Main Line Kitchen Design
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Famous Bala Cynwyd Kitchen

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 the more 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. And thirdly, 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.  Also 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 and 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, KitchenCraft,  Poggenpohl, Merit Kitchens, Pedini, UltraCraft Cabinetry. Design-Craft and most Merillat and Omega styles. The majority of the cabinetry coming from Europe and Canada is frameless.


All 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 I beam construction.  Drawer tracks should always be upgraded to either Blum’s Blumotion tracks or the equivalent and drawer boxes should be solid wood dovetail drawers with a captured plywood bottom. Soft close doors are a nice feature as well as full depth shelves.


Main Line Kitchen Design only sells cabinetry with all these features. Our framed cabinetry brands include Fabuwood, 6 Square, 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 web site how the cabinets are constructed it is because they don’t meet these minimums. A company’s web site 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 CAN NOT 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 poorly 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 are 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. 


Call in to our recorded Podcast 2-4 pm Fridays Eastern Standard Time to ask cabinetry and design questions. Have designs ready to email for layout advice. Call 610-500-4071

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

2020 Ratings for most popular cabinet lines in the United States


Cabinetry Let the Buyer Beware


What cabinet line is the best?




Main Line Kitchen Design


  1. Alex, February 21, 2018 at 3:32 pm:

    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

  2. pmcalary, February 12, 2018 at 9:29 pm:

    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.

  3. Laurine Mccaffery, February 12, 2018 at 8:08 pm:

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

  4. pmcalary, February 11, 2018 at 1:26 pm:

    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.

  5. Naveeda Khan, February 11, 2018 at 1:04 pm:

    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.

  6. Marc, January 6, 2018 at 10:48 am:

    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?

  7. pmcalary, January 5, 2018 at 10:05 pm:

    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.

  8. Marc, January 5, 2018 at 9:46 pm:

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

  9. pmcalary, January 5, 2018 at 8:33 am:

    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.

  10. Vicki, January 5, 2018 at 1:43 am:

    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.

  11. pmcalary, December 2, 2017 at 9:23 am:

    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.

  12. Bill, December 2, 2017 at 8:19 am:

    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.

  13. pmcalary, October 16, 2017 at 2:58 pm:

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

  14. JN, October 16, 2017 at 1:24 pm:

    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.

  15. pmcalary, September 29, 2017 at 12:51 pm:

    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.

  16. RoRoRo, September 29, 2017 at 11:55 am:

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

  17. RoRoRo, September 29, 2017 at 11:54 am:

    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 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!!!

  18. pmcalary, September 21, 2017 at 9:49 pm:

    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.

  19. MJL, September 21, 2017 at 2:30 pm:

    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

  20. pmcalary, September 21, 2017 at 8:05 am:

    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.

  21. pmcalary, September 21, 2017 at 7:44 am:

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

  22. MB, September 20, 2017 at 11:07 pm:

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

  23. Jeanne Nisbet, September 20, 2017 at 4:11 pm:

    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?

  24. pmcalary, September 19, 2017 at 7:39 am:

    Don’t know the line sorry

  25. Mary, September 18, 2017 at 9:16 pm:

    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?

  26. Katie, September 5, 2017 at 1:42 am:

    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?

  27. pmcalary, September 4, 2017 at 8:07 am:

    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.

  28. Katie, September 4, 2017 at 7:43 am:

    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!

  29. pmcalary, August 31, 2017 at 9:04 am:

    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.

  30. pmcalary, August 23, 2017 at 2:44 pm:

    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.

  31. Steve J, August 23, 2017 at 2:33 pm:

    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.

  32. Craig, August 19, 2017 at 3:00 pm:

    Sorry. Kraftmaid, not KitchenMaid!

  33. Craig, August 19, 2017 at 2:50 pm:

    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?

  34. pmcalary, August 12, 2017 at 10:10 pm:

    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.

  35. Claudia, August 12, 2017 at 10:26 am:

    Hello, we are building a new modern 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 ?

  36. pmcalary, August 9, 2017 at 10:42 pm:

    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.

  37. Carol Tatarka, August 9, 2017 at 9:32 pm:

    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.

  38. pmcalary, August 1, 2017 at 7:06 am:

    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.

  39. pmcalary, August 1, 2017 at 6:58 am:

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

  40. Trudy, August 1, 2017 at 2:33 am:

    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
    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.

  41. Elaine Pratta, July 31, 2017 at 11:21 pm:

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

  42. pmcalary, July 23, 2017 at 1:50 pm:

    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.

  43. Gail m, July 23, 2017 at 8:38 am:

    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.

  44. pmcalary, July 21, 2017 at 7:54 am:

    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.

  45. Ro, July 20, 2017 at 11:22 pm:

    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!

  46. pmcalary, July 16, 2017 at 8:52 am:

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

  47. Tom Simpson, July 16, 2017 at 2:08 am:

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

  48. Susan, July 13, 2017 at 2:20 pm:

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

  49. pmcalary, July 13, 2017 at 1:54 pm:

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

  50. Susan, July 13, 2017 at 1:40 pm:

    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!

  51. pmcalary, July 12, 2017 at 5:03 pm:

    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.

  52. Mary Anne, July 12, 2017 at 4:46 pm:

    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 They have ready to assemble and pre-assumbled cabinets. Not a huge variety but nice looking products.

  53. pmcalary, June 26, 2017 at 4:23 pm:

    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.

  54. Abby, June 26, 2017 at 4:09 pm:

    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!

  55. pmcalary, June 25, 2017 at 9:51 am:

    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:

  56. Abby, June 25, 2017 at 7:28 am:

    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!

  57. pmcalary, June 22, 2017 at 7:08 am:

    Hi Alison,
    I usually use 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:

  58. Alison, June 21, 2017 at 4:54 pm:

    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!

  59. pmcalary, June 21, 2017 at 9:40 am:

    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.

  60. Peter T, June 21, 2017 at 9:26 am:

    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?

  61. Lynda J, June 13, 2017 at 11:38 am:

    Thank you for your response! I will look into the Rev-a-shelf!

  62. pmcalary, June 13, 2017 at 7:57 am:

    Neither of these lines makes frameless cabinetry as far as I know. And trash can pull outs are great. Bottom mount wooden units from Rev-a-shelf I like best for the price. Many cabinet lines use the Revashelf soft close model model.

  63. Lynda J, June 13, 2017 at 2:39 am:

    Thank you so much for your updated 2017 cabinet guide. We are doing just a new kitchen island. I see you feel Decora and Bertch are good lines. Those are my two choices for the frameless modern cabinets that we want. Both quotes I received from local kitchen designers are similar. What would you choose between the two? .I have all drawer cabinets except for one door cabinet which is for a trash pull out. Reading some of the comments to avoid some of the pull out features, should I avoid the pull out trash cabinet?Thank you for your time and advice.

  64. pmcalary, June 12, 2017 at 9:39 pm:

    Never heard of them. If it’s Cabinetry by Karman they look like they can be upgraded to APC and a well made box, but I know nothing about the company.

  65. Ray, June 12, 2017 at 6:57 pm:

    Are you familiar with Karman Cabinetry? What is your opinion.

  66. Tim from Ga, June 6, 2017 at 11:17 pm:

    Thanks for your response, the finish and style is the same he says “Kraftmaid Durham Maple Square” as “Gresham Maple Square” and Thank You for everthing you do.

  67. pmcalary, June 6, 2017 at 3:05 am:

    Hi Tim.
    Diamond and Kraftmaid will be similar in price at Lowes and with both upgraded their wouldn’t be much difference in construction although I’d give the edge to Kraftmaid. Finish I’d give the edge to Diamond. I’m sure it is the designer at Lowes that prefers designing in the the Diamond line. If you asked for a quote for one line and he or she gave you a quote for another I’d have to say that the designer is a bit of a control freak. Changing customers layouts to make them better I can understand. You can always change the design back to what the homeowner thought they wanted after they saw a better design. Flat out quoting a different cabinet line, finish, and door style is odd. I’d have to say this designer is a bit of an strange bird and I’d avoid them. It is also possible that the designer is brand new at a Lowes and only knows how to design well in one line which would be another concern altogether.

  68. Tim from Ga, June 5, 2017 at 11:43 pm:

    Ive been looking at a few shops and lowes for our kitchen cabinets, and we like the Kraftmaid from lowes so we asked for a quote and they gave us the quote using Diamond instead of Kraftmaid they upgrade it to all wood. is there a reason why there trying to sale us Diamond and not KM, there telling me Diamond is better build and looks just as good.

  69. pmcalary, June 5, 2017 at 9:31 am:

    Hi Chris,
    It sounds like you need to find a good kitchen designer to help you. Many of the things you mention tell me you are on a bad path. The room sounds too small for the Island, good designers seldom use 42″ wall cabinets but poor ones do all the time. The style you like will be less expensive and more durable in framed cabinetry like the StarMark cabinets you liked before, but you are asking for frameless construction. Finally you are asking advice on line when you are in our service area and we could be helping you first hand. These are all “tells” of a project destined for problems.

  70. Chris, June 5, 2017 at 6:23 am:

    Reading everyones questions, reviews, comments and recommendations have been a huge help. I’m in the planning stage of upgrading a townhouse kitchen (approx.10’x12′ with island 3’x6′ in Doylestown. I’m familiar with Starmark which I installed I’m my prior home which looks great, well made, durable however pricey once you factor in all the options. Without sacrificing quality, durability, finish what are your thoughts on these “affordable level” cabinets – Fabuwood (RTA), Haas(lifestyle), Canyon Creek(Katana) compared to Starmark ? Cabinets would be frameless, plywood, full overlay, 42″wall cabinets, pullout drawers no more then 27″ or 30″ wide, painted finish (possibly glazing option) applied molding options, soft close doors/drawers. I looked over your kitchen cabinets comparison list and it seems all the brands mentioned above are level 3, even for Fabuwood as an RTA import cabinet (limited styles to select)….. shocked! I’ve heard good things about Haas & Canyon, which gives a wider selection from there low/mid level cabinets. Your feedback would be greatly appreciated and I’m not currently working with a designer, contractor or supplier. Regards – Chris

  71. JB Carmichael AKA Gamma, June 1, 2017 at 1:15 pm:

    A bit overwhelming, but a good lots of suggestions. The most important one is taking the time to do it right. So, we will. I sent a letter to you Paul attached to an email. A beginning.

    Off to find the best designers in my area, ranging from Hartford CT up to Springfield MAt

  72. pmcalary, May 30, 2017 at 11:33 am:

    Hi Jo Ann,
    You can refer to our 2017 cabinet brand review that gets specific about 70 popular cabinetry brands. We don’t rate Westport but Mid Continent is not a brand we like.

  73. Jo Ann Carpenter, May 30, 2017 at 11:33 am:

    I forgot to say that I am looking at full overlay doors as well. Which I guess there is only one choice , frame less. Should i go for half or partial overlay instead.?

  74. Jo Ann Carpenter, May 30, 2017 at 11:22 am:


    Such a comprehensive review and info you provide. Glad I found this website and blog. I have a couple different questions, but will try to keep this email very specific.

    My husband and I hired a designer who drew up a kitchen plan, but the clientele he deals with is a bit more “financially healthy” than we are. I am not in the position to pay upwards of $25,000 just for cabinets. He would work more directly with us I think if we were using his cabinet contacts. I plan to sell in about 10-12 years, and we would not realize the investment when we sold. The plan he drew up is the one we are taking to a variety of cabinet dealers and showrooms. This has helped us compare apples to apples with what appears to us to be a good design.

    While we are still getting quotes for cabinets, I think it has come down to 3 companies. I know I want white shaker cabinets. I think it is between Westport, Mid Continent and Kraftmaid. I plan to pay for the upgrades to the cabinets as you tell us to do!

    A main concern is that these will be painted and the durability of the finish. We will find a local company to take care of the nicks and scratches as you also suggested, when we get ready to sell. A stained cabinet would have fewer issues, but the remodeling we have completed at our home seems to speak to white cabinets and I have come to like white cabinets over the years.

    So any opinions on the 3 companies?

  75. pmcalary, May 12, 2017 at 11:19 pm:

    Hi Deb,
    I disagree with you on most of your recommendations.

    We advertise on Houzz, Angie’s List, Yelp, Google, Yahoo, and many other sites so we aren’t partial to Houzz.

    You can not approve reviews you get on Houzz, any customer can write whatever they like. However since you can as with Angie’s List, Google, Yelp, and other review sites, ask your most happy customers to review you, reviews tend to be more positive.

    Since Houzz has all the projects of a company available to see online I think it is the best place for discriminating and knowledgeable people to select designers because you can see so many examples of their work.

    Savvy people know that getting three recommendations is not telling. Any contractor or designer can cherry pick real or even fake people to give them reviews. The best reviews to ask for are the names of the last three people a company worked with. That can not be manipulated as easily.

    And lastly remember that designers and contractors are reviewing you too when you meet them. Customers that appear problematic and hard to work with can get very different pricing than nicer people. We will flat out tell people we won’t work with them if their ideas appear ill conceived and they seem controlling.

  76. Deb, May 12, 2017 at 8:43 pm:

    I would use caution when using Houzz to select a kitchen designer. I love Houzz for the ideas they offer on their site – lots of inspiration. However, I wouldn’t use them as a Yelp or Angieslist type service. I’ve seen too many 5 stars on Houzz designers that I’ve used & would never give more than 1 star. I have been told by another kitchen designer that they get to approve what comments/feedback goes on their Houzz page. I’d suggest getting a lot more referrals if you choose a kitchen designer from the Houzz app.

  77. pmcalary, May 9, 2017 at 8:58 am:

    Keep doors to frameless cabinets no wider than 18″ do not get 36″ wide drawer bases. Avoid pantry pull outs and other stress inducing cabinet conveniences. Avoid 42″ high wall cabinets.

  78. pmcalary, May 6, 2017 at 11:32 am:

    All those numbers are fair. We charge 45% off the list price too but we have an unusual business model that enables us to sell cabinetry a little less expensively. I would not buy Fabuwood online and I would pick the dealer with the best reviews on line. That’s the most important thing. Saving a little money won’t be worth it if the company doesn’t stand behind the product and have creative knowledgeable designers.

  79. Gabriella, May 6, 2017 at 11:13 am:

    Hi! So I asked you about Fabuwood months ago and we did decide on going with them. We are building a 16×17 kitchen and we have gotten various prices on the Fabuwood Nexus brand. Some designers are quoting us 37% off their spec book and another 43% off. I saw a company online offers Fabuwood at 45% off their spec book but they don’t service my area. What’s the price point that is fair with Fabuwood? All 3 quotes we got are from heat design companies. Thx for the info!

  80. Margie, May 2, 2017 at 5:02 pm:

    The cabinets I mentioned are the cabinets my kitchen designer offers. I’m trying to research which is the best for the best cost. I came across this site and thought it would be helpful. You have no comparison info? I’m lost in searching. But thanks.

  81. pmcalary, May 2, 2017 at 4:22 pm:

    HI Margie,
    Our 2017 blog reviews most of these lines but to be frank customers should be shopping for a good kitchen designer to work with and not trying to research every cabinet line. Below is a link to the 2017 blog if you find it confusing then that is especially why you need the help of a professional kitchen designer. If the professional you chose can’t help you more than our blog then you need a better professional.

  82. Margie, May 2, 2017 at 4:06 pm:

    Your reviews are so confusing. Can you compare the following:
    Kitchencraft; Schrock; CNC; Designers Choice; Style Craft. Which are better in quality/price? Thank you.

  83. pmcalary, April 19, 2017 at 8:21 am:

    Hi Gina,
    Here’s the 2017 reviews for 70 different cabinet line. We give both Bertch and Wellborn high grades.

    I don’t know much about Echelon but it is certainly no where near as nicely made as the others upgraded.

  84. Gina, April 18, 2017 at 9:09 pm:

    What a wealth of information! Thank you. I am in the initial phase of a kitchen re-do with very few choices of KD’s due to living in the most rural area of PA. The one who is available uses Wellborn, Echelon, and Bertch cabinets. I am unconcerned about style, but very concerned about value and functionality. I see that you approve of Wellborn but am wondering how the others stack up.

  85. Anita Lauro, April 15, 2017 at 8:20 am:

    I’m looking to replace the cabinets in my small kitchen and am drawn to frameless to maximize the space & usability (plus I really like the look). I completely understand the durability issues you raise. Frameless would probably work okay for me it’s just me in the household and I won’t live here more than 10-12 years longer. That said, do you have any tips to get the best results with frameless? I see you mentioned 1/2″ backs a few posts up. My kitchen will have one 30″ base cabinet and several 24″ ones. Are drawers okay for those size frameless cabinets?

    Incredibly helpful blog, thank you!

  86. pmcalary, April 15, 2017 at 6:48 am:

    Hi Amber,
    I don’t know anything about Mitzen and their web site doesn’t give any information on their construction. From photos I can guess that they are an Asian produced line and inexpensive with some of the features we recomend as you mention. The finishes look a little cheep and the door styles are a little less tasteful. Another sign that they are less expensive and imported. They could be well made and the only issues are finish looks and style but I have no way of knowing. This also makes me leery. Transparency is the sign of a good company.

  87. Amber Martin, April 14, 2017 at 8:12 pm:

    Thank you for all of the information. I am remodeling my kitchen after a water leak and am wading through cabinet options. What are your thoughts about Milzen? They are super inexpensive, but appear to have many of the upgraded features you recommend (e.g., an all plywood box).

  88. pmcalary, April 10, 2017 at 12:15 pm:

    Sounds like they are Frameless cabinets. Definitely get the 1/2″ backs if you get them. Not the best method of construction.

  89. Redrider, April 10, 2017 at 12:05 pm:

    From the Cuisine Ideale website.
    The cabinets in this series come with 3/4”-thick (19 mm) plywood box construction with 3/4”-thick (19 mm) adjustable shelves. Cabinet backs are the standard 1/4” thick (6 mm) and can be upgraded to 1/2” (13 mm) if necessary. This construction comes with our first-class dovetailed drawers”.
    We’d do the 1/2″ back if we go this route.

  90. pmcalary, April 8, 2017 at 7:14 pm:

    Hi Dana,
    Brookhaven is a better cabinet. Below is our 2017 review of the most popular cabinet lines:

  91. Dana, April 8, 2017 at 6:42 pm:

    We are planning on doing a complete remodel and expansion of our kitchen. We’ve met with two designers. One uses Waypoint cabinets and the other uses Brookhaven cabinets by Woodmode. Which would you recommend?
    Thank you for any input!

  92. pmcalary, April 5, 2017 at 10:49 am:

    No I know nothing about them. They are a Canadian Company and their web site doesn’t show how they are made.

  93. RedRider, April 5, 2017 at 10:30 am:

    Any input on the Cuisine Ideale brand of cabinets? I know you’re not a fan of frameless but any experience with the company?

  94. pmcalary, April 5, 2017 at 7:18 am:

    Hi Lisa,
    On this topic I am not an expert. Partly because this end of the business is all on Frameless cabinetry that we sell less of and don’t like as much. From the little I know it is true that most exotic wood veneers are being replaced with reconstituted wood veneers. From what I can tell by looking at them they seem actually more durable than real veneers. As far as how real they look, that is all a matter of opinion. And in frameless cabinetry looking real is less the issue. Looking sleek and contemporary is the goal.

  95. Lisa Tyler, April 4, 2017 at 4:43 pm:

    Hi, I am doing a kitchen remodel and really like the contemporary look of Rift Oak (white) and Walnut that used to be available in Eclipse Cabinetry. Our local cabinet store, however, says that Eclipse is phasing out the real wood veneers for reconstituted wood, which is supposedly more visually appealing, and higher quality than it’s real wood counterpart. Can you tell me what Reconstituted actually means? The website describes it as ‘manufactured using sustainable hardwoods layered together to produce a veneer that is dyed to resemble Quartered Walnut or Rift White Oak in appearance. This process provides a sustainable veneer with exceptional consistency in graining and a modern appearance perfect for today’s styling trends’. I assume that they actually mean layered hard wood and not wood ‘pulp’ And if hard wood, I would be curious about the wood species. Also I am concerned that, because of the consistency/sameness of the grain, the cabinets will look a tad unnatural. I can’t seem to find any documentation about Eclipse – would really love to know what ‘reconstituted walnut/oak’ actually means. I would appreciate any feedback. Thank You!

  96. pmcalary, March 29, 2017 at 1:43 pm:

    Hi Alex,
    The Deerfield line looks well constructed for an inexpensive line. As long as a cabinet has a hanging rail like the Deerfield it doesn’t matter if the rest of the back is thinner. Without a hanging rail though a 3/8″ back is the thinnest I would ever use. We should add them to our 2017 review as a well constructed inexpensive line. I just don’t know where they fall price wise. If you get any comparison pricing in other lines it would help us to know where Deerfield falls.

  97. Alexis, March 29, 2017 at 12:20 pm:

    Hi, can you tell me what you think of the quality and value of Deerfield line. The video said the backs we only 1/4 inch plywood with a hanging rail.
    Thanks, this has been a very informative thread.

  98. pmcalary, March 28, 2017 at 8:06 pm:

    Grabill has wonderful finishes. Not sure where they fall pricewise except that they are expensive.

  99. Melissa vernon, March 28, 2017 at 6:47 pm:

    Thanks Paul. I actually meant Grabill cabinetry, not Graber. That designer came out to measure today and only brought color samples from Elmwood with her. She mentioned she didn’t have too many grabill samples she could carry out of the showroom. Do you have knowledge on Elmwood with respect to Medallion and Grabill? By the way, finding your blog with your wealth of knowledge has been a godsend! It’s made me look differently at aspects of my current kitchen andehat I hope to accomplish with a new kitchen without Any structural changes. Thanks for your comments about Fabuwood and what types of expectations I should have. I didn’t think my kitchen would be very custom, but the kitchen designer selling them mentioned that even though Fabuwood doesn’t make a corner sink cabinet or pullouts next to the rangetop, that they themeselces have experience customizing with Fabuwood. Also maybe the people I’ve been meeting with aren’t just kitchen designers but their companies also GC the entire process.

  100. pmcalary, March 28, 2017 at 6:04 pm:

    Hi Michael,
    Not to be testy, but you seem to have strong opinions, so why ask us. We believe that warranties tend to have no relation to cabinet quality and are more about marketing strategies. For example we warranty the Bishop Frameless line with a limited lifetime warranty even though Bishop doesn’t. But that is about our marketing strategy. Mouser has a 1/4″ MDF back and no hanging rail so it’s worse than IKEA. Get IKEA if you want inexpensive frameless cabinetry and their 20 year warranty makes you feel more comfortable with the product.

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