Cabinet Reviews for 2022. Ratings for Kitchen Cabinet Brands.

18 Replies to “Cabinet Reviews for 2022. Ratings for Kitchen Cabinet Brands.”

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  1. Chris

    Diamond is now offering frameless with 5/8 ply construction. Any thoughts/experience about build quality?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      5/8″ ply is OK but not ideal. We would give them a B- for construction quality buy 3/4″ is only a solid B. Keep in mind that it makes little sense to be getting frameless unless you are getting a slab door style.

  2. Mike

    Hi Paul

    What are your thoughts on Ultimo Custom Cabinetry by “Tuscan Hills”. It looks like they are affiliated with Costco.

    We had visited a kitchen designer in the Baltimore area, and for some reason he steered us to the least expensive cabinets they offered (Marsh Cabinets), but did not even mention the plywood upgrade option.

    Thanks!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Mike,
      Even though I think the cabinets are probably pretty well made, Costco or online are not good places to be having your kitchen designed. Marsh upgraded is a good value.

  3. Kathleen

    Hi Paul!
    Thanks for this site and all the wonderful information and knowledge you provide! Finally, a site that makes sense. (I too wish you were located where I am)

    I have 4 questions that I hope you can comment on:

    1. You’ve said that “The finish on painted cabinetry is less durable than stained cabinetry on ALL cabinet brands”. What about “tinted varnish”, “conversion varnish” and “catalyzed conversion” finishes? What exactly are they, and where do they fall on the “durable finish scale”?

    2. What are your thoughts regarding Schlabach Cabinets (Ohio) and Pioneer Cabinets (Michigan), and where would they be in your review table?

    3. I was surprised to see a major company offering a “plywood upgrade”, but in small print, states that they may use an “MDF core plywood”. That’s not my understanding of what plywood is. Your thoughts?

    4. What is your opinion of toe-kick drawers? Whenever I inquire at a cabinet store, they try to dissuade me from it, saying its a lot of money and not worth it. But I am trying to maximize storage in my small condo kitchen (aka hobbit hole) if it is too expensive from the manufacturer, is an after-market product an alternative?

    Sorry, I guess that’s more than 4 actual questions. Your indulgences please sir.
    Many many thanks,
    Kathleen

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Kathleen,
      1) When we talk about painted cabinets in all brands it isn’t a liquid paint it is a conversion or catalyzed varnish, or a heated powder. Anything less like liquid paints used by small cabinet makers would be MUCH MUCH worse. And these pinishes all are less durable than stains that absorb into the wood and are protected by urethane.
      2) These are two tiny companies that I don’t know. However, “Amish” is often synonymous with poor kitchen design and less durable finishes. See blog:
      https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/custom-cabinets-handmade-or-homemade/. Pioneer makes little sense as inexpensive brands are better bought from bigger companies.
      3) Companies that are using an MDF core plywood are probably talking about slab doors and frameless cabinetry. They would use this not to save money but because it makes sense sometimes depending on the door style and if the cabinets are frameless.
      4) Toe kick drawers are what happens when customers in an effort to capture every inch of space start making bad decisions. And designers that encourage customers to get these are just in it for the money. Good designers won’t even sell you these.

  4. yvette

    Hi, this review helped me a lot! can’t thank you more!
    I was comparing Ultracraft and Kitchen Craft for my kitchen, both frameless. there is an update about Ultracraft that their ply upgrade only come to 5/8″ply sides, top, bottom, no 3/4″ option. The only 3/4″ would be shelving, which is from 3/4″MDF to 3/4″ply.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Yvette,
      Both these brands make pretty inferior frameless cabinetry, and they aren’t even particularly inexpensive. I would stay away from these brands. There are other better made AND less expensive even in frameless lines. CNC and US Cabinet Depot both make well made inexpensive frameless cabinetry, however both are having supply chain issues. If you are getting frameless cabinetry I would get nothing less than 3/4″ plywood sides.

  5. Kevin

    Hi Paul,

    Hello from the Bay Area, CA!

    The kitchen designer I’m working with at the Cabinet Center has been spectacular and she’s steering me towards a Canadian company called Columbia Cabinets. We are considering their full plywood construction boxes, including solid plywood top. Door centers have the option for solid wood or mdf veneer and finishes seem semi limited. Do you have any experience or thoughts regarding theirs cabinets. Price wise.. they seem like equal or better quality compared to Diamond or omega for 25-30% less. The company is also KCMA ESP certified which sounds kinda cool/good for the earth. I appreciate any freedback. Thanks!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Kevin,
      Since 2019, all cabinet lines sold in the US are now carb compliant, pass the same tests, and are KCMA certified. That’s why when a company advertises this they get on my radar as being less than transparent. Columbia is a frameless brand and so can’t get better than a B rating for construction under our rating system. For a shaker painted door style there will be framed lines that would cost a little less like Procraft, J&K, Wolf, Fabuwood, and others that I would choose over Columbia. If you do get Columbia they should be all plywood. Center panel on the door is actually better in MDF, so long as the rest of the door is solid wood.

  6. Andrew

    Why is Shiloh rated only a “C” for quality ? The are American made, family owned company, and appear to have good solid construction. They are priced a tad lower than Kraft made in a recent quote we got..

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Andrew,
      Shiloh has a very small terribly engineered hanging rail that is used to screw all their cabinets to the wall. Brands like Kraftmaid, Decora, Bishop, Homecrest, and others that use a hanging rail system, use a 3 1/2 inch high sold wood or double ply hanging rail. Shiloh uses a 1″ or 1 1/2″ hanging rail which is too small to support the wall cabinets and also too easily bends and splits.

      Why such an otherwise nice cabinet line makes this mistake I have no idea. I know they lose business from our rating. And that fixing the issue is easy. Carpenters can fix the problem on site, but we rate cabinetry the way it is made not after modifications.

      Sometimes companies that do things a certain way for a long time are resistant to make sensible changes just because they have succeeded in the past doing it “their” way. Most US cabinet brands that had poor construction got the message that consumers were getting more savvy when the import lines began selling better built cabinets than theirs for less. Also, our company was reviewing their lines poorly and they realized that that hurt them. I have heard dozens of stories of dealers having customers enter their showrooms with print outs of our reviews. In recent years Masterbrands changed all their lines with 3/8″ sides as did several other brands like Yorketown.

      I have spoken with VP’s from several brands calling to ask why we rate their lines poorly, or have been thanked by others for our good reviews of their products. Sometimes a brand will change after we discuss the reason we review their product poorly or notify us when they make changes. Sometimes their dealers notify us to changes as one of Yorketowns dealers did.

      The good news is that cabinets are being made much, much, better today than they were even 10 years ago. Today their are inexpensive brands that are better constructed than some custom brands were a decade ago.

  7. Andrea Stefanac

    Hi Paul,

    Thank you so much for your very educational website! I wish we weren’t 4 hours from you (Richmond, VA)!
    Do you have any thoughts on Mantra cabinets? I didn’t see them listed in your cabinet reviews.

    Thank you!
    Andrea Stefanac

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Andrea,
      Mantra is an inexpensive pretty well-made cabinet brand from Masterbrands. Not sure why we didn’t rate it. I’m rating it now. We give it a B+ for construction and a Solid B for value. Depending on their lead time right now I might give them a B+ for value. They are a good entry level cabinet brand from Masterbrands.

  8. Bonnie Milano

    Can you compare Bishop to Timberlake. I see you carry both brands as well as Fabuwood. I also carry Fabuwood but I am looking for another line with more custom capabilities and wood selections.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Bonnie,
      Great dealer question!
      We carry Timberlake because they carry more door styles, colors, and wood species (like Maple and Cherry) than Fabuwood and are only about 20% more expensive.

      Bishop starts at about 35% more than Fabuwood and offers both Framed and Frameless lines and almost full custom options. However, when you design in very custom things like inset cabinets or unusual cabinet heights the cost is so close to custom prices that we usually switch customers over to our Brighton custom line.

      If you are only going to carry one of the two lines Bishop offers every option (and Frameless) and their Essentials collection is very reasonable with tons of options.

      Carrying both these type lines along with Fabuwood gives you everything in framed and frameless at very competitive pricing except for full custom cabinetry. Which is why we carry both brands and two custom brands.

      There are two other sensible ways to go that are simpler and offer more options more easily. Designers don’t have as much to learn, and you only have one rep to deal with. They are:

      Carry Wellborn. They have several lines across price points from Fabuwood to Bishop. You get one brand, all the options, only one rep, and less to learn.
      or
      Carry Masterbrands cabinet brands. You can pick from their brands. I would select Homecrest and Decora, but there are many options. One rep, one company to deal with and several brands to choose from.

      We selected our lines ignoring the added work and learning involved just to take advantage of the greatest number of possibilities and also to have diversity in case an individual company were to experience problems. Since we don’t have full kitchen displays in our offices and only use selling centers this allows us to dump lines easily if they have supply chain problems or like in the case of 6SQuare go Bankrupt!

  9. Frank

    Hi Paul

    Do you have any thoughts on Lectus Cabinets, which is a sister brand of Merit? Our desire is for a simple, sturdy, white shaker and we have no significant need for multitudes of options or customizations which is why our designer is recommending these—as a 3/4” plywood box (we would be all over Fabuwood if there was a designer/dealer within 100 miles).

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Frank,
      Lectus is a frameless line. 3/4″ plywood is the best available construction in frameless (assuming the back is also 3/4″). However, there will probably be framed lines that are more durable and also possibly less besides Fabuwood. Examples are Wolf, J&K, ProCraft and others. For a European cabinet it looks fine.

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