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

2018 Kitchen Cabinet Rankings

Below are our kitchen cabinet rankings from 2018 for the top selling cabinet manufacturers in the United States. Cabinet brands are rated 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.

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 website’s contact page.


Cabinet Reviews: Ratings for the top 100 cabinet brands.


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 websites for each cabinet line.

Main Line kitchen design acknowledges that we are dealers for the following cabinet lines: Wellsford, Bishop, Brighton, Fabuwood, Legacy Presidential, 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. 

white L shape kitchen with small island and 2 different backsplash colors



Recommended Kitchen Designers and Cabinet Dealers Outside Our Service Area

OUR KITCHEN CABINET RANKINGS assume 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 its 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 its class. These lines receive lower grades on value simply because there are competitors offering the same quality at slightly lower prices.

Cabinet Lines

Cabinet linePrice level 1-6    QualityValue
21st Century1AA-
6 Square2B+B+
Adelphia Kitchens3BB
Adormus (frameless)3BB
All Wood – framed2AA
All Wood – frameless1CC
American Woodmark3BB
Bishop Frameless5BB+
Canyon Creek3BB
Desginers Choice4AA
Durasupreme frameless3CC
Dynasty by Omega (frameless)4BB
Dynasty Pinnacle (framed)5AB
Echelon Cabinetry2B-C
Executive (frameless)4BB
Fabuwood (frameless)3BB
Hanssem framed1B+B+
Holiday (frameless)3CC
Holiday Kitchens4AA
Homestead Custom4AA-
Ideal Cabinetry2BA-
IKEA (frameless)1DC
JSI Cabinetry1B+B+
Kitchencraft (frameless)3CB
Kountry Kraft (framed)6AB
Kountry Kraft (frameless)6BB
Kountry Wood2CC
Marsh (frameless)2B-B
Merit Kitchens4B+B
Mid Continent2CC
Mouser (frameless)5BA
Plain and Fancy6AB+
Plato Woodwork4AA
Poggenpohl (frameless)6BC
QuakerMaid (frameless)4BB
RD Henry4AA
Signature Custom5A+A+
Solid Wood Cabinets1A-A-
St. Martin (frameless)4BB
Ultracraft (frameless)2CC
Wellborn4 and 5AA
Yorktowne Now an Elkay CO4B+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.

Do you need a more general review of cabinetry from 2015 explaining types of cabinetry construction?

2015 Brand Comparison

For those interested in Cabinet Off Gassing, VOC’s, and Carb2 Compliance, here is our take on the fumes your new cabinets can emit:

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

(!) Note About Painted Cabinetry

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

  1. Amy

    Hi. I see you rated Signature Custom highly. Is Signature Select the same thing or a completely different company or line? Thank you.

    1. ITSAdmin

      Hi Amy,
      You would have to supply us with a web site. I don’t see Signature Select on line.

  2. Jennifer CC

    Hello, I am quoting a kitchen right now. I have been quoted executive cabinets for $15k, Forte $14,200 and wellborn Forest $11,800. The Wellborn Forest quote does not have full extension drawers though, it is 7/8 extension which I do not like. If I add the full extension then I am at $14,000. All are wood doors and boxes. The Executive is Euro. Which one is the best made cabinet? My designer really likes Executive as he says it is the most sleek look and he can do custom sizes. I look forward to your feedback.

    1. ITSAdmin

      I would not recommend frameless cabinetry for any door style other than a very contemporary slab door style. I’m sure you are also getting other upgrades with the Wellborn Forest when you upgrade the tracks. I go Wellborn Forest here.

  3. Bruce

    We are considering frameless cabinets with shaker style natural maple finish, full overlay but now I might choose framed after reading your blog. Any thoughts on

    1. ITSAdmin

      Hi Bruce,
      There are lots of well constructed cabinets sold on line. However buying cabinets unassembled and without the help of a good professional kitchen designer is a bad idea. You need a good local kitchen designer to help you through all the varied phases of a kitchen renovation. This is why even though we are asked EVERY day we do not sell kitchen to people who’s space we haven’t measured ourselves. Saving at most 20% on cabinets by buying them online guarantees that you don’t have the quality help that everyone needs. Particularly the people who don’t believe that they do.

  4. Lauren

    We are working with a kitchen designer and looking at MidContinent and Kraftmaid both upgraded to all plywood in a shaker style painted cabinet. On your review, MidContinent doesn’t rate very well; is this for the non upgraded cabinet and if not, what is the reason for the low rating? Thank you soo much!

    1. ITSAdmin

      Hi Lauren,
      It looks like you can now upgrade the Midcontinent Signature series to a better made cabinet. How much better made is not clear from their web site. However MidContinent even if it could be upgraded to a B+ in construction is not close to the quality and versatility of Kraftmaid. It should be significantly less though. Now that these upgrades are available in MidContenent we should update their rating but figuring out how much is tough with so little information available.

  5. Susan Shepard

    Hi! Like so many others I find your site – so so helpful. I am in Ohio and am torn whether to use Kraftmaid, Schlabach, or the contractor’s recommended Covered Bridge Essential line. I am doing about $25K in cabinets, which is a lot for us! I am familiar with Kraftmaid and Schlabach LINK REMOVED but I’m not very familiar with the Covered Bridge line. Some folks in Ohio feel that Kraftmaid isn’t what it use to be – hopefully that will be rectified!! Schlabach will actually send their Amish workers to install b/c I am w/n an hour and half of their factory – saving me Ohio tax. My contractor friends tell me to go with Covered Bridge it is a good line and my kitchen will be done quicker. As you seem to be an unbiased expert, do you have any thoughts?

    1. ITSAdmin

      Hi Susan,
      Kraftmaid may have slipped slightly as a cabinet line but they are still a good value and sold at reputable dealers all over the US. Covered Bridge appears to be a very well made line but I don’t know it well. Schlabach I have never heard of and their web site gives no specifics on how they make cabinets. This always worries me.
      One thing that is certain when you are working in higher priced lines is that how good the kitchen designer is usually outweighs the difference in cabinet lines. Amish workers can be great craftsman but I have never met a good Amish or Mennonite kitchen designer – so working with the factory could have disadvantages. In general the people that make the cabinets and install the cabinets are poor designers of kitchens.

  6. Colleen

    Question on crystal cabinets I got a price that seems rather high. Is there a range of price by linear foot that I should expect? Is there any negotiation when it comes to price of cabinets? Thanks

    1. ITSAdmin

      Hi Colleen,
      Very interesting two questions. The confusing one first:

      No cabinet store sells cabinets by the linear foot. Cabinets are always sold by the individual cabinet, molding, panel, and part.
      25 years ago Home Depot (I believe) created a mythical kitchen that was an L shaped kitchen 10′ x 10′. This kitchen had a big window and a big refrigerator and so two large spaces without cabinets to price. It had 4 small 30″ wall cabinets. Blind corners in the corners, no molding, no roll outs, no panels and was all particleboard with the cheapest hinges and tracks that each cabinet line offered.
      Home Depot then added up the cost of all the cabinets in this tiny kitchen and divided by 20 (10 + 10) to create a starting linear foot price for that cabinet line in that door style. The corners in this calculation were also counted twice.
      This linear foot price is sort of like the ads you see for a new car “nothing down and $100 per month for a brand new car”. We all know this deal doesn’t exist. When you get to the dealership it turns out that to get the deal you have to trade in a two year old car with low mileage and qualify for veterans, senior, and return buyer discounts. Oh and that car was sold off the lot yesterday.
      The reality is that once you upgrade and price an actual kitchen in your size home in the door style and finish you select with moldings and simply the extras that you have to have, like a pots and pans drawer base and maybe a lazy susan or a trash pull out, you will find out that you are most likely closer to double the linear foot price. And for big kitchens with tall ceilings and with lots of panels and roll outs – far above double the price.
      So there is no such thing really as a linear foot price. Crystal is a very good but not an inexpensive cabinet line. You should make sure that you upgrade in an expensive framed line particularly to 1/2″ plywood sides and soft close doors and drawers. Why cheap out in an expensive line? Choose a less expensive line and upgrade instead, it make more sense.
      Once you create an actual kitchen in a real Crystal upgraded door style in a normal and not tiny kitchen, with moldings possibly glass doors and everything else you want that’s extra, I would think you find that if you did the silly math you would be paying 3 or 400 dollars or more per linear foot.
      Is there bargaining at cabinet places. The answer is generally not. Paying in cash or by check instead of by credit card might get you a break at some places. Asking for discounts if you upgrade or buy your countertop at that location too might be worth a shot. But don’t press the issue. Customers that constantly press for discounts usually annoy their designers and designers have the ability to charge whatever they want at every cabinet dealer. Including home centers like Lowes and The Home Depot. And management always rewards designers with higher profit margins so being a pest never helps the price. Unlike a car it is very difficult to compare cabinet prices from one location to another in possibly different lines. The price you get at at second location after you tell them to give you “their best price” is often missing all the intangibles that customers are not savvy enough to account for. Such as upgrades, flush or paneled sides, moldings etc.
      By the way, huge Discounts that you see at cabinet places like 25% to 50% off are all fake. No dealer sells cabinets for list price and most cabinet lines are sold for between 25% and 50% off of list price every day without any added discounts. There are sometimes sales for cabinets at different locations but these sales will be for free or discounted upgrades or at the very most 10% off. Anything more will certainly be fake and should alert you to be especially careful as you are being deceived.

  7. Kalex

    Hi! I was wondering if you could share your opinion on the kitchen cabinets that Costco sells. The line is called Tuscan Hills.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Kalex,
      Designing kitchens is far more complex than non kitchen designers understand. Spending money on cabinetry wisely always requires an experienced kitchen designer’s assistance.
      There are several well constructed cabinet brands sold at Costo, buy direct discount shops, and online. However saving at most 10% to work with a someone that can’t be a good kitchen designer and is using your (or even worse your contractors or architects amateur measurements) asks for the trouble you will surely get. Many people believe that they don’t need a designer. But much like the people that represent themselves in a court case have a fool for an attorney, people that don’t get the help of a good kitchen designer have a similar problem.
      Below is a video and a blog to think about if you truly believe you don’t need a kitchen designers help. For what it’s worth the people that send us designs to review have major mistakes in their designs over 95% of the time.

      Home Depot and Lowes are far better than Costco, IKEA or these other alternatives. But there are also independent dealers that will be no more expensive than home centers. Those dealers will usually be more knowledgeable in helping you design a kitchen that improves the value of your home and in spending your budget wisely. But if you can not find a good dealer locally stick to a home center.

  8. Jennifer

    Hello, I am building a new home in Tampa, FL and our building process has come to a screeching halt because I am struggling to find a cabinet supplier. I fell in love with the look of rift sawn white oak cabinets with a natural, light stained finish that are all over instagram right now and would like todo this for a kitchen island and my master bath. All other cabinets in the house will be a painted finish. Our contractor took us to MidContinent directly, with no other options. They do not have that species of wood or anything that is similar. I also have reservations on using MidContinent for the painted cabinets because of inconsistency of finish with the door samples we ordered. We went to a custom cabinet company for a quote for just the kitchen and master bath and the price was exorbitant. Our budget for the kitchen cabinets is max $50k which I thought was generous. I cant seem to find an in between semi-custom line that carries a rift sawn white oak cabinet line in the area. Do you have any advice you could give me? I am in awe by your professionalism and the dedication you have to your blog. Thank you for your time.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Quartersawn white oak will automaticly put you into custom cabinets or at least expensive high end semi custom cabinets. That wood and finish is not popular enough for anyone to mass produce. Mid Continent is not a line we review well. You have many other better choices for cabinet lines. Finding a good dealer that carries several lines would be a good place to start.

      Even the wood you love will be wasted if the design itself is not well done. You might want to run the layout by one of our designers on a Friday betwee 2-4 pm My email is

  9. Bill

    Appreciate the quick reply. I’ll keep poking around.

  10. Bill

    Hi Paul & Team,
    A builder we’re considering working with typically uses Legacy Custom Cabinets out of Mifflinburg, PA for their kitchens and I can’t seem to find much in the way of any opinions on them. Any thoughts? Thanks a ton – this site & comment board has been great.

    1. ITSAdmin

      Hi Bill,
      I don’t know the line and there isn’t enough information on line to make any evaluations. They are in no way related to the larger company Legacy Cabinets in Alabama that we carry.

  11. Rip Ped

    ITSAdmn: Nope. No more to the story than what I previously described. We have a coastal home, and the painted oak, recommended by the salesperson was offered as the only way to get wood doors, not MDF. Since we have a lot of humidity, we were concerned that MDF might not hold up as long as solid wood. I was not trying to mislead anyone. Just sharing our experience to alert others to a flawed system in place related to outdated finish samples in the showroom.

    1. ITSAdmin

      Rip Ped,
      Again unusual information. There was more miscommunication and mix ups here than an out of date sample.
      Maple would be the normal wood that would be painted and not oak. So if you wanted a solid wood painted cabinet every cabinet company would offer a solid wood painted maple cabinet. Painting oak would be extremely unusual. For example, in 30 years I have only sold 1 kitchen in painted oak but thousands of painted maple cabinets. A showroom even having a painted oak sample to view would be unusual. We would have insisted on making a sample door for a customer to see first before ordering such an unusual selection for an entire kitchen.
      Warning customers when they make unusual selections or insist on poor designs is what good kitchen designers do. Simply giving people what they ask for is the lazy road for a kitchen designer. Quite often customers become annoyed when we give them sobering speeches about the choices they want to make. Several times sitting at my desk warning my customer about their choice I have heard two other designers giving similar warnings to their customers at the same moment in the offices next door. It is what we as designers are supposed to do.
      As good designers our most common battles are:
      Customers wanting to put too much cabinetry in their kitchen making spaces far too tight. Insisting on an island that doesn’t fit is the most common issue. Or cabinets that are too tall not allowing for the ceiling being out of level is also a battle we have to wage on almost a daily basis.
      Customers that want to keep their present terrible design “because they are used to it and it works for them” is another big issue. Helping people see the merits of a better design that will of course work better than the bad design they are used to is frustrating for both the designer and customer. Customers can buy the kitchen they want no matter how bad it is as long as it is not dangerous, but we aren’t being professionals if we aren’t being honest about how bad a choice is from a professional’s perspective.
      Very unusual or out of date color or style selections also need to be talked about openly and honestly. If a customer wants an oak door much less a painted oak door we would need to warn them that that choice would have little or no resale value. The worst would be arched doors, pinkish white stains, or white raised panel thermafoil kitchen cabinetry that is so out of fashion that it eliminates the value of the renovation. Customers are being done a disservice if we as professionals aren’t making this clear to them before they spend a fortune on their project.
      One of my customers has a great sense of humour. She always confirms her appointments and lets me know that she will be wearing her boxing gloves. She understands that without any sparring the kitchen that she gets will suffer.

  12. Rip Ped Off

    We recently purchased upwards of $25K on cabinets for a remodel. We will be staying in the house, so we were comfortable with the purchase Until, the finished cabinets arrived vastly different from the (outdated) sample we were shown in the showroom. We have tried to work with both the local shop and the mfg. to no avail. Stay clear of Painted Oak from Shiloh.

    1. ITSAdmin

      Painting oak is a very unusual choice. The choice itself is outdated by decades. So many times when I hear people dissatisfied and kitchen horror stories there are unusual choices involved and this makes me think that there is more to the story.

  13. John

    Thank you very much for your input and quick response it is very much appreciated.

  14. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    The 3/8″ backs are not too bad. They change our construction rating to a B+ from an A most of the time. The Legacy Presidential we particularly like and are actually going to begin selling that line shortly. We won’t sell the Upgraded Debut as it is almost the same price and offers less options and slightly lower quality. The Schrock is fine too and probably has nicer finishes than the Legacy Debut.

  15. John

    I just found the answers to some of my questions here. SO sorry I didnt see this page on you blog sooner. I see here that the warranty that one designer was trying to sell me is possibly meaningless. So my now Im thinking that Legacy is the better choice in my scenario due to the 3/8″ backs?

  16. John

    I know you always reiterate that a good design is what matters most. I have a design I happy with from 2 different designers both very similar. I am having difficulty deciding on brand of cabinet to choose. Schrock APC but they have 3/8″ backs even though upgrading to APC. or Legacy Debut APC 1/2″ plywood backs. Legacy being $1100 more. Legacy limited 5 year warranty. Schrock limited lifetime. Legacy wont cover hinges and clips in warranty, Schrock will. Since Schrock is typically more money I thought they were higher quality but perhaps I am wrong?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi John,
      Length of Warranty is not meaningful. Especially as both cabinet lines upgraded use the same tracks and hinges. Blum’s Bumotion and soft close hinge.
      The Legacy you are getting priced might actually be the Presidential line which is only a little more than upgraded Debut but better.
      Almost all homeowners are happy with the design they have independent of how good it is. When two designers are giving you the same design and one that you are initially happy with that could be a bad and not a good sign. Designers objecting to your design and proposing one you at first might reject would ring of a better designer.
      For example almost 90% of our customer come to us believing that they have a good design. And nearly all are wrong and end up buying very different designs once they see better alternatives. You can always send us your floor plan or perspectives to get input from us on a Friday between 2 and 4 pm.

  17. Paul McAlary

    Hi Margaret,
    I would recommend getting less expensive well constructed cabinetry over getting a an expensive brand made with particleboard.

  18. Margaret S

    Thanks for the response! Are the Mouser Centra line cabinets still worth the extra cost? I see they have more particle board components than the premier line. They also appear to have corner gussets rather than I beam construction.

  19. Steve G

    I appreciate your response to my prior note. Can you add more details on my original questions, please?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Steve,
      Sorry I don’t like being pigeonholed into giving simplistic answers to complex questions. You can call on a Friday between 2-4 pm for an explanation. In short as I said before we would recommend a less expensive line over a more expensive line down graded. I can’t think of a situation where it would make sense other than for a home builder. Usually home builders would do this so that they could offer their customers any door style and finish cheaply and then over charge them for the upgrades.

  20. Jillian

    To clarify the above – it is Crestwood, Inc. (out of Salina, KS). Thanks! 🙂

  21. Jillian

    Hello, your site has been extremely helpful as we narrow down the designer/line of cabinets. We are in the Denver area and the two cabinet lines we are narrowing down to are Crystal and Crestwood.(Our contractor has recommended two designers and they each carry different lines.) We’ve read your rating of Crystal but having a difficult time finding much info on Crestwood cabinets, but know they are also a generational family line and made in US. Any recommendations between those two lines of cabinets? Thank so much for your site! We’ve learned so much!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Jillian,
      No I don’t know Crestwood well. They appear to specialize in frameless cabinetry. I’d stick with Crystal.

  22. Steve Gersz

    We are looking at Wellborn cabinets. From your blog i know you recommend upgrade to all plywood,but our budget is tight. How would you rate their standard construction? If you had to guess,what is anticipated lifespan of standard vs all plywood? What are the downsides of their standard construction? Thanks so much!

    1. ITSAdmin

      Hi Steve,
      I would recommend getting a less expensive but well made cabinet line like Fabuwood in all plywood construction before getting a poorly made version of a more expensive line. You can not have your cake and eat it too.

  23. Margaret S.

    Correcting information that I included in the post above. The Custom Wood Product Cabinet company one KD recommends is out of Kansas. The other KD is recommending Mouser cabinets. Thanks!

  24. Margaret S

    I have been researching kitchen cabinets recommended by kitchen designers I have been consulting with in the Chicagoland area. Some of the cabinets are not on your list, but I was wondering if you were aware of them and had an opinion on them. The two companies are Bellmont (specifically the 1900 line) and Custom Wood Product Cabinets out of Kentucky. Any input you have is much appreciated.

    Another KD we have consulted works with Mauser and Grable which I can see are on your list and seem to be quality cabinets based on your assessment. The estimate for our project with this KD was made using Mauser as the cabinet. The other company’s estimate (the one who uses Bellmont and CWP) is several thousand dollars lower, and I am wondering if that is based on the quality of the cabinets. Thanks!

    1. ITSAdmin

      Hi Margret,
      Bellmont 1900 appears to be a frameless line. I don’t know Custom Wood Products. Mauser and Grable are high end custom lines and in framed construction are far above Belmont in a Frameless as far as durability is concerned. As always working with a better kitchen designer is worth more tha na few thousand dollars. Especially with high end lines.

  25. Maria

    Trying to find out if Wellborn Forest cabinetry is the same as Wellborn or a different company. I want a well made kitchen cabinet without the crazy high price tag. Also looking at Starmark and Fabuwood. Any thoughts and advice you have would be appreciated.

    1. ITSAdmin

      Wellborn Forest is not the same company but it is an offshoot of Wellborn. It was started and is managed by a Wellborn family member and is produced in the same town. Wellborn Forrest is well made and has a reduced catalogue of door styles, finishes, and construction types available so it cab be more reasonable for what they offer.

  26. kathy

    Looking at Yorktowne and wanted to know your opinion…thinking of beaded inset

    1. ITSAdmin

      Hi Kathy,
      I know that Yorktown recently dramatically improved how their cabinetry was made but I didn’t realize that they were now doing beaded inset. I can’t really answer because of this but certainly I would price the kitchen in a line that has done beaded inset longer just to see where the Yorktown pricing fell. The Yorktown dealer probably also sells Medallion Cabinetry since they are both Elkay companies. Most likely it was bluring the line between the two cabinet lines that allowed Yorktowne to change so much. So you might be getting cabinetry made in the Medallion plant when you order a Yorktowne kitchen in beaded inset.
      Price the kitchen in Medallion if that is the case and if the price is now the same or close I would order the Medallion. You don’t want to be one of the early buyers (IE possible guinea pig) for a line that has changed so much unless you are at least saving some serious money.

  27. Cynthia Knecht

    Hi Paul, we are building a house with Toll Bros so we’re locked into Century Cabinets. Are they good enough to fully upgrade and go for it? (Looking at $30k+ for plywood, stacked glass, upgraded top molding, end panels, etc) Or would it make more sense to take the standard and redo down the line? Do you ever consult on new construction?

    1. ITSAdmin

      Century cabinets are not made particularly well. For decades Toll Brothers used to use Yorktowne Cabinets, which also weren’t made well, and then Yorktowne upgraded how they make cabinets. Figures that Toll Brothers would now switch to a worse line. Century cabinets are the house brand of Century Kitchens. Here are their Yelp reviews

      Toll Brothers also refuses to use kitchen designers to design their kitchens and instead has their on staff architects design their kitchens. Here is our blog on that topic:

      Tough to advise you here as Toll Brothers overcharges for upgrades and changes. Possibly getting the standard kitchen or even simply a few cabinets and a Formica countertop and trying to get a credit for the materials you save. Then actually doing the kitchen after you move in. I suspect though that Toll brothers won’t be hot on giving you credit for the cabinetry and expensive countertops you save.

      Sorry I can’t be more positive. I would be happy to look at the design on a Friday between 2-4pm when we give free advice.

  28. dawn

    Hi, it has been great reading your blog!. We have been in the process of trying to renovate our kitchen for over 3 months. We had to take down a couple of walls before we could begin our design because our house is super old and a previous owner had done some very odd additions on the house that fooled our contractor into thinking the walls might not be able to come down. We were happy to learn after a lots of careful removal that they could come down safely and that we could actually start planning the design. Now that they have, we are having one heck of a time actually getting the design done. We are on our third designer from our third company because every single design I am given doesn’t seem right and when I asked for them to tweak it after the second or third time they get all huffy. This is a big deal and we want to get it right the first time. We are still not even convinced that our current design is right but it is the one we like the best thus far. Unfortunately you don’t seem to have anyone in Denver that you recommend for design companies so we may just have to go with the best we can. If you do have any recommendations in Denver please let me know. In the meantime we had boiled down our cabinet choices to Crystal or Homestead. Vocs are a big deal that we need to avoid. We are planning to get either a painted or stained mid to dark grey & possibly distressed-looking cabinet. Shaker style door & drawer. Our budget is quite tight, so now the current designer has recommended a third line which is sollera. However, I am very underwhelmed by their website. I was wondering if you had any input on these cabinet lines and or any design options in Denver. (Unfortunately we already got swindled by one designer who promised us a certain price and then after we put down the $1,500 retainer she jumped the price by several thousand dollars and said she “forgot” to plug in the extra finishes such as glaze or distressing we prefer the first time, even though we did say we wanted them. Her boss is on her side.) overall we have been impressed with the current design company we are working with, but after all this it is hard to know what to trust. Thank you!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Dawn,
      Lots of red flags in your story. Among them is that it makes no sense to ever glaze a shaker door style and even distressing it is both very expensive and not usual for that door style. With so many issues here I think you should try calling us on a Friday between 2pm and 4pm. We’ve also had trouble finding any place to recommend in Denver.

  29. Paul McAlary

    Hi Carol,
    OK, then I’m glad it is working out for you. It confuses me why so many people ask us for an opinion when they have such strong views themselves.
    Since every designer is an individual the fact that Express Kitchens gets shaky reviews doesn’t mean your designer isn’t good. Hope the good experience continues.

  30. Carol

    Express Kitchens have their own line of cabinetry and well as other brands, Fabuwood being one of them which was the only reason we went there. We were skeptical at first but we only went to compare the prices of the Fabuwood . The designer at Express Kitchens happened to be the best of all 3 places ( one of the places was a kitchen design place ) . We met with her several times to review the design layout and measurements . We have our own highly skilled contractor that’s doing the work for our kitchen and will be installing cabinets etc. At the end of it all , We actually got more than the other places , trim, fillers , all the panels as well as some upgrades.

  31. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Hi Bonnie,
    We recommend 4 California dealers on out blog below:

    Or if you call on a Friday between 2-4pm one of our designers could try to find one for you closer.

  32. Sal

    Express Kitchens sell Fabuwood at a goo price … any comments on Express Kitchens.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Sal,
      Fabuwood can have some iffy dealers. Express Kitchens seems to get poor reviews on Yelp, between a 3.4 and 4.2 rating on Google depending on the location and they have no page I can find. So they really aren’t trying to be designers just box sellers and they don’t get stellar reviews.
      Depending on where you are located Bender Plumbing in Connecticut has several locations and sells Fabuwood. They meet our criteria to recommend as a dealer.

  33. Carol

    After reading all your recommendations on Fabuwood cabinets, we were so happy we had chosen them based on your reviews . We went to several Fabuwood dealers in Ct and for the same design plan we got differences in quotes between of $1000- $2000 .
    We finally purchased the cabinets from Express Kitchens since we got the lowest price from them.
    Any comments on Express Kitchens ?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Carol,
      Yes we just replied to Sal:
      Hi Sal,
      Fabuwood can have some iffy dealers. Express Kitchens seems to get poor reviews on Yelp, between a 3.4 and 4.2 rating on Google depending on the location and they have no page I can find. So they really aren’t trying to be designers just box sellers and they don’t get stellar reviews.
      Depending on where you are located Bender Plumbing in Connecticut has several locations and sells Fabuwood. They meet our criteria to recommend as a dealer.

      Picking the cheapest dealer for cabinetry is often a bad idea for two reasons:

      First Designs are seldom the same. Better designers may have included panels, upgrades, and moldings in their pricing and so the price was actually not the lowest where you thought it was.
      Second the designer and their experience, creativity, and integrity, is always worth more than a couple of thousand dollars. Express cabinets is telling you in their very name that they care very little about anything except selling you something quickly. Fast and quality do not live together in the kitchen world and people that rush get very “different” kitchens.
      The thing that customers refuse to spend to get a great kitchen is seldom money. It is usually their own time. And when you don’t value good kitchen design and the advice of a good kitchen designer the kitchen you get is almost always amateurish and spends your budget in an ineffective manor.
      Our video tries to make this point in a funny way:

  34. Bonnie

    Thanks for your response, I know you are too far away, do you have any kitchen designer, cabinet installer suggestions for my area? I live in CA. Riverside county??? I have gotten designs from a couple people, one had my trash cans across the room from my sink, $13,000, the other was completely vague on what I was getting, $30,000.

  35. Paul McAlary

    Hi Robert,
    If you are getting a contemporary slab style door style then there is no question that frameless cabinetry will look better and there is a compelling reason to pay a little more to get a lesser constructed cabinet. On other style doors any advantages to frameless construction is outweighed in my opinion buy the loss of durability. Well made framed cabinetry should last a lifetime and just get nicked and scratched which can be easily repaired. Frameless cabinetry must be designed to avoid stress and overloading cabinetry. And homeowners need to be gentler with a frameless kitchen since any damages to the cabinet boxes are not able to be repaired.

  36. Robert Krukowski

    Hi I have reviewed your comments and and we are interested in and like the St. Martin line. Why don’t you recommend frame-less construction even if St. Martin is constructed well? Is it a durability issue over time? Preference? or have you seen durability issues with frame-less cabinets?

  37. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Two issues here.
    First 15″ wall cabinets will be expensive and cost at least 25% more- while plates, food, and most items you place in wall cabinets will be made to fit in 12″ deep cabinets. You will also be making your counter less accessible to you and putting the cabinets under extra stress. I would not recommend “rethinking the wheel” here. Other issues will also arise that you and the designer may not think out to an attractive and workable result.
    Second. Make sure you understand just how “stripey” your kitchen will look in hickory. Google Hickory Kitchens or look at them on to make sure you understand what the final result will look like. Very often homeowners are upset by what their finished hickory kitchen looks like simply because they failed to understand the properties of the wood they selected.
    If you like rustic and extreme wood color variations then and only then is hickory for you.
    Here is a link on to a relevant discussion:

  38. Kelly Huber

    Your info has been so useful and greatly appreciated. We are going to purchase stained hickory cabinetry. Thoughts between durability in schrock vs. Homecrest, both fully upgraded? And, any concerns with upgrading to 15 inch depth upper cabinets that we should consider?

  39. Michelle

    I am chemically sensitive and am looking for new cabinets for a full kitchen remodel. Can you recommend any cabinet lines that are made with PureBond plywood or at least CARB2 compliant plywood that use water based finishes? The only one I’ve been able to find is Executive cabinets, but they are frameless, and I would really prefer framed. I’m just looking for a simple shaker style door.

  40. Jeff

    We are planning a major kitchen renovation (moving walls, extending out). My wife really likes painted white cabinets. I am concerned about the durability compared to stain. I have read multiple stories of paint blistering and peeling from water splashing on them. This seems to be a frequent complaint with companies like Kraftmaid, omega, and decora. Is this a major concern or is it being overstated in complaints? Is one companies painted cabinets more durable than the others? Thank you for all the info!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Jeff,
      We have not seen a noticeable difference in the durability of the painted finishes on different cabinet lines for major brands. Very small custom shops will have less durable finishes. There is no question that paint is more easily damaged by water and more easily nicked and scratched than a stain. However most populated areas of the US will have furniture refinishers like Guardsman Furniture Pros that can touch up an entire kitchen. In our area they do this for around $500 and a 5 or 10 year old kitchen will look like new. Severly damaged doors can also be replaced.

  41. Linda

    This site is so helpful. I am working with a designer. I want white Shaker cabinets. I would like an excellent finish and very good quality. I am limited to the less expensive brands as much of the budget has gone into reconfiguring the kitchen. I’ve noticed that there is quite a range of shades in whites. I lean toward a whiter white. The brands that have been suggested are 21st Century, J&K and CNC. I see that you often recommend Fabuwood. What would you recommend? Any other advice? Thanks you.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Linda,
      Fabuwood has the nicest white finishes for an inexpensive line that I’ve ever seen. J&K is nicer than CNC. 21st centurty I don’t know that well so I can’t say.

  42. Bonnie

    I am so confused now, I have been looking for, and researching different cabinet companies for almost 4 months. We had a water leak,destroying our kitchen, I am trying to find some quality cabinets, that aren’t so expensive that I have to take out a loan, then I found this site, all the cabinet lines I was thinking about, are all in one place, but then just like all the other times I thought I found a quality company, and then found terrible reviews, I did with some of your AA rated line, for example, All Wood Cabinetry….you have them with a perfect AA rating, but Yelp, as well as other sites, have horrible ratings. Overall they have a 2.3 out of 5.0. The comments that go along with these bad reviews is more than enough for me to steer clear of them. Is there no cabinet companies left that offer a quality product for less than $20,000? It’s not like the insurance company is going to fork out for custom cabinets, but we bought the house new, and the ones that were in it lasted 20 years, and it is a median level track home, nothing fancy. The cabinets I have seen, and all the reviews, I’m not sure any of them will last that long, more importantly, if you even get them. Almost 75% of the comments about All Wood, are that they have been waiting for over 2 months for their cabinets, and still having got them. I’m starting to wonder if I will ever have a kitchen again. I wish I would have known all of this before they demolished my old cabinets, it would have been so much easier to fix, and paint the ones I had.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Bonnie,
      The problem with online reviews is that the people reviewing are not knowledgeable about what they are reviewing. I read the All Wood Cabinet reviews and I have very little sympathy for the people complaining. Canceling a cabinet order after several weeks is asking for trouble and expecting no damages and pristine finishes from the least expensive cabinet brands is not realistic. All cabinetry can get damaged and will be replaced by dealers but this takes time, and expecting perfect finishes from cheap lines is not fair.
      All Wood Cabinets are well constructed but the designers selling them are mostly novice designers prone to mistakes and the finish quality while durable can’t be expected to look like expensive custom cabinetry. Fabuwood, Wolf, or J&K are a good compromise if you are looking for nicer finishes than All Wood and durability. They will be a little more expensive that the least expensive brands but especially in Fabuwood’s case the finishes are similar looking to much more expensive brands.
      All of these brands by the way are probably far better constructed than your old cabinets. But if you choose like most people today a painted finish do not expect the finish to be as durable as the stained finish you probably had before. All paints, even in the most expensive cabinet lines are more easily damaged by water and use.

  43. Jen

    Hi, just wondering if you could tell me which cabinet brand you would pick between for a recessed for style with painted maple. My options are Wolf, Kemper, Kraftmaid. I am trying to be budget conscience but want something that will last. Thanks, Jen

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Upgraded to a plywood box Kraftmaid is the best brand here but if your criteria is strictly durability there will not be much of a difference between the upgraded versions of all three brands. The better constructed Wolf lines will cost much less and be nearly equal in durability. Of course painted cabinetry in general is far more easily damaged by water and scratching and chipping than stained cabinetry.

  44. Paul McAlary

    Fabuwood is assembled in a one million square foot facility in Norther New Jersey. It can also be ordered un-assembled and flat packed. We would not recommend ordering cabinets this way. Some dealers order cabinetry flat packed to assemble themselves to save on shipping costs. While a few dealers might do a good job doing this it is risky and in general usually a bad idea.

  45. Andy

    Is it true that fabuwood comes in flat pack and needs to be assemble? It’s contradicting compare to what you stated vs what I’m getting from a designer/reseller.

  46. Trish

    I should have mentioned the install of our cabinets is not done. The cabinet company did not measure for the fridge correctly, so it stuck out when it was installed.

    So, there are a few issues going on.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Sounds like a lot of misunderstandings. In general I find that it takes two to Tango.

  47. Trish

    Dear Paul,

    Great site and Blog. I might have to move to PA. Actually if my kitchen is not done soon, a move could be nice.

    I had Mouser cabinets installed in late March. Maple cabinets painted white. The paint is cracking very badly at the seams already on most of the drawers some came in like that. I know we can expect it over time, but this is crazy.

    We were told it was completely normal. I am in Florida, but our ac is cranking at 68-70 all the time. I also wonder where the cabinets where before they got to us.

    Just wanted to give you a heads up. Our experience with mouser has not been great, so far.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Trish,
      All painted cabinets chip and crack along the seams to some extent. Whether you issue is extensive I would have to see to tell. We have gotten bad paint batches on occasion and our suppliers replaced in one case all the cabinet doors and drawers. But cabinets should be touched up as well by the contractors before they leave. There are also professional refinishers that will touch up a kitchen to perfection for about $500.

  48. Amy

    Thank you. Can you please clarify “The 30% sale is fake”. They definitely took 30% off the price I was quoted when there wasn’t a sale. Thanks.

  49. Amy

    Hi. Thank you doing this blog….choosing cabinets is so confusing and stressful. Ive narrowed my choices down to Diamond and signature. Signature feom local shop is 26k and diamond is 18k after lowes 30% sale. I dont mind paying the difference for much better quality, but wasnt sure they were all that different. Which would u choose. Thank u! Amy

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Diamond should be upgraded to all plywood construction. That done I’m not sure if the difference in price for the Signature would be getting you much. However generally the design should be very different from a talented and experienced designer and a Lowes designer. The 30% sale is also fake.

  50. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Hi Lynn,
    Sorry I didn’t respond sooner. But if you are getting the gist of our message. IE “designing kitchens is harder than people think and a good kitchen designer is more important than anything else” – you are on the right track!

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