Kitchen Cabinet Ratings for 2018. Updated Reviews for the Top Selling Cabinet Brands.

1 Replies to “Kitchen Cabinet Ratings for 2018. Updated Reviews for the Top Selling Cabinet Brands.”

  1. J

    This post is very helpful as we consider our kitchen and bath remodel. Are you familiar with Columbia Cabinets and if so, where would they fit on your list? Thank you.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi J,
      Columbia says nothing about how they make cabinets on their website. So I can’t rate them but some things on the site are concerning.

  2. Sue

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge!
    I am installing a basement kitchen and don’t want to spend a lot of money. Would you ever consider RTA cabinets for this area? Have you heard of any that I could consider? I’ve heard MDF in the center of a raised panel would be best for cost and humidity. I’m considering birch due to cost though I prefer maple. At most 1-2 people will be living there. Fabuwood doesn’t really have traditional styles, but I would rather choose cabinets that will last than to get what I personally like. Traditional style seems to be out sadly.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Sue,
      We rate J&K well. Check lead times. Raised panel is not needed unless it’s what you like. They are less popular. Read our 2021 reviews for updated ratings

  3. Sue

    Thank you for your thorough and informative website. What do you think of J&K Cabinetry or Cubitec? They seem to have the desired features. I’m guessing RTA cabinets are NOT recommended even if they have the features desired since the nuances of planning a kitchen can lead to errors.

  4. Jennifer

    I am planning a kitchen renovation and the contractor and designer first recommend Bishop cabinets. But the cost seemed over my budget. I asked if there was a less expensive choice, and they then suggested Mantra. But it seems like Mantra does not have as many options, like glass front doors. I am feeling lost as to how to pick a cabinet. I am not used to buying something sight unseen in person. This is a condo kitchen, so not huge, but I want something decent quality but not top of the line expensive. What are your thoughts on Bishop cabinets vs Mantra? Are Bishop cabinets good quality in your opinion? Thank you so much!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Jennifer,
      Bishop is a great cabinet and we carry them so we must like them. Mantra is an inexpensive Masterbrand line that I don’t know. Unfortunately like most Masterbrands products they are not transparent and tell you nothing about how the cabinet is made on the website, so I can’t advise on them. However there are many brands well made and less expensive than Bishop. I don’t know what door style and finish you are considering so I can’t advise you there other than to say that for an inexpensive Painted Shaker cabinet I like Fabuwood best. For a less expensive stained cabinet HomeCrest or Timberlake are good choices. Here is a link to our most up to date cabinet reviews:

  5. Frank

    Hi any feedback on Tuscany Hills Cabinetry ? Price, quality? They are sold exclusively to Costco members.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Frank,
      I’m not even going to look up Tuscany Hills as the cabinet quality is meaningless. You SHOULDN’T be having your kitchen designed by Costco. The design itself is the most important element in your kitchen. If you did it, our your contractor did it, or you are keeping the design you presently have, all those scenarios are very troubling, having Costco help you is just begging for a bad kitchen.

  6. Mitch

    Do you know anything about the quality of Mantra (Masterbrand line)? We’re trying to decide between this and River Run. Thank you.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Mitch,
      Sorry don’t know either line. If you called on a Friday 2-4 pm EST we could research it.

  7. Jennifer Doherty


    In 2018 I remodeled my small kitchen with white Wolf overlay cabinets and a navy Schrok island. All cabinetry cost $5800. I’ve since moved and am about to remodel another small kitchen but am planning on living here much longer so we want a better quality inset cabinets. We have a quote from Brighton for $14,000 for a kitchen approximately the same dimensions. Does this seem correct? Is Brighton and inset cabinets that much better/expensive? We’re waiting on a quote for Starmark from a different vendor but I wondered if you had any advice.

    Jen D

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Jen,
      Custom cabinets can be very different for a similar size kitchen. Wainscoting end and back panels and many other features can add to costs so it’s impossible for me to say. I would say that $14,000 for a inset custom kitchen is low so it must be a very small kitchen.

  8. Terri

    Hi Paul,

    Thank you for this insightful cabinetry review!

    We are currently working with a design-build firm that deals with Wellborn cabinetry. Can you specify, as it applies to Wellborn, the 4 and 5 price rating as it pertains to the 5 Quality/Value rating? Is their semi-custom line as good as their custom line? When would you advise a client to use inset versus overlay?

    I have read that many KDs use inset on the uppers and overlay on the lower cabinets. Curious to hear your thoughts on Wellborn’s various lines and inset vs overlay…

    Many thanks!


    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Teri,
      I have never heard of using inset cabinetry on upper cabinets and overlay cabinets below. That would be an odd choice IMO. Darker colors below and lighter colors above is popular. Or a different door style for an island is also done frequently. But different door styles for upper and lower cabinets especially mixing inset and full overlay is just breaking style convention to be different. Many designers like doing seemingly wacky things. Using many different metals in a kitchen or lining subway tiles up instead of staggering the grout lines are popular “look at me I’m different” design choices.

      If you are a genius like a Leonardo da Vinci you can break all the rules effectively. However the kitchen designers that tend to break the rules are rarely da Vinci’s. The best designers only break the rules to get some advantage over a lesser disadvantage. This style rule breaking is gratuitous and is usually symptomatic of a certain type of kitchen designer that ignores construction and common sense functionality in favor of gadgets and buzz words. I know this sounds sexist but both male and female designers lean towards having different sets of weaknesses. Male designers might do this because they are inexperienced and don’t know any better, while female designers might be doing this as a statement, because they think they know better. Either reason I find very troubling.

      Wellborn is a good cabinet line. For painted door styles their less expensive lines are often not as good values as a line like Fabuwood, Wolf, or other US import brands. For their custom and inset lines they are also sometimes beaten out in value buy Custom brands that specialize in inset and beaded inset styles. Overall though they are incredibly versatile as a brand and upgraded well built.

  9. Lori Robbins

    Any info on Boss Cabinets made in New Hyde Park , NY
    Thank you

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Lori,
      Never heard of them. Look like a small custom shop.

  10. Gene

    Fashion cabinets are said to have been in production for decades, out of the state of UT. I don’t see a rating for them; are they under a former name or simply not been reviewed?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Gene,
      Sorry, I have never heard of Fashion Cabinets. Their website gives no information on their construction and they are not listed in the Kitchen and Bath Buying Guide that Kitchen and Bath Design News puts out listing the most popular 160 cabinet brands.

  11. Julia

    This page is so helpful. Most other articles/webpages avoid being direct about the different brands. I also appreciate your advice about being realistic in regard to what your are purchasing. That is where I need help. We are using cabinets to build a home office/craft room. The cabinets will be white and will cover 11 linear feet in an L-shape with wall cabinets & shelves only above the long wall. We don’t want to break the bank. In your experience what would be a couple of good options.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Julia I’m replying to your second comment.

  12. Russ

    Looking to remodel 2 small bathrooms, one his and hers bathroom and a master bathroom. Have looked at Decora, Miralis, Woodmode, Elmwood and Siteline. I have spoken to three different designers/suppliers. We like the slab look with and without a textured finish. Favorite so far for the master is a birdseye maple finish engineered wood finish from Woodmode, but it seems quite a bit more pricy than similar engineered wood offerings (although not birds eye maple) from the other cabinet makers. Am I missing something here ?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      No as you have surmised birdseye maple and Woodmode are expensive

  13. KarenM

    Thank you for the quick response!! I am planning on doing white/off white in both rooms. Homecrest is considerably cheaper for the kitchen but not the bathroom and I definitely want better cabinets in the kitchen so I’ll get Koch or Crestwood. Are either of those better for white paint finishes and does it NOT matter that Koch is not plywood?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Karen,

      They are close but I do not know their finishes well enough to judge. You can though. It’s somply a matter of which you like best they are both equally durable.

  14. KarenM

    Hi Paul – all of this information is so helpful. I’m trying to take it all in but am wondering. We are remodeling our master bathroom and kitchen. The cabinet lines we’re looking at are Crestwood (likely the Core line), Koch Classic, Shiloh or Homecrest.

    I think Crestwood and Shiloh are all plywood construction but not sure of thickness. Koch and Homecrest are not but were reviewed highly on your list.

    Which of these would you choose – Crestwood is the highest by a fair amount – and if we don’t need something as high quality in the bathroom would you choose something different for that room?

    Thank you.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Karen,
      Shilo is the only cabinet line not reviewed well by us due to their insufficient hanging rail. If they changed this they would get good reviews. I have even instructed homeowners that liked their very nice door styles and finishes to fix the cabinet construction themselves.

      Crestwood and Koch get great reviews on our new 2020 cabinet review. Homecrest gets slightly lower reviews but still very good ones. Homecrest is less expensive though and a good value for stained finishes.

      I’d pick Crestwood or Koch for the kitchen if you can afford it, and Homecrest where you want to save.

  15. Paul McAlary

    Hi Mitul,
    Upgraded they are all pretty equal in construction and so well constructed. Price wise usually Kraftmaid is less because it is not as custom a line as Starmark or Brighton. Brighton is usually the best value for a painted cabinet and Starmark has the nicest stained finishes. So if the pricing is the same I’d pick Brighton for a painted cabinet which is why we carry them.

  16. Mitul

    Thank you for the information. It was very helpful.

    What would you recommend or what would be your preference if you had to pick one of the 3 cabinets lines from below given that I am getting the same or pretty similar price quotes from all 3 vendors.

    Kraftmaid (Lowes)
    Brighton (Independent cabinet company)
    Starmark (Independent cabinet company)

    Which one would you pick 1st to go with and why?

    Thank you,

  17. Paul McAlary

    Hi Mital,
    Since home center designers are less experienced they often don’t tell customers things like “painted cabinets damage easily” Also home center customers can be in a rush due to a sale or a rushed time line and so they are less likely to get or pay attention to warnings from designers. When problems ensue that they didn’t expect they blame the cabinet line instead understanding that the problem was the designer or their installer’s fault or simply a propert of all cabinetry. The IKEA effect link below explains some of the issue

  18. Mitul


    Thanks for the input. But I am having a hard time understanding what you mean by this statement:

    Kraftmaid gets bad reviews because they are sold in home centers and the customers don’t understand what they bought and that things like paint damage easily. Customers from independent dealers are usually better informed and are also often not as tough on cabinetry nor as likely to complain.

    Please elaborate.

    Thank you,

  19. Mitul


    Could you please provide your opinion regarding Kraftmaid cabinets from Lowes. We were given a quote of about 20K cabinets plus installation. The Kraftmaid cabinets looked good at Lowes but as I am researching more and more into this brand, I am reading a lot of negative reviews about the paint coming off fairly quickly, very poor customer service, warranty issues. I even met with an independent contractor who also sells Kraftmaid Vantage line and he said that the Kraftmaid brand at Lowes is a lower quality vs the vantage line from kraftmaid that they sell.

    We are completely demolishing our existing kitchen and redoing the flooring, cabinets, new appliances and want to make sure the cabinets we are getting would be a great quality and will last us for the coming years.

    Other option we were looking at is Starmark and Brighton.

    Please provide your pro/cons with Kraftmaid vs Starmark and Brighton cabinetry.

    Thank you,

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Upgraded to all plywood construction the Vantage line is identical to Lowes Kraftmaid. However the designer may be much better at the independent dealer which can be far more important than the cabinet lines you are considering here which are all good.

      All painted cabinets get damaged easily especially when they get wet. Starmark and Brighton are nicer more expensive lines but they will get damaged just as easily. Kraftmaid gets bad reviews because they are sold in home centers and the customers don’t understand what they bought and that things like paint damage easily. Customers from independent dealers are usually better informed and are also often not as tough on cabinetry nor as likely to complain.

  20. Julie

    I would like to know the difference between Merilat Masterpiece and Omega Dynasty? Trying to decide the best one overall plus reasonable cost. Thank you in advance.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Julie,
      Omega Dynasty has both a framed and a frameless cabinet line. Upgraded the framed line gets a A for construction and the frameless line a B, which is the highest rating we give a frameless line for construction. If you upgrade the Merilat Masterpiece to plywood sides it is a B+ for construction but the Dynasty is a much nicer line and is a better value.

  21. Raymond

    I’m working on a small project, not a full kitchen. This is a detached section of 5 cabinets that will become a dry bar. The base is two 18″ cabinets with a 24″ wine and beverage cooler between them. The wall cabinets will be two 18″ x 42″ glass door units resting on the countertop with a 24″ wide wine rack between them. Everything will be white painted Shaker. The problem has been finding a suitable wine rack. A local dealer sells Wolf Classic and Waypoint. Wolf has no 24″ wine rack but does offer a 24″ x 36″ open bookcase that I could retrofit with a wine rack structure but it’s really too tall. I’ve considered building a 24″ x 30″ box from scratch or using another brand of wine rack but that’s probably not the ideal solution. Our designer has steered us toward Waypoint who does have a 24″ x 24″ ‘X’ wine rack. It appears you like Wolf a little better than Waypoint. For what we’re building, can you see any reason that Waypoint might be a disappointment?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Raymond,
      Sorry but lots of novice design ideas here. Refrigerator should not be centered and should be located towords one end with door hinge on that end so that countertop is more usable when door is open. Over-centerting is a common thing done by less experienced designers. 42″ wall cabinets down to the countertop will make the countertop unusable as you can’t open the doors without taking things off the countertop. On such a short run I would never bring any cabinetry down to the countertop. Get a designers help creating your dry bar. Or look on at examples of dry bars. If you can’t find an example of what you are considering there is a reason. This bar area is attached to a main refrigerator but you can see how a bar refrigerator works better on the end.

  22. Pam McGowan

    I about to commit to a full kitchen remodel with white shaker full overlay maple Kraftmaid Vantage cabinets from a dealer. The thing I’m struggling with is paint or durakraft plus? I’ve read stories about paint pealing and cracking and I’m so afraid I just am not sure which is the better choice. What is your opinion of the durability of these finishes and which is the better choice. Thank you so much!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Pam,
      Since the Duracraft finish is new I know very little about it. Your designer may have insights. However all painted finishes chip easily and get damaged by water easily so if you are thinking that the Duracraft finish would prevent this that will not be the case. There are now furniture refinishing companies (at least in our area) that can touch up a whole kitchen 5 or ten years later for about $500. So there is probably a safety net if you beat up the white cabinetry whichever finish you choose.

  23. Paul McAlary

    Not Acrylic doors. Those will be incredibly expensive. Laminate doors would be the compromise that would get you close to the look but be durable and not overly expensive. There will be many frameless cabinet lines that will come with a plywood or plywood core upgrade and not be overly expensive. We sell several for example Bishop or Fabuwood but there are many. Here’s a link to a Fabuwood kitchen in that door style.

  24. Laura K.

    Oh dear – now I may be back to the drawing board! What brands do you recommend that have solid plywood construction and a laminate or acrylic high gloss finish?

  25. Laura K.

    These reviews are so helpful. Thank you!

    Any opinion on Greencastle or En Pointe Cabinetry? Looking at both in white high gloss.

    Alternatives are Ultracraft UltraLux (my most expensive quote, but looks similar to En Pointe for $4K less) or Diamond.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Laura,
      I think all the cabinetry you are considering may be European Frameless cabinetry with thermafoil hi gloss doors. You have to be very careful as the cabinetry in this style will probably be particleboard and not durably constructed. Don’t overload drawers. Base, wall, and pantry cabinets should not be wider than 30″. Thermafoil is also sensitive to heat and will melt if an oven seal leaks or your design puts cabinetry too close to gas burners. Use heat shields on either side of a range to reduce the risk. I would not use professional cooktops in a thermafoil kitchen. Foil cabinetry tends to delaminate after about 20 years so your kitchen has a predetermined expiration date.

      The high gloss sleek contemporary style kitchen you like could be done more safely with a laminate door without these issues. A high gloss laminate instead of a foil would not delaminate and would not be overly sensitive to heat but it might not be exactly the look you are going for. It would be a compromise I would make though as I’m overly cautious.

  26. B

    Hello Paul,
    Do you think it would be best to use 33” upper cabinet over a 30” or 36” with a 90” ceiling height. The reason we are considering this is because we would like to get as much storage as possible but still have a nice crown molding. Thank you

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      33″ wall cabinets are a custom size and will put you in a pretty expensive cabinet line. Your ceiling will also have to be perfectly level for it to work. 30″ wall cabinets with a two piece crown molding is a more sensible and cost effective solution. 36″ cabinets would not work at all.

  27. Greg

    Hi Paul.

    Since you sell both brands, I am very interested in your opinion. For the same price, which do you choose and why:

    Fabuwood Hallmark Frost or CNC Park Ave. white?

    Thank you

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Greg,
      Interesting question since CNC is improving every day and the Hallmark is in the Fabuwood Value line. For the same price I would pick Fabuwood and order 3/4″ shelves for all the wide cabinetry. The finish on Fabuwood is more consistent. Interesting question though. A year from now I wonder if that will be the case?

  28. Paul McAlary

    Hi Josh,
    While cabinet lines like Homecrest are still pretty well built, construction wise, even without all plywood construction, all the exposed sides on your cabinets must be plywood or else they will be plastic and fade over time and look terrible. Wall cabinets that are on ends or will hold lots of plates or are not connected to cabinetry on both sides also need to be plywood to not fall apart due to added stress. Once you make these cabinets plywood you are more that halfway to all plywood. Also the all plywood upgrade is usually discounted and comes with upgraded drawers and hinges. Not to mention that most kitchen designers couldn’t be relied upon to make the cabinetry you needed plywood plywood. I’d suck it up and get all plywood.

  29. Josh

    What is your opinion on the 3 levels of homecrest cabinets… I know the solid plywood are the best, but will the others hold up? Thanks for any input it’s greatly appreciated

  30. Josh

    Thank you for the information about the Wolf and Aspect cabinet. It is greatly appreciated! I have one more question have you ever heard about Mantra cabinets they are out of MasterBrand…thoughts? Seem to be equivalent to Wolf but come with soft closing doors etc with no upgrade

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Sorry I don’t know Mantra and they give no construction information online

  31. Josh Noble

    I have a question. We are building a new modest house and are looking at Wolf Classic cabinets. We are waiting on pricing from the designer. My wife wold like to upgrade to get the color she prefers and the soft close drawers etc. The designer recommended Aspect cabinetry to us if we were thinking of upgrading the cabinets to the higher end WOLF…what makes me nervous is the Aspect definitely has way nicer finishes as the designer pointed out, but The frame is not made of plywood… she said that the ASPECT should hold up better, but that goes against everything I have learned because you want a plywood frame correct? is some type of particle board and real wood veneer…what are your thoughts…we have a tight/limited budget and really want to get something that is gong to last

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Josh,
      Aspect skins all the exposed ends of their cabinets which helps if they don’t offer plywood construction. However I don’t like the photo they show of their hanging rail. It looks to small to properly support wall cabinets especially if they don’t offer a plywood upgrade. Wolf probably isn’t as nice looking and I would never get a custom color in an inexpensive cabinet line but the Wolf construction is better.

  32. Lyn Trombley

    Thanks for all the good info. I anxiously await the 2019 ratings. My designer is showing me Bellmont 1600 series which is not listed on the 2018 list

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Lynn,
      Belmont appears to be a frameless line and so one that we would only recommend for a contemporary slab door style. Belmont also doesn’t explain how their cabinets are made on their website so we won’t be able to rate them unless we can find a spec book for them. In a frameless line I would worry about getting the lesser 1600 line over the 1900. But since they give no information I can’t really say. Their product looks elegant but if the cabinets are not a 3/4″ thick plywood box I would not recommend them.

      Kitchen designers that recommend frameless lines for styles that aren’t contemporary also can worry me as the choice shows a possible lack of appreciation of the two cabinet construction methods. Often these type designers only care about color and style and take less care in making sure their designs are safe, durable, and well constructed.

      If the frameless cabinets you purchase have at least 3/4 Plywood construction or at a minimum 5/8″ plywood construction I would consider them for a contemporary door style because they will look more sleek. If you want a shaker or more traditional door style I would only even consider a 3/4″ plywood box. You could be spending less to get a better made cabinet in a traditional door style so if you really want a frameless cabinet pay for the upgrade to 3/4″ ply if it is available.

  33. Laurie

    Would like to hear your opinion of Koch Cabinets. We had been considering Kraftmaid purchased through Lowe’s during a 30% off sale, but discovered we can get Koch’s Imperial line for a similar price.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Laurie,
      Imperial is a lesser Koch line and not as well built as Kraftmaid upgraded to APC. Koch Classic upgraded to it’s best construction is well made but I probably still go Kraftmaid here. Possibly because I know the line better.

  34. KJPS

    Hi Josh,
    My question is a little different that what others have posted. Hired a custom cabinet company in our area (Michigan). He did not complete the work, leaving us with no doors or drawer fronts and some unfinished mill/trim work. We have choosen stained select cherry. I am seeking an unfinished materials so we can have it custom stained to match the existing. We will be moving from the home in approximately 5 years. Any advice on how to get the materials to finish our project? The kitchen companies we have contacted will not finish the project unless we do a total tear out and start all over.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi KJPS,
      Sorry, This is just one of the many reasons it is a terrible idea to have kitchen cabinetry made by a small cabinet maker. Not only is the product nearly always less durable and less consistent with all kinds of potential design and construction issues, but as you have found out you have no effective warranty. Stop trying to continue on the misguided path you started on. Just start from scratch with a named brand cabinet line and find a good kitchen designer to work with. You almost certainly have kitchen design problems since no good kitchen designer would work with a small carpentry shop.

  35. Josh R

    Good Afternoon,

    Any thoughts on Articraft Cabinetry? They are here in SoCal.

    Specs here:
    Thanks in advance!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Josh,
      The cabinets appear very well constructed RTA cabinets. However that fact that I have never heard the brand name, that the Arti Craft website appears broken, and that 405 seems to be the only dealer that carries Arti Craft is troublesome. Not enough information to really help you.

  36. Shruti

    Thank you for this excellent forum! We are looking to renovate the kitchen and I like stained cabinets much more than painted ones. I am considering fabuwood vs. wolf classic, but the reviews are all over the place. Which of these two will you recommend? Are there any other cabinet lines in the same range, that provide good stained cabinets?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Shruti,
      Reviews are not reliable because all cabinet lines get bad reviews. Customers often don’t know what they are talking about, don’t understand what they ordered, have a bad contractor or designer that is responsible for the problem, actually had a problem but it was a rare event, or they are the homeowner is nuts. The only cabinet line that gets good reviews is terrible and is of course IKEA. Read why here.

      Both Fabuwood and Wolf are well constructed in there better lines. They are not know for beautiful stains though. They have a few nice stained finishes such as grays, buy cherry and maple type finishes look better on those woods in a higher grade of wood. It is just a matter of looks though and if you like the stained finish you should be fine. American cabinet lines using US woods and stains will have nicer finishes but also be about 25% more expensive. Lower priced US lines that you might line a cherry or maple stain in more might be, Shenandoah at Lowes, American Woodmark at Home Depot, Legacy, Homecrest, or others.

  37. Josh Roberts

    Hi, Paul,

    Thanks again for maintaining this long running blog full of useful information. I am looking for a lower end, well built cabinet. Based on your reviews and blog responses, I have narrowed it down to the following and would like to ask for your analysis.

    The kitchen is an L-shape, roughly 197″ long by 91″ deep with a 96″ ceiling. All designs equal, and I will consider sending a design on Friday before my final decision, I have gotten quotes for the following:

    Fabuwood Onyx Cobblestone – $7,595.25 (No local dealer, would be shipped from an online distributor.)

    Waypoint 760F Cherry Slate all plywood upgrade – $8,611.95 (Local dealers and designers, one of which being City Cabinet Center, which you recommend to SOCAL on one of your other blogs.)

    – Wolf – No local dealer, claim they don’t do business in CA.
    – Solid Wood – No longer dealing outside of local NJ/NY area.
    – 21ST Century Cabinets – Multiple failed attempts to the contact us link.

    Might consider FX, Green Castle, or ROK but you haven’t given a rating to those lines.


    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Josh,
      I don’t like buying cabinets on line and without a good designer to help you. So I’d choose waypoint over the Fabuwood.
      The designer is more important that the cabinet line.
      Procraft is a good line that’s sold out west. But again I would only buy it if the dealer is local and a designer is available to work with.

  38. rose m nolan

    Hi Paul,
    I was looking for cabinet for my bathroom. I was comparing Brighton, Kraftsmaid, and Thomasville. I am leaning toward Brighton. What concerns me is I am looking at a painted finish and Brighton is asking me to sign a waiver acknowledging that the seams might spread. Is this normal? Do the seam on painted finished spread to the point where it is that noticeable? Do other manufacturers require a waiver?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      This can happen with all painted solid wood cabinetry. The dealer is requesting this and not Brighton. It would actually be slightly less noticeable on Brighton then the other lines because Brighton sands the seams to a higher degree than Kraftmaid or Thomasville.

  39. Paul Domijan

    Do you have 2019 ratings

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      hi Paul,
      No but we will post new expanded ratings for 2020 the end of January or Early February after KBIS, The National Kitchen and Bath Industry Show

  40. Shawn

    Hi Paul – This is truly a great site and resource. Thank you. We will be renovating our kitchen but we may end up selling the house in the next couple of years. If we were staying we would invest in inset cabinets. But where we may be selling we’re instead planning on saving money with full overlay. The reason we like inset is the tight gaps. Do you have any information on which manufacturers have the tightest tolerances for their full overlay doors/drawers both within each unit as well as when units are placed side-by-side? Value is a consideration so we’re looking for the best combo or tight tolerance and price if that makes sense. Thanks!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Shawn,
      This is where the design becomes so important – when you sell a home. Spending money on cabinetry, countertop, and appliance splurges has little resale value. While removing a wall or moving a doorway could change the entire layout of your home and make it much more sell-able. Researching to find the best designer to work with is where you should start.

  41. Paul McAlary

    Hi Monica,
    As far as I know Starmark doesn’t make frameless cabinetry so at least in one respect you aren’t comparing apples to apples. The other lines like Omega and Crystal have several different types of construction so it is hard to know what you are being quoted.Maybe Chris can figure out exactly which version of each line you got quotes on.

  42. Monica

    Thanks so much Paul — I will email Chris now and will definitely call tomorrow. I am definitely open to suggestions in this corner, and luckily the island can move around since we have one room — but few walls. Assuming the same (or very similar) design and these prices (~27k Starmark, ~31.5k Crystal, ~31k for Omega) I am also curious to know if there is any particular brand, of these, you would suggest going with?

    Looking forward to speaking with Chris, and thank you again for your help! I will ask him tomorrow but maybe other people are considering these brands as well 🙂 Thanks!


  43. Monica

    Hi Paul,

    First off — thanks so much for all the useful information in here and in this blog! It’s been a huge help as we search for kitchen cabinets. I’d love your advice on our options. We received estimates for Omega, Bellmont, Crystal, and Starmark and the KD who sells Starmark also has Dewils which isn’t in your list. We love the modern look, so we really like the frameless options and are open to framed with slab overlay doors.

    Our kitchen is smaller, has strange angle and little wall space, so every KD has a different approach. The estimates we’ve gotten are: ~27k for Starmark (8.5k island only), ~31.5k for Crystal (custom + affordable, 6.5k island only), ~31k for Omega, and ~27k for Bellmont. Only the Crystal estimate includes custom cabinets, the others have dead space. What would you recommend? How does Dewils compare, especially if it is slighter higher than these quotes?

    Thanks so much!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Monica,
      Accessing the dead space in the design you show is a waste of money as you would be spending a lot to get to space that isn’t really usable anyway. Dewils is another good brand like the ones above.
      The one red flag that I get from your post is that your concern about accessing every bit of space is a concern that often drives homeowners to overcrowd their kitchens. Especially since you say your kitchen is small, has an island (which eats up space), and the cabinetry costs would indicate a kitchen that isn’t that tiny. You might want to send us your design to look to get an unbiased opinion. Unfortunately many designers will let customers overcrown their kitchens because the extra cabinetry makes them money and telling people what they don’t want to hear can be difficult.

      We give free advice outside our service area on Fridays between 2-4pm EST. You can call Chris this Friday, he is extension #8

  44. Vanessa

    How do you feel about Wolf Classic line? it seems their reviews are all over the place….

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Vanessa,
      I like Wolf Classic and we rate it well in this review as it is Wolf”s highest level of construction. Cabinet companies get all kinds of meaningless reviews from customers primarily because people in general aren’t truly qualified to understand what they should expect. Most of the bad reviews all cabinet companies receive both well constructed lines and poorly made lines can be traced to customers misunderstanding what they bought, mistakes by the kitchen designer or cabinet dealers, or poor installation by the contractor. Below is our blog on this topic:

  45. Wailana

    Do you have any ratings or experience with Bellmont Cabinetry, specifically the 1600 series, frameless, Alder wood?
    Thank you, Wailana

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Wailana,
      I believe we were able to get specifications on Belmont cabinetry in the past and commented on them. However I can’t find any specifics on their website or on line now. In general we only recommend frameless cabinetry that is 3/4″ plywood or plywood core and only for slab door styles. Shaker or recessed or raised panel door style are better done in framed cabinetry. It is more durable and the style doesn’t suffer from the slightly smaller overlay on full overlay doors.

  46. Grant


    Do you have any ratings for Pioneer Cabinets made in Michigan ?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Grant,
      Sorry the Pioneer web site gives no information on how they are made.

  47. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Hi John,
    I am actually also very surprised that HomeCrest was less than Fabuwood. It is generally more expensive. It sounds like the dealer selling the Fabuwood is marking cabinetry up a great deal while the dealer selling HomeCrest is being very competative. I would definitely pick Homecrest over Fabuwood for any stained cabinet and as far as a painted cabinet is concerned you might notice that the paint on the HomeCrest is not as smooth as the Fabuwood paint job because the wood is Maple instead of Birch and more difficult to sand. If this doesn’t bother you I would then get HomeCrest for a painted cabinet as well. Assuming all things being equal.

  48. Nancy Osgood

    Hi Merillat cabinets were recommended to me. I can not find one good review. Can you offer your input? Thank You.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Nancy,
      My input would be to not listen to any other advice from the person that recommended Merillat. Even if the cabinetry wasn’t poorly constructed to actually recommend Merrilat above other superior built and better prices lines shows a complete lack of knowledge of kitchen design and of the cabinet industry. If this was a home owner it can be forgiven as simply not knowing what they are talking about. If this was a contractor it is telling for several reasons and I would not use them for my renovation.

  49. Nadine

    I am so impressed with your advice. We are adding on a kitchen area to a very old house. Considering Kraftmaid or Wellborn solid construction cherry with a raised panel for cabinets.. Frankly I am lost . The Kraftmaid cabinets are nice but now that company has been sold. Are Wellborn cabinets a good choice ? This is a family home and I will probably live here forever. I need a reliable , traditional choice . Is there another company that I’ve overlooked? Any advice is appreciated

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Nadine,
      Thanks and a very savvy question. While no one can really know what will happen when ACProducts Inc takes over Kraftmaid I will say that ACP has been a good steward of the other lines they have acquired. In fact Yorktowne went from a pretty crummy cabinet line to a well constructed one after ACP took over. Of course as soon as Yorktowne became a good line then The big home builder Toll Brothers STOPPED using them and switched to another crummy line.

      Tough to give advice without a crystal ball but I would fall back on selecting the best designer and cabinet dealer to work with. If the same designer sells both lines than ask them their opinion. If it is two different companies than goole both dealers and work with the designer and dealer with the best reputation. The cabinet lines (if upgraded to the same level of construction) I don’t think will matter.

  50. John

    Sorry I should have mentioned the Homecrest are fully upgraded all plywood.


  51. John

    Hi Paul – This website is super helpful. We were planning to go with Fabuwood cabinets but my builder suggested we get another designer to provide a competing bid – they thought Homecrest would work well for our kitchen and they made some minor adjustments to the design – we are going to the 9′ ceiling with cabinets – the tops being glass. With Homecrest they don’t need to be stacked and the second designer thought that would be a better look. The Homecrest also came in about 10% less – and even the designer selling them was surprised as he thought he’d be abuout 10% more than fabuwood. Do you think we’ll be happy with Homecrest?

    Many thanks.

  52. Mike

    Hi Paul,

    Thank you for all of the info you share on your blog – it’s a great resource! My wife & I are in the process of planning to remodel our kitchen. We’ve been looking at cabinets and really like the Kraftmaid Grandview square full design with maple wood

    I know you recommend Fabuwood a lot. Do they have anything similar that you’d recommend and/or are there any other cabinet companies that you’d recommend looking into for similarly designed / priced / quality cabinets? (The cabinet dealer we initially went to did not carry Fabuwood, but other cabinet dealers in our area do carry them).

    Also, do you have any recommendations on where in a kitchen (if at all) to include lower cabinet doors with pullout shelves instead of lower cabinet drawers? I’m not sure if the answer is specific to an individual kitchen design but figured I’d ask. We’ve been working with a kitchen designer and have a design that we really like, but noticed all of the lower cabinets are drawers. Just thought I’d try to get your opinion.

    Thanks for any help you’re able to give!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Mike Great questions!
      As far as inexpensive cabinet lines go we like many but know the lines I list below best. You have to be careful with the inexpensive lines to make sure that they are assembled in the factory, and that the dealer has a good reputation, and be aware that there could be more damage during deliveries as these lines use less expensive carriers. Of course damages get replaced by any good dealer.
      Green Forrest
      and many others

      Generally drawers are better than roll outs and cost exactly the same. If a kitchen is big enough and price is not a concern, we usually still leave one cabinet with no interior convenience like roll ours or Lazy Susans for awkward to store items like Woks, Blenders, etc. And we include one cabinet with adjustable roll outs for items with unusual heights.

      In REALY big kitchens all the kitchen gadgets and pull outs start to make sense. The smaller the kitchen the more saving storage space is a premium.

      Always remember that roll outs and drawers waste about 20% of a cabinets space and things like mixer lifts and Magic Corners or corner drawers waste 50% of a cabinet’s space or more and are less functional but have “the cool factor”

  53. Steve

    Hi Paul. Thanks for all the advice you provide on this blog – its incredibly helpful!. I know you’re a big advocate of Fabuwood for their overall quality/value, and I have specifically sought out well-reviewed kitchen designers in my area (Charleston, SC) that carry the line. One designer provided me a quote in Fabuwood Galaxy for ~$20k. He also quoted the same design in a brand called Carolina Heartwood Cabinet for ~$12.5k. You do not rate Carolina Heartwood but they seem to have many, if not all, of the construction specifications you recommend. What are your thoughts on this brand? Do you think its worth spending over 50% more to get Fabuwood? Thanks!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Steve,
      I can’t find specs on how they are made but from their website I can tell that they are very a simple imported RTA cabinet line. $7,500 is a lot of money but $20,000 in Fabuwood cabinetry is a lot of cabinetry so your home must be large. A large space would usually call for a more sophisticated design and a larger spec book than the very inexpensive lines would offer. The most inexpensive cabinetry like the Carolina Heartland cabinetry can still last a lifetime if it well built as you say. However I can see from the web site that the cabinetry finish looks cheap. One reason we like Fabuwood so much is that in the painted cabinet styles, customers and even many designers, can’t tell the difference between Fabuwood and very expensive lines.

      The photos on the Carolina Heartland website and their website itself is so amateurish that I find it troubling. We sell and have sold lines that can be as much as 25% less than Fabuwood. While they look close in quality we only recommend using them on homes that are to be flipped. When it’s your own home and you plan on staying indefinitely I think it is a mistake for our customers even saving the 25%, much less the 38%, you would be saving here.

      Some of the cheaper lines that you might consider that would be less than Fabuwood but not quite so cheap looking would be:
      J&K, CNC, ProCraft, The Fabuwood Value and standard overy lines (25% less), The Wolf less expensive lines, Green Forest, and some others.

      If a cabinet companies web site does not look as nice as a small contractors that should be a red flag. Your warranty and the likely hood that the line will even exist in a short time make buying cabinetry from them riskey. Always Google the cabinet dealer too. They are who you are actually buying cabinets from and if they have poor reviews or no reviews then I would not buy from them.

  54. Lauryn

    I was wondering if you have any information or feedback on J&K cabinets? They so far appear to be the best quality of rta I’ve seen, but wondering if there are comparable or better options. Thank you.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Lauryn,
      J&K is an inexpensive well constructed line but I would recommend not buying any cabinetry RTA. Buy it assembled by the factory but also work with a good kitchen designer on your kitchen. It depends on the door style and finish you are looking for but Fabuwood has the nicest painted white shaker and recessed panel doors for a similar price. J&K has some nice raised panel doors and some nice colors.

      One of the most frustrating things for good kitchen designers is how delusional the public is becoming about needing help designing their kitchens. HGTV, design software, and the the amount of information people can gather online from websites like ours has made the public ridiculously over confident.
      As kitchen designers we know that a little bit of knowledge is especially disastrous in our profession. Experienced kitchen design professionals will tell you that the worst designs we see are from architects, contractors, engineers, and real estate professionals that arrogantly believe they know enough to design a kitchen, and need no help from an actual kitchen design professional. Unfortunately the general public is falling into the same over confident delusion due to the easy access of simplified kitchen related information. Nearly every design we get sent from people firmly believing that they have a “great kitchen design” and just need cabinet pricing is mistake riddled and outright laughable.

      Please do yourself a favor and don’t become another RTA DIY know-it-all and remodel your kitchen without researching the one thing you should be spending time on finding. IE a knowledgeable, experienced, and talented kitchen designer to work with. With the help of a good kitchen designer you can make the sensible choices in design and materials that add value to your home. Without professional help you project will almost certainly look great and make total sense TO YOU but in reality be a terrible substitute from what you could have had were you to get the help everyone needs.

      Here are three blogs to seriously consider if you believe I am exaggerating.

  55. MIchelle P.

    Truly appreciate the time and effort to maintain this information! (A compliment before a favor!) Have you heard of Dwelling, Nest and/or Europa? And if so, any opinions on quality/value?

    Thank you!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      No I have never heard of these lines which is pretty hard to accomplish and not a good sign. Looks like they are from a small carpenter with a broken website. I’d steer clear.

  56. Janelle

    I’m considering cabinets by Holiday Kitchens. I notice you’re listing gives an A to Holiday Kitchens and a C to Holiday Frameless I assume due to construction? In general what is your opinion of Holiday kitchens and how do they compare with a line like Starmark. Thank you!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I know Starmark better so it is hard to compare. But the framed Holiday cabinetry spec book impressed us. I would think both lines were similar.

  57. Josh R.

    I have read your blogs which are chocked full of valuable information. THANK YOU for providing this service!

    Almost a year and a half has passed since the 2018 list was updated. Do you have an updated listing for 2019?

    Thanks in advance and Happy Holidays!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Josh,
      Thanks for the kind words. We will be releasing expanded and updated reviews soon after The Kitchen and Bath Industry Show KBIS in Las Vegas this January.
      We plan on reviewing over 100 cabinet lines. We are also formatting the old reviews to make them easier to read and more attractive.
      Happy Holidays too!

  58. Peter

    Thanks Paul!

  59. Peter

    Hi Paul,
    This is a great resource- I wish we lived in your area! We have 30 year old frameless cabinets in the house we just moved into that seem to have 3/4″ particle board sides, and are renovating. We love the frameless look but the cabinet line our preferred vendor supplies is Woodland Cabinetry and their frameless sides are 1/2″ plywood. I know you recommend 3/4″ plywood for frameless cabinets, so my question is, which do you think is worse, 3/4″ particle board frameless or 1/2″ plywood frameless? 🙂

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Peter,
      We get lots of these kind of comments. IE I know you recommend A or C but we want B or D so what would you pick. Our answer is always the same – we will not be forced to rubber stamp bad decisions.

      We would never sell either of your choices to one of our customers and were a family member of mine to consider your choices I would yell at them. There are an almost infinite number of sensible cabinet choices out there. If your “preferred vendor” only supplies poor quality materials I would re-examine why I am working with this company. And if my contractor recommended them, I would get some other input, as well as estimates, from other contractors.

  60. Christy

    Thanks Paul! I appreciate all your help in answering all our questions. I have learned a lot by reading all your answers!

  61. Paul McAlary

    Hi Christy,
    Yes I agree. Even in my own kitchen that would have cost me nothing extra I didn’t bother to upgrade to 3/4″. Usually we would use 3/4″ sides on framed cabinets for a Home Economics classroom or when a customer really wanted the absolute best construction and price was no concern.

  62. Christy

    Sorry, one more question. I have been told by multiple cabinet makers that 3/4” plywood is not really necessary for framed cabinets. Would you agree with this? Thanks again.

  63. Christy

    Thanks so much for your quick response. I wish we were in your service area! I appreciate all the advice you give here.

  64. Christy

    Thank you for all the great information. I am trying to decide between KraftMaid Vantage and Starmark. Is there any significant difference between the two other than Starmark having 3/4” plywood? I feel more comfortable with the KraftMaid dealer than the Starmark. I appreciate your help.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Christy,
      I didn’t know Starmark had a 3/4″ upgrade. Kraftmaid does too although it’s expensive. With both their regular upgrades and 1/2″ plywood sides they are pretty equal construction wise. Starmark has some more creative colors IMO. However, if you like the look of the finish you are considering equally Kraftmaid is just as well made and probably a little less expensive.

      As always – the design itself is the most important thing, especially with equivalent cabinetry.

      Unfortunately most kitchen designers either aren’t very good or have difficulty dissuading their customers from poor design decisions. People often want what the want, and when they have little design ability themselves they often refuse to take direction from their more knowledgeable designers. Because of this the majority of the designs we see done elsewhere need a great deal of improvement.

  65. Carol

    Thank you for the great info Paul. It is very helpful!

  66. Paul McAlary

    Hi Carol,
    We used to carry Green Forest. They are well made when all plywood. The issue we had with them was that they do not sell 36″ high wall cabinets. They sell 39″ high ones instead. Be careful 39″ wall cabinets should NOT be used for kitchens 96″ tall.

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