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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 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 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 style kitchen in Bishop Cabinet brand
Example of a Frameless Kitchen
Inset kitchen in Bishop cabinet brand
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 Cubitac, Fabuwood, Timberlake, Bishop, Brighton and Wellsford.


natural wood kitchen with large island
Berwyn, PA Kitchen

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 most of their lines.

Many builders use 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.

If You Are Buying Kitchen Cabinets, Beware!

Price Comparing Kitchen Cabinets Can be a Bad Idea.

What Kitchen Cabinet Brand is the Best for Me?


Main Line Kitchen Design

497 Replies to “Kitchen Cabinet Brand Comparison.”

  1. Jay miller

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  2. Donna Noblin

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 Started out as a DIY, reusing 30 yr old cabinets, Brammer, in wonderful condition, but now we realize they are outdated with their outside hinges, lack of molding, shiny finish, and cathedral doors.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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  3. Stephanie

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

      1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

    2. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  4. Karen

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

  5. bill l

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  6. Sadie

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  7. Sadie

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

  8. Christie

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I would Choose Legacy Debut from those choices.

      1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  9. Cindy

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

  10. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

  11. Virginia

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

  12. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  13. Virginia

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

  14. Virginia

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  15. John

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

  16. John


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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  17. Kevin

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  18. Ellen venturino

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

  19. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  20. Ellen Venturino

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

  21. Terry

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  22. PAUL

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

  23. Amanda

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

  24. Amanda

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

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

  25. Leslie

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  26. Cheryl

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  27. Charlene

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  28. ally

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  29. Sandy

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  30. Sharon

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  31. Alison

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  32. Lola

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

    Thank you.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Wellborn, Kraftmaid and Decora are the best choices listed.


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

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

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

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

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

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

  34. Teresa

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  35. Sally

    Thank you Paul. I appreciate your feedback.

  36. sally

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  37. Vikki

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

  38. pam

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  39. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  40. S Rayc

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

  41. Nick Tanzi

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  42. Jim

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  43. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

    Here is our YouTube page address:

  44. S Rayc

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

  45. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  46. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  47. S Rayc

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

  48. PSHIN

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  49. S Rayc

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  50. S Rayc

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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