2015 Popular Kitchen Cabinetry Brand Comparison.

Main Line Kitchen Design compares Kitchen Cabinetry Brands Circa 2015 

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

7 Rolling Road Proof


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

Frameless Construction
Framed Cabinet Construction

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


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

steam punk
Example of a Frameless Kitchen


415 gilpin scott
Example of Framed Kitchen

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


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


Popular frameless cabinetry lines are:


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


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


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


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


Berwyn PA Kitchen after
Berwyn, PA Kitchen after

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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






Main Line Kitchen Design

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

  1. Lynda J

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

  2. Lynda J

    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.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  3. Ray

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  4. Tim from Ga

    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.

  5. Tim from Ga

    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.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  6. Chris

    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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  7. JB Carmichael AKA Gamma

    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

  8. Jo Ann Carpenter

    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.?

  9. Jo Ann Carpenter


    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?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  10. Deb

    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.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  11. Gabriella

    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!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  12. Margie

    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.

  13. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    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.

  14. Margie

    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.

  15. Gina

    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.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  16. Anita Lauro

    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!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  17. Amber Martin

    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).

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  18. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  19. Redrider

    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.

  20. Dana

    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!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  21. RedRider

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  22. Lisa Tyler

    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!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  23. Alexis

    Hi, can you tell me what you think of the quality and value of Cabinets.com 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.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  24. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  25. Melissa vernon

    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.

  26. Michael

    Was looking hard at Bishop frameless but their one year warranty is a no go. Any manufacturer that offers that low of a warranty obviously isn’t sold on their quality. What’s your take on Mouser’s Centra line of frameless cabinets?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  27. Melissa Vernon

    I have started meeting and getting some quotes from local Kitchen designers to redo our kitchen. One designer gave us an estimate for Fabuwood (Wellington Ivory glazed)and what I love about that designer is that they said they can order me a hood I want and have Fabuwood finish it and they quite often make custom pieces for homeowners even if Fabuwood doesn’t offer it, like a corner sink. So it seems they have a lot of experience working with them and customizing to the client’s needs. Figuring that it is important to get several estimates I found Another designer who is about to give me an estimate using Medallion Cabinetry and possibly Elmwood. I haven’t seen anything on your site about Elmwood so I’m not sure how they are, but he said they cost more than Medallion. The hood I want is available in Elmwood, but not Medallion so he suggested matching the hood to the island where we plan to have stained cabinets. I then contacted another designer that seemed to also sell Medallion cabinetry but when I met with them they steered me away from Medallion saying that the quality of the painted/glazed finishes isn’t that great and I would be better off with Graber or Elmwood, (both custom from my understanding). I asked her why and she showed me the finishes on similarly painted door samples of Graber versus Medallion and it does seem to be a huge difference. How do you think the painted/glazed finish on Fabuwood compares? I contacted Fabuwood last Thursday, I think, about finding me another dealer that sells Fabuwood, but I still haven’t heard back from them. I live in Central NJ (Belle Mead) in case you know of any others.

  28. D2

    Thank you

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Melissa,
      I don’t know Graber but Medallion upgraded to all plywood construction similar to Fabuwood would cost at about 50% more than Fabuwood. Fabuwood is an inexpensive but well constructed cabinet line. I know Fabuwood will finish custom pieces like hoods, corbels and legs to match their cabinetry but we haven’t been brave enough to try it. And if a customer is trying to be get a very custom kitchen they probably should be designing it and purchasing a more expensive line than Fabuwood. Asking a less custom line like Fabuwood to stretch to the limits of what they can do can get overly complicated and created delays. We try to stay within the confines of what each cabinet line we sell does on a regular basis.

  29. D2

    Additional question — to make sure the cabinets last — does it make a difference which kind of wood? Seems like many who have maple have problems. Is there a better wood to use for white/off white cabinets?

  30. D2

    I am working with a KD and they sell several different cabinet manufacturers — Omega, Medallion, Haas and a few others I can’t remember. I want to go with an off white, shaker, inset cabinet. I believe after reading this blog I need to keep with a framed cabinet for durability. What do you think of these cabinet lines? Thanks for all you are doing. The information you provide is very helpful.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Omega is only framed in the Pinnacle line I believe. The other lines are fine upgraded to all plywood construction. The maple is the most durable wood to use for a painted white cabinet but MDF doors or soft maple might look a little beater but would be easier to chip. A recesssed MDF panel is a good compromise.

  31. Kitchen Cabinet ratings for 2017. Reviews of the top selling cabinet lines. - Main Line Kitchen Design

    […] 2015 Popular Kitchen Cabinetry Brand Comparison. […]

  32. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Hi Matt,
    The Allure line is about a 15% upgrade from the value line in Fabuwood so J and K is still a good value. Just less so.

  33. matt delp

    Thanks Paul, the Fabuwood Line we got quoted at 7800 was the Allure line Galaxy Frost. So I’m guessing that this line is a better product then J and K and should probably lean that way.


  34. Carolyn

    The Wellsford Cabinets were rated very high yet not mentioned once in all of the posts, why is that?
    Can you provide more insight (good/bad) into the Wellsford cabinets. I’m interested in a white painted cabinet with inset shaker door. What is your expierenve with their finishes?

    Does Wellsford offer wood doors only? The painted cabinets I saw felt different, perhaps it was the baked on finish or could they have been mdf?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Carolyn,
      Wellsford is a custom cabinet company in Pennsylvania. Since we carry their line it is included on our list. It is a full custom line so any door types and finishes are available. High end custom lines will have soother finishes because the cabinetry is sanded to a to a higher level. Wellsford is a particularly good buy for the level of quality and customization that they offer. It probably isn’t mentioned in blog comments because it isn’t distributed to a large degree outside PA, NY, and NJ.

  35. Matt Delp

    Hi Paul, I am down to Fabuwood and J&K Cabinets. From what I can tell, they seem to be constructed in the same way and materials. J&K IS 2000 cheaper which scares me a little bit. Any suggestions on either of them. We are doing a 12×11 kitchen and Fabuwood is 7800 while J&K IS 5800

    Thanks and Great blog!!!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Matt,
      J&K looks like it is made comparably with the Value line of Fabuwood. So with 5/8″ shelves and probably some other features that aren’t quite as nice. If you like the finish and door style equally in both lines then I would consider the J&K especially if you are planning on selling your home after a few years. If you are going to be in your home indefinitely it might be safer to get the better made cabinet. Tough call though. If I was more familiar with J&K I could be more helpful.
      Best Paul

  36. Laura Doyle

    Does anyone have any thoughts on the Echelon cabinet line with the allwood construction/dovetail SC drawers and SC doors?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Laura,
      The Echelon web site appears to have broken links to how their cabinetry is made so we can’t check the quality, and none of know off hand. I can see from what is shown that the cabinetry is not ibeam construction and has plastic corner brackets which is a sign of a lower end line. They still could be well constructed, it’s just less likely with the plastic corners.

  37. judy v

    Bought a house on LBI wanted to do a pretty beachy kitchen found Martha Stewart line in Home Depot in a soft beachy green only have 15 cabinets a small kitchen…but have been reading that the laminate scratches off or bubbles and the quality of the cabinets are not good. We did a new kitchen in our main home with kraft maid in maple about 7 yrs ago and they have held up well. what are your thoughts on the martha stewart or any that are a color instead of natural wood.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Judy,
      Buying RE-branded cabinets like Martha Stewart or Thomasville from Home depot is a bad idea. Home depot is taking cheap cabinetry and marking it up extra just to sell to customers that don’t know any better and believe that the re-named cabinetry signifies some kind of quality product. Home Depot actually switches around who makes these lines depending on the deal they can make with different less expensive cabinet lines. If you are shopping at a Home Depot get Kreaftmaid if you can afford a higher end cabinet line.

  38. MichaelH

    Thanks for the link, it’s exactly what I was going to ask for. Goingb to use that to narrow things down. I’m confused though that the Masterbrand brands other than Decora ( Diamond, Homecrest, Schrock, etc) get B ratings across the board considering your multiple posts about their negatives. Should we pass on them or not?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Michael,
      First these ratings are for when the cabinetry for each company has been upgraded to it’s highest level. So for example Schrock or Diamond un-upgraded would be D’s at best. Meanwhile an inexpensive line like Fabuwood or 6 Square or even the cheapest of lines like Solid Wood Cabinets come un-upgraded already at a B+ or an A level of construction. Why spend 50% more to still get a cabinet that isn’t constructed as well and isn’t a good value for the money?

      Homecrest is well made, but not a great value compared to some of these other lower price point lines. Diamond and Schrock are almost the same price as Decora, Kraftmaid and many other equally priced American lines but not made as well so why buy them.

      We only rank 75 cabinet lines and there are hundreds of US brands. So many listed here get higher marks and there are so many not listed that would also be straight A’s or at least get an A in construction quality. The real question is why settle for B’s?

  39. Michael H

    What’s your take on Cabico? I’m guessing you’re not a huge fan due to their frameless design and 5/8″ construction. Also, I’d greatly appreciate you looking over our kitchen plans and telling me what could be improved.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Michael,
      Not a fan of Cabico and the B’s that we give them in our 2017 review below, are because of their framed lines. In frameless they would get much lower scores.
      You can email us your floor plan for comments at Info@mainlinekitchendesign.com.

  40. Robert

    Hi. I purchased a home a year ago which had kitchen remodeled about 8 years ago. Open concept, Crystal cabinets with stained maple, 13 foot long island, soft close drawers – undermount from Grass, Cambria countertops, great layout and design. I am looking at updating by going with painted off white cabinets and inset shaker style doors. Currently they are partial overlay. I have a kitchen cabinet painter and a kitchen cabinet maker both through Angies List who work together and will redoor, paint and change to Blumotion. They work with Crystal cabinets but because they are just supplying doors/drawer fronts I would like to go with a less expensive option. What would you suggest for a less costly brand but still of good quality? Also, should I go with paint grade maple stiles/rails and panel or maple with mdf panel which is what they are suggesting or other such as birch (I live in the northern part of the country)? Thanks for your help.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Robert,
      What you are attempting is actually very hard to do successfully. One reason is that the existing cabinets were not made or installed to be inset. So the openings may be too far out of square to look right. Doors may need to be planed so MDF doors could be a problem. I don’t think any qualified professionals would attempt this. Painting cabinets needs to be done by furniture re-finishers too so that the paint is very durable. We use Guardsman furniture re-finishers.
      I would order a few doors as a test and make sure the people saying that they can do this successfully succeed before ordering your entire kitchen.
      Be very careful here,

  41. Terry G

    This is a great blog. You do a wonderful job. Have read the entire blog and have not seen any mention of Holiday Kitchens from Rice Lake, WI. Looking for you input. Appreciate any comments you have. Have looked at Kraftmaid and Martha Stewart Living at Home Depot. Thanks.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Terry,
      Holiday Kitchens doesn’t offer any explanation of exactly how their framed and frameless cabinetry is made on their web site. They simply state “see a Holiday dealer for information about cabinet construction”. Since I don’t know a Holiday dealer and have never seen their cabinetry I can only say that they look well made from the photos on line.

      It annoys me when cabinet lines keep this information from the public. And not being transparent about one thing is sometimes indicative of a company philosophy that worries me.

  42. Brenda Ward

    I would like to know, what is a good cabinet that has a good polyurethane finish on it? I have to buy kitchen cabinets soon(I have no cabinets on the walls right now). I have been told that cabinets dont have a shine anymore that they are only a satin stained look nowadays? I plan to buy cherry or maple, a medium color. not to dark or too light. I was told by a Lowes CD that only the painted cabinets have a glossy shine? I want a cabinet with a shine not a dry look. I have seen the shenadoah cabinets and they look so dry!! Help! In my area(Richlands,Va) I have considered KraftMaid. A local dealer has Homecrest. What is a good cabinet with a good gloss? not a lot of choices in area!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Brenda,
      Typically stained cabinets have a sheen of about 40. That’s the level of shine rated from 0 to 100. If you want high gloss finishes on stained cabinetry they will show fingerprints, scratches and skuffs more easily and because of that will usually only be available in custom cabinet lines. All the lines you mention will be well made but they will also all have similar sheens on their stained finishes. To get what you want you will probably need to spend nearly 60% more than the price of Homecreast or Shendoah Cabinetry

  43. Oodi Pilzer

    Until yesterday, I was trying to decide between Kraftmaid and Decora. I much prefer the drawers on Kraftmaid but Decora seems more customizable. In 2001, I bought beautiful red birch (natural stain) cabinets from a local cabinet shop which purchased them from a major manufacturer that did custom cabinetry – but I have no idea who the manufacturer was. I just know my cabinets which had all plywood construction – and I think ¾” plywood with raised panel solid wood doors looked beautiful in 2001 and still look beautiful today. They literally glow. I would have gone back to the same cabinet shop, but they retired and closed up shop. I need to renovate another kitchen in what was a rental property which may be sold soon. I recently came upon the Cabico brand which still offers red birch as a wood option along with the more popular wood such as Maple and Cherry. I wondered if he knew anything about them and had an opinion. I am looking for a good quality cabinet. My kitchen is so small, that the price differences are not significant. Also, I am trying to decide if I want a raised panel made from solid wood (or a reversed raised panel if I do an inset style) only if I am better off with plywood due to expansion issues. I don’t know what my current cabinets have, though they certainly look like solid wood, and I’ve never had any expansion issues. But perhaps that is because I have a natural polyurethane, so I don’t see the wood expanding.

  44. Joseph W

    We are remodeling our 30 year old cabinets and been watching this forum . Its great with useful information.
    We have a basic L style Kitchen 8′ x 10′ with a fridge and couple cabinets on opposite wall 7′
    Our Budget goal is 8000-10000 for cabinets, and been looking at several brands with only plywood and solid wood fronts. We like traditional style and natural wood color and partial.
    overlay. The brands that fit our budget so far
    and someone told us about Wayneco, but have priced them out.
    We are looking for solid construction, good quality and just basic cabinets, nothing fancy.
    Any suggestions on these choices or any other to fit our budget.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Upgraded Kraftmaid is the most expensive and the best cabinet here and Fabuwood much less expensive but well made and the best buy. As always good design and creative renovations such as moving doorways and changing cabinet layouts cost very little and are the best values of all. It’s such a shame that most people don’t appreciate that their kitchen could dramatically improve spending the same money.

      The best cabinet here is Kraftmaid but give me the $2,500 difference between Kraftmaid and Fabuwood to spend on a customers renovation and I could nearly always reconfigure a home to create a far better kitchen. But as Doug Mottershead says on one of our videos “you can’t know what you don’t know.” And so homeowners nearly always falsely believe that their layout can’t change much or be improved beyond the improvements that THEY can envision. Hence Doug’s quote “You can’t know what you don’t know!”

  45. Gena

    Hi! Please advise your thoughts on Kith cabinets. Thank you

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Not a fan. Especially for the money. The US companies assembling cabinets with doors and fronts made in China are usually better constructed and a better value.

  46. dan

    There are no drain set up below the center isle for the sink. I notice the wall where the gas stove was installed, there are no gas stub. Is this video for demonstration purposes only?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I assume you are taking about our 211 second video. The plumbing lines were simply run after the cabinetry was installed. The basement was unfinished and it made running the plumbing lines and installing the cabinetry and flooring easier doing the plumbing last instead of first.

  47. Kevin C

    We’ve received quotes for Legacy Debut and Homecrest. The Homecrest came in $1400 more, but I don’t know if there is that large of a quality difference. Which do you recommend?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      They are both very similar. Not much quality difference. Quotes can also be very different based on exactly how the designer did the design. Upgrading one line to flush sides versus finished sides could make a huge difference.

  48. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Using yourself and your contractor as the designers guarantees a poor result. Thinking as many people do that not much can be done with their space is what we are forced to hear from nearly every customer we meet and nearly everyone of them is very wrong. It makes life as a designer frustrating. As I say in the video (See link at the end of the blog) People would be afraid to cut their own hair but don’t think they need a professional when it comes to kitchen design.

  49. Bob Felle

    Thanks very much.we will not be doing any structural changes to the new kitchen,and I have a excellent contractor who with his son(total of about 50 years experience)Since the kitchen is very small and with his experience did not think I would need a designer,there’s only so much you can do in such a small space.Have been doing as much research on cab.manufactuer as you suggest.I will definitely change my time schedule to start the job and consult with a designer.I do have a very detailed design I did myself using to scale paper and about 5 revisions after checking Houzz.Thanks again Bob

  50. Bob Felle

    Remodeling a small kitchen (total gut job)and getting more frustrated than I ever thought.Live in north Jersey and their seems to be every manufacturer represented within a short distance.Not looking for modern style so will eliminate
    Ultracraft because of being frameless,even though the designer at that retailer was the most helpful with ideas.I would say our budget would permit us to use middle quality(with up graded specs)to upper quality.We are going for off white painted cabinets,recessed panel with a small single or double quarter round molding.Help!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Bob,
      Since you aren’t asking a specific question I will giver you the best advice of all and the advice that totally negates most of the value of this particular blog.

      Stop everything you are doing and researching about cabinets and design. Don’t do anything to your kitchen in preparation of a new one. Don’t buy appliances. Don’t call in contractors. Especially don’t call in an architect or engineer. You can not learn enough about kitchen design in your free time to ever gain enough knowledge that to become more that an very beginner at it.

      Now start researching to find the best kitchen designer you can. Google kitchen design in your area. Houzz.com will have profiles and projects of the best designers and design firms in your area. Angie’s List will also have profiles and reviews on many firms with good reputations. Call showrooms or home centers and get the name of their most experienced or what they consider their top designer. And then make an appointment to speak to that designer by phone or at their business. Many companies will be reasonably priced for cabinetry and the best kitchen designers don’t charge for their time it is incorporated into the price of the cabinetry that they sell.

      Once you have narrowed down the designers and firms you want to work with to one or two have each designer you are considering explain to you the benefits of the different cabinet lines they sell. Since the style you are looking for is the most popular sold, every cabinet line a dealer carries will have the door style you like in finishes close to what you like as well. The higher end lines will do any door style in any color. The best kitchen designers will be comfortable advising you on whether moving doorways, windows or removing walls is advisable. Once you find a person you are comfortable with designing your kitchen who works for a reputable firm let them help you by giving you the information you need on design, materials, style, color, and pricing to make decisions.

      Doing all the research finding a great kitchen designer will mean that the designer you select will know off hand all the information it would take you years to gather and understand. Now your frustrations should be minimal. And the likelihood that your project runs smoothly, stays on budget, and that you spend your money wisely on the things that matter to you should be maximized. Great designers can recommend great contractors, appliance stores, granite showrooms, flooring, lighting and fixture stores and usually even give you the names of the most experienced salespeople to work with at those places. Some companies like ours even pass their discounts for materials bought at these places on to their customers but that is less common.

      We also will look at designs sent to us not to redesign them but to quickly catch big mistakes and to give you a heads up. Most designs we receive to review are terrible with multiple mistakes which is why finding a good kitchen designer is so important.

      For those reading this blog which is now over 100 people per day this is the best advice of all.

  51. Edie Loughlin

    what do you think about Merillat, Ultracraft, and Wood Harbor?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      All three of these cabinet lines are of inferior construction. There are far better products available for less money. We sell Fabuwood, 6 Square, and CNC all of which would be a better cabinet for less. Solid Wood Cabinets is a better cheaper product too but they don’t usually have knowledgeable designers. At Home Centers like Lowes Shenendoah Cabinetry or at Home depot American Woodmark, especially upgraded to plywood would be a better selections.

  52. Jeanne

    Hi Paul what do you think about the fabuwood hallmark when upgraded with soft close

  53. Frank Noda

    Thanks, Mr. Calary. I am enjoying all of the Q&A’s and am learning a lot. I had not previously appreciated the depth of my ignorance.

  54. F Noda

    Any kitchen designer you recommend in the Albuquerque, NM area? Thanks.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I don’t know anyone in your area but The Kitchen Studio has good reviews and nice projects they show on Houzz.com. Here’s their web site and Houzz page.


  55. dijo

    I am looking for white kitchen cabinets. Started with UltraCraft and too high of price point. I need Low to no VOC cabinets that have minimal off gassing. Now looking at Crystal but they are having issues with no voc finishes. Kraftmaid has been recommended but I can’t get a straight answer regarding voc. I also am not sure about a maple painted white finish or a thermofoil/melamine/laminate finish. Can you offer advice in these areas? Thank you.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Beyond Carb 2 compliance as far as I know any testing for off gassing would be done and reported by the company selling the cabinets themselves. Since cabinet companies have a terrible track record for being honest any data they report makes me uneasy. Some companies have good reputations in our industry. Crystal is one, and they fact that they apparently are being honest about their product is more comforting than assurances from less reliable companies. Most off gassing should occur in the first few months after a cabinet is made. I would trust an honest company and simply store their cabinets in my garage or a storage facility for a few months unpackaged before taking the word from other companies. Especially companies that advertise that they are green and VOC free. Unless you want to get into testing yourself which I understand can be done without too much trouble I’d get the Crystal and store them for a few months unpackaged before installing them in my home. Thremofoil is plastic, not tasteful IMO, and having a kitchen full of plastic can’t be a good thing if you are worried about VOC.

  56. Jeanne

    getting ready to remodel my kitchen and the three most affordable options are Lesscare Geneva, J&K cabinets and Fabuwood. Lesscare and J&K come standard with soft close and Fabuwood have to go to Hallmark for soft close. Would like to know which of the three you recommend

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      You are getting inaccurate information. All Fabuwood cabinets come with Blum’s soft close drawers and doors standard except in the value line which is Hallmark and Landmark. The Hallmark frost also comes standard with soft close because it was requested this way so often. The other Hallmark colors have to be upgraded to soft close. Landmark is a standard overlay builder grade offering that can’t be upgraded to. You don’t give pricing so choosing is impossible but if the costs were identical I would pick Fabuwood.

  57. Len

    trying to choose between Fabuwood , j&k and Lesscare Geneva cabinets all have plywood box. Which do you feel is a best of the 3

  58. Bryan

    We are commencing a large-scale reno with a large kitchen. We are considering Medallion Gold Mission Maple in White Chocolate w/o glaze vs Fabuwood Wellington in Ivory (comes glazed). The price for Medallion are ~ 20% more. While the dealers refer to Fabuwood as low-grade imported cabinets, I can’t see any glaring differences. The finish looks very close if not the same, the boxes are slightly different, it is maple vs birch, they have the same hinges, etc. Is it worth paying the 20% premium which would put the job to $25k to spring for the Medallion vs $20k for Medallion? When you read that a kitchen should be 5-10% of your total house worth it makes me think you have to spring for it, but just can’t see the value difference. Obviously, lighting, granite, appliances, flooring backsplash are to follow so I don’t want to spend in vain.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Bryan,
      I love Fabuwood and think that it’s a great cabinet for the price that’s why it’s one of the lines we choose to carry. However the Medallion cabinetry is a different animal completely. In fact, Medallion in all plywood construction should be more like 40 or 50% more than the Fabuwood. So you are either paying too much for the Fabuwood or getting a great deal on the Medallion. It is true that most customers can’t tell the difference between the two lines. But as a designer I can design a lot more custom designs with a higher end cabinet. Things like fancier hoods, different style glass doors, stacked cabinetry and many other design customizations. However for simpler designs you won’t be taking advantage of what makes the more expensive cabinet lines more expensive.

      The design itself is the thing that makes the best kitchen. And most designs we see are poor, so finding the best designer to work with is often the best bang for your buck and not the things that you buy.

  59. mark hocin

    Also the RTA cabinets from Conestoga are set sizes, where as the Builders Cabinet Supply cabinets will be custom fitted to !.5″ tolerance, so no fillers should be needed.
    Just looking for some opinions or experiences…

  60. mark hocin

    Could you tell me your feelings about using an RTA cabinet from Conestoga Wood Products. They make the door fronts for many cabinet manufacturers. There is a considerable savings purchasing these cabinets. We also have a cabinet maker in the Chicago area (Builder’s Cabinet Supply) that makes their own boxes and uses Conestoga doors and drawers. There is about a $5m dollar difference in price between the two for the same features. You do get design help with BCS and they will come out and measure our space. Just interested in your thoughts…

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Mark,
      Conestoga is known for making doors for other cabinet lines. They are not know for RTA cabinetry. I would always buy cabinetry assembled by the manufacturer even RTA cabinetry since most cabinet companies will do it better and cheaper than an individual could themselves assuming they gave the time it took them to assemble cabinetry a value. The fact that you believe that fillers could not be required installing a kitchen also tells me that you possibly shouldn’t build or install your cabinetry. Fillers and stacked moldings are what allow cabinets to be leveled and squared to the room they are installed. No home is level and square so fillers are always needed and doors and drawers often need fillers beside them so that they can open without binding or hitting the trim around windows and doors.

  61. karbenat

    building new home and having anxiety over kitchen cabinets. we have narrowed it down to candlelight, decora and kraftmaid upgraded all to plywood boxes prefer all wood but kraftmaid has veneer looking for good quality and long lasting not sure which is better for us. I’ve read you like decora and kraftmaid but not much mention of candlelight could use some help!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      All three are good lines upgraded to all plywood construction and not very different. Pick the best designer in this case or the dealer with the best reviews.

  62. karbenat

    building new home narrowed down to kraftmaid decora and candlelight kitchen cabinets all upgraded to plywood boxes
    ive read you like decora looking for the best quality also for all wood kraftmaid has a veneer

  63. Liz clarke

    I went to look at cabinets. Hanssem was recommended. Do you know anything about this brand? I am looking for painted white cabinets. Shaker style. Do you have any recommendations..

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hanssem is one of dozens of Asian manufactured and US assembled cabinet lines. However unlike US manufacturers that have parts made in Asia. Hanssem is an Asian Corporation. I have found those types companies to lag behind the US companies that do the same thing. The fact that their web site is poor with little information is not encouraging either. I’d stick with the type lines we carry like Fabuwood and 6 Square, or the less expensive CNC, or even LifeArt. They are all US companies doing the same thing a little better.

  64. Jacki

    Showplace v. Brookhaven? Planning white perimeter cabinets and black (or dark stain) island. Thank you!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I prefer Brookhaven

  65. Kelly Cole

    I’ve learned so much from reading all your responses, especially concerning kitchen designers and construction. We’re building a home on the lake in Branson, MO. Can you tell me your preference in cabinetry between Shiloh, Wellborn, BJ Tidwell, and Kraftmaid based on price and quality? Like everyone, we want well made cabinets that will last a lifetime for a fair price. Thank you!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Kelly,
      With these choices I like Wellborn and Kraftmaid.
      We are actually considering carrying Wellborn after
      meeting their staff at the 2017 Kitchen and Bath
      Industry show. I have never heard of BJ Tidwell.

  66. njdiyer

    DO NOT choose Waypoint

    So I’m doing a DIY kitchen reno, and purchased Waypoint cabinets via a local dealer. Upon delivery, I inspected my ~10k purchase only to be severely disappointed in their overall build quality as well as defects.

    I brought up my issues with them, and expressed my dissatisfaction. The said that they would send a Waypoint sales rep to assess the situation. The sales rep looked at the defects, and basically told me that this is within the specs of their product. She told me that she would try to replace the specific doors that I had issues with, but could not guarantee that I would get defect-free replacements.

    So I told her that in that case, I would like to return for a full refund. To which she responded that it is not their ‘policy’ to accept returns.

    I am super pissed, and am considering all options.

    pictures below:

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Waypoint is an inexpensive cabinet and it is quite likely that what you are calling defects should have been expected by you and quire possibly would also be present in more expensive cabinetry. That is why it is the designers job to explain to you what to expect and your job to understand the properties of what you are buying when you buy it. It takes time to teach customers about the properties of the wood. the doorstyles, and the cabinet line that they are considering. Customers can complain about mineral steaks in maple, cherry pits in cherry, and nearly all cabinet lines will have these. Often customers in a rush guarantee they are unhappy by not spending what’s most important. Their own time to learn about what they are buying.

    2. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi DIYer,
      Waypoint is an inexpensive cabinet line and after looking at your photos I agree that much of what you are probably seeing you should have expected.
      Different cabinet lines have different advantages and disadvantages and it is the designers job to explain what you should expect. It is also your job to learn what you should expect as well. Often people don’t spend the one thing needed to make them happy with their finished kitchen. Not money but their own time learning about what they are buying and finding a good designer to work with.

  67. Josh

    Hi do you know anything about cabinets to go and lines they carry Findley myers

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Joish,
      I’m not a fan of the absolute least expensive RTA Products for several reasons.
      First they are only 20% less than many preassembled well made cabinets.
      Secondly framed cabinets should be assembled by someone experienced and glued
      together as well. Lastly these lines have no one experienced to help design a kitchen.
      So not only is the cabinetry a lesser quality but you are assured an unprofessional

      Even the simplest kitchens will all benefit from the help of an experienced
      designer. And unfortunately even with professional help many kitchen designers are
      not very good so while they will do a better job designing a kitchen than a non
      professional, their designs are still not so hot. Finding a good kitchen designer to work
      with improves everyone’s kitchen design dramatically.

      We get sent designs to look at every
      week and nearly all of them are terrible. With no one experienced in the mix it pretty much assures that
      the design won’t be any good. Why waste money on expensive countertops, appliances, flooring and fixtures,
      but have the person creating the design and helping you organize the project be an amateur. Would you let a non professional work on your car?
      or even cut your hair? No, then you should ask yourself why are you avoiding professional kitchen design help
      in the most expensive home renovation you are likely to undergo in a lifetime?

  68. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    You can’t switch to a farm sink after your cabinets arrive. Farm sink cabinets are completely different fron standard sink cabints. Fabuwood makes 30, 33, and 36″ wide Farm sink cabinets that will hold Farm sinks 3″ narrower than the sink cabinet. Toe kicks are just stapled in place and can get knocked off and need to be reattached. The final matching toe kick cover the cabinets original toe kick. Drawers are solid wood dovetail so the are no nails there. If you designed your kitchen not for a farm sink don’t try to create a farm sink cabinet. Kohler makes a shallow front farm sink that may work on the cabinet you have. Making changes after cabinets arrive is usually a recipe for disaster.

  69. Rayc

    Hi Paul, my kitchen designer is saying that Fabuwood comes with standard sink cabinet. If I use farm sink, I have to order smaller sink doors but the original sink doors have to be thrown away. Is that true ? Also, my installer is saying that the pin nails used in the toe kick and the drawers of the Fabuwood cabinets delivered are not long enough and so they are coming off. I will hopefully get an answer on this from my kitchen designer but wanted to get your thoughts.

  70. Rayc

    Thank you very much Paul. This is very helpful.

  71. Rayc

    Can you please tell me the size of the Fabuwood cabinet for wall in oven cum microwave. What I have got has 3 drawers in the bottom and one top cabinet above the cut out space for the oven and microwave.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Most NON custom cabinet lines make one or at most two styles of Oven cabinets. In both styles installers will always be expected to cut out the correct space for the oven, ovens, or microwave and oven. This usually also requires removing the drawers that are not needed and are in the space for the cut out. If this confuses your installer then they are new to the kitchen world since this is not just common but pretty much standard across nearly all non custom cabinet lines.

      1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

        Yes as with most non custom lines you will need to cut out the correct space for the oven and Microwave you have selected. This will require removing a drawer or two depending on the ovens you have selected. Even in Custom lines we usually order the oven cut out smaller than needed and still require the contractor to enlarge the cut out. That way if a customer gets different appliances then they told us the oven cabinet still works. You can always make the cut out larger, making it smaller is a challenge for a very good carpenter.

  72. Sudeep Reyc

    Can you please let me know if there is only one type of cabinet for wall in oven cum microwave or there are quite a few types. What I mean is that how many drawers are there below the oven space ?

  73. david

    We are doing an addition/moving the kitchen. We have been looking at cabinets – no we have no picked a KD, our design is very simple. I’ve been more concerned on the lifetime quality of the cabinets. I have not been impressed with big box store lines, nor the internet sales (ie: Solid wood cabinets). My GC says he can install anything fully custom, to big box. We have sorta narrowed down to 2 brands.
    Holiday Kitchen – this ship is only HK, has countertops, hardware, lighting, sinks.. complete design
    UltraCraft – this shop is cabinets only, sends us local for countertops, no flooring, no lighting. He was offering Kraftmaid Vantage as an alternate.

    The research has been crazy – pick a line – 10 reviews (4 will be best ever, 4 will be worst ever and 2 neutral).
    We did like the frameless cabinets and the door hinges on both brands seemed heavy duty. We liked the laminated inside on UltraCraft, as demo he scratched at the surface with a spoon NO damage.
    As best I can find both these lines are similar in construction. (KD 1/4″ back, 3/4″ box, 3/4″ shelf, fused laminate finish inside) (UC 5/8″ back, 5/8″ box, 3/4″ shelf, fused laminate finish inside).

    After all that..
    – thoughts on durability of frameless for KD and UC ?
    – thoughts in general on KD and UC ?
    Our layout is a simple L shape on outside walls 11’6″ x 11’6″, shaker door, soft closer drawers & doors, I think both mentioned blumotion. Uppers to the ceiling with trim to hide the gap.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi David,
      Your project shows the signs of most likely having problems. You should be working with a kitchen designer BEFORE the drawings for the addition are even finalized. The designer is the person best qualified to advise you on what kind of design actually works and the advantages and disadvantages of the different cabinet lines. If you send us your plans we can alert you to what has been overlooked so far. But interview designers to find a good one. You are spending to much money to not be getting professional design help and from your questions I can tell that you aren’t receiving it so far.

  74. Bruno

    Down to 2 cabinet brands Shenandoah (Lowes) and Kraftmaid Vantage (local KD center). Both brands going with all plywood. Kraftmaid is pricing around $2500-3000 more. Besides soft-close really not adding in any bells and whistle options. Not sure how to decide. Any advice?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Both are made well. The Kraftmaid will have better quality control and nicer finishes but Lowes will replace any damages. And you might not care or be able to tell the difference in the feel and look of the finishes. A lot of the finish subtlety isn’t noticed by consumers.

      The design is of course the most important thing once the cabinetry is well made and usually the designs we get sent are all mistake filled. Feel free to send us your floor plan and perspectives and maybe we can catch a few of the errors other designers commonly make.

      Happy Holidays,

  75. Richard

    I am looking to buy mid range semi-custom kitchen cabinets made in the US. I find it frustrating that on the cabinet review sights many brands will have the same number of 5 out of 5 reviews and 0 out of 5 reviews. We looked at Ikea, lowes/home depot and some independent vendors. Prices were all across the board and many were above our budget. We returned to a store to purchase Decora which were above our budget. Then I noticed that Wolf Designer series was having a special promotion that included upgrades to all plywood, full extension soft close draws, glazing and 15% price reduction on some door styles. What do you think of Wolf designer if I include the above mentioned upgrades? What will I be giving up or sacrificing if I go with Wolf designer as opposed to Decora. Our kitchen does not need custom sizes.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Wolf cabinetry is made in Asia and assembled in Pennsylvania. All the better made low cost cabinetry now comes from US companies having parts made in China. Wolf is OK but one of my favorites.
      If you want 100% American cabinetry you must spend more to get q quality product. If that’s what you want stick with the Decora.

  76. Mike S.

    Hi, I am replacing a double vanity in my guest bath and planning to get a Wolf Classic vanity (~ 70″ with 5/8 granite on top). However, I see that these can not be upgraded to your minimum standards. They seem to satisfy most of your specs – 1/2 plywood, 3/4 solid wood doors, dovetail drawers. Is the problem mainly inferior drawer closes or other factors that make these undesireable? Thanks for your help, Mike S.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Mike,
      I don’t think you need to worry too much about cabinetry falling apart in a bathroom setting. It is more about style and finish. If you are happy with the style and finish I wouldn’t worry using a lesser quality cabinet.

  77. Cheryl

    Thank you for all of this. We are in MA and doing a complete kitchen remodel including wall removal. Agghhh the mess !! Oh well. Dreaming of the new look. Knowing that there are good and bad in every choice,help in what I’ve seen. Home crest, waypoint , and Shiloh. I’d like the best wood/stained/glazed cabinet I can find in the upper mid range .. not custom. Also can you shed any light on Amish made cabinets ??

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Amish is more homemade cabinetry than Custom cabinetry. I would stay away from buying my cabinets that way.

  78. erica

    this thread is so helpful, thanks so much!! where are you guys located? what do you prefer between starmark and decora? are either a better ‘value’ and are there any others in these range worth considering?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Erica,
      Both good cabinet lines with many others as good and in the same range. I would give Decora for value for the money.

  79. Robert Cole

    This is a great thread, with a lot of great comments on multiple brands. I just did a video comparison of a chinese cabinet compared with an entry level Yorktowne Cabinet (which you mentioned you hate – but I have had nothing but great experience with at that price level). Here is the link to my video. Hope you find it useful. If posting a link is not allowed, please delete my post and accept my apology.


    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Sorry Robert,
      But this video is pure propaganda and very misleading. You can upgrade US cabinetry to plywood to make a better cabinet but you make it sound like particle board is preferred. Everyone in our industry agrees that Plywood is better than particleboard unless the cabinetry finish is a foil or a laminate and the plywood grain would show through the surface. The shipping over water as to why plywood is used in Asian lines is a flat out lie.

      You are lumping all Asian cabinetry together when they are as different as US lines like a Woodmode is from a Yorktowne. And you are comparing the lowest grade Asian cabinet with and upgraded Yorktowne cabinet that much more expensive and yet still particleboard.

      I posted your comment and Video but the information here is full of misleading information. The Asian lines we carry use Blumotion and Blum soft close hinges and are better built then Yorktowne. The US lines we carry also far exceed Yorketown in construction. I don’t know any cabinet professionals that would recommend Yorktowne for it’s construction quality. The Yorktown nitch is as a builders grade cabinet with some nice finishes and styles and different wood types, but not it’s durability. I would agree that the dealer that you buy your cabinets from is the most important decision of all.

  80. Allison

    Hi! Do you have any experience with a cabinet line called Pinnacle cabinetry? Their spec sheet looked like they offer everything you advise. I had a design made by a kitchen designer and she recommended this brand. We are keeping our old custom built upper cabinets and replacing the counter tops and lower drawers. This is a great blog. Thank you! I live in SE MI.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Alison,
      Do you mean the popular, expensive and well made Pinnacle line of cabinetry from Omega or the small custom Pinnacle cabinetry shop in Virgina. Omega’s Pinnacle I like a lot. Omega Dynasty is their frameless line and if you wanted a frameless cabinet with all the advantages and disadvantages they would be a good choice in frameless. The Omega Pinnacle is a high end framed line with beautiful finishes and very well constructed.

  81. Ken

    Do you have any knowledge with Crown Cabinets based in Salt Lake City? We are wondering how they would compare with Kraftmaid or Shanandoah with upgrades of course! 🙂
    We live in rural Idaho so any help would be wonderful. Thank you!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Ken,
      Crown can be upgraded to be as well made as the Shanendoah line also upgraded but neither of these lower to middle pricepoint lines compares with Kraftmaid.

  82. Pat

    Thanks for all the insights. It already allowed me to put on hold an order for Omega (Masterbrand) on my current client’s project. Now getting quotes on Bertch and other cabinets. Years ago I used Quisine Cabico, now Cabico cabinets for red birch. Any comments? Do you have a line that has a basic shaker reversed panel, with a bead inside edge only door style, full overlay, slab front drawers in red birch? The next kitchen to quote is set on euro-style frameless, white cabinets… should I pass or can it be done if i keep door and shelf widths minimized? I am not far – in Delaware.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Pat,
      We sell frameless cabinetry. There is no question that it has advantages over framed cabinetry for some applications. Modern and contemporary kitchen designs especially ones with slab door styles look better in a frameless line because of the tighter gap between doors and drawers. Frameless cabinetry is easier to access, easier to clean, and allows for larger storage areas in drawers and pull outs. It is only when kitchen designers delude themselves into believing that frameless cabinetry is just as structurally sound as well made framed cabinetry that problems arise. Architects, interior designers, and kitchen designers without much construction experience often haven’t seen the problems that can arise with frameless cabinetry and poor design in the field and so don’t tailor their designs accordingly.

      We let our customers know the advantages and disadvantages of framed and frameless cabinetry and if they select a frameless line we deign their kitchen to limit the stress from larger doors, drawers, roll outs, and other interior cabinet conveniences. Bishop is the most versatile frameless line we carry.

  83. Cecelia

    thanks for your input

  84. Cecelia

    Do you know about Huntwood cabinets made at Liberty Lake, WA? I am trying to decide between Huntwood & Medallion.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Cecelia,
      I don’t know Huntswood and their web site doesn’t get specific about how they are made. They say they are a custom cabinet company which means relatively expensive and from the web site photos the cabinetry is not overly impressive. I would price compare them with a semi-custom line like Kraftmaid, Brookhaven, Bishop, Decora, or Brighten. You might get a better made cabinet for less.

  85. Tania Martin

    Thank you for this awesome blog – so much time has been spent answering everyone’s questions, and I wish were were in a location to use you (we are in Colorado)! I can’t seem to find reviews on Karman Preferred or Sollera. Thank you!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Tania,
      Both cabinet lines I had to look up so I don’t know them first hand. Karman Preferred is a well made cabinet line upgraded to plywood construction. They have nice and varied door styles and finishes and best of all a transparent web site explaining their products and upgrades. Th Sollera web site is the opposite. There is little information and they appear to be frameless construction although they never come out and say so and don’t explain how their cabinetry is made. They tout being green which in the cabinet world is almost code for poor construction when coupled with no other information. I’d stick with the Karman Preferred they look very nice.

  86. Sung

    Hi Paul – this information that you posted is extremely helpful. Could you kindly let me know what you prefer between Brookhaven (no upgrade) versus Decora. I’ver received similar kitchen designs between the 2 lines and the price difference was about $8K more for Brookhaven. I know you like both lines, but wondering which you would prefer. The design and pricing for Decora was from a local Home Depot.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      If you upgrade both lines to all plywood construction they will be made almost identically. So the difference between the lines will be how much you like the particular door style and finish and whether the more expensive selections are worth the extra money.

      Of course how good the designer is and how good the design is is the most important thing especially when cabinet choices are all well made. Most designs we see from people that send us their designs are terrible. So while they are focusing on cabinetry because it’s a tangible thing they can understand they don’t realize that the kitchen they are price comparing is amateurish.

  87. Jane Staunton

    I was wondering if anyone had any experience with Six Square Kitchen Cabinets? Thinking of going with white and wondering how the finish is and do they look nice or cheap?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Jane,
      We sell 6 Square and they are very durable and well made for a relatively inexpensive cabinet line. Their white finish has some grey in it but it is durable and the Blum hinges and tracks are the best made. They have been experiencing delays during production lately and the last few kitchens we ordered took 6 weeks.

  88. Lindy

    I am very concerned about white painted cabinets yellowing. In fact, I received a sample from Cliq and put it in a drawer. In one month, I was shocked to see it was no longer bright white! In fact it was really a dull yellowy white. How do we guard against getting a brand that turns yellow? Also, does this possible color change only happen with white, or does this happen with gray, too?
    Another question, with Bishop frameless is there anything that can make them upgraded, because you don’t seem to like frameless. I like the spaciousness and lack of the center stile you get with frameless.( Looking at a white shaker with a wide frame and a little trim inside the shaker frame.)
    Also, can we pay you to check our KD plan for possible mistakes? Thanks!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Lindy,
      I doubt the Cliq Studios door changed color and it was never a bright white and always a very off white. We sell them and their white is far from a bright white and has stayed the same very off white on our samples some of which are several years old. You just probably didn’t realize how off it was when you first received it. Bishop frameless can be made with a plywood box which is better, almost no cabinets today framed or frameless have a center style between two doors on one cabinet the double door cabinets have butt doors where the two door are very close with a tiny gap between them.

  89. MJ

    I have had bids for a VERY small kitchen and the bids are all over the board – Dynasty $30K, Showplace $20K, Aristokraft $10K, Home Depot $8K, Chinese $6K. I am amazed at the difference in cost and quality. What would you recommend?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      You are paying for the ability to customize and high end finishes with the expensive cabinet lines and you probably aren’t using those design features in your kitchen or care about unusual colors and finishes. For example, Fabuwood the least expensive line we carry would probably cost less than $10K and is more durably constructed than Dynasty Omega. You don’t say where you are located or which cabinet lines the Home Depot or Chinese line are. They could be OK or terrible depending. We might consider selling you cabinetry depending on your project and where you are located, and we are very reasonable for cabinetry and only sell cabinets with all plywood construction and the top of the line Blumotion dovetail soft close drawers and soft close doors. We can at least look at your kitchen floorplan and design printouts if you have them and tell you first about any mistakes we see and give you a close estimate on any of the lines we carry.
      Feel free to email or call us.

  90. Brad

    Is Fabuwood comparable to Kraftaid in regards to price & quality. I have a galley kitchen in a rental property which needs to be renovated before i sell. Looking at white cabinets. Thank you, this is a greeat thread.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      No Kraftmaid is much more custom a cabinet line and costs about 50% more. You actually have to upgrade Kraftmaid to be constructed as well as Fabuwood but one you do it is a superior line like our Bishop, Brighton, and Wellsford lines.

  91. Sroth

    Hi! We are looking into expanding our kitchen. We currently have 17 year old oak kraft maid cabinets that are still in great condition. The problem is they are that yellowish oak color. I would like a white kitchen. I have looked into having them painted, but all the company pictures still seem to show the wood grain, which I don’t want. Should I completely start over? Should I reface and then buy new cabinets to match? Buy more kraftmaid oak cabinets and have them all painted to match amd be stuck with oak grain showing? Does painting really hold up? Thanks!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Stacy,
      Generally only two approaches make financial sense when you are renovating a kitchen. Either doing and spending as little as possible to make your kitchen better so painting existing cabinets and leaving things at that or doing a complete kitchen renovation. Anything short of a complete renovation will add little value to you home while a complete renovation can often add the complete cost to what your home will sell for. Here is a blog on the topic:
      Refacing make the least sense of all as you can get all new cabinetry for nearly the price of refacing.

  92. Virginia

    I am looking to buy kitchen cabinets (framed, full overlay, reversed raised panel) and seeking guidance on which brand you would recommend from the following list: Bishop, Merillat, Schrock, Fabuwood, IKS or Mainline Custom Cabinetry made by Tedd Wood/Executive Cabinetry?

  93. mary

    I noticed you gave Starmark and good rating in one response and not so good in another. Spec say end panel 3/4 hardwood plywood veneer core, top/bottom -1/2 hardwood plywood veneer core, back panel – 1/2″ hardwood plywood, shelf -3/4″ engineered wood. What are your thoughts and this Starmark cabinet? Are there different grades they carry? I worked with a designer for 5 hours and this is what she recommended.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Mary,
      Starmark just needs to be upgraded from what used to be un-upgraded 3/8″ particle board sides to 1/2″ plywood sides and backs. As long as you do this the cabinets are fine and Starmark is known for some nice finishes. Fieldstone used to be made by the same manufacturer and also needed to upgraded the same way.

  94. M Voss

    Two local kitchen designers work with Urban Effects, Mouser, Adelphi, Wayneco and Honey Brook. I haven’t seen these mentioned yet and curious of your thoughts?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      You don’t say what kind of cabinets you are getting framed or frameless. Mouser makes both well, Adelphi looks fine for both, The other lines are small companies without much information available. Urban Effects is probably only a frameless line and unless you are getting a slab door style I would recommend getting a framed cabinet if it is well made.

  95. Kathy paulson

    I am looking to buy Woodland cabinets, out of South Dakota, for our new home. They will upgrade to all plywood boxes if purchased before the year end. We are getting the mission door style in quarter sawn oak. Any opinions on this company, it is from our local building center.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Kathy,
      There is no way to tell how Woodland cabinets are made from their web site. I find cabinet web sites that talk about their quality in glowing terms and tell the companies life story but don’t mention how they make their cabinets a little frustrating. Not being transparent gets you two strikes in my book and sales that expire to put pressure on buyers give you another strike. The cabinets may be well made but I don’t love the company from the little I know about it. Kitchens should never be rushed and sales that make customers order before the project is completely thought out are not in the customers best interest. Why not be competitively priced all year long instead of making projects run less smoothly because they are rushed.

  96. Michelle

    My husband and I have done quite of few home flips and kitchen rehabs, and the best kitchen cabinet for the money that we have found is an american made cabinet called Kitchen Kompact. Only thing they lack are the color options and cabinet sizes, but if you like one of their door styles you can’t beat the construction for the money. Great fit for a rental type property.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Michelle,
      Kitchen Compact wouldn’t be my choice. While the cabinets are pretty well made for an inexpensive cabinet line there are many other lines that are better constructed and around the same price point. Also all the door styles are standard overlay. We haven’t had a customer select a standard overlay door style in several years so the styles are out of date. The only good point about the cabinet line is that they are made in the US while many of the better constructed and better priced brands will have the doors at least made in China even if the cabinet line is a US company. Some of our customers place a high value on buying strictly 100% American but I am a believer of simply buying the best product for the money. If a company can’t compete in a certain market they should find something new to do. I don’t care that my iPhone is made in China. Apple is a US company and if I had to pay $2000 for my phone I wouldn’t but that phone. Personally I also don’t like all the flag waving on their web site.

  97. Ron

    My designer has suggested using Columbia cabinets which she says are a good value. I noticed in a response to a previous question that you don’t like this brand. Is there a particular reason? I’ve also looked at Kitchen Craft, Kraft Maid and executive cabinets. How do you rate these? Thanks you very much.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      As far as Columbia is concerned, I’m not a fan of low cost frameless cabinetry or of companies that tell you how green they are but won’t show you how their cabinets are made. There are many better choices certainly the Kraftmaid that you mention is one. Kitchen Craft is also a frameless line.

  98. Ron

    thanks for taking the time for explaining all these differences, much appreciated. This might be one of the best threads on the internet. Just a question on the Fabuwood, any idea what the typical price is per linear foot from lower to upper end of this brand? Just a rough estimate. Is it 10%, 15% cheaper than cliqstudios/6square?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Yes Fabuwood is usually 10 ton 15% less than 6 Square.

  99. Jay Miller

    I appreciate the reply. All wood, good price. I’m getting a quote.

  100. Sandra

    Hi There – wondering if you have an opinion on “JSI” cabinetry? I am told it is plywood box construction. The builder we are working with stated he could use those vs another brand like Aristocraft with no fees for upgrade. One review online stated that the plywood from China they use contains higher levels of foraldehyde? 🙁 We can only use our builders supplier so custom is not an option…he works with National Lumber.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Aristocraft is a poorly constructed cabinet line. I don’t know JSI and it has no information that I can find about how it is constructed. It makes me crazy when a company tells the long story of their history on their About Us page but says nothing about how their cabinets are constructed. Don’t know what to tell you. There are better made cabinet lines than Aristocrat for equal or less money like the Fabuwood or 6Square lines we carry. Many people on this blog have discovered well made lines I never heard of so they are out there. In general the better made lines at the least expensive price point will be assembled in the US and made in China. The strictly all US made lines will not compare well for the inexpensive cabinetry. Of course the higher end US cabinetry can be made the best of all with the nicest finishes and the most construction options. And there are some expensive US lines that need to be upgraded to be as well made as the Asian lines.

Join the conversation