fine then.

  6. HawkFan

    Hi Paul
    We are getting an estimate to upgrade all SP sides to 1/2″ plywood (which also brings a free upgrade to a wood veneer finish.)
    Tops and bottoms are 3/8″ plywood
    Backs are 1/4″ with 5/8″ backrail
    Thanks

  7. Paul McAlary

    Hi Hawkfan,
    Anyone that would recommend that scares me. You must upgrade or your money is wasted.

  8. HawkFan

    Thanks for your honest opinion. The Showplace rep has recommended upgrading to 5/8 for the outside walls of the cabinets (those that are visible) but to save costs, he recommends 1/4 for interior sides that are not visible. WE can get 5/8″ upgrade for the other sides but it adds 10% ($2k) to the cabinet costs.

  9. HawkFan

    To add to my previous post…we are looking at 3cm quartz countertop (91 t 97″) on top of four base cabinets. Will the 1/4″ side walls (on the interior walls) and 5/8″ on the outside walls of an island. I believe you have posted somewhere about concerns of supporting that much weight. Again your thoughts? I really appreciate this great blog.

    1. ITSAdmin

      Hi Hawkfan,
      Sorry, way to little information to give you an answer as far as the quartz is concerned. Although if the interior sides of your cabinets are 1/4 thick your kitchen will fall apart so quickly I wouldn’t be getting an expensive quartz countertops.

  10. HawkFan

    We are evaluating Showplace (SP) vs Fieldstone (F) and a private small company custom line.
    1) SP quote for our kitchen is $20.7k and F is about the same.
    2) SP rep has done a great job working with us but it seems F is better materials
    a. side walls F 3/4 vs SP 1/4 except for exposed sides upgraded to 5/8
    b. tops and bottoms F 1/2 vs SP 3/8
    c. shelving F 3/4 plywood vs SP 3/4 chipboard
    Your thoughts? Thanks.

    1. ITSAdmin

      Hi Hawkfan,
      Never buy a cabinet with 1/4″ sides. They will fall apart rapidly and were wall cabinets made this way I can’t even imagine them staying on the walls for any length of time were you to put heavy plates and glasses in them. If the Showplace rep has really suggested 1/4″ sides he or she should be avoided as any information and design work that they helped you with is surely mistake riddled.
      .
      Doing a great job for a kitchen designer usually means telling customers things that they don’t want to hear. Conversations with a good designer might include being told things like:

      You need pay to upgrade these cabinets to make them well constructed
      Your island needs to be smaller
      You can’t put cabinets all the way to the ceiling without a stacked crown molding
      You need filler in the cabinet run to level the cabinets
      That design idea is not a good one for these reasons

      Being pleasant and “helping” customers do the designs they want without criticism of poor designs and warnings about design and cabinetry problems is not helping it is being unprofessional and the definition of a poor kitchen designer. So be careful here.

  11. ITSAdmin

    Hi Steve,
    Not a fan of either line. Also ONLY offering these two lines shows less professionalism. Good cabinet dealers usually offer several selections at several different price points for both framed and frameless cabinetry.

  12. Steve

    Sorry, ignore my post…after a bit more research, I see that Aspect is also made by Shiloh. I’ll have to talk with my KD about why that’s the only company they work with. Thanks for the great blog and the cabinet ratings!

  13. Steve

    Hi,
    What a great blog—thank you! My KD in Southern California uses two cabinetry lines: Eclipse by Shiloh, the pricier frameless option, and Aspect by W.W. Wood, the less expensive framed option. I see your Shiloh rating on the 2018 list (and the rated quality worries me for the cost), but not Aspect. Any feedback on that line? They are at:

    https://www.aspectcabinetry.com/

    Thanks, Steve

  14. Katerina

    Very helpful blog!
    Do you have a thought about Executive Cabinetry? Looking for Frameless, clean-cut, Contemporary look, perhaps shaker style doors… Thank you!

    1. ITSAdmin

      I would not recommend a frameless cabinet for any door style other than a slab door style. That being said for a frameless cabinet Executive looks good at a glance.

  15. Karen F.

    I live in Knoxville, TN and am interested in a kitchen renovation. I want a modern design with horizontal wood grain doors, probably walnut or maple on the lower cabinets and island. Upper cabinets would be painted. Because of this aesthetic choice it seems that frameless is best. I also I’m interested in plywood construction. The KD professional that my contractor recommends seems to be pushing KitchenCraft. The aesthetic I want only comes with bamboo and MDF boxes. This just doesn’t seem like the right thing, so I haven’t pursued a kitchen design from him.
    1. Do you have recommendations of cabinet companies that offer horizontal wood grain door doors or veneers on plywood construction and I’ll see who the local distributors are.
    2. I didn’t see a recommended KF on your list for my area. Did I overlook someone?
    3. have you heard of MOD Cabinetry out of Berkeley, CA? Thoughts?

    1. ITSAdmin

      Hi Karen,
      Any custom cabinet line that sells frameless cabinetry should offer what you want. They will be much more expensive than a line like KitchenCraft though, but also far more durable. Omega Dynasty might be a line that would fall in between the most expensive custom frameless lines and KitchenCraft. They are very popular and have dealers almost everywhere.

  16. Joanne

    I am researching different cabinet lines, Signature, Crystal or Fieldstone. Any suggestions or comments about these lines?

  17. MarkT

    Hi, does anyone know or have experience with Kith kitchen cabinets. We are considering a vendor who uses them, but the construction seems to be below minimums. Would appreciate any insights from your readers. Thank you!

    https://kithkitchens.com/construction/

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      We rate Kith in our 2018 cabinet ratings blog along with 78 other brands, Link here

  18. Natalie

    Thank you this is very helpful!

  19. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Executive upgraded to 3/4″ plywood is way better than the Wood-Mode that you ordered. 5/8″ particle board would get a C or a D for construction in our 2018 ratings. Still, I would not recommend that style door in a frameless cabinet line. A framed line would be no more expensive and would be better constructed. I usually recommend frameless lines for the most contemporary slab door styles where they look so much better that the loss of durability is worth it.

  20. Natalie

    Brookhaven I frameless with 5/8 particle board, natural wood grain melamine interior, wood veneer finished ends, door style is edgemont recessed, full overlay with recessed oak doors and drawer heads.

  21. Natalie

    We recently ordered Wood Mode cabinets only to find they are no longer in business. The store we ordered them from wants to give us executive cabinets for the same price (I’ve already put down half the money as a deposit). Do you know if the prices are comparable or if I’m now paying for a higher end cabinet and receiving a lesser quality product? Also, it seems from previous posts that I should have upgraded to plywood which I did not, so I’m assuming I should do that with the new order.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Natalie,
      Executive is a frameless line as far as I know. What kind of cabinets were you getting from Woodmode? What door style and finish? The Wood-Mode Contemporary Expressions door styles were frameless. If you weren’t getting a frameless cabinet I would not switch to one. If you were the Plywood upgrade would make pricing similar.

  22. George Sadusk

    We are talking to a contractor who wants to use a designer that sells Schrock cabinets. With so many reviews on the Web that complain about quality control and customer service issues with Schrock, we are reluctant to go forward. It seems like Brighton is a better alternative, even though they have a back panel that is only 1/4 inch thick. Since I doubt that you do business in Northern Virgina, is there someone you can recommend here that is a Brighton dealer?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi George,
      Brighton has 1/2″ hanging rails in back of the 1/4″ back so where you attach cabinets to the wall they are 3/4″ thick. We have done business in Northern Virginia but it really is inconvenient for customers making selections and having meetings so usually it only makes sense with new construction where nothing is built yet and where the door style and finish is already known. These are the Brighton Delers in VA listed on the Brighton Web site:

      Cabinet Discounters – Chantilly, VA
      14501 F Lee Jackson Hwy.
      Chantilly, VA 20151
      Local Phone: (703) 650-0659
      Phone: (800) 843-3732
      Email: info@cabinetdiscounters.com
      Website: http://www.cabinetdiscounters.com

      Cabinet Discounters – Springfield, VA
      5228 Port Royal Rd.
      Springfield, VA 22151
      Local Phone: (703) 657-8106
      Phone: (800) 843-3732
      Email: info@cabinetdiscounters.com
      Website: http://www.cabinetdiscounters.com

      Norman’s Inc. Cabinetry & Decorating
      1116 West Main Street
      Radford, VA 24141
      Phone: (540) 639-1162
      Fax: (540) 639-0414
      Email: info@normansinc.com
      Website: http://www.normansinc.com

  23. Amber Carlson

    This article, questions, and your replies are a goldmine. I know others have said it, but just have to say THANK YOU! We are building a custom home on a tight budget. This will help us pick our cabinets. Hoping Decora is not out of range. Anyway to my question….. we are having mostly lower cabinets, and I really want drawers, but my builder was very discouraging that this may be cost prohibitive.
    Are lower drawers worth the extra cost?
    Is there a percentage estimate on higher cost?
    If we are priced out of Decora shaker stain grade, what is the next best option for affordability ?
    Do you recommend elminating the drawers and going with the Decora or going with a less expensive cabinet and getting the drawers? Sorry for all the questions and thx again.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Adding a drawer to a cabinet adds on average about $100 per drawer. So drawers shouldn’t break the bank. Door style color and cabinet line can be big percentage changers.

  24. Patty

    Great blog. Wondering your thoughts on Sorrento by Decor Cabinet Company or Wynbrooke Cabinetry? Good quality? Thanks.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      We rate many lines on our 2018 cabinet review, Link below:
      https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/kitchen-cabinet-ratings-for-2018-updated-reviews-for-the-top-selling-cabinet-brands/
      .

      The Decor web site is full of vague interior design bull**** but says nothing about how their cabinetry is constructed. Quotes like “Our clients love of California drove the whole personality of new space” make me crazy.
      .
      This is only from memory but I believe Decor started as an higher priced but poorly made frameless cabinet company. What they are now I can’t say because they don’t say.
      .
      Wynbrooke Cabinetry seems like a similar but nicer looking animal without the platitudes. Remember that these frameless lines are less durable then the better made framed lines and often more expensive. For very contemporary slab door styles they are definitely better looking but you will always sacrifice construction quality in any frameless line. The best made frameless lines are made with 3/4″ plywood or plywood core sides. I doubt either of these lines do this otherwise they would say so.

  25. surferdj

    Hi, Amazing info on here, just priceless!! I was considering Kith and Medallion for my small galley kitchen (35 lin/ft). Kith was $8k + install, Medallion (Silver line) was $9k + install. Seems pricey for such a small kitchen. Fabuwood came in at $3,600 installed. Problem is I’m not sure about that dealer and their installs. Do you know of anyone in the Saint Augustine / Jacksonville area you trust that is a Fabuwood dealer?
    I just moved from NJ to FL, so I’m clueless. Any info appreciated.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Sorry,
      We have looked in your area a couple of times and not found a company that met our criteria for recommending. That doesn’t mean that the place you found isn’t any good just that from afar we can’t tell who might be good in your area. Google the place you got a quote from and see if they get good reviews on Google. Then check any reviews they have on YELP, Houzz.com, and Angies LIst. If they have been in business for a while and haven’t accumulated negative reviews that’s a good sign. If they have many positive reviews that’s a very good sign. Finally ask who’s kitchen they are installing right now and ask for the customers phone number. Any place can did up a few satisfied customers to recommend them. However, they can’t cheery pick the place that they are at presently. Speak to the people they are working with now and check back a couple of weeks later. If those customers are happy you should be too!

  26. Judy S.

    Hi, Paul. Our contractor recommended a kitchen design company nearby. We met with a designer today. She suggested choosing between Plain & Fancy and Teddwood. I asked about wood construction, and she said they are both 1/4” plywood on the back with 5/8” hanging rails. Also, she suggested frameless because of the increased storage space and “that’s what everybody wants.” I believe we could upgrade to framed on both. What do you think of these two companies in general and what do you think about the 1/4” back with hanging rails? Thank you for your assistance.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Judy,
      The 1/4″ back and hanging rails are fine. Both those lines are well made and also expensive. Frameless cabinets have the sane amount of intertior cabinet space but each drawer IS 1 1/2″ wider so you get a little more drawer space. I would never make the trade off for a little more drawer space and lose the better framed cabinet contruction.
      .
      On slab doors the cabinetry does look a little sleaker with frameless cabinetry so if your kitchen is ultra modern frameless can make sense, but if you aren’t getting very modern cabinetry frameless is a poor choice.
      .
      Designers that always use frameless cabinetry are showing thier ignorance as well as thier lack of attension to construction detail in general. These type kitchen designers will routinely over stress cabinetry with extra wide drawer bases and interior cabinetry gadgets because they are not critical thinkers and assume that if the cabinet company makes a cabinet everyting is fine. Wiser professionals know not to push the envelope on stressing cabinetry, particularly with frameless cabinetry, if you want a kitchen to hold up over time.

  27. Kay Weiss

    What is your opinion of Great Northern Cabinets out of Wisconsin?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Kay,
      Don’t know much about them or how they price out. They are well constructed though and would get a solid A for construction on our ratings system.

  28. paul mcalary

    Bishop is not sold in California so while I’m sure any US made all plywood box would be fine concerning off-gassing I doubt they bother getting certified. Consumers that focus on these certifications above all else are easy to sell to and most often the cabinet companies that tout their greenness and carb compliance are the worst and not the better cabinet lines.
    .
    The kitchen industry is all about dangling shinny objects in front of consumers. Getting a good kitchen designer to help you navigate through all the cabinet, countertop, and appliance companies BS and to help you design a good kitchen is more important than anything else.
    .
    Universal design is another shiny object that less able kitchen designers focus on. All well designed kitchens should conform to the principles of UD but the least knowledgeable designers hang their hat on this one aspect. Followed by an obsession with color. This is because there are such complex issues involved in good kitchen design and the job is so difficult that less knowledgeable designers use these one issue topics to appeal to one issue customers.

  29. Jean

    Hello, I’m considering going with Jim Bishop cabinetry line, upgraded of course. I know they are KCMA/ANSI A161.1 certified but are they also KCMA/ ESP certified? The brochure only has the KCMA/ANSI seal. I would like to purchase cabinets that are KCMA/ESP certified as well. Doing a little bit of research, it seems to me you need the ESP seal to claim CARB compliant. Your input would be appreciated. Thanks!

  30. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Hi Aly,
    We rate JSI on our most recent ratings blog:
    https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/kitchen-cabinet-ratings-for-2018-updated-reviews-for-the-top-selling-cabinet-brands/
    They are pretty well made and a pretty good value which their rating reflects. You could be getting a better price then we got in our sample and so they could be a better vale than we listed.

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