Main Line Kitchen Design
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Posted July 1, 2018 by pmcalary

NOTE: Due to recent tariffs we have begun updating (increasing) the value ratings on some of the US lines. There are still more updates to follow.

Below are our updated 2018 cabinet reviews including additional cabinet lines from our very popular 2017 cabinet ratings blog. If you value this blog then take a moment review our top blog LIBRARY on the column to your right . This lists the blogs that consumers find the most helpful.

If you are outside our service area we are happy to answer any questions on this blog’s comment forum.  But please do not contact us on our web site contact page.

All the designers that gave us input on the cabinet lines below have greater than 20 years experience in our industry. When possible all construction specifics were double checked on the web sites for each cabinet line.

Main Line kitchen design acknowledges that we are dealers for the following cabinet lines: Wellsford, Bishop, Brighton, Fabuwood, 6 Square, and CNC.  We could be prejudiced towards ranking these lines more favorably, but we have tried to be impartial. However, since the cabinet lines we carry were chosen specifically for their construction quality and value, our ranking them well should not be a surprise. 


Below is our comprehensive list of the top selling cabinet manufacturers in the United States and how they rank 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 rate cabinetry assuming each line is upgraded to the top level of construction available. 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.

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.

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 lower marks on value even though as designers we think the cabinetry is the best in it’s class. These lines receive lower grades on value simply because there are competitors offering the same quality at slightly lower prices.

Cabinet line Price level 1-6     Quality Value
21st Century 1 A A-
6 Square 2 B+ B+
Adelphia Kitchens 3 B B
Adormus (frameless) 3 B B
All Wood – framed 2 A A
All Wood – frameless 1 C C
American Woodmark 3 B B
Aristocraft 2 C C
Bertch 4 A A-
Bishop 4 A A-
Bishop Frameless 5 B B+
Bremtown 6 A+ B
Brighton 4 A A+
Brookhaven closed A B
Brubaker 5 A A
Cabico 4 B B
Candlelight 4 A A
Canyon Creek 3 B B
CNC 1 B+ B
Collier 5 A B-
Crystal 5 A A
Decora 4 A A
Desginers Choice 4 A A
Design-Craft 4 B B
Diamond 4 B B
Durasupreme 5 B+ B
Durasupreme frameless 3 C C
Dynasty by Omega (frameless) 4 B B
Dynasty Pinnacle (framed) 5 A B
Echelon Cabinetry 2 B- C
Executive (frameless) 4 B B
Fabuwood 2 A A
Fabuwood (frameless) 3 B B
Fieldstone 4 A B+
Grabill 6 A+ B
Haas 3 B B
Hanssem framed 1 B+ B+
Holiday (frameless) 3 C C
Holiday Kitchens 4 A A
Homecrest 3 B+ B+
Homestead Custom 4 A A-
Ideal Cabinetry 2 B A-
IKEA (frameless) 1 D C
Innovation 2 C C
JSI Cabinetry 1 B+ B+
Kabinart 3 C+ 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
Kountry Wood 2 C C
Kraftmaid 4 A- A
Legacy 3 B+ B
LifeArt 1 C+ A
Marsh 2 B B
Marsh (frameless) 2 B- B
Medallion 5 B+ B
Merillat 2 C D
Merit Kitchens 4 B+ B
Mid Continent 2 C C
Mouser 5 A A-
Mouser (frameless) 5 B A
Ovation 4 B C
Plain and Fancy 6 A B+
Plato Woodwork 4 A A
Poggenpohl (frameless) 6 B C
QuakerMaid (frameless) 4 B B
RD Henry 4 A A
Rutt 6 A+ A
Schrock 3 B B
Schuler 5 B+ B
Shenandoah 3 B B
Shiloh 4 C C
Showplace 3 B+ B-
Siematic 6 B C
Signature Custom 5 A+ A+
Solid Wood Cabinets 1 A- A-
St. Martin (frameless) 4 B B
Starmark 4 A B+
Stylecraft 5 A A
Thomasville* 4 B B
Timberlake 3 B B
Ultracraft (frameless) 2 C C
Village 5 A A
Waypoint 2 B B
Wellborn 4 and 5 A A
Wellsford 5 A+ A+
Wolf 2 A B+
Woodharbor 4 B+ C
Woodmode closed A A-
Yorktowne Now an Elkay CO 4 B+ B

* 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.

Below is a more general review of cabinetry from 2015 explaining types of cabinetry construction:


  1. Ted, July 3, 2018 at 8:22 am:

    When I research Solid Wood Cabinets, I am directed to a second company called In-Stock Cabinets for design and quotes. Is this the same company that you have rated so high?

  2. pmcalary, July 3, 2018 at 12:34 pm: should get you to the right place. Please remember the good rating we give them IS AS THE LEAST EXPENSIVE LINE YOU CAN BUY AND A LEVEL 1 PRICE POINT. So better than IKEA for the same price for durability. I’d always buy the cabinets assembled. And I would not recommend these cabinets to anyone planning on staying in their home an extended period of time. A line like Fabuwood or Wolf that is 10% or 20% more expensive is a better investment. Those slightly higher priced cabinetry will look nicer and have fewer factory defects that need replacement.

  3. Ted, July 3, 2018 at 7:59 pm:

    so… Wolf 1-B+-B+ is a better cabinet than Solid Wood at 1-A-A??
    Not meaning to be trouble, just trying to make sense.

  4. pmcalary, July 3, 2018 at 10:39 pm:

    Hi Ted,
    You are absolutely right. When we were adding additional cabinet lines and reviewing them we neglected to do a good job updating some of the lines we had reviewed in 2017. Several higher priced lines improved there construction and contacted us to tell us which helped.

    Solid Wood was a early leader in the low cost lines, but they lost some traction. We never updated their rating as they remained static and Wolf, Fabuwood and other lower priced lines improved and also increased in price. I adjusted the lines in question. We will continue to make adjustments to the 2018 ratings as the market changes, and we find time to review past work. Good Catch THANK YOU!

  5. sj, July 5, 2018 at 8:03 pm:

    Your reviews are so helpful, thank you. Many of the more economical lines are not available in the southwest. Any recommendations in this neck of the woods? Looking for a moderately priced painted cabinet line for a townhouse.

  6. Angela, July 5, 2018 at 8:42 pm:

    Are you familiar with Crestwood or Koch cabinets? I have a quote on my kitchen from a designer using Crestwood, and my mouth still hasn’t shut from my jaw falling on the floor. My kitchen isn’t THAT big, and this isn’t the Taj Majal. She also uses Candlelight and Koch, with Candlelight supposedly being about the same price as Crestwood. There is a finish style I adore in Crestwood, but my gosh, we’re at $66,000 and she hasn’t even quoted me the butler’s pantry, or any of the other cabinets in the house.

  7. pmcalary, July 5, 2018 at 10:25 pm:

    You are selecting cabinet lines that are expensive custom lines. Also probably door styles and finishes that are also extra, and most likely working with a designer that overcharges for the cabinetry she sells. If I saw your design it would also most likely be poor based on how things have gone so far. Google and find a better place to work with or at least gain some perspective from another designer.

    Most of all if your kitchen is staying close to what it is now you are focusing on the wrong things needed to create a great kitchen. And probably getting yessed by people out to give you what you think you want and take as much money from you as possible giving it to you. When customers tell us that they know exactly what they want – we know that they have blinders on and can’t see the big picture. They are also easy pickings for designers that simply want to sell them the most expensive things they point at.

  8. pmcalary, July 6, 2018 at 1:46 pm:
  9. Dennie Miller, July 9, 2018 at 9:30 am:

    Excellent blog and great job on the reviews. I am in Baltimore, MD and looking for quality lower price point cabinets for a new kitchen. How do 21 Century cabinets compare to Fabuwood and Wolf cabinets with respect to finish and style? Thanks.

  10. tk, July 13, 2018 at 3:19 pm:

    How would you rank the following 3 cabinet lines in terms of quality and price: Wolf vs Fabuwood vs All Wood Framed? Looking for white Shaker.

  11. Lee, July 13, 2018 at 11:55 pm:

    Doing a small kitchen remodel for my moms house and trying to choose between waypoint 650F (free plywood upgrade and free sinkbase cabinet) at $5500 or Fabuwood galaxy at $4800. Which cabinet is better constructed and has better ratings. Thanks.

  12. pmcalary, July 14, 2018 at 7:33 am:

    They are both great choices for the price. I would not use cabinet construction as the test here since they are both well made. Assuming the design is identical I would buy the cabinets from the dealer with the best reputation and best reviews on Google and Houzz.

    If both companies have a stellar reputation or if it’s from the same company I would select the door style and finish I liked the best.

    If you like those equally then if the types of wood are different, for example if Waypoint is Maple and Fabuwood is birch I’d pick Maple over birch and get Waypoint. If everything else is equal then just save money and get Fabuwood.

  13. Cyndi, July 15, 2018 at 5:54 pm:

    I have MCS (multiple chemical sensitivites) and need to find cabinetry that has low VOC’s, no formaldehyde and good glues. I live in Northern California and can’t spend a fortune because we just retired and bought a fixer that we intend to stay in. We have been pricing all-plywood construction but lots of reviews say to beware of some cabinet companies because even though they say “all plywood” they sneak in MDF, which I cannot chemically tolerate.. (Diamond reviews, for instance.)
    I appreciate your ratings… can you help us find a dealer that sells these type of cabinets?
    Thank you!!

  14. pmcalary, July 15, 2018 at 9:43 pm:

    If you call on a Friday between 2pm and 4pm EST we answer questions from people outside our service area.

  15. John, July 16, 2018 at 3:43 pm:

    We are looking at the difference between custom cabinets from Woodland and Starmark cabinets. Do you have any information on the quality of Woodland to compare the two?

  16. pmcalary, July 16, 2018 at 4:27 pm:

    We’d never heard of Woodland Cabinetry. So I checked their specifications online and their web site. Starmark wins hands down and is a more transparent company.

    I hate when cabinet companies talk in generalizations and not specifics using all the buzz words like “green” and “universal design” or “ergonomic” and have US flags prominently displayed but tell you nothing about how their cabinetry is constructed. When you dig just a little you always find the product lacking while the hype is top notch.

  17. Asha, July 17, 2018 at 11:17 am:

    Hello, would you please advise on choosing between Fabuwood and Marsh cabinets, also Birch vs. Maple cabinets, which ones should we go with, are cabinets from both the companies all wood? I do not want any plywood,
    Thank you,

  18. pmcalary, July 17, 2018 at 11:28 am:

    Hi Asha,
    You are confused. When companies say their cabinets are all wood that means the fronts, doors, and drawer fronts are solid wood but their sides, backs, shelves, and sometimes door panels are plywood.

    I think Fabuwood is a nicer cabinet than Marsh but if you wanted a light maple stained cabinet it is not available in Fabuwood only in Marsh. Finding a knowlegable designer to help you understand your options might be the best choice.

  19. Audrey, July 17, 2018 at 11:32 am:

    Hi! We ordered custom kitchen cabinets last week and just found out that the front panel is vaneered MDF. We were tossing between two door styles (the other one was $4,000 more). Could you please explain the difference between vaneered MFD and solid wood? We can still make the change to the other door style. BTW, the cabinets are cherry wood that will be stained and glazed.
    Thank you!

  20. pmcalary, July 17, 2018 at 11:47 am:

    Hi Audrey,
    This is my favorite question!
    I love the look of solid wood doors myself BUT>>>>

    Without any expatiation customers think that they would prefer a solid wood panel if the cost was the same. However a solid door panel will have stripes on the door where each piece of wood is glues to the next. The average door panel will have three pieces of wood glued together to make the center panel.

    A veneered door panel will have the grain of the wood continue across the whole door panel. So no stripes! Both types of doors should last a lifetime in custom cabinetry.

    So you pay extra to get the striped look. When customers call screaming that they paid 30K on their cabinets and got stripes on the doors we know that they must not have understood that they paid thousands more to get the stripes. All our designers make sure we explain this. But sometimes people don’t hear what we are trying to tell them.

    Get the look that you like. Do not pay more if you do not like the stripes you should expect getting.

  21. John, July 17, 2018 at 5:39 pm:

    Thanks for the reply on Woodland. I have the spec sheet from them and was wondering if you would like to see it for a reference. Let me know how to send it to you.

  22. Paul McAlary, July 17, 2018 at 8:45 pm:

    Hi John,
    I found their spec sheet on line. You can send a link if you like to double check but I would pick Starmark even if the cabinets could be upgraded to near equal construction. Just on reputation alone.

  23. Alicia, July 18, 2018 at 1:55 pm:

    Thank you for all the time you take to educate us on cabinets! Presently, we are looking at Echelon until I found your site. Awhile back, we looked at Fabuwood and perhaps we should reconsider it now that I’ve read your blog. The only dealer you list for my area is and based on your ratings, none of the cabinet lines appeal to me. When we worked with the company selling fabuwood, the designer was also the installer I believe. Is this common? Is this a red flag that we should not go back? How can I figure out if he is a good designer?

  24. pmcalary, July 18, 2018 at 2:11 pm:

    Hi Alicia,
    The Legacy cabinets that Mid South sells are pretty inexpensive and well made. Buying cabinets from a contractor is bad for two reasons. First, he can not be a good designer and installer both so he is almost certainly not qualified to design your kitchen. Second he is too small to absorb the cost of the mistakes he will certainly make trying to design kitchens.

    Picking a designer and dealer is more important than the cabinet line. Remember you are not buying cabinets from the manufacturer you are buying cabinets from the dealer. The fact that Fabuwood sells to contractors is one of the reasons to stay away from them unless a reputable dealer that sells several lines is selling them.

  25. EricZ, July 19, 2018 at 8:45 am:

    Hi – first thanks for such a great resource! I see your rating on Solid Wood Cabinets – do you know anything about their custom line – Main Line Custom Cabinetry? I am assuming no affiliation with you? – we are looking at inset, we have a local SWC dealership near us, and they have a very small display, a cabinet with a door and drawer and that’s about it. They have 5-6 full displays but that is of their “in stock” everyday line. Your rating system says it grades with assuming we upgrade to the highest level, but this seems to be a separate line vs their standard line, so not sure if your rating reflects their standard line, or this “Main Line” custom line…Specs seem to be 1/2” plywood all around top/side/bottom and 3/4” shelves with solid wood/plywood 5/8” shelves.

    thanks in advance!

  26. pmcalary, July 19, 2018 at 9:24 am:

    Hi Eric,
    I know nothing about this line but I a skeptical. Inexpensive and inset don’t go together. Even the lines we carry that are less expensive but do inset cabinetry we won’t sell their inset cabinetry. And their reps have admitted that there are a great many issues with their own inset product. I don’t know the price point of these cabinets but if they are not double the cost of Solid Wood Cabinets then they are probably not a good idea. I also wouldn’t recommend getting inset cabinetry from a company that is brand new without a track record of success making both inset and beaded inset cabinetry.

  27. Josh, July 19, 2018 at 11:55 pm:

    Hi- your blog is EXTREMELY helpful. Thank you for all of this information. I’m looking at Schuler v Kraftmakd cabinets, all upgraded. The finish would be painted white shaker wall cabinets and plain front drawers. If the prices end up being comparable between the two due to sales, are there other reasons why you like KM more than Schuler. Thanks!!

  28. pmcalary, July 20, 2018 at 6:48 am:

    Upgraded Schuler a better buy for the same price and definitely has nicer finishes. That’s quite a sale. It makes me think that the Lowes kitchen designer made a pricing mistake. Buy them while they are stuck honoring the price.

  29. Michele, July 20, 2018 at 8:39 am:

    How would you rate Mouser’s centra (semi custom) line?

  30. pmcalary, July 20, 2018 at 9:17 am:

    Mouser’s Centra Full overlay and Inset line upgraded to all plywood construction is very well made. We’d give it a 4 of a 5 for price a A for construction and a B+ for value. It could rate higher for value but we aren’t that sure of pricing. The Centra Euro line upgraded to plywood is well made for a frameless cabinet. As always we recommend frameless construction for slab door styles only.

  31. Lisa, July 21, 2018 at 12:14 am:

    Hello! Love your blog, very informative. Do you have any ratings on Pioneer Cabinetry made in Michigan? We are building, and our builder recommends this cabinetry. Thank you for any information you can provide.

  32. pmcalary, July 21, 2018 at 7:13 am:

    Hi Lisa,
    The Pioneer Cabinetry web site gives a description of their cabinet construction but does not show a drawing of exactly how they are made and so leaves some details unclear. My concerns are that the cabinets are described as having 1/4″ thick backs and there is no mention of a hanging rail. If the cabinet is designed to have one added in the field or has one and they don’t mention it they could be OK. Otherwise they are poorly constructed. They also use Grass drawer glides and hinges instead of the preferred soft close Blum hardware.

  33. Sherry, July 21, 2018 at 9:24 am:

    This article is a wonderful resource! We are getting estimates from 2 different designers. One is a Hiliday cabinet with msg panel overlaid with wood painted, the other is Wellborn Forestry cabinet, wood. I am not finding any comparisons of Wellborn Forestry. Do you know anything about it?

  34. pmcalary, July 21, 2018 at 11:47 am:

    Wellborn Forrest is a well made less expensive cabinet line than their neighbor Wellborn. I assume you mean Holiday which we rate. They will be a little higher priced then the Wellborn Forest I would think.

  35. Sherry File, July 22, 2018 at 4:57 pm:

    Are their constructions comparable?

  36. pmcalary, July 22, 2018 at 5:13 pm:


  37. Anonymous, July 22, 2018 at 7:48 pm:

    How would you rate River run cabinetry?

  38. pmcalary, July 22, 2018 at 8:41 pm:

    No more than a B for construction in framed and less than that frameless. In Framed shelves are only 5/8″ thick and backs use 3/8″ hanging rail.There are better values out there construction wise. Their Driftwood finish is cutting edge.

  39. Gayathri Ravichandran, July 22, 2018 at 10:54 pm:

    Hi thanks for ur informations. Plato Woodwork semicustom or Starmark which is best. Then in Starmark they mentioned the cabinet box construction is all plywood veneer core, but in Plato they just mention plywood but not mentioned about their core like plywood veneer or mdf do u have any information about it. Which one s best Plato or Starmark for small kitchen???

  40. pmcalary, July 23, 2018 at 7:01 am:

    They are very similar, When cabinetry is so close in price and construction the particular door style, the finish, the dealer and the designer you are working with become the relevant issues. The Starmark veneer core tells me you might be selecting a painted or foil doorstyle. You would need more specifics for me to comment further.

  41. Nicole, July 23, 2018 at 3:26 pm:

    Hi – thank you for all your great insights. Do you have any information on Greenfield cabinets, 3/4″ plywood construction for both frame and frameless. Part of the Corsi group out of Indiana. I am comparing this line to Mouser Centra and Signature Select – both frameless with the same 3/4″ plywood. Also – any thoughts on using all MDF doors to minimize separation lines on painted doors? Thank you.

  42. pmcalary, July 23, 2018 at 4:11 pm:

    Hi Nicole,
    You are getting a painted 5 piece door because you ask about getting an all MDF door to avoid expansion seams. We do not recommend a frameless cabinet line for this style door. Only for more contemporary slab door styles that may only come in frameless lines and look better as slab doors due to tighter reveals between doors. For these door styles compromising on cabinet durability can make sense. For the style you are getting frameless makes little sense. We we use Mouser or Signature framed cabinetry for your project and not the Greenfield.

  43. patty olivos, July 24, 2018 at 2:03 am:

    I want to say that I really really learned A LOT from your website.
    I am on the beginning stages of remodeling my kitchen… If I am limited to Lowes or Home depot… which brand would you recommend as their best ?
    I thought KraftMaid but then you also said that Shuler is comparable with nicer finishers …
    I just want to make sure to buy a product that would last me for a long time…
    thank you

  44. Nicole, July 24, 2018 at 8:02 am:

    Hi Paul – thank you for your reply. Sorry for the confusion – I am not interested in a slab door style, but rather wonder your opinion of using a 5 piece MDF recessed panel door with a frameless cabinet. I like frameless cabinets for the larger drawer widths and tighter reveals (I do understand that you recommend framed – and I will compare once I narrow down the brands) Am I correct that you prefer Signature Select and Mouser Centra over Greenfield? They all appear to have the option of 3/4″ plywood sides – is there something that differentiates the quality between these 3 frameless lines? Should I also look at Brookhaven 3/4″ plywood frameless?

  45. pmcalary, July 24, 2018 at 8:40 am:

    Upgraded Kraftmaid and Schuler are about equal in construction quality. However Schuler is about 15% more expensive due to their ability to customize and their nicer looking finishes. Not to many designers at Lowes will be able to design a kitchen that would take advantage of Schulers ability to customize. Or even Kraftmaid’s for that matter. If you need to buy from a home center your first job will be to research and to find an experienced kitchen designer working there.

  46. pmcalary, July 24, 2018 at 8:48 am:

    Sorry Nicole,
    When you start by not taking our advice – asking us to advise you while overlooking the elephant in the room to concentrate on the mouse feels off. Let’s say all these frameless plywood lines are equally less well made in construction quality.

  47. Nicole, July 24, 2018 at 9:05 am:

    Thank you again for your very valuable input. Sorry for any miscommunication – as I mentioned, I will also be looking at framed based on your input.

  48. Jay, July 24, 2018 at 11:57 am:

    How would one differentiate Fabuwood from Fabuwood Frameless? I don’t see a distinction on the Fabuwood website.

    Fabuwood 2 A A
    Fabuwood Frameless 3 B A

  49. pmcalary, July 24, 2018 at 12:21 pm:

    It is the difference between a framed and a frameless cabinet. See this blog for clarification.

  50. Charley, July 24, 2018 at 2:26 pm:

    Hi Paul: All information that I have read here is extremely useful. One question I have for you? I am looking at Bertch Inset Cabinets. Are there any negatives that you are aware of?

  51. pmcalary, July 24, 2018 at 2:41 pm:

    None that we are aware of. They are not a line we carry so we are not completely up to date with any factory issues or changes lines we aren’t dealer for make.

  52. Debbie, July 24, 2018 at 10:10 pm:

    This is all great information on your blog and every link I have clicked on your site. I helped build custom cabinets years ago and have been dead set on the all plywood construction and looking for better grade plywood as there can be an A-1 to D-4 rating on plywood for appearance. I cringe at the idea of RTA cabinets even if they are plywood construction, I never heard of JSI Cabinets until recently and though they look nice despite the RTA option, I did notice that you gave a poor quality rating. Can you elaborate on the issues you see, such as in the Georgetown series? This is one option that my boyfriend has found as an appealing alternative to some of the more expensive options that we have looked at. Looking at the picture on the website he found, the panels do not have the appearance of the joining but appear to be either solid across or a doctored picture. And I could not find any construction details on their website. Thank you!!

  53. pmcalary, July 25, 2018 at 2:47 pm:

    I personally reviewed the JSI assembly videos and upgraded the reviews of JSI. While I think buying RTA cabinetry is not a great idea in general JSI does a great job of explaining their assembly. And their cabinetry is definitely well constructed if built properly. That being said you are removing all professionalism from the kitchen design and assembly process to save 20% on cabinet costs. Not a great trade off IMO. Way better than IKEA though and around the same price.

  54. patricia olivos, July 25, 2018 at 5:47 pm:

    thank you for your reply on kraftmaid vs schuler…
    i met with the designer at lowes and i was fairly happy.
    will continue to look at my options…
    thank u again

  55. Eve, July 25, 2018 at 8:54 pm:

    I am in the process of beginning a kitchen renovation and am considering going with Waypoint cabinets. My contractor said they are a good quality cabinet at a reasonable price. I was originally considering Kraftmaid but do want to stay within budget and Waypoint would help with that. However I don’t want to get a less expensive cabinet and not be happy. Any advice?

  56. Lauren Clapp, July 25, 2018 at 9:20 pm:

    Hi there I am currently in the middle of a remodel. I am looking at 3 cabinet lines.
    Mouser Centra inset, Kahles and Showplace.
    What are your thoughts on these 3 lines?
    Thank you, From Massachusetts

  57. pmcalary, July 25, 2018 at 10:38 pm:

    We review these lines. If you would like to speak to a designer further about them we take calls from outside our service area 2-4 pm EST on Fridays

  58. pmcalary, July 25, 2018 at 10:41 pm:

    Once cabinets are made well how happy you will be is determined by how much you like the particular door style and finish. Worry more about the kitchen designer you are working with. This will usually be your week link.

  59. Robert A., July 26, 2018 at 11:02 am:

    I obtained a quote on the following Fieldstone cabinets from a local dealer:


    Are there any specific upgrade options I should request? Thank you.

  60. Paul McAlary, July 26, 2018 at 5:38 pm:

    No those upgrades should get you what you need

  61. Patrícia olivos, July 26, 2018 at 9:02 pm:

    Hello one last question …
    What do you know about SOLLID cabinetry

    There were not on your list 🙁
    Please forgive me if I am asking for too much
    But I just love your site and even though I don’t know u I trust your judgement
    May be going outside Lowe’s into a cabinet store and they carry diamond and sollid mostly
    THabk you again

  62. pmcalary, July 27, 2018 at 10:34 am:

    Never heard of them

  63. jjman, July 29, 2018 at 10:24 pm:

    Going between Marsh, Holiday, and Mid Continental. Which is the best if you don’t want to spend a lot of money, but still want good quality?
    Thank you!

  64. jjman, July 29, 2018 at 10:26 pm:

    Going between Marsh, Holiday, and Mid Continental. Which is the best quality, but most affordable?
    Thank you!

  65. Gayathri, July 30, 2018 at 12:20 am:

    Hi Thanks for all your informations. Waypoint,schrock or fabuwood which one you prefer for all plywood contruction box?And i heard like some companies they will just mention as ‘all plywood’ and sneak MDF .Are these three are like that?


  66. Rick, July 30, 2018 at 2:09 am:

    Costco sells a brand called All Wood but I think it is different from the All Wood you reviewed. The site is all wood Can you confirm?

    If they are a different company than the one you reviewed above, do you know much about the Costco product? Price/Wuality/Value? I assume since it is Costco it will be pretty high quality at a decent price. They are estimating our cabinetry (36 linear feet of kitchen at about $9k.

  67. pmcalary, July 30, 2018 at 6:56 am:

    Buying a kitchen at Costco would be as bad an idea as having your wisdom teeth removed there. You are not buying a simple toaster but a complex product that needs expert manufacturers, designers and installers for the project to succeed. Lowes and the Home Depot stretch the limit of what makes sense usually failing but with the help of the few good designers they sometimes succeed. IKEA always fails. Costco doesn’t even have a prayer of getting anything right. Some of the knock of appliances Costco sells seam to be OK but designing a kitchen with Cosco and using their RTA cabinetry is unlikely to end in a finished project worth very much.

  68. pmcalary, July 30, 2018 at 6:59 am:

    Upgraded to Fabuwood standards all three are fine choices. Which makes the most sense will depend on the door style and finish you are selecting. For the popular painted white shaker door Fabuwood is the best buy. For most stains the others offer nicer choices.

  69. pmcalary, July 30, 2018 at 7:03 am:

    If you read the blog Holiday is the choice here.

  70. pmcalary, July 30, 2018 at 7:06 am:

    March will be inexpensive but OK. Holiday more expensive and a much better line.

  71. Sue, July 30, 2018 at 2:13 pm:

    We are looking to use Echelon cabinets in our new home, the ratings you gave don’t seem like that is a wise choice. Can you give any further information on Echelon? The reviews I find online are older, from 2015 or so when they weren’t yet Echelon.

  72. pmcalary, July 30, 2018 at 2:34 pm:

    If you get every last upgrade Echelon offers in the 2018 spec book they get up to a B rating for construction. Still since these are upgrades and not standard you will usually pay more to get them making the value of the cabinet lower. Upgraded they are fine but definitely not the cutting edge of where the best values for the less expensive lines are. Some features like plastic lazy Susans and middle stiles in the wider cabinet openings are old fashioned and cheap. Better value lines in this price group won’t have this and they will also be better constructed.

  73. Gayathri Ravichandran, July 31, 2018 at 8:51 am:

    My local kitchen modeler offering Koch cabinets.They said its very durable and good quality.But I didn’t see any reviews/Ratings for Koch.R they really good?
    Then again about Fabuwood, Many clients mentioned there s a discoloration in their cabinet doors.But here you have good rating.Whats your opinion.Thanks for your time.

  74. Nicole, July 31, 2018 at 3:53 pm:

    Hello – I am considering Brighton, Grabill, Mouser Centra and Signature for painted cabinets. All get good quality grades from you – can you provide any points of differentiation between them? Thank you very much.

  75. Paul McAlary, July 31, 2018 at 3:58 pm:

    I Believe we have looked up Koch before and they are a more expensive custom line and a much more expensive item than Fabuwood. We have had no discoloration problems with Fabuwood.

  76. Paul McAlary, July 31, 2018 at 4:05 pm:

    Hi Nicole,
    Once you are considering good lines at similar price points the cabinet dealer and the designer become what’s most important. Since it is rare that we even see competent designs from the designs customers send us try to find the best designer. Usually the best designers don’t rubber stamp a customers ideas they try to show them better ones.

  77. Shana, July 31, 2018 at 7:30 pm:

    Hi, our contractor is encouraging us to buy either “Kunal Kitchens” or “International Kitchen Supply”. I believe they are both Chinese lines. They are a lot cheaper then the Waypoint we were looking at, but we are a little considered about them. Do you know anything about their quality?

  78. pmcalary, August 1, 2018 at 7:14 am:

    Hi Shana,
    No but you are not working with a designer and contractors give bad cabinetry and design advice. The ones that don’t work with designers are the ones that are less reputable. When you are on such a severe budget that even inexpensive cabinet lines are out of your budget this is when you especially need direction from a kitchen designer and you need to bid this job out to several contractors. This is how you save money and get a good result. Hiring the contractor BEFORE you finalize a kitchen design and are ready to buy cabinets through a reputable dealer is how people get ripped off.

  79. Laura, August 1, 2018 at 5:06 pm:

    Hi, we are trying to decide between J&K cabinetry (lowest quote), Waypoint (middle quote), and Holiday Kitchens (highest quote). In all cases, we’re looking at all wood cabinets. J&K cabinetry’s cabinets are made in China, so they are the lowest cost, but I’m concerned about choosing them to save money now and then having it cost us more money in the long run. I know the other two we’re deciding between that are U.S. made aren’t the top of the line so I’m not sure how much more we’re getting for the cost. Any thoughts on the cost vs. quality trade-offs when it comes to these three companies? My husband is leaning towards J&K cabinets to save money, but I’m feeling unsure. Thanks for your help.

  80. pmcalary, August 2, 2018 at 8:21 am:

    Hi Laura,
    IN General:
    The US manufacturers like J&K that produce parts in China to be assembled in the US are actually a better than the 20% more expensive next tire of all US made products. You have to spend about 30% more on all US made cabinetry to get back the US owned import level. There are some all Asian lines that get sold under many different labels that have little quality control. These companies have no track record so they should be avoided.

    All that being said the three lines you are choosing from have different niches. Holiday is a high end line that is great but probably 60 % more than the cost of J&K. Waypoint is in that middle ground where you get an inexpensive US cabinet that has reached the well constructed level at about 30 % more than J&K. And J&K a low cost US/Import. J&K is not our favorite of these type lines but it is fine.

    Best of all here is that your dealer carries three appropriate well constructed lines at these price points. This tells me that they know what they are doing and care about selling a product that they can stand behind and aren’t forcing their customers into lines that aren’t appropriate for their budget.

  81. Bernadette Felch, August 2, 2018 at 11:38 am:

    Thanks for all of the information you make available. I refer to your site all the time. The builder we are considering has referred us to a kitchen designer who sells Waypoint, Showplace, Homecrest, and Candlelight cabinets. We are planning a full remodel with some construction to add a box bay window. We want to spend our money wisely. We are looking to do a combination of a painted cabinet in an Ivory kind of color, and wood – possibly cherry. A shaker or similar profile, full overlay. We want to stay and enjoy the house a while longer, but then hope the kitchen will still look good when it comes time to sell. You seem to consider all 4 cabinet choices to be pretty good. Would you have any suggestions to steer us to a good choice? Thanks again!

  82. pmcalary, August 2, 2018 at 11:52 am:

    Based on the lines they carry I’d guess the kitchen designer works for a good company.

    The mantra in our industry is that it’s all the same money. That means that it is better to spend more money on better a design moving doorways and windows than on upgraded cabinets, countertops, and appliances once you are talking about a good cabinet line like the lines here. So adding glass doors or nicer moldings or legs on the island anything that makes the design nicer and more expensive would be better than getting the most expensive cabinet line with a worse design without the extras. Keep that all in mind and then get the best design in the cabinet line door style and finish that you can afford.

  83. Bernadette, August 2, 2018 at 12:28 pm:

    Thanks! I feel better already.

  84. Alice Gordon, August 2, 2018 at 1:22 pm:

    I know you don’t like the first question to be which cabinet line … it’s not my first but still ….

    Candlelight vs Brighton cabinetry?

    How do they compare in quality of construction, finishes and price? Thank you.

  85. pmcalary, August 2, 2018 at 2:25 pm:

    I would guess that Brighton was less than Candlelight and it would depend on the finish which would make the most sense. For a painted finish I would select Brighton and I think some of the stained finishes will be nicer in Candlelight. Whether they are worth the extra cost to you will depend on how much more you like them.

  86. Laura, August 2, 2018 at 3:32 pm:

    Thanks! You mentioned that J&K is not your favorite of that type of line. Are there specific ones you like better? Fabuwood, or am I mixing up lines?

  87. Alice, August 2, 2018 at 6:01 pm:

    I asked about a comparison between Candlelight and Brighton but actually the four on my list that I want to compare are Candlelight, Brighton, Starmark and KraftMaid. Other than your general ratings (Starmark not on the list), I don’t know how they compare in price at this point much less in quality. Would so appreciate your advice. Thank you.

  88. Alice, August 2, 2018 at 9:16 pm:

    Yet another question. What do you think of the “price per linear foot” as a general guide to understanding a cabinet line’s price level?

  89. pmcalary, August 3, 2018 at 6:55 am:

    No cabinets are actually sold using linear foot pricing. ANYWHERE. It is a formula for estimating cabinetry costs. And liner foot pricing is both good and misleading.

    It is good because it shows you a good way to see which cabinetry is less and which is more. The percentage difference is usually pretty close. It is misleading because actual cabinet pricing for a real kitchen can end up double or more than the linear foot price.

  90. pmcalary, August 3, 2018 at 6:57 am:

    Alice – All those lines are listed.

  91. Alice, August 3, 2018 at 9:19 am:

    OK. Thanks. I must have looked past Starmark but I see it now.

  92. Saj, August 3, 2018 at 10:59 pm:

    What’s your opinion about Bridgewood cabinets from Kansas?
    How do you compare Woodmaster (from Newmanstoen, PA) to Wellsford.

  93. Jeff in Texas, August 4, 2018 at 11:28 am:

    with all the tariff talk and implementation, have you seen price increases for the Fabuwood or other semi Chinese product?

  94. Drenna Edelman, August 4, 2018 at 11:24 pm:

    Hello!! First let me say Thank you for providing this amazing blog where common non-industry folks can come and get informative reviews etc. My husband and i are building a home in the Lewes Delaware area and we have been trying to find a well made cabinet that will not break the bank. We have been looking at Mousser, Waypoint and Starmark. Most of the reviews for Starmark are positive but they are very expensive. I have very heavy dishes and serving platters and am concerned about a comment you made regarding the thickness of the hanging rail and cabinet back. I am waiting on estimates for Mousser and Waypoint as well. However, Waypoints reviews are all over the place. According to your list, Mousser out-prices Starmark so I’m afraid of what that estimate will look like. Your review of Wolf made us take a gander at them. Oddly enough Wolf’s website works the best for seeing the cabinetry in it’s raw state. I preferred their designs to the more expensive brands we have been seeing but upon speaking with dealers, I am not hearing good things at all. We need some guidance – can you help??

  95. Valerie, August 5, 2018 at 9:07 am:

    Can you give me your opinion on Ultracraft frameless. Would you have an alternative to that brand as I have read some disturbing reviews. On the other hand some are great. We are not looking at the melamine product but are looking at the maple fronts.

  96. pmcalary, August 6, 2018 at 9:31 am:

    We rate it in this blog. Why get frameless if you are getting anything except a slab modern door?

  97. pmcalary, August 6, 2018 at 9:36 am:

    You should be working with an experienced kitchen designer at a reputable dealer. They can explain in detail the advantages of different lines. This blog is not meant for detailed discussions.

  98. pmcalary, August 6, 2018 at 9:38 am:

    Never heard of these lines

  99. pmcalary, August 6, 2018 at 9:39 am:

    Fabuwood and the better made inexpensive lines like Wolf etc are all US companies so tariffs don’t apply.

  100. Toni, August 6, 2018 at 9:38 pm:

    Had a kitchen design done – good design – choose fabuwood Horizon. The whole thing fell apart when I sat down with the dealer to have final discussion and sign the contract. The dealer was supplying the cabinets, doing installation, supplying & installating quartz counters and I was going to purchase all appliances thru him also. He wanted 100% of the contact price upfront. I was not comfortable paying for everything before anything was delivered or installed but would pay portion now and payments when things were delivered or installed. Dealer said it is standard in the kitchen design industry to pay for everything upfront. I got a definite sleeze feeling and walked away. Can find no other fabuwood dealer in the area. Do you know who in southern Maine or NH is a reputable Fabuwood dealer?

  101. pmcalary, August 7, 2018 at 9:03 am:

    Hi Toni,
    It is not standard to pay 100% up front EXCEPT at home centers. I think that is fine as Home Depot and Lowes don’t want to deal with non payment issues and I don’t think either is going anywhere.

    Private dealers nearly all charge 50% to order and 50% upon delivery. If paying a final balance by check some dealers do require certified check but that is unusual. If you are paying the final balance of cabinets, tops, and appliances by credit card most dealers process the payment of each delivery the day before the delivery.

    I don’t know a Fabuwood dealer in Maine but here is the dealer we recommend nearest to you:
    Kitchen Solutions Portlannd ME 207-520-2311

    They were the only company that seemed to barely meet our criteria for recommendation near you. Not an overwhelming indorsement I know.

  102. Toni, August 7, 2018 at 10:26 am:

    Paul – thanks so much for the reply to my question. Good to hear that my instincts were right and normally small dealers do not get 100% upfront. I contacted the dealer you recommend – unfortunately they don’t service the southern area of Maine, they are more central Maine. I will continue my hunt for cabinets, etc. BTW – your blogs are fantastic!

  103. pmcalary, August 7, 2018 at 10:56 am:

    Thanks Toni,
    That makes me feel better about recommending the place in Maine. Not being willing to take a customers money when they are too far away is a sign of integrity. Less ethical dealers will take anyone’s money. Taking 100% of someone’s money up front is creepy.

  104. Steve, August 7, 2018 at 12:14 pm:

    Thanks for this site! When you rate Medallion, are you considering all of their lines, Silver, Gold and Platinum? We are looking for inset cabinets and were considering Medallion Platinum, but they are quite expensive but they look like very high quality. We are also looking at Brighton and Brookhaven. Thanks!

  105. pmcalary, August 7, 2018 at 12:56 pm:

    When we rate any line we are assuming the line is upgraded to the top construction level. Getting Medallion not upgraded is a mistake. All the lines you are pricing will be similarly priced. We like the Brighton best for the price especially for painted finishes. Which is why we carry them. However they are all good and the Medalion has the more beautiful finishes for stained cabinetry. The choice here with everything upgraded would really come down to the door style and color you like the most considering price.

  106. Sam, August 7, 2018 at 6:14 pm:

    Hello..How would you rate the cabinets and construction of 21st Century to Kraftmaid?

  107. pmcalary, August 7, 2018 at 9:57 pm:

    Never heard of them and they give no information on their web site. They look like inexpensive RTA cabinetry and so far from Kraftmaid.

  108. Alice, August 8, 2018 at 10:54 am:

    I’m still pondering Candlelight, Brighton and Starmark, all with stain on maple. Starmark has the best prices, Candlelight probably the best construction. Starmark’s veneer center panel is much cheaper than their solid wood center panel. You recommended that the veneer center panel is often better because it looks more uniform on a recessed panel. I don’t know if Candlelight does a veneer center panel. Do you know?

    I’m a little concerned about Starmark’s hanging rail construction. My question: is Starmark’s hanging rail construction good enough to feel secure that the cabinets are sturdy and will last? I won’t be doing another kitchen remodel (but not mentioning my age!).

    I’m also concerned as to whether Brighton’s stain is good based on your comments since I don’t want paint.

    None of these lines has a stain color I love but it will really increase the cost to go to a custom color but I haven’t yet ruled it out.

  109. pmcalary, August 8, 2018 at 1:07 pm:

    It’s not the quality of the stains it’s simply the look of them. If you like the stain then it is fine. Upgraded Starmark will be fine and they should also do a solid panel if you like.

  110. Craig, August 9, 2018 at 10:00 am:

    Good Morning Paul:
    I see that you answered Sam’s question from August 7th about 21st Century cabinets by saying that you never heard of them, yet you rated them as an A for quality and an A- for Value. I know they are not the same quality as Kraftmade, but I was looking for a decent quality, low cost cabinet for a flip that I am doing. I know that they are RTA imports but need to keep costs down. I was going to consider 21st Century because of your rating, but may now reconsider. I’ve used CNC in the past and thought their painted finish was a little sloppy.

  111. Alice, August 9, 2018 at 12:00 pm:

    I am so discouraged by the awful reviews I read of even your highly-rated cabinet brands. Seems as if a tremendous amount of cabinetry comes in damaged with poor quality control and the manufacturer unwilling to replace most of the time. Makes me want to find a way to live with my ugly 50-year-old cabinets! Also found out that Starmark won’t make a solid back panel instead of hanging rails except for inset cabinetry. Sigh.

  112. pmcalary, August 9, 2018 at 3:33 pm:

    HI Alice,
    Reviews from home Owners don’t count in our opinion. And reviews from Consumer Reports and JD Power are even less meaningful. For these reasons:

    People usually post when they are disappointed. So big cabinet companies will always get bad reviews even if 99.5 % of the time they do a great job and have no damages.

    Homeowners blame cabinet companies for mistakes made by their contractor, designer or for information they didn’t receive or understand from their dealer.

    Many complaints Home Owners have they should have expected but they weren’t informed or their expectations were not realistic.

    JD Power and Consumer reports rate Customer Satisfaction right after the kitchen is delivered and not 15 years later when cabinets are falling apart. This is why the worst cabinet line IKEA wins in customer satisfaction time and time again. See our blog on this topic:

  113. pmcalary, August 9, 2018 at 3:47 pm:

    Hi Craig,
    Where did we Rate 21st Century Cabinets an A for quality and an an A- for value? Not on our 2018 ratings form. If one of us was able to look them up for a customer and see their construction detail we might have rated them in a previous answer to a question on our blog. However their specifications are not available online for me to review them now. Possibly a customer forwarded their specs to us in the past.

  114. Craig, August 9, 2018 at 9:23 pm:

    Cabinet line Price level 1-6 Quality Value
    21st Century 1 A A-
    6 Square 2 B+ B+

    Here it is Paul……right from your report. Perhaps your rating was in error?

  115. Craig, August 9, 2018 at 10:07 pm:

    It is the very first rating on your list for your 2018.

  116. Paul McAlary, August 10, 2018 at 7:29 am:

    Ahh then we got the specs when we listed it. It is a well constructed but very inexpensive cabinet since it is a price point level 1. Expect cheaper looking but durable finishes and some quality control issues with cabinets at this price point.

    This shows that when blog readers keep asking about cabinets already listed as they do often we will eventually not realize one of us has already done the research and rated the cabinet line.

  117. Alice, August 10, 2018 at 4:53 pm:

    So Starmark and Brighton each use hanging rails on a 5/16″ back (Starmark) and 1/4″ back (Brighton) respectively. My probable contractor advises against hanging rails – full back seems to be more desirable.

    So … that suggests I go to another brand (and spend more!) unless you think that hanging rails are really OK which I assume you DO think since Starmark and Brighton are ranked highly. Maybe it’s an issue of durability?

  118. Paola, August 11, 2018 at 2:16 pm:

    Hello Paul – What is your impression of cabinetry from Artcraft Kitchen out of Canada? Our design is contemporary, with slab style doors. Looking at LP Laminate for bathrooms and Veneer or Wood, Walnut grain for Kitchen. There were too few reviews to get an opinion and most seemed to be around installation. We are working with a designer who is a designated dealer, but looking for balanced reviews.

  119. Maria Mariencheck, August 13, 2018 at 12:25 am:

    Any info on Marquis cabinets based in Kansas? It appears (but I’m not sure) that they are related to Koch cabinets. Our designer is recommending them vs Kabinart for our budget – and your review of Kabinart is not encouraging. Please help!

  120. pmcalary, August 13, 2018 at 7:36 am:

    Sorry The Marquis web site offer no information on how their cabinets are made. We usually assume in this case that there is nothing to brag about.

  121. pmcalary, August 13, 2018 at 7:46 am:

    Artcraft offers no information on how their cabinets are made. If they can be made with 3/4″ plywood or a plywood core with MDF skins that is the top construction grade for a frameless cabinet and gets a B otherwise B- or c+ for construction is the best they could get with particleboard sides. Once you are getting frameless cabinetry if the sides are 3/4″ it is more important to design for the cabinets construction vulnerabilities then the overall rating for the cabinets construction. this means for example:

    NO CABINET DOOR WIDER THAN 18″, NO DRAWER BASES WIDER THAN 30″. Do not over load cabinets, be careful with interior cabinet gadgets like Magic Corners or Mixer lifts.

    Modern cabinetry can be beautiful but you must design for it and treat it more delicately.

  122. Cody, August 15, 2018 at 12:39 am:

    Trying to pick between three Cabinet brands. 21st century vs Wolf Classic(Dartmouth or Saginaw) vs Fermawood cabinetry which is not rated but is an alder wood cabinet. Do not know which one I’m going to get the best value out of.

  123. Paola, August 15, 2018 at 12:45 am:

    Thank you Paul. Very helpful advice for considering Artcraft Cabinets.

  124. pmcalary, August 15, 2018 at 6:51 am:

    I would pick between 21st Century and Wolf. I would also only buy cabinetry that is pre assembled in the factory. So if one is not coming assembled choose the other. Beyond that I can’t be sure since we are not dealers for these lines and I don’t know if there are any current factory or shipping issues to consider. These lines are close. The Dartmouth in Wolf is a standard overlay doorstyle ie the door does not cover the front of the cabinet. This size door is less popular so if you are considering resale value I would not pick it.

  125. pmcalary, August 15, 2018 at 7:03 am:

    Thanks Paola,
    Another piece of advice would be that natural stone tops look odd as the cabinet style gets more modern. I’d choose a Quartz or other synthetic top for my cabinets. Same with the backsplash- as the style goes modern more contemporary style tiles and sheets look best. Glass tile is no longer so expensive and can be very nice.

  126. Ruth, August 15, 2018 at 9:41 pm:

    Can you give me a list of Fabuwood dealers around Atlanta(GA) area. I contacted Fabuwood but they only gave me one. I am wondering if there’s any other dealer(s) around. We are going to completely remodel our kitchen and I am kinda deadset on using Fabuwood because of your reviews. I might go to Lowe’s for comparison. Thanks for your help.

  127. pmcalary, August 16, 2018 at 10:02 am:

    No we are not given a list of dealer. Googling “Fabuwood dealer” or “Fabuwood” and your town might find others.

  128. Talya, August 16, 2018 at 2:35 pm:

    Thank you for this great information. I am currently working with a designer that sells Showplace and another firm that sells Benedettini cabinets. I have not been successful in finding information on Benedettini cabinets. What would your rating be on Benedettini cabinets.

    Thanks so much 🙂

  129. pmcalary, August 16, 2018 at 4:05 pm:

    I have never heard of Benedettini cabinets. But they appear to be a custom cabinet maker that makes both framed and frameless. They give no information on their web site about how their cabinet box is constructed.

  130. Clint, August 17, 2018 at 11:00 am:

    I’m looking for cabinets for a rental – I definitely need them to be affordable and durable – I’d like for them to last 15 years.

    I see these have quality ratings of A or A- and price <= 2.

    21st Century
    Solid Wood Cabinets
    All Wood – framed

    When I google these companies, I can find Fabuwood, Wolf, and your previous post provides the website for solid wood cabinets. But some could be a couple of different companies. Could you confirm:

    21st Century – – if not, then what site?
    All Wood – framed – – if not, then what site?

    How long should A+, A, and A- each be expected to last?

  131. Audrey s., August 17, 2018 at 9:48 pm:

    Can you tell me anything about Bridgewwod custom cabinetry out of Kansas. Their a division oh Hi-Lo industries. They say all wood 3/4″ with real birch veneer interior. 1/2″sides top&bottom by dado joints sidesmshelves,&bottoms are3/4″. My designer said to make sure they have this thickness when we are comparing products from other dealers. I like Ridgewood American advantage line for the color lines.i want a bright white and grey bottoms,advantage is more money. I’m so confused.

  132. pmcalary, August 18, 2018 at 10:49 am:

    Hi Audrey,
    Although I have never heard of them they looks like a nice Custom line. The Advantage semi-custom version of the line looks good too. However when you say they have 3/4″ sides that usually means a frameless cabinet and Bridgewood makes both framed and frameless. We recommend framed cabinetry for all door styles unless you are choosing a modern slab door. Framed cabinetry is better constructed but frameless looks nicer when you have slab doors.

  133. pmcalary, August 18, 2018 at 11:06 am:

    All these cabinet lines should last a lifetime but just get beat up over time. The finish will determined which kitchen looks the best the longest.
    Painted cabinets get damaged the most easily so for a rental I would get a stained wood. A light stain or a natural finish shows the least scratches and are the most popular colors. Fabuwood and Wolf are the lines with the most choices and the least amount of quality control issues. But for a rental any of these lines is fine.

    Yes those are the correct web sites but I would never buy cabinets on line. Buy your cabinets from a dealer that can be responsible for problems and damages, prevent design errors, and help you spend your money wisely.

    Much like the legal saying about people who act as their own lawyer having a fool for an attorney. “People who design there own kitchens have an incompetent for a designer.”

  134. Ruth, August 18, 2018 at 2:30 pm:

    Have you heard of J & K cabinetry? I don’t see it on the reviews.

  135. Olga, August 19, 2018 at 7:53 am:

    Hello, I have been Working with a designer and t looking at Omega frameless cabinets. I like the simple shaker cabinet door style. I also have an ultracraft cabinetry dealer in the area. I certainly would like a cabinet of higher quality than IKEA and now learned there are many other options for frameless cabinetry. My kitchen is fairly small and I like the look of frameless cabinets and thought I would be gaining cabinet space by going with this style. Which cabinetry brand would you recommend for a quality frameless style? Thank you 🙂

  136. Derek, August 19, 2018 at 8:27 am:


    My wife and I are trying to decide between Schrock or Showplace cabinets. We have a large kitchen and got prices for Brighton and Candlelight but couldn’t justify the cost of spending $35k and up for cabinets with all the other work we’re doing to our home. We’re looking to go shaker style with painted white perimeter cabinets and either a painted/stained or natural quartersawn oak island. We’re looking to stay between a $20 – $30k budget. We did like the Showplace cabinets but there was not much on their website about how their boxes were constructed and as we await a quote.

  137. pmcalary, August 19, 2018 at 9:36 am:

    Hi Olga,
    For a shaker door style I would recommend a framed cabinet. For these reasons:

    1) Cabinet storage is the same except for drawers where the width and depth of drawers are 1 1/2″ narrower and usually 1 1/2″ shallower. However since drawers can take more weight and can be safely used in wider cabinets because the drawers are attached to solid wood instead of particleboard or plywood this makes up for the storage issue to some degree.

    2) The shaker style door is not enhanced visually by the 1/4″ tighter gaps between doors and drawers in frameless cabinetry. Slab doors do look better in a frameless line.

    3) In the less expensive price points better constructed all plywood framed cabinetry can be 40% less than frameless cabinetry upgraded to plywood construction.

    If you still insist on frameless cabinetry then I would pay the additional 40% and get a 3/4″ thick plywood box. Many of the higher end frameless lines offer this option. I believe OMEGA does.

    Remember that the best level of construction offered in frameless cabinetry is a “B” in our rating system and a kitchen should be designed for the construction limitations of frameless cabinetry. Namely:

    No base cabinets wider than 30″, No wall cabinets wider than 36″. No doors wider than 18″ so that means no 21″ wide cabinets. Avoid heavy internal gadgets like mixer lifts and magic corners. No spice racks on backs of doors. The best kitchen designers will know this but many will not. This is because cabinet companies deny that these are needed design considerations. The cabinet industry never admits any weaknesses in their products and naive kitchen designers “drink the Koolaid”

  138. pmcalary, August 19, 2018 at 10:27 am:

    Hi Derek,
    If you are on a budget why not get one of the better made US lines with imported parts like Fabuwood, Wolf. 6 Square, or some of the others. You will usually save at least 20% and you will get a better constructed cabinet and often a nicer looking painted finish?

    That is the problem. The mid range all US made lines like Schrock or Kraftmaid need to be upgraded to their best construction to equal the imports. That makes them 20 to 40% more and then you are very close in price to the really nice high end lines like Brighton. The reason we recommend the semi custom US lines is to get the the different types of woods such as Cherry, Alder, Hickory, Maple and the nicer looking stains you get from the semi custom US lines. You don’t seem to have to have these woods or finishes so you might be wasting a lot of money for little if any improvement in construction or finish.

    And as always I will reiterate that the design itself outweighs all these considerations and so working with a really good kitchen designer is most important of all. Very few kitchen designers are good so finding one that is, is not that easy. If a kitchen designer simply prices out the kitchen the way you tell them or the way an architect has drawn it you can be certian that they are a poor designer.

    There is almost no way a non professional could design the best kitchen for a particular space. Often because moving a doorway, plumbing, a gas line or even a window to get a better kitchen design costs very very little compared to the the cabinet upgrades you are considering. There are an infinite number of bad designs for any space and probably only a couple of truly good ones. Good kitchen designers will find that good design. They redesign peoples homes 40 hours a week for decades. Thinking that you could find that good design without that level of experience, knowledge, and the talent that the best kitchen designers will have is the mistake that most people make.

    Every day I have hear the same comment from probably 60% of the people we first talk to. That their kitchen is small, or they are constrained by the locations of doors, windows, or budget, and that there design sort of has to be the way they have envisioned it. Of course when they actually buy their kitchen 90% of these same people will have chosen a design very different from what they at first thought. That’s why they need us. The video below makes this point in a funny way.

  139. Olga, August 19, 2018 at 10:34 am:

    Wow! Thank you so much for your advise ! I am so glad I asked:)
    I have found so much valuable information here 🙂

  140. pmcalary, August 19, 2018 at 12:06 pm:

    I think J&K is a good line. Their shelves are only 5/8″ thick plywood but that will only create a shelf sagging issue on cabinets over 30″ wide. You could get thicker shelves for just those cabinets from J&K if that’s possible or brace them.

  141. Skye, August 19, 2018 at 1:14 pm:

    Hi Paul,
    I recently decided that a kitchen remodel may be in our near future, and I stumbled across your blog – what a great find – thank you for this information! I had an initial meeting with a contractor and he said that he gets his cabinetry from Tischlerei – a quality “German-engineered” line, manufactured in the US. In reviewing their website, they seem to include all of your recommendations as “standard”, which is a good sign. Are you familiar with this manufacturer? Thanks!

  142. pmcalary, August 19, 2018 at 1:52 pm:

    I don’t know the line but they are custom and so more expensive. You should definitely NOT be getting quotes from contractors first you should be interviewing kitchen designers. After you select a good designer and determine the cabinet line they recommend for your budget then you can interview contractors. Good kitchen designers will know about removing walls and any other construction questions you might have during the design process. Getting quotes from contractors before the design is complete guarantees that you get higher construction quotes and that the contractors are not bidding apples to apples. If the design you are considering is something you came up with then you know that it is not professional and needs to be improved by someone who is. We have a funny blog about homeowners that go down this bumpy and well traveled road. Link below:

  143. Tia, August 19, 2018 at 2:49 pm:

    Hello, I am looking at a budget kitchen remodel after having a contractor take payment and run with it. I located a RTA cabinet company named Barker Cabinets out of NJ i believe. I am looking at their cabinets and they appear to be of good quality for the price. Can you weigh in on them versus 21st century, solid wood or wolf?

  144. Skye, August 19, 2018 at 3:06 pm:

    Thanks Paul!
    I really enjoyed the “Tale of Two Kitchens”, and will most definitely follow your advice by seeking the assistance of a kitchen design team.
    I failed to mention that the contractor was here to bid on installing a new roof (not my kitchen), as our roof was recently damaged by hail the size of racquetballs – no fun at all! Our conversation turned to other home projects, and I mentioned that I would like to remodel my kitchen, someday. That’s when he mentioned the Tischlerei line that he uses, so that’s when I looked up reviews and found yours.

    I will read your reviews and comments more thoroughly as I continue this process. Thanks again!

  145. jordan, August 19, 2018 at 3:06 pm:

    Hi, can you tell me your thoughts on Waypoint semi-custom cabinets? I’m also curious to know what approximate costs should run for install and cabinets. Looking for a large master bath vanity (straight – 4 pieces and an 8′ x 32″ storage cabinet). I’m guessing around $2500 to $3000 installed, and I want to know if my guestimate is about right. Thank you so much for any insight!

  146. pmcalary, August 19, 2018 at 3:10 pm:

    We do not recommend buying cabinetry RTA. Barker is well built when correctly assembled for a frameless cabinet so they would get a B in our rating for construction. Wolf and Fabuwood would be the best values in factory assembled framed cabinetry.

  147. pmcalary, August 19, 2018 at 3:16 pm:

    Hi Skye,
    Thanks and sorry about your roof. You don’t list your area but we recommend cabinet dealers outside our service area. Here is a link.

  148. pmcalary, August 19, 2018 at 3:22 pm:

    Waypoint is rated in our reviews above. The description of your bath is too vague to give an intelligent answer beyond that the price you are guessing is probably low.

  149. Skye, August 19, 2018 at 4:15 pm:

    Thanks, we live in the Denver area, and hailstorms are very common here – but we have never had hail that size in my neighborhood.

    I already looked at your recommendations for dealers outside your area, and I will start with making a visit to Designer’s Choice!
    Thanks again!

  150. Stacy, August 20, 2018 at 2:48 am:

    In our last kitchen, we had custom cabinets and we were very pleased; however, we were the general contractors which made the job take forever. We just moved and need to redo the kitchen. We found a contractor who does A-Z, but will not work with our cabinet guy. He prefers semi-custom. I know he will mark them up (that’s fine I suppose) but I’m wondering about the quality. They are Columbia Cabinets (Canada).

  151. pmcalary, August 20, 2018 at 7:31 am:

    Lots of warning signs here:
    Homeowners that aren’t contractors themselves make a mistake and almost always end up spending more and get a less professional result when they try to GC a job. Contractors should not be marking up cabinets. And kitchen designers should sell more than one line. Individuals, like your cabinet guy, that make cabinets themselves make “homemade” cabinets and not “custom” cabinets. When the contractor won’t work with this person that’s a red flag. And the contractor shouldn’t be determining the cabinet line you choose. We are also not a fan of Columbia cabinets. They are particleboard frameless cabinets.

    Research to find a kitchen designer and cabinet dealership on your own that gets great reviews. We recommend dealers around the US. See link below:

    Then work on the design with the kitchen designer. Then get bids from at least 3 general contractors and at least one from the kitchen designer to compare. This is how the process should be done. You did it what we think is the wrong way once. At least try doing it the way most kitchen professionals would recommend the second time.

  152. Kathy, August 21, 2018 at 8:43 am:

    Would appreciate input on 3 cabinet brands Considering Wellborn, Woodmode, and Woodharbor. All 3 brands are the same “quality” being the premier or top of the lines. We like each one but have some concerns re: our Wellborn dealer seems difficult to reach and unreliable. The Woodmode cabinetry gets great reviews but customer service after the sale allegedly falls flat from the company. Could you provide input. Much appreciated!!! We need to order soon

  153. Cindy, August 21, 2018 at 3:49 pm:

    We are considering cabinets for a kitchen remodel from either Brighton or Crystal. The cabinets would be white, with a stained island. Any pros and cons we should consider? We currently have Kraftmaid. Are they better than Kraftmaid, and which of the two is better?

  154. pmcalary, August 21, 2018 at 6:03 pm:

    Both Crystal and Brighton are a significant step up from Kraftmaid. Remember to upgrade to all plywood construction. Inset doors are very nice and not that more expensive in these custom lines. Inset and beaded inset is the mark of custom cabinetry.

  155. pmcalary, August 21, 2018 at 6:06 pm:

    Woodharbor is not a line even close to the other two. Wellborn is very nice, especially their high end upgraded lines. Woodmode is full custom and a great cabinet but much more expensive

  156. Saj, August 22, 2018 at 10:06 am:

    Thank you for valuble information.
    How do you compare Signature cabinets to Wellsford in quality and price.

  157. Cindy, August 22, 2018 at 10:49 am:

    Thanks for the info about Crystal and Brighton! I know that Crystal has another line, Current. Is it worth upgrading from Current to Crystal? We don’t need anything custom sized.

    Also a design question… with 8 foot ceilings in a traditional colonial, would you choose 42″ wall cabinets with or 39″ with crown molding?

  158. pmcalary, August 22, 2018 at 11:52 am:

    They are comparable but as we sell Wellsford and I know the line better that would be my pick.

  159. pmcalary, August 22, 2018 at 12:02 pm:

    I don’t know enough about Crysat to know the difference in the lines well enough to judge.

    However NEVER use 39 or 42″ high wall cabinets in a 8′ room. Professionals use 36″ high wall cabinets with a stacked molding to allow the cabinets to be leveled. This is a big amateur mistake.

  160. Don Wamsley, August 23, 2018 at 12:12 pm:

    Hi. I am trying to decide between Diamond, Starmark, and Wolf in a Shaker style. Do you have a recommendation as to what I should consider the best value?

  161. Tracy, August 23, 2018 at 2:01 pm:

    Thank you for your amazing cabinet information! We are looking to purchase a 48” vanity with drawers in either white or light gray maple (MDF). We have liked Bertch, Shiloh, Diamond, and upgraded Diamond Vibe. Any thoughts? The other bathrooms have Homecrest. Thanks again!

  162. pmcalary, August 23, 2018 at 4:08 pm:

    Big price swings between these lines Starmark is the most expensive and a completely a different animal. Upgraded I like both those lines but starmark will cost 80% more because it is more custom .

  163. Lina, August 25, 2018 at 1:03 am:

    Thank you for all your time to post this invaluable information. I am in the beginning of planning a new kitchen. I plan to use a designer. You mention on this blog that framless cabinets are usually the only option for slab type doors. I am really attracted to a very modern, sleek look but understand from your recommendations why a framed cabinet is preferable. Is there a relatively inexpensive option as far as you know for a slab door with a framed cabinet that would look decent? Waterworks does a beautiful job in my opionion. But they are very expensive custom made. BTW you wouldn’t service NYC, would you? Thanks in advance

  164. pmcalary, August 25, 2018 at 8:17 am:

    Most cabinet lines that are framed and will do slab doors. However they won’t do the most modern styles in framed cabinets. This means that the will do slab wood and painted doors. Some lines like Bishop will even modern style Pillow Slab doors. However very few will do the most modern laminate, foil, acrylic, or exotic wood slab doors. This is because on a painted slab door or a natural wood slab door styles the look still comes out well (not “as well” though) as with frameless. But in the most modern styles the framed cabinets just can’t pull off the look and it would look silly IMO.

    So if you want a painted or stained slab and the most durable option framed should be fine but if you want the modern laminate, foil, acrylic, or exotic wood slab doors get frameless and have the designer design for a frameless line. IE keeping door widths no wider than 18″, drawers no wider than 30″, and upgrading to plywood sides if available.

    No NYC is outside our service area.

  165. MKSmith, August 27, 2018 at 6:51 pm:

    Hi Paul – This blog has been the best advice I have ever seen online. Thank you for taking the time to answer questions and review cabinet lines. My last two kitchens were Brookhaven – mainly because I really liked the Kitchen Designer and all she sold were Brookhaven and Woodmode. I am in the process of building again and was hoping to not spend quite so much on cabinetry. I loved my Brookhaven cabinets and my main fear is that I will be disappointed with another line. Do you think cabinets by Fabuwood or Wolf will give me the same “feel” as Brookhaven? Looking to do White Shaker again. Thanks so much!

  166. pmcalary, August 27, 2018 at 8:50 pm:

    Fabuwood will not look very different or wear much differently. However customization and the design catalogue will be more limited in Fabuwood. Wolf you might be disappointed in. And expect more shipping damages and replacement doors and drawers being needed. But good dealers will take care of any issues.

  167. MKSmith, August 27, 2018 at 9:08 pm:

    Thank you Paul! Any other line you recommend that will give me the quality of Brookhaven at a lower price point?

  168. pmcalary, August 27, 2018 at 10:24 pm:

    Don’t expect Brookhaven quality for the 40% less Fabuwood prices. Fabuwood will be as close as you can get though for significantly less.

  169. PatG, August 28, 2018 at 7:34 am:

    I am having a new house built and the contractor has proposed Schrock Entra Amira slab drawer for kitchen and Aristokraft Brellin slab drawer in PureStyle laminate for laundry and bathrooms. I am concerned about how laminate will look and hold up. What are your thoughts or recommended alternatives. I am ok spending a little more. Thanks.

  170. pmcalary, August 28, 2018 at 8:39 am:

    Not really a fan of either line (see our ratings) and slab doors are more appropriate for high rises and condos than new homes. It may be your taste but it is less popular with the public and so if this is your final home don’t worry but if you want resale value a shaker style door would be a better choice.

  171. Ruth, August 28, 2018 at 4:20 pm:

    Thank you so much for the wealth of information that you have shared here. I am down to these 3 cabinet lines between Fabuwood, J&K or Wolf. Can you rate them or what would be the best choice and why? Considering quality and price.

  172. pmcalary, August 28, 2018 at 4:26 pm:

    Fabuwood has some nicer finishes and is a little more custom. It’s probably 10% more than the other two lines and worth the money. If you like a particular finish in the other two lines more stick with them.

  173. Mark B, August 28, 2018 at 4:40 pm:

    Hi: Are you familiar with Greenfield Cabinets? I would welcome your assessment, if you are. Thanks!

  174. pmcalary, August 28, 2018 at 5:03 pm:

    Sorry we don’t know the line and their web site offers no construction specifics. They may make decent cabinets but I will always like a company that is transparent over one that only offers spin.

  175. Nelda, August 29, 2018 at 9:30 pm:

    I’m remodeling my small kitchen. My cabinet choices are Mid Continent mdf or Wellborn Premier mdf. I’m so confused. They both have many poor reviews. Which is the better of these poorly reviewed cabinet makers. Thanks! Of course my designers love them.

  176. pmcalary, August 30, 2018 at 8:32 am:

    Wellborn makes a good cabinet but not the premier line. I’d either upgrade Wellborn to plywood construction or find a different line than these two poor selections. Cabinet reviews by consumers are pretty much worthless (see this link for the reasons)

    I think our reviews here are far more reliable but good grades in any of the lines we list ASSUMES that they have been upgraded to all plywood construction.

  177. Emma, August 31, 2018 at 3:17 pm:

    I am dealing with a contractor and designer. We are remodeling our kitchen and it’s between two cabinets Durasupreme and Fabuwood. We don’t want to break the bank, but want to have a great looking kitchen and functional that we can use for a long time without falling apart. Which one would you recommend and why? Thank you!

  178. Angelo28, August 31, 2018 at 10:27 pm:

    I’m in love with decora cabinets but it’s about 10,000 dollars above my price range. A cabinet supply I’ve been pricing with said I should look into waypoint. I’ve noticed they also have a lifetime warranty. Any other recommendations you have.

  179. Tracey, September 1, 2018 at 6:49 am:

    In white shaker cabinets would you recommend Waypoint or Diamond? I am considering Waypoint 410F. What is the difference between 410F and 650F ? Thanks.

  180. Tracey, September 1, 2018 at 7:14 am:

    In a white shaker would you recommend Waypoint or Diamond? Also in Waypoint what is the difference between 410F and 650F? Thanks!

  181. Tracey Gratch, September 1, 2018 at 7:15 am:

    In a white shaker would you recommend Waypoint or Diamond? Also in Waypoint what is the difference between 410F and

  182. pmcalary, September 1, 2018 at 8:06 am:

    Hi Angelo,
    Since you say what style and color you are considering Just use the ratings here.

  183. pmcalary, September 1, 2018 at 8:10 am:

    I would recommend Fabuwood for a white shaker style. They are less expensive, better constructed, and better looking than both these choices. Make sure you buy them from a reputable dealer. Fabuwood has some bad dealers as they do very little screening of who the sell to.

  184. pmcalary, September 1, 2018 at 8:11 am:

    Don’t know 410 vs 650. Ask the dealer.

  185. pmcalary, September 1, 2018 at 8:26 am:

    Hi Emma,
    You don’t say what color and style. For a painted finish I would recommend Fabuwood hands down. I would not recommend DuraSupreme as a good buy or as a responsible company unless you are dealing with a cabinet dealer with an impeccable reputation. DuraSupreme does have beautiful stained finishes but DuraSupreme did not honor their warranty with one of our customers when we carried their line and we had to compensate our customer when they would not. Their cabinets also must be upgraded to the highest construction level to equal the Fabuwood construction quality.

    I had never heard of a manufacturer that had complaints listed from their own dealers with the Better Business Bureau until Durasupreme.

  186. Emma, September 1, 2018 at 11:51 am:

    Thank you for replying so quickly. The two cabinet options are: Fabuwood Allure/Nexus/Frost and Duraspreme Meridien Linen White.

  187. Emma, September 1, 2018 at 10:31 pm:

    Have you heard of Landmark by Teddwood? How would you rate these cabinets? Homecrest over Fabuwood and DuraSupreme?

  188. Paul McAlary, September 2, 2018 at 9:49 am:

    Hi Emma,
    Landmark is a very good line. We would gove it an A for construction and the Teddwood custom framed line an A+. I don’t know pricing though so I can’t rate it for value beyond guessing that it can’t be bad. You don’t say what style door and what color you are picking so I can’t say whick line is a better buy of the three above. For a painted white shaker or recessed panel door I would pick Fabuwood. Stains would depend on the wood and color. Be careful with DuraSupreme the finishes are great but the cabinets MUST be upgraded and the company is not not trustworthy so the dealer you buy from is very important.

  189. paul mcalary, September 2, 2018 at 9:55 am:

    Just saw the door style was Nexus. for the same design I would save money and get Fabuwood here. Make sure the dealer has a good reputation. Fabuwood does not screen dealers so their are some terrible Fabuwood dealers. Remember you are not buying cabinets from the cabinet company you are buying them from the dealer.

  190. Emma, September 2, 2018 at 4:36 pm:

    Thank you again for your quick response. It really helps on which one to go with. The dealer does have a good reputation with Fabuwood. If anything is wrong, they will deal with them and not me. Thanks again!

  191. Michael Marston, September 3, 2018 at 10:05 am:

    I appreciate all this great info. Have you heard about Tedd Wood cabinets? We’re considering their frameless cabinets for a kitchen remodel. Our designer is suggesting them over KitchenCraft

  192. pmcalary, September 3, 2018 at 12:01 pm:

    Hi Michael,
    Ted Wood would be a far better cabinet than KitchenCraft in a plywood framless box.

    However if you are not getting a modern slab door style frameless cabinet construction makes little sense. You could get a Framed cabinet better made than any frameless line for less. In the very modern foil doors frameless will be the only sensible option but you are sacrificing cabinet strength and durability for style. If you like the modern styles make sure your designer designs with the cabinet construction taken into account. This means among other considerations:
    No cabinet doors wider than 18″
    No cabinet drawers wider than 30″
    Limiting the use of stressful gadgetry like mixer bases and Magic Corners.

    Kitchen designers that favor frameless lines worry me. Often these designers focus only on style and color. They ignore construction and function considerations. They also rarely consider moving walls doorways, windows, plumbing and other building changes, because they know very little about them. Moving these layout changers are the first considerations for the best kitchen designers.

    Some of the best kitchen designers I know are women partly because they have great style and color sensibilities and they took the time to gain the construction expertise needed to be a good kitchen designer. For example the woman designer that works for our company Stacia Fischer has a lead carpenter certification from NARI (The National Association of Remodelers)and a college degree from The Art Institute. But some of the most dangerous kitchen designers I know are also women. They are often interior designers that focus exclusively on style and color. They will design dysfunctional sometimes even dangerous kitchens and to a person these worst of the worst designers almost all favor working in frameless cabinet construction.

    If the cabinet line your kitchen designer prefers is a frameless line even when your kitchen style is traditional then watch out! You are probably working with one of these dangerous myopic style focused kitchen designers.

  193. Velma, September 3, 2018 at 6:43 pm:

    First, thank you for a wealth of information! My kitchen designer has recommended Wellborn Premier Bishop style cabinets. I’m thinking plywood vs mdf and I want white painted cabinets…maybe with a pewter glaze. $10,000 for a small galley kitchen seems high priced. In your opinion, is this money well spent and are painted cabinets easy to clean. Should I ask for a special finish?

  194. pmcalary, September 3, 2018 at 8:02 pm:

    Painted cabinets are easy to clean but also more easily damaged by water than stained cabinets. So always dry off cabinets quickly after cleaning with a damp cloth. The pewter glaze could be costing you 15% so if you are on a budget I’d consider eliminating the glazing. The cabinets are a good brand and in general a good investment.

  195. Kimberly Kauffman, September 5, 2018 at 10:59 pm:

    Thank you for this informative site. Can you recommend a dealer in Cleveland Ohio? You don’t offer one on your list.

  196. pmcalary, September 6, 2018 at 8:06 am:

    We had a tough time in Cleveland. The best I could find was:

    Somrak Kitchens
    26201 Richmond Road
    Bedford Hts., Ohio 44146

    (216) 785-2211

    But they they specialize in more expensive lines. Wellborn would be the best line that might still be reasonably priced. I also did not love their designs. However everybody else in Cleveland seemed to be worse and many dealers had major design mistakes on their Houzz page and website. Not a ringing endorsement but the best I could find.

  197. Kim Kauffman, September 6, 2018 at 3:41 pm:

    Thank you for your help! I’ve recently moved here from San Diego to be close to my grandchildren. It sounds like the weather isn’t the only thing lacking in Cleveland. 😊

  198. pmcalary, September 6, 2018 at 4:39 pm:

    Hi Kim,
    Actually we sometimes have a hard time in even big cities. It took two of our designers over an hour to find a dealer we were even OK with in Los Angeles.

  199. Elise Perelman, September 7, 2018 at 1:28 pm:

    Hi, I am considering fabuwood vs. Wolf and great northern. How does great northern compare to these other two? Thanks! This is invaluable.

  200. pmcalary, September 8, 2018 at 9:32 am:

    Don’t know Great Northern sorry. If it is comparable price wise to the other two, play it safe and stick with them.

  201. Michael Marston, September 11, 2018 at 8:02 am:

    Thanks for the detailed information, you are providing a great service to folks who aren’t even doing business with you.

  202. Paul McAlary, September 11, 2018 at 8:26 am:

    Thanks Michael,
    It’s nice to be appreciated for doing it.

  203. Mike, September 11, 2018 at 9:29 am:


    Can you rank these manufacturers in terms of quality? Trying to determine which brand to go with:

    Choices are:
    JSI Cabinetry essex door style
    Fabuwood Galaxy line
    CNC Elegant white line

    Or, are they so close in terms of quality i could go with any of them… I’m getting a similar price quote for all.


  204. pmcalary, September 11, 2018 at 9:56 am:

    Hi Mike,
    Fabuwood is a nicer line than CNC which we carry and JSI which we doo not. We are reviewing Hanssen and are considering carrying the line but I am still too unfamiliar with the line to say much more than that they are in the same ballpark as all these lines. At first glance I like them second to Fabuwood.

  205. Ruth, September 11, 2018 at 12:08 pm:

    Hi Paul,
    I live in the Albany, New York area and visited a showroom that carried Cubitac, Kabinart and Waypoint cabinets. I see you rated Waypoint a B for quality and value. Could you explain the rating? Also, do you know of the quality of Cubitac out of New Jersey? Looking to do a white kitchen.

  206. Paul McAlary, September 11, 2018 at 12:50 pm:

    Not a huge fan of any of these lines. Waypoint has 1/2 inch plywood sides when upgraded but a 1/8″ back and they tell us no more after that. Not encouraging. Cubitec also leaves mysteries as to how they make cabinets.

  207. Ruth Carr, September 11, 2018 at 12:58 pm:

    Thank you very much for this information,Paul. It has been helpful.

  208. Ruth Carr, September 11, 2018 at 1:13 pm:

    Hi again,
    I just noticed that Waypoint says it has 5/8″ dovetailed doors with plywood bottoms and the website says it meets ANSI and KCMA standards and offers a lifetime limited warranty. Face frames are made with 3/4 ” by 1 5/8 inch solid hardwood. It is curious they don’t mention the backs. I had asked the salesman if the backs were 1/2 inch and he said yes. Could they possibly have a top line. I am skeptical since they also sell Kainart which you rated overall as a D.

  209. Paul McAlary, September 11, 2018 at 2:33 pm:

    My guess is that the backs are a 3/8″ plywood hanging rail over 1/8″ back. It only says 1/8″ ply in their specbook though.

  210. Ruth, September 11, 2018 at 4:13 pm:

    Hi Paul,
    How is CWP? Another showroom rated it this way,
    CWP, Legacy, then Fabuwoodin descending order. Do you agree?

  211. Paul McAlary, September 11, 2018 at 4:27 pm:

    I would agree with that order. However there isn’t much difference in cabinet construction across these lines. The more expensive lines just offer more options and some really nice looking finishes.

  212. Ruth, September 11, 2018 at 6:23 pm:

    Thank you for your quick response. It helps so much when making
    When making this costly investment.

  213. Lauren Shaw, September 12, 2018 at 2:19 pm:

    This website is AWESOME. Thanks for sharing all this info. So sad I don’t live near Philly or I’d hire y’all in a heartbeat. I have two questions I’m hoping you can help with. 1) Is the “All Wood” cabinet manufacturer you rated here the same as the “All Wood” brand cabinets (allwoodfast dot com) that sells through Costco? 2) I’m in Austin, TX. I tried a link on your “find a local designer” listing and the one shown as being in Austin is actually in The Woodlands, north of Houston. If there isn’t a designer you feel comfortable with in Central TX, what tips can you offer to evaluate potential designers? I read the steps you go through to evaluate others, but I doubt I’d be able to spot a design error in their Houzz pages unless it were something really glaring, like a big intrusion into the work triangle. Even personal recommendations from neighbors can be dicey — few homeowners are informed enough to know how knowledgeable/talented their designer really is. Do you have a list of “common errors” or “great design” attributes to watch for? Grateful for any light you can shed. Thanks again for spending your time educating folks outside your sales range!

  214. pmcalary, September 12, 2018 at 3:37 pm:

    Hi lauren,
    Yes the All Wood cabinets are sold at Cosco and are an inexpensive well made cabinet. HOWEVER Costco’s employees like IKEA’s are unqualified to design a kitchen, so getting a deal there could be opening a can of worms.

    You should have knowledgeable design help all the way through a kitchen renovation. In general Home centers like Lowes and The Home Depot have designers far better than Costco and IKEA. The Costco cabinets I have never seen but they do have well constructed specifications. Costco also has knock off professional appliances that I have seen and are good buys and probably a safer way to save.

    As far as a cabinet dealer is concerned Austin is a tough market. FBS Factory Builder Stores seems to be the only company without major mistakes in their Houzz photos that also sells cabinets to the public and carries some OK cabinet brands. Some very high end designers and custom cabinet makers look OK but not truely special and even they and others in Austin seem to be OK showcasing design mistakes. Even dangerous ones.

    We ran into this in LA too. Sometimes cutting edge can also mean a little crazy and very overpriced. I am going to add FBS to our list of recomended suppliers even though they are not bowling me over. See information below:

    Factory Builder Stores
    8700 Fallbrook
    Austin, TX 77064

  215. Ruth, September 15, 2018 at 12:39 pm:

    Hi Paul,
    I was just looking at Merillat and the information given was that they have improved and that their Majesty line is of good quality. What is your take on this?

  216. Michael Marston, September 17, 2018 at 9:55 am:

    Thanatos again for all the great info. I’d like your opinion of Tedwood vs Schrock? White painted shaker doors.

  217. Paul McAlary, September 17, 2018 at 10:42 am:

    While I don’t know Tedwood that well. They look like a well made custom cabinet line that will be better made and more beautiful than Schrock – but also at least 15% more. In a simple shaker white door it may not be worth it. But if you take advantage of the best reason to get custom cabinets namely inset and beaded inset cabinetry it will be cost even more than that but also be more worth it.

  218. Linda, September 18, 2018 at 1:56 pm:

    Thanks so much for all your great information! Can you please help me with a comparison? We are building a new home and our builder uses Medalion, Eschelon and CNC cabinets. We do like the look of full overlay cabinets in a shaker style and want to select sturdy cabinets that are the best value within our options. What would you suggest?

  219. pmcalary, September 18, 2018 at 3:05 pm:

    Hi Linda,
    We review all three of these lines here. Eschelon we do not recommend. Medallion and CNC are fine but they are both completely different type cabinet lines and Medallion is probably around double the price of CNC. So it depends on what your budget is. In general I would recommend at least a slightly more expensive cabinet line than CNC. If you can afford Medallion that’s great but there will be other cabinet lines that are less expensive that you might like equally well. If you do go with Medallion the line MUST be upgraded to all plywood construction to be as well constructed as even the far less expensive CNC.

  220. Randy, September 18, 2018 at 4:34 pm:

    Do you know anything about Cardell Cabinets? It appears they are exclusive to Menards but after doing some digging looks like that’s a newer thing. Is this the same company that looks to have gone out of business a not too long ago? I only stopped at Menards to get an idea, I’m not focused on buying there but I was told Cardell’s top of the line is the best that Menards carries and I just wonder if it’s even worth considering.

  221. pmcalary, September 18, 2018 at 5:59 pm:

    After Cardell cabinetry went bankrupt in 2014 the Cardell name was acquired by US cabinet giant Masco in 2015. Masco’s existing plants are now manufacturing the Cardell cabinets sold at Menards. The Cardell web site doesn’t give enough information for us to be able to rate them. Certainly the only line that would possibly be acceptable would be their top line upgraded to all plywood construction if possible. This might possibly be rebranded Kraftmaid.

    The two US cabinet giants are Masco and Masterbrands. When Masco bought Kraftmaid they promised to keep the Kraftmaid quality the same despite the less well made other cabinet lines under the Masco Roof. Much like the other cabinet giant Masterbrands kept Decora their top line untouched.

    Since the cabinet worlds upheaval in 2009 -2010 Both cabinet giants seem to be heading in different directions. Masterbrands surprisingly seems to be becoming a better company and seems to be upgrading the construction on their lines. The vibe I get is that Masco is slipping. The fact that they aren’t transparent about how the Cardell line is made I find distressing.

  222. Christina, September 18, 2018 at 10:44 pm:

    This blog site is so helpful and generous on your part. Thank you.
    We live in a small town in MD and have limited choices for kitchen designers. I have met with several though and received fairly similar suggestions for layout.
    Waypoint (10k) Wolf (13k) and Centra by Mouser (16k) have been presented by different designers – each promoting their own brand. For a painted shaker cabinet, will I end up with a significantly better finish and/or cabinet with the Mouser line? Yes, they are more customizable, which provides a few better adjustments, but if the design doesn’t warrant a lot of measurement fine tuning, does it still make sense to spend more among these choices? I see you have given all of them fairly good grades (I’ve already ruled out Yorktowne based on your grades). Again, thank you. These feel like daunting choices.

  223. pmcalary, September 19, 2018 at 9:48 am:

    The choice here is between Wolf and Mouser. The Mouser finish won’t be more durable but it will have less tiny imperfections. The Mouser cabinetry will also probably be less likely to have shipping damage. And the cabinet construction while very similar in overall durability will have higher standards in Mouser. Such as dovetails having smoother joints. Look closely at the displays in the showrooms for each line. It does seem like you are getting a good price for the Mouser and the Wolf is usually only 15 or 20% more than Waypoint so your Wolf pricing seems a little high in Wolf for the same design.

  224. Christina, September 19, 2018 at 5:04 pm:

    Thank you so much. This is a great help!

  225. Randy, September 19, 2018 at 7:47 pm:

    Thank you so much for the info it’s really very helpful. Their lack of transparency is very concerning to me as well. I’m just starting to scratch the surface on looking. After reading some stuff here and on the post for last year(unless this is the same comment thread)I think maybe I’ll look towards Haas next and see how I feel about them.

  226. Paul McAlary, September 20, 2018 at 8:38 am:

    Hi Randy,
    We give Haas mediocre reviews. Why not find a dealer near you that carries a brand we rate better or see if we have a recommended dealer near you. Here is our list of recommended dealers across the US.

    Starting your kitchen renovation at Menards and then jumping to Haas tells me that you probably would be best served (like most people) by stopping to shop for cabinets and instead shopping for a good cabinet dealer and a designer. Hopefully we have a recommended dealer near you.

    If not how about calling all the Lowes and Home Depots near you to find the most experienced kitchen designer working there. Both of those home centers carry some decent cabinet lines especially Lowes. While their designers are less experienced in general, they will have a few experienced ones that if you call around hopefully you can find.

  227. Meredith, September 20, 2018 at 1:08 pm:

    Hello Paul,
    Do you know anything about Cliq Studios cabinets? I’m trying to decide between Cliq or Kraftmaid.
    Thank you for your help

  228. pmcalary, September 20, 2018 at 1:33 pm:

    Yes We sell Cliq Studios under their dealer name. They are less expensive but equally well made. They have fewer options and a limited selection of cabinets compared to Kraftmaid.

    Be careful. Buying cabinets online means that there is no one that has seen your kitchen firsthand and that the designer is designing blind so to speak. Also all mistakes are always on you and Clique studio designs are usually not as creative or well thought out as you might get working with a better local designer.

    I will remind people reading this that questions on our blog are usually about cabinet lines, but whenever we see the designs home owners are working on 9 times out of 10 the designs are poor and have mistakes in them. So the cabinet line is often LESS important that the kitchen designer you are working with. Especially if you are considering lines we give good ratings.

  229. Meredith, September 20, 2018 at 1:59 pm:

    Thanks for the information Paul, appreciate your time

  230. Alice, September 21, 2018 at 5:53 pm:

    FINALLY down to a choice between two cabinet lines: Candlelight or Omega Dynasty (not Pinnacle, not frameless).

    I didn’t see a rating for Omega Dynasty that wasn’t Pinnacle, their custom line, or frameless.

    My choice of door style in one has no upcharge and in the other has a higher level so that the end result is the price is about the same for each line.

    Which would you recommend? THANK YOU.

  231. Alice, September 21, 2018 at 7:18 pm:

    Just want to elaborate –

    Interested in quality of construction, qualify of finish and durability between Candlelight and Omega Dynasty framed (not Pinnacle).

  232. Paul McAlary, September 21, 2018 at 10:56 pm:

    Omega Dynasty is not frames as far as I know. They are a frameless cabinet line.

  233. Lauren Clapp, September 22, 2018 at 1:49 pm:

    Doing a large Reno and thinking about Mouser Centra inset line.
    Can you give me another line that is comparable to get another price. I was also looking at Ted Wood but do not see any ratings for their lines. Do any cabinets come
    Fully assembled?

  234. pmcalary, September 22, 2018 at 2:00 pm:

    Ted Wood looks like a good line. We just don’t have enough information to rate then. We carry and like Brighton. All these type lines only come assembled.

  235. Alice, September 22, 2018 at 3:57 pm:

    Dealer and current Omega brochure list 3 lines:

    1) Pinnacle Framed and Inset
    2) Dynasty Framed and Inset &
    3) Dynasty Full Access which I interpret to mean frameless.

    The second one, Dynasty Framed and Inset, is described in the Omega brochure as having “Construction differences resulting in a bit lower price point” than Pinnacle.

  236. pmcalary, September 24, 2018 at 1:05 pm:

    Hi Alice,
    Thanks for getting us to check, The Omega website now lists much more information than last time we checked. There is still not enough information on Omega Dynasty framed cabinets (namely how the back of the cabinet is made) for us to rate them in our review. You can rate them yourself by finding out how they make the back of the cabinet. If it’s 1/2″ plywood and you upgrade the cabinet they would get an A for construction. A 3/8″ Plywood back would get them a B. A 3/4″ solid hanging rail would also get an A. Most other construction types for the backs of the cabinets would get lower ratings. Masterbrands is not as transparent a company as I would like. They have been getting better of late but they still can’t seem to simply tell people how their cabinetry is made.

  237. Chuck, September 24, 2018 at 9:15 pm:

    Long list here. How ‘deep’ do you guys go on your research? Or is this solely based on the opinion of a few designers you get input from?

  238. pmcalary, September 24, 2018 at 10:54 pm:

    Hi Chuck,
    We do a lot of research for our blogs but research for this blog is easier than one might think as long as you know what constitutes a well made cabinet. I also attend the National Kitchen and Bath Industry Show KBIS each year and that sometimes helps.

    For the construction grade on all the cabinet lines we rate we have been able to document how each cabinet company builds their cabinets. Either from their own web site or from spec books available on line. That determines each cabinet companies grade on construction quality with a slight weight given to price point. For example an A construction grade for price point 1 might get an A- in a price point 4 or 5.

    For price point most of our designers know where most of these lines fall price wise. I personally have sold maybe twenty five of these lines and the other 4 designers have similar totals although there is a great deal of overlapping. When we don’t know, we don’t guess without documentation or we don’t list a cabinet line.

    Our Value grade is simply a function of the two other ratings.

    The blog that required the most work was to recommend cabinet dealers across the United States that are outside our service area. That research was far, far, more time consuming. For example in one case it took two designers 1 hour together to find one dealer we could recommend in one major city. And many times we could not find a dealer to recommend in a particular city at all. Here is the link to that blog which we are especially proud of:

    For one of my favorite blogs on the IKEA EFFECT most of leg work was done for us in the papers published by prestigious Harvard, Yale, and Duke researchers. Here is that blog:

    We take our blogs seriously. We do not allow outside content as I personally find almost all of it fluff or outright BS.
    If I ever type the words Shabby Chic my wife, who edits most of our blogs, has been instructed to force my retirement.

  239. colleen, September 25, 2018 at 7:42 pm:

    Trying to decide on white shaker cabinets by Fabuwood or Mid Continent. Curious as to why Mid Continent received a C. Any info is appreciated.

  240. Alice, September 25, 2018 at 10:55 pm:

    Omega cabinet specs from 2015 (could be outdated), given to me by a dealer:
    “Cabinet backs are veneer core plywood with laminate. Wall cabinet backs are 3/8″ veneer core plywood and base cabinet backs are 1/4″ plywood with 3/4″ unfinished plywood backbrace. Cabinet backs are rabetted into the sides and a hanger strip is installed behind the back on the top and floor of wall and tall cabinets.”

    Candlelight: “1/2″ thick domestic furniture core backs, bottoms and sides. Optional domestic plywood is available.”

  241. Alice, September 25, 2018 at 10:58 pm:

    What’s the difference between “domestic furniture core backs” and “domestic plywood”?

    What is veneer core plywood?


  242. pmcalary, September 26, 2018 at 9:09 am:

    Mid Continent has 3/8″ sides and backs in particle board. You can upgrade the sides to 3/8 plywood but that still gives them a very generous C. We may downgrade them after some reflection. Terrible value when you consider what else is out there. Fabuwood only comes with 1/2″ plywood sides and backs with Blumotion tracks and Blum soft close hinges with the exception of thier value line that needs to be upgraded to the Blum hardware. The comparison is not even close.

  243. pmcalary, September 26, 2018 at 9:15 am:

    Omega gets a B+ at best for this construction. As far as Candlelight it would be crazy to buy such expensive cabinetry and not pay for the upgraded cabinet box. You would be buying beautiful expensive junk otherwise. Some expensive lines offer this terrible downgrade because they sell to new home builders that don’t care if the cabinets fall off the wall in 5 years as they are only required to warranty homes for 1 year.

  244. pmcalary, September 26, 2018 at 9:39 am:

    Hi Alice,
    Different manufacturers describe these products slightly differently. In general:

    Domestic Furniture core is particleboard IE Medium-density fibreboard (MDF) made in the US (This is to satisfy those afraid of Asian products)
    Domestic Plywood is Plywood made in the US. Typically US plywood is slightly denser than Asian Plywood.
    Veneer core Plywood would probably be referring to plywood with a melamine top surface. So a plastic picture of wood on the surface. This isn’t a bad thing and most people can’t tell the difference when looking at it but polyurethaned plywood would be more desirable to most people and more expensive.

  245. John Pasilva, September 26, 2018 at 4:21 pm:

    Hi Paul,
    Are the tariffs impacting kitchen costs? Should we expect cabinet, countertop, etc. costs to go up?

  246. pmcalary, September 28, 2018 at 8:46 am:

    Hi John,
    Good question! So far tariffs have not effected cabinets and countertops. However imported quartz is expected to go up in price first with companies rerouting their quartz through Europe to avoid tariffs but the increase in shipping will increase the price. If tariffs are imposed on cabinets and cabinet parts expect all cabinet prices to be effected. US custom lines that don’t compete in any way with imports will be the least effected. Many brands that tout being made in the US are importing their doors and so they will be instantly effected as well as the cabinets that import more than doors. Once the price of the less expensive brands increase the mid and higher priced line will automatically increase their price but to lesser degree. If the tariffs that have been talked about do take effect I’d expect 5 to 10 % price increases a month or so after they take effect in the lower 1/2 of the cabinet market. So many other things effect the cost of a kitchen though that just using a knowledgeable kitchen designer and having a well organized renovation will always have a bigger impact than a cabinet increase. Often the least expensive imported RTA cabinets are purchased by the least well organized consumers and so an increase in the cheapest RTA cabinets might end up helping DIYers to make better decisions and to get the professional help they need. Getting the better help will save them money over the course of their renovation even if they don’t realize it.

  247. Adam, September 30, 2018 at 9:13 pm:

    Hi Paul,

    I only recently discovered your blog. Thank you – what a great source of information.

    Question: We are interested in Shaker-style inset cabinets. Our kitchen designer recommended Omega Dynasty. In particular, the “blair” door based on our tastes and their perspective of best value.

    Do you have any perspective on who makes the best (both quality and value) inset cabinets?


  248. pmcalary, October 1, 2018 at 7:04 am:

    Hi Adam,
    We don’t rate Omega Dynasty inset Only Omega Pinnacle inset because we can’t find out how the Dynasty framed line is made. I suspect it would get a B or B+ in our construction ratings because of how the back is made and that it is not all plywood construction. Omega Pinnacle gets a A for construction. The Blair door is a plywood center panel which is fine but I don’t know the thickness. We carry and think that Brighton is a great value in custom inset cabinetry. I’m sure there are many others. Knowing how cabinet lines charge for the inset upgrade is difficult to know without more research than we can do.

  249. Adam, October 1, 2018 at 7:46 am:

    Thank you Paul! I’ll do some homework and see if I can find out some details on the door thickness. If I can, I will share back. I’ll check out Brighton.


  250. Karen Hege, October 5, 2018 at 12:05 am:

    I am looking for cherry wood cabinets in a light stain. I do not like it when a door has very different shades of color. I read all your posts and agree that getting a vainer panel will be a more consistent color. I want a shaker frame. However, looking at photos of Kraftmaid and other brands there are still have very different shades between the panel and shaker frame. We are looking at your price range of 4 or 5 and want to know what cabinet manufacture you recommend for a more uniform look. Thanks

  251. pmcalary, October 5, 2018 at 8:58 am:

    Hi Karen,
    Cherry wood has certain properties. One property is a color variation in the wood not as severe as hickory or walnut but more than many woods. Another property of cherry wood is cherry pits (small holes on the surface of the wood). These are natural and while some very expensive custom cabinet lines will have slightly less variation than say Kraftmaid you must expect any cherry kitchen to have these properties.

    Customers that can’t accept the properties of the wood they select for their kitchen can be a nightmare for kitchen designers. Maple has mineral steaks, oak and birch are consistent but people like the grain and colors of other woods more. You can not have your cake and eat it too as the saying goes.

    I would say that you are not looking for a cherry kitchen but looking for a wood that can look like cherry or at least be stained to a cherry like color but be more consistent. Some people select maple and a stain that has a red cherry like tone. In Kraftmaid the chestnut finish looks cherry-like on maple. Or Alder is a wood that can be more consistent than cherry but you would need a more expensive manufacturer to avoid the knots that can also be found in alder.

    Please warn your kitchen designer about your desire for consistency and accept that you are buying a natural product that is what it is. Make your selections based on the reality of the wood and finish you are choosing.

    All good kitchen designers explain the properties of the wood and finish a customer selects to that customer. It is incredibly frustrating coming to a customer’s home to go over their complaints about their cabinets to find dozens of pieces of blue tape on all their cabinets and doors marking variations in the grain, wood tones differences, pits, or the properties of the stain or glaze, that they knowingly selected and should have expected. These customers will usually tell us that they “feel” that they should have gotten more consistent cabinetry for the money they spent.

    When I have warned a customer repeatedly about their selections before they order their kitchen and they have these unrealistic “feelings”, I tell them that I “feel” like I should be 6 feet tall but am actually 5’9″ and shrinking with age. While very few enjoy the joke, they get the point and we compromise from there. Replacing 3 or 4 doors in an entire kitchen that are totally fine but will appease an unrealistic customer is fine and par for the course for kitchen designers. Customers that want more than that will find some cabinet dealers more flexible than others. For example we have replaced 10 doors for one unrealistic customer. Home centers that want future business from customers and whose managers know less about cabinetry and wood will usually be the most agreeable about replacing doors and drawer fronts. But excessive replacements are unfair to expect.

  252. Jackie McNeil, October 6, 2018 at 9:21 am:

    I’m remodeling my condo kitchen at the beach. I’m looking for a white or light gray skater style. I’ve received pricing on Fabauwood, 6 Square and Brighton. Brighton was a much higher price point. Which would you recommend? I’ve heard mixed reviews on finish quality and things being damaged with poor assembly from the manufacturer.

  253. pmcalary, October 6, 2018 at 9:40 am:

    I Love Brighton but for a white shaker there is little difference in the quality of these lines. Were you getting inset cabinetry or a stain I would recommend Brighton but here Fabuwood is the best value. Make sure the Fabuwood dealer has a good reputation, Fabuwood has some shaky dealers.

  254. Marci Roper, October 8, 2018 at 1:58 pm:

    What do you think of Crestwood or Koch cabinets? We found a kitchen showroom that we like, but am not sure how to asses the quality. They also deal with Decora, Kitchen Craft, Aristokraft, BJ Tidwell & Elmwood. I see that most of these are not on your ratings list, so I was a bit concerned. Thank you.

  255. Bill, October 8, 2018 at 2:26 pm:

    We are rebuilding after a fire and trying to figure out this cabinet thing. We are looking at Kraftmaid. The contractor is pushing Schrock Entra line and a friend has recommended Kemper. What are your thoughts?

  256. pmcalary, October 8, 2018 at 3:33 pm:

    I like Kraftmaid the most of these three lines. Kraftmaid Vantage is the best buy when you are getting all plywood construction.

  257. pmcalary, October 8, 2018 at 5:34 pm:

    The cabinet lines that we don’t rate that you mention do not give us enough information oh their web site to rate them. Koch has a good reputation but I still can’t rate them without the specs that they do not provide. Decora is the best line that we can rate here.

  258. Michael, October 11, 2018 at 10:59 pm:

    How would you rate Crown Point Cabinets?

  259. Jerry Stanton, October 15, 2018 at 12:51 pm:

    We are redoing a bathroom. We are looking at Kraftmaid and Homecrest. Do you feel one is better than the other. We are concerned with the quality of the finish.

  260. pmcalary, October 15, 2018 at 2:39 pm:

    Kraftmaid has nicer finishes but the finishes are no more durable. Both lines upgraded are well constructed.

  261. pmcalary, October 15, 2018 at 2:43 pm:

    Hi Michael,
    I don’t know the line but based on their web site they are very well made. A+ construction on framed and B+ for Frameless. Both the highest ratings possible.

  262. Gloria, October 15, 2018 at 4:49 pm:

    Hello Paul,
    My contractor is recommending J&K cabinets to me. What lines are comparable in price and quality to them?? I’d like to see a couple more options in finishes? Is the pricepoint for fabuwood much higher than them or wolf classic?

  263. pmcalary, October 15, 2018 at 6:04 pm:

    All three of those lines should be similar in price. Fabuwood is slightly more expensive at the moment but after the new tariffs go into effect and price increases take place Fabuwood may be the best buy as they have agreed to only raise prices by 5% even though the tariffs are 10%. They are using a modernized ordering system to offset the price increase.

  264. Jean, October 16, 2018 at 4:22 am:

    Hi, thank you for all this information regarding cabinetry. It’s an expensive investment and I appreciate your professional input. Can you please give me your opinion on Ultimo custom cabinetry by Tuscan Hills. It’s sold by Costco.

    Thank you for your time.

  265. pmcalary, October 16, 2018 at 6:42 am:

    We would give this cabinet line a B or maybe a B+ for construction. I assume since it is from Costco it would be a good value at first blush. However buying cabinets is not like buying a toaster. The most important component in any kitchen renovation is the talent and experience of the kitchen designer that you are working with throughout your entire project.

    Costco has no experienced kitchen designers and no system in place to create and sell even a simply functional kitchen. Much like buying cabinets on line for anything but new construction, having a kitchen designed at Costco or IKEA is just plain foolish.

    Our funny video below tries to gently help consumers appreciate that as Doug Mottershead says in the video “People don’t know what they don’t know”:

  266. Gloria, October 16, 2018 at 9:31 am:

    Thank you Paul for the quick responses. My mother was asking me to go with a better line line kraftmaid since this is what she has. Would it make a huge difference in quality versus say fabuwood?

    I noticed that Fabuwood also uses Blum hardware… I know it’s a label but J&K does not use blum hardware. I’m assuming in the end it really is just a label?
    In your opinion which line would you recommend for a category 3 (with light colored – but not white options). Cliqstudios?

  267. Lellen, October 16, 2018 at 9:49 am:

    Thanks for sharing your expertise via this blog. We have Ben trying to decide between cabinet lines for our kitchen renovation. We want quality and have some flexibility with budget. We considered Wolf – the low cost is attractive but will they last? The installer claims they often arrive racked. He’s not a fan. So we began to look at others: Fabuwood, Wellborn Forest, Aristokraft, Diamond Vibe and Koch. In what order would you rank these for both quality and value? Thanks!

  268. pmcalary, October 16, 2018 at 7:04 pm:

    If you are on a budget Fabuwood is the best of the inexpensive lines.

  269. John, October 17, 2018 at 8:07 am:

    Hi Paul,
    What a trove of helpful information on your blog! We like the look of the super-shiny contemporary kitchen cabinets, but I think they have drawbacks. These cabinets from Teddwood are “UV-dried high gloss lacquer finish laminated on 3/4″ thick MDF panel. This surface provides excellent resistance to discoloration, scratches, and heat damage.” My understanding is that the laminate is difficult to adhere to wood, hence the use of MDF. But I worry about the quality of using MDF, the strength of MDF-based frameless cabinetry, and water spills getting through to the MDF. How do you think this would hold up over time, and are we sacrificing looks over construction quality?
    Here is the link:
    Thank you for your thoughts.

  270. Paul McAlary, October 17, 2018 at 9:25 am:

    Hi John,
    If the style you like is you high gloss laminates and foils on slab doors these styles look their best on frameless cabinetry and must be adhered to MDF. There is no question that the construction of the cabinet is less durable in a frameless cabinet line, however there are ways to reduce the effect of this. First the cabinet box can be made with a plywood core and only a veneer of MDF on the surface. Strength and not water damage is the primary concern with MDF.

    If you find a knowledgeable kitchen designer that understands the limits of frameless cabinetry they will make sure that the frameless cabinetry is not put under undo stress by keeping cabinet doors no larger than 18″ wide and drawers now wider than 30″.Interior cabinet gadgets like Magic Corners need to be used sparingly since hardware is attached to the sides of the cabinets because there is no solid wood frame on the cabinet to screw to.

    If your designer does these things a laminate kitchen can last 30 years or more and a foil kitchen can last at least 20 years assuming that there are no doors that get melted due to heat. Using heat shields on the sides of ranges helps. Unfortunately it only takes a slight leak in the seal around an oven or even a dishwasher to begin to melt foil. People who have melted their vinyl siding on their home with the heat from their barbeque have this same problem. Foils and high heat, like the heat from professional ranges and cooktops in kitchens, the self cleaning cycle on an oven if the seal is defective, or even the heated drying cycle on a dishwasher with a defective seal can be be calamitous.

  271. Dale Keller, October 17, 2018 at 12:08 pm:

    Hi Paul, Great informative site. We are replacing our kitchen cabinets and narrowed down to Shiloh and Fieldstone. They are both inset style, maple with white uppers and gray/slate bottoms. Prices are almost identical between the two brands. We live in northeast Florida within 1/2 mile from the ocean and don’t know if the environment is a factor. What would your recommendation be between the 2? I see you gave Fieldstone a little better rating on quality and value.

  272. pmcalary, October 17, 2018 at 1:57 pm:

    How the backs of the cabinets are made is what turned us off of Shiloh. As long as you get 6 way adjustable concealed inset hinges I wouldn’t worry about being near the shore. And I’d go with the Fieldstonbe.

  273. pmcalary, October 17, 2018 at 3:40 pm:

    For light colored cabinets you will probably like Kraftmaid much more. It isn’t durability it is just nicer wood and more attractive finishes. We don’t recommend buying cabinets online places like Clique Studios. You have no local professional to help you and design mistakes and poor designs are almost a certainty.

  274. Robin, October 18, 2018 at 9:11 pm:

    we are building a new home in a new area so we are not familiar with any good cabinet makers reputations. The two we have narrowed it down to because of price, the places want to use Timberlake and Waypoint, all wood construction, I have read bad reviews on Timberlake and not a lot on Waypoint,
    do you have a preference or any suggestions of something that is good quality but will not break the bank? Lowes for the same cabinets where giving us a bid over 10000. more for the same small kitchen, Thanks for the input

  275. pmcalary, October 19, 2018 at 6:47 am:

    Shenandoah at Lowes is Timberlake just sold under a different name. We rate both Waypoint and Timberlake (AKA Shenandoah at Lowes and American Woodmark at Home Depot) similarly. Both of these US lines offer more door styles and wood species than any of the US built import lines. However if like many people you are getting a painted cabinet or a like the stains available in the US built import lines like Fabuwood, Wolf Classic, J&K, Green Forest, and others they will cost less. You would need to upgrade Waypoint and Timberlake to a Plywood box to reach the construction level of these lines and that will make them at least 15% more expensive on average.

  276. Stephanie, October 19, 2018 at 3:41 pm:

    I notice that none of the Bellmont frameless lines are on the list. They have three and none are rated here – the 1600 and 1900 – and the new Vero line.

  277. pmcalary, October 19, 2018 at 5:48 pm:

    The Belmont 1900 line upgraded to plywood would be a solid B for construction. So the best a frameless line can do. I don’t know the line well enough to rate it for price and value. The 1600 line and the 1900 line in all particleboard would get low grades.

  278. Toni, October 21, 2018 at 9:59 pm:

    Hi Paul, at this point i am totally exhausted from researching what kind of cabinets to buy. I like kraftmaid but don’t know which would be better for our home. Option one is the painted mdf ( i know they dent,scratch etc. easily) , but i am also thinking the painted maple , and just wish someone would make the decision for me . In your home what would you use ? Also the color choices I have boiled it down to are Grey or white. I have a white ceramic floor with just alittle hint of color (light i grey ,light blue) I don’t know if a dove white would be to blah but I am afraid of to dark or two light of a grey. Would you in put your thoughts on the best color scheme please. I spent almost alll day on you website to day. thank you for all your input in advance, Toni

  279. pmcalary, October 21, 2018 at 11:03 pm:

    Hi Toni,
    It sounds like you are not getting good advice from a professional kitchen designer. Stop spending time researching materials and cabinets and instead spend time finding a good kitchen designer. The most important thing when renovating a kitchen is to create the best design. While most customers think their layout is fine it is only because they simply don’t know any better. Getting more expensive cabinetry like Kraftmaid but keeping the same flooring and layout is nearly always mistake and not a good value for your budget. Better to save money on the cabinetry, countertops, and appliances, that you select to be able to afford to make the design better than to get more expensive selections for a kitchen layout that needs improvement. Here’s a funny video that makes this point.

  280. Toni, October 22, 2018 at 8:23 am:

    Thank you Paul for getting back to me so quickly, hope you could still answer my questions… I know for certain we will not be changing the floor, our budget on the kraftmaid and appliances are already to much and i have went to 5 different designers for their input. if anything the mdf or painted maple, would be a huge help…and in a 19×11 kitchen would it be ok to put white on top and grey on bottom. Please and again Thank you very much.

  281. pmcalary, October 22, 2018 at 8:36 am:

    Why don’t you email us your floor plan and I can possibly tell you what you should fix that might effect your flooring. From our limited interaction I suspect your design is really in need of help. You are taking time up with 5 different designers but not focusing on the design itself. I gave you the answer you needed to hear but you are shopping for the answers you are looking for. Don’t spend 50% more on Kraftmaid and get a poor design. Save the 50% and get Fabuwood, Wolf, J&K, or another US assembled import and work with a better designer.

    In all likelihood that designer will tell you things you also don’t want to accept such as that you can better spend your money changing flooring, removing soffits or moving the location of your appliances or doorways. You will spend the same money in the end but if you take advice from a professional on how to design your kitchen and save money on materials your home will be far more valuable.

  282. Kevin Broderick, October 22, 2018 at 2:31 pm:

    Waypoint vs Medallion if costs are similar ? Have 2 different companies. Thanks

  283. pmcalary, October 22, 2018 at 2:58 pm:

    Medallion is much more expensive than Waypoint.

  284. Robert, October 24, 2018 at 11:06 am:

    What is your opinion of Clique cabinets? They seem to be of good quality.

  285. pmcalary, October 24, 2018 at 11:35 am:

    Hi Tom,
    Clique Studios makes a good cabinet. However buying cabinets on line to save 10% on cabinetry is a bad idea. It assures that no one qualified measured and designed your kitchen and that when there are errors you are responsible for them and that there is no one local to help you fix them. This is why we do not sell cabinetry outside our service area even though we are asked to each and every week.

    I have observed over 25 years that the more a person believes that they are qualified to measure and design their own kitchen the less likely they are to succeed at it. Contractors, architects, engineers, interior designers and real estate agents usually have the least professional designs and measurements. Homeowners that are particularly talented and cautious have a better track record.

    However, doing this to save at most 10% on cabinetry with no guarantee is always poor decision making. The people who select this route often are trying to avoid professional help because they want to implement their own ideas without more knowledgeable people pointing out obstacles. We make fun of this preferred “driving blind” approach in the video below:

  286. Jamie C, October 24, 2018 at 5:52 pm:

    I have similar estimates for Kraftmaid (from a dealer) with just exposed cabinets upgraded to plywood and Medallian silver line all upgraded to plywood. I do see both are rated but well…I’m still confused. Especially with the plywood differences.

  287. Jamie, October 28, 2018 at 8:05 am:

    I have a Medallian silver line quote that is the same as Kraftmaid. The medallian quote is all plywood and the KM is not. Any opinion on which is a better choice? Both come from local dealers with good reputations. Thanks!

  288. Lynda Mauro, October 28, 2018 at 9:38 am:

    The Innermost cabinet line by Elkay has been discontinued at Home Depot over a year and a half.

  289. pmcalary, October 28, 2018 at 10:12 am:

    I don’t think it makes any sense getting relatively expensive cabinets in lesser made construction. Both your choices are downgraded versions of each cabinet line. It is better to simply get a less expensive cabinet line in better made construction. So of the two choices you list I would select neither and only get these lines if you can afford better made construction

  290. pmcalary, October 28, 2018 at 10:15 am:

    Thanks we didn’t see the closure and don’t get into Home Depots very often.

  291. Jamie, October 28, 2018 at 10:26 am:

    THank you for your feedback. I was told by the Medallian dealer that the only difference between their lines is the number of door styles/wood species/colors. But construction is the same. I’m guessing that’s not accurate. I will get an estimate on the gold line as well as the Kraftmaid Vantage. If out of my budget I will explore other cabinet makers. Maybe Diamond? Thanks again!

  292. pmcalary, October 28, 2018 at 10:50 am:

    We do not carry Medallion so some of the upgrades we could be misunderstanding. The Silverline and Goldline are not a sensible choice if they are not upgraded since they come standard with particle board construction. If the Silverline can be upgraded to the same box as the Platinum with an all plywood box then we would give the Silverline a B+ for it’s construction. The hanging rail is 1/2″ plywood in the Medallion line so not great for a high price point cabinet line. This is why we give them a low grade for value. They do have very beautiful finishes. My extended family are the Reps for the Medallion line in New England so I am trying to be fair.

  293. utjarrett, October 29, 2018 at 12:29 pm:

    WOW… your site and blogs are very impressive. Thank you for taking your time to provide such a valuable resource! Questions: I noticed you used to carry the brand CNC and still have them respectably ranked. Will you comment on why you discontinued carrying them? What brand replaced them?
    What experience do you have with Matrix Cabinets (our of Georgia)? I believe they are an economical brand and a friend used them. I’m interested to how they compare to a CNC and Fabuwood.

  294. pmcalary, October 29, 2018 at 12:50 pm:

    We still carry CNC. They are a good brand for flipping homes. However our customers are a little too picky and our market a little too high priced to recommend them for most of our projects. If you are getting very inexpensive cabinetry you should expect some shipping damage and some quality control issues that need to be resolved. If you are going to save 15% over another inexpensive, well constructed, but higher end line like Fabuwood, you should expect a difference. Our customers would not be happy with the slight difference in quality. Even though the CNC cabinets upgraded are very well constructed. Never heard of Matrix

  295. Karen, October 30, 2018 at 5:58 pm:

    I appreciate all the information in this blog and am beginning work on a kitchen remodel. Looking at Schrock & Aristokraft – any guidance would be appreciated… are their others that are comparable that I should explore? I plan to upgrade (if necessary) to plywood drawers to get the soft close feature. Thanks!

  296. pmcalary, October 31, 2018 at 7:14 am:

    Schrock upgraded is much better than Aristocraft but neither is great for value. That’s what this rating blog is about. There are many lines listed here that are better values. I would need to know the door style and finish type you are looking for to recommend a particular line.

  297. Karen, October 31, 2018 at 7:37 am:

    Thanks for your quick reply! I am looking at raised door panel and stained not painted. Did not see any locations listed for Mississippi on your recommended list.

  298. Karen, October 31, 2018 at 7:40 am:

    Thanks for your quick reply! I am looking at raised door panel and stained not painted. Did not see any locations listed for Mississippi on your recommended list.

  299. pmcalary, October 31, 2018 at 9:14 am:

    What kind of stained wood and what type of color stain?

  300. Karen, October 31, 2018 at 9:42 am:

    Thinking Maple – just medium brown… not much red. I do like cherry, but know it darkens with time, so am leaning toward maple. Family size eat in kitchen, L footprint for workspace with 48″ island, 8 ft ceiling…. want to eliminate the soffet, so looking at 36″ or possible 42″ cabinetry. Traditional look…not shaker (basically what I currently have)so looking for a change. I use the kitchen daily for basic cooking, entertaining & weekly family dinner preparation – (12 – 20 people), so want it as functional as possible. I will not change the footprint at all as it works just fine as is… really just wanting to update a 40 year old home while I can still enjoy it and not just to sell it. Thanks so much! Have thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog and have learned so much.

  301. pmcalary, October 31, 2018 at 10:05 am:

    Hi Karen,
    Sounds like you might need a designer more than a cabinet line. It would be a huge mistake to use 42″ high cabinets in a 8 ft high room especially with a raised panel door. And even though over 90% of our customers insist when we first meet them that their present layout is fine when we show them better ones they hadn’t thought of they choose those.

    For a Maple raised panel cabinet I would choose either the Masterbrands Decora over their Schrock or the less expensive Homecrest. At Lowes Shenendoah or the more expensive Kraftmaid, or at Home Depot American Woodmark or Kraftmaid.

    If you call us on a Friday between 2 and 4 pm EST we can try to help you find a designer near you as that is what you really need even if it doesn’t seem like the priority.

  302. Karen, October 31, 2018 at 12:46 pm:

    Thank you for your help….. If I go with 36″ there is still a gap to the ceiling… can crown molding be installed to cover the space or is that a design NO. I really don’t care for the look (and the cleaning) with an open space between the top of the cabinet and the ceiling.

    Will take a look at Decora line and give a call.

  303. Barbara, November 4, 2018 at 11:40 am:

    A kitchen design center in my area has recommended using Wynnbrooke frameless
    cabinets. The other brand they use is Koch which is a framed cabinet. I cannot find much information or many reviews of either brand. Have you heard of these brands?
    They also gave me a package price and the price of the cabinets is not shown separately. I’m not sure if I feel comfortable with that kind of pricing. I think I would
    feel better if I knew the cabinet costs. What do you think?

  304. pmcalary, November 4, 2018 at 1:02 pm:

    Hi Barbara,
    Koch is a pretty good cabinet. I think when we researched last we gave them a B+ for construction but since we weren’t sure on pricing we left them off our list. I would only recommend a frameless cabinet line for a slab modern door style.

    Giving customers per piece pricing for cabinets is problematic. It encourages customers to treat designing a kitchen like buying a toaster. When you buy a kitchen you buy all the pieces needed to create the design. Most importantly you are paying for the knowledge and experience of the designer you are working with.

    Customers should shop for designers and not cabinet parts. Giving customers itemized lists lets them shop in a way that is not in their best interest in my opinion. It allows customers to shop without understanding what they are comparing and it devalues good kitchen design. It also allows the kitchen designers that just want a sale to sell you inferior cabinets and the design you think you want without the professional help and advice that you need. Good kitchen designers educate their customers during the design process. They don’t just simply price out a design a customer asks for.

    For example Main Line Kitchen Design is about 10 to 15% less for upgraded cabinetry than a Lowes or a Home Depot. We get customers calling each week that want us to price out a home center design. It would be easy just to price and sell those kitchens as is. However, we refuse to do this. We don’t want to sell poor designs without measuring a home and going through all the steps needed to create a good design and to have a renovation run smoothly.

    This is also why we charge small deposits. It discourages customers shopping in a way that devalues good design. Our initial $150 deposit covers about 8 hours of our time. From measuring a home, to creating a kitchen design, and then going over detailed 3D designs and pricing at a follow up two hour appointment. If all that work doesn’t seem reasonable to a potential customer then we know they are not a customer we want to work with since they don’t value us as designers. The customers we lose will almost certainly pay more for their cabinetry and end up with a less professional design. It’s because they didn’t value good design that they make themselves too difficult for us to help.

  305. Nick, November 6, 2018 at 6:10 pm:

    Hello, What about siteline and kinsella? Both brands listed by the recommend contact in my area Cincinnati OH

  306. pmcalary, November 6, 2018 at 6:40 pm:

    Siteline is an inexpensive frameless cabinet that I know nothing about and gives no information on their site. Kinsella is the companies house brand so there is no way for me to know who makes it. I like the other lines I know from this dealer. And of course we recommenced framed cabinets for everything except very contemporary slab door styles. If you gave more information on what price point, door style, and finish you were looking for I could be more help.

  307. John, November 7, 2018 at 5:58 pm:

    What do you think about these cabinets?
    They’re close to me. I’m having a hard time finding some of these other cabinets near me. Outside of home depot and menards

  308. Audrey, November 7, 2018 at 8:45 pm:

    Hi Paul, I have a question about my newly installed cabinets. They are custom cherry wood, stained and glazed with a veneered MDF panel. I actually asked a question about the panel vs wood and we decided not to go with the ‘striped look’. Thank you for that reply!

    Anyway, our cabinets were installed and we noticed that the draws in the peninsula opened up into the stove (yes, they had the specs for all our appliances)…totally their mistake. After weeks, the new peninsula arrived today, and our contractor put it in. I noticed that the frame around the veneered MFD doors is much lighter than the panel, though the four draws are fine (one cabinet with three openings). I contacted our cabinet maker and he spoke to their finishing person who said we should let it sit for a couple of weeks. He said if the doors do not oxidize (lighten or darken) then they will replace them. He said it’s just the nature of the sheet of cherry MDF and the hardwood. My husband is not crazy about waiting again especially since we have 50 doors that were all the same color. The draws in the new peninsula are all the same color too, just the three doors and a draw above two of the doors that are off color. Does what he said make sense to you? We know that cherry oxidizes, but all the other cabinet door and draws are fine. We have been extremely patient but do not want to wait a couple of week to oxidize and then have to wait a couple more weeks for them to remake the doors/draw.
    BTW, the cabinets are really beautiful! We are very glad we went with custom but…none of this should have happened!
    Thank you in advance!

  309. pmcalary, November 7, 2018 at 10:17 pm:

    I don’t know this line or anything beyond the specs which show a well constructed cabinet. The parts are imported but they can still be well made and a bargain. I’d examine the finish on the display cabinets to make sure it isn’t sloppy. And check the Google, and Houzz reviews of the company.

  310. pmcalary, November 8, 2018 at 8:20 am:

    Hi Audrey,
    They will probably improve but not as much as you might like.

    It sounds possible that your custom cabinetry was made not by a cabinet manufacturer but instead by a very small company.

    When most kitchen designers and cabinet dealers talk about custom cabinetry we are not talking about individual cabinet makers making cabinets. We consider those cabinets homemade and not custom.There is MUCH less consistency in this type of cabinetry and finish, and no reliable warranty since the cabinet maker could die, move, or couldn’t afford to replace faulty finish problems or other major issues. The drawer hitting the range, sounds like the kitchen designer was also not a true professional which is not surprising since good kitchen designers work at cabinet dealerships where this type of cabinetry normally isn’t sold.

    I’m glad things seem to have worked out and that this last small issue is all that you know of that is left to resolve. But for others reading this – buying cabinets from individual cabinet makers almost assures that you are not working with organized professionals.

    Custom cabinetry needs to be made in a plant where conditions, woods, stains, and construction can be consistent, and warrantied. And professional kitchen designers work for companies and dealerships where their design work is also supervised and their orders reviewed by another designer and there cabinet orders are expedited and confirmed with the manufacturer. Contractors and cabinet makers should never, never, never be the people designing your kitchen. It takes a village to make a great kitchen.

  311. Nick Reynolds, November 8, 2018 at 4:54 pm:

    I just had a quote done by the company listed for my region, Kinsella, for Marsh cabinets. (price of 2) They came in at $5300 compared to american woodmark at $4200 (price of 3) and Thomasville at $5300 (price of 4). Is that because the reseller is marking them up? I was expecting a lower quote, and even the sales rep told me they are usually more expensive than HD. I’m having a hard time finding someone in my area that will sell a good value cabinet.

  312. Nick, November 8, 2018 at 5:03 pm:

    I’m looking based on value. I want something mid tier. I thought I was getting that with American Woodmark but reviews were not good. I do not know what the ranges for my cabinets should be. I can send you the itemized quotes I have. It would be wonderful if you could give me a rough idea of price I should expect. Is comparing a single cabinet a good way to compare the cost of a manufacturer? Say for example, a 33″ Sink base. Thank you!

  313. pmcalary, November 8, 2018 at 5:15 pm:

    Hi Nick,
    There are so many variables between cabinet lines and door styles and upgrades that customers are almost never sophisticated enough buyers to be comparing apples to apples across different brands. Were you getting quotes upgrading to plywood construction in all three lines? Were the door styles all standard colors? Was the overlay the same on the doors from each line? (that alone can make a 20% difference in price). Was one place including molding? Sales Tax? Delivery? And lastly different companies have different profit margins. We know that the dealer we recommended is probably more experienced than a Home Depot designer so he could have been including things the Home Depot designer forgot or didn’t include. It is hard to know. All three lines upgraded to plywood sides are pretty well constructed. Marsh and American Woodmark are very, very, similar they each should probably be rated as a 2 1/2 price point if we had that category.

  314. Joseph A Ockenfels, November 13, 2018 at 6:57 pm:

    Hi Paul,
    We have a quote for Forevermark Cabinets. The dealer also sells Fabuwood which you rate well, any idea how they compare with the Forevermark?

  315. pmcalary, November 14, 2018 at 7:02 am:

    You don’t say what type of door style, type of wood, or finish. But in general I consider Fabuwood the best value for any of the inexpensive cabinet lines. Forevermark doesn’t say how their cabinets are made so we cannot rate them but they are an inexpensive line like Fabuwood and don’t appear to offer any woods, or finishes that Fabuwood doesn’t do. Wolf Classic would also be a more reliable choice in this price point.

  316. Bree, November 14, 2018 at 8:03 pm:

    Hi! We’re building a house and have met with a few designers. Each designer has recommended a different cabinet line. What do you think about these lines…Kith Eudora (which is Kith’s European/full access line…regular Kith was out of our budget), Ultracraft, Tru Cabinetry, and USA Cabinet Solutions. We’ll be going with a simple shaker door style with maple stiles and rails with flat veneer center. Thanks in advance for your feedback.

  317. pmcalary, November 15, 2018 at 10:55 am:

    Not a fan of these frameless lines or frameless in general for a shaker door style. You need to be in more expensive cabinet lines to get a well made frameless cabinet. However there will be inexpensive framed lines that are better made than the most expensive frameless lines. So why pick cheep frameless lines?

  318. Bree, November 15, 2018 at 11:29 am:

    Ok, thanks for the response. I don’t think $32,000-$35,000 is cheap! The last two lines I mentioned are Tru Cabinetry and USA Cabinet Solutions. Those lines are not frameless. What can you tell me about those framed lines? Are they well-made? Which one would be the better option? Also, with some changes to our cabinet details, Kith framed cabinets will fit into our budget. Out of those 3 framed cabinet lines, what would you recommend…Kith, Tru Cabinetry, or USA Cabinet Solutions? Thanks for your time.

  319. Paul McAlary, November 15, 2018 at 12:17 pm:

    We don’t rate these two lines because they give zero specifics on their web sites. They are also not generally known brands in the cabinet world and give off all the vibes that give me a bad feeling. I think you need better design help here. It seems like you could be over paying for cabinetry and getting bad advice. Builders often care nothing about cabinet quality or design and quite frequently are getting kickbacks from the dealers they recommend. So someone impartial kitchen designer could help steer you in a better direction.

    You don’t say where you are located but hopefully one of the dealers we recommend is close enough to give you some help.

  320. Bree, November 15, 2018 at 5:15 pm:

    Thanks again for your feedback. Kith is rated with a B+ for quality in your above ratings. I’m assuming that would be the best option for us then. What are your thoughts on Kith? Do we have to upgrade Kith to get better construction or is their standard ok? I’ve asked 2 designers about Kraftmaid but was told that would go over our budget and that they often arrive damaged. Therefore, please let me know your thoughts on Kith and if if it will be a good option. Thank you again for your help!

  321. Paul McAlary, November 15, 2018 at 5:26 pm:

    No frameless line can be rated above a B, the Kith rating is for their framed line. Their frameless line we would rate We would not well due to their 1/4″ back panel. They might get a C- if we rated them and that would be for the upgraded Plywood box. There are lots of lines listed here that are better than what you are pricing and less expensive. I haven’t seen your design but when the cabinet lines designers recommend are not great choices their designs are often even less thought out.

  322. Bree, November 15, 2018 at 5:55 pm:

    Right, after researching and reading your advice, we are thinking about staying away from frameless and possibly going with Kith, the framed line. Since your site rated that one at a B+, that would be our best option…to go with Kith, the framed line, right? What are your thoughts on Kith, the framed line? Do we have to upgrade framed Kith to get a well-constructed cabinet or is their standard framed Kith fine? Any info on Kith, framed line, would be great! Thank you!

  323. Paul McAlary, November 15, 2018 at 8:35 pm:

    B+ is a good rating. We sell cabinet lines that we give a B+ rating to.

  324. Dan, November 18, 2018 at 1:01 pm:

    Hi Paul
    This is a great blog but almost a bit overwhelming. I have read through it and think I have captured some of your themes. We are doing a complete remodel and looking for full overlay Shaker doors painted white. Seems like you do not recommend frameless. Your site also doesn’t recommend a designer in NH. Have you ever researched this area regarding designers? So far the two showrooms we have been in carry the following lines; Fieldstone, Untracraft, Fabuwood, mid continent for one and JSI, Echelon and Showplace for the other. You seem to favor Fabuwood. Is there another of these lines we should look at that is comparable for Price/quality for white Shaker cabinets? Thanks in advance.

  325. Steven, November 18, 2018 at 7:49 pm:

    We had water damage to our kitchen cabinets so need to replace them. Our contractor’s “cabinet guy” sells Merillat but the Merillat Masterpiece upgraded to all plywood cost close to $23,000. We went to Home Depot and got a reasonable price for Kraftmaid with the upgrade to all plywood. I know they are owned by the same company. Is the Kraftmaid sold by Home Depot good quality or is it inferior to Kraftmaid sold by non-big box stores? We are also considering American Woodmark? The KD at Home Depot said they were both good. What do you recommend?

  326. pmcalary, November 20, 2018 at 2:25 am:

    Hi Steven,
    Kraftmaid is the same quality wherever you are if you are upgraded to the same level. American Woodmark is well made upgraded. The finishes are just not as nice looking. If you like the finishes and are OK with a little less quality control they are a fine choice.

  327. pmcalary, November 20, 2018 at 2:40 am:

    It depends on your design and budget. Most people have very simple designs because they value design less and their designers are less sophisticated. If you aren’t taking advantage of the complex designs and styles you can do in custom or very high end semi-custom cabinetry you are wasting your money buying them. So Fieldstone can be beautiful in inset door styles with complex designs and unusual height cabinets if they are require. If you are not taking advantage of those advantages even Showplace is wasted and I’d save a boatload of money and get Fabuwood.

    My Family Owns Eagle Associates in New Hampshire. They are the dealer representatives in New England for Medallion and Plain and Fancy. Great lines if you have a big budget and a sophisticated design. If you are looking for that and willing to spend more you could contact them to find the dealer they recommend. Here is a link:

  328. Steve, November 20, 2018 at 3:41 pm:

    I was wondering your opinion on Jarlin Cabinets the Perla Line. They look to have checked all the boxes. I was hoping they were on your 2018 listing but didn’t see them. They are featured on the Property Brothers program.

  329. pmcalary, November 21, 2018 at 4:51 am:

    These are RTA cabinets you put together yourself. While the construction meets all our requirements we seriously advise against buying unassembled cabinetry. It guarantees that a novice is building your cabinets and that you do not have a qualified kitchen designer.

  330. Karen, November 21, 2018 at 7:25 am:

    What a fabulous service you provide! Thank you!
    We moved to this home 3 months ago and experienced a dishwasher leak last month. New kitchen versus rebuild three to four base cabinets (probably your “homemade” custom cabinet of the locality 35 years ago, oak cabinets are painted now with newer doors/drawers). If we go new kitchen, the contractor’s line is Wolf, which, if we went with that line it would be their designer series with upgraded everything. I am meeting with a local kitchen designer today who knows our situation and carries Wellborn. In our previous home, we had Schuler with all upgrades and a fabulous kitchen designer with 20 years experience. We were so happy with Schuler that we used them in three bathroom remodels in the same house. My question is, with our previous experience, do you believe we will be satisfied with the top of the line Wolf cabinets?
    It seems from reading a good amount of questions and your responses that the price point, quality and value are brand and price specific. For instance, comparing Wolf to Wellborn might not be fair as the products might be an apple to oranges type situation?
    Thank you!

  331. Joan Rogers, November 21, 2018 at 8:02 am:

    Hi Paul. I’d like your advice on 3 bathroom remodels. We are using Kraftmaid from Lowe’s. The 3 levels are particle board, upgrade tp plywood ends, and upgrade to all plywood. The costs for our project are +$270 (6%) and +$550 (12%) for the 2 upgrades respectively vs. the particle board. Do you recommend full upgrade for bathrooms? Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!

  332. Ellene, November 25, 2018 at 10:43 pm:

    Great blog! I’m a kitchen designer in Baltimore and sell 6 Square and a few other lines. What do you think of 6 Square’s inset cabinets? I’m not aware of any other stock line that offers inset.

  333. Elaine, November 26, 2018 at 2:39 am:

    Hi Paul,
    What a great informative, generous and smart blog! I spent hours studying all the information. Still, have some dillema. I checked the only designer (!) you suggest in my area (San Diego) but it doesn’t seem they offer brands I can use – for walnut cabinetry in transitional/contemporary style. I love Woodmode quality and style but the price is too much. The studio I visited carried Woodmode, Brookhaven and Columbia. I couldn’t find specifics for Columbia and from what I was told they were excellent quality. I trust your opinion and you don’t like them. Decora doesn’t have walnut. What other brand(s) available here I could look at? I don’t think I can pick designer/studio unless the can offer what I need. Thank you so much fo any guidance!

  334. pmcalary, November 26, 2018 at 12:51 pm:

    Hi Elaine,
    Only very expensive custom cabinet lines are going to offer Walnut cabinetry. All of these lines will cost equal to or more than Woodmode. So you will have to either spend more than you’d like on cabinetry or compromise on Walnut. Hickory is the wood that looks the most like walnut and would be offered in lines like Decora. Both of these type woods have huge variations in color so kitchens designed in these woods usually look stripey. Information like this is why you need to work with an experienced kitchen designer. Whatever research you have done up to this point has been less productive because a good kitchen designer should have told you as soon as you brought up Walnut that you would be in custom cabinet pricing and once you were showed a walnut or hickory kitchen you might give up the idea of paying a lot more for so much inconsistency.

    Here are links on for two Walnut kitchen examples:

    Here are hickory kitchens:

  335. Elaine, November 26, 2018 at 8:50 pm:

    Thank you so much for your advise! I guess I will have to do more research. I would think you don’t support Omega in walnut either. I did have a few designers look at my kitchen project and besides giving me a high price (unreasonably high – $70K vs around $50K Woodmode) for some ‘custom’ cabinets without even drawing any plan (plus, that Columbia option, which was much more affordable-$30-35K) I didn’t get any other input as to what to expect. I am afraid to use some unknown custom cabinet maker without actually seeing their work up close. I know I need a good designer but so far wasn’t successful in finding one. Most remodeling places want to use their designers (not necessarily knowledgeable) and that’s only if I use their cabinets, of course . Not sure if hiring independent designer and paying some thousand dollars or more would work, since they won’t know the cabinet maker’s specifications. Literally confused what to do first – design or finding who will supply cabinetry. Again, thank you for all your help. Your website is great – so much useful information! And you are so kind to spend time sharing your knowledge.

  336. Paul McAlary, November 27, 2018 at 6:55 am:

    Hi Elaine,
    Most good kitchen designers work out of showrooms and cabinet dealerships. They are not independent “part time” designers and their design time is incorporated into the cost of the cabinetry you buy from them. It makes little sense designing a kitchen with one person and buying it from another in a line the original designer might have never worked with. If you decide on getting the more expensive walnut cabinetry then seek out a designer that works in a showroom that sells custom cabinets and that gets good reviews. Most of the lines we review that are pricepoint 5 and 6’s will be custom. Omega Pinnacle is a good line and Omega Dynasty is fine especially if you are getting the less durable frameless cabinetry that will look better with contemporary slab style doors. Assuming that Dynasty sells a Walnut door which I didn’t check.

  337. Joan Rogers, November 27, 2018 at 7:04 am:

    Hi Paul. I wrote you last week. I am trying to make our decision before the sale ends on the Kraftmaid cabinets for our 3 bathrooms. I can upgrade to plywood sides or upgrade to all plywood. What do you recommend for bathrooms? Thanks! I appreciate your help.

  338. pmcalary, November 27, 2018 at 8:31 am:

    Hi Joan,
    I replied to you earlier on another blog. You posted the same question on two blogs. My answers was:

    Plywood sides should be fine for a bath. Or you could even do plywood sides only on all the exposed sides if that’s cheaper. You just want everything exposed to be plywood.

  339. pmcalary, November 27, 2018 at 8:43 am:

    There is a big difference between Schuler and Wolf on stained finishes. It is all about looks and not durability. There will be more quality control issues with less expensive cabinetry but Wolf would make it right in the end. Assuming the dealer the contractor uses is good. Don’t do this job half – way take this opportunity to redesign your kitchen with an experienced kitchen designer and listen to their recommendations. 90% of our customers come to us believing that they know the design that they want and yet they choose completely different designs after we show them what’s possible within their budget. Contractors are no help with this, you need to be working with an experienced kitchen designer to see the changes that only the most experienced designers would recommend. The less experienced the designer usually the more the new design resembles what you have now. Or even worse a less experienced or unethical designers will rubber stamp bad designs thought of by homeowners or contractors.

  340. Joan Rogers, November 27, 2018 at 12:08 pm:

    Thanks Paul. I get lost on your site sometimes!

  341. Elaine, November 27, 2018 at 6:08 pm:

    Paul, thank you for giving me some direction and independent opinion. Omega has walnut, but I did not visit their showroom yet, and don’t know their pricing. You gave me a plan B idea – doing walnut stain on a different wood ( in any case I like it darker and with neutral undertones) I did contact Columbia and got their specs pdf – yes, frameless, plywood upgrade on box, although 1/4 on the back with plywood rails, they have full top on base and wall cabinets ( rep said it makes their boxes stronger than others) I will keep your list of rankings and see what I can find here. It seems that East Coast/Midwest have more quality choices.
    Paul, appreciate your help!

  342. Alli, November 27, 2018 at 8:41 pm:

    Hi Paul, Thank you so much for an informative blog on cabinetry. I’m renovating my kitchen and I was recommended Eudora or KCD (Kitchen Cabinet Distributors) for my Kitchen cabinets. Have you heard of these and if so, what would you suggest. Thank you!

  343. Paul McAlary, November 28, 2018 at 6:12 am:

    Not a fan of either line. Eudora by Kitch is a lesser quality frameless box and KCD is RTA. My suggestion here would to not take any more advice from the person that recommended these lines. Find a knowledgeable kitchen designe that carries some better quality inexpensive lines and work with them. If you are close to one of our recommended dealers that would be a good place to start.

  344. Alli, November 28, 2018 at 12:58 pm:

    Hi Paul, actually I contacted the dealer you suggested for South Tampa, and they don’t carry any of the top 10 brands that you recommend. They use to carry Fabuwood and Decora, but not anymore. Do you have any other designers in the St. Petersburg/Tampa area? Thanks so much for your help.

  345. Alli, November 28, 2018 at 1:13 pm:

    I am seeing a lot of designers in Florida going with Greenfield Cabinetry. What do you think of this brand?

  346. Saj, November 28, 2018 at 2:38 pm:

    Hi Paul, Signature or Wellsford. Which one is worth for its price?

    Thanks, Saj

  347. Susannah, November 28, 2018 at 4:29 pm:

    Hello! We’re buying a home with what looks like higher-end kitchen cabinetry from 1972. (Brandom, I think? The house was the builder’s own.) We’re trying to decide how to upgrade the look, but as much as we’d rather just replace the doors, it looks like we may need to do all new cabinets. So we went to the dealer who did a great job on our current house with well-designed Fieldstone.

    Question: if we are trying to save money but still get a quality product, would you go with Fieldstone or KraftMaid? This dealer also sells Diamond/Diamond Vibe and Merillat, among others. We’re looking at Shaker style; we were originally thinking painted gray finish, but it looks like stains are less expensive than painted ones.
    Otherwise, should we look for a reputable Fabuwood dealer?

    Is there ANY reputable place or strategy for replacing just the doors? Our current style has a cathedral arch as well as a headboard center panel, and we really prefer a simpler look. We just found ourselves with less of a remodeling budget than anticipated.

    This blog is amazing! Thanks!

  348. pmcalary, November 28, 2018 at 5:07 pm:

    Hi Susannah,
    Replacing the doors rarely makes sense. Add to that that the hinges, tracks and the drawer construction for a kitchen built in 1972 wouldn’t be as well made as Fabuwood or any quality lower cost line. Doors and drawer fronts account for about 70% of a cabinets cost. This is why refacing usually saves little or nothing on the cost of cabinetry.

    Most importantly the layout of the kitchen should be changed. Of course when we tell this to customers nearly every customer would say that the present layout is fine and can’t really be changed that much. However 90% do make significate changes. Because the thing that costs almost nothing is changing the layout of the kitchen. Removing a wall, moving a doorway, gas line, plumbing, or even moving window locations cost next to nothing compared to the cabinet price difference between say Fabuwood and Fieldstone which is about 60% more. Often without knowledgeable help customers will foolishly get very expensive appliances like Subzero or Wolf and yet keep an outdated poor layout.

    It makes no sense to spend all this money and not first change the layout to the best one possible. This is what makes your home renovation valuable! Not the colors, styles, makes, and models you choose. Find the best looking and functioning layout first and then buy the materials that are within your budget so long as they are of good quality. GE Profile appliances aren’t as nice looking as Meile, Wolf and SubZero but they are 1/3 the price. Fabuwood is as well constructed as Fieldstone. So while a beautiful Fieldstone stain would look nicer, in a paint you couldn’t tell the difference between cabinet lines.

    Find a great kitchen designer first. They will change your kitchen in ways you couldn’t imagine.

    For example:
    We instruct our designers to intentionally not follow most of what a customer tells them about the design. Why should the least experienced person direct the process from it’s inception? We start by designing the best layout for the space – so at the very minimum a customer gets to see the best design. Then we make changes with customers from there.

    The final kitchen is always what the customer chooses. But usually it will end up a compromise between what a good designer recommends and the trade offs the customer chooses. Customers make much different choices when they are forced to see in 3D how designs are effected by giving them their wish list.

  349. pmcalary, November 28, 2018 at 5:23 pm:

    Hi Ali,
    I don’t know Greensfield and their web site doesn’t say how they are built as far as I can see. you can call on a Friday between 2-4pm and a designer could see if they could find another showroom near you.

  350. pmcalary, November 28, 2018 at 5:24 pm:

    Wellsford but you are giving us no information

  351. Susannah, November 28, 2018 at 8:09 pm:

    Thanks very much, Paul. I’m not having luck finding Fabuwood dealers in Wisconsin; any leads?

  352. Paul McAlary, November 29, 2018 at 8:35 am:

    You can call between 2 pm and 4 pm EST on a Friday and a designer can try fining one for you. This Friday I am on deck.

  353. Shana, November 30, 2018 at 12:13 am:

    Hi Paul,
    Our dealer is offering us either Wellborn or Merillat Masterpiece for around the same price. We were more impressed by Merillats small sample pieces then by wellborns. The paint finish seemed more durable when we tried scratching it and the stains had a richer look. How much can we judge the companies based on those samples? Based on your reviews it seems to be a no-brainer to buy the wellborn. Our dealer is saying the Merillat masterpiece has the most durable paint finish on the
    market, sounds hard to believe. We are very interested to hear your opinion. Thanks!

  354. pmcalary, November 30, 2018 at 4:29 pm:

    Unless there are upgrades to plywood construction that are not on the Merillat web site their cabinetry is poorly constructed.

    We haven’t noticed a big difference in paint durability across different cabinet lines. Although some paints could actually be opaque stains that wear better. If you have tested the two paints then you would know better. Just make sure you are testing sample doors and not wood samples that won’t necessarily be indicative of anything. If the paint really is more durable then I guess you can choose between a more durable box or finish. If the paint gets chipped refinishers can touch up a kitchen usually for a few hundred dollars. If the cabinets fall off the wall and the exposed sides delaminate that will be a far bigger issue.

  355. Missi Smith, December 4, 2018 at 10:16 am:

    Hi Paul – the cabinet company our builder suggested has the following lines: Marsh, Luxury Line, Designers Choice, Conestoga, Tedd Wood, and Landmark. Do you like any of these lines? I have always had Wood Mode cabinetry, but I would like to do something a little less expensive this time. What are your thoughts? Thanks so much!

  356. pmcalary, December 4, 2018 at 2:22 pm:

    Designers Choice is a good cabinet line and a little less than Wood Mode.

  357. Leslie King, December 5, 2018 at 12:49 am:

    I have just spent three hours plus reading your blogs with great intensity. I am so grateful that you are willing to take the time and effort to share your abundance of well-researched knowledge with the community – this truly sets your credibility at the highest level. I was set to buy Medallion Premium cabinets from Menard’s, white painted maple for top and smoke stained maple for bottoms, when I came upon the many negative reviews from consumers about the Medallion line. Consistently, the themes were: (1) warped or flawed cabinets upon delivery and the lengthiness of getting replacements, (2) chipped paint at the 4-5 year mark or earlier (sometimes upon arrival) even in low use areas and in some cases significant wearing/fading of the stained cabinets near handles, and (3) rude and poor customer service when trying to get a problem resolved. I was crushed because I have not enjoyed the cabinet shopping experience – shopping is not my thing period. Now, I know you do not like consumer reviews and have read your article on why. But, I also have caught you mentioning a number of times your family is the rep for Medallion and you are “trying to be fair”. You have rated Medallion high marks on your list but what exactly does “trying to be fair” mean? You are generally really direct and I cannot figure out what you are trying to say here? Do you not like these cabinets and you are trying to stay in favor for holiday dinners or are you trying not to be too favorably biased about them because the family connection? Should I read into the fact that you do not carry these as one of your lines? (By the way, I wrote to Medallion to ask about these trends in the poor reviews and my inquiry was referred to “management” today…I am interested in their response too). Second, 8′ ceilings with a one foot soffit topped with standard crown molding – advice on cabinet height? THANK YOU.

  358. pmcalary, December 5, 2018 at 8:08 am:

    Hi Leslie,
    Thanks for bringing up a couple of great topics to address:

    First, Do I or Main Line Kitchen Design rate Medallion with a slightly weighted scale due to my extended family being the reps for Medallion in New England. The answer is most definitely no.

    We give Medallion a B+ for construction when it is upgraded to 1/2″ plywood sides. It would get poor marks at it’s lower level particle board construction. But Medallion gets exactly the same marks as all the other lines that use the same construction when upgraded. We give Medallion a C+ rating for value which is not particularly great.This is because they are a pretty expensive line and other lines offer the same very nice type finishes and the ability to customize usually for a bit less. StarMark, Fieldstone, and Brighton would be three examples, but there are many others. All of Main Line Kitchen Design’s designers have sold all 4 of these lines in their careers, and I believe we all agree on our rating, and I will double check. This is also why I decided not to carry Medallion. Not because Medallion is inferior but because I believe Brighton is a better value. And the Wellsford line we sometimes sell is a true custom line with even nicer finishes for around the same price.

    As far as bad reviews for Medallion: I never pay any attention to reviews consumers give any cabinet lines. Consumers have no idea how one line compares to another or what properties to expect from a finish. Consumer ratings are ridiculously flawed which is why I began our blogs on rating cabinets. Here is a link to our blog on the two biggest extremes in flawed consumer reviews namely Kraftmaid and IKEA.

    The bad reviews you brought up mentioning things such as paint chipping, finish wear, and shipping damage are prime examples of consumers not knowing anything beyond the fact that they paid a lot of money for cabinets and expect no issues. However all paint chips, all cabinet finishes are worn out by the acid on human fingertips over time, and Medallion has no more shipping damage to my knowledge than similar lines. Of course replacement parts take a long time BECAUSE the more expensive and higher end cabinet lines all are finishing and making many parts custom, and custom means extended lead times.

    For example order lead times in the lines we carry vary from 2 weeks up to 14 weeks for the most expensive custom cabinetry. And rushed replacement parts can take between a few days and 6 weeks depending on the line and how custom the part. Buying very expensive cabinetry and then complaining that they take too long means that you just didn’t get it.

    When you buy an expensive kitchen you are buying customized fine furniture. And like fine furniture the finish can be delicate for some finishes, the wood will have all the inconsistencies of the species you select, and complex kitchens will always come with needed follow ups, replacements, and possibly some in the field modifications requiring more sophisticated installers. To expect differently is to be ignorant of the properties of the product you spent so much to purchase.

    Consumer ignorance can often be blamed on inexperienced kitchen designers that don’t explain to their customers what they are buying. The fact that Medallion is sold at Mennards and at Lowes (under the name Schuler) makes them more likely to have the review problems that Kraftmaid gets, See the previous link. Because the designers at these stores are less experienced and so consumers end up being less informed. And since Medallion is about 30% more than Kraftmaid they will receive even more complaints.

  359. Leslie King, December 5, 2018 at 9:01 pm:

    Excellent, very fact driven answer. Thank you SO much for explaining this more. I love the Medallion smoke stain on maple; I cannot seem to find that exact true charcoal of that tint in another line in my area. The others are either way too dark or have more brown in them. Logic tells me it is ridiculous to make a decision based on a stain color, but I want what I want. I noticed you had mentioned the Medallion stains are very nice so I think you know what I mean. I will be checking out those other brands you mentioned. I checked out Wood-Mode today as I see it is a brand you often speak very positively about and you rate it very good – I have not seen the estimate but the store owner talked like it would be very high. You have the pricing similar to upgraded Medallion – I hope that is the case. Thanks again – I LOVE YOUR BLOG.

  360. Leslie King, December 5, 2018 at 11:05 pm:

    By the way, like you, I really hate the rebranding. I had no idea Schuler and Medallion were the same line with different names.

  361. pmcalary, December 6, 2018 at 3:31 am:

    Medallion does have some distinctive and beautiful stains. In fact were stains as popular as paints I would have more seriously considered carrying the Medallion line.

    And yes, re-branding is not transparent on the part of the cabinet makers and dealers. But customers refusing to value and pay for designers time and experience is what drives the manufacturers desire to keep customers from excessive shopping and from stealing design work from one place to price at the next place.

    Designers are acutely aware of this and so usually the people that try to take advantage the most eventually meet an unscrupulous designer that sells them downgraded cabinetry for less but at an inflated price. This is easy for an experienced dishonest designer to do because cabinetry is far more complicated then consumers understand.

    Some people’s lack of respect for the value of our time is over the top. Two examples are:

    We give people free help both on our blog and we answer questions free of charge for people outside our service area most Fridays 2-4 pm. Still people call us and email us knowingly wanting free advice when THEY want it and are MAD when we ask them to call 2-4 pm on Fridays or to ask their questions on the blog.

    Or – We charge a $150 deposit that’s applied towards cabinetry for our first two appointments and eight hours of our time. People owning multi-million dollar homes and considering 100K kitchen renovations routinely are not only unwilling to pay a $150 deposit for experienced advice but are incensed that we won’t price out a terrible design they essentially stole from their last designer free of charge.

    Because of our more modern and streamline business model we are actually about 10% less than home centers for semi custom cabinets and 20% less than most more expensive showrooms for custom cabinetry. So the people so obsessed with price that they won’t pay anything for our time usually end up paying more for cabinetry to work with less experienced designers. That’s the real point of the $150 deposit. It screens out the tougher customers who don’t value us and that we would prefer not working with.

    And so we end up working with much nicer people that value both our time and our expertise. And because these customers are easier to work with, and are more honest, it allows us to help more people across all price points. Our customers save money and I believe get better designs, and we make more money doing it. In the kitchen business, the toughest 20% of your customers are 80% of your work and they are also more likely to give unwarranted bad reviews.This is also why I answer most of our blogs, emails and calls to our main number. Being the owner of the company I recognize the 20% more easily and try to keep our customer base nicer people that will respect us.

    So when customers are interviewing me to decide if they would like to work with Main Line Kitchen Design I am also interviewing them. We do not care what a customer’s budget is because less expensive kitchens are less complicated and require less work on our part. We can make money on less expensive kitchens as well as incredibly expensive very detailed custom kitchens so long as the people we are working with are respectful of our time and nice.

  362. Leslie King, December 6, 2018 at 6:18 am:

    Understood and appreciated. Everyone’s professional time is worth money. I find your scenario the same in my line of business – those potential clients draining me of multiple trips, phone calls, sales presentations, and time with no consideration (or thoughts of how much billable time I am losing to do this) often choose someone else (or worse, try to do it on their own) OR are nightmare clients with which to work. Again, your blog is invaluable and appreciated – what you do is such a great service to consumers seeking to buy cabinets.

  363. pmcalary, December 6, 2018 at 7:45 am:

    Hi Leslie,
    Agreed. These same issue cross all professions. I have had many people in other industries tell me that Consumer Reports are ridiculously flawed in their industries too for similar reasons.
    And people not valuing others time is also universal.
    Two funny videos to make the point:

  364. Southwestern Cabinet Researcher, December 8, 2018 at 12:38 am:

    Thanks Paul McAlary for your and your team’s amazing work to help clueless people like me learn the ins and outs of good cabinet construction and steer us toward prudent choices. I wanted to leave a note for anyone in the Dallas, Texas, area about 4 brands you have ranked well which are available through distributors here since – as others have noted – it is quite true that many of your ranked manufacturers are located in the North and Northeastern US and don’t have distributors in the Southwestern US. As of December 2018, Bertch is carried by Cedar Hill Design Center in Cedar Hill, Texas; Plato Woodwork is carried by Factory Builder Stores in Grapevine, Texas; Starmark is carried by Euro Design Build in Richardson, Texas; and Waypoint is carried by several different distributors in the Dallas/Fort Worth area as shown by a dealer search on Waypoint’s website. Please take care that Waypoint is a lower-tier brand and doesn’t offer the same quality of construction, finishes or smoothly-operating hardware as the first “price category 4” three brands mentioned, but Waypoint would be a step up in both quality and price from Ikea. You list Waypoint as a “2” on price. Thanks again for your fantastic help!

  365. pmcalary, December 8, 2018 at 3:45 am:

    Thanks Valerie! You are an honorary member of the Main Line Kitchen Design Team. And thanks for getting the price point structure of our ratings with you observation on Waypoint. So many people misunderstand that important subtlety to the ratings.

  366. Todd, December 8, 2018 at 9:40 am:

    Hi There!

    Thanks for all the great info! This site has been incredibly helpful so far! We are in the midst of a DIY kitchen remodel for our home. We intend on being there for awhile, so are willing to invest a little more…that being said, the sky is not the limit as we have to work within a budget…We did a remodel on a kitchen last year in a rental in which we used IKEA. They turned out great and we had an overall great experience, so we are considering using IKEA again for this project. We have also been looking at Lowes and Home Depot for some direction and to see what else is out there, which led us to Kraftmaid, Diamond and Thomasville. Do you have any suggestions with these brands or insight as to which direction to lean? Is there something better out there you would suggest? We have been trying to find reviews for each but keep ending up in the same place! Any help you can offer will be much appreciated! Thanks so much!


  367. pmcalary, December 8, 2018 at 11:31 am:

    Hi Todd,
    There are much better lines to install in a rental property than IKEA. You want “durable” in a rental and that is the opposite of the IKEA product. There are many framed lines that will be only a tiny bit more expensive than IKEA and they will come assembled and will be made to last.

    Kraftmaid is the best selection for the lines you mention. However if you are on a budget there are much less expensive lines that will be just as durable but maybe not have as nice stained finishes and as many style and color choices. They are rated right here on the blog you are posting on. We believe our reviews are more reliable than consumer reviews since homeowners don’t know anything about cabinetry and write reviews when they finish their kitchen not 15 years later when they are forced to replace IKEA or other poorly constructed cabinetry.
    See our blog on this issue:

  368. todd, December 8, 2018 at 12:12 pm:

    Hey pmcalary,

    Thanks for the quick response! I guess I was really wondering what your experience/thoughts were for Kraftmaid vs. Diamond or Thomasville? These cabinets will be for our home. The rental we used IKEA and had a good experience so were considering them, but are very openminded to other options. If you were to spend 10K-15K on cabinets and hopefully countertops, where would you go for a 10×12 kitchen….?

    Thanks so much!

  369. pmcalary, December 9, 2018 at 10:12 am:

    Hi Todd,
    As I said is the last post:

    “Kraftmaid is the best selection for the lines you mention.”

    “However if you are on a budget there are much less expensive lines that will be just as durable but maybe not have as nice stained finishes and as many style and color choices. They are rated right here on the blog you are posting on.”

    Examples are:
    Fabuwood, Wolf, 6Square, Waypoint, and many other that get B’s and A’s for construction and are only 1’s and 2’s for price point. They will be far better made that IKEA, they all come assembled, and they will cost only a little more than IKEA. But like IKEA they will all be at least 30% less than upgraded Kraftmaid.

  370. Marci A Roper, December 9, 2018 at 3:15 pm:

    What do you think of Crystal’s Current Value
    Line? Thanks in advance for your advice.

  371. pmcalary, December 9, 2018 at 9:28 pm:

    Sorry I don’t know the line and the Crystal Web site doesn’t say anything about it.

  372. Shana, December 12, 2018 at 7:07 pm:

    Hi Paul!
    We plan on purchasing cabinets with a paint finish. Our cabinet dealer is encouraging us to get Kraftmaid cabinets bc they have the “DuraKraft” finish where they bake on the top coat. Are these baked on finishes really that much more durable then regular paint finishes? Also, we wanted to buy Taj Mahal quartzite for our countertops, but we have heard mixed reviews about whether it etches or not. Do you have an opinion on quartzite(TajMahal specifically if your familiar with it)?

  373. Geeta, December 12, 2018 at 11:21 pm:


    I’m comparing waypoint and design craft cabinets. The quotes are $3500 apart. Honestly I’m not sure which one to pick. Both are plywood construction. Could you kindly hellp me ? Which is a better product and value for money.


  374. pmcalary, December 13, 2018 at 6:10 am:

    You don’t say what type of door style or which line was quoted to cost more. But assuming a shaker style door and that you like the finish on both cabinets equally I would get the framed cabinet over the frameless and buy Waypoint. I’ll guess that it is also the less expensive quote so win win.

  375. pmcalary, December 13, 2018 at 8:30 am:

    Hi Shana,
    First off we rate Kraftmaid well. That said, the Kraftmaid Duracraft paint finish is misleading. As is Kraftmaid’s Veriguard interior finish. As are all cabinet companies claims that they meet the KCMA “high” standards.
    Most major cabinet brands use a baked on conversion Varnish. Many brands give it a fancy name but that doesn’t make it better. And all brands sold meet the very lax KCMA standards.
    Some cabinet lines especially some custom lines do use a catalyzed conversion varnish. This paint hardens from a rapid chemical reaction and not from heat in ovens.

    I haven’t noticed a difference between the durability of the two types of finish, but many less skeptical people in our industry seem to feel that the baked on finish has advantages.
    But as I said that would apply to most major brands.
    Quartzite is very popular right now because it is natural stone and looks more like marble while having more of the properties of granite. True Quartzite should not etch. However lots of “quartzite” slabs at granite yards can have marble mixed in them and these can etch. We tell all our customers to get a small piece of the stone they are considering and to put lemon juice on it to see if it etches like marble and scratches more easily like marble.
    Even the granite yard might not realize that their slab is mostly marble and etches, scratches, and stains easily. The name of any stone means nothing as anyone can name any stone anything they want.

  376. Geeta, December 13, 2018 at 12:12 pm:

    Thank you so much for your response. Can you pls tell me why go with framed vs framless? The waypoint is the 600 series. In the design craft it’s the brokkhill door. Yes the design craft is $3500 more. The only reason I was thinking of deisgn crfat is that because it’s framless, they have deeper draws. Am I being super picky? I wonder if I’m being sold things vs what I really need. Pls can you help. Also the lead time is lesser I really appreciate your help. This blog is just amazing and so very very helpful.


  377. Paul Mcalary, December 13, 2018 at 12:18 pm:

    Frameless cabinets will have 1 1/2 wider drawers but they will be less durable. Usually unless you are getting a slab door style that looks better in frameless we recommend framed cabinetry. Here is the difference:

  378. kelley, December 13, 2018 at 7:11 pm:

    Hi, Wolf has several lines:Designer, Signature, Transition, Classic, Builders Grade…

    Which of those got the B rating?

    Do you prefer Fabuwood brand over Wolf?

    I am looking at the most reasonable for Classic Shaker White kitchen cabinets. The person installing them will be the person who built our house 20 years ago, so he is very knowledgeable of our property and design.

  379. kelley, December 13, 2018 at 7:15 pm:

    Also, is this the same solid wood cabinet company in your list?

    If so, are they comparable to wolf or fabuwood in quality?

  380. Leslie King, December 13, 2018 at 7:58 pm:

    Hi again, Paul. I have just received bids from Wood Mode, Brookhaven, Wellborn, and Medallion for the same project. The Brookhaven and Wellborn are upgraded. Following the guide of your price categories, I expected Medallion & Wood Mode to be close in price and Brookhaven and Wellborn to be close. Interestingly, here’s what I got:
    Wood Mode $23,912 (rated 5 price) (dealer)
    Wellborn. $18,300 (rated 4 price) (builder surplus)
    Brookhaven. $17,946, but $14,946 if I switch doors (rated 4 price) (same dealer)
    Medallion. $10,400 (rated 5 price) (menards)
    I have triple checked the Medallion quote and he’s got all the right stuff there. Any thoughts on this? The Wood Mode seems high and/or the Medallion low.

  381. pmcalary, December 13, 2018 at 9:23 pm:

    The numbers all look right except Medallion. Something is wrong there. You must upgrade Medallion to 1/2″ plywood sides otherwise they are terribly constructed. That could be part of it. But there is more here. Door styles and finishes are possibly different levels that you are comparing in each line. I’ll bet the Medallion is a standard overlay door which would be 25% less. That’s why customers shopping for cabinets makes little sense – they should shop for a dealer and designer that they trust and that is very experienced.
    The designer can help them compare apples to apples in the lines they sell. Running all over town usually ends with a customer running into an unscrupulous designer that sells them an inferior door style and cabinet box.
    As an ethical designer I can admit that good designers try to avoid customers that shop till they drop. They are often bad listeners which makes them bad customers because they think they know it all and don’t need our help. They just want prices. Here’s our video that gently makes this point.

  382. pmcalary, December 13, 2018 at 9:30 pm:

    Hi Kelley,
    Yes that’s solid wood cabinets. They are built well if put together at the dealer. However they are a cut below Wolf and two below Fabuwood in what they offer. If you just want durable and don’t care too much about design or style they do the trick.

  383. pmcalary, December 13, 2018 at 9:35 pm:

    Yikes Kelly I think you are missing the message. Find a good kitchen designer to help you! Yes I prefer Fabuwood to Wolf but the Wolf lines with the best construction are equal in construction to Fabuwood. But offer less design flexibility and style.

  384. Dee, December 13, 2018 at 11:09 pm:

    I am so impressed by this blog–it is really helpful when trying to make informed decisions about which cabinets to invest in (and be happy with for many years to come).
    I have talked with a designer who recommended Wellborn. From your list, this product got good marks (A in both Quality and Value). The article says that all brands were evaluated using the highest level of offerings. For Wellborn, does that mean it was the Estate level that received the good ratings? What about the Premier level? It looks like there is an all plywood option at the Premier level, but thicknesses may not be as great as the Estate level. I am looking for a painted shaker cabinet. The designer was also suggesting MDF doors, rather than solid wood. I had a bias toward wood, but from the articles I’ve read, it seems MDF for a painted cabinet (where you can’t see the wood anyway) may be a better option. Do you agree? Does paint adhere any differently to MDF than solid wood? Thank you again for all the time you put into answering people’s questions!

  385. pmcalary, December 14, 2018 at 7:27 am:

    Upgraded Premier gets the same ratings as Estate for construction and value although the Estate is nicer. A center MDF panel on a shaker door is a good idea. An all MDF door will be easily damaged. The door finish will look better upon arrival nut if you are at all hard on things it can get dinged and scratched very easily and is very hard to repair. Replacing dented doors can be a problem years down the road.

  386. Dee, December 15, 2018 at 10:23 am:

    Thank you so much. I appreciate your honest and knowledgeable advice!

  387. Lisa, December 15, 2018 at 12:57 pm:

    So glad to find your website. We are currently comparing Fieldstone vs DuraSupreme in quarter sawn oak. We have pricing from 2 different dealer, and came back very close in pricing for similar designs.
    Do you have any feedback on one company over the other? Would appreciate your insight!

  388. pmcalary, December 15, 2018 at 2:35 pm:

    Hi Lisa,
    Both lines are similar in what they offer and the quality of their upgraded products. However we have had issues with DuraSuprems not honoring warranties when we carried their line so I would recommend Fieldstone which.

  389. Geeta, December 17, 2018 at 3:26 pm:

    Hi Paul,

    I’m taking your advice and going with waypoint instead of design craft. Can you please tell me if going with a 600 series door is ok or spending more money with a 700 series door makes more sense? I have 21 cabinets including my island. The box is plywood construction. I’m going with a white kitchen with an expresso island.


  390. pmcalary, December 17, 2018 at 3:45 pm:

    Hi Geeta,
    You would need to ask the dealer if there is any difference between the two levels of door style other than simply the style and price point of the door style. We do not sell Waypoint so this is beyond what we know.

  391. Geeta, December 17, 2018 at 4:04 pm:

    Thank you Paul. You are so very helpful. I really wish you were in San Jose. I would have worked with you without a moments hesitation.

    Thanks a bunch.

  392. kelley Hart, December 18, 2018 at 5:39 pm:

    Checking out a few different companies local. I found one Fabuwood company. They carry that line and Aristokraft. Know much about the latter one?

  393. pmcalary, December 19, 2018 at 6:54 am:

    Yes we rate Aristocraft in this blog. We rate it poorly C,C

  394. Kelly, December 19, 2018 at 10:45 am:

    Hi – Due to water damage in my home my insurance co has a preferred reno co suggesting Lifeart cabinets as a replacement. They are replacing 2005 Aristocraft non dovetail wood cabinets. Sounds like Lifeart is not an equivalent swap. I also see CNC on your list is that CNC Associates? there are 2 CNC cabinets. I also noticed your group no longer carries CNC is that due to quality concerns? We have Fabuwood dealers in town – probably best to upgrade to them? Its not a big kitchen and going to open shelving for most of the replacement but want quality drawer base cabinets. Thank you for your insight.

  395. pmcalary, December 19, 2018 at 12:07 pm:

    We would still sell CNC and also LifeArt if someone was flipping a home. But the quality of those less expensive lines is not equal to Fabuwoods. When the cabinetry is for a customers home Fabuwood is what we sell. While LifeArt and CNC can be well constructed you can NOT be picky about finish quality or shipping damage with these discount lines.

  396. Esther Lorenzo, December 22, 2018 at 1:17 pm:

    Omegas cabinets? These are available at a local cabinet store. They have the fabuwood and Shiloh brands, and just started working with Marsh come up but I see from your reviews that there are better options for value out there. How does Omega compare?

  397. pmcalary, December 22, 2018 at 2:48 pm:

    We give Omega good reviews especially for their framed cabinetry. They will be significantly more expensive then these other brands. Fabuwood is a particularly good value if you are on a budget or are getting painted cabinetry.

  398. Jon Partsch, December 22, 2018 at 2:59 pm:

    Thank you for being so responsive to all these questions! I am considering All Wood cabinets sold by distributor TimberPro, which is itself apparently an arm of Floor and Decor. All Wood brand cabinets are a line of Ideal brand cabinets. I see that you have separate ratings for Ideal and All Wood, but are these actually the same cabinets? I am confused. I am looking to get the best cabinets I can in the level 2 price tier. Are All Wood cabinets from TimberPro a good way to go, or is there a better option?

  399. pmcalary, December 22, 2018 at 3:19 pm:

    Yes these lines both come from the same plant. The framed line gets slightly different reviews from us for two separate reasons. First that our left arm didn’t know what our right arm was doing and one of our designers was reviewing the Costco brands and the another Ideal on line. The second reason is that Costco appears to do a better job assembling and selling the cabinetry. Pricing will vary based on where you are buying All Wood Cabinets. So depending on how you buy these cabinets and how much you pay for them there review will be somewhere between the two very close reviews.

    Keep in mind that these lines are not sold by competent kitchen cabinet dealers so you are giving up the most valuable component when renovating a kitchen. That of working with an experienced kitchen design professional. Some other inexpensive lines like Wolf, Fabuwood, J&K and others are sold at cabinet dealerships and there will be experienced pros to work with free of charge.

  400. Barbara, December 26, 2018 at 7:35 pm:

    Hi Paul,
    A kitchen designer is going to give me a quote on Decora cabinets for my kitchen which get high marks on your cabinet reviews. They also sell Kemper which did not get high ratings. I mentioned your ratings and he knew how they were rated. He said the ratings were for the entry line not their top line. Is this correct information? If your ratings are for the entry line what do you think of their top line? How does the top line of Kemper compare to Decora.
    Thank you for your input.

  401. paul mcalary, December 27, 2018 at 8:08 am:

    The upgraded APC constructed Kemper is what we give a B for construction. They are close to a B+ but don’t quite get there. Upgraded Kemper gets a lower value because there are many better constructed less expensive lines. Part of the reason Decora gets such a good value rating is that they will do many customizations and offer inset cabinetry at a lower price point. If you aren’t taking advantage of the reasons Decora gets such good reviews you could be wasting money on both these lines.

  402. Kay, December 29, 2018 at 8:49 pm:

    Can you give me some insight on painted white cabinets vs Thermofoils.
    I need to redo my kitchen and plan on living in this house maybe 8 years.
    I will get NO $ return for an updated kitchen in my area.
    I am looking at Kraftmaid painted white or thermofoils or painted Fabuwood.
    I have had Thermafoils for 20 yrs and have had no problem with the doors or drawers, however my boxes have turned a yellowish color. I do have a designer coming out, but they just started to carry Kraftmaid.
    Thanks for any suggestions!

  403. Elizabeth, December 30, 2018 at 12:23 pm:

    Hi. 22 years ago I put in a custom kitchen which was well made. I now want to go to a white painted recessed panel in a more modest price range. Do I need to look for a 100percent MDF panel so it won’t crack or am I ok with interior panel as MDF and frame of panel in wood.
    2. Is there a big jump in quality from a 2 type cabinet ie (/Wolf/fabuwood) to a 3 or 4? Or Can you give an example of a difference between fabuwood vs. kraftmaid
    3. Do you recommend a cabinet wholesaler in or close to Bergen County NJ? Thank you so much. Your site is wonderful.

  404. pmcalary, December 31, 2018 at 8:59 am:

    Fabuwood is the best looking, the best value, and almost as versatile as Kraftmaid for a fraction of the price. No cabinets are sold wholesale and there are many Fabuwood dealers in Bergen county although I don’t know any to recommend.

  405. pmcalary, December 31, 2018 at 11:20 am:

    Hi Kay,
    Many customers tell us that they will get no resale value out of remodeling their kitchen. However most are incorrect. If your home will be a tear down and the land only has value this is true but if this is not the case then you will always get some value on the renovation depending on how well the kitchen is designed. Selecting unpopular styles and finishes like Thermafoil would have much less value. Or redoing a bad design exactly as it is now would have little value. However redesigning the space in a better layout in a popular style and finish could not only add a lot of value to your home but also make it sell much faster which has value.

    Unfortunately since homeowners and real estate agents are not kitchen designers they do not appreciate how much resale value there is in good design and well chosen materials. There will be little value in selecting more expensive cabinetry and countertops such as Kraftmaid over Fabuwood or Quartz tops over the least expensive granite tops. So make sensible choices and do not splurge on things that have little resale value but also do not keep things like white appliances or out of date floor tile that will make your renovation unpopular.
    This is where good kitchen designers can keep you on track. Make sure you tell them your plan to sell in 8 years and your desire to get the best resale value and do not select things like thermafoil cabinetry that is unpopular or not remove a wall or soffit if the designer recommends it. Saving two thousand dollars not removing a wall that the new owners will want could make the entire renovation valueless. Also just before you sell your home have the paint touched up by furniture refinishers like Guardsman. They will charge a few hundred dollars to make your kitchen look brand new.

  406. Jennifer, January 4, 2019 at 3:01 pm:

    We are having a very difficult experience with Schrock – cabinets did not remotely match sample, finishing ranged from charcoal to lighter brown, drill holes, finish painted over tape, even have one Diamond drawer (label in drawer) in maple when we ordered Schrock in cherry. Waited weeks for replacements and they are no better. Might rip it all out and start over with a local custom cabinet maker, no more Masterbrands – ever.

  407. pmcalary, January 4, 2019 at 4:04 pm:

    Hi Jennifer,
    A lot of this very possibly should be expected in any cabinet line. Each piece of wood takes a stain differently so if you are looking at only one small sample and assuming that there will not be a variation between wood pieces across an entire kitchen then your expectations are not realistic. Cherry wood in particular takes brown and grey stains inconsistently. Homeowners sometimes call dealers complaining that they have stripes on their doors when they buy a kitchen especially in Cherry or Hickory. But this is the property of the wood so why did they buy a species that guaranteed getting that look? The answer is that their designer didn’t make this clear to them or they didn’t listen.

    Since Schrock makes Diamond I can see a drawer getting mixed up on a reorder. Drill holes for shelf adjustments are normal if that is what you are referring to.
    It is up to the designer to make sure that you understand the properties of what you are buying. Usually when customers have such bad experiences we find that it is a combination of problems. Even in the cabinet lines that we don’t rate well these kind of complaints are more about expectations than actual defects. And then there are always some real problems that all kitchen will have since they are so complex.

  408. Sam, January 5, 2019 at 7:59 am:

    Hi, I have been doing a lot of research about RTA vs. Semi-custom lines and when comparing Fabuwood to JSI cabinetry it’s seem that are built well according to your rating but what I noticed that most doors in fabuwood are made from solid birch, for JSI doors made from Maple. I was a bit confused because I thought maple is stronger wood than birch? Thank you in advance!

  409. pmcalary, January 5, 2019 at 9:02 am:

    Hi Sam,
    Yes Maple is a harder wood then birch. But Asian birch paints better than hard maple so for painted cabinets the birch is better and for stained cabinets the maple is better. If you do an A job assembling JSI yourself I would gibe their construction an A- compared to a factory built Fabuwood cabinet. The tracks and hinges are not Blum which loses them a little. But building cabinets yourself and not working with an experienced kitchen designer almost certainly means your kitchen will be poorly designed.
    We get sent terrible designs people want priced each week that they designed themselves. Less than 5% of these DIY designs are anything short of terrible. But all these DIYers are completely unaware of all the problems and mistakes in their designs. So while JSI could be better rated (although their finishes are not too nice looking) We don’t want to give people the impression that buying these cabinets are a great idea.
    The same holds true with buying any cabinets on line. Buying cabinets online or at IKEA or Costco means you are your own designer. Not all experienced kitchen designers are great designers. However without talent, training, a lot of experience you can not be a good kitchen designer. So much like the saying that a person that acts as their own lawyer has a fool for an attorney, acting as your own kitchen designer, measurer and assembler means you have an novice supervising every complex aspect of your kitchen. I have found over the years that the more confident a person is that they don’t need professional help the worse that are at designing a kitchen.
    Every very good kitchen designer will tell you that the worst designs we see are those done by people with a little kitchen design experience. So Architects, interior designers, contractors, and real estate professionals come up with the worst designs. A little bit of knowledge and over confidence are calamitous in our world of kitchen design.

  410. Klio, January 5, 2019 at 11:20 pm:

    Renovating our kitchen and considering Kith or St. Martins cabinetry. Which would you recommend?

  411. pmcalary, January 6, 2019 at 8:33 am:

    You don’t say what door style. Except for very contemporary kitchens I would always select the framed line. There is a big difference between the B+ in construction for Kitch Framed and the B for St. Martins frameless.

  412. Gunny, January 6, 2019 at 9:35 pm:

    We are remodeling our kitchen and think of using Starmark Cabinets maple painted white with Cambria quartz (berwyn) counter tops. I have reviewed our site and give them good reviews ( Our costs are $15k cabinets and 3900 for counter) does these sound like good prices? I like them for solid cabinets and quality. They are giving me 10% discount for military.

  413. pmcalary, January 7, 2019 at 3:01 am:

    Having no idea about the size of your kitchen there is no way to know if your pricing is competitive or not. However truly competitive cabinet dealers would usually not offer a discount to the military as they would already be the lowest pricing and not need or be able to discount their pricing further for the military, seniors, or for special sales. Unless the cabinet line was offering a sale,

  414. John, January 7, 2019 at 9:09 am:

    Hi Paul,

    This is an amazing resource. Thank you. I was looking at Fieldstone and the price is very high – we are looking at white shaker maybe a grey island. This is for new construction so we can be a bit flexible in the length of run for the cabinets – but we have 9′ ceilings. Does Fabuwood work with 9′ – if so how would you size the wall cabs? Thank you again for this great resource.

  415. pmcalary, January 7, 2019 at 9:33 am:

    Hi John,
    With 9 foot ceilings there are two ways to stack cabinetry to reach the ceiling. There is no question that with full overlay door styles using 36″ high wall cabinets with 12″ high cabinets on top looks best and will not require unusual custom sizes. 6″ of a stacked crown molding is then added on top of the top cabinet to reach the ceiling. Less experienced designers use 30″ wall cabinets with 18″ cabinets on top but this does not look as nice nor is it as functional. In a line like Fabuwood there will usually be a couple of cabinets such as a W1812 that will need to be custom made and so will take an additional 4 weeks to get. However since these cabinets will only be a couple and they can be installed at the end of the project this is not much of an inconvenience to save a huge amount compared to Fieldstone which takes longer to get any cabinet anyway.
    When you are stacking cabinets your kitchen designer needs to be especially knowledgeable and experienced as there are many pitfalls and errors that less experienced people will ALWAYS make.

  416. Nanette, January 7, 2019 at 2:31 pm:

    Hi Paul,
    First and foremost, I want to thank you for all the information you have given us. MUCH APPRECIATED. I live in New York and truly wish you could design my kitchen. I’m in the process of choosing kitchen cabinets. We live in a townhouse condominium. We want something nice but the too expensive. I was looking at 6 Square, Schrock and Wolf. What are your recommendations?

  417. pmcalary, January 7, 2019 at 2:53 pm:

    Hi Nanette,
    I like 6square and Wolf better for value than Schrock but if you can find Fabuwood I think for painted cabinets the Fabuwood is the best value by far. For stained finishes Fabuwood only has a few nicer options and no maple or cherry wood, so often other choices make sence.

  418. Sol, January 8, 2019 at 11:16 pm:

    I now found your 2018 ratings and your response to my inquiry under 2017. I am considering the frameless door for St. Martin and the more affordable line under Crystal. Do you still consider Crystal (the affordable line) to be the more sensible option? If so, why?

  419. Paul McAlary, January 9, 2019 at 12:31 pm:

    Not sure what upgrades you aren’t getting in Crystal. They 1/2″ sides need to be plywood. Otherwise I wouldn’t be getting a particle board version of a more expensive line.

  420. Janine, January 10, 2019 at 1:35 am:

    Dear Paul,
    Thank you for the amazing blog and ratings. I am getting ready for a whole home remodel. I worked with an excellent designer for a kitchen remodel and paid for the design. Ultimately they came in much higher for labor than I expected, and I have a new contractor that is more reasonable, however, I will use the design. The designer quoted Diamond Cabinets. I have chosen white bead board and, originally, had Medallion in mind due to their amazing finishes. I had inspiration from the Medallion catalog with white bead board for most of the kitchen and silver appaloosa in shaker style for the island. Diamond does not have anything close to the silver appaloosa and so I have settled on white bead board throughout for my design. I have a connection through my family to a company that sells Diamond and Waypoint. The Diamond quote from this company was the almost the same price as the designer’s pricing for Diamond. However, they offer to price Waypoint and said it would be much cheaper but I did not ask them to price it out as yet.

    In this case would you favor Diamond (5 piece cabinet), Waypoint ( 4 piece cabinet) or Medallion? Should I get someone to quote the current design with my original plan: white bead board (5 piece cabinet)with silver appaloosa island from Medallion?
    For durability which would you recommend-Diamond, Medallion or Waypoint?
    Or would you recommend another value brand for white bead board?

    Thank you!

  421. dan pivin, January 10, 2019 at 6:25 pm:

    Hello – I’m in the process of planning a kitchen remodel for our 20 years + home, or until I can talk the wife into moving to Belize.

    The contractor recommended Kemper Echo, but all the things I’ve read is bad. How do they compare to Fabuwood Allure Galaxy Horizon. The vendor quote the kemper at 10k for a 10×10 kitchen with island. Are they worth the price?

  422. pmcalary, January 11, 2019 at 6:58 am:

    Fabuwood is a better cabinet and it should also be less expensive. Easy choice here.

  423. kavitha, January 11, 2019 at 4:30 pm:

    Hi – Can you please help me to choose Fabuwood Allure Galaxy Horizon vs Onyx Horizon? I am looking for the quality, durability and the dark grey colored cabinets. Are they both stained? Would like to know your recommendation on the highest quality in Fabuwood series? Thank you.

  424. Andrew, January 12, 2019 at 9:01 am:


    I read your blog and we have narrowed it down to 3 cabinet lines for our kitchen and would love to get your opinion.

    Starmark Inset, doesnt have the preferred door style due to being inset but seems to be a great price for the product even if we are settling on the door style. 31K

    Kraftmaid, cheapest price, has the door style and finishes wanted, good quality but from reading not the quality of the other options. 28k

    Dura Supreme, Most expensive, but seem to have everything, better quality than kraftmaid, door style and finishes, hurts budget a little bit. 35K

    We did quote Brighton but they were significantly higher and not affordable unfortunately.

    Your opinion would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  425. pmcalary, January 12, 2019 at 11:40 am:

    Both the Kraftmaid and the Starmark cabinetry are good deals assuming they are upgraded to the same level. Durasupreme I don’t like as a company so I would never recommend them.

  426. pmcalary, January 12, 2019 at 11:50 am:

    Hi Kavitha,
    Both Fabuwood style are finished and made exactly the same. The only reason Onyx is 18% more is that the door style is harder to make.

  427. pmcalary, January 12, 2019 at 11:56 am:

    I don’t think Durability matters much here if all the lines are upgraded The medallion will probably have nicer looking finishes.

    I almost never try to direct customers on style choices but I think that beadboard doors can be a mistake. The reason is that if you like beadboard backs of islands and peninsulas can be done in beadboard. Or room wainscoting or even ceilings can be beadboard. Cabinet doors in beadboard can look very busy and they will not be good for the resale value of a home. I’d think twice about this issue before committing to spend so much money on a beadboard style cabinet door.

  428. Denise, January 13, 2019 at 7:52 am:

    Hi Paul,
    You have such an informative site here. As of yesterday, we were all set on a Dura Supreme Kitchen, but after reading your reviews, and other reviews all over, I have decided to put a pause on it. We are looking for a line that can do a great painted cabinet with a glaze, which would also minimize the line from seams. Can you offer any recommendations for a great line? We have cabinets now that are 40 years old, and I would like our next ones to last the same!! We are mostly happy with our design (still some tweaks needed), but would like to find a quality all wood line, that does especially good paint!! Thanks for your suggestions, any and all are appreciated!! Also, what is your opinion on going with a local reputable cabinet maker?

  429. pmcalary, January 13, 2019 at 8:39 am:

    There are lots of great cabinet lines. Just make sure to upgrade to all plywood construction and soft close doors and drawers if needed. Even inexpensive lines like Fabuwood can have nice finishes, just few to choose from. Starmark, Fieldstone, Medallion, Decora, and Kraftmaid are probably the most popular brands in the Dura Supreme price range. Dura Suprem makes a nice cabinet and has beautiful finishes, my complaint with them is that as a company I didn’t find them ethical or honorable when we carried thier product. They are the only cabinet company I know that has gotten complaints to the Better Business Bureau from their own dealers. However, if the dealer that is selling them has a stellar reputation you are probably safe buying Dura Supreme.

  430. Denise, January 13, 2019 at 9:02 am:

    Thanks so much for the quick response. You have given me something to think about. One more question; if we decide to go up a level, what are your thoughts on Grabill?

  431. Paul McAlary, January 13, 2019 at 10:42 am:

    Grabil is a great line. They are known for thier finishes. And they should look much nicer than any of these other lines. However I would guess that they would be 20 to 30% more expensive. Depending on the door style and finish you are getting as well as the customizations the added cost might not be worth it.
    If you are getting beaded inset cabinetry and stacking cabinetry to the ceiling in a 9 or 10 foot high room, Grabil will certianly be worth it. My problem with the really expensive and beautiful cabinet lines is that few kitchen designers are able to effectively design well in these lines and even fewer designs take advantage of what makes the cabinetry worth the price.
    Certianly if the kitchen design was done by an architect or an independent designer or heaven forbid the home owner themselves these expensive lines are just a waste. In general, the less experienced the designer the more they focus on expensive “stuff”. The most experienced kitchen designers know that the design itself is what makes a kitchen beautiful.
    Moving doors, walls, and windows, removing soffits or creating tray and coffered ceilings along with the knowledge of what proportions and considerations make a kitchen great are the highest priorities. Professional appliances, custom cabinetry, exotic countertops, are all expensive finishing touches that cost a lot but have much less impact.
    For example we get sent designs every week from people looking to price out kitchens. Many designs we get were done in custom cabinet lines and might have a budget of over 40K for appliances. Only maybe one design we get per year is even paticularly good and would make sense spluging on the most expensive materials.
    Even the kitchens we sell sometimes have been compromised by customers that have poor taste and terrible design sensibilities. We insist that our customers at least see better designs during our design process but the kitchen is in thier home and so they make all the final decisions.
    Ironicly, usually the customers with the least ablity insist on micro managing thier kitchens while the those with the most natural ability and taste sometimes needlessly seek to defer to us. The best kitchens are compromises between what customers like when they are given comprehensive choices by professionals, and what the designers recomend.
    If your kitchen designer is not saying no and giving you a hard time about at least some aspects of what you propose to them, you can be certian that they care little about creating the best kitchen for you and primarily just want to sell you cabinetry.

  432. David Phillips, January 13, 2019 at 4:52 pm:

    Great blog. Quick question. I’m considering taking on a diy project since I can’t find the color cabinets that I want. I’m looking to buy shaker style cabinets with unfinished wood to paint the color I want. Do you have any recommendations where to buy decent unfinished cabinets?

  433. pmcalary, January 13, 2019 at 9:11 pm:

    Sorry David,
    This type of thinking points to your possibly being beyond the help of professionals. Stop managing a project far above your expertise and put your efforts towards finding a great kitchen designer.
    When you need your auto transmission replaced do you try to build one yourself? I don’t I look for a great mechanic.
    Many cabinet companies custom color match so buying unfinished cabinets makes no sense. And most cabinet companies assume when consumers want to buy unfinished cabinets that they are difficult and controling and so they actually sell thier cabinetry for the same price unfinished as finished. This makes the problem customers pay a premium for being high mantenance.

  434. John, January 14, 2019 at 11:11 am:

    Hi Paul,

    This is a fantastic blog and really appreciate the time you take to answer questions.

    So, we are thinking of acrylic cabinets and wanted to know your thoughts on US companies that make quality ones.

    The European makers use MDF for their boxes, not plywood, AND they are expensive. I think IKEA uses MDF for their boxes as well. I believe the doors have to be MDF to adhere the laminate/melamine then with the acrylic on top. I am fine with that, just not with MDF boxes.

    One US cabinet company we saw (Christiana Cabinetry) does acrylic doors with plywood boxes. Any knowledge of this company? I assume this is better than MDF for the boxes. But if so, I wonder about the quality of the high-end European cabinetry which use MDF boxes? So I’m puzzled. Maybe plywood is harder to source in Europe?

    Also, would it be weird to have acrylic slab doors, drawers faces, and sides, but then the drawers and box insides are made of maple (maple veneer for the inside of the box)? Too incongruous? I think the non-metal European-made drawers are usually made of MDF as well.

    Do you know of good cabinet makers in the US that can do acrylic, and if it makes sense only to use them with plywood boxes? Thank you!

  435. Paul McAlary, January 14, 2019 at 11:34 am:

    Wood in Europe is outragesly expensive and so that is what created the whole frameless MDF European cabinet industry. Acrylic doors are not therafoils and laminates or foils so you are getting confused somewhere. Acrylic doors are very expensive and heavy and are sheets of esentially Corian mounted in 1/8 thick flat sheets to the face of doors. Christiania makes frameless cabinetry well.

  436. John, January 14, 2019 at 12:41 pm:

    Thank you. If we went with the modern European look with slab doors, would having wood inside (vs white melamine-finished MDF) be strange or does that not matter since that’s inside the drawer face and and cabinet doors hence hidden when not opened?

  437. pmcalary, January 14, 2019 at 12:52 pm:

    Usually the inside of a contemporary frameless box is white or grey and the drawers and roll outs are metal and plastic to be more modern. Slab wood doors would look fine with a wood interior. Even exotic wood veneers like Zebrawood or Bamboo. But a very modern style door like a red acrylic or a Wenge laminate would look odd with a birch natural wood interior IMO.

  438. Catherine, January 14, 2019 at 9:49 pm:

    John, January 14, 2019
    After reading a lot of your blogs I came to the conclusion that I needed a designer to get me started. They recommended that I use a cabinet line called BJ Tidwell. Can you tell me if this would be a good cabinet line to go with. Dove Tail and soft close has become the line that a lot of them have now. thinking that there may be more than that to a good cabinet, can you tell me if BJ Tidwell is a good cabinet to purchase and how you would rate them. Thank you very much

  439. Catherine, January 14, 2019 at 10:03 pm:

    after reading your blogs I came to the conclusion that I needed a designer.They recommended a cabinet line by BJ Tidwell. They said it was a good cabinet, it had Dove tail and soft close. I hear those two things about a lot of cabinets and want to think there is more to a good cabinet then that. could you tell me if BJ Tidwell is a good cabinet and how you would rate them. Thanks for your time

  440. pmcalary, January 15, 2019 at 8:02 am:

    B.J Tidwell does a lot of talking about quality on their web site and Youtube but I can’t find any specifications on how their cabinetry is constructed. Our web site discusses what makes a cabinet well made. For framed cabinetry like BJ Tidwell it means 1/2 inch Plywood sides, and either a complete 1/2 plywood back or a solid 3/4″ x 3″ hanging rail on the back. 3/4″ thick plywood shelves, Blum soft close doors and drawers come with all the better made cabinetry. Not being transparrent about how your cabinetry is made is concerning. And most kitchen designers are not very good so advice from any kitchen designer is not meaningful. We reccomend good cabinet dealers across the US. Possibly you are close to one of those dealers.

  441. Bill, January 15, 2019 at 9:59 pm:

    Paul, We just stumbled across your site, and I am blown away by the useful information. We are looking at putting an 84″ vanity in our master bathroom. We are getting quotes of approximately $3100 for a Homecrest cabinet vs. $4300 for an Omega Dynasty cabinet. I know that you think highly of Omega. Do you think it is worth the extra cost?

  442. pmcalary, January 15, 2019 at 10:21 pm:

    I don’t think it is a quality issue if both lines are upgraded. You will have more door style, finishes and customizations available in Dynasty. And the finishes are more stylish. Pick the cabinet that’s worth the money for the look you like. Especially in a bath there is no advantage contruction wise between lines.

  443. Debbie, January 16, 2019 at 10:17 am:

    If mention was made regarding cabinets made by Faircrest I missed it … these seem to check the blocks for construction features suggested but as they are sold near me in a Surplus Warehouse, I’m wondering if these RTA cabinets are worth a look. This is for a bathroom “refresh” in a modest house and I have a carpenter assisting me.

  444. pmcalary, January 16, 2019 at 11:02 am:

    Hi Debbie,
    This is a very good topic. For bathroom cabinetry, bar areas, finished basements or any very, very simple design areas RTA cabinetry like Faircrest I think is a great choice for people on a budget. The cabinets when constructed correctly are very well constructed. Certianly better constructed than is even needed in non kitchen applications. For kitchens I believe the advantage in working with a qualified and experienced kitchen designer outweighs the 20% or 30% you might save on cabinetry. You also won’t need to put cabinetry together and the finishes will be nicer and there will be far more options. The kitchen design itself is usually the most valuable component in a home and so not having a professional to help understand what doorways should be removed or walls taken out. Or how to remove soffits and keep plumbing behind moldings makes little sense. Especially in less expensive home better design can pay for itself many times over.
    However, all these kitchen considerations are less important in non kitchen applications. And replacing a simple vanity with expensive cabinetry in a budget renovation makes no sence.
    For a bath one thing you should consider is buying a vanity and top combination from a home center. You would save a little bit of money with the RTA cabinet but if you have to buy a granite or marble top separately the total cost will definetly be more. So assuming you found a vanity and top you liked you could stop in at a Lowes and get a pretty well made vanity (mabey not quite as well made as the Faircrest) buy still OK for a vanity and a top right on the spot, save money and be done! Pick up a faucet, handles, and a new medicine cabinet while you are there. No assembling, or shipping damage or other inconveniences that can’t be resolved easily.
    Home centers have thier place and while many people think they only sell junk this is actually not true. You just have to be able to tell which products that they sell are quality and which are not. They fall flat usually on special orders. Because once you are special ordering cabinets, or faucets, or windows and doors, you are not saving very much money if any at all. And ordering from less experienced sales people and a disorganized home center can put you on thier well traveled road to frustration.

  445. Sally, January 16, 2019 at 10:30 pm:

    I love your blog. Thank you for the education. Would you please recommend a kitchen designer/dealer in Manhattan, NYC for Fabuwood and 6 Square semi-custom kitchen cabinets, inset shaker, painted white?

    My windowless, double sided, co-op galley kitchen is 8 feet wide and 7 feet long. Any recommendations how to stack cabinets for an 8.5 foot ceiling?

  446. pmcalary, January 17, 2019 at 9:02 am:

    For an 8’5″ ceiling I think it’s best to use 42″ high wall cabinets with a 5 inch stacked molding on top. This is the newest Fabuwood dealer in Manhatan. I don’t know anything about them though.
    Luxcucina Ltd.

  447. Becky, January 17, 2019 at 12:24 pm:

    I remember reading somewhere in this thread that your not a fan of Yorktown Cabinets. Could you elaborate as to why? They have been recommended to me by two different people and I would love more information from you as your website has been a great resource! Also wondering your thoughts on Wellborn Forest Cabinets and if you don’t recommend either of these, which cabinet line with a similar price point would you consider? Thanks so much in advance!

  448. pmcalary, January 17, 2019 at 1:18 pm:

    Yorketown is a builder grade line, usually sold with particle board sides to builders that care nothing about durability. As with most poorly constructed lines they make it very hard to find out how the cabinetry is constructed. Non-transparency is always the first alarm bell. If it is upgraded to anything better made it is overpriced and still not equal to better made less expensive lines. Read our descriptions on cabinet construction. Wellborn Forest upgraded is a well made cabinet and I think we review it and so it gets good marks.

  449. Cathy, January 17, 2019 at 11:29 pm:

    This blog is very informative, although we are working with 2 different kitchen designers one is selling only Brookhaven or woodmode both very expensive the other is selling candlelight and Ted wood I am so confused at this point of who to go with, the candlelight designer gave us a breakdown of what we were getting g for the price the Brookhaven designer won’t give us anything without a retainer: what do you feel is a better cabinet and if you were us would you stay clear of designers that won’t show you the kitchen they designed unless you give them a retainer

  450. pmcalary, January 18, 2019 at 9:05 am:

    Hi Cathy,
    All of these lines are well made in all plywood construction. I don’t worry about a designer not giviving you a braekdown without a retainer. You are getting everything you see in the design. And esentially you are asking for help to possibly steal his or her work product fo nothing.

    The question I have is whether you need to be only pricing custom high end lines. While these lines are great, were you getting a shaker full overlay paineted white cabinet this might be a waste of money. If you are getting inset cabinetry or need custom pieces or custom colors, expensive lines make sense.

    I do worry about designers that won’t give you printouts and a parts list for free, it shows principal. I would not only not do that and would be anoyed at anyone that expected it.

    I do worry about designers that only carry high end lines. That says they don’t care about helping customers spend thier budgets sensibly and only want to sell expensive cabinetry whether it is in the customers best intest or not. This is why we have a deposit to work with us even though we are very resonable for all types of cabinetry. Creating an environment where customers want something for nothing and designers only want to sell expensive cabinetry is not ethical for either party.

    Our first $150 deposit is to measure and do preliminary designs. The deposit includes a 2 hour second appointment to go over detailed designs and pricing. This involves about 8 hours of our time. Any customer that doesn’t feel it is generous on our part is someone we would prefer not working with. Anyone that thinks they just need cabinet pricing for the design they came up with is also not respecting our expertise and we try to avoid.

    Main Line Kitchen Design helps customers spend and budget their project wisely no matter what the budget of a customers kitchen and so we sell 8 different well made cabinet lines from inexpensive lines to high end custom lines. Our business model assures that customers and designers respect each other and behave ethicly.

  451. Becky, January 18, 2019 at 2:38 pm:

    Thank you for your feedback. Can you clarify if Wellborn and Wellborn forest are reviewed as the same and also explain what you mean by upgraded it is a good line? Thanks again!!

  452. pmcalary, January 18, 2019 at 3:05 pm:

    Even the most expensive cabinet lines would often be terribly made unless you upgraded their cabinetry to their better constructed options. All plywood construction usually gets you the other upgrades you need to have a well constructed cabinet. Wellborn Forrest is an off shoot of Wellborn and they are very similar.

  453. Becky, January 18, 2019 at 4:17 pm:

    Again, thank you! I have been reading your blog for a year amd it is so helpful and we are just about to bite the bullet on cabinets…. this is what we are looking at Wellborn Forest Cabinets, Chiswick Shaker Door style, 5 piece drawer front, all plywood boxes, Maple painted, oak stained island, solid wood dovetail drawers, soft close doors and drawers, and 33”H wall cabinets with 1-piece crown:

  454. Tao, January 18, 2019 at 7:36 pm:

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for creating this extremely useful site. I have been using it as the primary reference in my current kitchen renovation project. I want to get inset shaker style cabinets, painted white. I got an initial cabinets configuration from my architect and have been getting quotes for some of the top cabinets brands on your ranking. Here are what I have so far. Starmark $20K, Decora $18.5K, Crystal $28K, Holiday $42K including installation, Wellsford $45K including installation. Which one do you think is the best deal? Would it be Starmark or Decora? What are some of the caveats I should know before I make my final decision? Thanks so much!

  455. TaoZ, January 18, 2019 at 9:26 pm:

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for creating this extremely useful site. I have been using it as the primary reference in my current kitchen renovation project. I want to get inset shaker style cabinets painted white. I got an initial cabinets configuration from my architect and have been getting quotes for some of the top cabinets brands on your ranking. Here are what I have so far. Starmark $20K, Decora $18.5K, Crystal $28K, Holiday $42K including installation, Wellsford $45K including installation. Which one do you think is the best deal? Would it be Starmark or Decora? What are some of the caveats I should know before I make my final decision? Thanks so much!

  456. pmcalary, January 18, 2019 at 9:56 pm:

    Hi TaoZ,
    Couple of important issues:
    Cabinets should be installed by the contractor doing the renovation. Separating the two jobs assures finger pointing and a less thought construction process.
    Architects are not qualified to design kitchens. In fact the worst designs we see as kitchen designers come from architects. Some architects become kitchen designers and this observation would not include those – but otherwise beware.
    Without seeing the design it is hard to know what cabiet line level is needed. Fridays between 2pm and 4pm we comment on designs if you want to forward us a plan and speak to one of us. Use my email adress on a Friday afternoon. Include a phone number to call you or call in after you send your plans.

  457. Tao, January 19, 2019 at 8:40 am:

    Hi Paul, so you are saying that we should not use the installation service offered by the cabinet dealers? Originally I thought they would be more familiar with the cabinets and thus could do a better job potentially. The kitchen design I have from the architect is mostly for illustration purposes. I wanted to get an idea of what’s available in my area and at what price points. To get quotes I have to have some common basis, so I just used the architect’s kitchen cabinets design. The design could be refined later but we don’t really want any fancy features. Just standard features such as soft-close doors, full extension with undermount racks, dovetail drawers etc. Just missed this Friday but would love to get some comments later!

  458. Rick, January 19, 2019 at 3:49 pm:

    Paul – I’m building a small retirement home and my contractor says it’s time to order cabinets. He works with a Canyon Creek dealer nearby. We have a preliminary layout. I asked if he could get me prices for the individual cabinets in the plan so I have some idea of how much a cabinet costs. In this way, I might opt for, say, a refrigerator enclosure. He said that he can only give me a price for the entire layout. This may be a loaded question but is there any reason why cabinet dealers cannot give out a ballpark cost of an individual cabinet? That total plan price has to be coming from somewhere. I called Canyon Creek and asked them how much their “budget” line, Katana, would save over their pricier Cornerstone line and they told me that they cannot answer that question. Really? Why all of the secrecy over how much cabinets cost? Seems shady to me. Are cabinets like RVs—MSRP is inflated by 30% to allow for a lot of dicker room? Thanks.

  459. Kevin, January 19, 2019 at 10:18 pm:

    Hi Paul,

    We’re comparing Christiana to Signature Select for frameless cabinets which will be painted. Christiana says that it uses a 2 component polyurethane finish that is better than a catalyzed varnish. How would you compare these lines and do you think the polyurethane finish beats out catalyzed varnish?

    Thanks for this great site!

  460. paul mcalary, January 20, 2019 at 8:39 am:

    Hi Tao,
    Whoever does the renovation needs to move plumbing and gas lines, electric line, remove soffitts, move doorways, update electric to code, and prepare the kitchen possibly leving the ceiling and other things based on the kitchen design. If the contractor you select is not capable of installing the cabinets tehy are not good enough to prepare the kitchen. And I know you are going to tell me that nothing is moving or you know the design you are getting but that is wrong 90% of the time if you are working with a good kitchen designer. All the time you spend getting pricing and talking to contractors is wasted until you meet with a good kitchen designer and come up with the best design.
    Added construction costs moving things are inconsequential in price compared to the choices you make on cabinetry, appliances, and countertops. And while the design itself has a dramatic impact on the value of your home the materials you splurge on have almost none.
    As we say in our videeo (link Below) you just don’t know what you don’t know. So stop all the futzing and start researching to find the kitchen design professional you want to work with. That is the first step in renovating a kitchen.

  461. pmcalary, January 20, 2019 at 9:17 am:

    Hi Rick,
    As I just repeated to Tao, you too are doing things backwards. You should not hire a contractor until you have met with and finalized the design of your kitchen with the kitchen designer you choose to work with.
    The pricing you get from ANY contractor will NEVER be competative unless they bid on the kitchen plan you come up with. Always get three estimates even if you are friends with the contractor you plan on selecting. As a kitchen designer I always get at least three bids for my customers from the contractors I have known for years. And their bids are always thousands of dollars apart.
    No one can answer your cabinet pricing questions because the kitchen is not designered yet and your obsession with pricing cabinet boxes shows that you are actually a problem customer for any kitchen designer. Pricing is not a mystery but no one can guestimate anything without a design. Home Depot and Lowes use linear foot price signs on their displays to help customers, not price out their kitchens, but to help them understand if they are selecting an expensive or inexpensive style. No cabinets are priced by the linear foot and cabinet prices change dramaticly with door style, color, upgrades and customizations. Most kitchens would turn out at least 50% higher then their linear foot price.
    Some people treat buying cabinets is like buying a toaster, however in reality it is very complex and when customers egnore this they usually end up getting taken advantage of by unscrupulous cabinet dealers who just tell them what they want to hear.
    Shop around to find a cabinet dealer with competative pricing and a good reputation and an experienced designer that works there to help you design your kitchen. When your car needs a transmission do you shop transmission parts? No you look for a reputable mechanic. Were you to simply price parts you would end up working with an unscupulous garage that did shoddy work.
    The designer can explain what cabinet lines are a good fit for your budget and how much extra particular door styles, finishes, upgrades and the customizations your design may require cost. It is a lot ow work for the designer to design your kitchen and help you make desisions so don’t expect any good kitchen designer to give you the plans and a cabinet pricing parts list until you pay them a deposit. And if there is “dicker room” in they pricing you get you can be assured that you are getting ripped off.

  462. pmcalary, January 20, 2019 at 9:34 am:

    Hi Keven,
    You are worrying about the tiny difference there may or may not be in the durability between particular finishes. However you are selecting a less durable way to construct cabinetry in pretty expensive cabinet lines. This makes me suspect that you are missing the big picture in other ways as well.
    You might want to send us your design on a Friday between 2pm and 4pm EST to review for design mistakes. Call first and we can talk to you as we review your design. If you are getting a very contemporatry slab doorstyle then being in an expensive frameless line might make sense. However, if you are getting shaker off white cabinetry for a less complicated design you are spending way more money than needed on a less durable product that unlike better made less expensive framed cabinetry will not hold up indefinitely and is impossible to repair.

  463. Tina, January 20, 2019 at 5:19 pm:

    Love this site but have a question on Kraftmaid Vantage. I have been looking at homedepot but kraftmaid does not say Vantage in their booklets it does say Evercore though and when I search google to find the Kraftmaid Vantage distributers nothing comes up.where can I find this? Thank You

  464. Kelly, January 20, 2019 at 6:15 pm:

    What are your thoughts about Craftmaid (with a “C” not a K) cabinets made in Reading, PA? We live in a rural area and this is one of our options along with Mouser and Plain and Fancy. We will be looking at painted cabinets, possibly inset.

  465. pmcalary, January 21, 2019 at 10:55 am:

    All three lines will be well constructed if ordered that way and expensive. Craftmaid is a very small custom line. I do no how their pricing compares with the bigger lines, I would assume that they are less expensive. We used to work with a similar very small manufacturer in upstate PA called Village Kitchens.
    There can be good things and bad about very small custom manufacturers. You can get good pricing for custom lines but sometimes if you are asking for unusual design features or finishes the bugs have not been worked out. Always order a sample door in the finish you are considering. Also their lines will never have design software and so often the designer selling the line can’t tell you how much the design costs until he or she sends it in to the cabinet company. Waiting two weeks to find out you are 10K over budget after you gave a designer a big deposit can be frustrating.
    I have met the rep for Craftmaid at a couple of industry events and didn’t hit it off. This always makes me wonder. Since I am a dealer and a potential customer if you aren’t being nice to me before I come on board what will you be like after? She could have just been having a bad day of I rubbed her the wrong way. Ask your designer how Craftmaid is to work with and if they have any issues.
    As always when customers are selecting custom cabinetry the design itself should be equal to the higher cost of the cabinets. Pricing out amatuerish designs done by architects in the most expensive custom lines always made me crazy and never makes sense. The kitchen designer you are working with must be very experienced and knowledgable to design with custom cabinetry effectively. The most dramatic thing about your kitchen will always be the design itself, so pricing out anything less than an incredible design in custom cabinetry make little sense.

  466. pmcalary, January 21, 2019 at 11:16 am:

    Hi Tina,
    Kraftmaid Vantage is not sold at home centers only at private dealers. From my understanding the Vantage line incorporates some of the upgrades in regular kratmaid at a discounted price. So that were you selecting these upgrades (which are all probably a good idea) you would be saving money getting them. This helps the private dealers compete with Lowes and Home Depot. In general home centers used to be on average about 5% or at most 10% less than private dealers. Once you are giving the upgrades at a discount at the private dealers the playing field gets leveled. If you have a choice usually the better designers will work at the private dealers and not at home centers. Of course this is NOT ALWAYS the case. But the best design was and still remains far more important than a small discount on cabinetry. The expertise of a knowledgeable professional can save you thousands of dollars and prevent the calamities that almost always befall less thought out kitchen renovations.

  467. Rick, January 21, 2019 at 12:52 pm:

    Paul – Thanks for your response. I was able to find a great video on the basics of buying kitchen cabinets. Here are the four basic tenets they give: 1) Know what you are getting. Get an itemized cost sheet, 2) Check the contract for your rights, 3) Ask for a completion date, and, 4) Always work with a designer or contractor you trust. So, I guess we’re both right. I’m looking for an itemized cost sheet, and you suggest working with a reputable designer and contractor. In my case, this is new construction and the builder will be doing the cabinet install. I have every confidence the builder will do a good job on the install. So I guess I’m left finding a reputable designer who’s willing to provide an itemized cost sheet. As I mentioned before, the total cost is coming from somewhere. Someone has an itemized cost sheet. And, yes, I will remain a difficult customer looking for straight answers in an area of the building process that seems wishy washy to me. Still like your Best Cabinet Maker list. I’ll continue looking for those kinds of demystifying resources. I’m sure you’re the kind of person that would not accept an invoice from a hospital stay that just has one line on it: amount due.

  468. paul mcalary, January 21, 2019 at 1:29 pm:

    Hi Rick,
    The video sounds like HGTV over simplification. By asking for a detailed price list but not supplying an itemized design for designers to quote you will be asking for a lot of work from designers to create a design for you and then asking them to give you thier work product that you could then steal free of charge.
    Since door style, finish, and upgrades change cabinet pring so much you will probably wind up getting prices from the only people that will work on your terms. Usually less competant designers or unscrupulous ones that will use your demands and lack of cabinetry experience against you and so sell you lesser quality products that are difficult to decern why without industry product knowledge.

    This is why I recommended researching cabinet dealers to find a reasonably priced, ethical, and knowedgeable kitchen design professional to help you navagate a complex industry. Your concerns are common. However customers that refuse to trust often prove untrustworthy themselves and so ethical experienced designers will stear clear any customer that wants to set the rules thenselves.
    As my wife would say “Good luck with that”

  469. Paula Wilson, January 21, 2019 at 6:20 pm:

    Hi, Paul,
    I’ve enjoyed reading your blogs and Q/As. We have just purchased a condo in AZ, 20 years old with the original, very outdated kitchen. We will replace all cabinets, sink, countertops, and appliances. We are snowbirds from the Midwest, and are working with Lowe’s. We are considering Shenandoah, Diamond, and KraftMaid lines. Layout of the kitchen is nonnegotiable. It is a 9’ galley style and there are no moveable parts, so to speak. What is your opinion of the three options we are considering? The KraftMaid cabinets will cost about 50% more than the quote for Shenandoah. Is it worth it to pay the extra? Should we split the difference and go with Diamond? I would appreciate your input.

  470. pmcalary, January 21, 2019 at 6:47 pm:

    Hi Paula,
    All parts are movable so you lost me there. Even in high rises there is flexibility to where things go. You need better help than you are getting for example at Lowes apples to apples Kraftmaid is 30% more than Shendoah and Diamond should be very close to Kraftmaid in price. Feel free to send me your floor plan on a Friday and I can see what changes might make sense and you can move on from there if you like. Call first between 2pm and 4pm EST>

  471. Paula, January 23, 2019 at 4:48 pm:

    Thanks for your comments.
    1. I am confused by your statement that Shenandoah is 30% more than Kraftmaid and Diamond. You have Shenandoah at price level 3 and the others at a 4. I thought 6 was the highest, so assumed that 4 costs more than 3. Please clarify.
    2. Yes, of course everything can be moved. But moving things would require great expense for little or no gain. On one side I have wall, 30” frig, 24” cabinet, 30” range/OTR MWO, 21” cabinet, window. The usual corresponding uppers. There is a soffit above. Other side is wall, 12” cabinet, 36” sink base, 24” DW, 30” cabinet, wall. The sink is centered behind a 60” pass-through which is open to the ceiling, so only 42” of wall space for an upper on that side. That’s all the room I have to work with. It’s pretty basic.
    3. I don’t discount the value of a good kitchen design, I worked with a great designer for the kitchen and bath remodel of my primary residence. However, we had more space to work with.

    Thanks for your input. I’ll try to connect on Friday.

  472. pmcalary, January 24, 2019 at 8:19 am:

    Hi Paula,
    Sorry I put the pricing backwards. If priced correctly by the designer Kraftmaid should be no more than 30% over Shendoah pricing and Diamond within a few percentage points of Kraftmaid.
    Even sight unseen with the limited information on your room layout and cabinetry I know that your layout would improve on the refrigerator and range side by making the run this way:
    30″ Refrigerator / 15″Base / 30″range and Microwavehood / and 30″ drawer Base.
    Now all the wall cabinet doors are 15″ wide which looks 100% better.
    And you have a Pots and Pans cabinet right of your range and 30″ of countertop to work at for preparing food. The original layout was created by someone very inexperienced.

    The sink side can improve as well but you can call on a Friday if you want help with that side.

    As I said nearly all designs can improve, and it makes no sense spluging on cabinetry or countertops without first fixing an amatuerish design. I your case – just on the range side – moving probably a couple of outlets for a couple of hundred dollars is way more valuable than the spending the differnce between Kraftmaid and Shenendoah. And this one improvement is just the tip of the iceberg.
    Be careful the Lowes designer is not pricing the cabinets apples to apples which makes me worry that he or she will also make errors like usung the wrong hieght wall cabinets in addition to the wrong witdths that I just corrected on the one wall. The designer needs to add plywood sides to the cabinetry and make sure you are getting fillers and the correct moldings. If you have soffits these need to be removed and any plumbing hidden behind crown molding. Again that cost of removing soffits is much less and much more valuable than the difference in price between Kraftmaid and Shenendoah.

  473. Paula, January 24, 2019 at 3:59 pm:

    Hi, Paul,
    Thank you for clarifying the pricing.

    I see what you are saying about the frig/range side and I like your configuration. I am not crazy about the soffit on that side but there is an air duct that runs through the top of it with a vent toward the kitchen and another on the end toward a little breakfast noon. Can the vents be hidden behind crown molding? How does that affect the air flow?

    There is no soffit on the sink/DW side. I am planning to put crown molding at the top of the uppers.

    I am still planning to chat with you on Friday. Your input is very helpful and much appreciated!


  474. pmcalary, January 24, 2019 at 5:08 pm:

    Hi Paula,
    Ducts can usually be hidden behind stacked crown molding and the vent moved to the ceiling instead of the much uglier face of the soffit. This moves your home out of the 70’s (even though it was built in the 90’s) and into the present day. Talk to you Friday.

  475. Elizabeth Billings, January 24, 2019 at 10:26 pm:

    Hi, thank you for taking the time to educate us.
    I already followed your advice to look for a good designer.
    She carries several lines at different price points. She said that the American made cabinets in her store ( Wellborn Forest American capital series vs. the Chinese made JSI,CNC swas are better quality.
    I understand WF is not Wellborn ( which you rate).
    Would you be kind enough to give it a nnumber grade and a letter grade?

    This is what their website states:
    1/2″ hardwood veneer exterior sides, top and bottom is laminated natural maple wood grain interior
    1 9/16 overlay
    3/16 plywood center panel
    3/4″ x 1 3/4″ solid hardwood face frame
    Adjustable 3/4″ thick hardwood shelves
    Solid wood dovetail drawer with full-access and under mount soft-close glides.

    I hope to get painted cabinets.
    Thanks again.

  476. pmcalary, January 25, 2019 at 7:29 am:

    Hi Elizabeth,
    Your designer is right that the US lines she carries are of a better quality than the Asian lines. Her company is sort of missing the in between better made Asian lines. From my understanding Wellborn Forest is a well made, slightly less expensive, version of Wellborn. Wellborn Forrest is run by one of the Wellborn family members, Tim Wellborn, who used to be an executive in the parent company. Their Supreme Series would get an A and their Elite series would get an A+ for construction. We will rate them in our 2020 updated and more complete cabinet rankings.

  477. Julie, January 25, 2019 at 11:01 pm:

    Up here in Spokane, WA. We are actually going to flip our dining room and kitchen as it was impossible to change the layout of our old kitchen and to us was not worth paying $25k+ not to have a better layout really. We have a contractor and we have worked with Home Depot designer. She has helped us come up with a design we are happy with. Our contractor loves Thomasville, installs it all the time. Home Depot talked them up as well (full plywood and soft close.) They also sell Kraftmaid and I am looking into Starmark at our local Ziggy’s as well. The rail system of Starmark has me concerned. We do not have a huge budget but I do realize the cabinets are the most important part of the kitchen and we plan to live here forever so we’d like quality. But to take the time to check out every type of cabinet we can find that is sold in town between box stores and every cabinet maker would take forever and we’d never get a kitchen. Any advice between the above brands (we are looking for shaker style door, probably an Alder or Hickory with a medium brown stain.) Or, any Spokane WA cabinet makers you would recommend? I am happy to send our latest layout if that helps. We will be covering a window, raising a ceiling and flooring as well in the hopes of getting a kitchen much more functional than our current 1965 kitchen. Thanks!!

  478. pmcalary, January 26, 2019 at 7:50 am:

    Hi Julie,
    There are several things I dislike about Thomasville. First that their web site blatantly lies about the origin of the company making it seem that Thomasville Furniture, a respected furniture maker, made Thomasville kitchen cabinetry and then was bought by Masterbrands. In reality Home Depot simply bought the rights to sell kitchen cabinetry under the Thomasville name in order to mislead their customers into believing that they were buying a better made product. The true origin or Thomasville was simply Home Depot re-branding two inexpensive lines Mills Pride and American Woodmark. Today Thomasville is in fact re-branded Diamond or Schrock, better made Masterbrands cabinet lines, but Home Depot is still working their lie as they do with GE water heaters and some other re-branded products that they sell.
    Thomasville MUST be upgraded to all plywood construction otherwise the cabinetry would get a D under our rating system for construction. Upgraded to all plywood construction Thomasville gets a B+ for construction.
    Home Depot also sells Kraftmaid and Decora (another Masterbrands line) both of these lines upgraded to all plywood construction are better constructed and more transparent and honest. When people lie to you about one issue I don’t trust them on other issues and so I would not purchase Thomasville cabinetry.
    Your Home Depot designer sounds amazing. She is breaking company procedure to create a great kitchen for you which I respect. Home Depot and Lowes designers that move doors, walls, plumbing, and everything else needed to create the best layout hold a place in my heart as 20 plus years ago that was what I did. First working at Home Depot then at Lowes breaking company protocol and procedure to give my customers the best kitchen I could design. After a few years I moved on to high end private dealerships and eventually started my company, but those early days of designing beyond what the box store management intended bring back fond memories.
    A little history:
    Back then I worked with Doug Mottershead, the first Home Depot designer to sell over a million dollars in kitchens. Doug moved to join me at a high volume Lowes store. In those days Lowes designers could make up to 100K in commissions and bonuses. Doug immediately became the highest selling designer at the entire Lowes chain selling 1.6 million dollars followed closely by myself and another designer that now works for me.
    Feel free to call on a Friday between 2 and 4pm EST and to then forward your design to us via email. I can give you any tweaks I see to your design that you might want to consider.

  479. Margaret, January 26, 2019 at 2:27 pm:

    Hi Paul,
    I wanted to mention that when taking on a kitchen renovation you are absolutely right, getting a great designer is the first step! Something I didn’t think about – are my walls/floors and ceilings plumb? Will my cabinet doors when opened hit the cabinet or appliance that was placed next to it? Will your refrigerator door hit anything when opened, even a handle on the cabinet door next to it? I didn’t think about the exhaust over the stove – we decided on a microwave, but the burners on the front of the stove are located further out than the microwave so that when cooking on the front burners the exhaust system struggles to remove the steam. If I had to do over again, I think I would have put my microwave on my counter (not enough space to put below the counter) and had a traditional exhaust hood installed. I just wanted to share my reno afterthoughts!

  480. pmcalary, January 26, 2019 at 3:22 pm:

    Thanks Margret,
    So often people will spend a 100 hours of their time researching cabinets and playing around with the design themselves. If they spent just a few hours researching to find a great designer near them that works for a reputable dealer they would have accomplished more and have been better off.
    Walking into a home center without an appointment and without finding out who is the most experienced designer at that store is also a mistake. The price for cabinets is the same at every showroom no matter which designer you are working with. Why walk into a home center that has the least experienced designers and start working with whichever person happens to be free. Their best designer you might have to wait a week to get an appointment with.
    The kitchen designer is the gatekeeper to all the information you can not possibly learn on your own, and the coordinator of your very expensive kitchen renovation. Why value the most important person in the project less than all the other elements. People that do get the kitchen you would expect.

  481. Julie, January 26, 2019 at 5:38 pm:

    Thank you so much. I plan to look into Kraftmaid at Home Depot and still the Starmark at Ziggy’s. The quote for Thomasville was all plywood. How would I send you our layout? Happy to do so. I have read and re-read this site so many times, it’s so helpful and sometimes I do get a little overwhelmed but there is so much info to learn about cabinets. All I want is a cabinet that will hold up, a warranty that is also held up in case of issues, but by no means am looking for a high end state of the art kitchen. Functionality is our main concern, our old kitchen is terrible and we’ve lived with it with a family of 6 for 18 years. I do appreciate your honesty about HD, and between the designer and our contractor who has told us which walls, ceilings, windows, etc can be moved or covered has been very helpful. Our layout is not set exactly re: lighting, counters, cabinets vs drawers, we just have the general idea at this point and it seems functional. We have a very odd house to work with to say the least! Thanks so much for your very prompt reply.

  482. pmcalary, January 27, 2019 at 6:31 am:

    Hi Julie,
    If you call us on a Friday between 2 and 4pm EST one of the designers can give you their email and have you forward the plans to them to review.

  483. M Seker, January 27, 2019 at 12:35 pm:

    Hi Paul,
    How do I find good Kitchen Designers in my area?

  484. pmcalary, January 27, 2019 at 2:45 pm:

    You don’t say where you are. We have a list of recommended dealers across the US. Link below:

    We discuss the method we used to find dealers to recommend in the article above. Here is that description:

    First our designers looked over the projects of potential dealers to make sure that their projects didn’t have major mistakes in them. This is actually harder than one might think. For example it took Paul and Stacia 45 minutes to find just one dealer in Los Angeles without blatant design errors on their Houzz page. This part will be more difficult for a non kitchen designers. However the simplest errors to look for are listed on the blog below:

    Once we found that a company met our minimum design standards and received good on line reviews on Houzz, Yelp, Google, and Angie’s List we then examined their websites. The cabinet lines the companies carried needed to be quality lines and good values and their web site needed to meet our standards for transparency and professionalism. For example, listing the cabinet lines that they carried and explaining their design process, etc.

    You can use our cabinet rankings to see what lines dealers carry and how we rate them. Remember finding a good dealer and a good designer is far more important than that the cabinets that they carry get all A’s. Quality construction in several cabinet lines across several pricepoints is what we look for. Here is the link to the most recent cabinet line rankings:

  485. Kristy, January 27, 2019 at 8:04 pm:

    Could you review Busby Cabinets made in Florida? They get good reviews on both Houzz and Google.

  486. pmcalary, January 28, 2019 at 6:56 am:

    Hi Kristy,
    Busby Cabinets looks like a small custom cabinet manufacturer that makes framed, or frameless cabinetry. They don’t show how their cabinets are made but I’m sure they would make them any way you wanted for a price. Beyond that and as far as how they price out I can’t say since they don’t give that information on their web site and we don’t know the line.

  487. Andrew, January 28, 2019 at 10:45 am:

    Could you please review Castle Cabinets made in Phoenix Arizona I can get custom kitchen cabinets from them for the same price as SOLID, 6 Square, Cabico (made in Canada) or KraftMaid (HD). And which of those would you recommend if the price quote was about the same? Thanks!

  488. Jim Mashburn, January 28, 2019 at 4:14 pm:


    We are deciding between 2 suppliers. The first supplier carries Mouser, Schlabach, Fabuwood and Wellborn. The 2nd supplier carries Dynasty, HomeCrest, HomeCraft, KitchenCraft, Omega and Schrock. The problem is all those companies carry multiple lines of cabinets of varying quality which makes it hard to compare. Which of these lines would you recommend for a higher end kitchen remodel?

  489. Andrew, January 28, 2019 at 6:49 pm:

    Hi Paul,
    You are saying: “Walking into a home center without an appointment and without finding out who is the most experienced designer at that store is also a mistake” But how to know who is the most experienced designer at a Home Depot store?

  490. JimS, January 28, 2019 at 8:39 pm:

    Hi Paul,

    We are trying to decide between Wellborn and Dura-Supreme (Painted cabinets). My wife like the frame less look, but I’m not sure whose cabinets would last the longest. We are looking at a lot of cabinets for our large kitchen and want to make sure that we get it right the first time.

  491. pmcalary, January 29, 2019 at 7:17 am:

    I would recommend getting Wellborn. Frameless cabinetry is less durable and Durasupreme frameless is a particularly poor choice.

  492. pmcalary, January 29, 2019 at 7:25 am:

    Call first and ask for the Kitchen Department. Then ask a designer who answers the phone who is the designer there that has the most experience. Then ask to make an appointment with that designer. If you have several Home Depots and Lowes stores in your area I’d ask at each location for the name of the best designer in their region. The Home Depot kitchen designers should know most of the other Home Depot designers near their store and who has the best reputation. Same for Lowes. Then make an appointment with the designer others agree is the best.

  493. pmcalary, January 29, 2019 at 7:41 am:

    These three don’t look so good. This place has several Arizona locations and post designs without mistakes. However they don’t list the cabinet lines they carry. But do carry cabinets across most price points.

  494. pmcalary, January 29, 2019 at 7:45 am:

    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.

  495. pmcalary, January 29, 2019 at 7:53 am:

    Hi Andrew,
    I have never heard of Castle Cabinets and their web site gives zero information. Some cabinets called custom are really more like homemade cabinets. The other cabinet lines you list are all over the map in pricing so that tells me you are not comparing apples to apples and need design help first.

  496. Andrew, January 29, 2019 at 10:08 am:

    Most designers want an initial consultation fee ($250-$500) and what if the quote does’t meet my budget? I actually had an designer who came for free and the proposal was sky high. About $20k more than dealers quote me for the same cabinet line and for the remodel job e.g removing drywalls, soffits, electrical, HVAC register relocation, range hood ventilation, tile job etc.
    Also, noticed that houzz and yelp reviews are not really reliable to select the right designers, dealers or contractors.

  497. pmcalary, January 29, 2019 at 10:20 am:

    Research the dealers. Make sure they get good reviews on Google and that they carry lines in your budget. Home Centers might be your best bet as they usually have no deposits. But spending money on a deposit that will be credited towards cabinetry at a competitively priced dealer would be worth it. Cheeping out on design help is always very expensive.

  498. Andrew, January 29, 2019 at 11:47 am:

    is it a good idea to use Home Depot’ contractors for the remodeling/construction part or should I look for independent general contractors by myself?

  499. pmcalary, January 29, 2019 at 5:45 pm:

    I would say that using home center contractors is a waste of money. Home Depot charges 25% on top of what the general contractors charge them so you are paying a big premium for a middle man. Lowes charges even a higher percentage.
    Angie’s list is a great place to find contractors or also Always make sure the contractors get good reviews on Google, Yelp, and on the social media platform you found them on.
    If you see one bad review and many good ones you can discount the single bad review. Some people are crazy and the craziest always write reviews while nice people can get distracted when very happy and not get around to writing the good review they meant to.

  500. changemaven, January 29, 2019 at 10:01 pm:

    Would you recommend a company called Custom Wood Products? Or Eclipse, or Bellmont? I didn’t see any comments on those in your blog. We have not gotten quotes yet and wonder how would those you rate 4 or 5 on pricing, compare with local-made custom cabinets? We are trying to support local business vs import from across the country. Once our plan is complete we will get bids from various companies. thank you for your helpful blog.

  501. Diane, January 29, 2019 at 10:35 pm:

    Hi Paul,
    You reviewed my kitchen design a couple of weeks ago and gave me some great insight as to what was wrong with the design. You suggested that I seek out a dealer that you recommended near me which I did. Here is the link to the company I contacted: Kitchen & Bath Gallery Locations in MA, CT, & RI: 508-457-9720. I called the 508 number and the person I spoke to said that I was calling the Falmouth location and suggested that I contact a designer closest to me which happened to be The Kohler Signature Store by Supply New England – Natick, MA, so I did. My husband and I made an appointment and met with a designer who seemed to be very knowledgeable and a great listener so we setup and appointment for him to come out to our home to take measurements and talk about the layout, etc. At the end of the conversation he told us that there was a $750 deposit required to come out to our house and that the cost would be put toward the cabinets. We then moved on to discussing cabinets and budget. What concerns me is, that particular store only sell Mouser and Fieldstone cabinets. He asked what our budget was and my husband said $40,000 meaning for the total remodel however the designer thought we meant $40,000 just for cabinets and he said that sounds about right and when we corrected him and said that our entire budget was $40,000 and that our budget for cabinets was approx $20,000-25,000 he said he thought that we could work with that. What concerns me is that Mouser and Fieldstone are rated a 5 and 4 as far as price on your review which is on the expensive side and I’m afraid that we will not be able to come up with a plan that is in our price range and we will loose the $750 deposit. Can you please give me your thoughts?

  502. pmcalary, January 30, 2019 at 7:57 am:

    Hi Changemaven,
    Belmont and Eclipse we do not rate as we haven’t found specifications on their construction. They are both frameless lines I believe so we wouldn’t even consider recommending them for any door styles other than very modern door styles.
    Custom Wood Products also gives no specifications but they are a full custom cabinet line and so they will probably make your cabinets any way you ask. I would think that these will be WAY more expensive than the two other lines. They do look very nice.
    While Custom Wood Products does appear to be a true custom cabinet maker I will take this opportunity to remind people that very small cabinet makers are not CUSTOM cabinets they are HOMEMADE cabinets. Read our blog on this topic below:

  503. pmcalary, January 30, 2019 at 8:35 am:

    Hi Diane,
    The Kitchen and Bath Gallery Website says that they also carry Kraftmaid which could be a little less expensive than Fieldstone.
    It is true that they do not appear to carry any of the less expensive but well made US lines that are produced in China but are built in the US. These lines like Fabuwood for example could be 40% less expensive for a white shaker door style without losing much if anything in cabinet durability. However Kraftmaid and Fieldstone offer much nicer stains and wood species.
    If you didn’t want a painted cabinet you might need to be in a more expensive line to get the look you want.
    Say your kitchen cabinetry cost 15K in Fabuwood then it might be 21K in Kraftmaid Vantage. While the 6K difference might put you over budget working with a better designer and getting a more versatile cabinet line could be worth it. Particularly if you wanted a stained finish.
    Many dealers and designers won’t measure and do designs without a deposit. But experienced kitchen designers should be able to look at any design you give them and tell you around where a particular cabinet line and door style will price out for that design. Maybe you could show them what you have, so far, to get a better estimate to where the cabinet costs will be before deciding whether to proceed with them and pay the $750.

  504. Diane, January 30, 2019 at 12:45 pm:

    Hi Paul,

    I thought that they sold Kraftmaid too according to the website but I’ve called all of the locations in my area, Boston, Burlington and Natick, MA and none of them sell Kraftmaid anymore. I did want to go with white inset cabinets and I have a recent quote from a Ted Wood dealer for white inset cabinets for $22,800 which I’m sure in the end will be closer to $25,000. I think your suggestion about sending the designer a copy of my design is a fantastic idea! I will do that shortly. Thanks you so so much for getting back to me so quickly. As many of other people have stated on this feed, you provide an amazing service for people who really know nothing about design and cabinetry…I so wish you serviced this area!

    Thanks again!

  505. pmcalary, January 30, 2019 at 1:48 pm:

    Hi Diane,
    Once you are pricing inset cabinetry which Kraftmaid doesn’t do Fieldstone will be very competitive. No inexpensive cabinet line is capable of doing inset cabinetry well. You can not have your cake and eat it too.

  506. Elizabeth Billings, January 31, 2019 at 10:06 am:

    Hi Paul:
    If I am ordering white painted cabinets will I be able to tell the difference looks wise between birch and hard maple?
    Second, I’m concerned about durability.
    Does the paint look worse
    On the birch vs maple over time? Obviously, there’s a cost difference.
    Thank you.

  507. pmcalary, January 31, 2019 at 11:45 am:

    Asian birch is fine for painting. American birch will show grain through the paint. Some people like that look though. There should be no or at least very very little difference in durability between birch and Maple. In fact many custom cabinet companies recommend using soft maple for painted finishes. Soft Maple has just about the same properties as Asian birch.

  508. JimS, February 1, 2019 at 9:38 am:

    Wellborn Premiere vs DuraSupreme Crestwood?

    All framed versions.

  509. Paul McAlary, February 1, 2019 at 11:26 am:

    Both are well made but I like Wellborn as a company better.

  510. Jim Mashburn, February 1, 2019 at 6:47 pm:

    Hi Paul,

    We have narrowed cabinet choices to Mouser Centra or Omega Dynasty as mid range semi custom cabinet. Would you recommend one over the other?

  511. Kelley Hart, February 2, 2019 at 8:21 am:

    Hi! Do you know anything about green forest? One of the local companies around here carries that, Jim Bishop, and Schrock.

    Based on reading the comments on your page, it appears that either fabuwood or Wellborn forest would be my best options, based on both affordability and quality. Anything i am missing, besides making sure to find best kitchen designer?

    I was disappointed with the top kitchen designer in Fernandina Beach, Florida. I met and the guy never showed up. One of his kitchen designers didn’t expect me, so she made the call to him.. he told her to meet with me. We did and she did some basics sketches based on what i wanted. I followed up with them 9 days late to see what was up. I received fb message back to say it was acknowledged and office will be back open January 3. Didn’t hear anything, and reached out again last week with my concerns and lack of any communication. Lots of excuses given, 1 of them being “my design” was custom. How was i supposed to know? This is just one of many areas where communication was lacking and no follow up. I don’t want to assume, but i think they are making sure to follow up with the most high end clients. There are plenty of them in our area. I am so frustrated, and trying to find just the right company with a great design team that carries affordable and well made cabinets is a daunting task.

  512. Kelley, February 2, 2019 at 8:25 am:

    Also, i didn’t go to them to design my kitchen. I went to them to give my ideas, and told them to do what they thought was best. I Know i am not competent with kitchen design, nor do i know what is best for resale value. Thus one of my frustrations with not meeting with head of kitchen designs, and him not even acknowledging missing the meeting!

  513. Paul, February 2, 2019 at 9:58 am:

    Hi Jim,
    Upgraded to plywood construction and in the framed lines they are both high end well made lines. Pick the finish and designer you like best.

  514. Paul, February 2, 2019 at 10:10 am:

    Hi Kelly,
    Often expensive showrooms don’t mean that the kitchen designers are good or even competent. Expensive just means who they are marketing to. And the best designers will usually work at dealers that carry inexpensive as well as expensive custom lines. This is so that they can design for the customers need and budget. Good designers usually don’t sketch they use either 20-20 or prokitchens design software. That way they can design and price at the same time and show customers 3D renderings of the kitchens they are considering. Missing appointments and other unprofessional behavior also means that designers can’t be organized enough to be the detail oriented personthat being a good kitchen designer requires. Steer clear of this place.

  515. Chris, February 2, 2019 at 7:35 pm:

    Hi, Thank you for all your analysis!
    We live far from any of your recommended designers, could you check out this company, and rate them based on the content available? I just met with them and worked through a kitchen design- full overlay shaker with maple, dark stained lowers, white painted uppers. However, I am having trouble verifying quality of their cabinet lines offered, none of which are listed in your rating review. KOCH, and DAKOTA -framed, WYNNBROOKE, and DECOR, which are frameless. Do you have any insight on these brands? “Decor” is a Canadian cabinetmaker (Not the “Decora” brand) and seems to be widely sold in the midwest.
    I have read through your blogs extensively, and am a little worried since our designer been recommending the frameless construction (on our full overlay shaker doors).
    I am not seeing any design specs on the Decor website.

  516. Samantha, February 3, 2019 at 2:29 pm:

    Hi there, just wondering if you had any thoughts on GHI cabinets? They are the ETA cabinets a local company sells. Thanks!

  517. pmcalary, February 3, 2019 at 2:54 pm:

    Hi Samantha,
    Buying RTA “ready to assemble” cabinets means that you have no professional kitchen designer helping you design and manage the most expensive home improvement you are likely to do. Not getting help when you are not knowledgeable about a complex undertaking translates in kitchens into bad design and spending your budget ineffectively. Saving 10 or 20% on cabinets you put together is never a good idea.
    Strangely though, you will often be happy with the bad result. This is due to the IKEA Effect. A physiological delusion documented by physiologists. The phenomenon is described in our blog below. If you read the actual study it is even more amazing what we can delude ourselves into believing when it comes to our own creations.

  518. pmcalary, February 3, 2019 at 3:15 pm:

    Hi Chris,
    Recommending frameless cabinetry over framed cabinets for a shaker door style shows a lack of understanding about cabinet construction. The Koch Imperial line looks OK. We would give the line a B+ for construction however all exposed ends need to be skinned with real wood as the sides of the cabinets are thin plastic veneers over the plywood sides. if the Dakota is Hansom Dakota that is one of their lesser lines.
    The dealership looks inexperienced too, but not incompetent. They only have two reviews and while I don’t like the designs of many of the kitchens they display on their web site and on their page their designs don’t show any mistakes. Surprisingly that is actually an accomplishment. Most kitchen cabinet dealers are so clueless that they display mistakes that are dangerous or against building code on their own web sites.
    So a tough call here. The designer and the company don’t impress, but you could do a lot worse.

  519. Dan, February 4, 2019 at 6:48 am:

    Is Wellborn Forest a comparable option to Kraftmaid or Welborn? I figure since it has a lifetime warranty it must be viewed as a higher quality cabinet.

    Thanks in advance for your opinion.

  520. pmcalary, February 4, 2019 at 7:51 am:

    Hi Dan,
    All three cabinet lines are constructed well if upgraded. However do not read anything into lifetime warranties for a number of reasons.

    First, they are LIMITED lifetime warranties that do not cover wear and tear and are not transferable when you sell your home. They also only cover replacing parts with the closest available alternative. They are NOT guarantees.
    Second, marketing studies have shown time and time again that independent of quality and durability the longer the warranty the LESS the number of replacements requested. Once you put a short timeline on a warranty consumers will scrutinize their purchase to a higher degree and requests replacements before their time runs out.
    Third, some of the cheapest and worst made cabinet lines have lifetime warranties and some of the more expensive and better made lines have 5 year ones. The cheap lines use the warranty to build undeserved confidence in their product while the better made lines know that any reasonable defects in their product will appear in the first few years and just don’t want to deal with the unreasonable ones after that period.
    Kudos to IKEA for a brilliant marketing spin on the lifetime warranty. IKEA is a terribly constructed cabinet. Even delusional IKEA enthusiasts must suspect upon close inspection that IKEA cabinetry can’t be that durable. However giving IKEA cabinets a 20 year warranty suggests that this is how long that they should last. Plenty long for most of their customers needs and so most comforting of all! A lifetime warranty might seem too good to be true and send up red flags.

  521. dan, February 4, 2019 at 5:34 pm:

    Thanks for your help

  522. Lnwatt, February 4, 2019 at 6:23 pm:

    Hello. Trying to decide between two cabinet designers for our new home construction. The one offers Starmark and Norcraft and the other offers Timberlake. Are you able to give me some pros/cons of these brands to help lead me in the right direction? Thank you in advance!

  523. pmcalary, February 5, 2019 at 9:20 am:

    Starmark is a more expensive higher end cabinet than Timberlake. Starmark has nicer looking finishes and a greater ability to customize. Upgraded they both are well made. Norcraft is a lesser cabinet line that can be upgraded to APC (All Plywood Construction) and then would be very similar in construction to Timberlake.
    The designer you work with is so important though that if you aren’t noticing any difference between the knowledge and abilities between two different designers I would think that would mean that neither is exceptional.
    Finding a great designer can transform the value of your home because a better design and layout that might involve more construction work will cost less than the price difference between Starmark and Timberlake. A better looking and functioning design that might remove soffits, or move doorways, remove walls, relocate plumbing and electric, can be the difference between you getting back only some of your renovation investment when you sell your home or often doubling it.
    We have had homes that sold for greater than 5 times the kitchen renovation investment or worst of all sold for more, but to the first buyer that walked in the door. That happens quite frequently when both the homeowner and the real estate agent underestimate the value of good design. Just because other poorly designed homes in your neighborhood sold for no more than X doesn’t mean that a better redesigned home in the same neighborhood won’t sell for a lot more than X.
    This is the false logic that we hear from home owners and realtors frequently. That a home can only sell for a certain price and better design would have no value. Thinking this way gets you what you deserve IMO.

  524. Daisy, February 5, 2019 at 3:07 pm:

    We are building a house and the builder’s cabinet vendor is no longer an option (long story) so he said we found cabinets we like, he would have them installed. We are a somewhat rural area and so we went to the Lowes and looked at their offerings. We like the Schuler cabinet options because we want something rustic and we like the Appaloosa in Bucksin. My question is, if we’re doing such a look does the choice of wood matter? Which is more budget friendly? I can’t see a lot of difference in the maple vs cherry in the catalog. Our kitchen design is very simple with all the cabinets along one wall with a window for about 18 total feet. We may be able to also do custom for the baths if the kitchen doesn’t eat the whole budget. Just wanted some guidance before speaking with the Lowes person since this will be a first time buying cabinets for us. With such a simple design, I didn’t feel we needed a “designer” it’s pretty cut and dry.

  525. pmcalary, February 5, 2019 at 3:41 pm:

    Hi Daisey,
    Your “simple design” sounds very poorly designed so you probably need a designer more than you realize. Even the Lowes designer should have something negative to say about 18 feet of cabinetry all along one wall. Cherry and Maple look nothing alike so you need guidance there. Schuler is a pretty expensive cabinet line and a rustic look cost even more. I would recommend fixing your design before you splurge on expensive cabinetry selections.

  526. Eileen, February 6, 2019 at 8:26 pm:

    Thank you so much for sharing all your knowledge. I am looking for white shaker cabinetry. Quotes for Starmark (my choice) and Fabuwood (husband choice) and 21st century (a contractor suggestion). Starmark approx double that of Fabuwood and 21 st Century based on quotes. Is Starmark quality worth the higher price? Is the tinted varnish finish truly more durable than the others painted finish? Would greatly appreciate any input…

  527. Lisa, February 6, 2019 at 10:20 pm:

    My husband and I are trying to decide between Bertch Premium and Medallion Gold cabinets for our bathroom. We are looking at these two brands because they both offer an appliance garage with lift up door. Per the sales person, the Medallion would be upgraded to have 3/4” plywood sides but not the platinum cabinet and not solid wood door fronts. While the Bertch has 3/4″ sides that are veneer core plywood and has solid wood door fronts. The hardware appears to be the same on both. The price difference is $250 with Medallion being more expensive. In your opinion which cabinets have a better overall construction and which cabinet line would you suggest we purchase? Thank you very much.

  528. pmcalary, February 7, 2019 at 5:56 am:

    Hi Eileen,
    We have not noticed an appreciable difference in the durability of the painted finishes between Fabuwood and the highest end lines. On stains there is a huge difference in the beauty of the finishes between less expensive lines and the expensive lines. For this reason I think that on a painted shaker finish in a full overlay door style it is a waste of money getting the more expensive lines if the design can be done in the less expensive lines. Even if you were to get a few extra scratches a refinisher could touch up the whole kitchen in 10 years and make it look new for $500.

  529. Eileen, February 7, 2019 at 11:58 am:

    Thank you so much! I really appreciate your response!!!! Any difference in quality and construction of cabinets between Fabuwood and 21 st Century?

  530. paul mcalary, February 7, 2019 at 12:32 pm:

    I know Fabuwood better. It is a little more expensive but I think the cabinet finishes and door style look like it and are worth it. Construction wise not much different.

  531. Eileen, February 7, 2019 at 4:04 pm:

    Thank you again !!!

  532. Eileen, February 7, 2019 at 8:35 pm:

    Very helpful!! Thank you!

  533. Bill Carew, February 9, 2019 at 6:47 pm:

    We are being told that Ultracraft is the highest quality product that our builder’s cabinet vendor offers. Other brands are Kith and Integrity (Alabama). None of these are looking good to us. The Ultracraft quote for Kitchen, 4 baths, laundry and a gameroom bar is coming in at $40,000+ and I am seeing that they are supposedly not that expensive and poor quality. Can you recommend a good quality cabinet that is also a good value?

  534. Turnell, February 9, 2019 at 7:47 pm:

    Paul i currently have RUTT cabinetry in my new home. My wife and i are looking to redo it. However my contractor has listed Fabuwood (different levels) in his estimate. We have an option to do a custom island that will Accentuate the home and keep the cabinets. Would you recommend keeping the RUTT cabinets and changing island, countertops and backsplash to upgrade the kitchen versus getting subpar cabinets? Thanks for thoughts.

  535. pmcalary, February 10, 2019 at 8:18 am:

    Fabuwood is the best value for less expensive cabinet lines hands down. There are other choices that will be less expensive and still well constructed JSI for example. And many lines that would be a little more and also good quality. Homecrest for example.
    That is what our ratings system does so you can use it as a reference. I would be surprised if even a line like Homecreast could reach 40K in cabinetry costs for a large home except maybe in California or around Boston where cabinet pricing is particularly high. I guess if you have 10 foot high kitchen ceilings and are having cabinetry go to the ceiling with glass doors and are doing the same in the bar area, and have large bathrooms with towers these lines could reach 40K. But if you have a million dollar plus home you should be working with a really good designer creating a spectacular kitchen. Nearly any competent kitchen designer will work at a showroom and cabinet dealer that would carry at least some expensive semi custom or custom cabinet lines. Your builders cabinet vendor sounds expensive and since they don’t carry any high end lines suspect.

  536. pmcalary, February 10, 2019 at 8:30 am:

    I wouldn’t call Fabuwood “sub par” but it is certainly not the same quality or beauty as Rutt cabinetry. That being said if a Rutt kitchen was poorly designed then I would rather have a new well designed Fabuwood kitchen then a poorly designed Rutt one. Since you are talking to contractor it sounds like you doing a kitchen renovation backwards. First get advice from a experienced talented kitchen designer on whether your kitchen needs to be redesigned. You could take photos and call us 2-4 pm EST on a Friday and we could look at what you have. You say you just bought your home so photos are probably up on Zillo or other real estate sites that we could see.

  537. Mike Snead, February 10, 2019 at 9:16 am:

    Trying to decide between cabinetry suppliers. One quoted Fabuwood and the other JSI cabinets for our remodeled kitchen. The JSI quote is almost a third less than the Fabuwood quote and I noticed the Fabuwood product being quoted had some type of assembly like metal inserts on the back of example door. Your advice or thoughts are very much appreciated.

  538. pmcalary, February 10, 2019 at 10:22 am:

    First I would always buy cabinetry assembled. JSI is usually about 20% less than Fabuwood for their upgraded construction which you need to get to get a quality cabinet. It is a good choice for those on a very strict budget. Assembled JSI is about the same price as IKEA. And while IKEA is simply junk – JSI is durable. I would not be splurging on professional appliances and Quartz countertops and selecting JSI over Fabuwood to save money though. Your money would be better spent in that case on getting Fabuwood and lower level granite tops and less expensive appliances.
    As always design trumps cabinet construction so make sure you are working with a very experienced kitchen designer. If you designed the kitchen yourself or are replacing cabinetry as it is now then that would almost certainly be the biggest mistake of all. Most homeowners believe that they don’t need a kitchen designer and that they know the design they want. They send us these designs weekly and our designers are simply flabbergasted at how mistake filled and terrible the designs are. Very rarely (less than 5% of the time) we receive designs that while usually still able to be improved, make sense and don’t have any mistakes.

  539. Greg, February 10, 2019 at 5:54 pm:

    Is Alder a good choice of wood for bathroom cabinets?

  540. pmcalary, February 10, 2019 at 9:46 pm:

    Hi Greg,
    Alder is a softer hardwood but that shouldn’t matter in a bath. I like the character of alder. It has nice grain and is slightly more rustic looking. It is sort of a Masculine look for a master bath. Wives tend to reign in master baths and often styles end up appealing to women more then men. But if you and your partner both like the wood go for it. My wife and I chose cherry which is similar to alder for our bath. We also chose cypress for our master bedroom floor which is far more rustic than Alder.

  541. Laurel C., February 11, 2019 at 10:57 am:

    I’m feeling very lost with picking out cabinets for our new kitchen. We used KraftMaid on a previous kitchen remodel, but those were the particle board level purchased from a big box store. This time, we are doing our “forever” house and I really want plywood boxes. It’s a much bigger kitchen remodel, and Kraftmaid doesn’t really offer the style and color options we want. I’m currently looking at Diamond’s midlevel line upgraded to plywood construction and 6 Square. Both offer style and color choices we’re happy with, but I understand that 6 Square is a Chinese import fabricated int he U.S. The Diamond is about $2800, but still within our budget. I’m wondering if the difference in quality is worth it, particularly in terms of the finishes since we’re doing paint. We also looked at Fabuwood and Starmark, but neither offer the style and color choices we’re looking for (despite Starmark’s huge variety of colors, they don’t offer a medium grey – only light grey and very dark grey). Any other recommendations for cabinet lines we should look into? We are in Westchester County, NY where cabinets are very pricey. We already have our cabinet layout and kitchen design done. Now we’re just shopping for the best quality and combination of styles and colors for the price. Thank you!

  542. pmcalary, February 11, 2019 at 11:19 am:

    Hi Laurel,
    Diamond will have nicer door style and finishes than 6Square but they are not more durable. They are constructed identically to 6Square with the same box, same hardware etc. Fabuwood will be 30% less than the 6Square because the color you are selecting in 6Square is a premium finish. Fabuwood will also be just as durable as the two other lines. They just has fewer color choices and possibly not the door style you are looking for.

  543. Laurel C., February 11, 2019 at 11:37 am:

    Thank you, pmcalary! With Diamond having “nicer” door styles and finishes, do you think the paint finish on the Diamond is likely to be more durable to stains, water, scratches, etc than the 6 Square? We have found colors and styles in both brands that we would be happy with, and if the cabinet construction is the same, I guess the difference comes down to the finish durability. I did notice the Diamond finish seems shinier than 6 Square and a little nicer looking, but not sure if that alone is worth the difference in cost, unless there’s also a difference in finish durability.

  544. Paul McAlary, February 11, 2019 at 4:38 pm:

    I don’t think there is a durability difference. 6Square uses a low sheen (shininess) on their finish but that is just the look that they chose.

  545. Andrew, February 11, 2019 at 5:22 pm:

    Hi Paul,
    I am getting a better price quote on kraftmaid from HD than on 6 square and SOLID Cabinetry and looking at your chart above, kraftmaid has a price rating of 4 vs 1 on the other two lines above. Do you think the dealers are trying to overcharge me on those two lines?

  546. Matt, February 11, 2019 at 9:49 pm:

    Does anyone have any experience with Great Northern Cabinetry? My guy tells me I have a choice between that and CandC and that Great Northern might be 40% more expensive.

  547. pmcalary, February 12, 2019 at 7:46 am:

    Great Northern doesn’t give specs on their cabinets but from the description of the Classic line that line looks well constructed. Even the Deluxe line looks good.

  548. pmcalary, February 12, 2019 at 8:28 am:

    Hi Andrew,
    Yes you are being overcharged for those lines if all things are equal. They seldom are though when pricing cabinetry at different locations.
    Home center designers are notorious for forgetting to upgrade cabinetry to all plywood construction and to upgrade hinges and tracks. They also might not be adding end panels, moldings, and even sales tax and delivery. Or the price they gave you could be for a less expensive door style or a less expensive design without roll outs, trash pull outs and lazy susans. Or it could be a new designer that simply gave you the wrong price. Cabinetry is so much more complicated than people realize.
    Simply the color you are choosing in a line like 6Square could be costing you 25% more. This is why it is so important to work with knowledgeable designers that explain what you are paying for. Good kitchen designers help give you a great design but they also should help navigate the complex pricing structures that can make cabinetry expensive.
    Often unscrupulous designers can beat any price by simply down grading cabinetry construction, door style, colors, and eliminating upgrades. This is why customers that obsess over price and shop till they drop will eventually run into one of these type designers and they will end up getting ripped off while they are sure that they got a great deal.
    Shop for the dealer and designer that gets great reviews and that other customers trust for good value and good design. Sometimes that will require paying a small deposit so that designers can be sure you will not waste their time while you shop for a complex kitchen like you would a toaster.
    There are some good kitchen designers at Lowes or The Home Depot but you must research to find them too because they are the exception to the rule. And even at the most expensive cabinet showrooms designers can be incompetent or even worse unscrupulous. I have seen quotes for 150K in cabinetry from fancy showrooms where the cabinetry they quoted was simply junk no better than IKEA.

  549. Jeff, February 12, 2019 at 3:28 pm:

    Thank you for all your great advise, wish I was closer to Philly. We are in the process of selecting cabinets and have been given numerous brand names and levels. We are on a budget with a major home renovation but also plan to stay for the next 15-20 years and do not want to have throw away cabinets. I have heard very mixed things on the longevity and quality of Fabuwood, 21st Century,Forevermark as far as construction and wood quality after 5 years. What is your long term experience with Fabuwood. Also how high a level do you need to go to get the interior finished and sanded at the dove joints on drawers?

  550. pmcalary, February 12, 2019 at 4:15 pm:

    Hi Jeff,
    Please don’t listen to consumer reviews on cabinets. Good cabinet lines like Kraftmaid, Fabuwood and others get maligned by people who have no idea what they are talking about. They usually blame the cabinet manufactures for the dealer, designer, or installers mistakes or for simply not listening what they were told. Fabuwood is as durable as the more expensive lines but any inexpensive or medium priced line is not going to sand the dovetail drawers. You will need to spend at least 50% more on cabinetry to get that kind of attention to detail.

  551. Jeff, February 12, 2019 at 9:15 pm:

    Thank you for the response. The people who have advised against Fabuwood are some builders and house flippers who stopped using the brand due to corner separation on the doors at the seems. My wife is concerned about this issue. We have also been advised about great norther cabinetry which I have never heard of as a mid level. Any familiarity with this brand. Is there any resource to know if you are getting a reasonable price on Fabuwood cabinets?

  552. paul mcalary, February 13, 2019 at 6:52 am:

    Hi Jeff,
    All painted cabinets will have some separation on doors as the joints expand and contract with temperature and humidity. These joint lines are not cracks and can be touched up in the field.
    This is true with Fabuwood and even more pronounced with lines made in the US but not custom US lines. Custom line doors are usually sanded to a higher degree which reduces but still does not eliminate the issue. The builders and flippers you know are experiencing the issue simply because of the new popularity of painted cabinetry. I don’t know the Great Northern line so I don’t know how much sanding their doors get. So they could have less of this issue than other lines.
    However ALL mitered doors from any line will do this and at least a couple of doors from every line for a particular kitchen that is painted will do this. If this is a big concern make sure you get the help of an experienced person who can touch up your painted cabinets. Stained wood cabinets don’t show the seams because the grain of the wood disguises the lines.

  553. Kelley, February 13, 2019 at 12:23 pm:

    Not sure if i asked this already, but if you had a choice between Schrock in between level (before boutique Line), green Forrest, or Wellborn, what would it be? Also, is the Schrock boutique line way better than their mid line?

  554. Paul McAlary, February 13, 2019 at 1:51 pm:

    Not a huge fan of Schrock. To the best of my knowledge they use 3/8 sides and backs which even in plywood are insufficient IMO. Making 3/8″ sides and backs in MDF is such a bad idea that it really means that they don’t care about durability at all. Upgraded other lines will be 1/2 inch plywood. I would stick with them unless Schrock now offers 1/2 backs and sides. They may but like most Masterbrand Cabinet lines they are not transparent in how they make their cabinets. Our designers all know Schrock from the past which is how we review them. If they start making a better cabinet our reviews will lag behind because of their lack of transparency.

  555. Kelley, February 13, 2019 at 3:31 pm:

    Thank you for your insight!

  556. Kiah, February 14, 2019 at 9:38 am:

    Hi Paul, I’ve heard you say no drawers wider than 30”, but what do you suggest for a 36” range top base? We were hoping for a drawer, but sounds like this is a no-no? TIA!

  557. pmcalary, February 14, 2019 at 2:38 pm:

    We recommend no drawers wider than 30 inches for frameless cabinetry. On framed cabinetry 36 is OK but still be careful with overloading drawers, With a frameless cabinet and a 36″ cooktop putting drawers below is asking for trouble. I would just use shelves for cabinets over 30″ on any frameless cabinet.

  558. Kelley, February 15, 2019 at 6:21 pm:

    So finding a good kitchen designer That sellls good cabinet lines is getting very tricky! I met a contractor that sells Wellborn. He has a kitchen designer that he uses. I wanted to speak with the kitchen designer before i handed over my $750 retainer fee. I called a place that sells Wellborn and found out the contractor i was planning on using, uses their kitchen designer. They only sell Wellborn. I traveled 2 hours round trip, to see the cabinets in person. I also wanted to get a feel for the designer. He talked to me for a few minutes, and actually said many clients are going with Wellborn’s mdf cabinet line!!

    Long story short, he left and i was sitting there for about ten minutes. No one else asked me if i needed anything. Then, the owner comes out of nowhere and has this look on her face. She basically reprimands me for being barefoot. And says i need to have shoes and all this liability. I calmly told her it was perfectly legal and that i
    will wear shoes from now on. Her store is fastidious…

  559. Kelley, February 15, 2019 at 6:36 pm:

    Continued… and thus, she is protected, and any injury falls on me. She has more of being injured with her high heels😉 anyway, she proceeded with her condescending look, energies, words, and tone, and had no interest in me as customer. I left, and came back in to tell her she could have been kinder with me and that i was a very sensitive soul. She said i am sorry if you thought i was unkind. And that i needed to work on that (being sensitive). In the end, i just said it is all about intention.. to which she replied… we are done now.

    I guess since the contractor i was planning on using goes through them to order Wellborn cabinets and uses their kitchen designer, it does not make for a good scenario?

    We have already been without a kitchen for month due to a leak and mold remediation, And this is getting no where. Next up is this place:
    However, next appointment to get someone to
    Measure is not until March 1!
    Any other places in the Jacksonville, Florida area you can recommend?

  560. Kelley, February 15, 2019 at 6:53 pm:

    I met with the owner of this company (i think) only a few miles down the road and she was kind. However, her cabinet lines don’t come highly recommended by you, i think. These are the ones she currently carries:

    We do Green Forest, Jim Bishop, Schrock by Masterbrand and we also have a totally custom cabinet maker.

    Her company:
    We do Green Forest, Jim Bishop, Schrock by Masterbrand and we also have a totally custom cabinet maker if you wanted to go that route.

  561. paul mcalary, February 16, 2019 at 7:14 am:

    Hi Kelly I have looked in your area before and found the information copied below:

    KBR Designs are good designers but they also only seem to carry upper price range cabinetry. They could carry a less expensive line that they don’t mention but on their web site the only less expensive line they list is frameless.
    KBR Designs 904-721-2663 Jacksonville

    Signature Kitchens looks less experienced and they have cabinet lines across the whole price point spectrum.

    Signature Kitchens and Baths 904-860-0778

    Neither company has all the components to make our list.

    But if KBR did carry a less expensive framed line they certainly would. So if you contact them and they do have a less expensive line and you have a good experience please let us know and we can add them to our list.

    I do like the lines at the last place you mention but there is more to kitchens then cabinets.

    The “no shoes” would definitely set off most kitchen places. We deal with the general public during a stressful renovation. People that might not seem level headed could suggest that they could be tough customers under the stress. Remember that just as you are judging the contractors and kitchen places that they are judging you. Contractors in particular adjust their bids according to how easy they guess working with a particular customer will be by as much as 25%. So offering a contractor a cup of coffee or a cookie could save you thousands.

    Best of Luck,

  562. Kelley, February 16, 2019 at 8:20 am:

    Thanks! So Corbella kitchens don’t make the cut? Maybe i am confused, but i thought you weren’t impressed with Schrock? Something about being 3/8 thickness. I couldn’t find much on green Forrest either.

    Very interesting about the contractors bids! I would like to think i am rather level headed😉 definitely take extra precautions most of the time to do my due diligence.. this is how i found your blog!

    We are also on the border of north florida, so if you happen to know of any in south east Georgia, to recommend, that would be great! Thanks for your time!!

  563. Paul McAlary, February 16, 2019 at 8:30 am:

    Yes I don’t like Schrock but Green forest upgraded is a great lower priced line we haven’t sold it yet but we are a dealer for them. Bishop we do like and sell. And the custom line is probably good.

  564. Robert Krukowski, February 16, 2019 at 2:36 pm:

    HI Doing a major kitchen renno. We want something to last 20 years since we don’t plan on moving. Looking at inset or full overlay at the following companies: Cabico, Design-craft, shiloh, plato or fabuwood. I was told Fabuwood is ok but won’t last as well over time as the other 4 i mentioned. Do you do work up in NY?

  565. pmcalary, February 17, 2019 at 7:53 am:

    Hi Robert,
    You are all over the map on what you want. We rate the lines you mention so if you read this blog you know that we disagree with whoever you consulted on cabinetry. Most of the lines you mention do not do inset and the pricing of the lines you mention span the entire spectrum of cabinet pricing. So you need to start getting better help focusing your needs, negotiating the cabinet world, and most importantly designing your kitchen. Try to find an experienced kitchen designer to help you.

  566. Robert Krukowski, February 17, 2019 at 9:55 am:

    LOL. Thanks. I guess for a more focused question is what do I have to be concerned about regarding paint and finish for cabinets. We have a designer who is advocating for Cabico right now and in a Full Overlay since the Inset is out of our budget. The current design is ~$5-7K higher than I would like to spend. I am targeting $35K. His comment is fabuwood wont last as long from a finish standpoint as cabico and his design would change based on the limited custom options from fabuwood. I am trying to determine if it is worth going down a level to fabuwood to save the money or in the long run is it worth to stick with cabico. We are contemplating looking at other designers to see if the other brands similar to cabico (Design-craft, plato or shiloh) we could get our design for the lower price. Thank you for responding before and hopefully this is a little more specific

  567. Paul McAlary, February 17, 2019 at 10:03 am:

    Cabico is not constructed as well as Fabuwood and I can’t imagine a problem with sizing that would make sense. Finish durability on painted cabinetry is all very similar. This designer sounds like he doesn’t know what he is talking about. You can read the rating above to see how we review the lines we are discussing.

  568. Robert Krukowski, February 17, 2019 at 10:57 am:

    Thanks – I am in westchester NY using Majestic Kitchens (a designer your site recommends too). Helpful to hear your thoughts. Any more insight into why Cabico isn’t as constructed as well? Sounds like you think the 20-30% premium for Cabico isn’t worth it. Majestic carries Design-craft, and shiloh as well as plain and fancy but PF is too expensive. Would you reccomend any of these over Fabuwood? Wondering if i should stay with this designer or if i should try to find other designers that carry products in the Tier 4 range the way your website rated the cabinets to see if the design can be done at those costs. For example, find a good designer that carriers BISHOP or plato. I know they will be more expensive than fabuwood but might be a little better qualify?

  569. Kiah, February 17, 2019 at 11:57 am:

    Hi Paul, thank you! I was reading through recent comment regarding Schrock as we are considering them. The specs in cabinet catalog for Schrock states “3/8” thick load bearing panel extends the entire width and height of wall cabinet, 1/2” thick sides, top, and bottom, 1/2” thick I-beam braces, 3/4” thick shelving, dove tail drawer with all wood sides and full externsion ( these are all standard). With an all upgrade, does this sound like solid construction?

  570. Rob, February 18, 2019 at 3:30 pm:

    Hi, one additional question. The ceiling height in my Kitchen is 9’6″. i read a lot of your posts regarding 36″ high with stack-able cabinets and modeling. i believe this was for 9′ ceilings. What would you recommend for 9’6? current design doesn’t have stack-able cabinets and currently has varying heights in 3 different areas. Corner cabinet, hood, and fridge wall. Would you still stick with 36 inch cabinets with 6″ molding and than have the varying heights in other parts – corner cabinet, pantry cabinet, and fridge wall?

  571. Allison, February 20, 2019 at 6:41 pm:

    The list of reputable kitchen designers across the country is wonderful! Forgive me if this has already been addressed, but I live in the St. Louis region. The closest designers for me are over 4 hours away in either Wichita, KS or Indianapolis. Any recommendations in Missouri?? Thanks in advance.

  572. pmcalary, February 21, 2019 at 11:36 am:

    Hi Alison,
    We had trouble finding a dealer that met all of our criteria in your area. The company KarrBrick (Link below) looks like they are good designers but they don’t tell you what lines they carry and so might only sell expensive cabinetry.

  573. James, February 21, 2019 at 1:12 pm:

    Hi! Trying to choose our kitchen cabinets and we are deciding
    Between Brookhaven and kountry Kraft. We are doing white shaker doors. Not sure if one tips the scale for you more than the other. I think it’s coming down to the finish at this point. Any help would greatly appreciated!
    Thank you!

  574. pmcalary, February 21, 2019 at 3:12 pm:

    Kountry Kraft can be framed or frameless if both lines are framed I would pick the finish I liked best.

  575. Susan Shaffer, February 21, 2019 at 4:21 pm:

    We are remodeling our kitchen. Wanted to check out fabuwood because of your recommendations. The dealer is going to give us a quote but also recommended KCD and carriage house. I have not found any ratings for those two companies. Are you familiar with either of them?

  576. Valerie, February 22, 2019 at 12:33 am:

    I’m trying to figure the value of Belmont 1900 series cabinetry vs. Nouveau Thomasville Cabinetry.

  577. Joeley, February 22, 2019 at 5:56 pm:

    Hi thank you so much for all of your hard work on this site! Our contractor had merillat cabinets picked for us and after seeing the review I think I would want to change. Could you tell me more specifics on why they got the rating they did? Our kitchen isn’t huge but we are paying over $20,000 for cabinets so don’t want to waste it on junk! Thank you so much!! i

  578. Sally Plourde, February 23, 2019 at 10:04 am:

    Just read this entire thread. There was nso much good information! I am working with Home Depot. The kitchen designer has years of experience, degree in design,and has good recommendations. I am taking your advice and moving a door to get a better design. I am deciding between Kraftmaid (upgraded) or Woodmark (upgraded) in shaker style, white paint. I will be selling my house in the next 8 years and hope that the renovation cost will be recouped when I well. I am also debating replacing the tile floor that is in good shape (needs new grout) with a laminate click in flooring. Advice?

  579. Lori, February 23, 2019 at 11:16 am:

    Can you tell me anything about Elmwood and Craft-made cabinets? I don’t see them on your list and these are the two brands our kitchen person is offering to us with the Craft-made being substantially more. Thanks

  580. pmcalary, February 23, 2019 at 12:50 pm:

    Hi Joeley,
    Merrilat just released their Masterpiece line which would get much better ratings probably a 3 or 4 for pricing a B+ for construction and a C+ for value.
    The lower lines we would not recommend. I haven’t updated the rating yet since the new release.

  581. pmcalary, February 23, 2019 at 1:00 pm:

    Hi Sally,
    Both the Lines are well constructed if upgraded to plywood construction. Woodmark will be significantly less and have less choices and slightly less appealing finishes. Durability should be similar.

    I’m not a fan of laminate floors or in ever going over an existing floor or in keeping an existing tile floor because that would mean the footprint of your kitchen would not change or change very little. This is never done in our kitchens.
    In general saving some parts of an old kitchen usually is a bad idea. I have known customers to spend an additional $10,000 more on cabinetry and countertops trying to match an outdated tile floor color. When a new floor would have only cost $3,000.

  582. Dharmen, February 23, 2019 at 1:40 pm:


    I’m looking to buy new cabinets for my kitchen and after research, i like what fabuwood has to offer from both a quality and cost standpoint. However i went to another cabinet dealer and they had adornus cabinets as well which look very similar but I don’t see any reviews on it. The cabinets I’m looking at are the fabuwood hallmark frost vs adornus aspen. Any feedback and advice on these 2 manufacturers would be appreciated!!

  583. pmcalary, February 25, 2019 at 8:56 am:

    Sorry I don’t know Adornus and their web site says nothing about how they are made. Since they use Maple wood instead of the Fabuwood birch I would guess that they would be more expensive. The wood species doesn’t matter in this case IMO.

  584. pmcalary, February 25, 2019 at 9:02 am:

    Hi Lori,
    Elmwood is a Cabico cabinet I believe it is frameless and we review it. It is well made for frameless and so gets a B for construction the highest rating. Craft-made is a Pennsylvania custom line that will build Framed and frameless cabinetry. I would get framed for eveything except slab very modern door styles which Craft-made doesn’t specialize in.

  585. Alice Gordon, February 27, 2019 at 11:44 pm:

    Will you please point me to that video in warp speed that shows a kitchen being renovated. I just want to see the order of steps again. Thank you.

  586. paul mcalary, February 28, 2019 at 8:35 am:

    Hi Alice,
    It’s right on our home page. Just click the home button and scroll down. Several are on our YouTube page. And this Blog gives a renovation timeline:
    and this bolg give a check list in order:

  587. Donna, March 1, 2019 at 3:43 pm:

    Paul – thank you so much for your time this afternoon. Incredibly helpful phone call, and I feel much better about moving forward. Your company is amazing, thank you for this blog and sharing your knowledge. I am finally looking forward to what our kitchen will be when it’s complete.

  588. pmcalary, March 1, 2019 at 3:57 pm:

    Thanks Donna!
    We happily answer questions and look at designs from outside our service area on Fridays and we will answer questions posted to the comments on our blog during the week. But filling out our contact form on our web site or calling during the week is disruptive if you are too far away to be one of our paying customers. Thanks for working within our system. We’re happy to help.

  589. Pat D, March 5, 2019 at 12:04 pm:

    I have narrowed my choice for high gloss frameless cabinets to Dura Supreme and Fabuwood and don’t know which to choose. Fabuwood is less expensive but I like the style of Dura Supreme better between the two which is the better quality cabinet .

  590. pmcalary, March 5, 2019 at 12:19 pm:

    We had serious problems with high gloss DuraSupreme frameless cabinets when we carried their line. Worst of all they would not honor their warranty.
    No contest here Fabuwood is a better product. Better built, much nicer edges, and less expensive!

  591. pmcalary, March 7, 2019 at 7:28 am:

    Sorry Rob,
    We missed some comments I’d use 42″ wall cabinets for a 102″ high ceiling with 6″ of stacked crown molding. Make sure to have a flat piece of crown at lest 2″ high to disguise ceilings being out of level.

  592. pmcalary, March 7, 2019 at 7:41 am:

    Hi Susan,
    I’ve never even heard the names of those lines. So I’m not sure how to rate them.
    KCD is an RTA line. I would NEVER buy RTA cabinets. Even Fabuwood I would not buy unassembled even though they do offer unassembled cabinetry as a tiny amount of their overall sales. There is no sense in assembling cabinets yourself. The factories will do it better in 99% of the cases and you will have a warranty. It doesn’t even save money unless you place the value of your time at under $10 / hr.

  593. pmcalary, March 7, 2019 at 7:49 am:

    Hi Valerie,
    First I am not a fan of frameless cabinetry for any door styles other than contemporary modern slab doors. Only in those door styles is the better look for the style possibly worth the reduced durability in construction.
    Second both the lines you are considering not known for transparency or for being a good value. I would never buy frameless cabinets without the sides being at least a plywood core and hopefully with 3/4″ sides.

  594. Venkat, March 7, 2019 at 2:48 pm:


    We live in the San Jose, CA area. There are some shops here that say that they make their own cabinets here in California. One of them is Niviya. Have you heard o them? One of my fears is that while the cabinets may look good when new, they may not be durable. Is it better to go with a well-known brand as opposed to a local brand? I don’t want to cut corners but at the same time, we don’t want to break the bank. Please advise.


  595. Anna Barbieri, March 8, 2019 at 11:27 am:

    We are trying to decide between St. Martin Frameless Cabinets, Medallion Silverline Framed Cabinets, and Cliqstudio cabinets. Do you have an opinion as to which of these would be the best quality/value?

  596. pmcalary, March 9, 2019 at 10:58 am:

    Sorry I don’t like any of these choices for different reasons. You don’t say what color and door style but generally…
    I don’t like frameless for durability reasons
    Medallion must be upgraded to be a good cabinet. Silverline is overpriced and flimsy.
    Never buy cabinets on line. You are asking for trouble having no person responsible for measuring and solving issues other than a amateur IE yourself.

  597. pmcalary, March 9, 2019 at 11:13 am:

    Hi Venkat,
    I think we answered this on another blog. The Niviya looks “homemade” and not truly what kitchen designers consider “custom cabinetry”. Stick with bigger cabinet brands.

  598. Anonymous, March 9, 2019 at 6:36 pm:

    Is wolf a cheaply made cabinet? What about the wolf design line? Or the aspect cabinet? Looking for a decent mid level cabinet.

  599. Anonymous, March 9, 2019 at 6:50 pm:

    Is the wolf cheaply made? What about the wolf design line? Also what is your opinion on aspect cabinet? Looking for a decent mid level cabinet.

  600. pmcalary, March 10, 2019 at 12:56 pm:

    When you are in an inexpensive line like Wolf I would not get anything except their top level of construction which the Designer line uses. I don’t know Aspect line well but from their web site it appears that the hanging rail they use in insufficient. Neither of these lines would be considered mid level.

  601. Anonymous, March 10, 2019 at 5:09 pm:

    How long will a low level cabinet last?

  602. pmcalary, March 10, 2019 at 5:20 pm:

    Better made inexpensive cabinetry shouldn’t last any time less than expensive cabinetry. The added money you are paying is for the ability to customize, and to make cabinetry in many more woods, colors, sizes, and other options. The warranty if less means very little. Warranty issues should all occur in the first two years. This is why spending money on expensive cabinetry in a design, door style, and finish that can be done in a less expensive line can waste money. Worst of all is buying a poorly designed kitchen in an expensive line.

  603. RO, March 11, 2019 at 8:59 am:

    My contractor likes to use Merillat Masterpiece (high end), went to a design center to take a look at them, they recommended Decora and said the price difference would be well worth it and would be 10 – 15% more. What are you thoughts?

  604. pmcalary, March 12, 2019 at 8:33 am:

    We don’t carry Decora but I am a big fan of their product as are our other designers. Decora is a Masterbrand line, we really like both Decora and the less expensive Homecrest from Masterbrands. I don’t love the Masterbrands websites though. They are far from transparent.

  605. RO, March 12, 2019 at 8:58 am:

    My question really it what is a better cabinet, Merillat Masterpiece or Decora, I am looking for quality and durability, my last kitchen lasted 30 yrs and 2 boys, can I expect the same from these lines, is one better than the other?

  606. Wendy, March 13, 2019 at 11:04 pm:

    My short list for cabinet brands includes Medallion, Kraftmaid and HomeCrest. I would upgrade all to plywood construction. I’d like a solid wood/Reverse raised flat pant door with medium or dark brown stain. Are all worth considering? Anything that truly set any part from the others. Which would you be most likely to choose?

  607. pmcalary, March 14, 2019 at 9:23 am:

    Hi Wendy,
    Each line will be successively less by about 20%. Finishes could be less attractive but not less durable and the ability to customize will also be reduces. Otherwise they are all good choices. Remember that saving 20 or 40% on cabinetry could pay for removing walls and soffits, moving doorways and windows and other things that could make your kitchen and home more attractive and functional.Keeping old floor tile or your kitchen layout as is makes no sense when you splurge on cabinetry, appliances, and countertops. The layout and design of your kitchen is what gives the project value, not the upgrades you select.

  608. Wendy, March 14, 2019 at 9:44 am:

    Thanks so much!

  609. JLS, March 14, 2019 at 11:37 am:

    Our local retailers have been quoting lines that aren’t in your ratings – any thoughts on Countryside vs Norcraft vs KemperEcho vs Conestoga? Also, I see no mention of on your reviews – appears they use 1/2″ plywood construction. We’re going to remodel a bathroom, so looking for lines that have linen cabinets available. All of those lines came in ~$4-5k for a 144″ run of cabinets, including 2 linens and 2 sink bases. Kraftmaid came in at $8.5k for the same run. Obviously apples vs oranges, but is Kraftmaid worth 2x? In general, we’re looking at shaker style cabinets with white or light gray finish. Nothing too crazy. Appreciate your thoughts!

  610. pmcalary, March 14, 2019 at 2:08 pm:

    Hi JLS,
    Bathrooms take much less stress than kitchens and don’t have wall cabinets generally. Or if they do they are filled with light things so construction is far less important. I would guess that Conestoga is the best value here.

  611. Outback Annie, March 14, 2019 at 2:09 pm:

    Hello, I accidentally tripped over this site looking to arm myself with more knowledge about cabinets before choosing cabinets for my kitchen remodel. I live in a very isolated area in Washington state and my nearest dealer is over an hour drive away. They deal with De Wills cabinetry only. The other I looked at is Ziggy’s in Spokane – 2 and a half hours drive from home – who showed me Starmark cabinets. Ziggy’s said they will send people to my home to measure at a high cost (because of travel distance – over 100 miles) but they will also come to install. The more local dealer will also come to my home at no cost. I’ve read bad reviews about De Wills and good reviews about Starmark. Any advice on who to deal with? Do you know anything about using Ziggy’s to buy kitchen cabinets?

  612. pmcalary, March 14, 2019 at 2:14 pm:

    Sorry I don’t know Ziggys. And the Dewills web site is down at the moment so it’s tough to comment.

  613. Clinton, March 15, 2019 at 2:48 pm:

    Have you heard of lillyann cabinets? They are the same as AVA cabinets but I’m a little concerned of using these cabinets because they are not KCMA certified but they do meet the carbII requirements. They are however, cheaper, than most cabinets.

  614. Clint, March 15, 2019 at 3:38 pm:

    Have you heard or seen anything on Lilly Ann Cabinets/Ava Cabinets? Their finishes look good but nothing is KCMA certified which is concerning.

  615. Dee, March 15, 2019 at 9:56 pm:

    Hi— so glad I came upon your blog. Our contractor recommended a kitchen store where we have not been happy with the customer service. We were surprised by the quote on an 11’ x 11’ kitchen with Fabuwood cabinets. The price does not include the counter or the backsplash. It does not include any special cabinet “insides” except for two lazy susan’s and one cabinet with roll out shelves. It does include two 30” x 21” pantry cabinets. Our appliances (range, fridge and dishwasher) are all within the 11’ x11’ dimension. The price was $17785. Does that seem reasonable to you? The price they did for Kemper (plywood) was $19300.

    Also, we live in Summit, NJ and would love to get a recommendation for a kitchen place.

    Appreciate any input you can offer!

  616. Dee, March 15, 2019 at 10:02 pm:

    Forgot to add that the design is a “G” shape with a 4’ extra piece for a peninsula — 48” of cabinet on the bottom.

  617. pmcalary, March 16, 2019 at 1:00 pm:

    Hi Dee,
    Without seeing the design or knowing the door style and finish I couldn’t say for sure. It does seem high though.

  618. Venkat, March 17, 2019 at 3:49 am:


    How good are Omega Cabinets (the full-house type)? We have heard that Omega is a very good brand but there are a lot of bad review around the quality of the cabinets. Could you please advise before my wife and I make a move on our kitchen and bath remodel?

  619. Karen Wagner, March 17, 2019 at 1:38 pm:

    Hi Paul,
    Is the Decora brand you include in your ratings the same brand that’s available at Home Depot?

  620. pmcalary, March 17, 2019 at 6:14 pm:

    Yes it is. Contrary to what many people think Both Home Depot and Lowes sell some nice well made higher end semi custom cabinetry. The problem is that they don’t pay kitchen designers well so no one good would be likely to work their.
    Ten years ago that wasn’t the case. Today home centers pay kitchen designers half or less than their better designers made less than ten years ago. When you don’t value the designers no one good will work for you.

  621. pmcalary, March 17, 2019 at 6:38 pm:

    Sorry never heard of them. If you call Fridays 2-4 pm EST one of us could research them.

  622. Dee, March 17, 2019 at 8:53 pm:

    Thanks for your response. Do you have anyone you’d recommend in the Summit, NJ area?

    Also, when you write MDF is okay on a center panel, are you referring to the door panel?

  623. Karen W., March 18, 2019 at 11:49 am:


    Thanks so much for the info about the Decora brand. I’m working with a professional designer who works with a private dealer of the Decora brand. I was a little leery when I found that Decora is available at Home Depot. But, it sounds like the cabinets/quality would be the same between the private dealer and Home Depot, but the service would be different. Would the price be lower at Home Depot? Also (about three years ago), we looked at Crystal Cabinet’s Current Line–how does that compare with Decora in terms of price/quality?

  624. pmcalary, March 18, 2019 at 1:20 pm:

    Hi Karen,
    I am very skeptical of “private designers” that don’t work for the dealer themselves. These are not real kitchen designers IMO. They usually do not use 20-20 or ProKitchens design software and don’t design and order kitchens 40 hours per week. The best designers will work for a dealer. Interior designers are most definitely NOT qualified to design kitchens.

  625. Alex, March 18, 2019 at 5:43 pm:

    My wife and I are remodeling a 1950s kitchen and the two local cabinet stores in our area both offer Columbia Cabinets as a mid range option. Are you familiar with this manufacturer and would you recommend them?
    Thanks so much!

  626. pmcalary, March 18, 2019 at 6:03 pm:

    Hi Alex,
    Kitchen design and cabinetry is complicated. Because of this companies that are not transparent about how their cabinets are constructed we are wary of. Even more concerning are companies that stress single considerations. These cabinet lines are trying to distract consumers with shiny objects so to speak. So bragging about how many generations your family has made cabinetry, or waving American flags on your web site focusing on “MADE IN THE US of A” or in the case of Columbia how “green” your cabinetry is while saying nothing about how it is made concerns me. Usually companies that do this are terrible. We don’t know the Columbia line, but if it walks like a duck . . . .

  627. Paul McAlary, March 19, 2019 at 8:54 am:

    Hi Dee,
    Yes MDF is fine possibly even better on the center panel of a flat panel PAINTED door.
    We have places in Manhattan or Scarlsdale area we recommend. See the bolg on Recommended Dealers outside our service area. But sorry we haven’t found a place very close to you.

  628. Kelly Feil, March 19, 2019 at 2:19 pm:

    Due to a flood, our insurer is paying to replace an oak slab kitchen from Hagerstown Custom Kitchens; It is hard to determine if the replacement cost is correct as we are finding prices seem higher in the custom brands available in our area -Signature, Fieldstone, Mouser, Craft Maid, Schuler and Plain and Fancy. Which if any of those brands would be a fair comparison in terms of quality and price? Should I also assume that other door styles will be more or less expensive than the solid oak slabs we have now? Thank you for this wonderful site – wish we were still in Media, PA so we could use your services!

  629. Alicia, March 19, 2019 at 7:20 pm:

    Hi, I am looking to remodel my kitchen and am being recommended St. Martin cabinets. I don’t see them on your list. Do you have any information on their quality?

    Thank you,


  630. pmcalary, March 20, 2019 at 7:11 am:

    Hi Alicia,
    We rate St Martin in our reviews above. They are a pennsylvania frameless cabinet manufacturer. While their frameless box is well constructed for a frameless line we don’t recommend frameless cabinetry except for contemporary slab door styles.

  631. pmcalary, March 20, 2019 at 7:28 am:

    Hi Kelly,
    Solid Oak slab doors would be one of the least expensive door styles in more expensive lines. They would also be very unpopular today. I would advise against getting slab oak doors. I would also recommend taking advantage of this opportunity to update not just your door style, finish and type of wood but MOST importantly to update your floor plan and design. You don’t need expensive custom cabinetry to get well constructed cabinets and a great kitchen but you do need a great design. 90% of our customers come to us believing that the very poor designs they are considering are fine. However they choose completely different designs when working with better kitchen designers.
    When you are replacing cabinetry due to a flood and timelines are short and the stress is high stop and take more time to consider alternative designs from very experienced kitchen designers. Less scrupulous designers will take the easy road and simply encourage you to replace everything as is. This easy sale for them is never in your best interest.

    Feel free to send us the design you are considering for me to critique. And we advise people from outside our service area on Fridays between 2 and 4 pm EST.

  632. Wendy, March 20, 2019 at 10:11 pm:

    Hi – follow up question adding Wellborn Forest into the mix. How would you rate Wellborn Forest price and quality when compared to Medallion, Kraftmaid and HomeCrest? I would upgrade all to plywood, recessed panel, medium to dark stain. Thanks!

  633. Sheila, March 21, 2019 at 8:44 am:

    If I understand , Fabuwood and CNC and 21stcentury are US companies, putting together imported (Chinese) material. These are companies that you do recommend- are there any assurances regarding the formaldehyde and sub par materials on these? Also the Wolf Classic -is that made in USA?
    Thank you – I am trying to eliminate real problems and on a very tight budget.

  634. pmcalary, March 21, 2019 at 10:07 am:

    Hi Sheila,
    All lower priced and better constructed cabinetry is built in the US but the doors, fronts, and often other parts are imported from Chinese factories under US supervision.
    This includes Wolf.

    Even IKEA which is poorly made, I have been told now imports all of their doors and some other parts.
    If a cabinet line is certified CARB Compliant you can be sure it will have very low off gassing. For people very sensitive to carpet, paint and other off gassing, storing unboxed cabinetry in the garage for 4 weeks before installing should eliminate any residual smells.
    The formaldehyde problem often referred to from a few years agos was Chinese companies making flooring. Chinese companies selling drywall also had issues. And as long as we are covering big misleading kitchen scares – Granite does not give off radon. The only case reported was an extraordinarily rare stone.
    The better made inexpensive lines that are big companies I think would be just as safe as any completely US line and because labor is so much less, usually about 25% less expensive.
    If you are on a budget you should be using one of these import/USA lines IMO.

  635. pmcalary, March 21, 2019 at 10:12 am:

    Hi Wendy,
    Upgraded all these lines are well built. They will have more options and nicer LOOKING finishes as the cabinetry gets more expensive. From least to most expensive I would think they would price out this way. Homecrest, Wellborn Forest, Kraftmaid, Medallion

  636. Patty M, March 21, 2019 at 10:17 am:

    What are your thoughts on Fabuwood vs. 21st Century. We like the white shaker. One thing we did not like about fabuwood was the sides of the drawers are not one solid piece of wood but pieced together. It gives the sides of the drawers a patchwork look. We have a lot of drawers in our kitchen design and did not like the cheap look of that. Is 21st Century as good a choice as Fabuwood? Thanks so much!

  637. pmcalary, March 21, 2019 at 10:51 am:

    The dovetail drawers that you are referring to is how ALL well made cabinet companies make their drawers. NOT having dovetail drawers is the cheap method of construction. When you haven’t had this explained to you yet it means that you are not getting the information you need to make sensible choices shopping for cabinetry. It also probably means that you need even more help with your kitchen design because even well informed consumers need that. Fabuwood is definitely a nicer line than 21st Century.

  638. Patty M, March 21, 2019 at 6:02 pm:

    I do understand what dovetail in the corners of the drawers are. I was referring to the finger joints on the side walls of the drawers. They are finger jointed as opposed to a solid piece of wood. The place we are dealing with said that Fabuwood changed from solid wood side walls to finger jointed a couple of years ago. It does not look good when they finger joint with many different colors of wood.
    They have both lines, Fabuwood and 21st Century, at this business we are dealing with and we were trying to figure out why one might be a better choice over the other. Thanks so much for your help.

  639. Chiara Scaduto, March 23, 2019 at 10:48 pm:

    Good evening looking into redoing our kitchen and are between two brands of cabinets. One arbor mills and the other brookhaven. Can’t seem to find anyone who can really tell me the difference between these two brands
    Any suggestions
    Of course each place will tell you that their brand of cabinets is better

  640. pmcalary, March 24, 2019 at 8:09 am:

    Hi Patty,
    I’m sorry I don’t know what the dealer is showing you or talking about. All the drawers we have reciever up until last week have been solid wood dovetail drawers. You did help uncover a misprint on the Fabuwood website though. They erroneously were calling drawers solid plywood construction on parts of their specbook. They are in fact solid wood and according to our Fabuwood rep will stay solid wood. He also doesn’t know what you are looking at. Talk to your dealer. I’m sure Fabuwood would like to change out whatever drawer box he is showing and correct him or her on their construction.

  641. Rebecca L Wilhelm, March 25, 2019 at 3:32 pm:

    Thanks for the wealth of information – I wished I was closer to use you all! Our contractor has suggested we use Kabinart cabinets in a remodel, however the ratings you gave don’t seem like that is a wise choice. Can you give me any further information on Kabinart? Our contractor indicated some negative reviews were due to some competitors who didn’t like their product and had a lawsuit about the negative press, however I don’t want to install poor cabinets and I’d be curious if you had any additional insights.

  642. pmcalary, March 25, 2019 at 5:00 pm:

    Hi Rebbecca,
    Two issues. First, I double checked Kabinart’s construction. They don’t say on the web site if upgrades beyond their normal construction are possible. But full extension soft close doors and drawers are available in better made less expensive lines. I even upgraded them slightly on our web site. I’m not sure if they changed or we were being a little too tough on them. But the hanging rail is a little thin and the tracks and hinges need to be upgraded. If the don’t offer the upgrade I wouldn’t even consider buying them. Here is a video on our discussion on cabinetry.
    Second, Contractors are not the best advisers on cabinetry. You should find a local cabinet dealer that has a good reputation and an experienced designer to work with. This is a big project and expense. Get good design help, The designer can explain the advantages of any cabinet line.

  643. Susanne, March 25, 2019 at 8:42 pm:

    Thanks so much for this helpful blog! Takes some of the mystery out of the process.

    I’m doing a small kitchen remodel and really want bamboo-finished cabinets. So far I’ve only found bamboo as an option with 1 company (Decora, I think) at showrooms locally. Are there any others that you could recommend?

  644. Susanne, March 25, 2019 at 8:48 pm:

    Sorry – I forgot to add that I’m in St Petersburg, FL.

  645. pmcalary, March 26, 2019 at 7:35 am:

    Hi Susanne,
    There will be many custom lines that sell Bamboo cabinets. Decora would be one of the least expensive choices if you wanted Bamboo. Choosing unusual woods and finishes is never inexpensive in the cabinet world. And if you are going to splurge on very expensive cabinetry or appliances it becomes even more important to make sure that you are working with an experienced kitchen designer.

  646. Diana, March 26, 2019 at 10:07 am:

    We are considering 2 lines- Diamond Vibe and Marquis by Koch. We are drawn to them because so far we trust the representatives. Quotes for both seem reasonable and we would upgrade both to all plywood construction. The construction information for the not yet upgraded Koch cabinets are below. Given this information which would be the better cabinet? Thank you so much!
    1. 3/4″ Hardwood stile and rail doors, mortise and tenon.

    2. 3/4″ Hardwood drawer fronts.

    3. 3/4″ Face frames with glued and pocket screwed joints.

    4. 1/2″ Particle board back with Maple print interior, eliminating the need for hang rails.

    5. 1/2″ Particle board sides, tops and bottoms, with Maple print interior and exterior.

    6. 1/2″ Rabbeted plywood drawer with 1/4″ plywood floor, faced with maple print.

    Drawer Upgrade Options:

    1. Solid hardwood dovetail drawer with blumotion full extension under mount soft close drawer guides.

    2. Solid hardwood dovetail drawer with soft close 7/8 extension under mount guide.

    3. Solid hardwood dovetail drawer with soft 3/4 extension side mount guide.

    7. Self-adjusting epoxy coated side mount drawer guides. Track weight rating of 75 lbs.

    8. 3/4″ Particle board shelving with Maple print on both sides and one edge. All shelves are adjustable with base cabinets having ½ depth shelves, supported by shelf pegs.

    9. Blum one piece adjustable concealed hinges with lifetime warranty.

    Door Upgrade Options:

    1. Blumotion soft close hinge.

    10. Standard finish consists of hand wiped stain, a coat of self-sealing conversion varnish and a top coat of conversion varnish. Finish thickness approximately 7 MIL, wet.

  647. pmcalary, March 26, 2019 at 4:07 pm:

    There are so many less expensive better made alternatives now that I would no longer ever consider buying cabinets with particle board sides. And never would have recommended a full particle board back. Hanging rails keep the screws that attach the cabinet to the wall in solid wood. Ply backs are fine too especially 1/2′ plywood sides because they can’t crack. Screws in particleboard don’t hold wall cabinets well to the wall, and shimming the cabinet incorrectly if there are waves in the wall can crack the particle board back of the cabinet.

  648. Diana, March 27, 2019 at 12:19 pm:

    Thank you for the response, we are already intending to upgrade to all plywood. If we upgrade to all plywood does the other construction information look acceptable for the Koch cabinets?

  649. pmcalary, March 27, 2019 at 12:24 pm:

    Yes it looks OK then. But when you have to upgrade to plywood it usually costs more than selecting cabinetry that only comes that way.

  650. Rebecca Wilhelm, March 27, 2019 at 1:18 pm:

    Thank you so much for your help! I wish all companies were so generous with their advice.

  651. Don, March 29, 2019 at 8:49 am:

    Great blog/info – typically its my kids that keep me awake at night, but last night, it was this blog. We are renovating a two family home in Englewood NJ for my family as well as for my in-laws. We need two kitchens. My wife and I would like a European Slab front style cabinet. As you has often noted, this cabinet construction for this style is frameless. Since we are on a budget we are considering CNC and Hanssem. You have CNC highly rated, does this include their frameless options? You also have Hanssem under review, is this because of your experience installing Hanssem products or b/c you need time to review their construction specs? As a side note, We wanted to consider Fabuwood based on your feedback, but they have limited Slab Front options, but we are considering them for the Inlaws kitchen since we are going with Shaker Style. You also mentioned frequently in your feedback about upgrading to obtain a higher grade of cabinet construction, is this required for CNC/Fabuwood and Hanssem? Thank you!

  652. pmcalary, March 29, 2019 at 12:21 pm:

    Hi Don,
    I think that in frameless cabinetry you need a better constructed cabinet than CNC or Hanssem. When you mention kids keeping you up at night and that you have a two family home frameless cabinetry would be something I wouldn’t consider unless you got 3/4″ plywood sides and that will be expensive. I would sacrifice the look a little and get a framed cabinet with slab doors. It will be far more durable and cost less. We sell 6Square that does slab doors inexpensively on framed cabinets but there will be others lines. You will have to do a little research to find an inexpensive well built framed line that also has a slab door style. I believe the Wolf designer line has slab doors on framed cabinets. Or Clique Studios on line which I hesitate mentioning since you will have no local expert helping you.

  653. Rose M., March 30, 2019 at 12:13 pm:

    Good Morning Paul,
    Thank you! Thank you! I spent two days reading this blog and educating myself on what Is important when looking at cabinets! I am looking at doing a white painted shaker style cabinet. Thanks to you I now know I can go with an inexpensive company and still have a quality built cabinet! I actually have three dealers/designers that have worked on designing my new kitchen. I am knocking down a wall and they actually had very similar designs. I used a little from each of them to make my final kitchen design. My limited budget is making me really reasearch where to spend my money. Each dealer has a different line of cabinets. One has only Wolf – but all the lines – I was quoted a price for the Wolf Signature line. Another carries Wolf Classic,Waypoint, Wolf Designer, and Show Place. Waypoint is their middle line and I received a quote from them also -with the upgrade to plywood. I am trying to compare apples to apples as much as I can. (I knew to ask for the upgrade due to your blog) It was lower than the Wolf signature by around $2,600.The only thing I didn’t like was when I asked the designer what the back panel thickness upgrade would be, she didn’t know. I told her I knew the furniture board it currently came with was 1/8 inch. She said I knew more than her about the cabinets! Also, I work with someone who recently installed upgraded WayPoint cabinets and he said they were poorly constructed and advised me not to choose them over Wolf Signature and Fabuwood. The last place carries Fabuwood, Homecrest and DuroSupreme – I haven’t received quotes from them yet. (Due to expanding my kitchen and gaining much more counter top and budget constraints I had to change my mind about counter tops – started out looking at granite and quartz and now looking at Formica/Wilsonart)
    Based on my research and this wonderful blog – My choices will most likely be between Wolf Signature, and Fabuwood – no longer WayPoint. I would like to know your thoughts on these and thank you again – I feel much less stressed thanks to you sharing your knowledge!

  654. pmcalary, March 31, 2019 at 10:08 am:

    Hi Rose,
    We think that Fabuwood is by the best value for a white painted shaker door style which is why we carry it. Wolf could be close and there are new lines we just saw at the National Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Vegas that we liked and are considering. Procraft is one of these lines. We are waiting to see how it prices out but at first look it appears extremely nice and a little less that Fabuwood. But white shaker Fabuwood is the value gorilla in our industry right now.
    At KBIS and the combined builders show there were 11 miles of aisles to walk. And if you looked on the aisle floors they painted footprints showing the way to Fabuwood in all the separate buildings. If you are looking for the best value in a painted Shaker White, Gray, or Cream door just follow the footprints.

  655. Rose M., March 31, 2019 at 12:15 pm:

    Thank you for your quick response! I will follow the footprints 🙂

  656. kate Welch, April 1, 2019 at 11:33 pm:

    Do you know anything about Crown cabinetry based out of Salt Lake? Our contractor is having us look at that brand along with the diamond brand and starmark (although I am not thinking starmark is in our budget). I would love a little insight from you. Thank you.

  657. pmcalary, April 2, 2019 at 7:37 am:

    Hi Kate,
    I don’t know the line but I looked it up. The Crown line appears to be a very poorly made builder grade line that can be upgraded to a better made plywood cabinet. Still Upgraded these cabinets are not as well made as some of the US/Import brands like Fabuwood, Procraft, Wolf, J&K etc. They do not appear to use Solid wood dovetail drawers or soft close, doors and hinges, the mark of better made cabinets.
    Why is your contractor directing you on cabinetry? I’d find a good cabinet dealer with good reviews and the most experienced kitchen designer that works there and use them to design my kitchen. Then when the kitchen was designed and the scope of the project more defined with drawings, floor plans and printouts with notes on what’s proposed I’d have several contractors bid the job.
    Hiring a contractor before your kitchen is completely planned is doing things backwards. You will never get a competitive bid from a contractor that way. And sometimes the contractor is also be getting a kickback from the cabinet company that is being added onto the price you are paying for cabinetry.

    Shop for cabinets, countertops, and contractors independently and you will cut out middlemen. After you get pricing from everyone you can still hire this contractor and use his cabinet place if they seem best. NEVER use a contractor to advise you on kitchen design. They are not kitchen designers and their advice much like the advice of most architects, interior designers, and real estate agents will be terrible. People that have a little bit of experience in a complicated profession but want to give advice are dangerous. I don’t ask my son’s math teacher for advice on my taxes because he works with numbers.
    Seek out professionals in each area you need. Kitchen designers who work at cabinet dealers, Contractors, Countertop people, Appliance people, Flooring and tile sales people, lighting professionals. Each will have expertise the other is missing. And if you find a good kitchen designer their job is to help you find these places and to process the advice you get and help you decide where to splurge and where to save.

  658. pmcalary, April 2, 2019 at 8:01 am:


  659. kate Welch, April 2, 2019 at 5:03 pm:

    Thanks for the response. Our contractor bid and is building our whole home, so I am assuming he is directing us to cabinet lines that our in our budget. I did meet with several cabinet designers at home stores and feel like I got some good ideas but their quotes ended up being quite a ways out of the budget that we have for cabinets. Do you think I would get a better cabinet to go with aristrocraft or one of the lines at Home Depot rather than the Crown cabinets? They do list that dovetail plywood soft close drawers are part of the specs for their crown line and I did ask for that in the kitchen cabinets. I want to end up with a good product, but I am not sure how to get it with the budget we have. Thanks again for your advice.

  660. Ro, April 3, 2019 at 4:18 pm:

    Posting this question again since it has not been answered.

    My question really it what is a better cabinet, Merillat Masterpiece or Decora, I am looking for quality and durability, my last kitchen lasted 30 yrs and 2 boys, can I expect the same from these lines, is one better than the other?

    My contractor really likes the Merillat, just like everyone else we are cost conscious but want to go with a good product.


  661. pmcalary, April 3, 2019 at 6:32 pm:

    I would pay for Decora over Merrilat.

  662. Lisa, April 3, 2019 at 6:52 pm:

    Remodeling a kitchen in MPLS . Loews has an incrdeible sale going on right now. We
    are considering Diamond,Shuler or Kraftmaid painted maple. I’ve looked at so many reviews
    my head hurts. The designer said more options with Shuler or Diamond . Also had another designer draw up plan with Fieldstone. Which I’m sure will be more than Loews.
    What do you recommend? And would you recommend the upscale line. For example , Diamond has Prelude,Reflection or Intrigue. Thanks for your help.

  663. pmcalary, April 3, 2019 at 9:39 pm:

    Hi Lisa,
    Most Lowes sales that are not coming from the manufacturer are fake. No cabinet dealers sell cabinetry for list price and so these “sales” are usually not what you think. Manufacturer sales like Kraftmaid giving free upgrades or discounted upgrades are real.
    It is unethical IMO to even have sales because sales breed fast decision making that is not in the customers best interest. You are not buying a toaster as much as home centers treat kitchen design and kitchen designers that way. You are buying an extremely complex kitchen renovation. This is how mistakes happen and the finger pointing begins.
    Upgraded Kraftmaid is the best value here. Schuler must be upgraded and will look slightly nicer and be more custom and also cost 15 to 20% more. Upgraded Fieldstone is on par with Schuler.

  664. Lisa, April 3, 2019 at 9:48 pm:

    Thanks for the feedback!

  665. Tsipora, April 5, 2019 at 3:14 am:

    Hi, thanks for your 2018 review.
    Any update an Hanssem quality and value?
    What is the best frameless cabinet you’d recommend if I need standard size cabinets, no custom sizes?
    Would your choice of company be different for a laminate (Formica type,) wood stain or painted door?

  666. Pam, April 5, 2019 at 9:11 am:

    We are undergoing a whole house remodel and I have been doing some research on cabinets for the kitchen,3 bathrooms, and family room. I have gotten pricing from different vendors on 6 square, Fabuwood, Jarlin and a custom cabinet maker that is local here. I am between Jarlin and the local cabinet maker. Price difference is 15k. Certain Fabuwood lines and 6 square plus the local cabinet maker use Blum hinges. Are the hinges what also make such a difference in price and quality? I chose Jarlin out of Fabuwood and 6 square because the price would be less because all three are not entirely US made. Now I am really struggling to choose between Jarlin and a local cabinet maker. I would choose the local cabinet maker because then I know they really are made in the USA. Any thoughts?

  667. pmcalary, April 5, 2019 at 9:19 am:

    The Hanssem website does not give specifics. I have seen the upgraded framed cabinet box and it is well constructed. I believe the frameless box is not impressive as we considered only carrying their framed cabinetry when were were looking for a new line in that price point.

    Yes different styles and finishes can determine what cabinet line is the best buy. For all door styles except slab styles we would always recommend framed cabinetry. For painted or stained slabs both framed or frameless construction has certain advantages. For a laminate slab door only frameless cabinetry will look right. The best construction for frameless cabinetry will be plywood or plywood core 3/4″ sides and at least 1/2″ backs. 5/8″ plywood or plywood core like the Fabuwood line we carry is acceptable but 5/8″ particleboard sides should be avoided at all costs. This might have been what Hanssem carried and why we chose to not carry consider their frameless line. I can’t remember though and the web site doesn’t help.

  668. pmcalary, April 5, 2019 at 11:12 am:

    Hi Pam,
    I have never heard of Jarlin and don’t know how their cabinetry is made. Their web site says nothing about their construction which is a bad sign.
    People that focus on buying local or all USA produced cabinetry will overspend and get lower quality cabinetry at the less expensive price points.

    It is only when you get to more expensive semi custom cabinet lines and custom cabinet lines that you will be getting a superior product. Buying custom cabinets locally will be a terrible idea if they inexpensive “custom” cabinetry. Here is a related blog on this topic.

    These type issues are why homeowners need profession kitchen design help not just creating a good kitchen but also navigating the cabinet world. Finding a great kitchen designer at a cabinet dealer can be hard but is always worth the effort.

  669. Kelly, April 6, 2019 at 1:23 pm:

    Our designer is quoting us Mouser Centra. Is that the same as the Mouser listed in the reviews? If not, how is the quality as the price seems to be on the low side? Thank you.

  670. Paul McAlary, April 7, 2019 at 8:59 am:

    Mouser Centra is a less expensive version of Mouser. Unfortunately the web site does not tell how the back of the cabinet is constructed. If it is 3/8″ ply like the regular Mouser Framed version of their cabinetry I would rate the construction an B+. However it looks thinner in the photo on line and the fact that they don’t mention the back not only makes me suspicious but if the back is in fact thinner this makes me like Mouser less. Transparency is important in the cabinet industry and if you catch a company trying to essentially fool you on one thing you can bet that that philosophy pervades the entire company.
    Another concern is that your designer should be able to instantly explain the difference between the different Mouser lines. Regular Mouser has a lifetime warranty and Centra has 10. While we don’t place a lot of importance on Warranty the difference here could be telling.
    If a designer doesn’t know the difference between the lines they carry that’s bad. It’s worse if they do and neglect to explain a big difference this means they are not being upfront and want to sell you over help you.

  671. Tsipora, April 8, 2019 at 12:19 am:

    Thanks for your response!

  672. Kelly, April 8, 2019 at 5:41 pm:

    Thanks, Paul. I believe the quote listed 3/8″ back. We have limited choices in our area, but I feel like they are pushing Centra because it is much cheaper than Signature and Fieldstone, which we are looking at with their competitor. Thanks to your site I at least knew to make sure they upgraded the shelves to plywood. Our insurance is supposed to be replacing our current custom cabinets – but they are far off from the custom cabinetry quotes we have had so this quite a process! Thanks for all your help!

  673. Nohemi H, April 9, 2019 at 8:35 pm:

    I too got stuck on this blog.. I have come back to it a few times to write notes.Thank you Paul for doing all the homework. I feel a lot more knowledgeable and more confident in making my decision. Lowes quoted me about 11K for the top of the line(kraftmaid) mind you,I dont have a big kitchen- I thought pricetag was high. I tried they quoted 7K, but I really wanted to keep my business in California, and I found Walcraft– not on your list but they have great reviews, and so far the customer service is really good.
    Anyone else look at Walcraft?

  674. pmcalary, April 10, 2019 at 7:55 am:

    Homeowners all focus on the thing they can appreciate best – namely how well are the cabinets made. However having a good kitchen designer create a great design, give you advice, place your order, instruct your contractor on your design, and help with any issues that might arise is the most important thing of all. Home centers do have some good designers but very few now that they pay less than half of what the did 10 years ago to kitchen designers. Buying RTA cabinets like Walcraft even though they look well constructed assures that no one knowleable is helping you. Be careful.

  675. Julie Kautzman, April 11, 2019 at 5:38 pm:

    Paul, I am back with a new question. After months of looking at cabinets and not able to find a wood tone that I actually like that looks good in our space, I have found one that I don’t think I mind. My question, since you say that layout is very important, and I am happy with our layout after changes have been made by Home Depot and Ziggy’s to a few things – what if the cabinet is a Mid Continent cabinet? I know they don’t get great reviews. The Ziggy’s gal has been incredibly honest with me, discussing their definite pitfalls and that Ziggy’s really will go to bat for you to get you the quality you deserve if you do not receive it – really each order seems like it’s different. The designer also has mid continent in her home and loves them. They sell Starmark there as well and I’ve been through all the colors, but this gal truly is as happy to sell me Mid Continent as Starmark, knowing there is a price difference and quality, she just wants me happy with my kitchen. That being said – Mid continent upgrade to all plywood, etc. – would it be an ok choice? Thanks! Love this blog!!

  676. pmcalary, April 11, 2019 at 6:17 pm:

    Hi Julie,
    Why are you choosing between two extremes? Starmark is very expensive and Mid Continent is inexpensive, poorly made, and not a great value. There is lots of middle ground. Home Depot sells American Woodmark for example.
    Also when people have a hard time selecting colors it usually also means that they don’t have great design abilities so I worry that your design is poor and that you don’t realize it.
    I would encourage you to email us your design before you buy your cabinets and to call on a Friday between 2-4 pm EST to discuss any design mistakes we see.

  677. Julie Kautzman, April 11, 2019 at 7:51 pm:

    Ok thanks Paul!! I am just particular about the shade of wood I like and I haven’t found it. I have looked at Home Depot and Ziggy’s more than I care to and have ordered sample after sample. I like the design, I just don’t like the color of cabinets, guess I am looking for something quite particular. I would think Mid Continent was no worse than American Woodmark from what I’ve been told. Our contractor told us no go on American Woodmark but I haven’t talked to him about Mid Continent. From reading your blog over and over it seems that when it comes to cabinets in the end it’s less important than design, meaning that if you upgrade construction on most cabinets they will be ok vs not liking your design. I am happy with our design. I just don’t like the wood shades and I have looked at a lot of them. Thanks for your input, always appreciated!!

  678. Jamie, April 15, 2019 at 5:45 pm:

    Hi Ted,

    What do you know about Ted Wood cabinets?

  679. pmcalary, April 16, 2019 at 8:15 am:

    Ted Wood is a custom cabinet line that looks nice but doesn’t give specifications on their web site so we can not list them.

  680. Fdalsani, April 16, 2019 at 5:05 pm:

    Hello! I don’t see a review of US Cabinet Depot. What can you say about their quality?

  681. pmcalary, April 16, 2019 at 5:59 pm:

    We do not rate any RTA or cabinetry that can be purchased online. Not because they are not well constructed. For example the Highland line from US cabinet depot is. But because not having a kitchen designer measure your home and help you with the most expensive home renovation you will likely undertake in your life is foolish.
    Thinking that you do not need professional design help redoing your kitchen is common but also both arrogant and ill advised. Even worse that allowing inexperienced people to order a kitchen they designed is giving them design software to create a kitchen design. I would compare it to giving a loaded weapon to a child without training. Calamity is almost certain to ensue.

  682. Em, April 16, 2019 at 11:02 pm:

    Thank you for all of the good info on this site. What do you think of Tuscany Hill cabinets (Costco)compared to Kraftmaid?

  683. pmcalary, April 17, 2019 at 7:31 am:

    Hi Em,
    Thank you for bringing to my attention the fact that Costco is now selling custom cabinetry. The craziness of homeowners valuing cabinets over kitchen designers has reached the highest level of insanity.
    Most kitchen designers with 10 years experience designing kitchens 40 plus hours per week could not design a kitchen in custom cabinets that both took advantage of the custom features available and did not have mistakes. The need for custom cabinetry or even a more expensive cabinet lines like Kraftmaid only makes financial sense when the layout of the kitchen has been altered to create the best design by moving doorways, walls, windows and other construction elements. Once those things have been done to create the layout needed then splurging on custom or high end cabinets, appliances, and the most expensive countertops can make sense. This is because the layout and design are what make a home valuable and not the materials splurged on. And well made inexpensive cabinetry is available so why spend extra money on a bad design when spending a few thousand dollars on the extra construction could fix the layout of a poorly designed home.
    Selling homeowners custom cabinets without the help of an experienced kitchen designer is taking advantage of the homeowners ignorance about the complexities of kitchen design.
    We are given terrible preliminary designs everyday done by architects, interior designers, and contractors that believe they know enough to design a well thought out kitchen project. We see a successful design attempt from these pseudo kitchen design professionals only a couple of times a year, if even that. I can’t even fathom the craziness of the designs created when homeowners are ordering custom kitchen cabinetry without the most experienced and talented professional kitchen design help.

  684. saj, April 17, 2019 at 8:21 am:


    Thank you for this site.
    What s opinion about DeWils and Woodland Cabinetry in quality?

    Thank You

  685. pmcalary, April 17, 2019 at 9:59 am:

    Hi Saj,
    While both of these custom cabinet lines give no specifics on how they manufacture cabinets, I would assume that since they are full custom cabinet lines that they will make cabinets any way you ask them. They will have a standard construction for both framed and frameless cabinetry but neither tells you what that is. As I have said many times, if you are getting custom cabinetry you should be selecting door styles and finishes that custom lines do better. IE inset cabinetry, furniture like stains, unusual finishes like glazes, brush strokes or distressing, unusual wood species like Walnut or Bamboo, ect. Getting painted, off white, shaker, full overlay door style in custom cabinetry is just throwing money away unless the design need custom cabinetry. Examples of designs that would need custom cabinetry would be very complex designs with combined stacked cabinetry, wainscotting panels built into cabinet sides, custom hoods, unusual cabinet dimensions like extra tall base cabinets or 38″ high wall cabinets. Generally, unusual widths are not a reason to get custom cabinetry however sometimes in small kitchens custom widths can make a design more symmetrical.
    Since custom cabinetry will be between 70% and 300% more than well constructed but inexpensive semi custom cabinetry I would make sure the added money I was spending was being appreciated. Nearly all customers can not notice a difference between a custom cabinet and a semi custom cabinet in full overlay painted cabinetry.
    And if you are not working with a very experienced kitchen designer and are working with an architect then custom cabinetry is almost certainly being used ineffectively.
    One of my greatest frustrations as a kitchen designer has always been when architects bring their very wealthy clients into the showroom to select the most expensive custom cabinetry that the kitchen showroom carries. Then when they give us the plans to quote the price of the cabinetry that their customer selected the design is ridiculously amateurish.

  686. saj, April 17, 2019 at 11:19 am:

    Thank you very much!

  687. Em, April 18, 2019 at 11:34 pm:

    Hello,again! Thank you for your info. My kitchen is just a small galley and I am working with a contractor and kitchen designer. The design is straight forward. Like you recommend, I don’t need real high end cabinets, but want to make sure the cabinets I get will stand the test of time. Any recommendations? Thx!

  688. Em, April 19, 2019 at 12:05 am:

    Just to clarify my earlier comment,Tuscan Hills offers Costco customers a discount.

  689. Paul McAlary, April 19, 2019 at 6:51 am:

    Hi Em,
    I would get Kraftmaid because whatever dealer you bought from could possibly improve or fix your design. You could also send us the design you are considering to check for errors. I would not trust any person that designed kitchens that didn’t work for a dealer and certainly no one at Costco is qualified to sell custom cabinetry. Nearly every customer that tells us that their design is fine they just want great cabinets has a design full of mistakes when we see it. Feel free to call on a Friday between 2 and 4 pm EST. You can email your design to us and we can check it for issues.

  690. Suzanne P, April 20, 2019 at 3:32 pm:

    Your website is a goldmine!. We are doing a whole kitchen remodel. Not a ‘forever home’ but want something we will love and will last, because who knows. We have Two all custom (cabinetmaker himself builds) quotes (one at 49k, another at 30k), Designers Choice cabinets at 29k, Clique Studios cabinets at $16k. I’ve asked for 3/4″ plywood construction, framed cabinets, slab fronts, dovetail joinery, softclose, in each case. Also waiting on a Kraftmaid quote. We wanted black stained oak door fronts but in a prior post you advised against this? Any comments on the pricing/cabinets mentioned.

  691. pmcalary, April 20, 2019 at 4:54 pm:

    The dark stained Oak from Clique Studios is very nice and quarter-sawn Oak. It is regular oak in lighter stains that is so out of fashion. 3/4 inch sides are actually overkill on a framed cabinet. While it is better I would have gotten it free on my own kitchen and didn’t bother. The most important thing here is that the oak is quarter-sawn in a similar espresso stain to the Clique Studios, and that the kitchen designer is talented and experienced. We never recommend ordering cabinets on line so I would pay a little more and order 6Square from a dealer (it is Clique Studios under another name) and have a true kitchen designer to work with. If you like the color and doorstyle there is no need to pay more unless your design calls for sizes not available in a less expensive cabinet line.

  692. Sue Tipler, April 21, 2019 at 2:12 pm:

    Hi! We’re looking to replace our kitchen cabinets at our cottage and would appreciate some input. We know we want something mid-range in price but is still good quality. The house is in Beaverton, Michigan and are clueless as to finding the right dealer. The big box stores have products that look nice on the outside but aren’t the best construction. We’re thinking of a distressed cream color that will show off the light hickory floors. Any suggestions?

  693. Sam M, April 21, 2019 at 5:28 pm:

    Does anyone have thoughts on Karman painted cabinets?I’m concerned about the MDF as the cabinets will be in a few bathrooms.

  694. pmcalary, April 22, 2019 at 8:46 am:

    Hi Sam,
    Karman are frameless cabinets with particleboard sides. Not a fan of frameless cabinetry in general unless used for the most contemporary doorstyles. There are better options available. And yes for a bathroon all the MDF is probably not a good idea.

  695. pmcalary, April 22, 2019 at 9:07 am:

    Hi Sue,
    You might be confused on a few issues:

    First that you need to spend a lot of money to get a well made cabinet. The price of cabinetry has little to do with how well it is made. The least expensive RTA cabinets could be very well built if put together correctly, while some of the most expensive cabinetry would be terribly made if you didn’t upgrade the construction.
    Second that home centers don’t sell some very well constructed cabinetry. Upgraded most of the more expensive lines sold at Home Depot and Lowes are very well made. This includes Kraftmaid, Decora, Schuler, Diamond, and some other brands. The issue with home centers is that the designers are often very inexperienced and prone to creating poor designs and making mistakes.
    Third any cabinetry that comes distressed will not be mid price ranged as only the more expensive brands distress cabinetry and distressing adds up to 25% to the cost of the cabinetry.
    Lastly I don’t see that much correlation between a distressed cream color and showing off light hickory floors. Most finishes other than a light wood close in color to the floors would contrast the floors and so highlight both. A light cream color works but so does almost any painted finish and any stains that are not close in color to the floors.

  696. Jay, April 22, 2019 at 7:49 pm:

    Great info.! We are looking at CNC and like the way they look. I am working with my neighbor who owns two cabinet shops. Our home is $500k plus. I asked him if it was worth it to spend more if we are selling in 14 years and he said no. Am I being cheap? We are looking at the Concord Harmony line. I was not concerned until I read this thread and no finish seems to raise a concern for me. Your thoughts?

  697. pmcalary, April 23, 2019 at 10:53 am:

    We occasionally sell CNC cabinetry but only to people flipping homes and contractors for rentals. If you are at all picky you should pay 10 to 20% more for cabinets and upgrade to a slightly more expensive cabinet line like Fabuwood, Wolf Classic, J&K, or Procraft. Also in the cabinet world neighbors may not be doing you any favors. It is rare that cabinet dealers place their potential customers best interest above there own. And designing a kitchen in CNC will limit what designs are possible.
    Your neighbor could be like many cabinet dealers and not actually be a good kitchen designer, just a good businessman. That is a dangerous relationship to cultivate. Often business owners of cabinet dealerships are the most clueless of all. I remember the fights I used to get into when I worked at a very prestigious dealership owned by a non-designer. The dealership would not allow my business cards to say “Kitchen Designer”. They wanted my cards to say”Cabinet Sales”. They believed that design had little value and we should only be concerned with sales. Of course if you are a great designer you will sell a lot of kitchens and have happier customers but that was a dynamic they placed no value on. And so they would sell any design no matter how terrible and actually encouraged bad design and selling shoddy cabinetry.
    Even dealers that sell exclusively the most expensive custom cabinetry often place zero value on design and only want to sell the designs that there wealthy customers and their architects come up with no matter how amateurish. They believe that it’s better to simply give people what they want than to explain what designs might be better and risk alienating a customer or architect. This is one of the reasons I started my company and why we use a completely different business model. We place design above all else, and risk losing a customer by insisting they at least see better designs than what they might at first believe that they want. This way final designs are most often compromises between the designers ideas and the customers. Losing a few head strong potential customers is outweighed by the people that love us for helping them create a better kitchen.

  698. Jay, April 23, 2019 at 4:23 pm:

    Hello again, thanks for your response. Do you know anything about Pioneer Cabinets?

  699. Paul McAlary, April 23, 2019 at 5:28 pm:

    Pioneer cabinets from their on line description would not do well in our rating system. The 1/4 inch backs and MDF box would get a C at best. Not a good value here.

  700. Pete Sadowski, April 24, 2019 at 9:23 am:

    Have you heard of Conestoga Cabinets? They are RTA cabinets, made in the USA, buy Conestoga Wood Specialties, who also make most of the doors and drawer fronts for most of the major cabinet manufacturers, such as Kraftmaid, etc. I sell them, and I actually sell to a lot of custom cabinet shops, who turn around and sell them as their own. I personally of never seen better cabinets. They offer custom sizing w/o an up charge. You should check them.

  701. Scott, April 24, 2019 at 1:03 pm:

    Hi Paul,

    Can you share a bit more on what drove the rating for Echelon? I have a quote that is 1.5x less than Cabico with 1/2″ ply, dovetail drawers, soft close, full extension, etc. Your rating concerns me a bit with the B- quality/C value. Quoted in Maple. Thank you.

  702. JDC1983, April 24, 2019 at 1:48 pm:

    After looking at reviews and reading the comment stream, I’m still undeceided on what would be the best value for an a white inset cabinet. The kitchen is large so value is going to play a big part. I have not recieved pricing back yet, but have been told by a number of people that Mouser or Starmark would be my best bet. Any others that you would recommend that provide a budget friendly inset white cabinet? I appreiate your help.

  703. pmcalary, April 24, 2019 at 4:21 pm:

    We like Brighton for the value. It has more ability to customize than Starmark and is a little less. But those are fine selections too.

  704. pmcalary, April 24, 2019 at 4:31 pm:

    Hi Scott,
    Without researching again I would guess that the cabinet box in some way (probably the back or hanging rail) does not meet our minimum construction requirements to get an A for construction and since many inexpensive cabinet lines do they would automatically get a poor value rating. You don’t say what door style and finish you are looking for which can effect what lines make sense.

  705. pmcalary, April 24, 2019 at 4:42 pm:

    Hi Pete,
    We don’t really review any RTA lines other than IKEA as we believe kitchen designers and dealers are needed to design kitchens. Dealers that built their own Conestoga cabinetry would need to be rated individually. The Conestoga product can be a good value depending on who designs and sells the cabinets. Often though the companies that assemble their own cabinetry have less capable and knowledgeable designers and are focusing on just selling boxes.

  706. Scott Harrison, April 24, 2019 at 8:57 pm:

    Hi Paul,

    Thank you for the response. Yes makes sense and a good question to ask. I am looking at the Addison 5 piece door with a stain. Great sight and valuable insight. Thank you.

  707. pmcalary, April 25, 2019 at 7:04 am:

    Hi Scott,
    On a stained finish some of the more expensive better made lines will have nicer finishes so spending more for cabinetry might be worth it. However there are lots of mid level priced cabinetry that we give a better rating to. HomeCrest, Timberlake, American Woodmark at Home Depot, Shenandoah, at Lowes etc. If you are getting a dark stain there will be some US owned imported cabinet lines that will be less expensive that you might like such as J&K, Fabuwood, or Wolf. The light finishes on Maple look better with the more expensive cabinet lines. The dark finishes can be done on Birch less expensively and the price of the cabinet line has little bearing on how well they are constructed. Some expensive cabinet lines are poorly constructed and some inexpensive ones very well constructed.

  708. Jason Yardley, April 25, 2019 at 9:33 pm:

    We just had someone recommend JSI Cabinetry for our kitchen. I see on your ratings there are a 1 , B+, B+. This seems like good quality at a reasonable price. Is there anything we should know about the quality or what to look for with these cabinets? Thanks! Glad I came across this blog.

  709. Robert S, April 25, 2019 at 11:10 pm:

    Your Blog is fantastic…its so difficult to navigate all the cabinet brands out there…your website has helped me narrow down the list! We are redoing our kitchen after 20 years…We are looking for painted cabinets (white and blue)…still undecided between flat or raised panel but leaning towards flat panel…we have been looking at Starmark (both standard series and Crew series – primary diff is 3/4″ plywood v. 1/2″ plywood box and ~25% cheaper if you like the styles the Crew series offers), Brighton, Merillat Masterpiece (btw our current kitchen are Merillat Classic maple natural finish cabinets and we were very happy with their durability) and Crown-Select or Crown Point (which you can only buy direct — the crown select is ~ 25% cheaper with limited choices and slighly lesser construction)… I have 3 questions I was hoping you could help us with…we have not received all prices back yet and we have a good sized kitchen…

    1. The construction of the cabinets for all these brands appear to be solid (even the reduced price series mentioned for Starmark and Crown) but $ for $ which of these brands do you like?
    2. Starmark indicates that they use a varnish for their cabinets while the other brands use paint finish… is there a difference in durability (ppl have told us paint can chip)?
    3. Lastly, all of these brands use a veneer and MDF on the center panel for some of the recessed panel doors (except Brighton I believe but not sure) …and all the designers tell us it does not sacrifice the quality of the door but as you have mentioned keeps from showing seams in the door panel…is the veneered MDF good quality? Should we pay the extra $ for all wood panels? Is it worth it? I am assuming from these manufacturers the doors would have to be of high quality?

    Thanks for your great site and providing all this information and insight into a very expensive proposition! Greatly appreciated!

  710. pmcalary, April 26, 2019 at 9:20 am:

    Hi Robert,
    1 Merillat Masterpiece uses a 1/2″ hanging rail on their wall cabinets which makes them less well constructed than the other lines. 1/2″ plywood sides are fine 3/4″ is great but not normally needed in a framed cabinet.
    2 The Starmark and the Brighton finishes are probably slightly more durable but all paints and conversion varnishes can chip. We don’t notice much difference in this across any lines. Stains are unquestionably more durable than any type painted finish. So don’t judge painted finish durability by your present cabinets. You have no issues with your present wall cabinets pulling off the wall? If not you must not be overloading the wall cabinets. That would be my worry with Merillat.
    3 A MDF Center panel if flat is both a better idea and value.

  711. pmcalary, April 26, 2019 at 9:30 am:

    Hi Jason,
    They are a good value in an inexpensive line. Typically assembled they are sold for very close to the price of IKEA cabinetry unassembled and far far better constructed. There are many lines around this price point and quality of construction. The weakness of these lines tends to be that the stained finishes are not as attractive as more expensive US lines. If you like the finish you are selecting than that’s all that matters. Why pay a lot more? Also in less expensive lines shipping problems such as damages in transit are more likely because the companies use less expensive carriers. Cabinets are warranted against shipping damage but it can be annoying and inconvenient.

  712. Deb, April 26, 2019 at 11:13 am:

    Scott, I just want to say thank you. You are very generous to share your knowledge and experience, and most especially your time to answer all these questions. I don’t know why you do this but you are awesome!

  713. Robert S, April 26, 2019 at 1:16 pm:

    Thank you for the insights…agree with Deb that sharing your knowledge with us is greatly appreciated…will likely have more questions as we start to get bids in…too bad you do not serve the westchester ny area…would definitely be doing business with you…

  714. Christina G Bromante, April 27, 2019 at 8:06 pm:

    We are going to do our kitchen and would like to do know for the money which of these brands are the best. Fabuwood, Kraftmaid, Decora or Waypoint. We have a good size kitchen and don’t want to break the bank. Which is the best at a reasonable price? Kraftmaid and Decora at Home Depot are on sale at 30% off.

  715. pmcalary, April 28, 2019 at 12:27 pm:

    Hi Christina,
    You don’t say what style and finish cabinetry you are choosing nor do we know the design you are considering which effects what cabinet line makes the most sense. 30% off sales at home centers are not real. Some home center sales like free finish upgrades or free plywood sides are real promotions that are from the manufacturers. A 10% off sale might be possible but still unlikely unless it was at the end of the year and designed to bump up sales in the forth quarter for the home center. 30% off sales are just referring to 30% off list pricing. No cabinet dealer sells cabinet for list price and list price isn’t even meaningful as some cabinet companies make their list price very high just so dealers can advertise up to 50% off.

    As always especially when you are working with home centers we would worry most about your kitchen design being a good design. Removing soffits, moving doorways, windows, or walls are always better investments than the cabinet line once you are talking about well built lines like the ones you mention.

  716. Samantha, April 29, 2019 at 6:15 am:

    This is this most helpful post on the internet when looking for Cabinets. I’ve been through it a few times and checked all the comments and I don’t see anything about the Deerfield line from The design they gave me is perfect, the customer service has been great. I’m wondering how you would rate the cabinets? They do come assembled and the specs seem good? Thanks!

  717. Paul McAlary, April 29, 2019 at 7:26 am:

    Hi Samantha,
    We don’t rate cabinets sold on line for several reasons.
    The first and biggest reason is that it is not really possible to do an even adequate job designing a kitchen in an existing home without visiting the home and measuring the kitchen and surrounding space personally. Checking walls for stack pipes, determining what’s in soffits, seeing how square and level a kitchen is is also important.
    When an online cabinet company takes your measurements and design ideas and makes them a reality they are using measurements taken by someone not qualified to measure and making the customer happy through implementing ideas unfiltered through a qualified professionals lens.
    At our company I tell all our designers to not listen to our customers while working on their first design and to create the best design for their kitchen within the customer’s budget. The design can be changed from that point, but customers will never see the best layout for the space if we simply create the design they ask for. By showing customers what they didn’t ask for and couldn’t have envisioned without our help we give them a design starting point that as they make changes to they better understand why they might want to keep many of the trade-offs the designer selected.
    The resulting compromise kitchen is always far better than a customer would have selected without our help. The best kitchen designers try to steer customers away from their bad ideas even at the expense of losing their business.
    The problem many customers have is that they falsely believe that they are competent to measure a kitchen and that the design they envision is a good one. This is due to the IKEA EFFECT. Please read up on this very common delusion.
    While not all professional kitchen designers are competent and very few designers are great ones many if not most customers believe they are capable of designing their kitchen without a kitchen design professionals help. As professional kitchen designers we know this is ridiculous and in fact the more peripheral knowledge a customer has for example being an architect, an engineer, or a contractor usually the worse their kitchen design is. A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.

  718. Julie Kautzman, April 30, 2019 at 1:08 pm:

    Hi Paul, Julie Kautzman here again. Another question and I know your company has not seen our design yet, but I have a cabinet question. As you know I’ve looked for quite sometime trying to find a wood cabinet I like. I found one in Mid Continent that was so so and you told me your thoughts on that. I also understand that home center sales don’t mean a lot in terms of if you’re getting a decent deal. I have finally found a Maple wood cabinet shaker style that I like the color. A lot. It is a Decora cabinet from HD. The quote for the cabinets was $2,000 above Starmark. Thoughts? I cannot find a coloring I like in Starmark is an issue for me, but of course I don’t read much negative press about them, but do find more negative comments online about Decora. I think you are a fan of Decora from what I’ve read, just wondering if a quote that much more than Starmark seems reasonable for Decora quality and craftsmanship? I believe Lowes sells Diamond which is the same cabinet and colors (different names) but I assume their prices would be similar to HD. Thanks so much as always!

  719. Paul McAlary, April 30, 2019 at 2:07 pm:

    Hi Julie,
    Decora is a great line. It is usually around Starmark pricing but when homeowners get quotes they are never apples to apples because some designers will be including flush sides, extra moldings, and other upgrades you aren’t aware of.

  720. Jody Phelps, April 30, 2019 at 11:30 pm:

    I just found out today when I was about to write the check to order our Brookhaven cabinets that my designer was planning on ordering MDF vs maple cabinets. The cabinets are square edged presidio recessed, with a vintage white finish. I know the pros and cons of MDF but I am having trouble saying yes to anything but real wood. What would you do? The contractor wants me to put in the order to stay on our timeline so I don’t have time to do much research. Thanks!

  721. pmcalary, May 1, 2019 at 6:09 am:

    Hi Jody,
    As far as the cabinet box is concerned you should upgrade to plywood sides with soft close doors and drawers. The door itself is probably maple with an MDF recessed panel which I prefer to a maple panel that can shrink. As long as the frame of the door is solid wood you are fine.

  722. Ashley C, May 1, 2019 at 3:24 pm:

    I have continuously returned to your website throughout my remodel planning! I am purchasing through my kitchen cabinets through a lumber/design company and am debating between two cabinet lines; JSI and Omega. Both cabinets would be fully assembled (even the JSI), dovetail construction, all plywood, soft close drawers, etc. Omega quote is $9,500 and the JSI is $7,500 with less color choices. Do you have a recommendation or a list of pros and cons to consider?

  723. pmcalary, May 2, 2019 at 9:04 am:

    Hi Ashley,
    You don’t say what type of door style and finish you are considering or if the Omega cabinets are framed or frameless. If the Omega are frameless I go with the JSI and save money. If the Omega upgraded and framed construction I pick either depending on whether I like the finish enough to pay the added cost. Expect possibly more shipping damage with the JSI but everything is warranted and will be replaced if damaged.

  724. Ashley C, May 2, 2019 at 9:41 am:

    As a follow up the Omega is the Dynasty line. Renner door style with a W outside profile. They are a plywood framed construction. 1 1/2″ face frame.

  725. Tammy Romano, May 2, 2019 at 9:55 am:

    Hi. I’m trying to decide between Fabuwood, 21st Century & Hassem cabinets. We plan on staying in this home for about 10 years. Any advice would be appreciated

  726. Paul McAlary, May 2, 2019 at 10:56 am:

    I pick either depending on whether I like the Omega finish enough to pay the added cost. If you like the finishes equally I’d save the money.

  727. pmcalary, May 2, 2019 at 12:47 pm:

    Hi Tammy,
    I think All three are good. Depending on the door style and finish I would usually pick Fabuwood over the other two which is why we carry that line among the ones we sell.

  728. Tammy Romano, May 2, 2019 at 2:33 pm:

    Thank you. I’ve been working with a cabinet person I’ve used in the past and he only sells 21st Century & Hansen. 21st Century is about 25% less. I think Hassen is coming out similar to Fabuwood. Just curious as to why you would pick Fabuwood.


  729. Zack, May 2, 2019 at 4:51 pm:

    Hello are you familiar with cliqstudios on online cabinet company? Are there products any good? Debating between them and American Woodmark upgraded to all plywood from home depot. Prices are similar. Thank you!

  730. pmcalary, May 2, 2019 at 9:59 pm:

    Hi Zack,
    We actually sell CliqStudios cabinetry under another name so we obviously like the cabinet line. That being said. American Woodmark (which we don’t sell) upgraded is equally well made and I think that buying even well made cabinets online is a mistake. When you buy cabinetry online, there is no professional guaranteeing the measurements or that the design works in your home or a place to come out and inspect any problems. Buying a toaster online can be fine… a kitchen – not so much.

  731. pmcalary, May 2, 2019 at 10:15 pm:

    Hi Tammy,
    I picked the line I liked best in general. That’s why we carry Fabuwood. You still are not telling me the door style and finishes you like so choosing another line makes little sense without this important information. The fact that you aren’t considering anything but price and don’t even mention door style, finish, or the design itself tells me that you need help with your design. Consider sending us your deign to evaluate and calling for an appraisal on a Friday between 2 and 4 pm EST.

  732. Tammy, May 3, 2019 at 7:11 am:


    Thank you. We are buying basic white shaker doors. We do have a design and I have comparison shopped. I’ve renovated a kitchen before, but I had a larger budget and purchased semi-custom Kountry Kraft. I think I’m finding myself worried about purchasing stock cabinets. Also my designer doesn’t have a showroom which is why I’m nervous about purchasing the 21 st Century over the Fabuwood which I have seen in person. Here are the basics: 1-33″x42″ upper; 2-30’x42′ uppers; wood hood; 1-36″ base with a roll out shelf for lids inside the cabinet; 18″ trash;27″ micro drawer; 18″ drawers; 2 24″ lowers to create a coffee bar; upper and wood to surround cabinet depth fridge. I will also have a 68’x 49.5′ island which will house the sink, dishwasher and one small opening for platters. The island will have brackets or legs. I do not need any cabinets opening on the seating side. and of course fillers and crown. That is it. Not a very big kitchen.

  733. pmcalary, May 3, 2019 at 8:23 am:

    Hi Tammy,
    Even from your list of cabinets I sense design problems. You need a good kitchen designer. A designer that doesn’t sell cabinets and just designs from their home and has you order online or elsewhere is not a professional kitchen designer. Send us your floor plan or perspectives and we can steer you in the right direction. From the cabinet list I sense you have the most common amatuer design mistake, that of jamming 10 pounds of sausage in a 6 pound wrapper to get you the things you want even if it breaks every design rule and space requirement.
    For example when designing a kitchen with 42″ high wall cabinets your ceiling should be around 102″ high which is an uncommon height ceiling. If you have the more common 96″ high ceiling the design will not work at all. And if you have the also common 108″ high ceiling the design will look unfinished with the sizes you mention and the wood hood. You can email me your design at

  734. Abbie, May 6, 2019 at 12:03 pm:

    hi i am looking to redo my kitchen with white shaker cabinets on a budget
    and i was recommended to use CNC, JSI or US cabinet depot. I understand that the US Cabinet Depot has HDf cabinet doors, while the other companies have solid wood. I have two active boys who may climb or hang on the cabinets (although i try to avoid this). which company would you recommend that would be most durable, least chipping and best value? Thanks for all your help.

  735. pmcalary, May 6, 2019 at 1:13 pm:

    Either CNC or JSI. Painted cabinetry from any cabinet line is more likely to chip and be damaged by water than a stained cabinet. For value I would recommend Fabuwood over both lines. If you can afford about 15% more Fabuwood will be nicer looking and offer more customization and SKU’s.

  736. CB, May 6, 2019 at 4:23 pm:

    have you heard of Custome Wood Products from St. Marys, Kansas.
    If so what do you know about them and what about Kemper Choice cabinets

  737. Mike, May 8, 2019 at 11:12 am:

    I am currently in the early phases of planning a kitchen remodel and have been researching cabinets that are sold by kitchen design firms in my area. Do you have any information with regards to price and quality on Cubitac cabinets?

  738. pmcalary, May 8, 2019 at 11:28 am:

    We have never been able to see a spec book on Cubitec and they give zero information on line on how they construct their cabinets. This is not the transparent business model that we respect.

  739. pmcalary, May 8, 2019 at 11:29 am:

    No information and I don’t even see a web site

  740. MIke, May 8, 2019 at 11:39 am:

    I am sorry, I had a typo. It is Cubitac Cabinets.

  741. pmcalary, May 8, 2019 at 12:05 pm:

    Hi Mike,
    Yes sorry for the confusion. Cubitac has no information on their site about construction. We’ve tried several times to specs on their cabinets.

    It’s CB’s Custome Wood Products from St. Marys, Kansas that doesn’t appear to have a web site.

  742. Jonathan, May 9, 2019 at 12:51 am:

    I have been a designer selling cabinets for over 24 years now. I now represent multiple brands of cabinetry and note that several of your pricing and ratings need updating. Medallion and Yorktowne are now identical in construction and finish. They both have superior finish to other semi-custom brands. They use pocket screwed construction and true wood glue where brands like kraftmaid use staples and hot melt to speed assembly. Yorktowne currently shows as a three pricewise with low quality and value scores while medallion is a 5 with higher scores. When their pricing is identical. Also, medallion and yorktowne come under Brookhaven, Dynasty, and way under Plato. In a recent pricing exercise, Yorktowne priced the same as Midcontinent when comparing apples to apples construction but the yorktowne finish is superior to midcon/wolf designer. Part of the confusion may be that Yorktowne and Medallion offer three levels of construction with upgrades available at each level. You also have showplace as a 3 when Medallion/Yorktowne price lower on apples to apples product comparisons. I represent Cabico and I agree it starts as a 4 pricewise but also has its’ full custom elmwood series. Medallion and yorktowne both price under Cabico now based on our pricing comparisons. I formerly was a factory representative and I agree with your 4-5 price rating for Wellborn. But I’d place them as B or C for quality/value compared to several of the other lines listed. I hope when you update this for 2019 that you will correct some of these as I have consumers ask me about this blog often. So kudos to you for building such an influential site.

  743. pmcalary, May 9, 2019 at 9:25 am:

    This was my first reply to Jonathan. He was correct though and all of us were wrong about the Yorktown Medallion comparison. I am leaving my first reply to keep the blog honest – and we are taking all his points under review,

    Hi Jonathan,
    We’ll consider your evaluations both shortly and when we do our next update early 2020. I do disagree but will check with other experts on your comparison between Yorktowne and Medallion. The finishes aren’t even close in looks and while Yorktown might now be upgradable to better construction it is still a lower tied cabinet in it’s ability to customize. When we get critiques rating a line (like Yorktowne here) so differently and when the poster is a rep for the company, as you are, we have to take the info with a grain of salt until further investigation.
    But thanks for the input we can’t follow all the upgrades in these lines and we need help from dealers and reps when things change.

  744. Barbara, May 10, 2019 at 5:24 pm:

    We have been working with a designer that sells Designer’s Choice cabinetry. Please share any words of wisdom you may have about this brand. Many thanks. Coming from Florida

  745. pmcalary, May 11, 2019 at 8:23 am:

    The high rating we gave Designers choice was for the upgraded framed Presidential Line. Their Euro Line would get a lower rating because it is frameless but for a frameless line it is well constructed.

  746. Robert S, May 14, 2019 at 10:39 pm:

    I am providing an update on my search for cabinets…we received bids from Starmark (Crew Series), Brighton, Merillat Masterpiece and Plain & Fancy. All cabinets came in around the same price (within $1k-$2k – on a base price of $22.5k-$24k) with similar designs. We tend to like the design laid out by the designer and the finish on Plain & Fancy cabinets the best but wanted to get your thoughts? I understand these are high end custom cabinets and from your ratings…seems you think highly of them as well…are they as good a quality as I think they are?

  747. pmcalary, May 15, 2019 at 8:38 am:

    Hi Robert,
    Even though we love and carry Brighton I would have to say that the Plain and Fancy price is a bargain and the highest end line that you list. Make sure that you are comparing apples to apples because Pain and Fancy is normally 20% more than any of the other lines. With high end custom cabinets there are so many choices that comparing apples to apples is hard. Inset and beaded inset doors are the mark of the highest end lines. If you are selecting that style it could be one reason that the costs are as close as they are.

  748. Lindsey, May 15, 2019 at 3:15 pm:

    My husband and I are currently building a new home and using Kraftmaid cabinetry. We had originally wanted to go with Diamond but after seeing Kraftmaid rated better and the pricing was much better on Kraftmaid it made the choice easy. Can you tell me if you feel there are any advantages to Diamond over Kraftmaid? Our options were Echelon, Aristokraft, Merillat, Kraftmaid, Diamond or Fieldstone.

  749. Marissa, May 16, 2019 at 3:11 pm:

    Hi Paul,
    Thank you so much for the invaluable information on this blog. We are in the middle of a full-house renovation, with an estimated completion date of around mid-August. Two weeks ago, we put in our order and 50% deposit for a custom kitchen design (cabinets, island, sideboard with hutch) to Brookhaven. However, Woodmode/Brookhaven completely and unexpectedly shut down on Monday. We are at a loss for what to do. Is there another line that you would suggest that would be comparable? Should we try contacting one of the two designers that you have recommended in NY (we are in NYC)? We need to try to stick to our original timeline as much as possible. The cabinets were going to be shaker style with inset doors, painted and with a vintage finish. Any advice you might have would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

  750. Bonnie, May 16, 2019 at 4:34 pm:

    My husband and I are considering a kitchen remodel. Our current L-shaped kitchen is 19 years old with contractor-grade cabinets. We are planning to remove soffits and include design changes to accommodate replacing the existing pantry with built-in pantry cabinets. We are looking at painted (antique white/ivory), raised panel doors and drawers, mostly drawers on the base cabinets and 42″ uppers. We are considering a stained island in a darker shade. The cabinet lines we are considering are: 1. Advantage by Bridgewood, Bridgewood, KraftMaid, Wellborn Forestry, and Collier. Can you please provide: 1) your cabinet preference order and 2) Would stacked cabinets with crown molding to the ceiling look correct if installed on 1 side of the kitchen? We have 10 feet high ceilings. Thank you!

  751. pmcalary, May 16, 2019 at 4:51 pm:

    Hi Marissa,
    In this extreme case where you have a complete kitchen designed and the cabinet line goes under usually the dealer you bought from can sell you another line. For example we sell 4 different custom lines. If this happened to us we would apply your deposit to one of the other custom lines and even give you a discount for the trouble.

    If that isn’t possible you should be able to take your plans and get another local dealer to sell you cabinets. If you are in a bind we would sell you cabinetry but the problem is you would have to see the finishes, door styles and other cabinet lines all the way in Philadelphia to make selections. Especially when time is of the essence long distance designing and selecting is probably not the best plan. However if you want to consider buying a kitchen from us feel free to call and I can explain the process. My direct line is 610-500-4071.

  752. pmcalary, May 16, 2019 at 4:58 pm:

    Hi Bonnie,
    If everything is upgraded to the same levels I would rate from top down Collier/ Kraftmaid/ Wellborn Forrest.
    With 10 foot high ceilings I would consider building a 6″ or 12″ tray ceiling. We would really need to see the design to comment further.

  753. Bonnie, May 16, 2019 at 5:27 pm:

    Hi Paul so would Advantage by Bridgewood and Bridgewood Custom be ranked 4 and 5th after Collier, Kraftmaid and Wellborn Forest?

    Thank you!

  754. paul mcalary, May 16, 2019 at 7:48 pm:

    Hi Bonnie,
    I don’t know those lines and they give no specifics on their web site

  755. Marissa, May 16, 2019 at 10:46 pm:

    Hi Paul, thanks so much for your response. From what I understand, the other cabinet lines carried by the dealer we were working with (Ultracraft, Hanssem) would not be as good quality as the Brookhaven would have been. We can look for another dealer, but the process feels a bit overwhelming now, so I think my husband or I may in fact reach out to you just to get a better understanding of our options. We can wait until your open 2-4 time tomorrow (Friday) to get in touch. Thanks again!

  756. Polly, May 16, 2019 at 10:48 pm:

    Hi Paul, thank you for this very helpful blog! How would you rate the Sole Design Cabinetry line ( compared to some of the other lines here? Also my designed mentioned that if I selected painted cabinets they could not be all wood due to warping and paint issues. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood what is meant by 100% wood? (I understand back/sides are plywood.) Thanks for your help!

  757. pmcalary, May 17, 2019 at 7:47 am:

    Hi Poly,
    All wood means Plywood sides, shelves and either a sold wood hanging rail or plywood back. Doors, drawers, drawer box, face frame, are all solid wood in aa “All Wood Cabinet”. There is no problem painting an all wood cabinet. If you are getting a recessed panel on your door style then having the recessed panel be MDF is fine – if not prefered. Otherwise no MDF or particleboard would be best.

    Never heard of Sole Design Cabinetry and their web site is pretty skimpy and says nothing about cabinet construction. Usually if cabinet companies have something to brag about about their cabinet construction they tell you. Your either misunderstood your designer or they don’t know what they are talking about or worse they are making stuff up so that also does not bode well.

  758. pmcalary, May 17, 2019 at 7:55 am:

    Hi Marissa,
    Yes those lines are much less expensive and don’t do inset cabinetry or the finishes that Wood-Mode was known for.

  759. Becky, May 17, 2019 at 10:12 am:

    Hi there,
    I intend to send you my kitchen design for your feedback today between 2 and 4 if that is still something you offer? Wondering your thoughts between three well rated lines..starmark, decora or wellborn forest upgrades to all plywood. Shaker style, maple painted white with a contrast color on the island. I am really concerned with durability of the finish over time as I have seen friends with not so old cabinets that look pretty beat up after only a few years. Also important for me to work with a reputable company that stands behind their products. Thank you in advance!

  760. pmcalary, May 17, 2019 at 11:49 am:

    Hi Becky,
    Yes we can look at plans Fridays between 2-4 pm EST.
    It is not the cabinet line that makes the paint get beat up it is paint itself. Paint is far more easily damaged than stains. It can be touched up easily by professionals. We haven’t noticed much of a difference in any of the cabinet lines in their durability of painted finishes. Except that some of the least expensive lines will paint over their light colors to make their dark colors and the pant just shows the scratches more dramatically then.l

  761. Carol P, May 18, 2019 at 5:20 pm:

    Hi. Please comment on where to get the “All Wood” framed cabinets that you rate. They get a 2/A/A. When I search, there is a company called “All Wood Cabinetry” in FL and one orders through Costco offers an additional discount on these and the company provides design services to Costco members. This company appears to be owned by Ideal Cabinetry. There is also a second company called “All Wood Cabinets” out of NJ. They appear to be a distributor and sell rta cabinets that look like they are well made. I would greatly appreciate a clarification on which “All Wood” you are speaking about. Thank you for your time and help.

  762. pmcalary, May 18, 2019 at 5:36 pm:

    Hi Carol,
    All these cabinet places are selling the same cabinetry, we assume, since the Logo for the cabinets is the same. Costco design services are probably pretty rough. That is the real issue with these cabinets. Not how they are made but who is doing the design. There is no question that the less experienced and less professional the designer the less valuable the renovation.

  763. carol, May 18, 2019 at 8:34 pm:

    Thank you for your response. In my case, the design was done professionally with very specific feedback on “requirments.” Mine is a big remodel job with a price tag for labor alone in the 25-35K due to flooring issues. The cabinets coming out are Brakaur custom solid cherry that have really not held up in the 15 years since the house was built. I am more into functionality and durability than making a statement with a “name” stamped somewhere–but resale is important. I really don’t want to waste hard earned money. My choices are All Wood Framed preassembled [18K on 30% off Costco special], All Wood RTA online [12K], J & K [20K], a local Chicago manufacturer “Builders Cabinet [??],” and Holiday Kitchen [26K]. I will probably sell the house in 5 years or so. Any thoughts would be appreciated. I am tired of agonizing over this, lol. Again, the design was not done by any of them.

  764. pmcalary, May 19, 2019 at 11:48 am:

    Hi Carol,
    From designing kitchens and listening to customers for 30 years I definitely get the vibe that your design is likely to have problems. Why don’t you send it to us to look at and we can tell you the mistakes we see providing you call and email on a Friday between 2-4 pm EST. My email is and you can call my direct line 610-500-4071 on Fridays between those hours to discuss the design. Anyone else outside our service area reading this is also free to call or email between those hours but we DO NOT take any calls or answer any emails from people outside our service area except during those hours.

  765. Madeline Tejada, May 19, 2019 at 4:29 pm:

    Hello! I ‘m considering JSI cabinets assembled and delivered for my new home. I’m looking at Yorktowne door which is a soft ivory frame but am afraid of the lighter cabinets since I’ve never had light colored cabinets before only wood stained. As far as construction I have experience with JSI assembled cabinets for a remodel I did in my current kitchen 2.5 yrs ago. I ordered Georgetowne door in Cherry finish. They seem to be very sturdy cabinets. So far no problems. I’m just nervous about ordering the yorketowne because of the color. Do you have any experience with this line and door style??

  766. pmcalary, May 19, 2019 at 4:41 pm:

    Hi Madeline,
    We rate JSI well for an inexpensive line. The Yorktown door style is not on their web site. For what it’s worth all panted cabinetry is more easily damaged than stained cabinetry. However it is much more popular at the moment.

  767. Madeline, May 20, 2019 at 10:19 am:

    I’m sorry I meant Yarmouth raised panel in ivory.

  768. Madeline, May 20, 2019 at 10:22 am:

    Do you recommend another cabinet line over JSI of similar price range, good plywood construction and door style as Yarmouth raised panel I can get in Massachusetts?

  769. pmcalary, May 20, 2019 at 10:33 am:

    We like Fabuwood, and Wolf which are a little more expensive. However all of these lines are about to have price increases due to the tarrifs.

  770. Trish Fletcher, May 21, 2019 at 8:32 am:

    Thoughts on covered bridge cabinetry? Tedd Wood? Also, when might Fabuwood costs increase? I am all over the place with cabinets. We purchased Yorktowne 13 years ago and we were extremely happy with the cabinets and I loved the finish. I feel like their finishes are now very shiny and I much prefer the matte. We had the color antique white with ebony glaze/highlights. Plan for Fabuwood in laundry area just really want a reliable kitchen cabinet (Looking at Decora, Crystal, Medallion/Yorktowne, Durasupreme). I’m open to suggestions!

  771. pmcalary, May 21, 2019 at 8:55 am:

    Hi Jonathan,
    Thanks so much for your input. We are totally reevaluating both Yorktowne and Medallion due to the Elkay Corporation merging the lines to a certain degree. Not being dealers for either line makes it hard to be fair. I updated and upgraded Yorktowne temporarily. Further revisions will be needed but I suspect that you are right on with pricing and construction. As a Rep for the lines you should know. Sorry I took your comments with a grain of salt initially. We get so many dealers and reps trying to post advertisements for their products on the blog that when we get honest that differes from what we think we know it is hard to evaluate. Updates to your lines will follow shortly. Also it is nice to see US lines becoming better made and more price sensitive. The newest tariffs will throw the market in a tizzy but US lines may be helped in the long run. A competitive market is better for everyone even if things cost a little more.

  772. pmcalary, May 21, 2019 at 9:09 am:

    Hi Trish,
    The Yorktowne of old was nowhere near the quality of upgraded Yorktowne today as we have just learned from Jonathan. You list all good cabinet choices. Prices for Fabuwood should rise shortly. My guess would be that Fabuwood would go up around 11% July first along with many other brands known to be imported as well as many brands thought to be US that are in fact not. Masterbrands and many other US lines that import cabinet fronts and doors will be hit.
    Just like the last wave of price increases expect even strickly US brands to increase in price as the pressure from the lower end of the cabinet market becomes less intense. My guess is that all cabinet prices increase at least 5%. Watch out too as lower priced cabinets switch to production in Vietnam from China. There are always bumps in the road when new plants startup.

  773. Patti, May 23, 2019 at 11:59 pm:

    Hi, Paul,
    I am a retired Kitchen Designer with 20+ years of design experience and have sold many of the cabinet lines you have reviewed and agree with your reviews. I could not agree more with you when you talk about getting good design and designer. Please, those of you asking questions and for advice, this is the most important thing you can do—get a great designer! There are so many little details that go overlooked that a great designer will take care of and your project will go so much better. There have also been quite a few comments about RTA cabinets. Again, please listen to Paul. DYI is not for everyone. The design shows on TV make it look a lot easier than it is and you may end up spending more than you save correcting your mistakes. That being said, I am using RTA cabinets for my kitchen remodel BUT I am a Kitchen Designer who knows how to measure and do creative designs, I worked in a custom cabinet shop where I had hands-on experience in the cabinet assembly, my husband and I have built our own cabinets in the past, and my husband is a contractor…and, yes, I’m still a little nervous about using them. I think I have done my research and picked a great company. 🙂
    Thanks so much, Paul, for a WONDERFUL site and being so available and patient in answering all the questions as well as giving us some valuable resources.
    Best wishes to everyone with their remodeling projects!

  774. Polly, May 24, 2019 at 8:36 am:

    I was about to place an order with a kitchen designer who works with Wood-Mode but the company closed. Doing white shaker framed look. Builder suggests Wellborn, Crystal, or Omega Pinnacle. What do you suggest?

  775. pmcalary, May 24, 2019 at 9:14 am:

    Hi Polly,
    Those are three very good choices. Your builder sounds like he knows a lot more about cabinetry than most. I would pick the dealer with the best reputation or the designer with the most experience when picking between three very good lines.
    Make sure that you are comparing apples to apples in each line and you have to be extra careful if a new company and new kitchen designer is selling you cabinets. All the conversations you had with the original designer did not happen with a new one. Make sure they measure the space and take responsibility for the design working and fitting.
    You don’t want one person ordering another persons design without going through at least some of the talks you already had with the first designer.

  776. pmcalary, May 24, 2019 at 9:39 am:

    Hi Patti,
    Thanks for the vote of confidence. Yes you are the exception to the rule and could more easily pull off an well designed and smooth RTA kitchen renovation. In fact if you are building the cabinets yourself and know what you are doing they could be built even better than in the factory.

    Still I wouldn’t have done it myself only because while saving 20% or even 30% on cabinetry is a lot of money, your time putting the cabinets together also has value, and having a dealer to work with instead of buying direct usually makes things run smoother – even when you are an expert.

    Good luck. I’m sure even if you run into a few extra hurdles going the RTA route you will be better prepared to get around them.

  777. Wendy, May 24, 2019 at 9:23 pm:

    Hi! We are starting our kitchen redesign and trying to pick cabinets. We came across FGM Cabinetry (Venus design) and like the looks but don’t see many reviews on them. We are also considering Fabuwood but I read they may use MDF and not plywood? Any thoughts on these two and which one to go with? We are looking for our kitchen to last for years to come! Thank you in advance!

  778. pmcalary, May 24, 2019 at 9:51 pm:

    Hi Wendy,
    I never heard of FGM. Fabuwood has all plywood construction so whoever said otherwise doesn’t know what they are talking about.

  779. Suzannah Cain, May 25, 2019 at 6:40 pm:

    I have been looking at JSI, Essex. The reviews are all over the place/ They are very affordable, but does that mean cheap and poor quality? I only want upper and the price variance between different vendors is really crazy. a 36×42 upper with glass doors painted white is around $433 (JSI) and over $650 with other vendors.

  780. pmcalary, May 26, 2019 at 8:40 am:

    Hi Suzannah,
    The cabinets are very inexpensive but well constructed. They will not look as expensive as other brands but should hold up well. There is a big price increase any day due to tariffs

  781. Steve Smith, May 27, 2019 at 11:27 am:

    Just heard that WoodMode/Brookhaven has abruptly shut their doors. Were these good lines to begin with? if so, what manufacturers are comparable in quality and price point?

  782. pmcalary, May 27, 2019 at 2:02 pm:

    Hi Steve,
    Yes both Wood-Mode and Brookhaven were very well made cabinets assuming you upgraded their construction to their plywood box. Their finishes were very nice as well. Their are many high end semi-custom lines that are equal to or similar to Brookhavem such as Kraftmaid, Decora, Medallion, Bishop, Fieldstone, Starmark and more. Their are very nice custom lines like Brighton that are similar to Wood-Mode in quality and their ability to customize but less expensive. And their are many lines close in price to Wood-Mode that have as nice or nicer finishes such as Grabill, Pain and Fancy, Wellsford, and most of the price level 6 lines on our review.
    As always with the higher end cabinet lines, it makes very little sense splurging on these manufacturers unless the kitchen designer you are working with is experienced enough to take advantage of what these lines have to offer.

  783. David K, May 28, 2019 at 10:13 am:

    Woodmode/Brookhaven went out of business last week, and I see that you have indicated that they are closed. How would you compare Durasupreme frameless with Brookhaven?

  784. pmcalary, May 28, 2019 at 12:20 pm:

    I’m actually not a fan of either frameless line. Both these companies make and made well made framed cabinets but frameless is and was not their specialty.

  785. Andy, May 28, 2019 at 3:04 pm:

    If you had to pick between wolf and fabuwood? Which one?

  786. pmcalary, May 28, 2019 at 3:50 pm:

    Wolf Classic and Fabuwood are made similarly. Less expensive Wolf lines I wouldn’t get. After that I would pick the color and style I liked best. But of course who the better designer is is most important of all.

  787. amanda, May 28, 2019 at 8:44 pm:

    In January I had asked for your opinion between Brookhaven and Evoke cabinets. We ended up going with Brookhaven over Evoke. However, the building of our house slowed down and we only signed the contract the Saturday before Wood Mode closed, so now we are scrambling around to try and find something. At the time you said you never heard of evoke but now I notice you have the company that makes them rated (RD Henry). I see that you give RD Henry good reviews but they have three cabinet lines. So I’m wondering if now you have more knowledge of this cabinet.
    We also could go with medallion, but not a fan of their color choices. Next week we are meeting with a company that works with Yorktowne and kraftmaid. We were really happy with what we getting from Brookhaven and hope to find that with another cabinet.
    Thank you

  788. pmcalary, May 29, 2019 at 7:07 am:

    Unlike the Heartland RD Henry line Evoke does not say how they are made on the RD Henry web site so we can not rate them. Medallion and Yorktowne are now made in the same plant so their colors may be the same. Possibly you will be happy with Kraftmaid. Kraftmaid and Wood-Mode’s Brookhaven were made in the same plant briefly 12 years ago.

  789. Nick, June 1, 2019 at 7:20 pm:

    I’ve gotten designs from both fabuwood and jsi showrooms. Both lines seem to have some limitations on things i was looking for, they are both very similar designs and importantly in my budget. JSI being a little cheaper. My carpenter recommended jsi over fabuwood in terms of value/quality..

    I know you recommend fabuwood over JSI due to blum hardware, but what i’m wondering is, due to the tariffs if you still feel that way in terms of value?

    Also due to the tariffs, are there any US made cabinets that comparatively are a better value now?

  790. pmcalary, June 2, 2019 at 8:45 am:

    Hi Nick,
    This is a good point to bring up.
    Just so everyone gets this…..
    This is true even when they say “built in the USA” “American made” etc.
    Most of the very inexpensive cabinet lines ARE United States companies they are just having their cabinetry built in other countries. Most presently in China and soon many will switch over to production in Vietnam. Some were going to Mexico but with even further political ajita that may change.

    So to be clear US companies like Fabuwood, JSI, CNC, Wolf (owned by the family of the Pennsylvania Governor) are all importing most of their materials from China. Simply the price of their cabinetry makes it a certiany. Completely US made lines will be at least 20% more to get the same quality of construction and that’s after tariffs.
    Companies that try to mislead consumers with American flags waving on their web sites are usually being dishonest about this and who knows what else.
    When they start playing the “green” card or “family owned” card on top of the flags you really have to watch out.
    Even major US brands like Masterbrands are now importing some of their doors. In fact no one in the kitchen industry is sure who is and who is not importing what. How