Skip to content

Kitchen Cabinet Brand Comparison.

Main Line Kitchen Design compares the construction of Kitchen Cabinet Brands.

Note: Originally posted in 2015. Several of the kitchen cabinet brands mentioned here have since upgraded their cabinet construction. For example, Yorktowne now offers excellent construction. 

white kitchen with black Island

There are two basic ways cabinetry is made.

Kitchen cabinet brands can be framed construction or frameless construction. Frameless cabinetry is also called European or easy access construction. See Below:

Example of frameless cabinet brand
Frameless Cabinet Construction


Example of framed cabinet brand
Framed Cabinet Construction


Kitchen cabinet brands using frameless construction are 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 kitchen cabinet brands look 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 style kitchen in Bishop Cabinet brand
Example of a Frameless Kitchen
2014 CotY Award winning kitchen featuring Bishop Danbury cabinetry in Nordic White with quartzite countertops in Lafayette Hill, PA.
Framed cabinet construction

In framed kitchen cabinet brands 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 and simply become scratched and possibly out of fashion with the passing years.

Frameless lines require designers to consider the frameless cabinetry’s construction limitations and to keep door widths and drawer widths to a minimum to avoid undue stress on the cabinetry. Even designing this way, the average lifespan of a well-made frameless line is probably 20 to 25 years, particularly if you are hard on things in general.

With frameless kitchen cabinet brands the construction is similar from line to line. The thickness of the cabinet box and whether the box is made out of particleboard or plywood determines which brand is better built. But the basics are the same.

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 if the box is 3/4″ thick and particularly when the box is made out of plywood.

Popular frameless kitchen cabinet brands 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 CNC, Bishop, Wellsford, Brighton and Fabuwood cabinetry lines.

With framed cabinetry there are many variations in construction.

To make framed kitchen cabinet brands durable you need several features 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 Cubitac, Fabuwood, 1951 Cabinetry, Integrity, Bishop, Brighton and Wellsford.


natural wood kitchen with large island
Berwyn, PA Kitchen framed cabinet construction

Even some more expensive framed cabinet lines will need to be upgraded to this minimum level of construction quality.

Examples of more expensive kitchen cabinet brands 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 few 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 most of their lines.

Many builders use lower quality cabinet brands 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 buying the cabinets. 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. 

The Home Depot

Kraftmaid, the best made cabinet brand offered at both Lowes and The Home Depot, consistently does poorly in these reports. Even though Kraftmaid is easily upgraded to better framed construction. I believe this is due to the much higher expectations of the consumers buying a home centers “top” brand.  And because inexperienced home center designers fail to explain cabinet properties and upgrades.

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

Below are the most important  blogs that evaluate kitchen cabinet brands:

Cabinet Reviews for 2022: Cabinet Ratings for the top cabinet brands

If You Are Buying Kitchen Cabinets, Beware!

Why Price Comparing Kitchen Cabinets Can be a Bad Idea

Which Cabinet Brand is Best for Me?


Main Line Kitchen Design

503 Replies to “Kitchen Cabinet Brand Comparison.”

  1. Raj G.

    Hey thanks for all the great info! We are at the beginning of a very modern custom home build and are very lost with kitchen cabinets. We are looking to do slab front integrated handles, frameless construction. We are in the Raleigh Durham area in NC. Can you recommend anyone in that area?

    Also what is your experience with cabinets imported from Europe? FORM/Nobilia, Porcelanosa has a brand Gamadecor, etc. They gave the ultra modern look we want and seem more reasonably priced compared to US based higher end custom cabinets. Thanks so much!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Raj,
      The company closest to you that we have recommended is West End Cabinetry Winston-Salem NC 336-722-6565.
      How good they are at frameless European design I don’t know.

      The best constructed frameless cabinets will be 3/4′ all plywood construction. As far as I know nearly all Imported European cabinetry is particle board. Some imported US brands sourcing from Mexico and Asia will be 3/4″ plywood boxes but they will be inexpensive and less flashy than many European brands However they are more durably built even though they are far less expensive. CNC would be one of these brands. Bishop is a brand we sell that is US made in Alabama and is more expensive and can be upgraded to 3/4″ plywood boxes.

      The problem with ultra modern is that durability seldom comes with that style. So designers need to design around the lesser construction when designing a kitchen. Hopefully you are very gentile with your cabinetry and don’t overload cabinets and especially drawers and roll outs.

  2. Lori

    Hi Paul. Thank you for all the helpful information!! I have a question about Fabuwood–I see you sell it and rate it highly
    The designer at the kitchen place I.wemt to told me that Fabuwood only uses 1 coat of primer and one coat of paint. Since a durable finish is a priority for me, I ruled it out based on the info I was given. He highly recommends Grabill because he says the finish is great. And as a cheaper alternative, he recommends DesignCraft (since I really like frameless). After looking at DesignCraft website, I realize I have to upgrade to the plywood sides though. I still want to consider Fabuwood. Can you tell me if it’s true about their finish basically being inferior? Thank you so much!! I am so confused about what to do!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Lori,
      Grabil is a great cabinet brand but double the price of Fabuwood. This designer is just a salesman who is making things up as he goes along and has no inside knowledge on the difference in the paint process or the durability of one brand over another.

      The reason to buy Grabill over Fabuwood is to get the more attractive finishes and to have an infinite number of door styles, sizes, and customizations at you disposal. Durability is not a reason as our video below demonstrates. In the video from the blog below we test Fabuwood versus high end semicustom and custom cabinet finishes like Grabil. We also test MDF vs real wood and find very little difference in durability on the painted doors.

      Most importantly
      People worry about cabinet quality and price far more than they worry about their designs. This is because they aren’t kitchen or bath designers themselves and don’t understand how poor their designs usually are. If you listen to one of our podcasts this is usually a central issue. The Podcast below illustrates how different designs can be from what a homeowner might expect, while still staying within their budget. So, it makes little sense splurging on cabinets, appliances, and other expensive upgrades, when there are design improvements left on the table.
      Below is a podcast that focuses on this issue:

      Removing a wall or moving a window or exterior doorway can cost a few thousand dollars but make the kitchen and a home a completely different with a better layout. This can often increase the home’s value several times more than the cost of the renovation. Whereas upgrading to a more expensive cabinet brand like Grabill or professional appliances like SubZero can add tens of thousands of dollars to a renovation and if the kitchen design is poor make getting back what you spent on the renovation impossible, when you sell the home.

      So working with a good kitchen designer is more important than people realize. Kitchen designers help you find the design you would never have thought of. Good designers should also help you spend your renovation budget more effectively. They will explain cost options, and make sure you are splurging on the things that add value to your home or that are important to you even if they don’t.

      Your designer does not sound like someone I would trust. He seems to want to sell stuff first and make things up to help him convince you to buy from him. Adding additional coats of paint actually makes the finish more likely to chip. Baking finishes in ovens, and power coating and melting the powder in ovens to create a baked on enamel does give a slightly more durable painted finish. However, all stained finishes will be more durable than any painted one.

  3. Shannon


    We are building a custom home and considering Brookhaven inset cabinets but I am interested in other insets that might be quality and less expensive.

    Thank you.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Shannon,
      Once you are getting inset cabinetry only the high end semi-custom and custom brands will do it well. Brands that might be less expensive for inset would include Brighton, Decora, Fieldstone, Medallion, and StarMark. Often when people are building a custom home their kitchen design needs improvement. I would recomend sending your design into our Friday helpline for me to review and make sure that there aren’t important considerations that are going unaddressed. Here’s one podcast that might be relevant:

  4. Pat

    I appreciate the helpful info here. I notice Waypoint is among the cabinets on the list. Are they a good, midline cabinet? We’re looking for a white painted cabinet.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Pat,
      Here is our 2018 reviews. You will see that there are higher rated inexpensive cabinet lines like Fabuwood, Wolf, J&K, CNC(less expensive) and others.

  5. Paula Paradis

    Very interesting article…appreciate the information. I am looking at the cliqstudios line of cabinets. All on line – great catalog that shows the quality construction of their cabinets, made with all of your recommendations for quality.

    Wondering if you know anything about their line of cabinets and their quality.

    Thank you

    1. ITSAdmin

      Hi Paula,
      We sell CliqStudios cabinetry under the 6Square brand.

      However, buying cabinets on line is a mistake. Saving a little bit of money but having no professional help measuring and designing your kitchen other that remotely is a terrible idea. Kitchens are far more complicated than people understand. If you send us your CliqStudios design I would bet we would find many mistakes. Send it on a Friday and follow up with a phone call between 2-4 pm EST and one of us can help explain the mistakes we find. email to After the mistakes are shown to you don’t compound the problem buy then buying cabinets on line thinking that you are now good to go. Find a local qualified professional to help you.

      Here are our funny videos on the topic:

  6. Carol

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

    1. ITSAdmin

      I have never heard of Siteline. The siteline web site creeps me out a little though. Decora is a very good brand.

  7. Brian O’Donnell

    Hi Paul! So appreciate your site and taking time to respond. Wish you were near me. I am trying to decide between Executive frameless cabinets (3/4 inch box) or kraft made framed cabinets (1/2 inch) The kitchen designer likes Executive. They’re going to be in shaker style painted white with five piece drawer fronts. I think MDF fronts because of expansion over time but would consider wood too. The prices are about the same- maybe a little less for the Kraftmaid. Schuler was an option too but is a couple thousand more- would consider if you think it’s worth it. Thank you!

    1. ITSAdmin

      I would always pick a framed cabinet over a frameless cabinet for a shaker door style. Fabuwood is at least 30% less than all these lines and is better made than Executive and has as nice a painted finish as Schuler. You just won’t get as many custom options in Fabuwood which you may not even be getting. Kitchen designers that push frameless don’t win my heart.

  8. Paul McAlary

    hi Hawkfan,
    That should be fine then.

  9. HawkFan

    Hi Paul
    We are getting an estimate to upgrade all SP sides to 1/2″ plywood (which also brings a free upgrade to a wood veneer finish.)
    Tops and bottoms are 3/8″ plywood
    Backs are 1/4″ with 5/8″ backrail

  10. Paul McAlary

    Hi Hawkfan,
    Anyone that would recommend that scares me. You must upgrade or your money is wasted.

  11. HawkFan

    Thanks for your honest opinion. The Showplace rep has recommended upgrading to 5/8 for the outside walls of the cabinets (those that are visible) but to save costs, he recommends 1/4 for interior sides that are not visible. WE can get 5/8″ upgrade for the other sides but it adds 10% ($2k) to the cabinet costs.

  12. HawkFan

    To add to my previous post…we are looking at 3cm quartz countertop (91 t 97″) on top of four base cabinets. Will the 1/4″ side walls (on the interior walls) and 5/8″ on the outside walls of an island. I believe you have posted somewhere about concerns of supporting that much weight. Again your thoughts? I really appreciate this great blog.

    1. ITSAdmin

      Hi Hawkfan,
      Sorry, way to little information to give you an answer as far as the quartz is concerned. Although if the interior sides of your cabinets are 1/4 thick your kitchen will fall apart so quickly I wouldn’t be getting an expensive quartz countertops.

  13. HawkFan

    We are evaluating Showplace (SP) vs Fieldstone (F) and a private small company custom line.
    1) SP quote for our kitchen is $20.7k and F is about the same.
    2) SP rep has done a great job working with us but it seems F is better materials
    a. side walls F 3/4 vs SP 1/4 except for exposed sides upgraded to 5/8
    b. tops and bottoms F 1/2 vs SP 3/8
    c. shelving F 3/4 plywood vs SP 3/4 chipboard
    Your thoughts? Thanks.

    1. ITSAdmin

      Hi Hawkfan,
      Never buy a cabinet with 1/4″ sides. They will fall apart rapidly and were wall cabinets made this way I can’t even imagine them staying on the walls for any length of time were you to put heavy plates and glasses in them. If the Showplace rep has really suggested 1/4″ sides he or she should be avoided as any information and design work that they helped you with is surely mistake riddled.
      Doing a great job for a kitchen designer usually means telling customers things that they don’t want to hear. Conversations with a good designer might include being told things like:

      You need pay to upgrade these cabinets to make them well constructed
      Your island needs to be smaller
      You can’t put cabinets all the way to the ceiling without a stacked crown molding
      You need filler in the cabinet run to level the cabinets
      That design idea is not a good one for these reasons

      Being pleasant and “helping” customers do the designs they want without criticism of poor designs and warnings about design and cabinetry problems is not helping it is being unprofessional and the definition of a poor kitchen designer. So be careful here.

  14. ITSAdmin

    Hi Steve,
    Not a fan of either line. Also ONLY offering these two lines shows less professionalism. Good cabinet dealers usually offer several selections at several different price points for both framed and frameless cabinetry.

  15. Steve

    Sorry, ignore my post…after a bit more research, I see that Aspect is also made by Shiloh. I’ll have to talk with my KD about why that’s the only company they work with. Thanks for the great blog and the cabinet ratings!

  16. Steve

    What a great blog—thank you! My KD in Southern California uses two cabinetry lines: Eclipse by Shiloh, the pricier frameless option, and Aspect by W.W. Wood, the less expensive framed option. I see your Shiloh rating on the 2018 list (and the rated quality worries me for the cost), but not Aspect. Any feedback on that line? They are at:

    Thanks, Steve

  17. Katerina

    Very helpful blog!
    Do you have a thought about Executive Cabinetry? Looking for Frameless, clean-cut, Contemporary look, perhaps shaker style doors… Thank you!

    1. ITSAdmin

      I would not recommend a frameless cabinet for any door style other than a slab door style. That being said for a frameless cabinet Executive looks good at a glance.

  18. Karen F.

    I live in Knoxville, TN and am interested in a kitchen renovation. I want a modern design with horizontal wood grain doors, probably walnut or maple on the lower cabinets and island. Upper cabinets would be painted. Because of this aesthetic choice it seems that frameless is best. I also I’m interested in plywood construction. The KD professional that my contractor recommends seems to be pushing KitchenCraft. The aesthetic I want only comes with bamboo and MDF boxes. This just doesn’t seem like the right thing, so I haven’t pursued a kitchen design from him.
    1. Do you have recommendations of cabinet companies that offer horizontal wood grain door doors or veneers on plywood construction and I’ll see who the local distributors are.
    2. I didn’t see a recommended KF on your list for my area. Did I overlook someone?
    3. have you heard of MOD Cabinetry out of Berkeley, CA? Thoughts?

    1. ITSAdmin

      Hi Karen,
      Any custom cabinet line that sells frameless cabinetry should offer what you want. They will be much more expensive than a line like KitchenCraft though, but also far more durable. Omega Dynasty might be a line that would fall in between the most expensive custom frameless lines and KitchenCraft. They are very popular and have dealers almost everywhere.

  19. Joanne

    I am researching different cabinet lines, Signature, Crystal or Fieldstone. Any suggestions or comments about these lines?

  20. MarkT

    Hi, does anyone know or have experience with Kith kitchen cabinets. We are considering a vendor who uses them, but the construction seems to be below minimums. Would appreciate any insights from your readers. Thank you!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      We rate Kith in our 2018 cabinet ratings blog along with 78 other brands, Link here

  21. Natalie

    Thank you this is very helpful!

  22. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Executive upgraded to 3/4″ plywood is way better than the Wood-Mode that you ordered. 5/8″ particle board would get a C or a D for construction in our 2018 ratings. Still, I would not recommend that style door in a frameless cabinet line. A framed line would be no more expensive and would be better constructed. I usually recommend frameless lines for the most contemporary slab door styles where they look so much better that the loss of durability is worth it.

  23. Natalie

    Brookhaven I frameless with 5/8 particle board, natural wood grain melamine interior, wood veneer finished ends, door style is edgemont recessed, full overlay with recessed oak doors and drawer heads.

  24. Natalie

    We recently ordered Wood Mode cabinets only to find they are no longer in business. The store we ordered them from wants to give us executive cabinets for the same price (I’ve already put down half the money as a deposit). Do you know if the prices are comparable or if I’m now paying for a higher end cabinet and receiving a lesser quality product? Also, it seems from previous posts that I should have upgraded to plywood which I did not, so I’m assuming I should do that with the new order.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Executive is a frameless line as far as I know. What kind of cabinets were you getting from Woodmode? What door style and finish? The Wood-Mode Contemporary Expressions door styles were frameless. If you weren’t getting a frameless cabinet I would not switch to one. If you were the Plywood upgrade would make pricing similar.

  25. George Sadusk

    We are talking to a contractor who wants to use a designer that sells Schrock cabinets. With so many reviews on the Web that complain about quality control and customer service issues with Schrock, we are reluctant to go forward. It seems like Brighton is a better alternative, even though they have a back panel that is only 1/4 inch thick. Since I doubt that you do business in Northern Virgina, is there someone you can recommend here that is a Brighton dealer?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi George,
      Brighton has 1/2″ hanging rails in back of the 1/4″ back so where you attach cabinets to the wall they are 3/4″ thick. We have done business in Northern Virginia but it really is inconvenient for customers making selections and having meetings so usually it only makes sense with new construction where nothing is built yet and where the door style and finish is already known. These are the Brighton Delers in VA listed on the Brighton Web site:

      Cabinet Discounters – Chantilly, VA
      14501 F Lee Jackson Hwy.
      Chantilly, VA 20151
      Local Phone: (703) 650-0659
      Phone: (800) 843-3732

      Cabinet Discounters – Springfield, VA
      5228 Port Royal Rd.
      Springfield, VA 22151
      Local Phone: (703) 657-8106
      Phone: (800) 843-3732

      Norman’s Inc. Cabinetry & Decorating
      1116 West Main Street
      Radford, VA 24141
      Phone: (540) 639-1162
      Fax: (540) 639-0414

  26. Amber Carlson

    This article, questions, and your replies are a goldmine. I know others have said it, but just have to say THANK YOU! We are building a custom home on a tight budget. This will help us pick our cabinets. Hoping Decora is not out of range. Anyway to my question….. we are having mostly lower cabinets, and I really want drawers, but my builder was very discouraging that this may be cost prohibitive.
    Are lower drawers worth the extra cost?
    Is there a percentage estimate on higher cost?
    If we are priced out of Decora shaker stain grade, what is the next best option for affordability ?
    Do you recommend elminating the drawers and going with the Decora or going with a less expensive cabinet and getting the drawers? Sorry for all the questions and thx again.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Adding a drawer to a cabinet adds on average about $100 per drawer. So drawers shouldn’t break the bank. Door style color and cabinet line can be big percentage changers.

  27. Patty

    Great blog. Wondering your thoughts on Sorrento by Decor Cabinet Company or Wynbrooke Cabinetry? Good quality? Thanks.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      We rate many lines on our 2018 cabinet review, Link below:

      The Decor web site is full of vague interior design bull**** but says nothing about how their cabinetry is constructed. Quotes like “Our clients love of California drove the whole personality of new space” make me crazy.
      This is only from memory but I believe Decor started as an higher priced but poorly made frameless cabinet company. What they are now I can’t say because they don’t say.
      Wynbrooke Cabinetry seems like a similar but nicer looking animal without the platitudes. Remember that these frameless lines are less durable then the better made framed lines and often more expensive. For very contemporary slab door styles they are definitely better looking but you will always sacrifice construction quality in any frameless line. The best made frameless lines are made with 3/4″ plywood or plywood core sides. I doubt either of these lines do this otherwise they would say so.

  28. surferdj

    Hi, Amazing info on here, just priceless!! I was considering Kith and Medallion for my small galley kitchen (35 lin/ft). Kith was $8k + install, Medallion (Silver line) was $9k + install. Seems pricey for such a small kitchen. Fabuwood came in at $3,600 installed. Problem is I’m not sure about that dealer and their installs. Do you know of anyone in the Saint Augustine / Jacksonville area you trust that is a Fabuwood dealer?
    I just moved from NJ to FL, so I’m clueless. Any info appreciated.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      We have looked in your area a couple of times and not found a company that met our criteria for recommending. That doesn’t mean that the place you found isn’t any good just that from afar we can’t tell who might be good in your area. Google the place you got a quote from and see if they get good reviews on Google. Then check any reviews they have on YELP,, and Angies LIst. If they have been in business for a while and haven’t accumulated negative reviews that’s a good sign. If they have many positive reviews that’s a very good sign. Finally ask who’s kitchen they are installing right now and ask for the customers phone number. Any place can did up a few satisfied customers to recommend them. However, they can’t cheery pick the place that they are at presently. Speak to the people they are working with now and check back a couple of weeks later. If those customers are happy you should be too!

  29. Judy S.

    Hi, Paul. Our contractor recommended a kitchen design company nearby. We met with a designer today. She suggested choosing between Plain & Fancy and Teddwood. I asked about wood construction, and she said they are both 1/4” plywood on the back with 5/8” hanging rails. Also, she suggested frameless because of the increased storage space and “that’s what everybody wants.” I believe we could upgrade to framed on both. What do you think of these two companies in general and what do you think about the 1/4” back with hanging rails? Thank you for your assistance.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Judy,
      The 1/4″ back and hanging rails are fine. Both those lines are well made and also expensive. Frameless cabinets have the sane amount of intertior cabinet space but each drawer IS 1 1/2″ wider so you get a little more drawer space. I would never make the trade off for a little more drawer space and lose the better framed cabinet contruction.
      On slab doors the cabinetry does look a little sleaker with frameless cabinetry so if your kitchen is ultra modern frameless can make sense, but if you aren’t getting very modern cabinetry frameless is a poor choice.
      Designers that always use frameless cabinetry are showing thier ignorance as well as thier lack of attension to construction detail in general. These type kitchen designers will routinely over stress cabinetry with extra wide drawer bases and interior cabinetry gadgets because they are not critical thinkers and assume that if the cabinet company makes a cabinet everyting is fine. Wiser professionals know not to push the envelope on stressing cabinetry, particularly with frameless cabinetry, if you want a kitchen to hold up over time.

  30. Kay Weiss

    What is your opinion of Great Northern Cabinets out of Wisconsin?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Kay,
      Don’t know much about them or how they price out. They are well constructed though and would get a solid A for construction on our ratings system.

  31. paul mcalary

    Bishop is not sold in California so while I’m sure any US made all plywood box would be fine concerning off-gassing I doubt they bother getting certified. Consumers that focus on these certifications above all else are easy to sell to and most often the cabinet companies that tout their greenness and carb compliance are the worst and not the better cabinet lines.
    The kitchen industry is all about dangling shinny objects in front of consumers. Getting a good kitchen designer to help you navigate through all the cabinet, countertop, and appliance companies BS and to help you design a good kitchen is more important than anything else.
    Universal design is another shiny object that less able kitchen designers focus on. All well designed kitchens should conform to the principles of UD but the least knowledgeable designers hang their hat on this one aspect. Followed by an obsession with color. This is because there are such complex issues involved in good kitchen design and the job is so difficult that less knowledgeable designers use these one issue topics to appeal to one issue customers.

  32. Jean

    Hello, I’m considering going with Jim Bishop cabinetry line, upgraded of course. I know they are KCMA/ANSI A161.1 certified but are they also KCMA/ ESP certified? The brochure only has the KCMA/ANSI seal. I would like to purchase cabinets that are KCMA/ESP certified as well. Doing a little bit of research, it seems to me you need the ESP seal to claim CARB compliant. Your input would be appreciated. Thanks!

  33. Aly

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Aly,
      We rate JSI on our most recent ratings blog:
      They are pretty well made and a pretty good value which their rating reflects. You could be getting a better price then we got in our sample and so they could be a better vale than we listed.

  34. Jamie

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  35. Sandra

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

  36. Alex

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  37. Cathleen

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

  38. Ather

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

  39. Frank


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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

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

  40. Dave


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

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

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  41. D Ross

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

  42. Suzie

    Any opinions about Wavepoint or Forevermark? Thanks

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Waypoint is better

  43. Vanesa

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Schuler is very expensive cabinetry. Waypoint is inexpensive but OK

  44. Carol Groome

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  45. Ali

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

  46. Cheryl

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

Join the conversation