2015 Popular Kitchen Cabinetry Brand Comparison.

Main Line Kitchen Design compares Kitchen Cabinet 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. 

white kitchen with blue island

 

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 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.

 

natural wood kitchen with large island
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)

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

497 Replies to “2015 Popular Kitchen Cabinetry Brand Comparison.”

  1. Jay miller

    Any information on Bridgewood . made in Kansas. All wood construction. No MDF. i am looking at their American Value line. limited choices but I believe affordable. i have yet to get a quote but they look well made. Any information is appreciated. i did ask for a ballpark price per linear foot and was told “we have not priced by the foot since the 1960’s”

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Jay,
      I had never heard of them but I looked them up and they look like a well made inexpensive cabinet.

  2. Donna Noblin

    I have enjoyed reading this, as I am doing a kitchen reno!! Started out as a DIY, reusing 30 yr old cabinets, Brammer, in wonderful condition, but now we realize they are outdated with their outside hinges, lack of molding, shiny finish, and cathedral doors. So I appreciate your info, and am taking notes and putting them in a folder. I have decided to use a real kitchen designer this time around, as I really had lots of poor design in my original kitchen. So thanks for your timely info!!!!!!!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Thanks so much Donna. A post just to say thank you! Why what a nice way to start your day. Cheers – Paul

  3. Stephanie

    Hi, The information in this thread is extremely helpful. What are your thoughts about Wellborn Forest cabinets? is it quality construction?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I Like Wellborn cabinetry a great deal. We have considered carrying their line. They are one of the few US cabinet makers that continue to have a big presence at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show KBIS. I hope that they continue. We need good US manufacturers represented at our Industry trade show. Hope to see them again at the show in Orlando this year.

      1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

        Sorry Stephanie I just realized that you were asking About Wellborn Forrest and not Wellborn. Wellborn Forest from what I can see online does a lot of things right for an inexpensive cabinet company. However the backs of their cabinets are very thin on 1/8″ or 3/16″ and they don’t mention a hanging rail. Without at least a 3/4″ plywood or solid wood hanging rail I would definitely NOT recommend them.

    2. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Sorry Stephanie I just realized that you were asking About Wellborn Forrest and not Wellborn. Wellborn Forest from what I can see online does a lot of things right for an inexpensive cabinet company. However the backs of their cabinets are very thin on 1/8″ or 3/16″ and they don’t mention a hanging rail. Without at least a 3/4″ plywood or solid wood hanging rail I would definitely NOT recommend them.

  4. Karen

    Hi, I have read through the questions and your responses and appreciate all of the advice. I live in Denver and have just started looking for cabinets for a substantial kitchen renovation. I went to Home Depot and was considering Thomasville but am no longer doing so based on my subsequent research. A kitchen designer at a local private dealer recommended Dacora but a very cursory bid was up to $10 k more than bid for Thomasville. Home Depot also said they can sell Dacora though they have no in depth knowledge of the brand. I have not yet sat down with a designer other than at Home Depot. Can you recommend a dealer in my area who uses reputable cabinet makers with whom I can sit down to go over and finalize my plans in detail to ensure I am making the best investment of time and money? Thanks.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Karen,
      First let me say that I don’t know any companies in Denver, and my recommendation is based only on a quick look at the professionals in your area and their portfolios on Houzz.com.

      JM Kitchens and Baths in Denver http://www.jmwoodworks.com/ gets great reviews on Houzz. I looked at their projects and they are very well designed. And their web site shows that they carry cabinets at every price range. All the lines that they carry are smart selections which also is a good sign. I’d give them a shot. They obviously design some great kitchens so the design you get from them will most likely be better than you’d get from a home center and judging from the cabinet lines they carry they don’t look overpriced.
      Best of Luck,
      Paul

      http://www.jmwoodworks.com/

  5. bill l

    I am considering shanendoah and American woodmark.(both with plywood construction.(lowes and Home depot. How do these compare to shrock

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Bill,
      American Woodmark at The Home Depot, Shenandoah at Lowes, and Timberlake at private showrooms are all made by the same company and are nearly identical. Each line just has some door styles that are exclusive to them. All three should cost a little less than Shrock. In general with everything upgraded the Shrock has nicer finishes but the Woodmark etc has slightly more durable construction.

  6. Sadie

    Thank you for your response. Great ideas. Would you know or recommend any manufacturers? I found Executive Cabinetry and and Crystal Cabinetry.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Sadie,
      Crystal is a well respected name in the custom cabinet community. Executive only makes frameless cabinetry and uses some of the buzz words that raise my suspicions. Crystal if you can afford them and the designer that will design in the line will also usually be better.

  7. Sadie

    Great information here but I have a question which I did not see addressed here. Do you have any input on cabinetry made for people with allergies and chemical sensitivities? A member if my family is very reactive. It has been very hard trying to find companies that address these issues. I know some people state off gassing doesn’t take long ir store your cabinetry somewhere else until it does but these choices are not practical. Having respiratory issues on top of chemical and allergy problems is hard to address in a family like ours. Any thoughts or advise or experience in this area of cabinetry. Just going into some showrooms is an issue for them.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Carb 2 Compliance is the highest standardized rating for cabinetry off gassing. Many cabinet lines are Carb 2 Certified and many others don’t bother getting the certification even though they would pass. If someone is very sensitive I would get a Carb 2 Compliant cabinet line which doesn’t cost any more once the cabinetry is an all plywood box. And I would have the dealer store my cabinets for at least 2 months before delivery. For example we store our customers cabinetry for 2 months free of charge and it’s only $100 for an additional month. After the cabinets are delivered to you I would take them out of the boxes and store them in a room with open windows that has a fan in a window pointed outside and has the interior door taped or sealed shut. After a couple of weeks airing out they should be OK to install. And after installation you can still keep the kitchen sealed from the rest of the house and the cabinetry airing out until the countertop is installed and the kitchen is ready to use.

      There are small boutique cabinet lines that claim to have zero off gassing. However no outside organization tests them so how do we know for sure? And the kitchen industry has a bad record of companies making false claims.

  8. Christie

    Hi I am building a new home and have a pretty tight budget my KD is recommending Showplace, Aristocraft and Legacy Debut series cabinets. What are your recommendations/ review of these brand cabinets? Thanks

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I would Choose Legacy Debut from those choices.

      1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

        Upgraded Both lines are made well. But Medallion is a much higher end line with better ability to customize and nicer looking finishes. They should also be about 40% more expensive. If you like the finish a lot more and the door style better or need unusual size cabinets then Medallion is worth the added expense. Otherwise 40% is a lot if you are on a tight budget.

  9. Cindy

    I am looking at upgraded (plywood) Medallion cupboards and upgraded (plywood)American Woodmark’s. What do you feel is the better brand? Or are they about the same?

  10. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    There are lots of RTA cabinetry that’s pretty good. Especially for the price. Obviously we like Fabuwood the best since it is the line we carry. And Fabuwood IS the fastest growing cabinet company in the US with over a 100 Million in sales in 2015. But there are other lines that are fine too, but maybe a little rougher like Solid Wood Cabinets. There is a long list of these RTA lines and rating each one makes less sense than just saying we believe that Fabuwood is the best of these type lines for the money. Actually in the more expensive cabinetry no line stands out above many others. There are many great higher end semi custom and custom lines – they each just have there own unique finishes, specialties, and advantages.

    Of course the worst part about most of the inexpensive RTA lines is not the cabinetry itself but the designer/salesperson that you are working with.

  11. Virginia

    Thank you for the explanation – it makes sense now.
    Do you recommend any other brands? Opinion on RTA Cabinet Store, IKS Cabinets, Conestoga Wood Specialties

  12. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    The warrantee on a cabinet line isn’t representative of anything of much value. For example we give Fabuwood and all the cabinet lines we carry the standard limited lifetime warrantee whether the manufacturer does or not. These warrantees only cover defects not scratches or wear and tear, and only the closest replacement parts available so no labor. This is why pooly made cabinetry like IKEA can have a 15 year warrantee and some custom cabinet lines will only have 5 year warrantees.

  13. Virginia

    Thanks and I agree the manufacturer or Dealer should assemble for me. I like the Fabuwood option but the warranty is only 5 years. Is this typical for RTA cabinets? Do you recommend any other brands? Opinion on RTA Cabinet Store, IKS Cabinets, Conestoga Wood Specialties

  14. Virginia

    What is your professional opinion and advice on Ready to Assemble kitchen cabinets? What RTA brand/manufacturer do you recommend?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Great Question! Framed RTA Cabinetry can be a well made durable product and we sell a couple of cabinet lines like Fabuwood that can be purchased unassembled. That being said I would always pay the manufacturer or the Dealer to assemble the cabinets for you. Ideally you want the person putting your cabinets together to have done it thousands on times before and to have all the right tools and equipment to make the assembly perfect. The cabinetry is only as good as the person putting it together and installing it.

  15. John

    Thank you very much for your feedback. Ill double check on the pricing and plywood aspect for silverline. We also went and looked at kraftmaid cabinets at HD. We got a rough price but assuming all things being equal from a financial standpoint, how does Kraftmaid stand up against fabuwood and silverline. All three are plywood boxes. Thanks again!

  16. John

    Hello,

    We are trying to decide between fabuwood and medallion’s silverline cabinets. Our quoted prices were almost identical for each brand. We have upgraded both options to plywood. Would you recommend one over the other? Pro’s and con’s as to why? Thank you for your feedback!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi John,
      It’s my understanding that upgrading Medallion to all Plywood would not be Silverline anymore and much more expensive. If you can really get both for the same price then you are certainly getting a great deal on the Medallion and it would be difficult not to choose Medallion in that circumstance. But something sounds off here, be careful.

  17. Kevin

    I am planning a kitchen remodel in a high end home. Going for white cabinets and brown/grey island. Is starmark adequate? Also, how does it compare to shiloh? I used mid-continent 2 yrs ago and was not impressed.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Kevin,
      Mid Continent is a very low grade cabinet. Upgrade Starmark to 1/2″ plywood sides and it is well made and has very nice features and finishes. Silo is a little less upscale cabinet line then Starmark.

  18. Ellen venturino

    Thank you so much! I am probably mistaken about kraftmaid offering inset.

  19. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    The New hidden 6 way adjustable hinge for inset cabinetry will allow you to adjust for any expansion. I didn’t think some of these lines did inset such as Kraftmaod but the finishes on all these lines should be equally durable.

  20. Ellen Venturino

    Hello, the information provided here has been most helpful. We have “narrowed” our search to Brookhaven, decora, ovation, upgraded medallion, upgraded fieldstone, and upgraded Kraftmaid. Of these, which one or ones have the best, most durable painted finish? Also, we like the look of inset cabinets but we are 0.4 miles from the pacific coast in San Diego. Do you have any advice for selecting inset cabinets that will lessen the likelihood that they will stick? We’ll have an island too that will either be painted or stained wood depending on what you suggest. I read your entire blog and took detailed notes. Thank you.

  21. Terry

    We are doing a bath remodel. I am comparing Merrilat and Kraftmaid. The vanity is 72 inches. The Merrilat bid is 2 27 inch base cabinets with all plywood construction and an18 inch dovetail drawer cabinet. There is a 400-500 dollar difference in the bids. The only difference I see is that the Kraftmaid has I beam construction and a thicker manufactured wood back. Are there other considerations I should be ware of?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Sorry I missed this one. For a bath either is fine upgraded to plywood sides.

  22. PAUL

    Hi Amanda,
    Clique Studios does the best job of the online companies in asking the right questions. Still they are the same as 6 Square cabinets ordered from a dealer and most dealers sell for the same price as Clique Studios does on line. It just makes better sense having a place you can return things that will and responsibility for damages and their own errors.

  23. Amanda

    Thank you! All good points, none of which I had considered. I guess in my mind they seemed similar to cliq studios. I’m in Houston, but have struggled to find a door style and configuration that I like in a light grey color.

  24. Amanda

    How do you feel about cabinets.com for a bathroom? Thanks so much for all the wonderful information on your blog!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Amanda,
      Even for a vanity, ordering cheep cabinets online doesn’t save much money (if any) and the risk of not getting the right thing or the cabinetry coming damaged and needing to be picked up / replaced is high – so the possible inconvenience is great. You don’t say where you are but around here Solid Wood Cabinets or IKEA would be a cheap alternative with no risk. Or Lowes carries in stock Bertch vanities last I checked.

      There can be questions that need to be asked that don’t get asked when you buy cabinetry remotely. For example: Did you want the vanity drawers on the right or left? Is your plumbing on the other side of the vanity so it doesn’t interfere with the drawers. Do you have door trim, window trim, or a radiator that would prevent a door or drawer from opening. Does the vanity bowl you are buying fit in your vanity. Did you want to order fillers, toe kick, or a touch up kit with the vanity?

      Too often people don’t appreciate how complex ordering even a simple vanity can be if you don’t do it for a living. And people that order cabinetry on line are usually the very people not knowledgeable enough to succeed doing it. I don’t think most experienced kitchen designers would be brave enough to order a cabinet on line so that should tell you something. Here’s a funny video somewhat related:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxJgxCeeNTo

  25. Leslie

    Do you know anything about Kith cabinets?
    How do they compare to Waypoint? We are getting estimates from different kitchen remodelers.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      For these lower price point lines we really the the Fabuwood line we carry. The cabinetry is better made and more stylish. Clique Studios od 6 Square the dealer version is also a good choice. There are many, many, well made cabinets at higher price points but not too many at the lower price points.

  26. Cheryl

    Looking at kitchen cabinets By Koch, and haven’t seen this Kansas company mentioned. Also considering Shennandoah or Kraft Maid with upgrades to plywood-and a durable painted finish. Your suggestions.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Don’t know Koch and their web site doesn’t have much information. Kraftmaid and Shenandoah at Lowes are good choices upgraded to plywood. Kraftmaid the better and more expensive.

  27. Charlene

    Hi, we are remodeling and adding bathrooms and an office. The cabinet lines we are considering are:
    Decora
    Diamond
    Signature by Omega
    Homecrest
    Brookwood
    Ultracraft
    Norcraft
    Kitchencraft
    From reading your blog, I know that you like Decora. Is that the best brand listed? We do not want the frameless look. Thanks for your input!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Charlene,
      If we gave out awards for comments yours would win! Yes I feel that is the best line you listed. Thanks for reading through all the responses to get your answer. When people are that through it is always a good sign.
      Best of luck with your kitchen!
      Paul

  28. ally

    I fell in love with a Starmark cabinet at s showroom and felt that it had nice construction quality. Subsequently, my contractor suggested Fieldstone or Medallion Gold cabinets. I have a hard time finding a good sampling of reviews in these two lines. Does anyone have experience or info to share on build quality and longevity of the products? Thanks.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Starmark and Fieldstone used to be made in the same plant. I don’t know if that’s still the case but they are very similar. And son is Medallion. All these lines need to be upgraded to 1/2″ plywood sides.

  29. Sandy

    We are looking for new hones and considering buying new construction from a well known builder in the area. I was shown one of his homes that was nearly done, and did not like the kitchen cabinets he offers as standard. He uses Aristocraft. He stated that he does do all wood and dovetails for drawers but that the cabinets will have particle board boxes. He offered that if there was an alternate brand I wanted he could consider it, but I worry about upgrade expenses. I find the whole process very intimidating and the builder shares only the minimum necessary info on what he puts into the house. Is there a list I can provide to help me state what my minimum requirements are for cabinetry, and then easily be able to find a brand that would check off those items on the list but not break the bank in terms of upgrade fees? He does not do business like some builders do by providing an allowance for the kitchen and allowing me to select the brand/vendor so I can try to get what i want under that amount. My guess is he is protecting whatever margin he can? Your site is great in that it gives sold things to ask for…but there are so many brands and so much info out there. not sure how to make sure I don’t get hooked into paying too much?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      The problem with most builders is that they intentionally make the cabinets in their homes lower grade and then triple and quadruple the costs to upgrade them as a way to make a larger profit. Aristocraft often referred to as “Aristocrap” by kitchen designers is a builder favorite. Better made cabinetry in all plywood construction in reality probably costs 20% more but builders will make it double. Or a cabinet line like Fabuwood that we sell is almost the same price and comes with thicker sides and backs in all plywood construction, but only in birch wood. Worst of all is that the builders that use these cabinet lines also usually have terrible designs.

  30. Sharon

    Is there a way to estimate cabinet costs? I got a quote of $34K for a 20×20 kitchen using Crystal cabinets. What’s the best way to compare to other cabinet brands – can it be done oneline or do I just have to talk to several KD and get their estimate?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      HI Sharon,
      Crystal is a custom cabinet line and you probably picked an expensive door style like an inset style. You need a floor plan with cabinetry specs to compare apples to apples. But you need to work with a designer that will explain what you are paying for and why you need to be in one cabinet line over another. Kitchens are too complicated to compare this way. Interview several kitchen designers designers to find a good one and look for a dealer that sells a broad spectrum of cabinets to fit every price point. There are fine cabinets that will be very similar in construction to Crystal that will easily be half the cost.

  31. Alison

    I have narrowed the cabinets to Decora and Kraftmaid. Which do you think is the better choice?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Alison,
      Both are good choices. If the prices are from two different dealers I’d pick the dealer with the best reputation. Otherwise pick the door style, color, or price that you like best.

  32. Lola

    Lola, Oakland Co MI Cabinets offered in my area #1 contractor – Merrillat, Dura & Marsh Tenton 1 by Marsh Furniture Co.
    #2 Kraftmaid, Ultracraft, Quality, Wellborn
    #3 Pioneer, StarMark and SMART
    #4 Kitchen Craft, Dynasty, Omega, Kemper & Decora
    Please rate these for me, just beginning to select contractor and cabinets.

    Thank you.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Wellborn, Kraftmaid and Decora are the best choices listed.

  33. kevinrustvold@gmail.com

    If framed cabinetry is more durable that frame-less why is most all institutional casework in schools, hospitals, commercial, severe use, is frame less built out of 3/4″ melamine covered particle board.

    Most plywood used in the cabinet industry currently comes from China, where forests are cut to produce it. particle board AKA furniture board, is made from by wood products and reclaimed material, a much more sustainable method.

    Both Plywood and Particle board purchased through reputable sources are C.A.R.B. 2 compliant.

    I have been in the cabinet industry for 35 years, and plywood cabinets for residential use, is only a perceived value, not a real one.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Kevin,
      To answer your question. Yes institutions do use frameless cabinetry quite often because it is cheep to make and easy to clean when the surfaces are laminated. However high stress areas like Shop classrooms, Home Economics classrooms, and Chemistry classroom labs are more often done in more durable framed cabinetry in the US. The people choosing the products that are installed in commercial settings are often not very informed about the advantages of one form of construction over another. Which isn’t really surprising since there is little literature and never any studies done comparing cabinet durability as this would upset many cabinet companies.

      Most plywood used in the US is still from renewable US forests and even if there is some perceived “green” advantage to using particle board or MDF I believe it is negated by the fact that a frameless kitchen will last such a shorter length of time. I have also been in our industry a similar length of time and the one thing I have learned is that most of the information we have available to us as designers and cabinet professionals is propaganda.

      Having an engineering background and being a general contractor prior to becoming strictly a designer and cabinet salesperson for the last 20 years has given me a better perspective on cabinet longevity then most people in our industry. And since my company sells both framed and frameless cabinetry it actually hurts my business giving our customers an honest appraisal of what I believe to be true. Nearly all the most knowledgeable people I have met agree on this point even if many won’t express the belief to their customers fearing that they will alienate the portion of their customer base that is attracted to European construction.

      I DO believe that the most modern and contemporary slab door styles should be sold only in frameless construction since the gaps between doors and drawer fronts look so much better being tighter. And of course this is the only way these styles are sold which makes sense. Expecting these contemporary kitchens to last like a better made framed kitchen though is not realistic. As one of my customers said when he bought a frameless kitchen from me “If I can have the style I like and it lasts 20 years I will consider that a success.” He also said that assuming he was still alive, after 20 years he would be ready to move, and that the new owners could do the kitchen of their own dreams.

  34. Teresa

    pmcalary, you mentioned Fabuwood cabinets are CARB compliant. Do you have a link to the details? I’ve been looking for CARB compliance on Fabuwood but can’t find any info on it. Also, you said not to buy from the value line. Why is that? You also said to buy them already assembled. Why do you recommend that? Thank you!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Teresa,
      Your Fabuwood dealer can supply the documentation for Fabuwood’d Carb 2 compliance. They have been so since March 2014. The value line needs to be upgraded to soft close drawers and doors. If it is, I think the construction is fine. Buying the cabinetry unassembled means that how well the cabinet is built is left to someone less familiar putting the cabinets together. Dealers that do this themselves usually are less professional and contractors that want to do this will be hit and miss. That really is the greatest problem with Fabuwood as a company. They will sell to small dealers that don’t know what they are doing. This ruins the cabinet companies reputation for all the more professional dealers. It’s really quite a bad business model on Fabuwood’s part and I know many other dealers that are frustrated by this as well.

  35. Sally

    Thank you Paul. I appreciate your feedback.

  36. sally

    Hi Paul! I finally discovered your site and blog last night. I wished I had found it months ago. We are in the middle of a huge home reno project in GA. New kitchen, baths, etc. We have a lot of cabinetry desired (big kitchen, three baths, butler’s pantry, laundry, office cabinetry). Our GC originally suggested to use two of her local custom cabinet makers, but in the end I just did not feel comfortable with them because their prices were very low and a number of my friends were unhappy with their true custom cabinets due to paint finish, etc… We polled many of our friends and they had gone the semi-custom route and were happy with them.

    I visited the showroom that was recommended by a friend and the brands offered there were Kemper, KitchenCraft, Omega… I actually paid them to do tech drawings for me and they gave us prices for Kemper, but then they told us it was not worth to upgrade to plywood boxes (which we thought was odd) and they suggested Purestyle for our kid’s bath vanity and laundry.

    Another friend suggested the designer that she used for her home, who reps Bremtown and I think a line called Cuisine Ideal. We provided her our designs and she priced out in Bremtown.

    One of my tile showrooms just added a cabinet showroom and they wanted to price cabinets for me. They priced Decora (but also offer Schrock).

    I have been talking to CliqStudios as well, and they have priced my plans and sent me samples, but I am weary about them because of being online.

    Basically, it looks as if Kemper, Bremtown and Decora are very similar in price. My budget will not allow me to do all my cabinetry from one of these companies, so I was thinking about using one of them or a similar company for my kitchen and butlers pantry (butlers pantry will probably be stained and possible inset shaker drawers). Kitchen will be painted shaker style cabinets, probably overlay doors, and island may be stained cabinetry or may be painted but similar stytle.

    I was thinking about using CliqStudios for the three bath vanities and maybe my painted office built-in.

    What do you think about the above? This is a big project for us and we will be in this home until we die, so I want to do it right. I need to order my cabinets today, last week, the week before…but I have been dragging my feet on making a decision because I have not truly feel comfortable with one yet. Your advice is appreciated.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Clique Studios are fine cabinets especially for a bath. You just don’t have the comfort of dealing with a local company if there are damages etc. 6 Square sold in showrooms is the same thing as the Clique Studios. We sell 6 Square for the same price that you can get it on line so possible another dealer near you does too. Bremtown for the same price as Decora is quite a deal by the way. Bremtown is a full custom line with furniture grade finishes.

  37. Vikki

    What do you know about Eastman cabinets? Also, do you know if a built in corner pantry (4 x 4 square with truncated front) would give more space than regular cabinets in the same place? Thank you!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Vikki,
      I have never heard of either Eastman Cabinets or a 4 x 4 pantry. Considering how long I have been in the industry and the power of a Google search that doesn’t bode well for either. Certainly the pantry would be very difficult to access in the corners so someone would have to make custom lazy susans for the cabinet to be useful. However it sounds like a giant, expensive, custom, waste.

      One issue with custom cabinets is that if a cabinet isn’t made by any non custom cabinet companies then there is probably a good reason. Designers that try to invent cabinetry are usually the least and not the most gifted. I’d be wary of any designer proposing this cabinet behemoth. I can easily see the designer not accounting for getting the cabinet into the room or being able to stand it up once it is inside the space.

  38. pam

    I am hoping to get your thoughts about Shiloh cabinetry. It is made in the Midwest and I have seen no specific questions regarding this line. You seem quite knowledgeable and a straight shooter. Thanks for your impute.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I don’t know where Shiloh prices out so I can’t advise you on what kind of value they are, but from the web site it appears that they have very nice door styles and finishes but are constructed slightly less durably then we recommend. All in all possibly a fine choice if you aren’t looking for 40 years of durability. With such nice finishes and less emphasis on construction they are a cabinet line trying to appeal to the new home builder market.

  39. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Sorry,
    Those kinds of questions are too difficult to address without seeing and measuring the kitchen

  40. S Rayc

    Hi, I have got some initial kitchen design. One of the things that we wanted to change is that I currently have 30 inch cabinets on the upper side ( above counter top) and we wanted to make it go up to the ceiling with a small crown molding near the ceiling. One issue we have with that is that our range hood duct has to go out through the cabinets on the top. Have you faced this problem before ? Currently the space between my countertop and the start of the upper cabinets is 19 inches and then from there to the ceiling is 42 inches.

  41. Nick Tanzi

    Hi Jim, struggling a little with my cabinet decision. I am working with a good designer and I have narrowed my decision down to a framed cabinet from either Ultracraft or Decora. I know they are both owned by Mastercraft but it seems from my research that Decora has a slightly better reputation for quality. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Nick,
      Masterbrands makes these lines and as far as I know Ultrcraft is a frameless line only. Decora is the only truly well made cabinet by Masterbrands.

  42. Jim

    We are looking at InnerMost cabinets, which are sold by home depot. We wish we were closer to Philly to use you guys, but we’re not. It looks like Inner Most is made by Elkay same company as Schuler, Yorktowne, etc. however, we have found some pretty bad reviews. Any thoughts? Thanks! We were planning to go with frameless and all plywood boxes.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Jim,
      It looks like Innermost is a better constructed frameless line. However I would never use a frameless line unless I had to have an ultra contemporary kitchen which would only come in frameless cabinetry. Other wise, why purchase a less durably constructed product? There are framed lines less expensive and better made. Working with a Home Depot designer is not the best idea when the product has issues that the designer probably won’t understand and compensate for. Sometimes I get an inkling that a design is likely to have more serious problems then the cabinetry line and you are setting off my kitchen design warning bells. Feel free to send me your design to look at and see if you have any serious red flags. My email is paul@mainlinekitchendesign.com

  43. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    The Library page of our web site has a reference library listed on the right side of the page that has answers to many cabinet and design questions. The Library page on our web site is also the location of all of our blogs. Most of these blogs answer important questions about cabinets, design, and construction.

    How to design a great kitchen takes many years to learn, assuming you have a natural ability in the profession. Otherwise it is impossible since every kitchen is different and finding the solution to the puzzle of a particular space will elude most designers. Howerver, all the good designers will gravitate to the same layout. Because every kitchen is so complicated giving simplistic advice on what will work best in anyone’s kitchen isn’t useful. But we can quite easily tell you what are common mistakes designers make. Below are some serious and some funny examples of what not to do. Our YouTube page has videos on some of the same topics.

    https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/category/9-kitchen-design-mistakes/

    https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/famous-tv-kitchens-with-problems/

    https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/crazy-construction-mistakes/

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

    Here is our YouTube page address:
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC66UOd1uKrI7RtQYoAYsNBw

  44. S Rayc

    Thank you once again for your response on Green Forest. You have emphasized many times the importance of a kitchen designer and kitchen design. This may not be easy to discern for me. Would you be able to point me out to any article that you may have written or someone else may have written on kit eg design that can help me. I am currently waiting for the design from my kitchen designer.

  45. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    I looked up Green Forest and they are a RTA cabinet line. I always would have the cabinet company assemble the cabinetry. Green Forrest cabinetry doesn’t look badly constructed it looks well constructed, but many of the door styles are standard overlay which most people don’t like. When a cabinet line is that out of touch with the market they could be a bad company to work with. Also in the cabinet industry “green” often means “no greener than anybody else and a rip off”. But those are just opinions based on nothing more than a feeling. I have never seen a Green Forest cabinet.

  46. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    I only know that Green Forest is an import and not the quality.

  47. S Rayc

    I have got in touch with a local Fabuwood dealer and their kitchen designer. Let’s see what we get. In the meantime, someone else has suggested a cabinet line called Green Forest. Would you know about this line ?

  48. PSHIN

    I would like to know which cabinetry is a better brand between Schuler, Dura supreme, or Kraft maid vantage. Also if its better to upgrade to all wood ?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      All the lines should be upgraded to all plywood construction. Kraftmaid is the best constructed, Schuler has the nicest finishes and DuraSupreme we would not recommend as a company. We used to carry their cabinetry and they did not stand behind their products.

  49. S Rayc

    Thank you very much for your response and advice. Will my dealer able to get cabinetry assembled by Fabuwood and deliver to me ? Would you be able to suggest any good Fabuwood dealers in the Washington DC metro area ?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi,
      Any Fabuwood dealer can order the cabinets assembled. I will say that one of the issues with Fabuwood is that they are not picky about who there dealers are so I would buy the cabinets from a reputable showroom and not a contractor or small lumber yard. You might pay a little bit more depending on the dealer but no dealer could be too much more than another and still successfully sell the cabinetry. We have sold cabinetry in DC but it is not an ideal situation to be designing a kitchen remotely. If you can find a reputable Fabuwood dealer locally that has an experienced kitchen designer I would try their first. If you aren’t happy with a dealer you could call us and we could ask you some questions and determine if selling you a kitchen could make sense long distance.

  50. S Rayc

    I am planning to remodel my kitchen and would like white color cabinets. I am trying to choose between Merillat Masterpiece or Fabuwood or Woodharbor. Can you please share your thoughts.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      This one’s not even close. Fabuwood hands down is the better product of the three. Just don’t get the value line cabinetry and make sure you buy the cabinetry assembled by Fabuwood.

  51. Jennifer

    Hello, like most others, I am overwhelmed by cabinets and kitchen lay out. I need advice! Here are some of my questions/concerns:
    1) I was told by a Master Brand dealer that Diamond and Thomasville and Kemper are all the exact same thing. Really?

    2) I am seriously considering Brighton Cabinetry from Cabinet Discounters. Is this a well made, good value line? Or should I consider one of the Master Brand lines, or Kraft Maid (a splurge for us). ?

    3. I’ve hired and worked with 4 designers over 3 years. In the end, none of them seem to have good solutions for my problem areas. Can you review the plans that I have from them?

    4. What do you think of designers who harp and harp that the one large upper cabinet you desire is a mistake and visually you need to have two smaller cabinets? I want one cabinet because, as someone with ADHD, the logistics of putting away dishes makes more sense.

    Thank you for your feedback. I have stopped and started this project so many times due to its overwhelming that I want to cry.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Jennifer,
      Those Masterbrand lines are all made the same and not very well unless you upgrade to all plywood construction with at least 1/2 inch thick plywood back. Brighton is a better line than the Masterbrand lines. You don’t say how tall your door is but wall cabinet doors taller then 42″ are not attractive, will warp over time and make no storage sense ADHD or not. You can email me a plan to review. I no longer have the time to redesign plans but I can alert you tp potential problems.
      paul@MainLineKitchenDesign.com

  52. Lisa Mack

    Thanks for the note! I’m about 6 hours from Philly and none of your brands have dealers around here. I just went to Lowes to get a price on Kraftmaid with the plywood upgrade and it wasn’t much cheaper for the same kitchen than the medallion/schuler. They also won’t do an MDF center panel on the door apparently which I was looking for since we are going with white painted cabinets. I appreciate your time. Thank you.

  53. Lisa Mack

    schuler, omega dynasty, starmark, medallion, showcase, or start over? Looking for painted white cabinets, full overlay. Not in your service area or would make an appt! Thanks for your advice.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Lisa,
      We can travel as far as 3 hours from Philadelphia to measure if you are somewhat close to us. But your designs would need to be done via email which isn’t ideal. Upgraded to the best construction available all those lines are well made with the possible exception of Showplace that I am less familiar with. Actually Schuler and Medallion are the same brand. Lowes just renames the line. Shenandoah also sold at Lowes is actually the same line as Timberlake and American Woodmark. All of the cabinet lines you are looking at are relatively expensive Kraftmaid also sold at Lowes is less expensive than Schuler and actually better made. Of course getting a good design and designer is the advice we stress above the cabinet line.

  54. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    MAKitchen You must upgrade Fieldstone to a 3/4″ back panel otherwise it is 1/4″ and will fall apart quickly. With that done and all the lines upgraded to 1/2″ plywood sides they are all great choices. Pick the style and color you like best or feel the finishes – the ones that are smoothest will wear better.

  55. MAkitchen

    Thanks! Any idea how plain and fancy might compare to candlelight and fieldstone? All 3 pricing about the same from 3 different designers in our area. Thank tou!

  56. terry

    We have all granite counters that I do not want to chance being ruined. So I would like to order cabinets and use the outsides and cut them to fit on what I have on the bottom and replace drawer fronts etc. and replace the top cabinets completely. Have you ever heard of anyone doing that? I hate to demolish the kitchen.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Terry- This is not a good idea. You can call a refacing company to reface your cabinets but that is not usually a good investment. It is also a very difficult do it yourself project.

  57. MAkitchen

    Trying to compare candlelight vs fieldstone cabinets – inset, white painted finish, shaker style for large new construction kitchen- thoughts please?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      If you upgrade just to all plywood construction Candlelight is a better made cabinet since the back panel is 1/2″ plywood vs Fieldstone’s very poor 1/4″ back panel. However Fieldstone has the option to upgrade to a 3/4″ back panel. You MUST do this if you decide on Fieldstone. I think a 1/2″ panel is sufficient and both cabinet lines have nice finishes so I would get the cabinet that the kitchen designer recommends since he or she will have experience working with both companies. I have sold Fieldstone and they were fine to work with but nothing special. I know less about Candlelight although the company has a good reputation in the industry.

  58. Kathryn

    Hello,

    My sister and her husband are looking at remodeling their kitchen. My brother-in-law found an inexpensive cabinet line by Heritage Cabinets at a local Surplus Warehouse. I worked as a kitchen designer for a few years at a Lowes, so I have some knowledge, but by no means am I an expert. Looking at the size of the kitchen, the features they want, and the budget they have I have shown them Diamond Prelude and Shenandoah (the main line) at Lowes. We have also looked at Kemper Echo at ProSource. On top of all of this they met with a custom cabinet maker without me, so I have not info on them. The Kemper Echo, Diamond Prelude, and Shenandoah kitchens all come in within $800 of each, but they are all $3000 over Heritage. My brother-in-law keeps asking if the quality is worth $3000 more, but I don’t know anything about Heritage Cabinets and without seeing an actually cabinet that is not installed I hate to make a judgement. Do you know anything about Heritage Cabinets?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Kathryn,
      Of these lines Shenandoah is the best constructed if you upgrade to all plywood construction. But more importantly, today there are many cabinet lines that are less inexpensive and better made than any of these lines. Fabuwood is one that we carry but there are many others. It is sad though that we get asked about cabinet quality almost daily, but our main message that the most important thing customers should be focusing on is finding the best kitchen designer to work with, is dismissed by nearly everyone asking questions.

      Almost every design we see from people focusing on cabinet construction is terrible when we get an opportunity to review it. The designs are usually not very functional, are unattractive, and often dangerous.

      As someone once in the kitchen world I would try to help your family find a knowledgeable extremely experienced Kitchen Design professional to work with. If you send me a floor plan of their kitchen I could tell you what’s bad about their design but I have stopped making recommendations about how to fix mistakes because it seems to just encourage people to take my suggestions and ignore my more important advice which is to get the best professional help possible when planning the largest home improvement project most people will undertake in their lifetime. Here is a funny video on this topic:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxJgxCeeNTo
      Cheers,
      Paul

  59. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    There are many well made lines less expensive then those lines. We carry Bishop and Brighton but Kraftmaid and the only Masterbrands line that I like, Decora, are both very popular less expensive and far better made.

  60. Feinerman

    Thank you pmcalary for your response regarding Starmark and omega dynasty cabinets.
    What brands do you suggest that a good solid construction at reasonable price.

  61. MJ

    Wow! We wished that we came across your website prior to making our semi-final decision to go with Diamond Cabinets sold by Lowes. Nonetheless, we specified an all plywood construction. Should we do more to ensure an all plywood build. We came across the product specification guide on the Diamond website (http://www.diamondcabinets.com/~/media/Diamond/Documents/Diamond_Spec_Guide_2016.pdf). Is this what you were talking about? Please help because we are worried that our $20K plus investment may not be worth $10K. What is the general standard for the bottom of the drawer. According to Diamond, they offer 5.2 mm laminated plywood whereas Kraftmaid offers 3/16 inches of plywood. Is this sufficient for supporting large cast iron pots in large drawers. We were told that it was fine. Thanks.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi MJ,
      I think you will be fine. Diamond has dramatically improved their cabinet construction the last few years. They still must be upgraded to plywood construction to be a well made cabinet. The backs of their cabinets are still 3/8″ plywood as opposed to the solid wood 3/4″ hanging rails on Krafmaid or Shenandoah also sold at Lowes. Better construction would be 1/2″ plywood backs. For example the least expensive line that we carry Fabuwood makes their cabinet with a 1/2″ plywood back and it is about 40% less than Diamond. Still Diamond has some nice finishes.

      I wish designers at the Home Centers would inform their customers about the better made products that they each carry but often the designers are very inexperienced. More concerning is that the drawings we see from home centers are usually full of serious design mistakes so not explaining the merits of one type of construction over another might be the least of the worries for customers buying cabinetry at Lowes and the Home Depot.

      There are some very good designers at home centers but the are rare and the exception to the rule. Most kitchen designers aren’t very good as it is, which is another problem. But the better kitchen designers working at home centers usually move on to dealers and showrooms as soon as they get enough experience.

  62. Feinerman

    I’m looking at both Starmark and Omega Dynasty cabinets for my kitchen. Which is the better construction and value and why.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Both of these expensive lines could be better made. Starmark uses a 1/4″ back panel as shown on their web site. I would not use any cabinet with less than a 3/8″ plywood back or a solid wood hanging rail. Better made cabinet lines use a 1/2″ plywood back or the solid wood hanging rail.
      Omega Dynasty is a Masterbrands cabinet. Masterbrands makes a point out of not advertising how their cabinets are made which I find creepy, especially since they have a terrible reputation when it comes to construction quality. I can only go by memory that Dynasty uses a 3/8″ back. Both of these lines are over priced in my opinion and neither has the minimal construction I would require is an expensive cabinet line.

  63. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Fabuwood is an inexpensive line that specializes in well constructed cabinetry. The prices are affordable because the styles and finishes are limited and because the cabinet fronts are made in China while the cabinets are assembled in New Jersey. Fabuwood uses the best track and hinges that are also used in all the custom cabinet lines. The cabinetry is all plywood construction and Carb compliant.

  64. Bob bernet

    Fabuwood cabinets where do they stand quality wise and price range ? Are they in mid range or higher end cabinets ? Thanks

  65. Bob bernet

    Thanks for your help

  66. PAUL MCALARY

    We carry and like Fabuwood. I’ve never heard of A 1 cabinets. For the price you can’t really go wrong with Fabuwood.

  67. Bob Bernet

    Hello, we looked at fabuwood and A 1 cabinets . What do suggest ? We like off white cabintes . Its a big kitchen remodling project . Thanks for the previous response . It helped

  68. John

    Hi, we are in the process of bidding out our kitchen remodel. We have narrowed it down to Star Mark, Homecrest, Kraftmaid and J & K cabinets. Any suggestions/insight

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Kraftmaid or StarMark

  69. Al

    Omg… Your a moron. Who do you think your talking to. Your not a professional. There’s no school or digree for what you do. And I have 20 years in… That’s called EXPERIENCE. Your like a bad car salesman. It takes 0 background to do your job. Your not even in my part of the country nor do you have a clue as to what is even being done. I ask you a simple question and this is your response?
    Are you a bot? Is this some automated response. You just proved you are a total car salesman.
    There is NOTHING that makes you the person with the answers. Oh I’m sorry, it’s impossible for anyone but you to lay out a kitchen… So basically everyone who comes on this site with an idea on how they want their kitchen is a moron and your gods gift to layouts?
    Have you ever in your life even installed a cabinet, or been involved with tearing out and old ugly kitchen or bath and did all the necessary alterations to bring it up to code? And then completely change the structure of the home to make that open layout concept and make a new beautiful room even possible? No you haven’t. You sell cabinets over the Internet. And you had the chance to answer a legit professionals question about cabinet quality… and instead skipped the answer and went straight to sell sell sell. I almost made a mistake and gave this site respect. And by the way… I got the message the first 20 responses to people here “get upgraded to solid 1/2″plywood frame and 3/4” dovetail draws with soft close… You only said the exact same thing to every person on her as if you were saying it for the first time you pompous salesman.
    Do yourself a favor – shhhhhh

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I am approving Al’s comment and allowing it to be posted even though it is a little over the top. It is very common opinion that kitchen designers face every day. While Al believes I am arrogant, most kitchen designers believe it is very arrogant to think, like Al, that you can do our jobs better than we can after we work at it exclusively for decades. After being a general contractor for ten years I also thought I would know most of what I needed to be a kitchen designer. I quickly learned that kitchen design is a complicated and creative profession. I now believe that it takes at least ten years of working as a kitchen designer to even become competent. I have been a kitchen designer for 20 years and the designs I create today are far better than the designs I did even just a few years ago. Learning hopefully never stops.

  70. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Al,
    From what you say I can guarantee that I can find 5 things I would change that professionals all consider mistakes in your floor plan. Be brave and send me your floor plan and I will try to be gentile with the errors that happen when someone with a tiny portion of the experience a true professional has, creates what they always believe is an inspired “kitchen”.
    Sorry but we have a video about people that think like this. Link below:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxJgxCeeNTo

  71. Allen

    I can appreciate your ability to lay out a floor plan… But I laid out my own floor plan. I’ve been in the plumbing business for over 20 years and I’m only 37. I’m second generation and have remodeled so many kitchens and bathrooms I can’t put a number on it. I’ve worked with every kind of contractor, interior designer, cabinet show room dealers, do it yourselfers, and just been flat out asked to lay out kitchens and baths for people including everyone I stated above. I’ve seen it all from things that work beautifully to total hack and nightmare jobs. People who are open to suggestions, are not open, and don’t need them because their layout was beautiful. I’ve stepped in and flat out stopped people form making colossal mistakes even when the GC wouldn’t step up and tell them himself.
    There’s no real schooling for designing the PERFECT layout for a space. It’s an art. Not everyone can draw, not everyone can paint, and most people do NOT posses the ability to see something in their mind.
    My father forced me into this trade cause he’s oldschool. But I write screenplays and draw as a passion… And in the trades- the design is the only part that requires an artistic ability.
    If you saw all my layouts from the last 5 years you’d hire me in a second. And I could line up references as long as the day. You have to feel the flow of the room, it must all work together.
    I would love to share any photos I have to show you and all my software designs…. Ya I’m not really suppose to be a plumber.
    You can always offer choices to the customer… But realistically there is only one right layout for a space and it will crate itself… you just have to see it.
    Sorry if that came off cocky and defensive… I know you ment nothing negative buy you concerns.
    But I definitely want and appreciate your thoughts on the cabinet deals I could have (and yes I will do EVERY upgrade, it’s been my ability to listen if you can believe it, that’s made me who I am) I just don’t want to make a mistake thinking its a deal worth buying and buy crap.

    Making the design work for the space: nice…
    Knocking down walls, bringing in the natural light and creating the space first: PRICELESS.
    GET ME MY PAINT BRUSH SHAPED LIKE A SLEDGE HAMMER!!!!

    Let me know if you want pics I’d love to hear from you on that, all the people I work with can’t stand next to me.
    Thanks, Al.

  72. Allen

    I’m in a position to get all my cabinets Homecrest and all the upgrades and all the bells and whistles… But I am paying cost. NO up charge from the dealer. He’s a friend and I’m in the trades and I traded work for getting them at cost. I could get Schrock at about a 10% markup because that dealer is also a personal friend.
    Also I have 8 year old Showplace cabinets: framed, dovetail draws, no slow close, and not plywood box… and I have 3 kids 6, 4, 2 and the cabinets in my opinion have held up pretty good. I’d say most of the wear and tear that’s noticeable is from us, not from poor quality. I mean if you plan on using your cabinets people- and not just going to stare at them for the next 10’years then you and if you have kids especially are going to bang them up… I could get showplace again with upgrades but I would only get about 10% off… Because that dealer is family not a friend ?
    Anyways just thought I’d let anyone know about my showplace cabs and what you thought about my option deals with Homecrest and possibly Schrock.
    Buying SOON so let me know soon if you can, thanks!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Tough call. Showplace is the better cabinet. I’ll bet if we saw your design though you would have bigger issues. If you want to email it to us we can tell you what cabinets should cost and also the biggest issues with the design are. People ask our advice constantly about cabinet quality, but we almost never see even a competent design when we see their floor plans. All your cabinet choices are fine upgraded to plywood and 1/2 inch sides. You floor plan will most likely have serious issues only because 90% of the ones we see do.

  73. Ellen Venturino

    Hello, what do you think of the ovation, wood-mode and Brookhaven brands?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I don’t know Ovation well so I don’t know how the back of their framed cabinet is made. A solid wood hanging rail or 1/2 in Plywood for the entire back is the preferred method of construction. When cabinet lines don’t show their construction on their web site it makes me suspicious. Wood-mode and Brookhaven a great cabinets, upgrade to all plywood.

  74. Debra Rodriguez

    I’m looking at Schrock cabinetry and I didn’t see any comments about that line in your blog. Can you provide your thought about Schrock?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Here’s the problem with Schrock and most Masterbrands lines of cabinetry.

      Masterbrands is a huge cabinet conglomerate consisting of many different cabinet lines and Schrock is one of them. In the past Masterbrands specialized in poorly constructed cabinet lines with 1/3″ sides and sometimes 1/4″ backs with the exception of their Dacora line. Cabinets came with this flimsy construction and even particle board sides and backs unless upgraded. Builders often used these lines because they didn’t care about construction quality. The web sites of these lines told little about cabinet construction because up until recently there was nothing positive to tell. Today many of these lines now offer upgrades to a well constructed cabinet with 1/2″ plywood sides but the web sites are still not transparent as far as how the cabinets are constructed.
      So it is difficult to know what can be upgraded and what needs to be upgraded in many Masterbrands cabinet lines unless you are a dealer. This is why I am not a fan of Masterbrands as a company in general. They creep me out a little.
      Schrock was a cabinet line that only came in 1/3″ sides in the past. I do like their finishes and I have been told that they can now be upgraded to a well constructed cabinet. But since I can’t see exactly how and their web site isn’t transparent about their construction I still wouldn’t buy them personally. And I don’t like dealing with companies that operate this way. Being honest and transparent is the sign of a good company. Generalizations and talks of high quality without specifics is what bad companies specialize in.

  75. MB Meyer

    I am looking at waypoint, kraftmaid at a local cabinet maker vs using Home Depot Kraftmaid or Thomasville I am trying to stay on a tight budget and am gong for natural maple wood cabinets. Which brand would you recommend?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Kraftmaid is the best cabinet you are considering.It is the same cabinetry at a home center and an independent dealer. The doorstyle names are changed and a few are exclusive to each location. However, you usually find more knowledgeable designers at dealers and that can be more important than the cabinets you buy. Waypoint is less expensive but made well. Don’t buy Thomasville they are overpriced and are a Home Depot gimmick. Thomasville are repackaged Yorktowne cabinets – an inferior line given a misleading name by an unscrupulous home center.

  76. Director of Marketing

    Showplace cabinetry has always been all plywood construction and an upgrade to 1/2″ end panels has been available for quite some time. The 1/2″ end panel was recently improved to become standard if a natural birch interior is chosen. 5/8″ flush ends are also possible.

  77. Bob bernet

    Hello, we are remodling our kichen , what do your thoughts of aspect,current , merillat, shilo, cabinets . Then we went to anothershow room called cabinetry and granite depot . They carry procraft ( i loved the plain design smooth front look to ) and they also have shepard ( very reasonable priced ) . What are your thoughts on procraft and shepard cabinetry ? Thanks

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Procraft has 5/8″ shelves the mark of a poorly made cabinet and Shepard I have never heard of and there is no Shepard web site so that’s not a good sign. Detailed questions you can call if you like.

  78. Ken Eastwood

    Have you heard of Mauser cabinets? There seems to be very little out there about this brand.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Mauser is a well made cabinet line. I’m not sure where they fall price wise. Since they do inset cabinetry they will be at the higher end of the cabinet spectrum. I would prefer their framed line to their frameless line.

  79. Rich

    You mentioned that Bremtown cabinets are good quality but comparatively expensive. What cabinets would you recommend that are comparable in quality and finish but less expensive?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I don’t know that most customers could tell the difference in quality from any high end semi-custom cabinet line to a full custom line. So Kraftmaid or Brookhaven or our Brighton or Bishop lines would serve most customers as well as a custom line.

  80. Vidya

    Hello
    I wanted to know what the quality difference is between Kraftmaid all wood and Mid-continent all wood vanity. We are redoing our bathroom. Thank you

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Kraftmaid is far better

  81. Traci

    We are remodeling our kitchen. Which is the best cabinet choices (Schuller, KraftMaid, Shenandoah, Diamond, or Eurostyle by Fabric. Thanks.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Sounds like you are at Lowes. Kraftmaid is the best value and the best made. Schuller has nicer finishes and is more expensive but not constructed quite as well. Make sure if you order Schuler to upgrade to their top construction.

  82. Mildred

    We are comparing Medallion cabinets at Menards to the top of the line KraftMaid at a Kitchen & Bath business. what are your thoughts?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Medallion has nicer finishes and is usually more expensive but Kraftmaid is a sturdier constructed line. Make sure you upgrade Medallion to their best construction and Kraftmaid to at least plywood sides. I’d get what I liked best in a toss up or all things being equal Kraftmaid if the price is less.

  83. Vivi

    Hello
    Can you tell me if Mid Continent cabinets are a good line of cabinets?
    We are looking to redoing our bathroom and need a vanity and linen tower. It is going to be painted. We are looking for all wood construction.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      We carry Mid Continent. The cabinetry is well constructed if upgraded but the finishes are a little rougher. For a painted finish I would worry that in a kitchen they would get dirty faster over a long period. For this reason we usually use other lines for a painted finish needing to last decades. However a bathroom has much less grease and dirt so Mid continent would be a good value.

  84. HeatherC

    We had a brand new custom kitchen made for us and have to take it all out as it was all made cheaply and incorrectly. We are now faced with buying new cabinets and I am really confused and nervous about what cabinets to buy. Our limit is in the $15-20K range (we already partially paid for the other kitchen). The brands we are looking at are Timberlake, Waypoint, and Kitchen Kraft, but only because those are what the cabinet companies recommended. We are still in the process of bidding it out but I have read many negative reviews about all of these brands. Since this kitchen remodel has already been a bad experience I want to make sure and put in the correct cabinets. Planning on white shaker cabinets and possibly a stained wood island. Our kitchen is also heavily used! Help!!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Heather,
      I would stop shopping for cabinets and instead shop for a kitchen designer working at a reputable showroom. Getting good professional help will make it easy to select a cabinet line because someone knowledgeable and reputable should have your best interest at heart and can help you spend your money wisely. Houzz.com is a great resource. Just look up kitchen designers in your area or if you tell me where you’re located I can take a look for you. Designers with many 5 star reviews selling multiple cabinet lines is what you should be looking for. Or even calling all the home centers in your area to find the most experienced kitchen designer in the Lowes or Home Depot near you and getting Kraftmaid cabinetry from them isn’t a bad idea.

  85. JoanC

    My KD’s showroom carries Hallmark, Ovation, Crystal and Columbia cabinets. What do you think of these brands in terms of quality and value? I am doing a full kitchen and master bathroom remodel and I want good quality cabinets with good value. My style is transitional leaning towards contemporary, most likely I will go with shaker style doors/drawer fronts.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I like all those lines except Columbia. Crystal is a very nice custom cabinetry line that isn’t too expensive.

  86. David S

    We have been looking at cabinets for our kitchen and at first loved the appearance and extra storage space found in Design Craft cabinets. However, after reading your comments on “frameless cabinets,” we were discouraged from going in that direction. We spoke with our builder about our hesitation and he said that the parent company for Design Craft (Elkay) made fully framed cabinets that had the same finish and appearance as Design Craft. It sounded good until we read your reviews on this brand, Yorktowne. Yorktowne reviews online are completely polarized with only highest and lowest ratings and nothing in between. Is this because shills are writing to counter the genuine reviews? Does it depend on the factory that makes the shelving? One reviewer reported that anyone selling Yorktowne cabinets gets a kickback on the purchase price. This is all very confusing.
    We went to the Yorktowne website and could not find any info on the construction characteristics of the cabinets, which we saw on your website is a red flag. We understand that Yorktowne was once a private company that was bought by Elkay. We were also told that they recently improved their construction and that the new cabinets have better design qualities than used to be the case. Our builder cited the following:
    • 1/2″ thick plywood sides, (Finished sides, Add 1/4″)
    • Fully adjustable, 3/4″ thick plywood* shelving
    • 3/4″ nominal thick solid wood drawer and roll tray sides, backs, and fronts
    • Dovetail construction standard on drawers and roll trays
    • Full extension drawer/roll tray guides with Quiet Close feature
    • Fully concealed 6-way adjustable hinge
    The builder also offers Diamond brand cabinets, which have all the features we want, but the wood on the doors is less appealing.
    Can you offer any guidance in making this decision?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Yorktowne un-upgraded is terrible but they are much better when they are upgraded to the plywood box and soft close drawers. However, Since we don’t carry the brand and they don’t let you see exactly how their cabinets are constructed on their web site (a very bad sign) I don’t know how the backs of the cabinets are made. If they are 1/4″ plywood then that’s terrible. 1/3″ plywood is OK. As an example the least expensive cabinet line we carry, Fabuwood, has a 1/2″ plywood back. In general, the Masterbrands cabinet lines with the exception of Decora aren’t my favorites. The company has over the years been shamed into offering better construction in their cabinet lines but they still don’t let you see how their cabinets are made on most of their websites for the many lines that they own. This lack of transparency gives me the creeps and I will always be skeptical of Masterbrands.

  87. GaryR

    Thanks for the feedback. We’ll definitely go for the drawers. Need to stop by our local dealer and try out the doors again.

  88. GaryR

    We are building a new home (nothing terribly fancy), and our builder offers Homecrest cabinets. We’ve upgraded to the SofTouch drawers, which includes an upgrade to solid wood drawers with dovetail joints. We’re thinking about the SofTouch door option too. Does anybody here have experience with that? Is it worthwhile?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      The soft close doors are nice but not as important as the soft close drawers. I’d splurge and get them. They should cost a couple or at most a few hundred dollars more and are not needed but years from now you will be happy you splurged. Most cabinet lines use Blums soft close hinges which can be turned off if you want to reduce the soft close feature by turning off one hinge on each door.

  89. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    I looked and Haas now has several levels of construction and quality. So upgrading to all plywood construction and solid wood dovetail soft close drawers is something I think always makes sense. The problems you had are still very unusual in any cabinet line. Possibly the factory was having problems. My next pick would be the Bertch.

  90. Racheal

    There were nicks and gouges in the plywood and it was peeling in two different places, the paint was chipping and the paint coverage was terrible, especially on the corners of the doors and drawers. I have decided on a Shaker cabinet with white painted wall cabinets and gray painted island. I would welcome any suggestions you may have. Thanks!

  91. Racheal

    We are currently renovating our kitchen and had decided on Haas cabinets. When our cabinet shipment arrived half of our cabinets (all of which were upgraded) had defects from the factory, so we refused to accept the shipment. Haas has agreed to fix/redo our cabinets, but that is not something I am comfortable with, so we are now faced with reordering cabinets, The other two choices at the local retailer we are using are Bertch and Shiloh. Do you have a recommendation between the two, or should we find a new retailer that carries another cabinet line?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Actually all three of those lines have good reputations. I’m surprised about the Haas cabinets. What was wrong with them? and what kind of style, color, surface are the cabinets you are looking for?

  92. Colhan

    Can you give me your opinion on Bremtown Cabinets? We are renovating our kitchen and their name came up. Also, can you compare a cabinet like Bremtown to a local cabinet maker who finishes the painting onsite (in our kitchen)? I feel like everyone tells me what they want me to hear, and I’m so confused! Thank you!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      We used to carry Bremtown. They are very beautiful but a very expensive cabinet line. Local cabinet makers could never replicate the beauty and durability of a very high end custom cabinet line like Bremtown. That being said the reason we no longer carry Bremtown is that we found other less expensive full custom cabinet lines that have the same construction and almost as impressive finishes for much less. While I can tell the difference between the custom line we now exclusively carry and Bremtown, our customers could not, so we never sold any Bremtown.

      I would never have a small private company make my cabinets. Here is a blog on the topic:

      https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/custom-cabinets-handmade-or-homemade/

  93. Nervous cabinet buyer

    Thank you very much for this blog. In searching the internet I have come across a great deal of information, but yours is a simple and clear. My kitchen designer at a local lumber store has suggested using Shock cabinets. Can you provide any insight on this brand. For what I’ve read definition quality is not great. I would be interested in your assessment. Thanks in advance for your help and keep up the great work

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Schrock cabinets and many of the other Masterbrand cabinet lines have upgraded their construction recently. Partly because the internet is making consumers more aware. Just make sure you upgrade a cabinet to 1/2 inch plywood sides and no less than a 3/8″ thick plywood back with soft close solid wood dovetail drawers. There are less expensive lines that will be better made than Schrock but if you upgrade them, they should be fine. The Decora cabinet line is also a Masterbrands cabinet line that if upgraded to all plywood construction is a VERY well made cabinet.

  94. Haniya

    Our builder has directed us to Homecrest and Waypoint for our kitchen/bathroom cabinets. Thoughts on these?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      These are American made lower price point cabinet companies. Upgraded to plywood I think they are good. But lower price point US made cabinetry can no longer compete with the quality and pricing of some of the lines manufactured in Asia and assembled in the US. We carry Fabuwood but there are several similar lines that will blow the American made cabinetry out of the water in pricing and construction quality. For higher end cabinetry the US rules but at the lower price points I would go Asian.

      But again the most important thing you need to invest wisely in a kitchen and get a great design is a great kitchen designer. And builders are usually the worst kitchen designers followed by architects and interior designers. As with most professions you most do the job full time to get good at it. So find a great kitchen designer and listen to their advice.

  95. dave N Sally

    Looking for awhile at new kitchen cabinets and there’s alot out there. Looking at ultra craft and don’t know if that’s a good cabinet to have put in. Will have contractor do work but was wondering if there’s a good cabinet from menards or lowes that can stand with ultra craft and American made?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Ultracraft is a frameless cabinet. As our article states, frameless cabinetry is less durable then framed cabinetry. So unless you want a very modern door style which would look better in a frameless line I would never buy a Custom frameless cabinet. The kitchen should also be designed by someone that understands that the cabinetry can’t handle as much stress – so no Pantry pull outs or wide doors that put the hinges (which are just in the sides of the cabinets and not attached to solid wood) under stress. Also no drawers wider than 30″ since the tracks are also just attached to a plywood box at best.

      Kraftmaid sold at Lowes is a much better constructed cabinet. Schuler is also better and sold at Lowes and will have as nice finishes as Ultracraft. Make sure to upgrade to all plywood construction.

  96. Jim Williams

    Your comments about masterbrand are somewhat not true….Homecrest offers a 100% all wood box with I bean construction and 1/2 inch sides. You also can flush out and end for 3/4 sides. Your comment of not showing every piece of information I feel is your way of deluting the facts. Cabinet lines offer many platforms of construction and over loading a customer with too much information is in todays world insane….buying cabinets online in my opinion is also crazy….go to a repuatable dealer that can give you personal testimonials of the products they sell on why they use them. Also most interent reviews are negative and that why talking to a factory is also useless. Please do your homework in seeing, touching, and talking to people that have bought the cabinets

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Homecrest and Decora were always the exception to the rule with Masterbrands and well made. Although Asian cabinet lines are a better buy for the quality and pricing of Homecrest. I am still a big fan of Decora though. But when you make as many lines as Masterbrands and Decora and Homecrest are the best you have to offer and as a company you only upgrade to better construction when forced I don’t respect you as a company. To be fair we used to carry DuraSupreme and after working with them I respect Masterbrands far more then DuraSupreme a company whose products we mistakenly sold.

  97. Richard Kaufman

    Thanks for th einformation. We are remodeling and looking for new cabinets and there is so much information available it is hard to determine what is truly correct. We live in Northern California and I have been looking at StarMark, Crystal, wood-mode and Omega (Master Brand) cabinets. We are going for a high end custom kitchen. Are you familiar with the brands I mentioned? If so, do you think they make good product and how would you compare/contrast them?

    Thanks!

    Rich

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      All those brands I like except the Omega. I don’t feel comfortable when a Masterbrands line of cabinets does’t show anywhere on the Omega web site how the cabinets are constructed. Woodmode has a good reputation but doesn’t have anyway for a homeowner to contact the company directly which I don’t like. Crystal and Starmark I have sold and like. Just make sure the sides of the cabinets are at least 1/2″ thick plywood and that the drawers are Blumotion.

  98. Buying Kitchen Cabinets, Beware!

    […] differences in the finish quality. Here is another link explaining about cabinet construction. https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/2015-popular-kitchen-cabinetry-brand-comparison/ A good kitchen designer helps you understand what you are paying for and whether your design really […]

  99. DanielBruce

    Good comparison between different kinds of cabinetry. As users of kitchen Cabinets these explanations will help us to order a good cabinetry from for our kitchen. I am going to make some changes in my kitchen and in those replacing old cabinets with new one also a part. My brother wants to order cabinets from an online store as Builderoutletusa and these info will may help him for order a best cabinets.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Daniel- I notice from your email that your address is from the company you mention and are promoting. Not a great testament to transparency. Although I have never heard of the company I am not getting the warm fuzzys.

  100. Director of Marketing

    This post identifies Showplace cabinets as a brand that can not be upgraded to the specifications used to describe a great cabinet. Unfortunately, that statement is inaccurate. There is not a product attribute mentioned that is not possible, if not standard, on all Showplace cabinetry.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I wasn’t aware that Showplace cabinetry could be upgraded to 1/2″ plywood sides and all plywood construction. If that is now true it wasn’t in the past and still doesn’t say so on the Showplace website. Please contact us or send us something documenting this and we would be happy to update our blog.

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