Main Line Kitchen Design
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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 custom cabinetry on the market.

Warning

If you are price comparing cabinet lines please click here and read this first. Price comparing your design at different dealers often leads you down a bad road.

Fabuwood Kitchen

We rate cabinetry assuming each line is upgraded to the top level of construction available, usually all plywood construction. 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.

Brighton Beaded Inset Cabinet

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

CABINET RATINGS

Cabinet linePrice level 1-6    QualityValue
21st Century1AA-
6 Square / CliqStudiosClosedClosedClosed
Adelphia Kitchens3BB
Adornus (frameless)3BB
Alusso by Adornus (frameless)3BB
All Wood – framed2AA
All Wood – frameless1CC
American Woodmark3BB
Aristocraft2CC
Belmont 1900 Series Frameless4BB+
Bertch4AA-
Bishop4AB+
Bishop Frameless5BB+
B.J. Tidwell Cabinetry3BC+
Bremtown6A+B
Brighton5A-A+
Brookhaven5AB
Brubaker5AA
Cabico4BB
Candlelight4AA
Canyon Creek3BB
CliqStudios ClosedClosedClosedClosed
CNC1A-A-
Collier5AB-
Craft-Made Cabinetry framed5AA
Crestwood Framed5AA
Crestwood Frameless5BA-
CrownPoint Cabinetry (framed)5.5A+A
CrownPoint (frameless)5.5BA
Crystal custom5AA
Crystal semi-custom4B+ B+
Cubitac Prestige and Imperial1.5A-A-
Cuisine Ideale (frameless)4BA-
Decora4.5AB
Desginers Choice4AA
Design-Craft4BB-
Diamond4B+ / A-B+/A-
Diamond Now Stock1BB
Durasupreme5B+B-
Durasupreme frameless3CC
Dynasty by Omega (frameless)4BB+
Dynasty by Omega (framed)4AA-/B+
Dynasty Pinnacle (framed)5AB
Echelon Cabinetry2B-C
Eurocraft Frameless3.5CC+
Executive (frameless)4BB
Fabuwood2AA
Fabuwood (frameless)DiscDiscDisc
Fieldstone4.5A-B+
Grabill6A+B
Great Northern Classic5AA
Green Forest2AA-
Haas3BB
Hampton Bay (frameless stock)1DC+
Hanssem framed1B+B+
Holiday (frameless)3CC
Holiday Kitchens4AA
Homecrest3B+B+
Homestead Custom4AA-
Ideal Cabinetry2BA-
IKEA (frameless)1DC
Innovation2CC
JSI Cabinetry1B+B+
J&K Cabinets Possibly closed 2 Possibly closed A+A-
Kabinart3C+D
Kemper3BC
Kitchen Compact2B-C-
Kitchencraft (frameless)3CB
Kith3B+C+
Koch Classic4A-A-
Kountry Kraft (framed)6AB
Kountry Kraft (frameless)6BB
Kountry Wood2CC
Kraftmaid4A-A-
Kraftmaid Vantage4A-A
Legacy2.5B+B
Legacy Presidential3AB+
LifeArt1C+A
Luxor Collection Frameless4BB
Marsh2BB
Marsh (frameless)2B-B
Medallion5A-B+
Merillat2CD
Merit Kitchens4B+B
Mid Continent2CC
Mouser5AA-
Mouser (frameless)5BA
NatureKast Waterproof Cabinets5AA
Norcraft (every upgrade used)3BD
Ovation4BC
Plain and Fancy6AB+
Plato Woodwork4AA
Poggenpohl (frameless)6BC
ProCraft1AA-
QuakerMaid (frameless)4BB
RiverRun Cabinetry3.75BB-
R.D. Henry4AA
Rutt6A+A
Schrock3BB
Schuler5A-B+
Shenandoah3BB
Shiloh4CC
Showplace4AB++
ShowplaceEVO (frameless)3.5BB+
Siematic5.5BC
Signature Custom5A+A+
Siteline Cabinetry3.5B-C
Solid Wood CabinetsClosedBankrupt 
St. Martin (frameless)4BB
Starmark standard5CC
Starmark inset or 3/4″ back panel5A+A
Stylecraft6AA
Tedd Wood5AA
Thomasville*4BB
Thomasville Nouvell3DD
Timberlake3BB
Tru Cabinetry3BB+/ A-
Ultracraft (frameless)2CC
Ultracraft 3/4 ply upgrade3BB+/A-
Urban Effects (frameless)3.75c-D
Village5AA
Waypoint2BB
Wellborn4 and 5AA
Wellborn Forrest3.5B+B+
Wellsford5A+A+
Wellsford (frameless)5BA-
Wolf2AB+
Wolf Signature Series3.5A-C+
Woodharbor4B+C
Woodmode6AA-
Yorktowne Now an Elkay CO4A-B+

Outside our service area?

FOR PEOPLE OUTSIDE OUR SERVICE AREA OF WITHIN A TWO HOUR DRIVE OF OUR BALA CYNWYD PENNSYLVANIA OFFICE, HERE IS A LINK TO RECOMMENDED DEALERS IN OTHER AREAS. GOOD DEALERS CLOSE TO YOU CAN BETTER ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT’S AVAILABLE IN YOUR AREA.

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.

75 Comments

  1. Josephine, March 26, 2020 at 4:40 pm:

    Hi Paul! Curious your opinion on J&K versus 21st Century cabinets in terms of quality? Thanks

  2. pmcalary, March 26, 2020 at 3:40 pm:

    Hi Katherine,
    It is my understanding that Foevermark is out of product and has suspended processing orders indefinitely. I would not buy Forevermark cabinetry until they are up and running again normally if that ever even happens.

  3. Katherine, March 26, 2020 at 3:36 pm:

    Hi Paul,

    I’m not a in the Main Line service area but found your article immensely helpful for my own research. I was wondering if you have an opinion/grade on the ForeverMark brand of cabinets. It’s one of six options our contractor uses and the only one not listed above.

    Thanks!!

  4. pmcalary, March 21, 2020 at 10:37 pm:

    Hi Mary,
    Without upgrades Starmark always made a bad version of their cabinetry. In the new update we are just making sure that the two versions are not confused. Before we were only rating Starmark with the top upgrades.

  5. Mary, March 21, 2020 at 5:55 pm:

    Thank you for publishing . I’m about to order Starmark as they were rated so high in 2018/2019. What happened to make them drop so far? Now I’m worried!

  6. Gayle, March 21, 2020 at 11:24 am:

    Is pricing point 1 more expensive than price point 6?

  7. Parvathi Shalov, March 20, 2020 at 5:11 pm:

    Thanks for your response! We want a full overlay door in a contemporary style, probably shaker or flat front. One of the alternatives they gave us was Ultracraft. But it’s probably the frameless construction since they list it as a less expensive alternative. We will see if they have access to the upgrade Ultracraft with the 3/4″ back, which you give a much better rating. Thanks so much for the information!

  8. RDH, March 19, 2020 at 10:58 am:

    I know you only include US cabinet manufacturers in your reviews, but do you know anything about Elwood, Miralis and Acorn cabinet manufacturers that are made in Canada ?

  9. pmcalary, March 17, 2020 at 5:25 pm:

    Hi Parvathi,
    I looked up Wynnbrooke cabinets as I had never heard of them. They are frameless construction. The Wynnebrooke website is poorly designed and has some misleading information on it so that isn’t comforting, but it is also not that uncommon. Since I don’t know what your alternatives are and what doorstyle you are considering it is tough to advise you.

  10. pmcalary, March 17, 2020 at 5:17 pm:

    Bridgewater looks well constructed. But I don’t know much about the line.

  11. Pam, March 17, 2020 at 4:03 pm:

    Hi. Thanks for your valuable information. Do you have any opinion on Bridgewood Cabinets? Thank you

  12. pmcalary, March 16, 2020 at 5:58 pm:

    Hi Joshua,
    I sent you a private email on the subject.

  13. Joshua L Andreasen, March 16, 2020 at 5:37 pm:

    How do you feel about forevermark cabinetry?

  14. Paul McAlary, March 15, 2020 at 9:59 pm:

    I like Fabuwood better than Waypoint and J&K I recently heard was having problems filling orders. The safer bet here, at least during this pandemic would be Fabuwood.

  15. Parvathi Shalov, March 15, 2020 at 7:44 pm:

    Hi Paul, we love your blog and have learned so much about kitchen design and construction. We’re building a home in South Carolina and pretty much have to use the builder’s kitchen designer. The quote we received is for Wynnbrooke cabinets. We haven’t been able to find any information about this brand. We appreciate any information you have on these cabinets. Thank you!

  16. Josephine, March 15, 2020 at 6:09 pm:

    Thanks so much for your response Paul. I was was wondering what your thoughts are about J&K versus Fabuwood versus Waypoint. You rated Fabuwood and J&K comparably. Do you think they are similar in quality? Also, how does Waypoint stack up to either in terms of quality? Thank you!

  17. pmcalary, March 14, 2020 at 6:47 pm:

    Hi CA,
    Thanks so much!!! Writing a 5 Star Google, Houzz, or Yelp review and mentioning Chris gets him a $100 bonus for each review he is mentioned in. In our company a 5 Star review is a gift that gives back to the company and the designers many times over.

  18. pmcalary, March 14, 2020 at 6:42 pm:

    Hi Josephine,
    We have noticed some subtle changes since production moved to Vietnam and some delays due to the CoronaVirus. However we haven’t noticed and difference in paint. All paint scratches and chips more easily than stain. We see no difference in this between Fabuwood and the most expensive lines we carry. Sounds like someone who doesn’t understand paint got some chips and attributed it to something a change in production or a competitor making things up.

  19. CA reader, March 14, 2020 at 5:44 pm:

    I just wanted to follow up and THANK YOU for the guidance offered on this blog. It was through this blog that I discovered Fabuwood, and I put in my order with my dealer last week (we are in CA, otherwise would have gone to you).

    We are extremely happy with our selection and design, in no small part because you and your team (special thanks to CHRIS) answered our questions and even reviewed our design during your out-of-service-area “office hours”.

    Thank you again for your time, and for sharing your extensive knowledge with the rest of us.

  20. Josephine, March 14, 2020 at 12:09 pm:

    Hi Paul. I was considering Fabuwood cabinets since my builder likes them and you rate them well, however I have heard recently that since the new antidumping laws, fabuwood has changed the production and now there are a lot of issues with white finishes chipping. Can you speak to that?

  21. pmcalary, March 13, 2020 at 10:16 pm:

    Hi Rachel,
    Main Line Kitchen Design warranties all the cabinetry we sell with a Limited Lifetime Warranty even when the cabinet lines we carry do not. Several of the less expensive as well as one of the expensive lines we carry only offer what was once the industry standard of a 5 year warranty. 5 years was popular in the day because as cabinet professionals we know that almost everything that falls under a warranty will become an issue in the first two years. No one warranties cabinets against wear and tear, scratches or water damage. Nor do any cabinet warranties cover labor. EVER. So having a long warranty like a 20 year IKEA warranty for a terribly made cabinet has no value.
    Finding a reputable cabinet dealer and a good designer to work with is what’s important. They put their reputations on the line to make sure their customers are happy.

  22. Rachel, March 13, 2020 at 7:11 pm:

    Hi Paul! I’ve been thinking about a kitchen remodel for a couple of years now and your website and blog are FANTASTIC! Your site was the main reason I got interested in Fabuwood cabinets and today I got to see the product in person for the first time in Tacoma, WA. I’m really leaning that direction. They have the 5 year warranty which is good, but 5 years also isn’t long in the life of a kitchen. I’m curious, since Fabuwood has been around a decade now, what is your experience with the longevity under normal to gentle use? Thanks a million!

  23. pmcalary, March 11, 2020 at 1:17 pm:

    Sorry I don’t know anything about Lauriermax cabinets

  24. Pete I, March 11, 2020 at 10:15 am:

    Hi Paul. We are planning on doing a kitchen remodel and are torn between going with Starmark or Lauriermax cabinets. There are many reviews on Starmark, but very little on Lauriermax. What are your feelings on Lauriermax? Thanks

  25. pmcalary, March 11, 2020 at 8:00 am:

    Hi Larsen,
    I wouldn’t be getting a thermafoil cabinet when I wanted durability, value, and versatility. The Wolf Classic would be a better choice if that were your criteria. Customers that select a Wolf thermafoil cabinet without understanding the limitations of the product have been sold on the smartshield finish by a designer that is most likely not too aware or experienced. That same designer would also probably not be a good choice to design a kitchen remodel. I am not a fan as you can tell of the Wolf Signature series. I don’t like the look because I think it looks cheap and it is not inexpensive. Yes it will clean easy and be a very durable finish unless it is exposed to heat or delaminates after 20 years. But my biggest worry would be the designer that steered their customer in that direction. Your kitchen designer is the person that should direct you on your complete renovation. From the changing layout of your home and the kitchen design they create in it to the products they advise you on. Many if not most cabinet salespeople are not really designers. When a customer is considering Wolf Signature I worry that they are working with a salesperson and not a kitchen designer.

    Years ago I worked at a kitchen showroom that sold Aristocraft and the first version of Wolf Signature. We had a beautiful showroom and sold Kraftmaid, custom cabinets, and several other lines. Management and I often butted heads over philosophy. For example I wanted my business cards to read Kitchen Design and they wanted it to say Kitchen Sales. The sales people that sold their customers what has become Wold Signature were just that. Salespeople first and designers second. The better designers simply never ended up selling that line. This is why I worry about the designer you are working with.

  26. Larsen, March 11, 2020 at 2:52 am:

    Hi Paul, great blog and information. We are in the beginning stages of planning for our kitchen remodel, and are considering the Wolf cabinet line as suggested to us. Looking at the Wolf Signature series, due to the additional available options. However, I am concerned about quality as there are so many online platforms providing conflicting information. We are not looking to break the bank, but do want a reliable well built product that will stand up over time. Any additional thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

  27. Paul McAlary, March 10, 2020 at 8:45 am:

    Hi Susan,
    Usually, this kind of issue is only common in the absolute least expensive cabinet lines. Most cabinet companies would consider the door defective and replace it.

    FYI update.
    The designers that still answer questions on Houzz are no longer very reliable. Expert designers stopped answering questions on the Houzz platform as the discussions became more ridiculous and the benefit to the professionals answering questions was removed by Houzz.

    Posting more projects and paying for advertising is now what the real professionals do on the Houzz platform. You can easily judge any professional on Houzz simply by looking at their profile. If they don’t have dozens of projects that are professionally photographed they are probably more homemaker than designer and are answering questions in their free time between cat feedings.

  28. Susan Hunt, March 10, 2020 at 8:02 am:

    Thanks Paul. I posted a picture of the shaker cabinet with the lighter stain around the panel on Houzz and a designer came back within two minutes to say that it was clear that the stain was sprayed and that the angle of the nozzle didn’t hit this area as fully. That said, is this a common issue with stained shaker cabinets?

  29. pmcalary, March 9, 2020 at 3:09 pm:

    Hi CN,
    Tedd Wood is a very nice cabinet line. I can’t believe one us us didn’t realize we left it unrated. I am adding it to our list of reviewed cabinets. I am not certain about where exactly it prices out so I am giving them an A for value but it could be an A- or B+ if a dealer was selling Tedd Wood for more than I believe it sells for. If you were to get a quote in another line to compare and tell us the difference I could be more exact on the Value rating.

  30. pmcalary, March 9, 2020 at 2:49 pm:

    Hi Susan,
    This sounds more like a panel that shrank revealing an unstained area. It should be covered by the cabinet warranty. It is certainly not “normal”

  31. CN, March 9, 2020 at 2:24 pm:

    Hi Paul-
    Thank you for the updated cabinet ratings and posts. We are looking at Tedd Wood cabinetry but I don’t see this company listed on your ratings nor do I find a lot of online reviews. Any information you give me is appreciated. Thanks-
    CN

  32. Susan Hunt, March 9, 2020 at 1:39 pm:

    We are considering Wellborn Shaker cabinets in a medium-stained maple, but the stain is a shade or two lighter all around the edge where the frame meets the interior panel. The dealer says it is the natural “curl” of the maple, but the shading difference is completely linear (about a 1/4 inch wide) on the panel to the edge of the frame and not aligned with the grain. Is this standard for stained shaker cabinets? Thanks!

  33. pmcalary, March 9, 2020 at 11:09 am:

    Hi Art,
    Themafoil has it’s place in the cabinet market. Namely for modern slab door styles that wouldn’t be possible in any other finish. These stlyes will also always be found on frameless cabinetry. However getting shaker or raised panel door styles makes little sense in thermafoil for a number of reasons.
    .
    First the adhesion issue you mention puts a safe time limit on the foil holding up of about 20 years. If you want a kitchen that will last a lifetime both Thermafoil and frameless cabinetry are not the safest selections.
    .
    Second White Thrmafoil in traditional door styles is VERY VERY unpopular. It was popular up to about 20 years ago but now it is looked on as cheap and outdated by most kitchen consumers. Because of this do not expect to get resale value out of a tradition styled white thermafoil kitchen.
    .
    Lastly thermafoil is VERY sensitive to heat. So if an oven seal goes or you have a fire on the cooktop your cabinetry will instantly be damaged. I would never recommend using powerful professional ranges and cooktops with a thermafoil kitchen.
    .
    You don’t mention your door style or color cabinetry. but keep these issues in mind when selecting thermafoil. If you are looking for a modern door style in frameless cabinetry this is where we normally would recomend using a thermafoil door.

  34. Art, March 9, 2020 at 9:23 am:

    Any comments/experience with Waypoint Duraform? We’d been advised against Thermofoil due to finish layer adhesion issues.

  35. pmcalary, March 7, 2020 at 6:13 pm:

    Thanks Bruce! These are the stories that make us feel good and smile. So glad everything turned out so well.
    Great kitchens make can be life changers. But even the simplest kitchens can hold wonderful memories. You have the best of all worlds.
    Now just sit back and enjoy!
    Below is one of my favorite stories about the simplest of kitchens:
    https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/kitchens-familys-best-memories-made/

  36. Loretta, March 7, 2020 at 3:16 pm:

    Hi Paul,
    We are updating our bathroom 30” vanity. The designer uses Yorktowne cabinets. We got a price on Yorktowne, maple shaker style. The sides are 1/2” plywood. Do you know what the thickness is on the backs and the bottom floor inside the cabinet? Also drawer sides and bottom thickness? Their website does not tell much. Good to hear they have made improvements!
    Thank you!

  37. Bruce Lucas, March 7, 2020 at 1:04 pm:

    Hi,

    I just wanted to send a thank you for the expert advice that you offer on this webpage. I read through your recommendations thoroughly and did some online investigating for a reputable kitchen designer here in Traverse City, Michigan. I am very pleased with the Decora cabinets that the company installed for us. They are solid and beautiful. My wife and I followed the advice of the designer, even though we did not understand why she made a couple of the recommendations that she did. Now we understand, and we are quite happy that we listened to her. Even more than the quality of the cabinets, however, was the quality of the installer that the company used. He provided a fit and finish for the cabinets that was difficult to achieve in our house, which is not very square at the corners. Keep up the good work!

  38. pmcalary, March 6, 2020 at 9:30 am:

    Cathy,
    Both Wellborn and Wellborn forest are rated separately in our ratings. We can’t rate all the cabinet lines we do and then also rate all their individual different lines and different upgrades so we rate the top line with all the upgrades generally.

    It is usually a bad idea anyway to be getting anything less that the top construction features in any cabinet line because you could have gotten a better cabinet for less by simply being in a less expensive cabinet brand that came with those upgrades. Many lines offer their cabinetry in lesser quality construction. They primarily do this to appeal to the builder market that usually cares nothing about construction quality and only about price. Choosing these lines as a homeowner is almost always not a good investment.

    We aren’t sure how the back of the cabinet is made in the Supreme series in Wellborn Forrest. We can only find specifications for the Elite Series which we give a B+ but we might have given them an A or an A- had they been more transparent about how their cabinetry was made. When the Supreme series or any other line doesn’t tell you how one cabinet feature is made we assume it isn’t good news. So while we can’t rate the Supreme series because they don’t tell us enough to rate them, I would not assume our rating would not have been that good had they decided to be more transparent.

  39. Cathy, March 5, 2020 at 7:34 pm:

    I am a little confused on your rating for Wellborn. Are you rating Wellborn Cabintry or Wellborn Forest? Wellborn Forest’s lower two lines don’t seem to have good reviews on other sites. My kitchen designer is recommending the Wellborn Forest Supreme line (Mid line) but I am unsure due to some other reviews.
    Thank you

  40. Paul McAlary, March 3, 2020 at 9:58 am:

    MP,
    That question is a little silly. How would we be able to confirm what you ordered with another dealer. Asking the people you bought your kitchen from for documentation would make more sense and hopefully make you more comfortable.

    Please be respectful of our time and remember you are not our customer. The people you bought a kitchen from should be your first resource for information. They know all the answers about your particular design and order.

  41. MP, March 3, 2020 at 9:45 am:

    Hi Paul,

    I wouldn’t want to wait until I receive my order to confirm if the back panel is 1/4 inch in thickness or 3/4 inch. If it’s wrong then I would need to send the whole order back and wait another few weeks to them to send me an updated order. As I asked earlier, would there be an upgrade charge to get the back panel to 3/4 inch thickness from 1/4 inch? How can I confirm once I place my order to make sure I am getting the correct thickness in the back panel. And if there is an upgrade charge then why did the designer say he will update the order and said not to worry about the upgrade charge. I am a little concerned. I hope you can answer all my questions.

    Thank you, MP

  42. pmcalary, March 2, 2020 at 11:46 am:

    Hi MP,
    Brighton uses a 1/4″ back panel BUT WITH a 1/2″ hanging rail so where you screw the cabinets to the wall is 3/4″ thick.
    Starmark used to use a 3/8″ back panel. Now the standard is a 1/4″ back panel and don’t say they are using any hanging rail which would not be sufficient.
    The Starmark 1/2″ back on inset cabinets and the 3/4″ upgrade back are both great.
    You can tell what you got by simply looking at the back of the cabinet. Measure with a tape if you need to confirm the back is 3/4″ thick

  43. MP, March 2, 2020 at 11:22 am:

    Hi Paul,

    I am responding to your reply from March 1 regarding the Starmark Cabinets. You said that they changed on how they make cabinetry but I checked their website and for overlay cabinets, the back panel was always at 1/4 thick plywood.
    https://www.starmarkcabinetry.com/cabinet-construction
    I checked Brigton’s website also and the backs are also 1/4 inch in thickness
    https://www.brightoncabinetry.com/product-info/construction/

    But you have still given them A- for quality and A+ for value.

    I did go back to my designer and asked him about the back panel for my Starmark Cabinet order and he said it was 1/4 thickness for back panel. So I asked him to upgrade it to 3/4 thickness and he said he would update the order. I asked him if there would be an extra cost and he replied casually and said don’t worry about it so I am a bit concerned. I asked him how can I be sure when I receive the cabinet order that the back panels will be 3/4 thickness and he said that the boxes will have that information.

    Please advise.

    Thank you,
    MP

  44. Paul McAlary, March 1, 2020 at 6:31 pm:

    Hi Diane,
    They are both back but selling at a higher price. I personally would not by them simply out of fear that they will get into financial trouble a third time.

  45. Diane, March 1, 2020 at 6:05 pm:

    Hi Paul,
    I noticed that you have ratings for Brookhaven and Wood Mode cabinets however I thought they went out of business? Can you please clarify? Thanks!

  46. Paul McAlary, March 1, 2020 at 2:50 pm:

    Starmark just updated how they make cabinetry. Without the upgrade the cabinet back is 1/4” thick which is bad. Upgraded they can be even better made than before. You need the back of a cabinet to be no less than 3/8”. Upgraded Starmark can now have 1/2 or 3/4” backs which gives the upgraded version such high marks. We wanted particularly here to make the distinction.

  47. MP, March 1, 2020 at 1:30 pm:

    Hello,

    I just noticed there is an update on the cabinet ratings. Until a few days ago I noticed Starmark cabinets had an A- for quality and B+ for value. I just noticed that now you have Starmark standard with a rating for C for quality bad value. We just ordered Starmark cabinets and were a little concerned regarding the C rating. Also until a few days ago, you did not list Starmark standard and Starmark insets or with 3/4 back panel It was just listed as Starmark.

    How can I be sure if I have the Starmark standard or Starmark cabinets with 3/4 back panel.

    What affected this change? Even 2018 ratings were good for Starmark.

    We want to make sure we are getting quality cabinets and not the Starmark standard.

    Please advise.

    Thank you,
    MP

  48. pmcalary, February 27, 2020 at 8:18 pm:

    Hi Meg,
    Tough call as I know both lines well and I like the Diamond grey colors better. However not quite $4,500 better. The cabinet are made the same. So you are down to finish. 6Square is more of a matt finish which some people like better. The finish is also thicker because it is a painted over a white cabinet so if it gets chipped it will be more obvious. If you are close to a city it will be easy to get furniture re-finishers to touch up for $500 in 5 or 10 years. I go 6 Square if you are not rural in a close call, and spend 4K on a countertop, appliance, or contractor upgrade that you would have eliminated without the savings.

  49. Meg, February 27, 2020 at 7:16 pm:

    Thanks so much for your dedication to your blog and to your audience.
    We are debating between shaker cabinets in either 6 square for just shy of 10K or Diamond Vibe (upgraded to all plywood) for 14500.
    Both would be painted in medium greys.
    Are their major differences or should we decide based on color at this point?
    Thanks!!

  50. Asit Gosar, February 27, 2020 at 2:45 pm:

    Dealer said 10-15% upgrade, in line with what you’ve mentioned for other brands

  51. Paul McAlary, February 27, 2020 at 1:16 pm:

    Hi Asit,
    I didn’t know ultracraft could be updated to 3/4” plywood. We would then give them a B for construction. I’ll see if I can confirm that and update the review. Any idea how much more it costs for the upgrade?

  52. Asit Gosar, February 27, 2020 at 12:39 pm:

    Would you still give Ultracraft a C for quality once it’s upgraded to 3/4″ plywood?

  53. pmcalary, February 27, 2020 at 7:14 am:

    Hi V
    Norcraft un upgraded is terribly made with 3/8″ particle board sides a a particleboard hanging rail. If you take advantage of every possible upgrade including APC and MATV Norcraft will reach a B construction level, Generally when cabinetry is made very poorly as the standard the upgrades are not a good value. There are simply better values out there. After doing the research I added Norcraft to our ratings with a big note.

  54. V Anderson, February 26, 2020 at 9:43 pm:

    wondering if you have used Norcraft Cabinetry and what you think of that brand?

  55. Paul McAlary, February 26, 2020 at 4:31 pm:

    MP,
    If you read the link I sent you you should understand that pricing cabinetry is more complicated and that the information you are giving me is only a tiny tiny fraction of what’s needed to determine if you are getting a good or a bad price. Both cabinet lines are good quality beyond that I can’t help you.

  56. MP, February 26, 2020 at 3:59 pm:

    Hi Paul,

    We got a quote for Starmark cabinetry for $14,734.97 plus installation. Please see the details below
    Starmark Framed Cabinetry
    Starmark Framed Cabinetry as per 2020 design. 4-6 Weeks lead time.Soft-Close
    Doors/Drawers Standard
    Door style:Bridgeport
    Wood Species:Maple
    Finish:Pebble Gray and Capri
    Construction:Plywood

    And We also got a quote for Brighton Cabinets for $16,500

    Brighton Semi Custom Cabinet with Lifetime Warranty $16500, this price includes the Maple /W Cadet Finish on the bottom cabinets and Maple /W Comfort finish on the top, moldings, filler, fridge panel, panel for the back of the island, light moldings, glass door on top of the sink, spice rack cabinet, double stack cutlery, 4 pull outs in the pantry, toe kicks and etc.

    Please give your opinion.

  57. pmcalary, February 26, 2020 at 3:09 pm:

    Hi MP,
    While different cabinet dealers can have different pricing for cabinets there are many other factors involved.
    Read this blog to better understand:

    https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/price-comparing-kitchen-cabinets-and-why-it-is-a-bad-idea/

    So the answer is – that without sitting with you and going over an entire order there is no way for me to know what you are pricing.

  58. MP, February 26, 2020 at 2:57 pm:

    Hi Paul,

    I got two different price quotes regarding Brighton Cabinets from two independent cabinet makers. First off, please let me know if there are two levels of pricing for Brighton cabinets, level 1 and level 2 depending on door style, color, etc. The difference on the price quote was almost 8K between the two companies. We selected Brighton cabinets with Maple W/ Cadet Finish on bottom and Maple /W Comfort Finish on top with Shaker door style and molding on the top of the cabinets. One company suggested around 16K vs 24K from other company.

    Could you please provide your input or advise about such a high price discrepancy.

    Thank you,
    MP

  59. pmcalary, February 26, 2020 at 9:17 am:

    Hi Asit,
    Warranty and how nice a dealer is will have no bearing when the drawers rip out of the side. Cabinets are not warrantied against misuse which that would be considered, and there is no way to repair the cabinet even if there were. Both designers and customers need to accept the limitations of the cabinetry they want and especially the space they have in the kitchen. It’s a never ending battle for good kitchen designers.

    Length of warranty is not meaningful in the cabinet industry. Any problems that are real and under warranty will almost always happen in the first 5 years except with thermafoil cabinets which could peel while still under warranty. The warranty is more of a marketing ploy and as cabinets get less expensive manufacturers don’t want to waste time and money answering unjustified consumer complaints that aren’t under warranty for any cabinet line.

    Examples of things no cabinet company warranties against are: scratches, nicks, overloaded drawers ripping out of the sides of cabinets, water damage, cracks appearing on seamed painted doors, color variations due to direct sunlight, and other issues. A lifetime warranty only covers defects like broken hinges or tracks, warping, or the paint or finish failing due to some unknown and highly unusual chemical reaction. Even cabinets falling apart only covers the cost of the cabinet not the thousands of dollars in labor possibly needed to replace it.

    This is the main reason why we began our Cabinet Review.

  60. pmcalary, February 26, 2020 at 9:08 am:

    Hi Asit,
    Most slab doors you will want to be a wood veneer over either MDF or MDF with a plywood core. Solid wood stained doors would not have the wood grain continue across the whole door, They would often look stripey. All plywood would tend to warp.Sold wood slab doors would also not look contemporary so they are rarely sold.

  61. Asit Gosar, February 26, 2020 at 9:00 am:

    2 more questions for you Paul:

    1. For a slab door, how important is solid wood vs. wood veneer over solid wood vs. wood veneer over plywood vs. wood veneer over particle board? Would like to understand price-value relationship on this question and your point of view.

    2. What do you think about relying on warranty and a dealer’s experience with the manufacturer as a method of getting comfortable with the risks of frameless and/or taking risk on things like wide width base cabinets with roll outs? For example, Alusso comes with a 10 year warranty so I’m thinking of screening it out on that dimension alone. But curious if you’d agree with this approach.

  62. pmcalary, February 26, 2020 at 7:33 am:

    Hi Kristen,
    Starting with a kitchen designer before an architect is a good idea and should save you money if you can find the right company and right designer. However, I think you are having a problem getting people to work on your design because they really aren’t kitchen designers. Working with places like Prosource Wholesaler for designing a kitchen or considering a kitchen addition is a bad idea. They aren’t much less expensive for cabinetry than many other dealers and they offer no or very little kitchen design expertise.

    Home Centers like Lowes and The Home Depot would be slightly better, but would not take on this type of project. If you want professional kitchen design help, especially if you are adding an addition, removing a load bearing wall, and relocating mechanicals, you will need to find a knowledgeable and experienced kitchen designer.

    Many companies like ours are actually less expensive for cabinetry than home centers and offer this type of help. However we will not price things out or give you our expertise without a small deposit. Once we show you designs and price them out you would need to pay a second larger deposit to get copies of the plans and to have additional appointments.

    As a kitchen designer it is very frustrating to have people expect to get our expert help for free. In fact the $150 deposit we require to have a designer measure your home, work on designs, show you them, and price them out, is not to pay for our time, which of course it doesn’t. It is to avoid the customers that want something for nothing.

    If $150 is a impediment to getting expert kitchen design advice on a home improvement that might cost between 20 and $200,000 then there is something wrong with how that customer’s thinking. Customers that balk at paying a small deposit for expert advice are unlikely to take good advice because they don’t value it. As a result their projects end up poorly planned, disorganized, and have added problems and miscommunications. These type customers never blame themselves for not listening to professionals, and so they are dangerous in a world where online reviews are so important for a company’s success.

    Today kitchen design companies and cabinet dealers need to interview customers before accepting them just as much as the customers need to research to find good cabinet retailers and kitchen designers.

  63. Kristen, February 25, 2020 at 10:29 pm:

    Thanks for the great info. I am doing a complete remodel with an addition and removing a wall to make the kitchen larger. I am encountering difficulty in getting a kitchen designer to help with a design. They all want me to have architectural plans first. It makes no sense to me to pay for an architect until I know the ideal layout and addition size necessary to accomplish what we want. Is It normal for kitchen designers to want architectural plans first?

    Do you have any opinions about using ProSource Wholesale?

  64. pmcalary, February 25, 2020 at 6:31 pm:

    Hi Kelly,
    Framed cabinetry with 1/2″ sides are much better than frameless 3/4″ sides so no worries there. I never heard paint grade wood refereed to as PGM before. I looked it up and the door frames will be wood and the middle panel MDF in Crystal. That’s how most custom lines would recommend doing it on a recessed panel door. It won’t help or effect chipping or hairline cracks, but it will make the door more stable and reduce the issue of panel shrinkage exposing an unpainted line.

  65. pmcalary, February 25, 2020 at 6:22 pm:

    Hi MP,
    They are both so similar I would choose the door style and finish that was standard that I liked best if you weren’t color matching. Starmark has some nice stained finishes and in a paint Brighton seems to do a particularly good job sanding doors for a smooth finish. Not a definitive answer hear. The best designer is more far important that the cabinet line in a case like this.

  66. pmcalary, February 25, 2020 at 6:18 pm:

    Holiday looks like a nice custom line. They just don’t give specifics on their web site about how the make their framed and frameless cabinetry. Probably because they will make it any way that you want. But we can’t rate them without information.

  67. Kelly, February 25, 2020 at 2:31 pm:

    Thank you for publishing these ratings and cabinet posts. It’s been very helpful.

    I have two question about Crystal Cabinets I am considering. Their frameless cabinets have 3/4″ boxes, but for the framed cabinets that we are looking at it states “3/4″ thick solid wood frame for stability, that is typically attached to the face of 1/2″ boxwork.” Should I be concerned about the durability of the 1/2″ box.

    Also, Crystal’s painted cabinets are on PGM. Is that the best product for painted cabinets in order to minimize chipping or hairline cracks?

    Thank you.

  68. JG, February 25, 2020 at 2:07 pm:

    Great blog, do you have any insight on Holiday Kitchen cabinets? we are doing some frameless cabinets and some with an inset. will have some rollouts as well.

    Thanks!

  69. MP, February 25, 2020 at 11:42 am:

    Thank for your input Paul. Which would be your first choice between Brighton and Starmark Cabinets if budget was not an issue. I am looking for top quality, something that will last me for many years, dealing with warranty and customer service.

  70. Paul McAlary, February 25, 2020 at 11:11 am:

    Hi Asit,
    Yes Alluso is the frameless contemporary style Adornus line.

    YES NO drawer bases over 30″ or base cabinets with roll outs over 30″. When you load up the drawers and rollouts the tracks are only held up by screws in the sides of the plywood cabinet. This is one of the primary reasons that frameless cabinetry is inferior to framed cabinetry in construction. Once the tracks rip out of the side of the cabinet there is no repairing it. Tracks attached to solid wood don’t have this issue.

  71. Asit Gosar, February 25, 2020 at 10:59 am:

    Extremely helpful, thank you Paul. Two follow up questions:
    1. By Adornus, you mean Alusso, correct? So Alusso is price level 3 at the upgraded 3/4″ plywood quality?
    2. You mention that frameless cabinet bases should not exceed 30″. Does that also apply to pure drawer base cabinets with no doors? We love the extra wide look of those cabinets and the practicality of having no doors covering the drawers.

  72. pmcalary, February 25, 2020 at 10:50 am:

    Hi MP,
    The ratings have changed on many cabinet lines because of several factors.

    One is that many cabinet lines are either changing to become better constructed or are being bought by new corporations that are changing how the cabinets are made for the better. Yorktowne cabinetry would be a perfect example. Yorketown went from a terribly made cabinet to a well constructed and high end cabinet when they were purchased by ACProducts along with the other Elkay cabinet lines. One interesting aside is that Toll Brothers, Pennsylvania’s luxury home seller, stopped using Yorktowne the second the quality went up and found a new poorly made cabinet to put in their homes IE Century Cabinets.

    Second, many high end semi-custom cabinet companies are becoming essentially almost full custom cabinet companies such as Starmark and Fieldstone. The advent of hidden inset hinges is allowing even lines like Bishop and Decora to sell inset and beaded inset cabinetry.

    Among the factors driving the improvement in how US cabinetry is made is pressure from the lower priced better constructed import cabinet lines. And also better customer awareness due to the internet and blogs like ours.

    For example, I have received phone calls from many vice presidents and other executives from cabinet lines asking us to reevaluate their cabinetry or thanking us for reviewing them well. They tell us that hundreds (possibly thousands) of customers enter kitchen showrooms with printouts of our cabinet reviews in their hands. This makes it essential that we write accurate reviews. Companies can lose or gain business based on our reviews and we also can open ourselves up to liability if our reviews are not honest and accurate.

    For Advice, you can always call us on Fridays between 2 and 4 pm EST when we help people from around the US free of charge.

  73. MP, February 25, 2020 at 10:17 am:

    Hello,

    Thanks for the updated 2020 Cabinet ratings. If Budget was not an issue, which would be your first choice between Brighton and Starmark Cabinets. I noticed in 2018 ratings you had given both Brighton and Starmark A for Quality while the value was A+ and B+ respectively. In the updated 2020 ratings, I see that both Brighton and Starmark went from A to A- in Quality while the Value remained the same. The Price Level also went up to 5 for both cabinet makers from 2018 to 2020. We are getting quotes from two independent cabinet makers where one heavily recommends and sells Brighton cabinets while the other recommends Starmark cabinets and heavily sells them. Please let me know if I can provide you with the name of the company in a direct email.

    Thank you,
    MP

  74. pmcalary, February 25, 2020 at 8:50 am:

    Hi Asit,
    One of the problems with trying to rate European frameless cabinetry is that most brands are not constructed very well and THEY KNOW IT!
    Because of this nowhere on their websites, in there catalogues, or even in their spec books do they tell you how their cabinetry is made.
    They don’t even tell you if it can be upgraded. Nada, zip, nothing! They will give you lots of platitudes and tell you how concerned they are about the environment, ergonomics, aging in place, their green initiative, and how great they are on every undocumentable front. But how they are made – not a chance.

    I hate companies like this. Cabinetry from Europe where plywood is expensive and particleboard is king are very often not transparent about how their cabinetry is made.

    Decor and Bauformat are two companies that refuse to tell you anything about their construction. Assume the worst. If they had anything to brag about I would assume they would tell you.

    One simple rule with frameless cabinetry is this:

    5/8″ or less particleboard sides on frameless cabinets are automatically rated a D for construction. Add a hanging rail instead of a solid back and they are an F for construction. Their values are also the same low ratings. IKEA is the best of these junky cabinets so why spend a whole lot more to get a product that isn’t made any better.

    Cabinet companies that make their frameless cabinet boxes with 3/4″ thick plywood or a 3/4″ thick plywood core are what you should be looking for if you want a durable frameless cabinet. We sell Bishop, and Wellsford for this reason. They are both amazing for their price point, but not available everywhere. Some other brands that meet this high standard if upgraded include:

    Adurnus at a price level 3
    Dynasty by Omega at a price level 4
    Belmont 1900 Series at a price level 4
    Mouser at a price level 5
    Kountry Kraft at a price level 6

    Be careful too because the kitchen designers that steer all of their customer to frameless cabinets even in very traditional door styles are revealing their ignorance of the limits when designing in frameless construction. This could be disastrous because they will not design to reduce the stress on cabinetry.

    Remember in ANY frameless line no draw bases wider than 30″. No tall pantry cabinets wider than 30″ Beware of many of the gadgets that are so popular in frameless cabinetry like Chefs Pantries, Mixer Lifts, Magic Corners and Lemans corners.

    I once saw an 8 year old kitchen designed by an architect with very well made custom frameless cabinetry costing over $100,000, just for the cabinets. The architect was unaware of all kitchen design rules and recommendations, as most architects are. The result was a kitchen breaking every rule in the book, sagging, and falling apart after only 8 years of very light use. Of course the style of this kitchen was Ultra Traditional French Country and so there was no need to be designing in a frameless line to begin with. This is an example of one of the many reasons that architects should stay away from designing kitchens, unless they decide to become kitchen designers and design kitchens and sell cabinetry full time at a cabinet dealership. Even then they will need both years of experience and to change the way architects are trained to think. To be a good kitchen designer you must be practical and design within limits. You can not expect carpenters and other professionals “to make your ideas work”. The buck stops with the kitchen designer. Bad ideas and designs from a poor kitchen designer become bad realities in what we call “the field”

  75. Asit Gosar, February 25, 2020 at 7:26 am:

    Hi Paul, thanks for publishing the updated ratings. We love your blog. We are going frameless for the sleek slab contemporary look. I noticed your ratings still do not include Decor’s products, e.g., Talora by Decor, which is available in our area. Also we can access Bauformat, which is a German product that is now being installed in the States. We are wondering how they compare to Alusso, Design-Craft, Dynasty by Omega, and Ultracraft, which are also accessible in our area. It would be great if you could publish a blog specifically on the pros / cons of the major frameless products, e.g., why you gave one product a B and another a C on quality. Thank you for supporting the community Paul

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