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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. Edie Loughlin

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  2. Jeanne

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

  3. Frank Noda

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

  4. F Noda

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  5. dijo

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  6. Jeanne

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  7. Len

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

  8. Bryan

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

  9. mark hocin

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

  10. mark hocin

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  11. karbenat

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  12. karbenat

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

  13. Liz clarke

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  14. Jacki

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I prefer Brookhaven

  15. Kelly Cole

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  16. njdiyer

    DO NOT choose Waypoint

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

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

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

    I am super pissed, and am considering all options.

    pictures below:

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

    2. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  17. Josh

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

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

  18. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  19. Rayc

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

  20. Rayc

    Thank you very much Paul. This is very helpful.

  21. Rayc

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

      1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  22. Sudeep Reyc

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

  23. david

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

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

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  24. Bruno

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

      Happy Holidays,

  25. Richard

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  26. Mike S.

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  27. Cheryl

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  28. erica

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  29. Robert Cole

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

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

  30. Allison

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  31. Ken

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  32. Pat

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

  33. Cecelia

    thanks for your input

  34. Cecelia

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  35. Tania Martin

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  36. Sung

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

  37. Jane Staunton

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  38. Lindy

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  39. MJ

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  40. Brad

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  41. Sroth

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  42. Virginia

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

  43. mary

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  44. M Voss

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  45. Kathy paulson

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  46. Michelle

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  47. Ron

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  48. Ron

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  49. Jay Miller

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

  50. Sandra

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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