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Kitchen Cabinet comparison for 2017. Reviews of the top selling cabinet lines.

Kitchen Cabinet Comparison 2017

Below is our list of the top selling cabinet makers in the United States, and our kitchen cabinet comparison for those brands.

Our reviews rate how these cabinet brands compare for construction quality and for value considering the price point of each cabinet line. Price point is rated from 1 to 6 with 6 being the most expensive cabinetry on the market.

We compare kitchen cabinetry assuming each line is upgraded to the top level of construction available.

Read The Most recently posted cabinet reviews below:

Cabinet Reviews: Ratings for the top 100 cabinet brands.

A grade of A for construction quality will not be equal across different price levels, as the more expensive price point cabinets will have far nicer finishes and construction options.

Photo of pen kitchen concept with dining room table in the same room as the kitchen. Kitchen cabinet ratings.

The value grade we give is not a rating about the quality of the cabinetry but a rating of how good an investment a cabinet line is considering it’s cost.

For example, many of the most expensive well-made cabinet lines receive lover marks on value.

 Even though as designers we think the cabinetry is the best in its class. These lines receive lower kitchen cabinet ratings on value simply because there are competitors offering the same quality at slightly lower prices.

Note: The highest grade for Quality in any frameless European style cabinet line is a B. While frameless cabinetry is easier to access and is sleeker looking, it is also less durable than the best made framed cabinetry.

Kitchen cabinet ratings
Cabinet line                   Price level 1-6     Quality     Value
6 Square   2 B+ B+
American Woodmark 3 B C+
Aristocraft 2 C C
Bertch   4 A A-
Bishop   4 A A-
Bishop Frameless 5 B B+
Bremtown 6 A+ C
Brighton   4 A A+
Brookhaven Closed Closed A B
Cabico   4 B B
Candlelight 4 A A
Canyon Creek 3 B B
CNC   1 B+ A
Collier   5 A B-
Crystal   5 A+ A
Decora   4 A A
Design-Craft 4 B B
Diamond   4 B B
Durasupreme 5 B+ B
Durasupreme frameless 3 C C
(Omega)Dynasty Frameless 4 B C
(Omega)Dynasty Pinnacle Framed 5 A B
Fabuwood 2 A A
Fabuwood Frameless 3 B A+
Fieldstone 4 A B+
Grabill   6 A+ B
Haas   3 B B
Hanssem   1 B+ B
Homecrest 3 B+ B
IKEA (frameless) 1 C C
Innermost framelss 3 B B
Kabinart   3 D D
Kemper   3 B C
Kitchencraft Frameless 3 C B
Kith   3 B+ C+
Kountry Kraft framed 6 A B
Kountry Kraft frameless 6 B B
Kraftmaid   4 B+ A
Legacy   3 B+ C-
LifeArt   1 C+ A
Marsh   2 B+ B
Medallion   5 B+ C+
Merillat   2 C D
Mid Continent 2 C C
Mouser   5 A A-
Mouser Frameless 5 B A
Ovation   4 B C
Plain and Fancy 6 A B
Poggenpohl frameless 6 B C
QuakerMaid frameless 4 B B
Rutt   6 A+ A
Schrock   3 B B
Schuler   5 B+ C+
Shenandoah 3 B C+
Shiloh   4 C C
Showplace 3 B+ B-
Solid Wood Cabinets 1 A A
Starmark   4 A B+
Stylecraft   6 A+ B+
Thomasville* 4 B- C-
Timberlake 3 B C+
Ultracraft Frameless 2 C C
Village   5 A A
Waypoint   2 B B
Wellborn   4 A A
Wellsford   5 A+ A+
Wolf   1 B+ B+
Woodharbor 4 B+ C
Woodmode Closed Closed A A-
Yorktowne 3 C D

* Note: 

Home Depot can change who manufactures this line although Masterbrands has been manufacturing the line under the Thomasville name for over ten years.

Remember that choosing the designer, the cabinet dealer, and the installer you are working with is just as important as the cabinet line.

Do you need updated rankings for these cabinet lines and an additional 30 popular cabinet lines?

Below is the most up to date kitchen cabinet comparison.

Link to: Cabinet Reviews for 2022. Ratings for Kitchen Cabinet Brands. – (

Are you looking for more general reviews of cabinetry from 2015 explaining types of cabinetry construction?

For those sensitive to the fumes new cabinetry can give off:

Cabinet Off Gassing, Carb2 Compliance, and VOC’s.

Hoping you make all the right choices…and of course…Bon Appetit!

Main Line Kitchen Design

Paul, John, Stacia, Ed, Tom, and Julie

1 Replies to “Kitchen Cabinet comparison for 2017. Reviews of the top selling cabinet lines.”

  1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Hi Joe,
    All plywood would be way better. Especially if the sides of the cabinet were stained instead of simply a plastic photo. If the sides were real wood stained they would get a B for construction.

  2. Amanda

    My husband and I are currently looking at either putting in Brookhaven or Evoke cabinets for our new kitchen. The price came in pretty much the same for both cabinets so I was wondering if you had an opinion on either of our two choices (more so Evoke). We were originally going with fabuwood but recently have decided to spend extra money in our kitchen so now it’s between those two.
    Thank you

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I have never heard of Evoke so I would go for the established Brookhaven line. Make sure you upgrade to plywood construction.

  3. Joe DeWitt

    There is a all plywood box upgrade that we were quoted. Does that change anything? Agree with your concerns about design though we’ve been three different places and each has been very similar in layout components etc. Trying to thoroughly vet all options.

  4. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Hi Joe,
    These cabinets are the lowest stock cabinetry out there. No better than IKEA. I don’t know their cost but they would get a C- or a D for construction in our rating system. The melamine exterior sides will bleach and fade quickly and they will fall apart if put under modest stress. There are many lines that should be close in price I would think but would get A’s and B’s on our list for their construction.
    No good designer would sell these so I would assume that your design may need improvement too. It makes no sense to spend all the money you will be compelled to renovating a kitchen, with new cabinets, countertops, appliance, flooring, fixtures and labor and to save at most 20% on the cabinetry which everything is built around and dependent upon. And you will also not have the assistance of an experienced professional kitchen designer. Spend a little more and most importantly get the knowledgeable help that all kitchen renovations require. Hopefully the Tru Cabinet place has an actual kitchen designer that can review you plan. Or call us on a Friday between 2 and 4 EST and we can review your plan after you email it to our designer.

  5. James

    We are doing a fairly high end kitchen remodel and are having a tough time deciding on which cabinet line. The 2 companies we are down to have multiple lines. One has Mouser, Schlabach, Fabuwood, Wellborn and Showplace. The other carries Dynasty, HomeCraft, KitchenCraft, Omega and Schrock. On top of that many of those cabinet makers offer many lines within the brand, for instance Wellborn offers 4 different lines. My question is which of these brand or brands would you recommend as the best quality?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi James,
      The first company carries great brands and the second company not so much. When a company makes good brand choices that tells me they know what they are doing. I’d stick with company A and take the designers advice on the cabinet line based on what you want and your budget.

  6. Joe DeWitt

    You’re an amazing wealth of information, thanks for what you do.
    Any opinion on BJ Tidwell’s Monarch line? I got a great quote that seems a bit too good to be true.
    I have a second quote on upgraded Kemper Monarch and a third on Tru Cabinetry.
    Thanks again.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Joe,
      Sorry BJ Tidwell does not show how their cabinetry is constructed anywhere we can find on line. You can use this link to see how we describe a well constructed cabinet and if the dealer supplies you with specs you can check or forward specs to us to evaluate:

      We rate Kemper cabinets in our 2018 ranking (not so well) and Tru cabinets would get between a B or B+ for construction under our system. I only worry about Tru’s 5/8″ plywood shelves on wide wall and base cabinets so if you could somehow upgrade the shelves to 3/4″ thick on the wide cabinets they are a B+, and if you could get soft close tracks and hinges as an upgrade a solid B+.

  7. ch

    Thank you so much for doing this blog. I have been reading it for the past two weeks. My husband and I were convinced we should keep the same layout in our kitchen, so I started focusing on cabinets. After reading your blog, I realized I should pull back and start talking to designers. Three designers I talked to told me to do the exact same thing, and I decided they were right! We’ve decided to move forward with one of them. If I hadn’t read your blog, chances are I would have done some very stupid things. Thanks again for taking the time to do this.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Caroline,
      Thanks so much for your message and for following our blog. It is gratifying to finally have a reader say this. Suprisingly you are the first person to say this in such a straight forward way.

      It can be frustrating spending so much time trying to make clear what you and all our customers accept. THat ALL kitchens can be designed better than they were 20 or 30 years ago.
      The fact that homeowners don’t realize this is BECAUSE they aren’t professional kitchen designers and any preconceptions that they have are quite often the opposite of what is true.
      We try to make this clear with funny videos like the one below:

      I will keep beating the same drum hoping that a few more people will hear it.

  8. Laurel Gaffney

    Hi there! Thank you so much for this helpful review. We are considering cabinets by Kraftmaid or Bertch, which both seem to have similar ratings on your list. Can you tell me if there is a significant price difference for comparable styles between the two brands (semi-custom overlay doors from Bertch vs Kraftmaid’s standard overlay doors)? Pick a basic maple mission style cabinet front, standard white paint (no glaze). Which costs more? And does Bertch use soft close hinges and drawer glides as standard? I remember Kraftmaid did when we renovated our old kitchen a few years ago. Thank you!

  9. Mike Zimbleman

    Hi Paul-
    Re: DeWils. They have both frameless and face frame lines. We bought full face frame from them for our remodel last spring. They seem to be good quality cabinets. Twelve years ago we bought Kraftmaid for another house and if my memory is any good, I would rate DeWils just a little below Kraftmaid. We bought from them because we wanted cabinets stained in a custom color and they were about the only manufacturer we found that would do a custom stain (not paint).

  10. veronica

    Very much in need of an advice. Working on a kitchen remodel Already have a beautiful design in place. Looking to find a relaible e and high quality cabinetry manufacture. Have got estimates from Kraftmaid, Schuler, Ultracraft. Not comfortable about the negative reviews. Mainly concerned about the finish and paint. thank you

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      All painted finishes are less durable and I haven’t noticed much of a difference between any lines in paint durability. Ultracraft is frameless and so I would avoid. When customers tell us that they like their present design and they are working with Home Centers (Lowes in your case) we find almost always that their designs are poor. I constantly pound the point that 90% of our customers come to us believing that they know the design they want and even the appliances that they want but the buy a completely different kitchen. Why? because not being professional designers they don’t understand how much their design can be improved.

  11. Matt Tisler

    To those people asking about Dewils cabinetry from Vancouver, WA. I see that a comparison was made to American Woodmark. I sold American Woodmark in the past and don’t dislike them but there is no way Dewils is equivalent. Dewils is a far better cabinet.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Matt,
      We don’t rate Dewils on our list but I believe they are a frameless European constructed custom line. So while their finishes and the door styles they offer will be nicer than Am Woodmark they could never recieve higher than a B rating for their construction which might be the source of the confussion.

  12. Heather Shafter

    So what brand does Main Line Kitchen Design use and why?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Heather,
      Good question, we can sell up to about 10 brands that we are authorized dealers for, but we primarily sell these 7 brands. We selected the brands we carry because they all are well constructed and meet our criteria for durability and quality but also because they have some niche that we like that they are a good value for. Brands below and what’s the niche:

      CNC- Good for flipping lower priced homes
      Fabuwood -simply the best and most versatile of the import lines. A step above the rest.
      6Square – Many unusual colors available and different wood species in an inexpensive line.
      Bishop -Semi custom prices but the abiliity to do almost everything custom.
      Brighton -Custom cabintry at high end Semi Custom Prices
      Wellsford -Truly custom cabinetry with any wood species and furniture grade finishes only 15% more than Brighton.

      Stylecraft -Fine furniture and cabinetry made to order.

      Some lines we tried and stopped carrying due to problems like Durasupreme.

      Our designers have designed with most of the cabinet lines we review but I select the lines we carry. Some designers for example are upset that I didn’t select Wellborn, or Woodmode, or Kraftmaid but those lines are carried by our nearby competitors, and while I do like them, having a dealership exclusive to our area has advantages.

  13. Sol

    Hi-I am considering both Crystal Cabinets and St. Maarten Cabinets. Also-when considering cabinets any tips on how to compare one line with another? I am new to all of this. THanks!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      We rate both lines in our 2018 ratings. St Martins is a European frameless line and so for any door style other than a very contemporary style door it can’t come close to being a sensible choice. If you want slab doors and contemprary styling a case can be made for selecting a frameless line. Otherwise I’d go with the more durable construction.

  14. Mary

    My new kitchen needed a lot of work on the design part because of the many doorways and walls Matt came in with some of the best ideas for the design by removing the walls that no one other the Gallery of kitchens came up with. I reviewed 8 kitchen designers and picked Matt because he came up with the best work and price of all. We are very glad we had Matt do our kitchen. I would recommend St. Martin cabinets and Gallery of Kitchens to any one thinking about a kitchen

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Mary,
      Matt sounds great. While WE can’t be sure of his abilities if you list the area you live in and specifically the name of his company he could get some work from your great recommendation.

  15. Diane

    I’ve been meaning to leave a comment regarding a conversation I had on December 20th with Stacia. I wanted to say thank you for your help and great advice. I was in a funk after spending a lot of time looking at a particular brand of cabinets and putting together a beautiful design only to find in the end, the price of the cabinets was way above our budget. When I discussed the quote with Stacia I felt better about not going with that brand of cabinetry. We are now looking at Brighton, Decora’ and Shrock cabinets which I believe will be more in our price range. I do love inset cabinets however so that could be a problem. I also noticed that Paul had recommended Fabuwood cabinets to another person who wrote in. Is this a cabinet line I should consider? I live in the Boston area and I’m looking for recommendations for places to look if you have any suggestions? Thanks again for your help, this truly is a great service that you provide to the public. Happy New Year!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Inset cabinetry is very expensive because only a custom cabinet line will be able to do inset cabinetry well. If you give up inset you can actually use very reasonable cabinet lines like Fabuwood and give up very little in quality or the ability to customize. The more expensive cabinet lines offer more finishes and more species of woods and door styles. Many people that get a recessed panel or shaker white door style in more expensive lines are just throwing their money away by paying for the flexibility to choose unusual door styles, woods, and finishes and then not selecting them.

  16. Tammy

    I am remodeling my entire first floor and putting in a new kitchen. I am planning on white shaker style cabinets. I am looking at J&K Cabinets. They seem to be pretty well constructed and are half the cost of KraftMaid. What do you know about J&K?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Tammy,
      You summed it up well. J&K are pretty well constructed and a lot less than Kraftmaid. There will be fewer styles, colors, and a smaller catalogue of cabinetry with less ability to customize in J&K vs Kraftmaid. And the Kraftmaid finishes (especially the stained finishes) will be nicer looking. But if the kitchen design can be done in the J&K line and you like the color and style door you are selecting, and you are on a budget, it will be a better investment to get J&K. Save the money to spend on moving walls, or doorways and making the kitchen layout the best it can be.

  17. bobbylynn

    Six years ago I redid my kitchen. At the time, the man who oversaw the installation told me that he didn’t actually measure the pantry, but estimated it so that it wouldn’t get too close to the in-wall radiator (it’s an older house). I decided to live w/ the pantry, but now I feel it’s just too narrow, the look of the width is annoying me and frankly I could use the extra storage. Trouble is that my old contractor no longer carries that particular line of cabinetry (Holiday). The pantry measures 24 and 1/4 inches wide by 25 and 1/16 inches deep (including the doors). There is a gap of 15 or 16 inches on the left side of the pantry before reaching the molding that surrounds the radiator. Because I didn’t want the very top of the cabinets to collect dust, I had the contractor add a double molding. Can you recommend a company that carries the Holiday line, and possibly to install a new pantry? Thank you and Happy Holidays.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      You don’t say where you live so finding a dealer and contractor isn’t possible. Also depending on your cabinetry style, color, and type of wood matching the existing cabinetry may be difficult even in the same line. Installing a 36″ wide pantry and crown molding will cost at lest a few thousand dollars so unless those kind of numbers are OK I’d skip this solution. If you are still up for the project then finding a Holiday dealer in your area would be the first step in the process. Here is the Holiday web site contact page:

  18. Katie Liston

    We are happy with our design, but are stalled at the type of cabinet. We would like a white, shaker door style. So far, we have been quoted Shiloh maple, Bertch Birch and Maple, and custom cabinets using maple and MDF. I am finding mixed reviews on all of the above. Looking for middle of the road, not top of the line. Any suggestions of other brands to consider, and/or comments on the above?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Katie,
      We rate Bertch and many cabinets well in our 2017 and 2018 rankings. When people ask a question this way IE happy with the design but having a problem finding something easy to do, it sets off an alarm that makes me suspect that their design has mistakes in it. Because most designs we receive are full of mistakes. Homeowners not being designers are just unaware that their designs are so problematic. A mistake free design is the hard part in this process. Finding a cabinet when we rate them right here is simplistic by comparison. If you email me your design at I can look at your design between 2pm and 4pm on a Friday.

  19. Julie Gehling

    We are replacing kitchen cabinets, including an island and I have been reading your blog for insights and information. My question is regarding three different companies. We are planning on solid maple painted white, with a simple shaker design. We plan on being in this house for another 5 years, and then moving to a smaller home. Our home is in the 400,000 range. The three lines we are looking at are KraftMaid, Marsh and Tuscan Hills Cabinetry. Any information on those?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Julie,
      I don’t know Tuscan Hills cabinetry but if they are the line sold at Costco then please don’t buy your cabinets there!

      Especially if you will only be in a home for 5 years then you are primarily redoing your kitchen for resale value and to enjoy it in the interim. You do not need a more expensive line like Kraftmaid for this. Nor do you necessarily need maple cabinets if you are getting white painted shaker cabinets. Asian birch could look nicer than maple depending on the line.

      What you do need is a good kitchen designer since how much your home is worth is not dependent on how expensive the cabinetry is, it is dependent on how good the kitchen design is.

      My biggest frustration as a kitchen designer is that most customers believe that their kitchen design is fine and that not much can be done with their design. This is only because they aren’t designers themselves and are ignorant of the possibilities. Because many customers almost work at avoiding getting good design help they will often foolishly splurge on expensive cabinetry, professional appliances, quartz or quartzite countertops. Yet they will keep terrible design features like the soffits over their cabinets, or their stove too close to their sink, or a corner sink, or a cooktop in an island, all thinks that destroy the value of a home.

      Find a good kitchen designer first then focus on the cabinet line. It certainly doesn’t need to be a more expensive line if all you want is white shaker cabinets. Costco and IKEA do not have even competent designers – so stay clear of those places. Home Centers like Lowes and The Home Depot will have some diamonds in the rough but you must research the background of the designers before selecting one. Use our recommended suppliers list if there is a dealer we recommend close to your area. Link below:

      You should think of your home and your kitchen like I think of my car:

      When my transmission needs to be replaced I do research to find a good mechanic. I don’t research who makes the best transmissions and how to install them.

  20. dan

    Hi Paul,

    Another question – what is a reasonable tolerance for height differences for two inset-style doors in the same cabinet?


    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      That would depend on the cabinet line. The more expensive the cabinet line the less difference you should expect. This is one reason why we do not sell any inset cabinetry that isn’t custom cabinetry, even though some of the less expensive lines we carry offer the option.

  21. Dan

    Hi Paul,

    Does Bertch make their two-tier cutlery drawers with a soft-close mechanism?


    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      No idea we do not carry Bertch please ask your designer.

  22. Lisa Steinberg

    I’m trying to decide between Bertch and Medallion cabinets for our master bathroom renovation. The Medallion were quoted at $3,700 and the Bertch at $4,900. Bertch is more due to a special cabinet being made, Medallion line has it as a standard cabinet. It’s a lot of extra money for the same design. So my question is, which line is better and is the additional cost worth it if Bertch is better? Thank you.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      It sounds from the pricing that the price difference might be more than just one cabinet. Check and make sure that the Medallion Quote has the same construction upgrades and the same hardware (tracks and hinges) as the Bertch. If they are the same than save the money. If the Medallion quote was for particleboard and lesser hardware while the Bertch was not, I get the Bertch.

  23. Steve

    Thank you for the recommendation. I do have a dealer nearby, though a friend is using Fabuwood now and I do believe they will be more expensive at least based on what he claimed he was spending on a smaller kitchen.

    Also I don’t think I would go with an inset from any line as I feel like they may get damaged more easily taking pots and pans etc out of the cabinets though they do look very nice.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Steve,
      Fabuwood and Clique Studios are normally very similar in price. Kitchens can vary in price greatly from far more than size. Customizations, tall pantry and oven cabinets, interior cabinet conveniences, door styles, special colors, stacking cabinets, and other things can double the same size kitchen in price. So I would take nothing definitive from a friends pricing.

  24. Steven

    Hi Paul,

    I have read the majority of these comments on here and your insight has been very valuable. I have been researching my kitchen remodel for a few months now. The only design and quote I have received was from CliqStudios. At the time I choose their inset design in a painted white finish. Cabinets came to about 18k (4k less if I choose the full overlay cabinets). This was for roughly 18 base and wall cabinets, 1 floor to ceiling pantry and 6 cabinets in the island. With that said, do you think another cabinet manufacturer listed in your ranking could offer the same quality at a better value OR better quality at around the same cost. I would truly hate to spend 20k on cabinets just to regret choosing a certain manufacturer over time.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I wouldn’t buy cabinets on line and not have a designers help from measuring through installation. The inset cabinets are a terrible idea from an inexpensive line. I would recommend buying cabinets from a Fabuwood dealer if you have one in your area. They should be similar in price and they have more sizes and customizations available. And if you have a local dealer you will get the help you need.

  25. Alli

    Thank you for your blog, it’s very informative. I’m doing a complete remodel on my kitchen and bathroom. My designer recommended to me KCD Cabinets. Have you heard of this brand. I think they’re from China. They are made of solid birch and polar hardwood with a 5/8″ backing. I think I have read every comment you have made and there has been no mention of these cabinet makers. I noticed that the Property Brothers just used them in one of there remodels. Would you recommend these cabinets?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Yikes! Don’t use HGTV as a recommendation for any product. On the contrary even though I like some episodes of Property Brothers they are making a TV show first and are getting free products as advertisements from suppliers. We never recommend RTA cabinets. That assures that the people putting your cabinets together are inexperienced doing it, and it guarantees that you aren’t working with a good kitchen designer. Here is our blog on HGTV shows:

  26. Joi

    Can you give me some feedback on JSI cabinets? They have the CARB 2, 1/2″ plywood boxes, soft close doors and drawers, 6-way hinges, dovetails, 1/2″ backs & 5/8″ hang rails, 3/4″ maple drawer boxes, doors and shelves. I am looking at the Designer Series in gray shaker style. I am just adding a few extra cabinets to an empty wall in my kitchen breakfast area. I have the shaker style kitchen in white with gray granite. They are reasonably priced and I would order pre-assembled. (My husband installs…experienced as a previous Lowes/HD installer and builder.)

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I have never seen JSI cabinetry but they meet all our requirements for an A cabinet construction rating. If you have seen them and like the finish I think you are safe.

  27. Cinda Capone

    I have read a lot of reviews on Fabuwood, which is what my contractor uses. Many people complain about the awful smell of these cabinets. As someone who is very sensitive to smells, I am concerned. Have you ever heard of these issues with thus brand?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I have never seen that complaint and being in the industry I read most of the reviews out there for any brands we sell as well as reviews for other brands. Where are you reading this? I Googled Fabuwood smells and nothing comes up. I have a hard time believing you. Let us know where you saw this and if we can verify it we can answer it otherwise we will have to delete your post or assume that you have ulterior motives.

  28. Daphne Warren

    Ok, great, thank you! I will reach out with that tomorrow then. Also before I forget, I’ve seen you talk about cabinet heights being too high for any given ceiling height and that you should use stacked crown molding instead to reach ceiling. What height cabinets should I get if I have 10ft ceilings? Thanks!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      10ft High ceilings are complicated as their are many solutions if you want cabinetry to reach the ceiling. Tray ceilings can be particularly nice if it works in the design.

  29. DAW

    Hi Paul,

    I’ve read thru allll of these comments and your ratings. I have only consulted with my builder’s 1st contact (Graves Lumber) here in OH but I fear she’s exactly the type of kitchen designer you warn against. The design we have so far may be fine but she literally just drew up what I had in mind the 1st time we met. She hasn’t suggested anything else and while I had somewhat of an idea of what I wanted I certainly went in wanting consultation and expertise. I ask questions but she is so shy and timid. I’m about 6 hrs away from you so I’m guessing cabinets thru y’all isn’t possible but would you mind taking a look at the design at least? She’s also pushing only Diamond which you don’t rate all that highly especially for simple white shaker.
    Thanks so much in advance!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      We would be happy to look at your design it if you send it in on a Friday between 2pm and 4pm. This Friday we won’t be able to get back to you until Tuesday due to a price increase deadline that has us swamped.

  30. Stephanie

    I am looking into Wellborn and kraftmaid.
    Do you have a recommendation of one over the other?

    Also, we are going with white shaker style doors.
    Thoughts on MDF vs solid wood painted white?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Upgraded both are good lines. Getting MDF doors is a tough question. MDF center panels are definitely a good idea. The whole door MDF depends on how tough you are on things. Some people will be fine. People with kids and dogs maybe not. Although replacing a few doors down the road probably costs less than the savings in getting the MDF. MDf doors will certainly look better and be smoother without seams in joinery when new. But wood doors will be easy for re-finishers to touch up and so an easier fix than replacing damaged doors later. This is a difficult call and depends not just on how hard you are on things but on how fastidious you are about home improvements and how picky you are about wear and tear.

  31. MMJ

    I’m happy to read all of this advice on kitchen cabinets since it is very difficult to choose companies. My designer has recommended Sorrento or Kemper for a level 3 price range. I am planning to use white Shaker cabinets. I see your rating for Kemper, but have you heard of Sorrento? I think it is part of Decor Cabinet Company. Also do you have a bias toward wood (maple) over MDF? I’m looking for something durable, easy to care for, not too expensive and nice looking.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I don’t know Sorento or Decor cabinetry well. However, like many frameless lesser made cabinet lines their web site talks about the nice people that make the cabinetry, the environment, and everything BUT how they make their cabinets. If this Canadian manufacturer was a US company you could be sure that they would also be waving an American Flag on their home page. When cabinet companies refuse to give you specifics and instead talk in platitudes or about patriotism, BEWARE. Their are much better choices in cabinetry then you are considering and better constructed cabinetry in the level 1 and level 2 price point.

  32. A Miller

    Hi, thanks for the great advice…I need some! I understand the Wellborn brothers parted ways some time ago and I’ve heard mixed reviews on the quality of the Wellborn Forest line. Dilemma is, W. Forest has a brushed glazed finish that I really like. Last year the upcharge for the brushed glaze was apx 2k. Now its quoting at 3300. more than basic painted finish. I’m just not sure if the quality of WF is worth the price.
    Second, while trying to get over the glazed finish, I ran across a line called Wolf “Signature” which has SmartShield Technology, making them really easy to clean and less damaged by water. It’s basically a laminate (which I would usually NEVER consider) but it looks like a beautiful painted finish. And with white, easy to clean is a factor.
    I would appreciate your feedback on the Wellborn Forest (and your experience with brushed glaze) as well as quality of Wolf “Signature”. Thanks!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      As far as Wellborn Forrest – I don’t know the finishes well enough to comment. Upgraded their cabinets are well constructed but shipping issues or quality control I can’t know since we don’t carry them.

      Wolf has now branched off into several different cabinet lines and types of construction. Unfortunately the good construction values and concepts the line began with in their Wolf Classic are not the same for other lines. Wolf is now gravitating towards the concepts of the Aristocraft line they left to create Wolf. What a shame! We will need to rate their lines separately in 2019. Wolf Signature is only 3/8″ thick sides and backs which we would never recommend.

      Also the expensive foil doors like the one you are considering are not a good idea. They can easily be melted with heat from a range even when you use heat shields. And since thermafoil doors fall out of fashion quickly and can’t be reproduced after the style is discontinued, if you melt a door ten years from now you will most likely not be able to replace it. Then what?

      Years ago when I worked at a dealer that carried what some designers called “Aristocrap”. Every Saturday brought former customers into the showroom with melted or discolored doors in discontinued thermafoil styles we could no longer replace. I tried never to sell the Aristocraft line even though other designers at the company sold it in abundance.

      That dealership and the way they approached our industry is why I started my own company. Every time I needed new business cards I fought to have my job title say “Kitchen Designer” but the company insisted that my tile remain “Cabinet Salesperson”. Today we are competitors and while they are still a larger company than mine I think the wave of the future is better designers and a more a cost effective business model like ours. It allows you to sell better designs at a slightly lower price than the companies that just want to sell cabinets and give people what they ask for without regard for the quality of the products they sell.

  33. Steve

    I recently was shown cabinets by Greenfield. We liked the cabinets and we were told they were a step above Decora, so fairly high end. I can’t find much info on them. I noticed there are a few inquires about them in the comments of this webstite as well but no answers. If anyone can give me their experience.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Steve,
      I did some research and Greenfield cabinet looks well constructed. However their construction was posted on line by another dealer and not by Greenfield themselves. We know nothing about the company and they don’t show specifications on line so we can not rate them on our cabinets ratings guide.

  34. Christa

    Wow, there is a wealth of information here and I really appreciate your time and guidance!
    We are renovating our kitchen and are narrowing in on about 18 cabinets and 1 tall pantry for the new layout. I have a range of quotes from kitchen designers. All suggested very similar layouts. In order of increasing price: Waypoint 10K, Wolf Designer 13K, Yorktowne 15K, Centra by Mouser 17K, and Diamond 17K. All are full plywood with painted shaker doors. Would you say these prices are reflective of quality? Anything you can suggest to help make this decision? I’m not sure where the “quality” differences will be, though I have noticed that the Mouser cabinets will allow for a little more fine tuning with measurements, though we don’t need many.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Price and quality are not directly related in the cabinet world. I don’t know the Wolf and Mouser lines as well as the Yorktowne and the Diamond lines but I think either Wolf or Centra are the better values for the cabinetry you list. If you can afford the Centra I would get them.

  35. Carolina Prokopis

    How about Fabuwood vs Starmark? I know fabuwood is a big price difference but I plan on getting a painted cabinet and I just want to make sure it holds up for years to come. Thanks for your feedback. I’m having a hard time deciding.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      There won’t be a difference in durability of finish between Fabuwood and Starmark on a painted cabinet. However all painted cabinets are less durable finish wise than stained cabinets. They can be inexpensively touched up though by professional refinishers if the paint gets nicked, scratched or damaged from water.

  36. Nina

    I’m having a tough time deciding on kitchen cabinets. The lines that I’ve gotten quotes on are Starmark and waypoint. Both prices were reasonable but I really want to make sure I pick a better quality cabinet since we don’t plan on moving or remodeling kitchen. Any advice is appreciated!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Starmark should be more expensive and a better cabinet upgraded.

  37. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Hi Amie,
    If you have a floor plan of your existing kitchen I would be happy to look at it and give advice. Lighting is the last thing designers work on so not getting a lighting plan is not unusual. No one would do one until you hired them.

    Lowes and Home Depot sell Kraftmaid which upgraded is a fine cabinet line and Lowes carries Schuler (Medallion in private sectors) which upgraded is a high end cabinet. If you are committed to keeping the same design Lowes is fine. We almost never recommend this because most customers believe their design is fine until we show them one they hadn’t thought of that’s better. Changing the layout in a kitchen also costs next to nothing and can even save money.

  38. Amie

    Thank you for your help. We bought a small but high-end condo that had been professionally, and beautifully, designed several years ago. The kitchen and bath layouts make efficient use of the space, look really good, and more than meet our needs. For some reason they skimped on the actual cabinets and left the original and inadequate lighting as it was. We wanted to upgrade the cabinetry from laminate to stained wood and do a few small things, like change some of the units to drawers and/or pull-outs which we like better. While the current cabinetry layouts are fine, the lighting could definitely use improvement. That’s where we sought help. It’s hard to get a grasp of what the actual cabinets cost because everything has to be shipped in. Some businesses hid huge mark-ups in their “shipping costs”, on top of their regular fees. I definitely do not begrudge their regular fees because they would be dealing with the manufacturer, shipping, delivery, installation, etc. I just don’t like hidden mark-ups. Unlike on the mainland, we don’t have access to many “kitchen and bath” stores or home stores (except for Home Depot and Lowe’s). By the way — although we have met with several designers and contractors, not one has addressed our original need for improved lighting. We’ve gotten several proposals requiring major changes to the condo (which interestingly left the cabinetry layouts as they were) but made no changes to the lighting. At this point, we are doing internet research and visiting everybody else’s condo to see what they did and how it has worked out for them. It has been a frustrating experience. We remodeled our house a few years ago, but we lived in a major metropolitan area and knew who the respected designers and businesses were. We did a little research on specific issues, but by and large took their recommendations because we trusted them and understood why they made their proposals. I definitely agree that finding a trusted business would be the way to go if we were making major changes or were wondering what else might be possible. In this instance, we only want to replace existing basic cabinets with nicer ones and get a little more light. Your blog has helped a lot.

  39. Amie

    I tried to leave a question via Facebook, but in case it went astray I’ll try here as well. We live on Maui so our ability to get cabinets is limited. We are updating an older condo. It has a great kitchen/bath layout that was professionally done, it’s just time to update. We tried going to more than one designer but hit two problems. Some are tied to specific brands and will only sell those and you have to buy through them. And the remaining ones want to do a complete redesign, tearing the condo out to the studs. Again, the existing design is great and we love it. We found a source for Crystal, Ovation, and Bellmont cabinetry that is not tied to a designer. Our contractor likes Bellmont, which I don’t see reviewed. The condo is very small and open. Like most people on Maui our island-style furniture is a type of Mahogany from Indonesia and we are hoping to find a stained wood to blend with it. How does Bellmont compare to Crystal and Ovation? Thank you for your help.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Amie,
      Belmont is a frameless less expensive particle board cabinet that is far below Crystal. Ovation has nothing to do with the Crystal line and I can’t find any reliable information on them.

      Your story has a thread that concerns me. Usually when customers try to avoid designers as you are and the designers they meet want to do things the customers don’t want it is because any sensible professional would make these changes and do the recommended construction. Shopping to find the advice you want to hear is never a good idea. Whether you are getting advice from a kitchen designer or a another professional such as a doctor. Find the best professional and listen to their advice. You get into trouble when you only listen to what you want to hear or don’t listen at all.

  40. Jeana montgomery

    Can you tell me if CNC, omega or Fabuwood
    in bright white are known to fade or yellow over time?
    Thank you so much?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      The white cabinetry that we worry about yellowing is usually plastic coated white thremafoil. So it is the material more than the cabinet line that is the issue. All these cabinet lines make at least one of these plastic coated door styles.

      I have always discouraged customers from getting thremafoil cabinetry for their kitchen Thrmafoil is easy to clean and hard to nick or scratch but it can melt due to oven heat and it can delaminate after 15 years or yellow if you get a bad batch. And usually the doors and drawers are made by third parties so the cabinet company has less control over quality.

      Not to mention plastic coated white cabinets are presently unpopular for any door other than a modern slab door. For slab white modern door styles I would recommend laminate instead of thermafoil. Plastic raised panel doors or shaker doors look less tasteful then paint since plastic and traditional door styles don’t go together. Painted white cabinetry is the better looking alternative to plastic. Paint can be more easily nicked or damaged by water. However, touching up paint is easy while fixing a kitchen when the thermafoil fails is impossible.

  41. Amy

    Hi Main Line team! I’m curious what advice you have for a customer who’s cabinet order has gone poorly. Would you allow the manufacturer another chance? the

    Our microwave cabinet arrived and the MDF was facing up. When we received the replacement it was the same way. A base cabinet door was chipped and another was missing the corner brackets. They didn’t include the upgrade of the soft motion doors and roll trays with plywood and dovetail construction. We ordered a shaker style door and the center inserts are veneer. The amount a movement and give is not like anything we’ve experienced.

    I look forward to your feedback. Thanks in advance!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Amy,
      Nice speaking with you. Hope it all works out OK. If you want to send us your design I’d be happy to check it to help the second time around go better.

  42. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    It appears you are discussing the difference between a framed and frameless cabinet and finding the frameless box superior looking to all the parts and pieces in a framed box. Yes they look more substantial to a person not understanding the structural engineering advantages of a framed box over a frameless. As you say you are not an expert and the designer you are working with sounds like they are either confused or quite a salesperson if they came up with the off gassing explanation.

  43. MMalloy

    I wasn’t just looking at displays Pmcalary, my designer actually put the two cabinets side to side and while I am not an expert on construction I can say that the St. Martin cabinet appeared to be much more solid and the finishes were much higher end. There were no loose screws, clips, or nails to be seen. The Fabuwood cabinet had seams in between where the sides met the bottom and the shelf clips were not stainless steel. St. Martins shelves have stainless steel clips that fit into a groove on the bottom for support and are not chintzy looking, the dovetail drawer and plywood are 3/4, and the entire cabinet is laminated so there is no rough plywood at all which I was told reduces off-gassing. Also,the wall cabinets are 13′ deep which is another reason I was sold on the line as all my bigger plates fit finally!

    While I agree that a warranty is not indicative of quality, I also looked at Woodmode which was much more but has a lifetime warranty and it has been my experience with other products that the warranty time frame is normally indicative of how long a product will last. Personally, I will always happily pay for peace of mind. Anyway thanks for the information, it was very helpful in my search and I would happily invite you to come over and have a beer to check out the finished project.

  44. MMalloy

    I recently went through the design and renovation process and we ended up going with St. Martin as opposed to Fabuwood because while the price was a little bit more, it wasn’t enough to dissuade me from getting a nicer product with a better warranty. St. Martin has a 10 yr warranty as opposed to Fabuwoods 5 yr warranty, the doors are thicker and more solid than every other product I saw, and St. Martin uses actual American hardwoods as opposed to cheap substitutes (I think my designer told me Fabuwood uses Chinese birch and not American Cherry or Maple?). Also, while the Fabuwood display in the showroom and pictures online were badly cracked at all the joints which I was told they don’t warranty, St. Martins finish on their display seemed thicker and seemed to have held up much better with aging. I also looked at Kraftmaid but plywood was an upgrade from particleboard whereas St. Martin was standard all plywood 3/4 construction. Getting a new kitchen is very stressful and confusing so I would advise anyone looking for cabinets to do their own research and actually do a real comparison between lines as many designers seem like they just want to steer you into a product where they make the most money and spend the least time..

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      There are many misconceptions in your comment. Most importantly that price point and warranty have a bearing on construction quality or durability. IKEA has a much longer warranty than St Martin and is a lesser quality cabinet and also costs much less. Fabuwood is far better constructed cabinet than St Martin but is also less. If you want to do research on cabinetry our web site would be a good place to start and anecdotal evidence of what a particular display looked like is not very telling. The age of the display as well as the particular door style and type of finish will be more telling than the brand in most cases. For a raised panel door style I would not choose a frameless cabinet line like St Martin.

  45. Barb

    Hi there, Paul. Your site is invaluable for consumers like me who are navigating the complicated world of cabinets. We live in Warsaw, IN, near Ft. Wayne, and are working with a company called Copper River Cabinets. We have worked with a designer there, and are pleased with her design for our remodeling of our 1968 kitchen in our ranch style home. Copper River carries Homecrest, Shiloh, and a company based out of Harlan, IN, called Harlan Cabinets. From what I see, the finish is superior, the customization is readily available, and they’ve been in business for thirty years. But I’m also new at this game, and could use a professional’s opinion on this company. Are you familiar with Harlan, and what are your thoughts. Thank you in advance for your response. It’s really appreciated. By the way, we’re planning on going with a painted cabinet from Harlan, not stained, not that it makes any difference. Thanks again!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Barb,
      I don’t know anything about Harlan cabinets but the do something that puts me off. They fly the US flag on their web site and say God bless America but tell you NOTHING about how their cabinetry is constructed.

      Companies that try to appeal to peoples hot button issues by touting their patriotism, religion, or by being “green” or “environmentally safe” but not telling you how their cabinets are made are often shams.

      We would never carry a line that promoted themselves this way.


  46. Mike

    Hi we are located in the Tacoma area of Washington state. Looking for a quality white shaker style cabinet, had been looking at Kemper but reviews scare me. Any recommendations on a kitchen designer and cabinet line serviced in our area. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      We recomend Luna Kitchen and Bath Seattle WA 206-338-3763

  47. Cabinets4me

    Do you recommend Procraft or J&K for white shaker cabinets?

    I am waiting to hear from Fabuwood to confirm if there are distributors in Fort Lauderdale.

    Someone told me that J&K cabinets were not as good as Procraft. Could you give me your review. Cliqe I think was much more.
    Kabo cabinets are like 3 times the price.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I don’t know enough about the difference between Procraft and J&K to compare them against each other. They are both inexpensive but pretty well made lines

  48. David

    My contractor suggests CNC for our small galley kitchen (6 top & 3 base cabinets). He chose CNC because we want white shaker door style.

    Are we better off getting Fabuwood or Kraftmaid?

    If we stick with CNC are there any upgrades that must be added?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      CNC is about 15% less than Fabuwood and about 60% less than Kraftmaid. It is a well constructed cabinet if you upgrade the hardware.
      But it also looks a little cheap and has more damages in shipping and quality control issues. We use CNC on houses being flipped but not on homes for homeowners planning on staying. Spending 15% more for Fabuwood is the better choice if you want to be at all picky.

  49. Jill Whelan

    You have incredibly helpful articles! Thank you! I live in the Seattle area and would love to do inset painted cabinets. Do you have any recommendations on what brands to start with? Would like to be budget conscious but I am aware that inset typically costs more and it’s important to pick a quality brand. Thank you!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Fieldstone, Starmark, or Decora would be good choices. Budget conscious and inset do not go together though.

  50. Paul McAlary

    Looking at the 21st century web site they appear to be a frameless line with no listed specifications. And I’ve never heard of them. All bad signs. Fabuwood is the best of this bunch and Wolf and a few others second. Why go with a brand with no history that is not even transparent?

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