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.

Frameless Construction
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 BlueMotion 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:

Cabinet Reviews for 2022. Ratings for Kitchen Cabinet Brands. – (mainlinekitchendesign.com)






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.


  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:


  3. Carol

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

    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

  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

    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:


    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!


    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 ]

      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:

      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 ]

      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. Aly

    Hi, I am working with a contractor who has suggest JSI Cabinetry. Can you please give me some honest feedback? I know they are very inexpensive and I do believe in the saying, you get what you pay for but my contractor say they are good cabinets. Please help

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Aly,
      We rate JSI on our most recent ratings blog:
      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.

  31. Jamie

    Hi, We have been in the planning stages of renovating our kitchen and entire downstairs area with an open floor plan in mind. It’s going to be quite costly. We had a kitchen and bath designer come in and they sell waypoint and diamond. We picked out a cabinet style we like from Waypoint. We wanted a contractor to come in and make sure that everything is done properly since we will be taking out walls, etc….he is recommending Wolf Classic Cabinetry and he says it will be a lot less money than the Waypoint. We really don’t know what to do. The Wolf Classic doesn’t have exactly what I want…similar that I could probably live with, but I’m worried about quality. Which one is better? This will be the last time we remodel a kitchen. We want it to be done right and what we want in it. Or maybe you suggest another brand of cabinetry that won’t break the bank. Any help is greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      If the Wolf Classic and Waypoint are upgraded to the top construction of each there shouldn’t be more than 20% difference between both in price. They will both last as long (essentially forever just getting beat up as time goes by, but not falling apart) Waypoint will have some nicer finishes (Wolf does have some new nice ones now too) and I’d expect more customer service and shipping mishaps with the less expensive line but a good dealer will make those thing right. Waypoint probably has more ability to customize as well. You don’t say the door style and finish you are considering so I can’t recommend a different line.

  32. Sandra

    Do you know what cabinet companies carry a ceruse color? I can only find Omega as a cabinet line that carries this.
    Also when I looked up Fabuwood on Yelp they had really bad reviews so I’m not sure if you still recommend them or if they have let their standards slip?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Many of the more expensive cabinet lines carry a Ceruse type finish. We carry Brighton which does but there are many.

      Homeowners reviewing cabinetry is always problematic. Often cabinet companies are blamed for designer and contractor mistakes and for a homeowner’s unrealistic expectations. Reviews are never done 10 years after cabinets are installed, and IKEA which professionals all consider a terrible cabinet line consistently gets the highest ratings from home owners. Here is our blog on this topic:

  33. Alex

    We live in East Brunswick NJ and are planning to remodel our 45 years old kitchen. It’s currently a L-shaped, about 14X11. Sounds like I really need to get a good kitchen designer. Can you recommend a good kitchen designer in our area? Are you close enough to do it yourself? Thanks in advance for your advice!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Alex,
      Unfortunately you are farther away from us then it makes sense to work together. However you are too close to be in an area that we recommend other dealers as some will be competitors. Feel free to call us on any Friday between 2 and 4 pm when we give our time answering questions to people outside our service area. We can look on line and see if we can find a good dealer near you.

  34. Cathleen

    Thank you for taking the time to answer the questions of overwhelmed novices! I have a small L shaped kitchen (12’x 9′) design from a designer (which is almost identical to what is currently in place). I want a quality cabinet, have chosen inset because I like the sturdy feel and look. I live near the ocean. Are there considerations for inset design I should be aware of? Is being near the water a detriment for this type of cabinet?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Cathleen,
      In the past inset cabinetry could be a problem at beach locations. Today though most manufacturers offer a 6 way adjustable inset hinge so swelling of doors due to moisture or shrinkage do to central air is now longer an issue and just requires some quick adjustments.

      Getting inset cabinet is only a good idea from custom cabinet companies since inset cabinetry requires a higher level of exactness in cabinet construction. Keeping a design as is would be very unusual when you were splurging on cabinets. There really has to be better designs possible that you should be considering before upgrading cabinetry to the most expensive cabinet lines.

  35. Ather

    I just purchased an Aristokraft kitchen with an island base from Fabuwood. Looks like Aristokraft does not have a good rating. What should I look for as time passes? Have their ratings improved at all? I purchased Purestyle laminate which I was told holds well.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Thermafoil will be easy to clean and will be durable as a finish over at least 15 years. Your problems are that Aristocraft is not the best constructed cabinetry. So do not overload your wall cabinets in particular.

      And Thrmafoil can discolor and begin to peel as the glue that holds the foil onto the particleboard door begins to break down. In the past they lasted about 15 years. However they claim to have improved the glue so who knows? As a finish Thermafoil is durable but consumers tend to view plastic cabinets as cheap. Aristocraft does make the nicest looking thermafoil though.

  36. Frank


    Took your advice and found a good kitchen designer instead of using Lowe’s. Received a quote for all plywood construction for Kraftmaid cabinets. However, the designer only sells Homecrest. Instead of all plywood, she was recommending flush plywood ends to save a little money to get a better countertop. It would have furniture board back and drawer hangers. Even if we went all plywood, I know you recommend 1/2 inch plywood back, but homecrest only offers 3/8 inch. Also the kraftmaid quote was for their momentum line. Any experience with that line? Any advice is appreciated!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      1/3 Plywood back is OK, and gets a B+ rating from us in construction. Kraftmaid also now only gets a B+ rating. Homecreast should be upgraded to all plywood construction unless you plan to move in a few years then upgrading only all the exposed ends would be OK. However usually to get Blum softclose doors and drawers it makes sense to get the whole upgraded package.

      Never buy cabinetry without full extension soft close drawers as this is the primary thing perspective home buyers use to evaluate cabinets and it is a valid tool. I looked up the Kraftmaid Momentum line. Sadly Kraftmaid appears to be continuing it’s decent into lesser made cabinetry. Stay away from this line it sacrafices durability for price.

      Upgraded Homecreast should price out at least 15% less than an upgraded Kraftmaid cabinet. The Kraftmaid Vantage line is the best bargain from what I understand but Ktraftmaid is on the move and where they are headed may be not such a good place.

  37. Dave


    Thanks for all the great information you’ve shared here.

    We’re doing a bathroom remodel now, kitchen later. For the bathroom, we’re considering KraftMaid with their Evercore doors, made by “super-compressing wood fibers mechanically,” with a painted finish. The idea is to avoid shrinking and swelling that occurs with regular wood doors.

    From what you know, would you recommend the Evercore doors?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      MDF doors will not shrink and expand like real wood doors. But if the get scratced or damaged they cannot be repaired and if they get wet they get ruined quickly. I would rather live with the expansion cracks and touch them up. Our family is hard on things.

  38. D Ross

    We are doing a kitchen remodel. Our contractor referred me to his tile and cabinet source, and the choices are Raywal, Ideal Cabinetry and US Cabinet Depot (also Kabinetart, but I noted on your website that this line did not receive high marks.) . I do plan to do an all plywood kitchen in shaker white. Our budget is moderate; I do not require the most inexpensive line but also would like good value for the quality.
    I have tried searching these brands online but found very little information as to quality and durability. Your opinion is much appreciated.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      You don’t say where you are but there are inexpensive better choices. For example Fabuwood, J&K, or Clique Studios sold on line.

      As always customers worry most about cabinetry when the design itself is even more important and most designs we see from less expensive dealers are horrific.

  39. Suzie

    Any opinions about Wavepoint or Forevermark? Thanks

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Waypoint is better

  40. Vanesa

    Hi, Lowes asked me for 15K for s Schules kitchen (very basic design). Then was wasked 3K for a Forevermarc kitchen. Have read all the posts and no one has mentioned it? This last place also carries Wavepoint. Any ideas?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Schuler is very expensive cabinetry. Waypoint is inexpensive but OK

  41. Carol Groome

    Have you heard of cwpcabinets? Here is a link to their website. Can you tell me if they look like quality cabinets. Are the standard drawers good. Thanks very much.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      They look good and the standard drawers are fine as long as the are soft close.

  42. Ali

    Have you ever heard of Plato? I do not see them in your list, but our KD is recommending them. They look good, but price seems very high. Wondering if we should seek an alternative

  43. Cheryl

    I was looking to buy upgraded Kemper but see you gave them a C for value. What comparable mid level cabinetry would you suggest? Or should I go to a higher priced brand like Bishop or Kraftmaid? My kitchen is a small galley and going with white Shaker

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Low end US made cabinetry is no longer a good buy. It is better to upgrade to higher end US made cabinetry or to spend less on US brands with the doors and fronts made and finished in Asia. Either way you will get a better constructed cabinet, usually a better finish, and certainly a better value.

      With a white shaker cabinet this is especially true. I would even say that to get a better cabinet and a good value in a white painted shaker cabinet you need to upgrade to a custom US cabinet. The mid to high range US made cabinets don’t even reach the nice finishes on some of the less expensive lines like Fabuwood. So a Fabuwood kitchen can look nicer than a Kraftmaid or Bishop kitchen for a solid white cabinet but not as nice as a Woodmode or a Brighton kitchen. Of course the customization you require might not be available in a less expensive line.

  44. Joe

    Thanks for all the information you provide as it has been very helpful. We have visited several kitchen cabinets stores and have been dealing with a designer at each. We prefer frameless for the extra storage. One of the designers uses Design-Craft and says the boxes are 5/8″ plywood. I read on your site that the sides should be 3/4″ although you rated (in 2015) the Design- Craft fairy well. Can Design-Craft be upgraded to 3/4 or was you rating based on the 5’5″ size? The other designer uses Showcase and DuraSupreme. What are your opinions on those companies? We had told both designers we are moving within 3-5 years so we wanted have minimum design changes to what we have now. One designer crated a design with what we told him the other totally disregarded it and created something different. I was originally thinking hey the 2nd guy didn’t even listen to me but reading your articles in sounds like you think that is a sign of a better designer?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Since most existing designs are poor, and most customers not knowing any better want to keep things as they are, designers that just give people what they want are taking the easy road and their customers will always get worse designs. You aren’t going to buy a kitchen you don’t want. But you certainly can’t buy a possibly better kitchen design that you never saw.

      For this reason the better designers don’t start with designs directed by the least experienced person designing, namely you. They start with what a knowledgeable professional would recommend as the best investment for your home for your budget. Then you both begin making compromises from there. They risk loosing you as a customer but you will get a better kitchen in the end.

      Sorry I don’t know DesignCraft well but if we rated them OK I would assume we checked and found them OK 5/8″ plywood is better than 3/4″ MDF. The additional storage you will get with frameless is also a minute overall percentage and a good design should get you a far better use of space than the difference between framed and frameless lines.

  45. Mdw24

    Hi, I’m about to undertake a major renovation and have been working with a contractor who is also a certified kitchen designer and has experience renovating apartments like mine for 20 years. But he seems to only carry Luxor brand cabinets. Do you have experience with this brand? I prefer the slab door look, but am concerned the quality I am getting will not last. Thanks for any advice you can offer.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Slab doors are often used for frameless cabinetry like Luxor. I don’t know Luxor well. It is an inexpensive Canadian frameless line. I have never heard of a contractor CKD and would be very surprised id he wasn’t certified to install kitchens and not to design them. I would Google your contractor and make sure he gets good reviews and has no complaints with the BBB.

  46. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Replacing cabinets as they are may make sense to you but it may have far less value when you go to sell your home.

    That’s what kitchen designers do. We help customers make smart decisions. And it is often smarter to do nothing at all than to redo a bad design.

    Since homeowners are used to what they have they often don’t understand that when they sell their home even though they like the updated kitchen the new homeowners will just rip out the work that they just did because it’s a kitchen that is not very desirable.

    Not listening to professional advice if it is given in your best interest is what makes customers less desirable. And we never call back customers since after meeting with us the ball is in their court so to speak. Either they get that we have their best interest in mind or they want what they want independent of our advice. And so they will find less professional people that will simply sell them what they ask for even it is a poor investment.

    It is easy to find people who will just sell you what you tell them you want. It is much harder to find people that have your best interest at heart and will disagree with you to help you spend your money wisely. Kitchens are more complex that almost everyone except good kitchens designers realize. And what is a good investment is usually not obvious to non professionals.

  47. BeachLoverInNM

    Perhaps. The first firm wanted to do a bunch of demo work that we don’t want done. We may not stay in this house and don’t want to do more than update the kitchen and the budget is already stretched. Simply replacing cabinets in a kitchen I am happy with made sense to me. I actually think I am very easy to work with and very patient with both of them. The first designer took a month to get back to me initially and hasn’t called since our last meeting another month ago. Thanks for your input.

  48. BeachLoverInNM

    I live in a smallish community with two main cabinet stores that have good reputations. I am looking to simply replace cabinets and countertops, no big changes to layout, etc. Owner/designer at first store doesn’t seem interested in my business but has the most experience. Designer (not owner) at the other shop is not as experienced but trying very hard. Designer 1 is recommending BJ Tidwell cabinets as mid-range option and Designer 2 recommends Sollid Cabinetry as mid-range. I am leaning toward Designer 2 and Sollid because of her customer service and because Sollid looks to be a better line (judging from web sites). What do you think? Thanks in advance for your time!!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I suspect you are getting a bad vibe from the more experienced design firm because you are telling them what you need and not letting them give you advice. It costs next to nothing to change the layout of a kitchen and customers that insist on simply replacing what they have not only short change themselves they are difficult to work with. Here is a funny video on this concept:

  49. msfauss

    I posted an earlier question and I appreciate you taking the time to answer. I have another one…we are considering Shiloh (based on a push from a KD – although questioning it based on earlier comment), Mouser Centra and local Amish “custom”. My question is what is your opinion of Amish that uses a “catalized” finish that is baked. We are looking at their painted cabinets with MDF center panel only and 3/4″ wood box construction. It almost sounds like they are using a preconstructed door. I am trying to get more information on their finish process but my research has brought up pre-catalized and post catalized finishes. (1)-Thoughts or opinion on this type of Amish or finish? It is priced out to the Mouser Centra but I question their design as they only build the cabinets. (2) – Should I hire a KD and where would I find one? I know Shiloh is less but that KD is asking me for a $350 fee before releasing any info. Thank you!!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I am running out of gas beating the drum on the importance in finding a good kitchen designer from a reputable dealership to work with. We recommend dealers and designers around the country link below:

      If only the over one thousand people a day that use our web site to research cabinet lines and cabinet construction would spend their time researching finding the best kitchen designer from the best cabinet dealership they would be spending their time wisely instead of focusing on the thing that should come second. Good kitchen designers from good cabinet dealers will automatically carry good brands across all price points.

      Because homeowners aren’t kitchen designers themselves many don’t understand the dramatic difference between working with a very good kitchen designer or a bad one or worst of all an architect or interior designer. It takes at least a decade of exclusively designing kitchens at a good dealership to become just competent at kitchen design and to be able to advise your clients on design, style, and cabinet line trade offs.

      As a kitchen designer it is frustrating when customers focus on the only thing many can grasp. Brands and colors. They must have Wolf and Subzero appliances, custom cabinetry and a particular off white finish. However they do zero research finding a good kitchen design professional to work with as “they know what they want”. Our funny video below makes light of this issue but it is what drives all good kitchen designers crazy. Video below:

  50. Sarah Campbell

    Your blog has been so helpful.
    Are you familiar with Kountry Wood, Kabinart or Haas? We are redoing our kitchen because the cabinets we originally bought are pealing and falling apart. The store we bought them through has discontinued them because of lack of quality and giving us a credit to get new ones. Which would you recommend?
    I’m worried these aren’t much better.
    thank you for your help!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Sarah,
      Not a fan of any of these lines they would all score low in our 2017. Link below:

      If you could pay a little extra to get a better line I would. If you have to choose here I would choose Haas and make sure that all the exposed cabinet sides are Flushed Finished Plywood Ends. Also pay to upgrade to soft close drawers.

  51. Tess

    Well it has taken me a couple of days to read through this whole blog but it was time well spent! While I am not a kitchen designer I couldn’t agree more that a good design is most important, find someone good to work with first they will lead you to your best choice.
    And if I could add, it’s just as important to light it properly too – just like Architects aren’t kitchen designers, electricians aren’t lighting designers.
    Thank you and keep the info coming!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Well said and thank you! That philosophy is true all the way through a a complex kitchen renovation. Consult lighting, flooring and tile people, countertop specialists, appliance specialists, and general contractors on each aspect of your project. Let your kitchen designer steer you to good selections for all those experts and if you have chose wisely for a kitchen designer 3/4 of your work finding the other experts will be done fore you.

      I always marvel that many customers will take my advice on their cabinetry and with their design but then think that they will do better finding their own contractors and other professionals to work with. We work with about 100 different contractors every year and know all the flooring, countertop, lighting, and appliance places in our area. How could a customer find better people to work with on their own? Unless of course they are picking a family member or your good friend and even then that could lead to the worst situation of all.

      This is the theme of out most recent blog about two families. The Smarts and the Knowbettas. They may not all be related but we run into a heck of a lot of Knowbettas. The smartest people I have met are always quick to say “I don’t know” when they aren’t sure. And look for advice from professionals. It is why we send our customers to great contractors, appliance, countertop people amd other professionals. We can’t know everything about every part of a kitchen renovation. So we let the experts in their fields help our customers who get discounts from each professional because they were referred by us. This not only assures our customers are getting help from the most knowledgeable people we have found and gets them trade discounts, but the power of the referrals makes sure of it.

  52. Els

    We are trying to compare Shiloh versus Cabico. We see you rate both a 4, but Shiloh a C and Cabico a B. We have quotes that place the Cabico at more than $10,000 MORE than Shiloh. Is Cabico really worth it?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Why pick one of the lines we rate lower than others? I am always confused when people that read our blog and ask advice start with not taking the advice we give. This happens 5 times a day. There are better choices on our list – I wouldn’t pick either line. List below:

  53. Janet

    Thanks Paul…but how to sift through all the reviews and the various cabinet lines…..I’ll probably have proposals using at least 4-5 different lines…..UGH…..
    Any thoughts on the ones I listed?
    Tks again for your time…..

  54. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Hi Janet,
    So glad you had a good experience with the kitchen designer. Not all kitchen designers are good but any professional exclusively devoted to kitchen design and selling cabinetry full time for a long time will pretty much have to better than any consumer, architect, contractor, or other pseudo kitchen design professional. The best kitchen designers will always work for a cabinet dealer, and usually not a home center since both Lowes and Home Depot stopped paying kitchen designers well about 6 years ago. Good designers will all have one thing in common. They will want to show you designs they prefer first and rubber stamp the ideas you had second. Giving people what they think they want before you have shown them what is possible is the lazy path that great kitchen designers will never take. If we are not surprising you with better designs to consider we simply can’t be good at our jobs.

  55. Janet

    Thank you so much for your response….and I can now say, BOY ARE YOU RIGHT….I had a meeting yesterday, at our home, with a kitchen designer, doing this for 20+ years….she offered some suggestions that I hadn’t thought of…..but I am still waffling amongst all the various cabinet lines…seeing one other kitchen designer tomorrow night, who will of course have other lines from which to choose…so now the list might include: St. Martin, Waypoint, 21st Century, in addition to the Kraftamid, Wolf (classic), and waiting the ALLWOOD proposal from Costco. I really want to work with the designer and hope her proposal comes back in our price range…she is the one with 21 century, kraftmaid and Shiloh….ugh too many choices! Thanks so much for this BLOG, amazing!

  56. Janet

    Hello- so much great information here. Just decided to do a kitchen re-model. On a somewhat moderate budget. Have plans done, and awaiting estimates using the following cabinet companies: Allwood (merged with IDEAL), Wolf Classic, and Kraftmaid….planning a white shaker door style. We aren’t changing our foot print much at all, so the design is pretty much done. Wondered if you have any opinions on these three cabinet companies.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Ideal and Wolf will be 40% less than Kraftmaid and a good buy. Don’t expect the same level of quality control from the lowest price point cabinetry but both the inexpensive lines are well made. The best money you spend is on changing the foot print of a kitchen so I’d encourage you to find a good designer that can show you how your design can be improved. 90% of the customers we meet believe they know the layout they want and 90% of those same customers end up getting different designs once a good designer shows them what we can do with the space.

  57. Audrey

    Hi, do you know anything about Kingswood Kitchens? They are a local cabinet company (North East) and not on your list. I am wondering about the quality of their cabinets.

  58. Audrey

    Hi, Would like to know how the following cabinets compare in quality/price: Kingswood Kitchens, KraftMaid Vantage, Eclipse (Shiloh), Omega, and Executive Cabinetry. Will have cherry wood with glaze. I think Eclipse (Shiloh) is frameless and others are not. We want all wood cabinets/frames. Probably transitional or traditional doors. Thanks in advance

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Use our cabinet rating list below and out recommended dealer list to find a reputable designer and dealer near you. You need a local designer to help you navigate cabinetry decisions Links below:



  59. Alex

    I think of new kitchen cabinets and have 4 questions.
    1) Between Home Depot Thomasville (Quality B-) and Waypoint (Quality B) first is more expensive. Does it mean that quality of both is more or less the same?
    2) Both brands seem do not have CARB certification. Is it important?
    3) Veneer door versus solid door – which one is more durable, or it is all about look?
    4) Is it worth to pay more for all plywood construction?
    Thank you

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      1 Thomasville is not worth the money.
      2 and 4 If you are sensitive to chemicals like new carpet or paint it can be important otherwise it’s not very important especially if you spend the money to get all plywood construction. which IS worth it. Plywood off gases less than particleboard.
      3 Same durability all about the look and feel.

  60. Laurine Mccaffery

    I have a very good contractor, but he uses CNC cabinets. I’m a little leery. How does that compare with Decora or Medalliion?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Laurine,
      We sell CNC cabinets and don’t sell either Decora or Medallion but I am very familiar with all three lines. CNC is much less expensive than the other two lines and for good reason. While upgraded all three lines are well constructed and durable, the quality of the finish and craftsmanship between CNC and the other two lines is very different.

      If you are flipping a home or it is a rental property you would be silly to spend the extra 50% or 60% on the expensive lines. If it is your own home and you plan on being there a long time you should be in at least a little more expensive line than CNC. Helping you make the choice is what good kitchen designers are supposed to do.

      Getting the best design is the most important thing and a contractor that only uses CNC will never understand and value good design. So while you think he is good, I would probably never recommend a contractor that always uses a very inexpensive line.

  61. Naveeda Khan

    Hi folks this is a terrific source. I am interested in contemporary under the counter kitchen cabinets with channels by which to open them (so no visible hardware). I am looking for brands available in and around baltimore, excellent quality but not bank breaking prices (like poggenpohl). i am looking for either high gloss or matter white. what would you recommend? i had found elmwood by cabico as a possibility (haven’t yet confirmed a local deal…perhaps SD Kitchens). Am also interested in a floor to ceiling thin pantry cabinet to be made of natural walnut, rift cut or quarter sawn wood. am i am likely to have any luck with semi-custom cabinetry here (elmwood or others) or should i pursue a custom cabinet maker? any thoughts much appreciated.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      If you wanted to get the white and the wood cabinets from the same manufacturer that will almost certainly put you in custom cabinets. Walnut is always custom and quartersawn oak and the contemporary style white door aren’t normally done together. And so quartersawn oak is seldomly available in frameless semi-custom cabinetry. Even the no visible hardware is unusual enough to put you in a very limited number of brands that aren’t custom. If you want very specific unusual styles expect to pay more.

  62. Marc

    Different designers/companies. I like the design better with the bertch dealer and they seem to be adding a little more. However, their cabinets are overlay vs inset with the starmark designer. Starmark is more expensive with the inset cabinets. Your thoughts?

  63. Marc

    I am choosing between Bertch and Starmark. What are your thoughts on quality of the cabinets, customer service, costs, best value.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Both are good cabinet choices. Finding a good designer is much harder than finding a good cabinet line. Is it the same designer for both lines? If not the better designer is the choice. If it is the same designer and you believe they are good then listen to their advice.

  64. Vicki

    I had Brookhaven cabinets installed in my kitchen about 7 years ago. Some are stained cherry and some are painted.By 5 years, the finish on both painted and stained cabinets started to get shiny around the handles. They look greasy but I keep them clean. Their website says this is to be expected, and that wiping around the hardware causes it,but I certainly didn’t expect it and hate that my cabinets always look dirty. Do you have recommendations for cabinets that don’t do this? I am looking at Kraftmaid and Starmark but don’t know if I would end up with the same problem.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Vicki,
      Your problem is unusual but not unique. Unfortunately, this can happen with every cabinet manufacturer if the cabinet finish is a paint or a stain. There are only a couple of solutions. Since the acid on peoples fingertips combined with extra cleaning of that small area is what causes the problem selecting a knob or pull that keeps your fingers away from the finish is a good start. Test how you will use the hardware you are selecting to see if it will bring your fingers into contact with the cabinets finish. Also when cleaning clean the entire door or drawer front evenly spending no extra time on one area than another.

      The only cabinetry finish that this will not happen to are laminate, or acrylic finishes on very modern frameless cabinetry or foils that can be on either modern or traditional framed cabinets. The foils look cheap to me when they are used on more traditional styles. Plastic just looks more appropriate on contemporary style kitchens.

  65. Bill

    Misleading when saying plywood box is superior. Depends on type of plywood and thickness. Some cabinet manufacturers use furniture board with a perafin wax as the resin. Much better than standard plywood as shown in tests. Only plywood that is superior is marine grade plywood. Which is too expensive for most manufacturers. Please quit misleading homeowners.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      We say that 1/2″ plywood is needed for the sides of a framed cabinet. And I completely disagree with you. You are talking only about the strength of a particular type of furniture board and not how it functions on a framed cabinet with it’s added weight. The manufactures that use this type of furniture board are almost always on frameless cabinetry. And in the less durable frameless lines it does have it’s advantages, especially on foil and laminate styles. But not on framed cabinetry. I suspect you have some vested interest in this particular issue.

  66. JN

    Very Helpful blog! I received quotes on cabinet lines that are Rated as 5 on your list – specifically Mouser Centra and Omega Dynasty. Also rec’vd quote for Holiday, not listed. (Actually the Centra line is not listed separately – would it be considered a lower price line, 4 or 3?) The Dynasty quote was full overlay but now leaning toward inset, there was no inset upcharge with Mouser. However, I think I need to come down a price level to bring the project within my budget and keep the inset. Are you familiar with other cabinet lines that offer inset with no upcharge besides Showplace and Shilo? You’ve recommended against Shiloh for inset so I’ve ruled that line out. Would you give the same advice for Showplace? Are there any within the Level 4 pricing with no inset upcharge that you recommend or do you suggest sticking with level 5/6 for inset? FYI – White painted Shaker cabinets approx 36 ln ft of cabinet run including appliances plus a narrow 8ft island.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Sorry Too many questions to type answers to. You could call on a Friday and talk on the phone for a few minutes

  67. RoRoRo

    *** Edit: We don’t plan to stay in this small coop for more than 3-4 years. Thanks.

  68. RoRoRo

    Hello! Thank you for all you do! In the pricing stage and comparing some of the brands you mention. Looking for White shaker cabinets – just not a wood girl. What do you think of
    stockcabinetexpress.com who sell the Forevermark Ice white shaker? I didn’t see them in the rankings.
    Who would them most similar to in your ranks?
    Also, in terms of range of pricing: they are the least expensive, cliqstudios $1000 more, Costco/Home depot $2000 more and Lowes $2500 more. All priced at what I believe are equivalent lines. My husband who is a contractor will do the install so I’m sure that will be well done. We don’t plan to say in this small condo ( 11 cabinets: 6 wall, 4 base and 1 pantry). THANK YOU!!!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Forevermark is really the bottom of the OK constructed Asian/US lines I would spend a little more and get a slightly better cabinet. 15% more should get you a real designer too. Home Depot now sells an Asian/US line that looks OK.

  69. MJL

    I wanted to thank you for your insight into what has been an otherwise very opaque process. The cabinets for our large kitchen design came in at $42k w/ Medallion’s Silver line painted full overlay. We really like the look of their Deluxe End panels not available in Gold line. Unfortunately, the budget dictates the decision process and we were wondering if you could recommend a brand that might get us closer to $30k or less without a huge sacrifice in quality and still get that “Deluxe End” look

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I’m not sure what the Deluxe end is in Medallion. Is it an integrated end panel built into the side of the cabinet instead of a door applied to the end of the exposed cabinets? If so, while this look is beautiful it doesn’t really go with a full overlay door and looks more appropriate on inset cabinetry.
      Unfortunately often when people ask very detailed questions like these and we get to see the designs of their kitchen they are not very good. And so there were far more important issues to consider. And in painted solid color cabinetry none of our customers can tell the difference between the expensive cabinets and the less expensive lines that we sell. Everyone can see the difference with stained finishes but if you can’t tell the difference on a solid paint color why spend 42K. You can use our 2017 ratings list to help find less expensive lines.

  70. MB

    Hi there, any experience with Deerfield or Cabinets.com? We’ve been directed to Waypoint by our kitchen designer but you’ve mentioned they are a lower end manufacturer?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I don’t know Deerfield but we give Waypoint OK reviews in our 2017 ratings below:


  71. Jeanne Nisbet

    How do you feel about Kemper cabinets vs. Kraftmaid? Are Schrock and Kemper pretty much the same cabinet? i got a quote on kemper cabinets for 9k then changed the door to full overlay and the price increased to 12K. Another dealer was going to price Schrock but when i asked about Dynasty, she priced those at 17K and told me the Schrock would be even more?? I thought Dynasty was a higher priced brand. I have a small kitchen, would like maple cabinets, plywood, 3/4 inch with full overlay style doors in white shaker like the rest of mankind. i wanted to pay 10K. Can you suggest a good semi custom brand that will give me what i want?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Kraftmaid is better than Kemper. We would not recommend Frameless cabinets. Any of the high ranking cabinets that are level 1 and 2 pricepoints on our 2017 review would be a goo fit for you. Maple will probably not be available in a level 1 cabinet.

  72. Mary

    I thought I was set on Kraftmaid for white painted shaker cabinets but went to a local dealer today who offers Countryside Cabinets out of De Pere, WI. The only advantage I see is the company offering Countryside has their own installers vs the independent contractors used by Home Depot. So, it basically comes down to quality and finish and I can’t find many reviews on Countryside. Your thoughts?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Don’t know the line sorry

  73. Katie

    Thank you! That’s really helpful. Which upgrades would I need to request for either woodmode or Wellsford? How are the finishes nicer with woodmode?

  74. Katie

    Thanks so much for your super helpful blog. Based on your blog reviews we are looking at both Woodmode and Wellsford. We aren’t in your service area. Which should we choose and why? How do they both compare to Adelphi Cabinetry? Should we only consider framed Cabinetry if we plan to be in the kitchen for 30 years? Thanks!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I would only consider framed cabinetry unless the very modern door style you like doesn’t come in anything but Frameless European construction. Upgraded, both Woodmode and Wellsford are great cabinets. Woodmode might have nicer finishes but Wellsford is a more responsible consumer friendly company. Adelphi is a small Pennsylvania cabinet maker. I’m guessing from their web site that when they say they use a 1/4″ back that this is because they expect the carpenters hanging the cabinets to add a hangingrail. This is popular with some other cabinet makers we know and have used in PA and is a fine method of construction. However, We don’t know enough about Adelphi to give them a thumbs up or down.

  75. Steve J

    We are considering Crystal and Omega Dynasty cabinets. Initially we’ve only been looking at frameless, but are considering framed based on some of the suggestions above. It seems Crystal has Crystal custom and Crystal Current semi-custom. Do you have any experience with Crystal’s Current semi-custom line? Crystal Current seems to come in a framed plywood and particle option, or frameless particle. Do you think the benefits of plywood with framed outweigh the particle with frameless, if we really like the frameless functionality? Any other feedback on Crystal Current semi-custom or Omega Dynasty would be much appreciated.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I would always recommend any well made framed line over any frameless line. Custom or semi custom has little importance in quality as long as the cabinetry meets our construction minimums for framed cabinetry.

  76. Craig

    Sorry. Kraftmaid, not KitchenMaid!

  77. Craig

    Terrific blog. Have learned a lot from reading all your comments.

    We are in the final stages of picking our cabinets from an independent dealer. The KD we are working with says she uses Kitchenmaid and Wellborn almost interchangeably. She gives a slight edge to KM stating they are more flexible in their sizing and options. Otherwise she says the two companies are equal in quality, cost and delivery times. She states that the KM Vantage is very different in quality from the top-of-the line KM sold in the big box stores. Is that true and what would your choice be between KM Vantage and Wellborn and why?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Two good lines. Regular Kraftmaid at home centers can be upgraded to equal the Kraftmaid Vantage line. However since the Kraftmaid Vantage line only comes upgraded it is probably a better value at most independent Kraftmaid showrooms.

  78. Claudia

    Hello, we are building a new modern home.kitchen and baths cabinetry. We want a modern European style kitchen,glossy white sleek look. So far I’ve been working with a cabinetry guy that carries CUISINE IDEAL made in Canada. Problem is he would install all maple inside being a better quality but I don’t like the look in a modern all white kitchen ..the metal drawers or white melamine seems poor. I could go with all white cabinets inside and choose a better drawer maybe in maple. Price is high for what I seems to get. My budget is in the 20/30k. I found the same door (gloss hpl finish) with ECLIPSE by Shiloh
    what are your thoughts ?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Shiloh is not a great cabinet or a good value. But it’s hard to comment when modern cabinetry is not a style we sell a lot of and frameless cabinets are not a construction type we respect. The best you can get with frameless cabinetry is 3/4″ plywood sides or a 3/4″ side with a plywood core. Once you have that that’s as good as it gets in European construction.

  79. Carol Tatarka

    Have you heard of Forevermark cabinets? Our designer and contractor really like them. They appear to be RTA but they will assemble. They are all plywood but the back looks like the it might be a picture frame instead of solid plywood.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      If you are selling a home Forevermark might be a good choice. But if you are staying for a while a higher level inexpensive cabinet makes more sense.

  80. Trudy

    Do you know anything about Kemp Cabinets, LLC? They are made in Montgomery, IN.They are sold in IN, OH, IL, MO, & KY.
    I believe they are a custom cabinet. They are made in the heart of the Amish country, but they aren’t known as an “Amish Company.”
    We bought them in ’09, thinking we were in our forever home. Now my husband wants to downsize.
    There is not much info on their website, but it is http://www.kempcabinets.com.
    I loved them when we bought them, & still do. I would like to have them again, my husband is thinking something else because I guess the builder typically buys their cabinets somewhere else. We went & looked & they had Shiloh, Medallion, Aspect, & Kitchen Jewels. Those are the ones I can remember. I didn’t think any looked as nice as our Kemp Cabinets.
    Thank you.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Kemp is a tiny line and their web site looks like it hasn’t been updated in 10 years. That worries me.

  81. Elaine Pratta

    What do you think of the Plato Custom Brand or Prelude Kitchen Cabinets?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Plato has a good name in cutom cabinets but their website gives no valuable information on how they are built so we can’t review them. Diamond Prelude from Lowes is not one of my favorite lines but the continue to get better. I would buy Kraftmaid if I was at Lowes.

  82. Gail m

    Thank you for this blog!
    My head is spinning trying to make a decision on cabinets and cannot really compare between lines. I have 4 quotes waypoint 17k , homecrest 20.5 or 22k depending on the dooor, showplace 26 k and crystal 32k.
    I wanted a painted white cabinet and waypoint is too limited in color so it is out.
    I know from reading the blog that you are not a fan of home crest and I understand why. I have checked the quote and the homecrest is fully upgraded with 1/2 in plywood and all upgraded drawers and closers.
    The difference between the homecrest and crystal will be at least 10 k, any thoughts I would love your opinion.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I never disparaged Homecrest. I did say that Masterbrands as a company had many bad lines in the past. I should have singled out Homecrest as well as Decora as a better made Masterbrand cabinet line. Today many of the Masterbrand cabinet lines can be upgraded to acceptable construction. Possibly blogs like this one from 2015 helped push them in that direction.

  83. Ro

    Hi! Great blog…so helpful.

    Costco offers cabinets (currently at 30% off) from Euro RTA/AllwoodFast. I read through all the comments and don’t think I saw any comments.

    Also, was at Lowes and they priced out Diamond and Shendoah (came to about the same price w/plywood box). Does this sound about right? Based on your comments, I think I’ll have them price out Kraftmaid. They currently have a 20% off sale.

    I have been to 2 Lowes at different times and felt that the reps push Diamond a bit more than the others. Coincidence, or is there a $$ benefit for them to sell this vs. other brands?

    May I send you the plan for a quick review?

    So awesome that you take time to give your expert opinion!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Ro,
      Stay away from Costco for cabinets that will just be trouble in the long run if not immediately.

      Upgraded Diamond, Shendoah, and Kraftmaid and the most expensive Schuler are all good choices at Lowes. Kraftmaid is the best cabinet for the money but will be about 20% more than Shendendoah. I think the kitchen designers at Lowes might push Diamond because they are less knowledgeable and the Diamond manufacturer reps tend to be more hands on helping the store designers. Kraftmaid spreads their reps very thin so that they have little time to help store designers and their product is more complicated so it’s harder to sell without making mistakes.

      Home centers can be a problematic place to buy cabinetry. Contrary to what many customers think both The Home Depot and Lowes do sell several quality cabinet lines. The pricing is usually either the same or at most 5% or 10% less than independent dealers. However their designers are poorly trained and often pulled in too many directions to give designs the attention to detail that they need. The result can be disastrous. Often the great pricing a customer thinks that they are getting at a home center is because all the plywood sides, flush ends, end panels and even moldings that they need for their job haven’t been included in the home center price because of designer errors.

      Of course, some home center designers are great though. Finding that diamond in the rough is the hard part. And to be quite frank most kitchen designers aren’t very good so you can find incompetence almost anywhere. You are just more likely to get it at a home center than an independent dealer.
      Certainly home center designers will almost always be better than a design done by an architect, contractor, or a home owner without professional kitchen design help. But when you are spending 20 to 100K that is small comfort.

      You are embarking on the most expensive home improvement possibly in your lifetime so spend the time to find a professional that knows what they are doing and won’t rubber stamp all your bad ideas. Your home will be far more valuable designed well that amateurishly.

  84. Tom Simpson

    Are you familiar with Dewils cabinets? They are sold by and seem to be popular with our Alaska dealers.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I don’t know the line but from their web site they look well made

  85. Susan

    Thanks. I guess I’m wondering your opinion of Siteline and Woodland.
    Have you covered those?

  86. Susan

    I’d appreciate your opinion among:
    Woodland/Artizen-frameless (with MDF center panel to resist shrinking on painted cabinets).

    (Lower drawers, and upper cabinets.) Blumotion hardware.
    Framed I would lose width in the drawers, frameless not lose space.
    I expect to be in this kitchen for at least 20 years.
    Are interiors of cabinets made of melamine or all wood?
    Wonderful blog! I have been perseverating over this for too long. Thanks in advance!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Susan most of your questions are answered on our website. Too many here to address.

  87. Mary Anne

    This is a great site! It’s been very helpful. I’m wondering if you have any thoughts regarding the quality of the products at KitchenCabinetKings.com? They have ready to assemble and pre-assumbled cabinets. Not a huge variety but nice looking products.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Mary Anne,
      I have not seen them first hand but they are a lower end Asian Produced line. I would think lines like Fabuwood, Solid Wood Cabinets, Wolf, and 6 Square would be slightly more expensive but better looking and with better quality control. That is just a guess though. You could look up reviews on line but they aren’t that reliable which is why we rated cabinetry ourselves.

  88. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Hi Abby,
    Nearly all of our customers think their layout is great until they see a better one. Your salesperson is not after my heart and if you aren’t calling him a designer he probably doesn’t deserve the title. I can only pound the design drum so hard but if you are brave you are invited to send us your floor plan and I will critique it.

  89. Abby

    That makes complete sense. Thank you. We’re gutting a tired but high end kitchen (early 70’s Rutt, inset doors and drawers)that already has a fantastic floor plan – I’ve been in it for 30+ years and still marvel at how well it works. I completely agree that floor plan and cabinets are the key, but the counters and appliances need to take a beating too! The salesman thinks the Wellborn lower-end cabinets are still a very good product, but he did originally suggest going with all mid-level, which is what we are now going to do. I especially can’t wait to get rid of the 4″ glazed tile counters with all that horrid grout to clean!

  90. Abby

    Lots of great tips here.
    We are planning a full renovation using a kitchen designer who sells Wellborn. Our design calls for white wall / upper cabinets, and stained floor cabinets. Both maple. Wellborn has three grade / price levels. To save some money to use for other details, I’d like to use the least expensive grade (called “Select”) for the painted uppers, since the wood is painted over anyway, and there are no pullout shelves or other upgrades, and use the mid-grade (“Premier” level) for the bases. Same basic design on the doors – recessed panel, full overlay. My biggest concern is the durability of the finish on the painted uppers, and cabinet strenngth. I’ve seen a few poor reviews on the internet, but who knows if they’re real? Should I be concerned? Are there other concerns you can point out about this approach? The designer is not taking any position – he is willing to go with whatever our decision is. Thank you!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Abby,

      I think that spending extra money to be in a more expensive cabinet line but getting their lower quality product is a bad approach. If you want to spend less be in a less expensive line that will give you a great product that is constructed like the upgraded Wellborn but has fewer finishes, and types of wood etc. I love Wellborn but I would get a line like Fabuwood if i wanted to spend significantly less and not get particle board construction with cheep tracks and hinges.

      The cabinets are the bones of your kitchen so I’d get them well made first. Splurging to be in a more expensive cabinet line but getting their inferior product is a bad idea. An even worse decision is to then splurge on expensive appliances, high price level granites, Quartz, or other expensive stone countertops, and other upgrades that have nothing to do with durability.

      Of course the best money that gets spent on a kitchen is to redesign it to get the best layout with the most functional and attractive design. Unfortunately 90% of the designs we see are amateurish and poorly designed. But getting a well made cabinet is the second most important decision.

      The fact that your designer has no opinion on this tell me that they wouldn’t get a job here. Here is a video on this concept:


  91. Alison

    We live in Denver (actually in Littleton, a suburb of Denver) and are planning to remodel our kitchen. It’s currently a U-shaped, about 10X12. We know we want light wood cabinets, probably a shaker style. I’ve been researching cabinet lines, counter top surfaces, etc., and am about to lose my mind. I’m so glad I found your blog, as it sounds like I really need to get a good kitchen designer before going any further. Can you recommend a good kitchen designer in our area, or tell me the best way to go about finding one? Thanks in advance for your advice!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Alison,
      I usually use Houzz.com and Angie’s list to try and find cabinet dealers with a good selection of cabinet lines and a portfolio of well designed kitchens. It looks like the Denver area has some great designers but most look very expensive and only sell custom cabinets. The best compromise I could find was this company:

  92. Peter T

    Paul, many thanks for the excellent advise on this board! I have read through all your responses and found them very valuable! I personally tend to prefer modern cabinet styles and was thinking about a frameless cabinet line, but your comments have raised some concerns about that type. Are there reasonably priced frameless cabinets that use plywood box rather than particle board which seems to be the standard for frameless? Other question I have is about slab doors. Most slab doors use MDF core covered with wood veneer. How durable is that versus a solid wood slab door? What is the price difference for solid vs. veneer?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Peter,
      There are some cabinet lines that will have a plywood box and not be too expensive but in general that will put you in a more expensive cabinet line. The slab door looks better if you are getting a stained finish when they are a veneer over plywood because the grain will go across the whole door. Solid doors will have stripes where the pieces of solid wood meet. No one likes that look and you pay more for it.
      On a painted door they will look the same but solid wood will be more durable but much more expensive.

      Often on a solid color door people wouldn’t get a painted slab but would get a foil, or a laminate, or an acrylic (very expensive) door. These finishes will look the most modern/contemporary.

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