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Posted January 1, 2011 by pmcalary

Recalling a time when the cabinet industry was less transparent.

Note:  Since posting this blog in 2011 many of the Masterbrands cabinet lines have switched from 3/8″ sides to half inch sides. Possibly due to better consumer awareness. Instead of removing or editing the blog I am keeping it posted as it was to mark the time and place our industry was at in early 2011. We also have three more recent bogs below that discus similar topics:


Here is the original blog

Kitchen cabinet buyers need reputable, professional assistance for many reasons including safety (see link: ), good design, and . . . there’s probably no less blunt way to say this. . . to avoid being ripped off.


For example, many cabinet companies sell the same product for different prices by having multiple cabinet line names.  Even in the same cabinet line, exact same door styles and finishes will have different names at different locations. In 2004 Consumer Reports was completely duped — publishing cabinet reviews in which they compared cabinets that were actually the same product and reviewed them differently.  Ikea duped them as well – – garnering top ratings despite durability and construction flaws that take only a few years to become problems.

Here are some examples of advice Main Line Kitchen Design professionals share with our customers:


Frameless cabinets are much less durable than framed cabinets. Frameless or European Cabinetry can definitely look sleeker and are better suited to the most modern door styles because of of this, but even the most expensive frameless lines such as Poggenpohl are nowhere near as durable as any well made framed cabinetry.


The worst way to make a framed cabinet is with 3/8″ sides and backs. Quality framed cabinetry has 1/2 or 3/4″ sides and backs with solid wood hanging rails.  Watch out for Masterbrands — They are the largest cabinet conglomerate in the US and produce most of their cabinetry with the less durable 3/8″ sides and backs. Many home builders including Toll Brothers use these type lines because more money goes into the door styles and finishes and very little into the cabinets construction.  These lines include:  Aristocraft, Schrock, Diamond, Yorktowne, and Kemper.


A cabinet by any other name…. Thomasville, a fine furniture company, sold the right to use their name to Home Depot to sell kitchen cabinetry.  Home Depot’s “Thomasville” cabinets are actually 3/8″  constructed cabinetry with the Thomasville name.  At one point Home Depot actually had Mills Pride their least expensive cabinet line making half of the Thomasville line.


Thicker plywood sides, solid wood hanging rail, Ibeam or plywood tops, along with dovetail drawers and Blumotion tracks can be had for less. Higher end framed custom cabinets differ in finer finishes and in the availability of custom pieces  —  not construction and durability.  Kraftmaid, Woodmode Brookhaven and Main Line Kitchen Design’s Jim Bishop cabinet lines for example can all provide the same quality construction as higher priced custom alternatives.


Selecting a Kitchen Designer is just as important as the cabinetry you select. Unfortunately accreditation in the kitchen industry is fairly nebulous.  Going to the most expensive showrooms doesn’t assure you of getting a good designer or one that has your interest at heart.  Architects are also generally less capable designers because they spend so much less time designing kitchens and therefore have so much less experience doing so.


The best Kitchen Designers explain as much about cabinetry and design to their customers as time allows. When you know what you are buying, and why and what the negative and positive aspects of your design are, you can make an informed decision about what matters to you most, and where you want to spend more and or less.  Kitchen Designers also add NO COST as the design costs are included almost everywhere in the cost of the cabinetry.


Getting a great kitchen requires one big investment that many customers have a hard time making.  The investment of their own time.  It always surprises my customers when I tell them that we would prefer them to take more rather than less of our time making their decisions.  It is only the customers that invest too little of their own time that are ever unhappy with their selections.


Watch our very funny video below to see why you need a kitchen designer.

The Main Line Kitchen Design team wishes everyone a wonderful new year and the best kitchens possible  …… and of course Bon Appetit!

Paul, Ray, Tom, Carol, and Julie


  1. Don Beechler, April 12, 2014 at 7:42 pm:

    I am in the market for a complete kitchen. We are looking at craftmade cabinete and custom made cabinets. We live in calif where they only use water base finishes. Is kraftmade finishes better than water base? And are kraftmade 3/4 plywood.

  2. pmcalary, May 4, 2014 at 9:37 am:

    If you mean Kraftmaid their finishes will be water based since they are made in the US. You can upgrade to 3/4 plywood as far as I know. We do not carry Kraftmaid. They are sold at Lowes, Home Depot and independent showrooms. They will be on average 20 to 40% less than custom cabinets and their finishes will be less attractive then the larger manufactured custom made brands.

  3. Terri262, June 18, 2014 at 4:07 am:

    Schrock/Diamond have 1/2″ sides, top, and bottom. The backs are 3/8″. Not sure if this has changed. Thanks for the tips on cabinet buying.

  4. pmcalary, June 18, 2014 at 9:05 am:

    Hi Terri,
    I amended the blog. You are right! Since it was posted in 2011 many of the Masterbrands cabinet lines have switched to 1/2″ inch sides that if you upgrade to plywood should be pretty durable even with 3/8″ backs. Thanks for reminding me to make the update.

  5. tania, February 7, 2015 at 4:28 am:

    So what is a good kitchen cabinet brand I should consider?

  6. pmcalary, February 7, 2015 at 1:46 pm:

    Hi Tania,
    What price point you are in and what cabinet lines are available to you from dealers close by and competitive in price determines the cabinet line that is best suited for you. Home centers are near everyone so if you are at Lowes or Home Depot The best cabinet for the money is certainly Kraftmaid. Lower in price but still well made and not a rip off would be American Woodmark at Home Depot and Shenendoah at Lowes. Stay away from re marketed cabinets like Thomasville and Martha Stewart.

    There are hundreds of cabinet lines though that are well made. All the lines we carry are well made. We carry In order of price: Fabuwood, 6 Square, Bishop, Wellsford, Village, and Bremtown.

  7. tania, February 18, 2015 at 4:14 am:

    Thank you, just saw this. I am building a house and the builder is offering Yorktowne and Wellborne

  8. tania, February 18, 2015 at 4:16 am:

    I forgot to add I live in Wheaton Il, near Chicago

  9. Susan, March 27, 2015 at 10:50 pm:

    I made the mistake of going with Home Depot and Thomasville cabinets. It is now 7 months since I ordered and my kitchen is still not done. The cabinet sides are mismatched pieced together fiberboard, wrong cabinets are ordered, delivered products are damaged, workmanship is shoddy. And there’s no end in sight.

  10. Betsy, April 1, 2015 at 4:09 pm:

    What is your opinion of Aspect cabinets?

  11. pmcalary, April 1, 2015 at 4:40 pm:

    I had never heard of them but I looked them up. They are an inexpensive line with particle board sides and shelves. I would say better made than RTA particle board cabinetry or IKEA but there will be less expensive lines that are all plywood construction that I would think were a better value. However they will have Asian made doors which I think is fine but some people will object to. We sell 6 Square and Fabuwood, but there are many alternatives at this pricepoint. Armstrong is a well known line that might be similar in price and is also All Plywood construction.

  12. Betsy, April 4, 2015 at 1:14 pm:

    Thank you so much for your input!

  13. Camille Vaccari, April 6, 2015 at 5:15 pm:

    What is your opinion on Design Craft and Art Craft? Also, for a humid client do you recommend MDF doors for a painted cabinet? Thank you!

  14. pmcalary, April 6, 2015 at 5:32 pm:

    Hi Camille,
    Both cabinet lines are frameless so as the article mentions I far prefer a well made framed line. If you are getting frameless cabinetry IKEA is inexpensive and essentially made the same as other European lines so I would save the money and just get IKEA. Modern slab doorstyles do look better in frameless but traditional or shaker doorstyles look great in framed and the cabinetry can be less expensive and better made as well. For example our least expensive line is an Asian import called Fabuwood that is less expensive and far better made.

  15. joan, June 3, 2015 at 6:55 pm:

    Hi I have been pricing diamond and Keller cabinets. I was told are the same. Upgraded to all plywood box. Still wondering if they are good cabinets or whet you suggest

  16. Ruth, June 20, 2015 at 10:03 am:

    I am considering Aspect or Waypoint. I just read your comments about Aspect and I hadn’t seen that information. What do you know about Waypoint? Thanks.

  17. pmcalary, June 20, 2015 at 1:42 pm:

    Hi Ruth,
    I have never heard of either the Aspect or Waypoint brands. Neither brand shows you how their cabinetry is constructed on their web sites which is almost always a bad sign.

  18. pmcalary, June 20, 2015 at 1:49 pm:

    Hi Joan,
    Sorry I missed your comment and just noticed it now, I hope this is in time to help. I believe both Diamond and I think you mean Kemper cabinets are Masterbrand cabinets with similar construction. Lowes sells Diamond for about the same price as Kraftmaid and I prefer the Kraftmaid. As long as Diamond is upgraded to 1/2 inch plywood sides it is a well made cabinet but as I mentioned I do prefer Kraftmaid in that pricepoint.

  19. Remodeler, July 25, 2015 at 8:45 am:

    I am looking at schuler cabinets for my kitchen. Do they have 1/2 inch plywood sides. How do they compare to kraftmaid

  20. pmcalary, July 25, 2015 at 10:20 am:

    Schuler cabinetry from Lowes is the same cabinetry as Medalion from independent dealers. You need to upgrade the cabinetry to at least Platninum plywood sides. They used to only have 3/8 inch sides and I just looked on their web site and it doesn’t say so that makes me cautious. In general the company focuses on great finishes and not on construction quality, much like their parent company Elkay that makes nice sinks but most are 18 gauge and not the thicker 16 gauge. Schuler cabinetry is more expensive than Kraftmaid and certainly not better made than upgraded Kraftmaid. I am also not a fan of buying expensive cabinetry from home centers. Designing in more expensive lines like Schuler is more difficult and the home center designer will be less familiar designing in that line. If you are going to pay more for cabinetry it’s smarter to pay a little more and get a great designer instead and they will be harder to find at home centers, but not impossible. At Lowes I would stick with Kraftmaid.

  21. Vincent, August 16, 2015 at 4:28 pm:

    Have you heard of Kith Cabinets? Their construction and pricing seems to be pretty good compared to Thomasville quote I got from Home Dept.

  22. pmcalary, August 16, 2015 at 6:02 pm:

    I have not heard of Kith. But Thomasville is way overpriced. Home Depot bought the right to use Thomasville Furniture’s name and they sell lesser quality cabinetry under that name. If you are shopping at The Home Depot buy Kraftmaid, Home depot sells them too, and they are the same price and a better cabinet.

  23. Vincent, August 16, 2015 at 6:17 pm:

    Thanks for the info. I don’t have a set price, so I want to make sure I get quality but also don’t want to overspend. Kith is made in USA and they tell you exactly how their cabinets are constructed on their websites. Are they any brands that you particularly like when price isn’t exactly the biggest limitation? I don’t have a million dollar home that need custom built cabinets, but I would pay the extra money for quality and longevity. Thanks again for the info.

  24. Gig, September 8, 2015 at 5:25 pm:

    i was told that Diamond and Thomasville are the now the same company,is this true.
    If so do they manufacture the cabinets the same? You do not like Thomasville what do you think of Diamond? I am looking for white Shaker with a conversion varnish but here in Calif no cabinet maker can do it. What company make a good quality white Shaker?

  25. pmcalary, September 8, 2015 at 6:19 pm:

    The reason I don’t like Thomasville is that Home Depot is misleading people and making them believe that Thomasville furniture is making the cabinetry and charging more because of it. If you upgrade Diamond to 1/2″ plywood sides they are well made, So assuming you you are right and Thomasville is now being made by Diamond and not American Woodmark you would need to do the same in Thomasville. But Kraftmaid is the better made cabinet of the three and is also sold at Home Depot so why not design your kitchen in Kraftmaid? It should be around the same price. Decora is also a well made cabinet and I think some home Depots carry Decora. I don’t know much about the new Asian made lines Home Depot carries.

  26. Gig, September 9, 2015 at 3:21 pm:

    thank you so much for responding.

  27. Dave, September 10, 2015 at 12:01 am:

    Have you heard of cabinet brands J&K Cabinets, Cabinet City, and FX Cabinets? I believe they are california based prefabricated cabinets, probably being made in China. They seem to be priced well below Diamond and Kraftmaid. Any thoughts?

  28. Dave, September 10, 2015 at 12:06 am:

    Have you heard of Grand JK Cabinets, Cabinet City, or FX Cabinets? They are priced lower then the Diamond and Kraftmaid cabinets. What are your thoughts?

  29. pmcalary, September 10, 2015 at 7:53 am:

    No I haven’t heard of those brands. But 6 Square sold in private dealers and also sold as Cliq Studios on line is a well made cabinet at least 30% less than Diamond. Upgraded they are made identically to upgraded Diamond but even with the un upgraded soft close drawer tracks they are fine.

  30. Trent, September 12, 2015 at 2:50 am:

    Can you offer your opinions regarding Jim bishop cabinets?

  31. pmcalary, September 12, 2015 at 7:11 am:

    We are Dealers for Bishop Cabinets so we like them, and the people at Bishop are great to work with. Among their cabinetry advantages are that they are a very well constructed cabinet when you upgrade them and upgrading is inexpensive compared to most other US cabinet lines. They also will do more customization then any other brand I know of around their price point. For example, if I can draw it they pretty much will make it, they do custom colors and will customize all their doors. And they do inset and beaded inset cabinetry. Their down side is that I find that their stained finishes aren’t as beautiful as some similarly priced lines but this is something that customers usually aren’t able to differentiate. Also if any pieces happen to come damaged or defective getting replacements made correctly can take longer than some other cabinet lines. This can frustrate customers. All in all though Bishop cabinetry is a great value and we are proud to carry them.

  32. Michael, October 4, 2015 at 10:48 pm:

    Hi – I was wondering if I could get your input on the cabinets. I currently have a price from one local dealer on Schrock and Decora cabinets. We liked the Decora a lot but the price was almost 40% higher than Schrock and much more than we were hoping to spend. Are both cabinets 100% American sourced and made? Should I be concerned about Schrock? Currently waiting on prices from Home Depot on Decora and Kraftmaid cabinets (they have taken forever to get back to us) and also a local dealer is going to give a price on Starmark and Fabuwood. I’ve read only positive reviews about Starmark but I think the price will be high. I found out Fabuwood sources the materials from China – should this be a concern? I’ve found that going to the local kitchen places has been a much better experience than Home Depot and another Home Center. I’m curious about the price HD will give on Decora compared to the local dealer. Thank you.

  33. pmcalary, October 5, 2015 at 9:23 am:

    Decora is a better cabinet then Shrock. Never buy a cabinet with 3/8″ sides. Kraftmaid is a well made cabinet equal to Decora. Starmark will be more expensive than the others and is a little over priced and you must make sure you get 1/2″ sides at least. The Fabuwood will be far less than any of these other choices and it is made better than Shrock and is Carb 2 Compliant so no worries that this American company is getting parts from China. There is far less ability to customize sizes and designs in Fabuwood, but since most kitchen designs don’t take advantage of the customization in the more expensive lines it is sometimes a waste spending more when you aren’t taking advantage of the very reason these lines are more expensive. Local dealers can vary greatly in price. Some will be about equal to home centers usually with better service and more knowledgeable designers, and some will also be way over priced. Independent dealers that sell Kraftmaid are often a safe bet to work with since they have to compete with both Lowes and Home Depot who sell Kraftmaid they can’t be over priced.

  34. Michael, October 6, 2015 at 12:51 pm:

    Thank you very much for your response – this was helpful.

  35. Maureen, October 13, 2015 at 2:40 pm:

    Considering Showplace or Yorktowne. I would welcome your opinion. We are planning to go with white painted cabinets

  36. Liz, October 13, 2015 at 7:07 pm:

    We are replacing the kitchen cabinets in our beachfront condo, and want to use American-made cabinetry. We prefer Shaker style, white. What brands do you recommend? Also, what is the difference between framed and unframed? Thank you.

  37. pmcalary, October 13, 2015 at 8:06 pm:

    Just a couple of warnings:
    First, truly “American made” cabinetry that is equal to the best of the cabinetry sold by U.S. companies selling cabinetry made mostly in China will cost at least 25% more. And second, that it is getting difficult to tell what is made in the U.S. and what is not. As many doors styles on American made cabinetry now come from China.

    That being said American Woodmark sold at The Home Depot, Shenandoah sold at Lowes, and Timberlake sold in private showrooms is an inexpensive and well made choice. I would upgrade to plywood sides and full extension drawers. All three lines are made in the same factory and are simply sold under different names.

    Clique Studios is a US company that sells very well made Asian cabinetry on line for at least 20 % less than these choices should you want to compromise on buying strictly American.

  38. pmcalary, October 13, 2015 at 8:15 pm:

    Yorktowne is a poorly made cabinet in my opinion. Showplace doesn’t show on line the thickness of their cabinets sides or how the back of the cabinet is constructed which worries me. Usually if the cabinet is well made the company brags about it. Hiding things usually means 3/8″ sides and poorly made backs.

  39. Joni, November 1, 2015 at 2:53 pm:

    Which is more expensive schrock or aristocraft ?

  40. pmcalary, November 2, 2015 at 11:37 am:

    Schrock. Although I don’t like either line.

  41. Jen doering, November 11, 2015 at 8:56 pm:

    Do you have any opinions on the legacy debut line, the estimate I got was significantly below the others but now I am wondering if they are just a good value or if they are poor quality? ( the other cabinet lines we had looked at are Merillat, kemper and wellborn). My head is spinning right now do any help you could provide would be incredibly helpful!

  42. pmcalary, November 12, 2015 at 8:15 am:

    If it is upgraded to the Presidential or Executive construction cabinet box then Legacy Debut is a better made cabinet then Kemper and Merillat. Wellborn is a more expensive cabinet line with greater ability to customize and with nicer finishes. So it can be worth the money if you are selecting stained wood finishes which will be more furniture grade or if your kitchen design requires the greater ability to customize. Most people however don’t get creative designs and don’t take advantage of what makes a more expensive cabinet line cost more. And if you are getting a painted finish most non designers don’t appreciate the subtle differences in the finish quality. Here is another link explaining about cabinet construction.
    A good kitchen designer helps you understand what you are paying for and whether your design really takes advantage of the better quality cabinetry. Both the Upgraded Legacy and the higher end Wellborn cabinetry will last essentially forever. Whether the cost difference between the two is worth it to you I can’t say. We tell our customers that “it’s all the same money” and while some customers will spend 50K on appliances and 15K on cabinetry or visa versa it is the creativity of the kitchen design and how the designer uses the space that makes the biggest impact on how beautiful a kitchen is. Sadly poor designs are done with very high end appliances and expensive full custom cabinetry all the time.

  43. jen doering, November 12, 2015 at 11:05 pm:

    Thank you so much for your advice. It really helps to get the advice of an impartial expert. Sadly we are not in your service area or else we definitely be considering main line kitchen since your blog is so helpful.

  44. Namaste, December 10, 2015 at 7:53 am:

    My husband is sold on the Shrock line. We are putting a new kitchen in and our estimate (with %10 off) is around $11,000. I’m not as in love with them. Please tell me why you don’t like them yourself??

  45. pmcalary, December 10, 2015 at 8:40 am:

    Shrock is better made now then it has been in the past. They upgraded to 1/2″ thick sides (they were essentially shamed into it) but it is still a poor buy for the money. The cabinetry is mostly particle board unless it is ungraded. And when you upgrade to all plywood construction it is more expensive and still not made as well as the least expensive line Fabuwood that we carry and it is almost double the price. Masterbrands Shrock’s parent company focuses on door styles and finishes and has always skimped on construction. Decora is the only Masterbrands line that I respect. There are just so many better lines for less money or the same money. Go to Home depot or Lowes and compare Kraftmaid it will be similar in price and is a better product. Or if you want a Masterbrands cabinet get Decora it won’t be very much more. Just as an example we sell 4 cabinet lines all better made and less expensive and only the full custom lines we carry are more expensive than upgraded Shrock.

  46. Namaste, December 11, 2015 at 7:35 am:

    Thank you

  47. Lavender Peony, December 12, 2015 at 11:51 am:

    I am so amazed by this blog! It is astounding that you are taking the time to continue answering comments FOUR YEARS on since you first posted this! Alas, I live on Canada. If I lived in your area, you would be my pick, hands down. What an amazing public service you’re providing!

    That being said… I don’t suppose you have any insight into Thomasville in Canadian Home Depots? 🙂 If not, I’m learning from your posts that the best way to compare cabinets is to find out the specs on their construction materials and methods? Correct me if I’m wrong: I should be looking for 1/2″ plywood sides, screws and framed boxes.

  48. pmcalary, December 12, 2015 at 12:49 pm:

    Home Depot bought the rights to use Thomasville’s name on kitchen cabinets, so whether you are in the US or Canada you aren’t getting the Thomasville Furniture Company’s cabinets you are getting whatever band Home Depot feels like marking up extra and peddling this year as “Thomasville”. This is unconscionable IMO. If you are shopping at Home Depot get Ktaftmaid that’s their best cabinet and around the same price.
    Our web site has all the information you need to judge cabinetry. Here are two great links:

  49. Vincent, December 15, 2015 at 9:22 am:

    Hello, What are your thoughts on an I-beam brace vs a Corner brace construction. I know the high end cabinets use the I-beam brace, however is the corner brace truly that much of a step down in build quality if you are upgrading to all plywood construction with 1/2″ sides, 3/8″ back, and plywood corner braces?

  50. pmcalary, December 15, 2015 at 9:40 am:

    I do like the I-Beam and it is better but it isn’t a deal breaker for me. All the other elements that go into a cabinets construction are much more important. 3/8 ” sides IS a deal breaker, anything other than dovetail full extension soft close drawers IS a deal breaker. Particle board sides on wall cabinets or on any cabinets with exposed sides IS a deal breaker. So to answer your question I think those specifications with the corner brace is fine.

  51. Robbie, December 15, 2015 at 10:55 pm:

    We are undergoing a 3D rendering with Kemper. It’s got the 1/2″ sides, I-Beam, Dovetail full extension soft close, not sure if particle board on sides. After doing some research after the cabinet vendor dropped this brand on us yesterday, we are now doubting after some research. No price yet to compare. We are using a sole contractor and doing all the design with him. Needless to say, we are feeling stress now as we are getting down to final decisions and choices. Our major kitchen remodel budget is $35k with an allowance of $10k for cabinets. Locally, we were told Wolf and a couple others were having shipment damages. Kraftmaid could be an option since we studied a booklet from Home Depot on that brand weeks ago.
    I guess my question is whether we should upgrade to the All Plywood? We will live here in N. Virginia about 8 years, then will sell the house.
    God Bless and Thank you. Robbie

  52. pmcalary, December 16, 2015 at 8:19 am:

    No matter what you decide the sides of the cabinetry that are exposed MUST be plywood sides. Otherwise they will be a plastic photo of wood grain that will age completely differently then your cabinets and peel over time. So at least make those sides plywood. There are so many cabinet lines that do plywood construction inexpensively that I would pick one of those lines. Kraftmaid is a better line than Kemper, but if you make the exposed Kemper sides plywood you should be fine. I would never have a contractor design my kitchen though. I would find an experienced kitchen designer maybe even the Kemper person to measure and redesign my kitchen. Contractors are known for poor simplistic designs that they make easy to install but don’t increase the value of your home by as much as a professional designer should be able to. The worst contractors are the ones that believe that they can design your kitchen as well as a professional and they will actually try to prevent you from getting good help in an effort to make their job easier. If the contractor was the one that supplied the measurements to the kitchen designer then this is a very bad sign. I have never met a contractor able to measure a kitchen well enough for me to design it. And I was one of those stubborn contractors that just didn’t know any better 20 years ago. Here is a funny video on the subject:

  53. Robbie, December 16, 2015 at 8:17 pm:

    Wow. Our Kemper rep was here taking measurements and collaborating with our contractor for hours. Got the pictures. Nice! Will get the plywood. Thanks for the tip.

  54. Nancy Keenan, January 16, 2016 at 9:19 pm:

    Do you know anything about Tru Wood cabinets from Alabama? The two contractors we are thinking of using only use this company. Thanks

  55. lisa, January 21, 2016 at 10:41 am:

    Hi. we are looking at renovating our kitchen and have talked to many contractors and vendors with various cabinets. Presently have priced out Omega with a distributor, and Kith with a contractor as well as kraftmaid with lowes. Reading thru your comments and seeing you had not heard of Kith, a custom/semi custom maker and have not seen any reviews of Omega. So much valuable information in these posts so thanks for that. Any opinions on cabinets mentioned?

  56. pmcalary, January 21, 2016 at 1:52 pm:

    Kraftmaid would be the better choice. Just upgrade to all Plywood construction.

  57. CC, January 21, 2016 at 4:29 pm:

    I’ve always thought of cabinet making as a local industry. Just about every area with any population has a decent cabinet shop. Many “brands” now owed by the conglomerates started out as local shops. However, cheaply made cabinetry will certainly not outlast an expensive granite or quartz counter top. Something else to think about…we are told to source food locally as it is greener, yet we send raw materials (logs) halfway around the world to process into finished goods of questionable quality. How is this “green”. Doesn’t make a lot of sense does it? The solution is to buy local when possible and support local businesses.

  58. les, January 21, 2016 at 6:16 pm:

    Do you have any info/opinion on JSI cabinets?

  59. pmcalary, January 22, 2016 at 9:07 am:

    I didn’t know JSI cabinetry so I looked at their web site and there is no information on their construction so I don’t know. Use this guide from our web site to help you select cabinetry:

  60. Megan, January 26, 2016 at 4:52 pm:

    Do you have any recommendations for kitchen designers in the New York City area?

  61. pmcalary, January 26, 2016 at 5:09 pm:

    Hi Megan,

    No Sorry I don’t know any designers in Manhattan. You could try LinkedIn. Any kitchen designer on LinkedIn will probably be better than the general population. Or the NKBA website lists designers by region. Any designers that belong to the NKBA are at least paying dues to the organization that represents them. I would rate Linked in over the NKBA as a source since you can also review the profile of the designer on Linkedin.

    Maybe best of all is to find one on, Go to the website and search under the “Find a Pro” category for Kitchen and Bath Designers in your zipcode. I’d narrow the search to 20 miles from my zip codes first and see who looks good and has great projects and recommendations. Angie’s list is better for contractors then Designers.

    Best of luck and you can always email me a design to see if it has any blatant mistakes,

  62. Karen Thoams, January 27, 2016 at 8:26 pm:

    Do you have an opinion of Wellborn versus Schuler cabinetry?

  63. pmcalary, January 28, 2016 at 8:31 am:

    Schuler at Lowes is sold under the name Medallion in private showrooms. Both Schuler and Wellborn are high end semi-custom cabinetry lines that specialize in finishes that nearly equal some of the full custom lines. For what it’s worth my extended Family reps for Medallion but I would still pick Wellborn in a very close race. Both cabinet lines have beautiful finishes and great customization ability. Make sure you upgrade these relatively expensive cabinet lines to all plywood construction with at least 1/2″ thick sides. I think Schuler allows you to order particle board sides and they used to be 3/8″ thick. Ordering expensive cabinetry with lesser made construction makes no sense. Keep in mind to that how good the designer is is actually more important than the cabinet line you select in getting a beautiful kitchen. Here’s a newer blog of ours that discusses what makes a well made cabinet:

  64. Karen Thomas, January 28, 2016 at 4:10 pm:

    What if you throw kraftmaid into the mix? How does it stack up with Welborn and Schuler?

  65. Stacy, January 28, 2016 at 5:03 pm:

    Looking at Dynasty, Kemper and Schrock. Was told Schrock and Kemper are the same line different price. Dynasty is 25% more. If it worth it?

  66. pmcalary, January 28, 2016 at 5:23 pm:

    Decora is a Masterbrands cabinet line like Diamond and Kemper that I like a lot more. All three and it should be close to the Diamond price.

  67. pmcalary, January 28, 2016 at 5:29 pm:

    Kraftmaid is just as well made but the finishers aren’t quite as nice. Krafmaid should also be about 15% less. If you are shopping at LOWES where Schuler is sold, then the kitchen designer will be more familiar working with Kraftmaid then Schuler, which might help in the design process.

  68. Stacy, January 30, 2016 at 8:34 pm:

    Was told by the Schrock dealer that they had poor glides, only 3/8 sides, etc. Went back to Kemper, Blum slides and 1/2 wood like Dynasty, felt she was trying to upsellng me to Dynasty which really turned me off. I’ll sp me the star $ for Dynasty if needed, but just not seeing much difference. It appears Schrock is a lesser line.

  69. Stacy, January 30, 2016 at 8:39 pm:

    Oh, and Kemper comes standard with plywood sides.

  70. Stacy B., February 1, 2016 at 7:51 pm:

    First, thank you so much for taking the time to answer everyone’s questions. With so many different brands available, I was overwhelmed trying to figure out which cabinets are worth the money and which to avoid. Your web-site has been invaluable to me.

    We are remodeling our kitchen and have decided to put in painted cabinets. One kitchen designer is promoting Elmwood cabinets. Because the cabinets are painted, he suggested we put on a MDF door instead of wood. (We live in North Carolina and he feels the humidity can cause the door seams to expand and contract leaving unsightly cracks on our doors.) The rest of the box is plywood construction. What is your opinion on Elmwood cabinets and MDF doors?

    Thanks again!

  71. pmcalary, February 2, 2016 at 8:35 am:

    Elmwood appears to be a Canadian Full Custom cabinet line. This usually means that they make both framed and frameless European style cabinetry. We sell both these types of cabinets but always warn our customers that frameless cabinetry is less durable since there are no solid wood fronts to the cabinetry. Here’s a link explaining about these types of cabinets:
    So I would first get the framed all plywood cabinet box from Elmwood.
    As far as the MDF doors go- They will look better over time as far as expansion and contraction goes but they are certainly much easier to damage. It really depends how hard you are on things and how often you cook as to which is the better choice for you. Remember too that if you get solid maple doors and cracks appear then they can be filled with a wax stick to become nearly invisible. And if you get MDF doors you can almost always replace damaged doors later although you may have to pay to color match the doors. Your kitchen will also cost less with the MDF doors.
    What would I do? I would always get the framed cabinetry first. And then since I know how to use a wax stick and I am very rough on things I would get the Maple cabinets. I have customers that have had MDF cabinet doors for 20 years without a single scratch or dent but that unfortunately isn’t me. Whatever you decide to do there will be ways to replace or touch up a well made framed kitchen later which is why I prefer a framed cabinet. If a frameless cabinet is damaged by say when a toddler hangs on a door then the entire cabinet needs to be replaced and that is a huge undertaking with countertops and tile in place.
    Hope that helps,

  72. Susie, February 5, 2016 at 2:45 pm:

    Thanks for this great blog! We are putting in a new kitchen and have been working with a Home Depot designer who we know and are considering Kraft Made. It sounds like you really endorse this product so I feel good about that, but have read so many bad reviews about Home Depot, on the installation end and getting replacements for damaged product. What do you think about that?

  73. pmcalary, February 5, 2016 at 7:01 pm:

    Home Centers are reasonable for cabinetry although their designers are often less qualified. They are not a good buy for the installations though. Both Home Depot and Lowes sub contract out to often inexperienced contractors and then mark up the cost approximately 30%. Were you to find the same contractor on your own you would save 30% on installation. The only advantage to using a home center to install your kitchen is that you can be sure that the contractor will not disappear or steal your deposit. If I didn’t know a good installer I would use contractors with great reviews listed on Angies List or on to install my kitchen. Home centers are also usually not organized enough to make an installation run smoothly.

  74. David Cooper, February 5, 2016 at 7:22 pm:

    In the early stages of designing and very glad I found this blog. Very insightful knowledge here and explained in a straightforward manner. I have learned far more reading this than I have so far from my designer at the local box store. Thank you for what you do here.

  75. Kim, February 5, 2016 at 9:55 pm:

    Thanks for all of the good information. Can you recommend a good painted cabinet with a glaze and a brushed look for a moderate price.Can you recommend a good painted cabinet with a glaze and a brush look for a moderate price I have a question about a MDF panel on a maple frame door VS a solid maple painted door which one would be better?

  76. pmcalary, February 6, 2016 at 7:49 am:

    Thanks David. The reference library on our blog page has a lot of great information along with a updated report on cabinets. This blog which is a few years older. Link below:

  77. pmcalary, February 6, 2016 at 8:12 am:

    Hi Kim,
    Answering your questions in reverse order:

    On a recessed panel I think an MDF panel is a tiny bit better than a wood or plywood panel since there will never be any shrinkage. A reversed raised MDF door would be the best choice on a recessed panel. On a raised panel door I would prefer solid wood since a raised panel is more likely to get nicked or scratched and MDF would damage easily. The outside frame of the door is most durable being solid wood. MDF looks better but is less durable which is why some high end lines make entire painted doors out of MDF. Often the most expensive kitchens we as designers sell use painted MDF doors, marble countertops that scratch, stain, and etch, and European ranges that don’t have an oven big enough to fit a turkey. Thankfully nobody is expecting to cook in these expensive showpiece kitchens.

    Brushstokes on a painted glazed door are usually only available in higher end semi custom or custom cabinet lines. Glazing alone can be found in many inexpensive lines. For example, Fabuwood our least expensive line does nice glazing but you need to go all the way up to our 4th most expensive line Brighton or our custom line Wellsford to get the brushstrokes. Brighton is the least expensive line I know of that does brush strokes – but I’m sure there are others at a comparable price point.

  78. Stacy, February 8, 2016 at 4:30 pm:

    I am looking at Executive Cabinetry. What do you think about this line?
    Thanks so much!

  79. pmcalary, February 9, 2016 at 2:48 pm:

    Executive is a custom frameless line and I’m not a fan of that combination of attributes. Expensive custom cabinetry in my mind should also be durable and although Executive is made as well as a frameless cabinet can be made it still doesn’t compare to the better construction of a well made framed line.

  80. Lisa smith, February 9, 2016 at 8:31 pm:

    Hello- your blog is so informational. I would really appreciate you help. What is your preference : showplace or dynasty/omega. We have our prices from both design centers but are struggling with which cabinet is better. Price wise they are pretty close, we upgraded the the showplace to birch interior and 1/2 inch plywood. Any input would be appreciated!!

  81. pmcalary, February 9, 2016 at 9:02 pm:

    Both these cabinet lines make learning about how their cabinets are made very difficult and that’s always a bad sign especially with more expensive cabinet lines. Both their web site are full of fluff but no valuable information. This is not surprising for Dynasty since they are a Masterbrands product. I would pick Showplace simply for that reason. But make sure you upgrade to 1/2 plywood sides. Sorry – I never have designed in either line so what I know about them is limited.

  82. Lisa, February 10, 2016 at 7:03 pm:

    Thank you very much! Showplace it is !! I will check back in once installation is complete, 6-7 weeks I think we should have this project wrapped up ?

  83. pmcalary, February 10, 2016 at 9:03 pm:

    Very exciting! All the Best

  84. curious, February 13, 2016 at 9:06 am:

    Any thoughts on Starmark Cabinetry?

  85. pmcalary, February 13, 2016 at 10:26 am:

    Starmark and Fieldstone were last I checked made by the same people and have much the same construction, door styles and very nice finishes. Upgrade to 1/2 plywood sides and Blumotion drawers and they are very nice. I think Fieldstone sells usually for slightly less than Starmark.

  86. J. Lopez, February 14, 2016 at 3:53 pm:

    Any feedback/comparison between Omega and Recod Cucine?

  87. pmcalary, February 14, 2016 at 7:35 pm:

    When you are getting high end Frameless European style cabinetry you are sacrificing construction quality for style. All these high end European lines are made very similarly and you couldn’t get a framed cabinet to look as contemporary and modern as a European frameless cabinet even if you wanted to. So when selecting from good European lines I just pick the modern door style and finish I like best and if two lines carry it, I just go with the less expensive one. If you decide on getting a more traditional door style I would switch to a framed line.

  88. Silvergirl, February 16, 2016 at 10:14 am:

    Good morning — my contractor offers both Bishop and Candlelight Cabinets. Can you provide any insight and guidance on these two manufacturers and what is a good choice with each? Many thanks!

  89. pmcalary, February 16, 2016 at 1:10 pm:

    I like both lines. I would think that the Bishop would be less than the Candlelight. So it would depend on the door style and finish you were getting whether it would be worth it spending more money to get the Candlelight. We carry Bishop so we like the line and I think it is a good value. Allways upgrade any line to all plywood construction and soft close drawers and doors if they hinges are concealed.

  90. Silvergirl, February 18, 2016 at 12:34 am:

    Thank you! Cost wise, does it make sense that upgrading to plywood sides would be an additional 5% and to all plywood box would cost an additional 12%?

    Have you heard of any problems of quality with either brand?

    And what about KraftMaid – how does it fit in with Bishop and Candlelight?

  91. pmcalary, February 18, 2016 at 8:52 am:

    That is the reason we carry Bishop. They don’t charge very much more for the all plywood construction. I assume Candlelight has the 5% and 12% upgrade. Bishop should be about 5% more for an all plywood box. Kraftmaid is a good cabinet line too but will probably be at least 12% more for an all plywood box.

    If the finish you are getting is a solid color paint I would use Bishop, and get an all plywood box. You won’t see a difference in the finish comparing line to line, and I’ll bet Bishop is still less than the other two with an all plywood box. If you really like a particular stain, or glaze or another finish (like a paint with brushstrokes) that you can only get in one of the other lines I guess I wouldn’t pay the extra 7% for the all plywood box and I’d just get plywood sides.

    Remember the design itself is far more important than your choices here in cabinetry (since they are all good ones) and a great designer will give you a far better looking kitchen then you could ever imagine. If the design you are shopping around was something that you or someone less experienced came up with then it is a certainty that a good kitchen designer could improve the design and would probably change the layout. Most of our customers believe they know the design, color, and style of the cabinets that they want when they come to us. But when we show them better layouts and less expensive door styles or finishes that they like equally well they choose those. Their finished kitchen looks far better designed by an accomplished professional and costs them less. When customers shop for cabinets instead of shopping for kitchen designers they usually get an amateurish design especially if the design came from their architect or builder.

  92. Megan, March 4, 2016 at 11:10 am:

    Hi Paul – would it be best to email you through the website or is there a direct email?

  93. Paul Mcalary, March 4, 2016 at 12:44 pm:

    Hi Megan – you can email me directly at

  94. Pat, March 23, 2016 at 5:06 pm:

    what do you think about Wolf cabinets.

  95. pmcalary, March 23, 2016 at 5:24 pm:

    I like Wolf Cabinetry better then Aristocraft, the line Wolf distributed before they stabbed their sales partner in the back and came out with a line competing with the line they distributed for over a decade. But it is still the cheapest of the cheap. Solid Wood Cabinets I believe are lower in price and of equal quality. The Fabuwood line that we carry is close in price but superior to both in the quality of the cabinetry and the finishes. I was disappointed with our Governor because I thought that that business move was slightly unethical and must have been in the making during his time with the company.

  96. Diane, April 4, 2016 at 10:16 am:

    How can a girl find out which kitchen cabinets are truly made in America? As in, all the plywood box parts and doors are american sourced and American processed and finished followed with American assembly. This should not be esoteric information, yet I am finding it oddly difficult to discern. Perhaps because so many of the parts are asian processed and currently in disfavor with consumers, hence hiding the info? I would love a nice spread sheet with parts & assembly origins for cabinets.

  97. pmcalary, April 4, 2016 at 11:15 am:

    In General the more expensive semi custom and custom cabinet lines will be made in the US but as doors become better made and less expensive even some expensive lines will outsource some mitered doors from Asia. Less expensive cabinetry made 100% in the US is inferior to the less expensive cabinetry assembled in the US but with parts made in China.

  98. Kim, April 13, 2016 at 12:50 pm:

    We are building a home and are considering cabinetry. We know of someone who is a Diamond distributor so they would not be coming from Lowes and they have an in house design person. Not sure if these cabinets will be the same quality as Lowes. Also considering Wellborn. Your thoughts on these brands would be appreciated.
    Thanks for your time.

  99. pmcalary, April 13, 2016 at 1:26 pm:

    As long as the Diamond cabinets are upgraded to 1/2″ Plywood sides you should be fine. Wellborn will be more expensive but is a very good cabinet line.

  100. Kim, April 13, 2016 at 5:10 pm:

    Thank you for the response. I noticed you are in PA. We are building east of Scranton PA. How far are you located from there and would your company come out to Hawley PA?

  101. Sheri Saldivar, April 24, 2016 at 10:35 pm:

    What do you think of Deerfield? They say they are made in the US…anything I should watch out for?

  102. pmcalary, April 25, 2016 at 8:26 am:

    Hi Sheri,
    They are ready to assemble or built in the US but I’m sure made in Asia. Not that that is a bad thing. It is why they are so inexpensive. They look comparable to the brand Solid Wood Cabinets. Pretty well made but very inexpensive cabinetry probably with less selection and less attractive finishes. All that being said, most people can’t tell the differences between a good finish and a bad one. If you are selling your home in the next 5 to 10 years, then probably a fine pick on a budget. If you are in for the duration spending 20% more on cabinetry might get you a nicer finish and also a better designer to work with. Who helps you designing your kitchen and orders it can be the difference between money well spent and money wasted.

  103. Wendy, April 29, 2016 at 6:14 pm:

    We are looking at Kabinart vs. Waypoint cabinets. Any comments?

  104. pmcalary, April 30, 2016 at 9:59 am:

    Kabinart is a better constructed cabinet. Both cabinet lines are reasonably priced and better made than some more expensive cabinet lines, but the I beam all plywood construction of the Kabinart line gives it the edge. If you don’t plan on living in your home for decades, then since both lines are fine, I’d get the door style and finish I liked best and not give any weight to the better construction.

  105. Amy, April 30, 2016 at 11:58 pm:

    Hi, considering Kith cabinets versus American wood mark. Which would be more durable? And are both made in the us?

  106. Sandra McKenzei, May 1, 2016 at 1:41 pm:

    What is your opinion on Rona Cabinets, Westwood or Euro-rite. They are canadian made.

  107. pmcalary, May 1, 2016 at 2:53 pm:

    I don’t know much about these lines. I tried looking up the first two and found that Rona appears to be a Canadian retail company that sells cabinets. They look less qualified than Lowes and Home Depot at first glance. Westwood looks like a tiny custom cabinet manufacturer and so I know nothing about them. They could be great but I have no way of knowing, and their web site is little help. Euro-rite from the name tells me that these are European frameless cabinets. I prefer framed cabinets to less durable frameless construction so they wouldn’t be my pick. Are you in Canada? is that the reason for all the Canadian lines. Canada is not known for making mass produced framed cabinetry economically. They have some fine custom cabinet companies but most larger Canadian cabinet manufacturers specialize in frameless cabinetry.

  108. pmcalary, May 1, 2016 at 3:03 pm:

    Both lines look like they are US made for the most part but these inexpensive lines all are beginning to use Chinese made doors for some styles. American Woodmark is the better made cabinet especially if you upgrade to all plywood construction. However in inexpensive cabinet lines I think that the Asian made and US assembled cabinetry is less expensive and superior in quality. A company like Clique Studios is less expensive sold on line everywhere in the US and better made than both these lines and the on line designers actually seem to be better than the ones you now find at home centers. Of course having a local designer measure your kitchen and help you select a design and cabinet line is the best option but in the lower priced lines the designers are often inexperienced.

  109. Ronnie Ward, May 14, 2016 at 9:50 pm:

    I am considering Omega Dynasty and Brookhaven by Woodmode for a large, new home project. The price for Omega is better, but after reading reviews on different sites, I’m worried about making a wrong choice. Since so much is at stake, do you have any advice? Should i risk going with Omega, or spend a lot more money for Brookhaven?

  110. pmcalary, May 15, 2016 at 8:40 am:

    Brookhaven is a better cabinet and Woodmode is a better company. There aren’t any other options? How about a compromise cabinet line like Kraftmaid? Kraftmaid is made identically to Brookhaven. The Kraftmaid Plant actually made 1/2 of the Brookhaven line at one point, I’m not sure if they still do but the cabinetry is close to the same animal and less expensive. Always upgrade to plywood sides or all plywood construction at least on the exposed cabinetry and on the wall cabinets. It’s simplier to do it on all of them to avoid mistakes.

  111. Joe in Minnesota, May 16, 2016 at 4:06 pm:

    Wow, am I confused. We almost went with Thomasville at Home Depot but when we looked at reviews on the internet it was discouraging. We are operating on a budget but can afford mid range to higher end cabinets. Your site is awesome in regards to helpful info but now we are so confused we don’t know who to trust or not as far as cabinets go. Any help on cabinet brand references What brands do we look at with some confidence that we are going to be happy.

  112. pmcalary, May 16, 2016 at 4:18 pm:

    If you are working with a Home Depot designer why not Kraftmaid. It should be a similar price and it is a better cabinet.

  113. lisa, May 19, 2016 at 9:08 am:

    Hi. I have seen a few post here about JSI and Kith cabinetry a while back. You hadn’t heard much about either line and was wondering if you know anything more since prior posts. Thanks. To the people, “Amy” and others that asked, have you selected Kith or found out anything more. Thanks…..very helpful blog!!!!

  114. pmcalary, May 19, 2016 at 9:52 am:

    Looked them up on line and Kith is pretty much junk and JSI tells you nothing about how the cabinetry is made that I can find, so that is troubling.In this price point Fabuwood is one of the best lines out there, which is why we carry it.

  115. lisa, May 26, 2016 at 8:07 am:

    Another couple brands that would like to question are wellborn and wolf? Do you have any idea about either and price point comparison? Have seen and look nice but have not priced out. Have seen JSI and it is a chinese made cabinet. Builder uses and customizes it all to look better. Quality is decent with few things to question with rollouts and smoothness. Look very nice with some glazing. Trying to compare the three mentioned and price. Thanks.

  116. pmcalary, May 26, 2016 at 8:36 am:

    Wellborn is a high end Semi Custom line that from what I see at trade shows has some very nice finishes and is well constructed. It could be 60% more than the cost of Wolf. Wolf is made in China and assembled in upstate PA. I like it better than the Aristocraft that Wolf also sells but it is not one of the better made Chinese/American assembled lines. Lots of similar lines at the same or better price points and also better made. Fabuwood would be one that we sell. Solid Wood cabinets are even better made than Wolf, but the designers there pretty much guarantee you get a badly designed kitchen.

    Don’t underestimate the most important thing needed to get a good kitchen at a good price. A good designer! And if you think you don’t need a designer then your over confidence will almost certainly get you a poorly designed over-priced kitchen.

  117. aphome, May 28, 2016 at 8:49 pm:

    Do you have an insight into Mouser Cabinets ( We are considering Mouser vs. Starmark Cabinetry.

  118. Laura Clougherty, June 7, 2016 at 3:02 pm:

    Hi – We are putting together plans to renovate a small beach-front condo in Florida. I am working with a women over the phone (I live in Boston) on a kitchen design. She will price out both Kraftmaid and Bremtown for the job. I see you sell Bremtown. They look beautiful, but I am not able to find them in the Boston area. What are your thoughts — looking at shaker white style.

  119. pmcalary, June 7, 2016 at 4:50 pm:

    Bremtown will be much more expensive then Kraftmaid. They are great cabinets but in a painted shaker cabinet there won’t be much of a noticeable difference, unless you got inset cabinetry.

  120. pmcalary, June 7, 2016 at 6:52 pm:

    Mouser looks slightly better constructed than Starmark but upgraded both will be good lines. Starmark is known for their finishes. Mouser I know less well.

  121. sdowling, June 8, 2016 at 8:45 am:

    We are remodeling an old ranch style house. Looking at cabinets at Lowes Shenendoah vs. Wellborn Cabinets. I don’t have a price yet from Wellborn (designer there working on it) but am wondering if they are more expensive than the Lowes cabinets? Which brand is better? We did opt for all plywood construction from Lowes but the price is still so high!!

  122. pmcalary, June 8, 2016 at 9:20 am:

    Wellborn is a way more expensive and better cabinet.

  123. Paula, June 8, 2016 at 1:08 pm:

    So glad I found this thread! I am looking to remodel an outdated kitchen in an older home with shaker style white cabinets. The kitchen designers I have talked to have suggested Kraftmade thermofoil cabinets and Kemper Purestyle cabinets. Another is suggesting cabinets made locally by Byler. Any opinions on thermofoil or Purestyle? I have read concerning things about both.

  124. pmcalary, June 8, 2016 at 1:31 pm:

    Yikes! I would never get thremafoil cabinets for a kitchen. They are out of fashion and junk quite frankly. Kemper is also an inferior line. I don’t know Byler but the first designer I would stay away from.
    Here is a blog that relates to this topic:

  125. Jennifer, June 16, 2016 at 3:56 pm:

    Love my Home Depot Decora Cabinets

  126. pmcalary, June 16, 2016 at 4:26 pm:

    Both Decora and Kraftmaid are well made cabinet lines sold at Home Depot. However, often the most important thing needed to get a great kitchen is not at a home center. And that’s a great kitchen designer. While there definitely are some very good designers working for both Lowes and The Home Depot, they are the exception to the rule.

    Also Home centers place restrictions on designers that make their jobs more difficult to do well. For example:

    Home centers don’t want their designers moving load bearing walls or moving doorways and windows. The environment inside a home center can be distracting with many interruptions and noises. And many home centers won’t even allow their designer to measure and see the kitchen they are working on. These issues make it very difficult for even a good kitchen designer to be effective working in a home center.

    Because of these chalanges, working as a kitchen designer at a home center can be a trial by fire. I have found that some of the best kitchen designers spent the early part of their careers learning in that crazy home center environment before they were able to move on to more prestigious jobs in the private showroom world.

  127. Alex Zaroulis, June 17, 2016 at 10:29 pm:

    Considering Decora vs Kraftmaid vs Medallion. What would you choose?

  128. pmcalary, June 18, 2016 at 8:50 am:

    All good choices. Upgrade all three to an all plywood box. Decora and Kraftmaid are better made and less expensive and Medallion has nicer finishes. Personally, I would select the style and finish I liked best in either the Decora or the Kraftmaid line, as they are a better value. Of course the design itself is most important of all and most designs we see are unprofessional.

    Shop for a great kitchen designer and not a cabinet line and you will get the best kitchen. Focusing on the cabinets you are buying, and even asking this question on our blog can mean that a customer doesn’t trust the advice that their designer is giving them. This is a very bad sign and can signal that the design that they are contemplating is poor because their kitchen designer isn’t inspiring confidence.

    Another bad sign is if you or your contractor came up with the design. It takes many years to become even a competent kitchen designer, so the efforts of non kitchen designers will always look amateurish to any good professional.

  129. kmdc, June 19, 2016 at 1:36 pm:

    Hi- new construction large kitchen in MA- do not plan on selling. Feedback on choosing btw the following semi-customs: (1) omega dynasty, (2) fieldstone, (3) Brighton? All inset, simple shaker doors, white paint finish? Top priorities are durability of construction/function, finish durability. And should these be similar or differently ranked price points? Thanks!

  130. Valerie, June 21, 2016 at 5:19 pm:

    Hi What do you think about using IKEA boxes and pairing them with all wood doors? Some companies, like SemiHandmade, make wood doors that are an exact fit on IKEA boxes.

  131. pmcalary, June 21, 2016 at 5:25 pm:

    Ikea cabinets are considered overpriced junk by any knowledgeable kitchen designer or contractor. There are many Asian lines and other framed RTA lines that are less expensive and better made. 10 years ago if you had no money they were your only choice. Now they really only make sense if you definitely want a frameless less durable cabinet in a modern style and don’t need it to last past 15 years.

  132. Eva, June 23, 2016 at 12:16 am:

    I have a few questions. What criteria should I look for when selecting a designer? When I look at kitchen cabinet reviews I find that the reviews are all over the place. For instance, you like KraftMaid; however, reviews are not consistent at all and even poor in many instances. How do we know what reviews should be discounted or believed? I looked at QualityCabinets today. I determined that I won’t buy them; however, I saw that they only have a 2-year warranty. How important is the warranty and what would constitute a reasonable warranty?

  133. pmcalary, June 23, 2016 at 9:54 am:

    Hi Eva,
    I love this question because the answer makes me crazy. Here goes:

    Kitchen design and cabinetry is complicated. And because customers are always looking to price compare and steal the design work done by kitchen designers we intentionally make it very confusing to shop for cabinets. So the same cabinet companies have different names at different locations and even in the same cabinet line like Kraftmaid doors and finishes have different names at different locations.

    Consumer Reports and other review sites don’t ask professionals to rate cabinets they ask consumers and the reviews are written by staff reporters that know nothing about cabinets. Customers that complain about a cabinet line are often complaining about something that they should have expected in the style and finish they picked but they weren’t educated as to what to expect from their designer. Here are the two most extreme examples:

    IKEA is constantly reviewed favorably by everyone except professionals here’s why: IKEA cabinets are inexpensive, easy to purchase, customer expectations are low and the finishes that IKEA carries are simple and don’t vary much. So if the instructions are not frustrating people are happy that they got a new kitchen that initially looks good. No one follows up 20 years later and sees the kitchen that is falling apart and even if they did they would need to compare it to the same kitchen in a better made product to understand what the difference in longevity is. As a professional I see that kitchen 5, 10, 15, and 20 years later when I am called upon to replace it.

    Kraftmaid (which we don’t carry but is a perfect example) consistently gets bad or mediocre reviews by consumers. This is because customer expectations are much higher and they are purchasing the more expensive cabinet at the home center or showroom they are working with. The types of wood they are buying and the properties of the finishes can be inconsistent because they are supposed to be. And the complexity the kitchens that can be designed in a high end semi-custom line can make mistakes easy. Since Home Centers like Lowes and The Home Depot carry Kraftmaid and their designers are less experienced in general and because the environment in a home center is loud, confusing, and interruption filled, problems are guaranteed. Also home center customers are cheap that’s why they are shopping at the home center in the first place so they don’t pay for needed upgrades and may not even be told that they should be getting them. This is a recipe for consumer dissatisfaction.

    10 years ago, at the same time that IKEA was rated tops and Krafmaid much lower by homeowners and consumer reports Kraftmaid was on a 7 year winning streak for the best value in cabinetry as rated by professionals. Those same professionals would agree for the most part that IKEA was just junk.

    Today Kraftmaid is less outstanding a cabinet line but still well made and still subject to the same review issues.

    The Warranty on a cabinet line actually doesn’t mean that much as some well made cabinet lines have the industry standard 5 year warranty and IKEA has a 15. A lifetime Warranty doesn’t mean much either as all are limited lifetime warranties, and actually don’t cover that much, and some terribly made cabinets offer limited lifetime warranties. The reputation of the dealer you work with is the most important thing to check out.

    To find a kitchen designer 10 years experience should be a minimum requirement. And since it is a complex profession I think a bright well educated person beats anyone with design degrees or certification. Some of the best kitchen designers I have met are on second careers or never studied design in college. However they all are very bright people with great spacial relations skills and a willingness to learn and to teach. Educating customers about what to value and expect is the sign of a great designer. If you learn a lot from a designer in a short time speaking with them then that is a great indicator. And if they tell you a few ways you can save money, that shows that they also are looking after your best interests.

    Hope all that helps.

  134. Eva, June 23, 2016 at 7:22 pm:

    Great response, thank you. Another question, please. We are looking to purchase good value cabinets, environmentally friendly if possible (low to no VOCs. Do you have any thoughts on that (i.e., was looking at PureBond Plywood but can’t find cabinet mfrs. that use this in Phoenix area. What should we be looking for? We will be focusing on many of the recommendations in your blog (upgraded plywood, non-frameless, etc.).

  135. pmcalary, June 26, 2016 at 10:52 am:

    Hi Eva,
    We carry Fabuwood which is an inexpensive line with quality construction that is Carb Compliant. Always get Fabuwood cabinetry from a dealer and assembled in the factory. Or Cliq Studios sells Carb compliant cabinetry on line that is well made and reasonable. Dealers like ourselves sell the same line under the name 6 Square.

  136. Paul, July 7, 2016 at 2:02 pm:

    Have gotten estimates on Norcraft, Bishop and Decora and Diamond. Have seen some reviews on all but Norcraft. Of these, does any one stand above the rest?

  137. pmcalary, July 7, 2016 at 3:47 pm:

    The Bishop Framed line and Decora are the better cabinets. As always upgrade the cabinetry to all plywood construction and soft close drawers.

  138. Kevin M., July 12, 2016 at 11:29 am:

    Thanks for a great blog and sound advice. We’re redoing our kitchen in NJ and we’ve got an estimate for Kabinart from a dealer that also sells Fabuwood. I skimmed the blog but didnt see Kabinart mentioned. Do you have an opinion? I’ve seen some negative reviews, esp about customer service, damages upon delivery, and plastic hinge inserts. Any professional insights you can offer would be much appreciated.

  139. pmcalary, July 12, 2016 at 12:13 pm:

    We carry Fabuwood so we like it as a product. I don’t know Kabinart well but the product looks equally well made on line. Of course a good design is the most important thing especially if you are selecting from 2 well made lines.

  140. pmcalary, July 15, 2016 at 11:08 am:

    Sorry I didn’t see this post. Brighton is the best of this bunch construction wise. We just started carrying their product so I don’t have a lot of experience with it but we selected it because it was better made than the other lines you mention.

  141. MAKitchen, July 17, 2016 at 10:25 am:

    Considering candlelight vs fieldstone for large new construction kitchen – white painted finish, inset shaker, thoughts please?

  142. pmcalary, July 17, 2016 at 11:34 am:

    If you upgrade just to all plywood construction Candlelight is a better made cabinet since the back panel is 1/2″ plywood vs Fieldstone’s very poor 1/4″ back panel. However Fieldstone has the option to upgrade to a 3/4″ back panel. You MUST do this if you decide on Fieldstone. I think a 1/2″ panel is sufficient and both cabinet lines have nice finishes so I would get the cabinet that the kitchen designer recommends since he or she will have experience working with both companies. I have sold Fieldstone and they were fine to work with but nothing special. I know less about Candlelight although the company has a good reputation in the industry.

  143. Pier L, July 20, 2016 at 10:59 am:

    I have quite a disparity in quotes from the Kemper line. Are there levels, i.e. Good, Better, Best within the Kemper line? And is Kraftmaid a better choice over Kemper?
    Thanks in advance!

  144. pmcalary, July 20, 2016 at 1:43 pm:

    Hi Pier,
    There are upgrades in most cabinet lines. And yes Kraftmaid is a better cabinet than Kemper. Upgraded Kemper has a 3/8″ plywood back which is OK but Kraftmaid’s upgraded all plywood construction is better. The Kraftmaid cabinet back has a 3/4″ solid wood hanging rail.

  145. Steve, July 21, 2016 at 1:56 pm:

    Hello, great blog. Just wondering if you heard of woodland semi custom cabinetry? If so, how would you compare to Bremtown. Lastly, is the Bremtown 700 series worth the additional cost?

  146. pmcalary, July 21, 2016 at 3:38 pm:

    Hi Steve,
    Never heard of Woodland and their we site is pretty rough and doesn’t say how the cabinets are made which I think is a bad sign. There are so many well made lines that are less than Bremtown that unless you have an almost unlimited budget I wouldn’t be in a line that was so elegant as well as expensive. The style and color of the cabinets is important in determining what line is the best fit for you. For example, if you are getting a full overlay solid color painted door style then any custom cabinet line makes little sense. The fine finishes or inset doors that make Bremtown stand out above the rest you are not selecting in that case, so why pay extra for your cabinets?

    I try to say it in every response that the design itself is what matters most and since most of the designs we see are poor I’d fix the design first with the help of a good designer before splurging on cabinetry or professional appliances. If you were working with a great designer they would be able to steer you towards the product that fits your needs best and they would also be able to answer any and all questions. That is in fact the defining characteristic of a good designer.

  147. Sandra, July 23, 2016 at 9:23 pm:


    This is a fantastic blog. I learned a lot about the cabinetry companies. Thanks for the questions and answers. I am in the process of building a new home and looking for a good quality and value semi-custom cabinetry company. Of course, it is not easy, there are so many out there. I looked through all the posts here. I got an impression that you really like Kraftmaid cabinetry. So, at one point, I said Kraftmaid is the one for me based on your comments. But, I just did some googling, came across this website There are 112 complaints about them, more than any other cabinetry companies. It is alarming. Now, I have to go back to the drawing board. Any other recommendation? Thanks!

  148. pmcalary, July 24, 2016 at 12:30 pm:

    It’s not that we love Kraftmaid it’s just that they are a quality cabinet line if upgraded to all plywood construction and available everywhere so that they come up a lot. There are many, many, well made cabinet lines. For example we carry 6 lines all well made and several are significantly less expensive than Kraftmaid. I read the complaints on your link and they can be explained by the blog below:

    As a kitchen designer we hear complaints about things that customers should expect if they were knowledgeable about the product they purchased. Maple cabinets with grey spots, these are called mineral streaks and should be expected. Small holes in cherry cabinets called pits that are the common. Stripes on doors because the customer paid extra for the center panel to be solid wood instead of a less expensive veneer. And we hear what customer’s “feel” such as “I feel that I’m paying to not have any of these issues”. Buying a kitchen is like buying dozens of pieces of custom furniture. You are not buying a toaster. It is the kitchen designers job to prepare a customer for what they should expect and sadly many of us don’t and even when we do many customers just don’t listen.

  149. Gabriella, July 25, 2016 at 2:53 pm:

    Hello! We are looking at both Fabuwood and Cliqstudios for white painted cabinets. Fabuwood uses birch and Cliq has maple doors. Fabuwood has 1/2 inch backs but Cliq uses 3/8 inch. What is your opinion between the two? Are they both good options or is one much better in terms of quality? Cliq offers a longer warranty and they actually received more positive reviews online than Fabuwood. Thanks!

  150. pmcalary, July 25, 2016 at 4:07 pm:

    Hi Gabriella,
    We sell both lines. Fabuwood is slightly better made because the back is 1/2″ thick but 3/8″ is OK just not the best. Clique Studios (sold by dealers as 6 Square) is about 15% more expensive and they offer many more finishes. For a painted white shaker cabinet the Maple doesn’t matter over the birch so I’d use the Fabuwood. For a stained cabinet I’d use the Clique Studios. The warrantee shouldn’t matter and the reviews are going to be much better not because the CS cabinet is better but because Fabuwood is sold through a lot of small inexperienced dealers. You can’t go wrong with either line as long as you have a good designer and installer. Without those it won’t matter if your cabinetry is well made.

  151. Jenna, July 26, 2016 at 6:17 pm:

    Hello, we are looking at Fx cabinets, they are from China, very inexpensive, what do you think of this line? Thank you

  152. pmcalary, July 26, 2016 at 7:56 pm:

    While the cabinetry coming from China is improving quickly, especially with the US companies that are having their cabinetry made in China, there is a big difference between the top import lines and the lower lines. FX is a lower line. You spend so much money on a kitchen with appliances, flooring, countertop, instalation etc that building your kitchen around truly the bottom of the cabinetry barrel with FX, Solid Wood Cabinets, Kitchen Cabinet Kings, or even worse spending more money and getting IKEA makes no sense unless you are redoing the kitchen to sell your home. Since most home buyers can’t tell good cabinetry from bad saving any money in that case can make sense. Otherwise poor construction and the rough finishes that get dirty quickly and only save you 20% on cabinets make no sense. Spend an extra $1000 and get better made import cabinetry that will last. It will still cost 50% less that the better made semi Custom US lines.

  153. Pamela Jones, July 28, 2016 at 11:11 am:

    Hello, and thank you – we’ve relied heavily on your blog for cabinet selection. We’ve narrowed it down to 2 for our kitchen: Legacy Debut (Executive build) or Decora Harmony Maple Pleasant. Both have similar box construction. Legacy Debut came in at half the price of Decora. Curious what would be your preference, Legacy or Decora? Also, one question about the backs: Decora has 3/16″ plywood backs on base and wall cabs; Legacy Debut offers 1/8″ plywood back. Neither offers the minimum 1/2″ as you recommend. Can you comment on this? Thank you again.

  154. Melanie, July 29, 2016 at 6:13 pm:

    Looking at white shaker cabinets. Which is a better quality line, Kith, Woodland Cabinetry or Waypoint?

  155. Brian Yorks, July 30, 2016 at 2:34 am:

    I have been looking for a new bathroom vanity and today I thought I was set in an Aristakraft but now I’m not sure it’s just a 36″ vanity with 4 drawers in the right. I also was considering Costco’s Tuscany which appear to be better quality such as 1/2 sides but it was about 50% more exspesnive. The cabinet is going to be in a corner so only one side will be exposed. Would Aristakraft still be a bad way to go? I’ll check out Kraftmaid tomorrow pricing at Home Depot but I suspect it’s till going to be up there in price. Being a bathroom vanity I didn’t want to spend too much. Even such as initially wanting cherry I decided I’d save a few bucks and gibeith birch as the finish I want it wasn’t noticeably different unless you knew what to look for.

  156. pmcalary, July 30, 2016 at 1:03 pm:

    Lowes carries some well made inexpensive vanities from Bertch

  157. pmcalary, July 30, 2016 at 1:13 pm:

    Hi Melanie,
    Zero for three in these cabinet lines, they are all pretty junky. We carry Fabuwood and 6 Square (also sold on line as Clique Studios) both of which are much better made cabinet lines and not much more expensive. There are even cheaper RTA cabinet lines that are better made than Kith, Woodland Cabinetry or Waypoint.

  158. Sandra, July 31, 2016 at 11:50 pm:


    If “it’s not that we love Kraftmaid”, do you mind me asking which cabinet company you love the most? Is it one of the companies you carry. Which one of your cabinet company (or other company) is best in making frameless cabinets. Thanks!

  159. pmcalary, August 1, 2016 at 8:39 am:

    Once a cabinet line meets the requirements we believe makes a well made cabinet then cabinet construction becomes a non issue. That level of construction is a minimum of a solid 1 1/2″ x 3/4″ thick face frame, 1/2″ plywood sides, solid wood 3/4″ hanging rail or a 1/2″ plywood back. 3/8″ back is OK but not preferred. With solid wood dovetail drawers and Blumotion tracks and soft close doors if desired. After meeting these construction minimums which many expensive cabinet lines do not, then it is the differences in a cabinet lines finishes and their ability to customize that makes the difference in a cabinet line.

    Some custom cabinet lines have furniture grade finishes and high end semi-custom lines can have beautiful distressed finishes or brushstrokes in their glazes and paints. But most of these distinctive finishes customers can’t even recognize as superior. While Inset and Beaded Inset doors can be recognized as custom cabinetry, the vast majority of customers select full overlay doors.

    The main cabinet lines we carry, Fabuwood, 6 Square, Bishop, Brighten, and Wellsford, we selected because they are all well made cabinets and all also do more customization than other cabinet lines in their price point. This makes them a great value. Which line is best? Well of course the most expensive full custom one Wellsford, Can our customers recognize the difference between Wellsford and the least expensive line we carry Fabuwood? Certainly most can not.

    However add to this that almost all our customers prefer and can recognize a well designed kitchen and that most of the designs we see done by other designers are poor and it becomes obvious that customers should be focusing on finding good kitchen designers first and splitting hairs on cabinet lines second. As long as the cabinets they are buying meet the minimum construction requirements we mentioned.

    To answer your other question the Bishop frameless line has the best selection and produces the best frameless cabinets we carry. But ALL frameless cabinets don’t meet the minimum requirements of a well made cabinet. So unless you are getting ultra modern door styles and finishes that are only done in frameless cabinetry why get poorly constructed cabinetry. Frameless cabinetry isn’t even less expensive except in Europe where hardwoods aren’t readily available. This is why Europe and Australia began producing frameless cabinetry. Their cabinetry is all particle board and MDF except in their most expensive custom lines.

    The best well constructed framed cabinetry can last hundreds of years while a frameless line is lucky to make it to 25 years without cabinetry sagging delaminating and falling apart. Think IKEA. Do you believe your IKEA furniture will be looking and functioning well 25 years after you assemble it? All frameless kitchen cabinetry gets more use than furniture and is made nearly identically to IKEA kitchen cabinetry and IKEA furniture.

    To sum it up we recommend getting a well made framed kitchen cabinet line and finding a great kitchen designer to help create a space that is as beautiful, proportional and functional as the imagination of that designer can create with your input working together.

  160. Melanie, August 1, 2016 at 7:17 pm:

    Hi, What do you think of Signature Custom Cabinetry? How is the quality? Thanks

  161. pmcalary, August 2, 2016 at 7:13 am:

    They seem like a fine custom cabinet line although they don’t tell you how their cabinetry is constructed on their web site. I would avoid their frameless cabinetry.

  162. Ella, August 9, 2016 at 9:22 pm:

    Hello, this is very helpful information. We have begun looking at cabinets and have been shown Ultracraft, Luxor, and Birchcraft. Are you able to shed any light on these brands? Thank you.

  163. pmcalary, August 10, 2016 at 9:50 am:

    Ultracraft and Luxor are both frameless lines so not a line I would recommend. Birchcraft I have never heard of and they seem like a tiny company with no information on their web site. Whoever you are working with would not be my choice as a designer as they have very different cabinet recommendations then I would and that can be telling.

  164. Jeannette, August 11, 2016 at 9:50 pm:

    Hello, this is by far the best blog I’ve ever gone thru. Thanks so much for your dedication in continuing to answer for so long. Here’s my question: I have three (3) options to chose from, each quoted by different places. In order, beginning with least expensive, is Fabuwood ($7300), then Shenandoah ($9100) and finally Starmark ($12,800). The prices range significantly, and I’m just wondering what you think of each make… I’m thinking of choosing the Shenandoah, just because it’s mid-point pricing. Would that be a wise choice? I don’t want to regret this decision… I’ve waiting 10 years for my kitchen upgrade and want to look forward to another 10+ years in my new kitchen. TIA, Jeannette

  165. pmcalary, August 12, 2016 at 8:42 am:

    Hi Jennette,
    If you upgrade the Shenandoah and the Starmark to all plywood construction then all three lines meet our criteria for a well made cabinet. Assuming you are getting full overlay doors and so styles being equal, the Starmark will have the nicest finishes by far. However most non kitchen designers can’t tell the difference so the expense isn’t appreciated. Many of our customers pick the less expensive finishes as being the higher priced when we show them samples to compare. The Fabuwood might have a nicer looking finish than the Shenandoah but the Shenandoah will be made out of maple most likely instead of birch and so the stain or paint will be slightly more durable. If you are rough on things in general I might go for the Shenandoah if not I’d save the money and go with the Fabuwood.

  166. Jason, August 12, 2016 at 1:09 pm:


    This blog has been a great source of info, so thanks in advance.

    Based on your comments here, I’ve been seeking a 6 Square dealer in our area. Pending that, I see that Cliq Studio is the same.

    Are they actually the same company and product, or some other type of hybrid affiliation?

    It seems like you stand by 6 Square as a good buy for semi-custom quality, but I’d hate to inadvertently wind up with something inferior via Cliq Studio.


  167. pmcalary, August 12, 2016 at 1:22 pm:

    Hi Jason,
    Product is the same but the help you get from a local designer is usually what gets you a good design.

  168. Kim, August 16, 2016 at 8:27 pm:

    Hi, I have read your blog many times. Thank you! We are looking for a stained shaker cabinet and have quotes for Schrock (which I already ruled out), Kraftmaid, Decora, and Starmark. All had very similar designs and upgraded to all-plywood.. this is our forever home, is it worth the additional cost for the Starmark (median price quote) over the Kraftmaid? Also where would Wood-Mode fit in with these lines?

    Thanks, Kim

  169. pmcalary, August 17, 2016 at 9:20 am:

    Starmark just has some nicer finishes than Kraftmaid and a greater ability to customize. If you aren’t using the customization in your design and don’t like one finish better than the other then Kraftmaid is a slightly better constructed cabinet.

  170. Melinda, August 17, 2016 at 7:22 pm:

    On the Kemper Products, is this the Kemper or Kemper Echo. My brochure show 1/2 Thick I-Beam Braces, 1/2 Thick Sides, Top & Bottoms. Dovetail Drawers and 3/4 Thick Shelving. And, they say they have ” Kemper Cabinetry warrants the original consumer purchaser for as long as they own their home that the Kemper Cabinetry products will be free from defects in material and workmanship under normal use.” If I had the budget, I’d do Snaidero. I want this high gloss look. Kemper has a Laminate that fits the look. Your suggestion would be appreciated.

  171. Melinda, August 19, 2016 at 9:40 am:

    Can you help me find a mid-priced company who makes a door style similar to Snaidero? I’m looking at Kemper’s Purestyle Laminate, White. Using the All Pywood Construction. Can I get your thought, Please

  172. pmcalary, August 19, 2016 at 11:23 am:

    Hi Melinda,
    Masterbrands doesn’t show on line how Kemper is made and we don’t carry the line so I know little about it. Not showing how your cabinetry is constructed on line is usually a bad sign. The Fabuwood Prima Doorstyle that we carry would be a better selection I would guess and also cost less.

  173. Rob, August 28, 2016 at 8:49 am:

    Great blog! I have quotes for Echelon cabinets and Kraftmaid Vantage line cabinets. Kraftmaid Vantage is sold only through dealers and boosts all plywood construction. We want a painted recessed panel style door. Kraftmaid has many poor reviews in reference to quality control and customer service. What thoughts can you offer? Thanks

  174. pmcalary, August 28, 2016 at 9:51 am:

    Hi Rob,
    Below is a link to our blog on the subject of why Kraftmaid gets bad reviews. Kraftmaid is a much better constructed cabinet than Echelon. The reviews that cabinet companies get has more to do with the dealer than the cabinet line. Good designers and dealers make designing kitchens and buying cabinetry less frustrating and you spend your money knowingly and wisely. Not getting experienced help almost guarantees that a kitchen renovation costs more, is disorganized, poorly designed, and has surprises you weren’t prepared for. The surprises and unplanned “discoveries” you might see on HGTV are made to be dramatic. A well organized kitchen renovation should run smoothly and result in everyone – contractors, designers, and homeowners all being happy with the outcome.
    Link below

  175. Ella, August 29, 2016 at 1:37 pm:

    Hello, this blog continues to be incredibly helpful to me during the process of narrowing down my cabinetry choice. THANK YOU. We have narrowed down our choices to Kraftmaid (all plywood) and Kingswood Kitchens. We want Shaker painted white. Here is my question: because we are getting painted cabinetry, is it advisable to get an MDF panel? One dealer advised against a plywood panel b/c they have found that humidity changes negatively impact the paint appearance and seams. Would you please advise as to best panel material?

  176. pmcalary, August 29, 2016 at 2:03 pm:

    While an MDF panel won’t shrink and might be considered preferable in a painted finish. It really doesn’t matter because all shrinkage will happen the first year when all cabinets are under warranty and any doors that do shrink can be replaced. We usually ask customers to wait a couple of months after they notice shrinkage because half of the doors expand back and then never need to be replaced. If you have central air conditioning, and forced hot air heating this could be slightly more of an issue. Still I don’t use it in deciding which cabinet line to get and both lines you are considering are very well made. Assuming you are upgrading to all plywood construction.

  177. Lorraine, September 1, 2016 at 10:22 am:

    Your blog is amazing!! have been looking at cabinets on and off for a year! I just discovered bremtown on your site. how much more expensive is their semi custom compared to Decora? Do you know how Bremtown compares to Plain and Fancy? I haven’t priced out P&F as I know they will be very expensive. I have looks at most of the brands mentioned on this blog.. I also heard that dealers carry better lines of Decora than Home Depot, and have many more options. Is this true? thank you!!

  178. pmcalary, September 2, 2016 at 10:43 am:

    Hi Loraine,
    Thanks! Plain and Fancy and Bremtown are both top of the line. In fact my extended family owns the company Eagle Associates that are the reps for Plain and Fancy in New England. I don’t know how they compare price wise and that will depend on the dealer that supplies them. But both of those line will certainly be more than Decora wherever you are pricing them. As far as the Decora goes, cabinet lines can always be upgraded to the same construction from a home center as a dealer. That being said, home centers are usually no more then 5% less than dealers for the same cabinet lines. Otherwise dealers couldn’t sell those line successfully. This is even with all the misleading sales promotions that home centers promote. Since designers in general are much better at independent dealers than home centers usually buying special order cabinetry at home centers isn’t in a customers best interest. Of course there are designers and dealers that are the exception to the rule and companies like ours that are actually a little less than home centers in apples to apples comparisons and have great designers.

  179. Nicolette, September 4, 2016 at 12:45 pm:

    This is the best source I have found for cabinet information and after reading it, I am convinced that my gut reaction about our kitchen design is correct. We are having to replace a kitchen that was destroyed after a upstairs water pipe ruptured. Our contractor has tried to connect us with a kitchen designer he has worked with before and they are really pushing Merrilat cabinets. When I told them my concerns based on the reviews I have read, both acted as if they had never heard of problems with Merrilat cabinets. I asked about Wood-mode cabinets and was told they are way too expensive and over-priced but the KD and contractor couldn’t tell me why the Merilatt was just as good other than that they have been using them for years….When I looked at the example kitchens in the KD’s showroom, I saw that the cabinet doors didn’t line up straight and some of the inlaid doors for their semi-custom line wouldn’t open well without a significant tug. I know the showroom cabinets get a lot fuse, but if they look bad and the KD doesn’t realize that, I would think that KD is not the person to use. Based on your blog I think its time to find a new KD.
    Again thank-you so much for taking the time to answer questions, educate us consumers and stress why its worth getting a KD you trust…Please keep on doing this… Wish there was another way to thank-you and improve your business, but rest assured you are helping the good KD’s out there improve their businesses.

  180. pmcalary, September 4, 2016 at 8:34 pm:

    Hi Nicolette,
    The Merillat Masterpiece cabinetry is constructed acceptably in my opinion. It just isn’t a great deal for the money. A 3/8″ plywood back is OK just not great. As far as the doors lining up- they just need adjustment and any cabinet display could have that problem. In one of our display cabinets I have been meaning to adjust a drawer front for a month and still haven’t gotten around to it. All these cabinet companies have 6 way adjustable hinges and drawers with some minor exceptions. Because of your water damage you have the opportunity to fix all the design problems in your kitchen. Generally that is where your concerns should lay and for most people almost never are. Good kitchen design is usually only perceived by good kitchen designers. For example the vast majority of our customers mistakenly think that their layout can’t be improved. It takes a lot of self control to hear for the 10,000th time “well my kitchen layout really can’t be improved so I have to keep things where they are.”

  181. Alex, September 6, 2016 at 12:28 am:

    I received several quotes for kitchen designs, and am favoring the Fabuwood from an independent designer (thanks to your positive reinforcement of Fabuwood). However, I have noticed that the interior dimension of the drawers are 5 inches smaller than the exterior measurement. The Fabuwood drawers are framed and side mounted. My designer says that the 5 inch difference is standard. Is this correct? I believe that losing 5 inches of width on each drawer is unacceptable. Both my current kitchen drawers, and my neighbor’s drawers are only 3 inches less in dimension (they are probably custom cabinets). Does Fabuwood offer undermount? Would that get me more width? (BTW, in my 34.5 height cabinet with external dimensions of 7 inch height drawer and 2-11 in height drawers, their vertical clearance is approx 3 in top drawer, and approx 7 in for the 2 lower drawers. I find this appalling as well. I have not measured the Kraftmaid cabinets that were quoted to me yet. Any advice for me?

  182. pmcalary, September 6, 2016 at 8:01 am:

    Hi Alex,
    What you are noticing is the 1 1/2 inch difference between the width and the height of drawers in framed versus frameless cabinetry. The Fabuwood cabinets and all the better made framed cabinetry have the same size drawer boxes with undermount Blum Blumotion tracks. It is the solid wood 1 1/2″ face frame that makes the opening for drawers smaller for framed cabinets. The face frame is also what makes the cabinet more durable. Door hinges and drawer tracks attached to solid wood and screwing the solid wood frames of each cabinet to the cabinet next to it is what makes the better constructed framed kitchens so much less subject to damage and stress.

    There is no question that frameless cabinetry offers more storage and that it is easier access to that storage. That’s one of the advantages to frameless cabinetry. Another is how much more attractive contemporary and modern slab door styles look using Frameless cabinetry which is why these door styles almost always only come on frameless cabinetry.

    However you may be replacing your cabinets BECAUSE they are frameless if the doors are starting to sag and the hinges and draw track are pulling away from the particleboard box. So you have to choose since you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Framed or Frameless. Here is one of our blogs on the difference:

  183. Alex, September 7, 2016 at 9:36 am:

    I appreciate your input but I am asking a different question. I am doing new construction in a new home. I do not have frameless nor am I considering frameless cabinets. My current house has framed cabinets, as does 2 of my neighbors, and we only lose 3 inches of space for the interior width of a standard drawer. Yet the fabuwood loses 5 inches in width for each drawer. Why is there such a large difference when they are all framed cabinets? Is this the same with Kraftmaid? I want to say yes to fabuwood, but worry about some of the comments from former customers. I was quoted $30K in Kraftmaid for cabinets only from a big box store, and $26K for fabuwood cabinets and installation of 2 slabs of exotic granite (white Alaska) from a small family run independent design store. I really like the small business that I am working with, but also wonder about how much experience they have based on all the reviews where Main Line and others have clearly stated how important a good installer is. I do believe he has given me a great design. Thank you again for your blog and responses.

  184. pmcalary, September 7, 2016 at 12:35 pm:

    Sorry Alex,
    You are mistaken about what type cabinetry you have. The face of a framed cabinet is made of 1 1/2″ stiles and Rails so the opening into the frame has to be 3″ less than the size of the box. Then there is the thickness of the sides of the drawers and the space needed to slide the drawer in and out without rubbing. That requires at least 1 1/2 to 2″ so the inside of all drawers on all framed cabinets using Blum’s bottom mount Blumotion tracks (the best made in the industry) will be 4 1/2″ to 5″ less than the width of the box. Fabuwood’s are 4 13/16″ less. Kraftmaid and every framed cabinet line will be within the same 4 1/2 to 5 inches. Just a note: Kraftmaid in all plywood construction should be about 40% more than Fabuwood at most dealers so you have some issues with the numbers you are getting.

    This blog is not meant to keep people from getting the help of a good kitchen designer. I would recommend that you continue shopping to find a knowledgeable person that can help you. Kitchens are very complicated and doing one without the help of an experienced kitchen designer invites trouble.
    Best of luck – Paul

  185. Alex, September 8, 2016 at 8:13 am:

    Thank you.

  186. Carolyn, September 23, 2016 at 2:43 pm:

    Have you ever heard of Hagerstown Cabinets out of Pennsylvania? Considering them or Decora Or Medallion.

  187. pmcalary, September 23, 2016 at 4:08 pm:

    Don’t know them but the Hagerstown custom cabinetry looks nice. Decora, Medallion, or The Hagerstown all upgraded to 1/2″ plywood sides are well made. The Hagerstown and the Medallion I would think would be the most expensive, but if the Hagerstowm was less expensive then the Decora I would probably get them as long as I liked the finis equally or better.

  188. Amy Spear, October 5, 2016 at 10:55 am:

    My Husband and I are in the process of building our home and our contractor has quoted us on Legacy Cabinets the Debut series and we also got a quote from Kraftmaid and Diamond (both from Lowes) they are both within 2k of each and we are not sure which ones to go with. Any suggestions?

  189. pmcalary, October 5, 2016 at 10:58 am:

    I’d rank them this way top to bottom.
    Legacy Debut
    Make sure though that you are getting prices for all plywood construction for Kraftmaid and Diamond. Legacy Debut only comes that way I believe.

  190. Matt, October 10, 2016 at 10:26 am:

    I have narrowed my choices to Fabuwood, Wolf Desighner, and J&K cabinets. They all seem to be made the same. Any preferences between the three?

  191. pmcalary, October 10, 2016 at 12:21 pm:

    Fabuwood is better by far

  192. Raymond, October 10, 2016 at 8:02 pm:

    We have two kitchens (two houses) We just had Shenandoah installed in one of them, which we love. Now it’s time for house #2. Can you please rank the following cabinet lines? Kraftmaid, Shenandoah, Shenandoah Value Series, Quality, Quality Woodstar, Oakcraft. Your response is greatly appreciated.

  193. pmcalary, October 11, 2016 at 3:22 am:

    Hi Raymond,
    Kraftmaid is higher end then Shenandoah although both are well made when upgraded to all plywood construction. The others I don’t know but suspect are not nearly as well made.

  194. Raymond, October 11, 2016 at 2:55 pm:

    Quality and Quality Woodstar are brands within Masco, the maker of Kraftmaid, along with Merillat. Is Kraftmaid truly worth the premium one pays over Shenandoah? Is there truly a bang for the buck?

  195. corina pica, October 16, 2016 at 8:13 pm:

    What do you think about Waypoint cabinets? We are planning to remodeling our kitchen!

  196. kim, October 20, 2016 at 11:59 am:

    Can you please give me your opinion on Truwood cabinets out of Alabama?

  197. pmcalary, October 20, 2016 at 1:49 pm:

    When a companies website is so unsophisticated and offers no information about cabinet construction other than they are made “really well”. I start to get a election day headache. I need more information than someone telling me something will be “fabulous”. In the kitchen industry these type companies pop up regularly. I want any company I buy my cabinets from to be transparent, time tested, and able at least to afford a better web site.

  198. Ry, October 25, 2016 at 4:46 pm:

    Which brand has better quality, Thomasville from Home Depot or Fabuwood from an independent shop. I love the site

  199. pmcalary, October 25, 2016 at 5:09 pm:

    Now that is an interesting question. If you upgrade the Thomasville to all plywood construction and Bulmotion tracks there won’t be much difference. The Fabuwood will be slightly better constructed but the Thomasville will have more kinds of wood and more door style and finish choices. The Thomasville should be much more expensive though since they aren’t a usually a good value for the money. So if that’s the case I pick Fabuwood. If they are the same price I pick the door style and finish I like best or better yet the designer I respect more.

  200. RY, October 25, 2016 at 5:15 pm:

    After reading all the reviews on Thomasville through the home depot, it made me look elsewhere. I find the negative reviews with Fabuwood are associated with it being a Chinese co and not American?? I am being told I can get the Fabuwood with all an plywood box and it would still be far more inexpensive than Thomasville

  201. Paul, October 26, 2016 at 8:22 am:

    Fabuwood is an American company that assembles their cabinetry in New Jersey. The majority of the wooden parts are made in China. They are all plywood construction and use the best hinges and blumotion drawer tracks on the market. They have some questionable dealers so it is important to buy Fabuwood cabinetry from a respected showroom or dealer.

  202. D. Lieberman, October 27, 2016 at 2:07 pm:

    Hi, thanks in advance for your help!

    Which cabinet is the better quality–American Woodmark (in wood, not thermofoil) or Aristokraft? We’re looking for full overlay, white shaker. We are adding a peninsula and then planning to just replace the doors and drawer fronts on the perimeter (boxes are currently maple, doors are peeling thermofoil).

    I have nearly the same price for the AW and the AK with installation. I was considering doing black or a very dark stain on the peninsula cabinets and leaving the perimeter white, or else doing them all in white. I have read good and bad reviews on both brands…

    I would be willing to consider Kraftmaid if that’s better, but how much more expensive would it be? We will probably sell the place in 5-10 years so we want to do something that will work well for resale.

    Thanks again!

  203. pmcalary, October 27, 2016 at 5:10 pm:

    American Woodmark is much better than Aristocraft. However it is unlikely that you can order doors from one cabinet manufacturer and have them work on another. There are companies that make replacement doors for that but ordering the doors is still very tricky.

  204. D. Lieberman, October 27, 2016 at 5:34 pm:

    Thanks for your response!

    My contractor determined that my existing cabinets are probably American woodmark because they have the same door sizes that are in my kitchen. Kraftmaid doesn’t have those sizes so they would have to make custom doors. So I suppose we’ll go with American woodmark. Also–I assume we’re better off to buy the wood and not the new duraform line they have? The wood is full overlay and the duraform is partial overlay. I assume the wood is better for resale purposes?

  205. Tbarb, October 28, 2016 at 9:59 pm:

    Home flooded in Baton Rouge. Looking at getting waypoint cabinets. Are these good quality and worth the money?

  206. pmcalary, October 29, 2016 at 9:00 am:

    I don’t know Waypoint pricing and their web site doesn’t say how the back of the cabinet is made but it looks well constructed with a solid wood hanging rail. I would say that they are a good cabinet choice but not knowing exactly how much they cost compared to your other choices locally I can’t say if they are the best buy for the money.

  207. Tbarb, October 29, 2016 at 10:52 pm:

    Thanks for your quick response. Went to lowe’s today and got a quote for Kraftmaid cabinets. Waiting on my official quote from the Waypoint dealer, but the unofficial quote is similar to Kraftmaid (upgraded with all plywood). Would you recommend I go with Kraftmaid from Lowe’s or Waypoint for the best quality?

  208. Paul, October 30, 2016 at 8:22 am:

    Kraftmaid if costs are close

  209. cindy, October 30, 2016 at 6:46 pm:

    What do you think of DeWils cabinets?

  210. pmcalary, October 31, 2016 at 9:47 am:

    Hi Cindy,
    I’d never heard of them but they look like a smaller custom manufacturer that makes the standard top of the line framed cabinet construction. I have no idea where they fall price wise. Some of these smaller manufacturers are only a little more that the larger Semi-Custom lines and so a good deal. One issue is that sometimes these smaller custom shops have trouble getting dealers. So some of the dealers are small part time designers that can be all over the map as far as experience, pricing, and ethics are concerned. If the dealer you are buying the cabinets from has a good reputation that is a good sign.
    Sometimes these smaller custom companies sell directly to the public. This can mean that you get an especialy good price but these companies almost never have a good designer working for them. They are cabinet builders and not kitchen designers and that can mean that you have no experienced person designing your kitchen and helping you organize your project. That is almost never a good thing no matter what the savings.

  211. Tracie, October 31, 2016 at 2:43 pm:

    Hello! thank you so much for all the information, it is truly helpful. I have a question for you about painted white shaker doors. Would you choose MDF over wood and which brand in your experience has the most durable painted cabinet? My KD uses Luxor, and Kountry Kraft Thank you so much!

  212. pmcalary, October 31, 2016 at 2:52 pm:

    I would use MDF for the recessed panel only. Both the Luxur and Kountry Kraft lines that you are considering are probably in frameless construction. So I’d worry about making sure the kitchen was designed accounting for frameless cabinetry first over the finish. Both finishes will be fine.

  213. Kendall, November 5, 2016 at 3:25 pm:

    Wonderful blog! We are looking for white cabinets but framed. Many are pushing the MDF rather than painted wood due to seams opening up with wood swelling. Earlier you had suggested Square 6 for white cabinets. Would you only use wood or would you consider MDF?

  214. pmcalary, November 5, 2016 at 5:34 pm:

    Hi Kendall,
    On a recessed center panel MDF is fine with the outside frame of the door solid wood. If the whole door is MDF then you would need to be very gentile with the cabinets as MDF is very soft and easily damages. Many custom cabinet lines use MDF doors because they look better painted. But often customers that are hard on things would be better off with a solid wood door at least for the outside frame.

  215. Lucy, November 11, 2016 at 8:06 am:

    Hello…have you ever heard of A company called Solid Wood Cabinets. They are a factory direct company out of NJ/PA. The face frame and shelves are 3/4″ plywood and the box construction is 1/2″. It seems like a good cabinet for the price I received. What do you think?

  216. pmcalary, November 11, 2016 at 9:13 am:

    Hi Lucy,

    Yes Solid Wood Cabinets are a very good choice “for the price”. They will cost you about the same or less than IKEA and they are much more durable. If you are renovating a property to sell they would be particularly appropriate.

    They wouldn’t be my choice as a homeowner though for two reasons. The first reason consumers often won’t appreciate and that’s the fact that like IKEA Solid Wood Cabinets doesn’t hire experienced designers. They are really just sales people and are usually less knowledgeable than even home center designers. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule but getting knowledgeable help with designing and planning your kitchen usually makes a dramatic difference. It always amazes me how many people would never think of having a non professional style their hair or work on their car but when they are embarking on what will probably be the most expensive renovation in their lifetime they don’t think they need experienced help.

    The second reason I wouldn’t chose Solid wood cabinets is tied to the first in a way. The next step up in cabinetry like the Fabuwood or 6 Square lines we carry have noticeably nicer finishes and more stylish door styles. While this might not be a big enough reason on it’s own to pay about 20% more, when you add the fact that if you find a good designer you will be getting a nicer cabinet AND someone that knows what they are doing helping you, it is worth the added expense.

    For example,
    For a medium size kitchen in our area:
    A cabinet order in Solid Wood Cabinets might be $6,000.
    Granite countertops $2000
    Appliances $3,000
    Flooring $1,000
    sinks, faucets and handles, $1000
    Backsplash tile, Light fixtures, and other Misc Materials $2,000
    And construction costs $8000
    This all totals $23,000

    Saving $1,200 on a slightly less expensive less attractive cabinet line isn’t so important when you will be giving up the advice you could get spending over $20,000.00. So when you are looking for bargains I don’t skimp on the skill of the person helping me. With their assistance you would probably save on other materials and avoid pitfalls and mistakes. Not to mention that it is the creativity and attractiveness of the design itself that adds the most to the value of your home.

  217. Craig, November 11, 2016 at 5:42 pm:

    We are looking at putting in new kitchen cabinets in our summer cottage in Canada. This place is not heated in the winter. Is there a particular type of wood that is better/worse to use for this situation? We have been told to stay away from painted doors and are currently looking at hickory. The cottage is log construction, so we are also looking for a rustic appearance. Thank you.

  218. pmcalary, November 12, 2016 at 10:45 am:

    Hi Craig,
    Any kind of wood should be fine and yes a painted finish would develop hairline cracks showing more of the joints in the wood due to the extreme temperature variations. Hichory is a rustic looking wood and hard but it has so much variation in color and grain that if the walls in the cabin, the ceiling, beams, and the floors are all wood the hickory might be a bit much for my taste. Birch, maple, alder or cherry would be common woods with less extreme color and grain variations.

  219. Sally, November 14, 2016 at 5:32 pm:

    What is your opinion on CabCraft?

  220. pmcalary, November 14, 2016 at 5:44 pm:

    They don’t appear to be an independent cabinet manufacturer and are the “house brand” of a contractor/builder. There is no information about their construction on their web site.

  221. Brian, November 15, 2016 at 9:18 pm:

    Have a kitchen Reno on a house I’m getting ready to sell. What are your thoughts on Fabuwood vs Forevermark. Since I will not be using the cabinets price point is slightlybmore important then quality

  222. Roni, November 21, 2016 at 1:43 pm:


    Thank you so much for such a wonderful resource and for your time and thoughts. How would you rank Fieldstone, vs Omega vs Knight Kitchens( out of VT)?

  223. pmcalary, November 21, 2016 at 3:28 pm:

    Hi Roni,
    Fieldstone is a nice high end semi custom cabinet line. Upgrade to plywood 1/2 inch sides at least. Omega Dynasty I don’t like because it’s frameless but Omega Pinnacle is a nice framed line. Knight Kitchens is a small custom shop that appears to make a very nice product. Depends on the pricing, and I have never seen a Knight cabinet but I get a very good vibe from their web site so they might be the best pick here but you should look at the door style and finishes to see which you like best. You can’t go wrong with any of those three I mentioned.

  224. Jan, November 23, 2016 at 9:34 am:

    We bought a 4-yr old home w timberlake Thermofoil cabinets. We cannot replace the whole kitchen but 2-3 of the cabinets have delaminated w one totally loose on a 42″ door. Original owner had 5-yr warranty, not us. What do you know about this? Door wasn’t next to oven or heat source. Could have been. Over a toaster or coffee pot.

  225. pmcalary, November 23, 2016 at 9:35 am:

    Hi Brian,
    Fabuwood is nicer but more expensive then Forevermark. I think all these line should be purchased assembled by the factory. It would depend on the value of the home you are selling but for any home more than a couple of hundred thousand dollars the added expense of the Fabuwood I think would be worth it. Fabuwood Galaxy frost would be the most popular style and color. Hallmark frost would be the most reasonable popular style and finish.

  226. pmcalary, November 23, 2016 at 9:46 am:

    Hi Jan,
    Sorry but unfortunately all Thermafoil eventually delaminates as the glue breaks down. Once more than one door is delaminating the others will most likely begin to follow suit. I wouldn’t invest any money refacing or replacing all the doors. I would replace a few doors as needed and save my money to replace all the cabinetry in the future.

    Investing any money in this kitchen such as getting new granite countertops would be spending money you could have put towards a new kitchen. New granite tops, backsplash tile, new flooring are all usually not able to be saved when you redo a kitchen so the sensible thing to do is to spend as little as possible on an old kitchen until you can afford to do a new kitchen right.

  227. Lisa, November 26, 2016 at 3:44 pm:

    Very useful info. We are currently looking at Tedd Wood’s Landmark cabinets through a local kitchen designer but also like the KraftMaid and American Woodmark lines at Home Depot. This is for a seasonal home so we don’t want to spend a fortune, but we want something well made and durable, in a painted (shaker) finish. Do you have thoughts on the Tedd Wood cabinets?

  228. pmcalary, November 26, 2016 at 4:35 pm:

    Hi Lisa,
    Ted Wood is a semi custom and custom cabinet line. The Landmark semi-custom line is very well made but probably a little more expensive than Kraftmaid. American woodmark is a nice line but at least 20% less expensive than Kraftmaid. Make sure to upgrade Kraftmaid to at least Plywood sides and Woodmark to to all plywood construction. The Ted Wood cabinet line is the nicest and the designer is probably more knowledgeable in the showroom than at the Home Depot, but I assume it will be more expensive that the Kraftmaid and certianly significantly more than American Woodmark.

  229. Robin Smith, November 26, 2016 at 4:36 pm:

    Great blog! I have a question for you. Are there any circumstances where it would make sense to just reface existing kitchen cabinets instead of replacing? I’m had a few friends do this. The end product is nice however the pricing can be almost as much as replacement.

  230. pmcalary, November 27, 2016 at 7:32 am:

    Hi Robin,
    The answer is it almost never would it make sense. The only time it could would be if you were selling your home and you had a time constraint on doing a renovation. Frequently people refacing will splurge on appliances or countertops and spend more money than they could have done a complete renovation using better made cabinets had they only selected cabinets, tops, and appliances wisely. The most valuable thing about remodeling a kitchen is redesigning the space with a great kitchen designer. The materials that you splurge on selecting will have very little impact on the resale value of your home while fixing the design flaws that nearly every older kitchen has, and that customers are unaware, of can have dramatic effects on the resale value of your home and how fast it sells.

  231. Jason k, November 28, 2016 at 12:13 am:

    Hello. We are looking to do a home office. Got a design and quote for diamond from a retailer, not lowes. Most discussion here is about kitchens. Should I be looking for some thing different for an office? Is diamond a good choice? Are options like plywood construction just as important for offices as kitchens? Thank u.

  232. pmcalary, November 28, 2016 at 1:51 pm:

    Plywood is probably not as important in an office but Diamond not upgraded is relatively expensive but not well made. There are many cabinet lines that wouldn’t need to be upgraded and are cheaper. What the office design was would determine if a less expensive line could do the design. We sell Bishop for example that upgraded would still be less than Diamond and is better made and even has more options.

  233. Birdman, November 29, 2016 at 9:18 pm:

    Hi there. Thanks for all the info here. What do you think of GEC cabinet depot in Minneapolis? Any experience with them?

  234. pmcalary, November 29, 2016 at 9:53 pm:

    GEC is the bottom of the barrel in RTA cabinetry. This might not be a bad thing if you are immediately selling a property. But if this is for your own home and you plan on being there more than a few years spend about 15% more on cabinetry to get the higher end US assembled Chinese cabinetry. It has better finishes and is better made. I would actually go IKEA before GEC, because IKEA has nicer finishes.

  235. Birdman, November 29, 2016 at 10:20 pm:

    Appreciate the reply. Well that’s discouraging as I just committed to buying them for our kitchen which we do plan on living in for a long time. We had a smallish budget but these still weren’t cheap. Less than KM though. We were drawn to them because we though the finish looked nice in the showroom. They seem to meet all your criteria for quality cabinets – 1/2″ plywood boxes, solid face frames, not sure about the hardware though..don’t think it’s Blumotion. Can you elaborate on where they come up short?

  236. pmcalary, November 29, 2016 at 10:58 pm:

    They aren’t that bad. They are just the least expensive of the OK cabinets. The finishes aren’t quite as nice and since the rest of the kitchen is built around the cabinets not the absolulte best choice. Kraftmaid should be at least 40% more than these cabinets. I would have picked a cabinet line in between.

  237. Sarah, December 3, 2016 at 10:42 am:

    Hi, I have been looking at Cabico Espresso line. Are you familiar with this line and it’s quality for the price?

  238. pmcalary, December 3, 2016 at 11:09 am:

    Hi Sarah,
    I’m not too familiar with the Cabico lines. I know they make custom cabinets but they probably now make a semi-custom line to stay competitive in today’s price driven market. Their custom line is a nice cabinet although about 20% more than many well made semi-custom lines. How their semi custom line might stack up I don’t know. If it has all the requirements we give on our blog to be considered “well made” then they will be a good choice.

  239. Jennifer, December 6, 2016 at 5:31 pm:

    Hi Paul. Your blog is filled with incredibly invaluable information. I live in Richmond Virginia and am in the process of planning a kitchen renovation. We happen to have an excellent kitchen and bath designer at a local Lowes (rare, I know) who has been designing kitchens and baths for 25 years. We are still working on the design so I have not begun pricing the cabinets. I’m trying to decide on the cabinet brand and always assumed I’d go with Kraftmaid. I’m looking to do a whitish color painted cabinet with a glazed finish, probably raised panel, but I also like a recessed panel with some type of beading if that’s the right term. Is one more expensive? Also, in a previous post you mentioned that Lowes marks up installation by 30% so get a contractor to install and save the money. My designer said Lowes cabinet prices include installation. The price does not change for just the cabinets. Does this sound correct? Finally, you mentioned that one could possibly find better prices on cabinetry through a local or independent dealer. What is the difference? Our kitchen designer said pricing comes down to the incentives offered by Lowes as well as the manufacturer. I do plan on upgrading to the minimum requirements you suggest. Keeping in mind the style/color of cabinet, can you recommend a brand that might save me money over Kraftmaid without sacrificing beauty? Thanks!

  240. pmcalary, December 6, 2016 at 7:02 pm:

    Hi Jennifer,
    No cabinets at Lowes certainly don’t come with installation included. You are either confused of your designer is. Independent dealers will on average be slightly more expensive than a Lowes but there are exceptions to the rule like our company. Incentives by Lowes and cabinet manufacturers are sort of gimmicks and essentially prices are inflated so that there can be a sale going on most of the time. In general encouraging people to rush to buy cabinets is not in their interest and so I believe is somewhat unscrupulous. When a designer at Lowes designs your kitchen on the computer using the 20-20 design program the computer is pricing the cabinetry at the same time. So the designer should be able to tell you how much the cabinetry costs at any given moment. If he or she can’t then they haven’t been designing kitchens for very long on the computer which all home centers have used for pricing for 25 years.

  241. Mike, December 12, 2016 at 9:26 pm:

    I am looking at redoing our kitchen cabinets in white painted shaker cabinets. I have looked at Lowes and Home Depot. I am also looking at Haas cabinets. Which of the cabinets would not only have the best finish but also be of the best quality.

  242. pmcalary, December 13, 2016 at 9:20 am:

    Kraftmaid from Lowes or Home Depot is the best choice of those

  243. Linda, December 18, 2016 at 7:28 pm:

    Thanks so much for continuing to answer questions on this very confusing subject! We live in Western PA and have spoken with one designer that we hired and another who provided the service for free. We were able to meld the two designs and then took them to two different places for cabinet estimates. We are looking for white painted cabinets – shaker or simple raised panel. We can get 1/2″ plywood frames and real wood doors on both brands. We are between Kraftmaid through Home Depot (their designer plugged cabinets into our design) and Dura Supreme Crestwood through an independent, locally owned store. The local salesman has a good reputation for addressing any concerns from the homeowner and seems to take pride in his product. He did tell us that we could spend less by using pressed board on the interior cabinets, but after reading this blog, we will not take that short cut to save money. The Kraftmaid estimate (before any sale pricing) is about 50% higher cost. Do you have a recommendation and any thoughts about specific things we should consider?

  244. pmcalary, December 18, 2016 at 7:48 pm:

    Hi Linda,
    Please don’t buy DuraSupreme. We used to carry their line and they cheated both us and our customers. They are a not an honorable company. Stick with the Kraftmaid to be safe.
    Happy Holidays,

  245. FS, December 19, 2016 at 4:43 pm:

    should I be concerned with purchasing FABUWOOD??

  246. pmcalary, December 19, 2016 at 5:31 pm:

    That depends on your expectations and who the dealer is. Fabuwood is a great product for the cost. In the inexpensive lines there is no better bargain in my opinion. This is why they are the fastest growing cabinet line in the US. However they do have some poor dealers, and you need to know what to expect. And as always the designer is the most important component of all and most customers don’t understand the difference between a good kitchen designer and a poor one. Add to that that most kitchen designers aren’t very good and you get a lot of poor designs and outright mistakes.

  247. Mark, December 21, 2016 at 1:45 pm:

    What a Great Place to get some real insight.Not just the salesmans. I was wondering what your thoughts were on Medallion Silverline Just getting started in is whole process Thanks

  248. pmcalary, December 21, 2016 at 5:34 pm:

    Medallion has beautiful finishes but particle board sides on expensive cabinetry seems like a huge waste unless the home is being sold shortly after the renovation. If you are in for the long hall either upgrade to plywood or select a less expensive line that will cost you less than Medallion but be better constructed. Kraftmaid, Decora, Bishop, or Brighton are just 4 of many lines you could get a plywood cabinet in and still get very similar customization options and finish options.

  249. Bryan, December 22, 2016 at 2:13 pm:

    I am looking at doing a small kitchen remodel on a budget. I have already gone to many different kitchen designers and the big box stores, but the one I am pretty close to pulling the trigger on has two lines that are in my budget with our design. They are the 6Square and US Cabinet Depot (about $600 Cheaper)? Are the 6Square worth the extra money?

  250. Judy, December 23, 2016 at 9:06 pm:

    i am replacing three bathroom vanities and I went to a jim bishop dealer in my local area. he quoted me a price of approx. $1900 for 3 vanities deluxe cabinet box – just the vanities no tops or sinks. birch wood York door style and stained. does this sound like a reasonable quote to you? is there anything else I should be asking about or need to know

  251. pmcalary, December 24, 2016 at 10:28 am:

    Hi Judy,
    The cost of a vanity will vary more than 100% depending on the width of the vanity, how many drawers it has, and if there are any customizations, so I would need more information to answer the question.

  252. Marc, January 1, 2017 at 8:19 pm:

    I notice that Fabuwood has a few different levels of cabinets. Which would be the best grade of Fabuwood for the money : Allure,Classic, or the Value ?

  253. pmcalary, January 2, 2017 at 8:33 am:

    Alure and Classic at built the same. The value line can be upgraded to Soft close full extension Blumotion drawers. It will be slightly less well made but still be a fine cabinet for the money.

  254. Marc, January 2, 2017 at 9:33 am:

    Thanks, pmcalary. We are trying to get an idea of about what Fabuwood cabinets would cost for the kitchen. We have a basic kitchen. One wall has built in oven and refrigerator, another wall has the stove, and the 3rd has the sink. About 10′ x 10′. I think it is shaped in the “G’ formation. Any idea if such cabinets would cost closer to $ 5k or $ 10k ? Thanks. Happy holidays.

  255. pmcalary, January 2, 2017 at 10:44 am:

    Oven cabinets are expensive and so I’d think closer to 10K. But keeping your design as it is now is not a good idea. Just eliminating the oven cabinet could save you $3,500 on cabinetry and appliances and make the room seem larger. I’g worry about the design first and then get the cabinetry, countertops, and appliances within your budget.

  256. Marc, January 2, 2017 at 12:19 pm:

    Thanks, pmc. I guess maybe getting a few estimates might shed light on the range of cabinet costs. Of course, then the cost of labor needs to be added in on top of that. I sometimes wonder if the labor costs can even exceed the cost of materials, supplies, etc..?

  257. Diane, January 8, 2017 at 1:09 pm:

    Thank you for all the great information. We are working with an small kitchen cabinet business/designer in our area and have the design pretty much solidified. They have given us a quote for Cabinet Corp. cabinetry as their most budget-friendly line. The quote says “all plywood construction,” but I need to check on the thickness. They are framed cabinets with soft-close dovetail drawers with full-extension glides, and soft-cose doors. Have you heard of Cabinet Corp? I am thinking, after reading this, that we should ask for quotes for some of their other lines, since you haven’t mention the company. However, if this cabinet line meets your minimum construction standards, what else should we be looking for? We are getting white shaker style cabinetry. Also, should we insist on the Blum hardware? Lastly, we have found a contractor do do the structural modifications we need in the house and he says he can also install the cabinets. My gut says that the kitchen design company should install the cabinets and be in charge of the countertops so that we have follow through with them start to finish. What do you think?

  258. pmcalary, January 9, 2017 at 9:53 am:

    Hi Diane,
    I haven’t heard of Cabinet Corp, but they appear to be a US company selling Asian made RTA cabinetry to contractors. There are many of these companies sprouting up. The good news is that the cabinetry is usually pretty well made for the bottom of the cabinet price points. Always better made then IKEA for example. The bad news is that there aren’t any good or experienced designers that work for companies like this. Many customers fail to appreciate how important working with a good designer is. Home owners not knowledgeable about kitchen design often mistakenly believe that their design is good and that there weren’t any other options that were very different and within their price range. As one of our videos points out: when you don’t know much about something like kitchen design and cabinetry, you don’t know what it is that you don’t know. That’s why working with a knowledgeable professional kitchen designer is so important.

    Who’s best to install the cabinets is tricky. If your contractor isn’t good enough to install the cabinets he or she isn’t good enough to prepare your kitchen for the cabinet installation. Too many cooks spoil the broth – so hiring one person to do part of the job and another to install cabinetry is usually calamitous.

  259. lkeaney, January 10, 2017 at 7:51 pm:

    Hello! I’ve found this post helpful so I thought I would see if I could get some insight on my cabinet purchase. I’m on a budget and I’ve been to see a few kitchen designers. One at Home Depot with a quote from American Woodmark, another with a quote on Aristokraft, and one with a quote for Wolf Classic. Prices are pretty comparable. I liked working with the designer that did the Wolf design the best, however I haven’t seen the greatest feedback on the Wolf line. This is a starter home for us and we plan on being there for about 5 years. I would like them to hold up well though and not be falling apart in that time frame. I have just been so overwhelmed with all the different brands and quality of cabinets that I’m at a loss as to which to choose (or if I should go in a completely different direction). We are wanting a classic white shaker door style. Do you (or anyone else) have any experience with Wolf cabinets? Which of these three is the best quality? Or any other recommendations?

    Thanks in advance!

  260. David, January 12, 2017 at 9:40 am:

    Any thoughts on the Cabico brand cabinets. Working with a local designer and she mentioned that MAY be the brand that she recommends because the may be more flexible than 6 square as far as cabinet sizes

  261. pmcalary, January 12, 2017 at 11:02 am:

    Cabico is a more expensive cabinet line that doesn’t show how their cabinets are constructed online. So I can’t advise you on how they are made.

  262. Wendy, January 12, 2017 at 3:36 pm:

    We are in the beginning planning stages and based on our floorplan (open living, dining and kitchen) there is very little room for “design” of the kitchen. it is basically one long wall and an island. So i’m wondering if the Kitchen Design expert you keep recommending will really be worth it for our project. As far as cabinets, we are considering Cliq Studios, Koch Cabinets (imperial line) and Haas cabinets. Painted white shaker style, full overlay, framed etc. What are your thoughts between these 3 companies?

  263. pmcalary, January 12, 2017 at 4:17 pm:

    Hi Wendty,
    Essentially this is what we mistakenly hear from nearly all customers. In general the more you think you don’t need design help the more likely you actually are to need it. The very premise of your plan, a long wall of cabinets and an island could be ill-advised considering the space that you have and it wouldn’t be brought to your attention because the places you are working with just want to sell you cabinets. You can send us a floor plan or even post one on and a professional can tell you what’s wrong with it. You would need to make a commitment to purchase cabinetry from a dealer to have a good professional kitchen designer work with you to create a better design. However telling you what’s wrong with a design is much easier. There are a 1000 bad designs for any space and only a couple of good ones. It is unlikely that an inexperienced designer will come up with one of the good ones. Here is a link to our funny video on this topic:

  264. Wendy, January 12, 2017 at 8:34 pm:

    Thank you for that and I can look into ways that it might be changed. As far as the 3 brands, do you have any experience with them and what are your thoughts: Cliq Studios, Koch Cabinets and Haas. Which ones are a superior product and value?

  265. Mark, January 15, 2017 at 6:43 pm:

    Really informative thread. Thank You. Feel confident now in either Kraftmaid or Cliqstudios.

  266. pmcalary, January 15, 2017 at 6:55 pm:

    Thanks. Both good choices. Remember the other mantra “Get good design help”

  267. Kimberly, January 16, 2017 at 8:58 pm:

    I am beginning the planning stages for our kitchen update. We visited Allied Building today and they carry the following lines: Woodland, JSI, and Ultracraft. Any thoughts between the three? Are we better off going to a Lowes or HD?

  268. pmcalary, January 17, 2017 at 8:36 am:

    Not a fan of those lines or of getting a kitchen designed by a builder. Find a kitchen cabinet dealer that specializes in design and let them help you navigate designs and cabinet lines. Unfortunately Lowes and Home Depot have some good lines but not many qualified designers. Any designer that is any good leaves a home center after a short time to make more money in a better environment.

  269. Mila, January 18, 2017 at 5:36 pm:

    Please, please help me. My remodeling guy quoted a 90% markup (he didn’t know I got a look at his cost sheet). I’m sick, crying and completely without a kitchen.
    I have Lowe’s and Home Depot in the area. I’ve read your comments on their brands.
    The other option I have is a store in town that sells Shiloh, Aspect or Eclipse. I know nothing about these brands.
    I seriously need help as to which brand, from either this store or the big box stores, to pick. I’m looking at 9 upper cabinet doors that have glass and the rest with a recessed panel door.
    I like drawers for the lower cabinets plus two regular boxes with shelves.
    I do not have a contract for cabinets with my remodeling guy, so. I do not have to use him.
    Your help would be so greatly appreciated!

  270. Jackie, January 19, 2017 at 11:34 am:

    We are currently considering Forevermark Diamond Level, Homecrest upgraded to all plywood, and Kraftmaid upgraded cabinets for our kitchen remodel. Which of these has the best quality in your opinion? Should we be concerned that Forevermark is made of birch rather than maple and only carries a 2 year warranty on painted finishes? Thanks so much!

  271. pmcalary, January 19, 2017 at 11:58 am:

    The Forevermark is a much less expensive cabinet line. They are RTA cabinets that can come assembled but they are inexpensive even for an RTA cabinet. Homecrest is a much better cabinet and should cost at least 20% more and Kraftmaid is an even more expensive better line and should cost an additional 20%. These lines you can’t compare apples to apples. The warrantee doesn’t worry me as much as the inexpensive look and construction of Forevermark.

  272. pmcalary, January 21, 2017 at 1:57 pm:

    Hi Mila,
    I think there are bigger problems here if you are correct and your contractor is marking up your cabinets 90%. Most kitchen showrooms mark up cabinetry 50% to 80% and we get the cabinetry wholesale far less than a contractor can get cabinetry for. Your contractor is cheating you and is not qualified to design a kitchen. Selecting a cabinet line is less important than somehow getting away from working with this person. Continuing to work with this person if you are right could be truly calamitous.

  273. pmcalary, January 21, 2017 at 2:01 pm:

    Sorry Brian my reply never got posted. Yes spend the extra $600.

  274. Tania, January 24, 2017 at 11:46 pm:

    Hello! I just purchased home and the kitchen has Yorktowne cabinetry in oak. We just received a price to paint the cabinets white and fillin the grain of 11k. We decided to just paint the bases white and get new doors instead for an updated look. The question I have is can I get the doors from a different company or do I need to stick with Yorktowne. On a side note, we need 69 door and drawers so it would be too expensive to get a whole new kitchen.

  275. pmcalary, January 25, 2017 at 6:43 am:

    Youktowne is such an inexpensive cabinet company and the oak door are usually on their lowest level of cabinetry. The plan to invest so much money on such a cheap product isn’t a good idea. I’d live with my kitchen until I could replace it correctly. Also without even seeing the kitchen I can only guess how poor a layout you have is. Toll Brother homes have some of the worst designs with Yorketowne cabinetry. Big badly designed kitchens that fall apart in 10 to 15 years. Investing in those kitchens is throwing money away.

  276. Jackie, January 26, 2017 at 3:25 pm:

    This is a great blog. We did a kitchen renovation in our first house. We used American Woodmark (not upgraded to plywood) from Home Depot. I was very happy with that line in terms of price and quality and believe or not we had a pretty good designer. However, we only lived in the house for five years after the rennovation. We are in house number 2 and are again redoing the kitchen. We went to a kitchen showroom at the recomendation of our contractor. He quoted Dura Supreme which I do not see discussed here at all. There is very little to no information on this brand other than their website. In your opinion what is a comparable brand to Dura Supreme. You talk a lot about Fabuwood? What would be the difference between these two brands. Do you have any other suggestions. I know that you like Kraftmaid? Would that be comparable? How about Medallion?

  277. pmcalary, January 26, 2017 at 5:42 pm:

    Hi Jackie,
    DuraSupreme and Medallion should be similarly priced. Fabuwood is a much less expensive line that is far less custom than these lines. However in both DuraSupreme and Medallion you must upgrade the cabinet construction to be as well made as the Fabuwood. So always upgrade those lines to all plywood construction.

    We had serious problems with DuraSupreme when we sold their cabinetry. I would not recommend buying cabinetry from them. In fact they are one of the few cabinet lines that I have ever heard of that gets complaints from their own dealers and their own independent reps.

  278. Tracie, January 27, 2017 at 8:31 am:

    Hi Paul thank you so much for this extremely informative and interesting blog. I’m wondering if you have any information about Kountry Kraft cabinetry. I know they are in Pennsylvania and so are you so I’m wondering if you have ever used them and what your thoughts are. My designer has recommended frameless cabinetry and I can upgrade to all plywood for a 3% fee. I am concerned about a frameless cabinet after reading your blog so I’m wondering if I should upgrade to a framed cabinet. I’m going to be doing a shaker door that is painted White which is obviously another concern. I have thermofoil now that has held up for 20 years and still looks brand-new. Do you know anything about the finishes on Kountry Kraft? Thank you so much for any input.

  279. Jackie, January 27, 2017 at 9:24 am:

    Thank you. I was little leary about Dura Supreme when I found little to no information on the line and I kept coming across bad reviews. So with Fabuwood you have little or no ability to customize and I guess they use birch instead of maple. We are considering a painted white cabinet, so I am not sure that makes a difference. My grandmothers house has brich canients and they have lasted a long long time. We are trying to decide between purchasing an American Made Cabinet vs. a Chinese import. After reading through all of the comments her I am going to seriously consider Fabuwood. This blog is great and provided good insight into the different cabinet brands, their differences and price. Thank you so much!

  280. Jacki, January 27, 2017 at 10:19 am:

    Paul, do you have any thoughts or information on Greenfield Cabinetry? I’m ready to commit Brookhaven but our designer mentioned Greenfield as an “at least as good” option.

  281. pmcalary, January 27, 2017 at 11:03 am:

    Hi Jacki,
    I don’t know Greenfield. They seem to be a high end line from their web site. But they don’t say on their site how they make their cabinets. I don’t like when cabinet companies do this it makes me uncomfortable.

  282. pmcalary, January 27, 2017 at 11:09 am:

    Hi Tracy,
    I prefer Framed cabinetry to Frameless cabinetry in a shaker door style since the style doesn’t suffer from the slightly larger distance between doors and drawers and framed cabinetry is a better constructed produst.

    That being said Kountry Kraft makes a great frameless cabinet with very nice finishes. My only complaint about Kountry Kraft which they may have changed since I designed with them is that they don’t package their cabinets. So they are more likely to get damaged during shipping and installation.

  283. Jim, January 27, 2017 at 2:36 pm:

    Great information here! It has really “framed” my perspective on what to consider. You may have answered much of this in previous discussions, but I’m looking for a direct head-on comparison of 4 cabinet companies: KraftMaid, Brighton, Shiloh, and Fabuwood. I currently have 3 cabinet offers: 1) KitchenMaid from Lowes ($27.2K, on special discount from the holidays), 2)Shiloh from an independent designer ($27.5K – not sure if includes freight), and Brighton from Cabinet Discounters ($30K – $33K). The independent designer said he could get a lower cost with Fabuwood (not cost figure quoted yet)but that it wasn’t customizable. While there may be some value with the independent designer, I like the Lowes designer as well (one of the good/experienced ones). Independent guy might have some additional value (lighting ideas, etc.). Suspect that you’ll say KM has the better product and with quotes, it’s the best deal. Just want to confirm that and that Brighton isn’t worth the extra $5K – $7K in cost.

    One final question. Designers seem to MUCH prefer clean lines in their design. Most don’t like incorporating a full sized refrigerator. However, I’m doubling my kitchen size (incorporating the formal dining room), adding cooking capability (additional oven and possibly second microwave) but losing refrigerator space. However, I don’t see the benefit of spending the extra $6K + to get one or more built-in refrigerators. Maybe I could live with a counter depth (and more expensive) refrigerator. However, from an initial or future replacement cabinet cost perspective, is there any reason not to have a designer order a non-standard, larger than counter depth cabinet wall (approx. 9 ft or less). That would require finding an independent KM designer to get part of my cabinetry (or all of it). I know that Lowes can use additional faux sides to make it look somewhat custom but then it still wouldn’t all be in line apparently. This might be more of a designer question, in general, but would like your general opinion.


  284. Jim, January 27, 2017 at 2:47 pm:

    Forgot to mention that all have 1/2 inch all plywood construction, the Blum glides, etc. Oh, and one other question. CD gave me the following reasons Brighton cabinets might be better than KM: KM is mass produced, but Brighton is hand made and totally customizable, allowing for fewer fillers. Finish is hand applied and an all over glaze, not just door profiles. Not sure if the final finish would be superior to KM, but maybe. Curious on your opinion. Not sure if I’d notice if that’s a difference. Finally I was told that the Brighton glide system is extremely smooth and substantial – mostly metal (versus some other brands with more plastic parts). Are they using something other than Blum and is it really better?

  285. pmcalary, January 27, 2017 at 3:43 pm:

    We carry and love Brighten cabinetry but upgraded Kraftmaid will be similar and most customers wouldn’t appreciate the custom color, inset and beaded inset and other advantages including 13″ standard depths on the inset wall cabinetry. Fabuwood should be at least 40% less than upgraded Kraftmaid. Fabuwood can be customized to do most designs but it a completely different level of cabinetry and all birch. Builtin refrigerators have significantly less space than counter depth refrigerators for a 36″ wide space. If you want a full depth refrigerator you could possibly recess the refrigerator into the wall. It doesn’t make sense to make kitchen cabinets deeper than 24″. You just pull 24″deep cabinetry off the wall and close in the sides with panels.

  286. Marti Selle, January 27, 2017 at 7:46 pm:

    Hi, Paul. We need new kitchen cabinets due to a water leak from an upstairs bathroom. I certainly want cabinets that look good and will last but my main criteria is what’s on the inside as far as storage. Currently my pantry is in three places one of which is on an enclosed back porch. Merillat has exactly the tall pantry I would like plus several other cabinets with storage features I like as well. I have read your recommended construction guidelines. We have a limited insurance budget of about 10K. What do you think of the Merillat brand? I notice they are way down at the bottom of most lists.we have shopped the box stores just getting ideas but didn’t like any of their brands. I can’t seem to see the inside of cabinets on brand websites I have checked just style, color and wood. I want a painted off white exterior and pull out shelving and drawers. A designer is coming after the weekend and his company doesn’t carry Marilatt. I’m frustrated because I can’t seem to get the storage I want without going lower end. I’d appreciate your thoughts.

  287. Bill, January 27, 2017 at 11:38 pm:

    This site is wonderful for information. We have been working with a kitchen designer that our contractor provided. She gave us a price of 9800.00 for Fabuwood cabinets. I checked with Lowes .and their price for the Kraftmaid cabinets upgraded to the all plywood was $5747.00. From what I read on this site the Fabuwood cabinets should be less than the kraftmaid? Are we being overcharged for the Fabuwood cabinets from the dealer ? There is such a difference in price.

  288. Bill, January 27, 2017 at 11:48 pm:

    This site is wonderful for information. We have been working with a kitchen designer that our contractor provided. She gave us a price of 9800.00 for Fabuwood cabinets. I checked with Lowes .and their price for the Kraftmaid cabinets upgraded to the all plywood was $5747.00. From what I read on this site the Fabuwood cabinets should be less than the kraftmaid? Are we being overcharged for the Fabuwood cabinets from the dealer ?

  289. pmcalary, January 28, 2017 at 8:40 am:

    Sounds like either you are being robbed by the Fabuwood dealer or more likely the Lowes designer made a huge pricing error. $5,700 in Kraftmaid cabinetry would be a tiny kitchen. Home center designers are prone to mistakes due to inexperience and the home center environment full of interruptions and distractions.

  290. Bill, January 28, 2017 at 9:00 am:

    It is a small kitchen with only 6 cabinets on the top and 7 on the bottom and 2 of them are very small – a tray cabinet and a spice cabinet. Lowes had a special deal going on now so I am unsure of what to think. Thank you.

  291. pmcalary, January 28, 2017 at 9:07 am:

    Lowes is always having a deal that’s how they pressure people into buying cabinetry. 13 cabinets in Kraftmaid upgraded to all plywood construction could not be less than $6000 so there must be a mistake in the math at Lowes. And the Fabuwood also sounds high. Sounds like you have two problems.

  292. Zev67, January 29, 2017 at 12:09 am:

    We are building a new house and are looking at frameless cabinets. I see that you don’t recommend them, but I am set on them. I was looking at Hanssem but see that reviews are mixed and they have only a 5 year warranty. Provided that we get all 1/2 inch plywood with solid wood doors, full overlay, full extension, self closing, etc, what brand of cabinets would you recommend? We got a $24k estimate on Hanssem and about the same or a little higher on Kraftmade. It is going to be a white shaker style kitchen. This is a larger kitchen. I need to make a decision but would like to make sure that the quality is good.
    Thank you so much for your input.

  293. pmcalary, January 29, 2017 at 8:42 am:

    The sides of the cabinets need to be 3/4″ thick as well as the tops bottoms and shelves. Once the cabinets meet these requirements in frameless cabinetry they usually meet the best construction for a frameless cabinet. I would say that asking for our advice knowing you are not taking some already sets off bells for us as designers. We occasionally work with customers who make all their design choices asking our opinions but not listening to most of them. These kitchens are usually some of the worst that we sell.

  294. Zev67, January 29, 2017 at 6:56 pm:

    Actually, I took all of your advices to heart. The only exception was frameless cabinets. And I intend to follow through with my designer on all the points you made. (Have a list copied out of your posts). I don’t understand why you would think that my preference implies that I would not listen to anything else.
    Would you please post what you think of Hanssem and if there is a better alternative in frameless?
    I will go with 3/4 inch plywood cabinets if Hanssem makes them and with something else if they don’t..
    Thank you

  295. Judy, January 29, 2017 at 11:08 pm:

    Love the blog. Currently remodeling fl condo. Contractor recommended Aristokraft with a $7500 estimate. We looked at the showroom and like the PureStyle white shaker. From reading it seems you’re not a fan of Aristokraft. What do you recommend at the same price point. Or has your opinion ofAristokraft altered.

  296. pmcalary, January 30, 2017 at 9:01 am:

    Aristocraft used to be 3/8″ sides and backs which is a terrible way to make cabinetry. Not sure if you can upgrade to 1/2″ plywood construction but Fabuwood, CNC, and some other lines are better made and usually less expensive.

  297. Judy, January 30, 2017 at 5:37 pm:

    Thank you so much for getting back to me about the lower grade cabinetry. I looked at the CNC and Matrix lines of cabinet s today. The 1/2 inch vs 3/8 inch sides and backs made a MUCH more solid cabinet. They both looked very good. One more question, so far. Both CNC and Matrix boast painted MDF cabinet fronts vs the PureStyle fronts of Aristokraft. How will painted MDF hold up? Or is the PureStyle a better choice?

  298. DavidR, January 31, 2017 at 5:47 pm:

    Hi Paul, and thank you SO much for this fantastic blog. It has been tremendously informative. We are diong a total kitchen redesign, and our contractor has bounced us from Omega, to Wolf, to Kemper, and now Bishop. HE wants to stay in his budget (which has been a bit of a moving target for us) while we know we have some flexibility. Our biggest concern is that we want stuff that will look good, of course, but will look good for more than years, etc.
    Can you provide a little insight on where these cabinets rank in quality and bang for the buck. I’m not hung up or adverse to a higher price, but I want to make sure we have quality. I’m also trying to make sure we’re not getting pushed into something and sacrificing quality.
    I understand you carry Bishop and it’s been good to see some positive words about it, because it was tough to find a happy review of them elsewhere. I know it’s (too) easy to find the complaints, but not finding very much positive has given us pause.
    We deeply appreciate any input/guidance you can provide regarding where we should be ranking these makes and quality.
    Thank you 🙂

  299. pmcalary, January 31, 2017 at 6:04 pm:

    Hi David,
    Bishop is the best choice among the ones you list but there are many less expensive cabinet lines than Bishop that are still well made and a good buy. We sell Fabuwood, 6 square, and an even less expensive line that’s still OK named CNC. The Wolf line is like CNC but I like CNC better as a company.

    Of course the never ending frustration for us as designers is that we rarely see even competent designs and so the all the worrying about which cabinet line to get is less important than the invisible Elephant in the room – that the kitchen design itself isn’t any good.

  300. DavidR, January 31, 2017 at 7:31 pm:

    Even better than the Omega? I was under the impression that was the “Cadilac” of the group.
    Thank you so very much for you consideration. Your site and the generosity of your experience have been a wonderful find!

  301. Judy johnson, January 31, 2017 at 7:59 pm:

    Paul, Love the blog. Which is a better choice for cabinet and drawe fronts, painted mdf or PureStyle vinyl laminate? Thanks

  302. pmcalary, February 1, 2017 at 8:25 am:

    Hi Judy,
    Both have issues. And I assume the laminate door is coming from Aristocraft which I am not a fan of. If you are hard on things the laminate will not chip and scratch easily. However I think plastic looks cheep, is out of style, and usually delaminates before 20 years. Both these choices sound Builder driven and so from companies that don’t often value durability.

    A wood painted cabinet would be more tasteful than a foil and more durable than an MDF door. However if you are very gentile on things MDF can look great. And as long as the cabinetry the doors are on is well made the doors can be touched up or replaced if damaged.

  303. Jackie, February 6, 2017 at 11:47 am:

    Hi again! So we spent a considerable amount of time with a kitchen designer. The kitchen was designed and a price was quoted with Starmark. We had a previous quote with Dura Supreme. In addition to the Dura Supreme quote being $13,000 higher than the Starmark quote, the Dura Supremem designer provided a design without our input. We are also not going with Dura Supreme due to the bad reviews. Here is the question: while Starmark was considerably lower than the Dura Suprmeme, we are still considering Fabuwood. We have to change a few minor things with the Fabuwood (for instance we have a 33 in pantry in Starmark and Fabuwood only makes a 24 in pantry, also Fabuwood only has 30 in microwave cabinet vs the 27 in Starmark, plus in the Starmark the oven cabinet is custom to our ovens specifications. In Starmark the cabinet doors would be overlay painted maple with an MDF center, and the Fabuwood would be Birch. Both use the same hardware. Our kitchen designer told us that the Fabuwood would be about 40-50 percent cheaper than Starmark. With Starmark there would be a lifetime warranty vs a 5 year with Fabuwood. The price of the Fabuwood is very appealing, but I am torn on the Chinese vs. American. There are differences, but is there enough of a difference to choose Starmark over Fabuwood. Thoughts please?

  304. Christine, February 9, 2017 at 3:47 pm:

    Hi, do you have a basic “checklist” of must have items anyone looking to purchase kitchen cabinets should follow?

  305. pmcalary, February 9, 2017 at 4:36 pm:

    Hi Christine – Not a check list of things you must have. That is always about trade offs for any design. But we do have a check list of what things you need to do and how long things should take. Here are links to both:

  306. Regina, February 21, 2017 at 10:22 pm:

    Any advice on Kemp cabinets or plain and fancy

  307. pmcalary, February 22, 2017 at 9:14 am:

    I don’t know much about Kemp cabinets and their web site is a little rough which tells me that they are a small manufacturer. Plan and Fancy is an expensive high end custom cabinet so upgraded you can’t go wrong with their cabinetry. But they won’t be a bargain.

  308. Craig L, March 1, 2017 at 7:30 pm:

    Has any one heard of
    St Martin

    Any of these a good vale for the money

  309. pmcalary, March 1, 2017 at 7:46 pm:

    Hi Craig,
    We are about to post our 2017 Kitchen cabinet review. I’m emailing you the unedited version.

  310. Craig, March 1, 2017 at 8:20 pm:

    we are looking to spend in the area of 25k the kitchen is 17 feet long with a open floor plan, Island 120 x 48. the left side turns left for 8 ft and the right side extends 12 ft into dining room with cabinetry along the wall 30 inch floor to ceiling 80 inch buffet cabinets under and duplicate cabinets floor to ceiling on left. Large fridge,2 single under counter ovens, separate range, dishwasher, under counter microwave. do not want cheap but are spending a lot on whole first floor renovation, we entertain a lot so we need durability. dealing with 2 contractors and designers to get the best solid ideas together. we are most concerned about the cabinets. first designer has Decor $$$ and St mart 2nd has Schlock and candlelight…..we are leaning towards SCHROCK.
    would love you opinon…..or my wife might kill me if I pick wrong…LOL


    not sure if you ever talk live

  311. Craig, March 1, 2017 at 10:14 pm:

    I see you posted 3 of the 4 My contractors are showing us
    1 contractor has Decora and St Martin
    2nd has Schlock and Candelight
    Going through a major renovation 1st floor
    very open floor plan
    contractor is still up in air based on $$ and cabinets
    Most of the choices are easy but the cabinets
    entertain a lot, durability, good quality with out breaking bank around 25k is in budget
    left side of kitchen 8ft run starting with fridge
    from left to right counter then runs 17 ft starting with dish then sink counter range counter pantry-this is break point from kitchen to Dining room

    conter continues 111/2 ft
    base cabinets 24 with 2 draws and cabinets to ceiling 18 in
    80 in buffet style counter in front of window 18 in deep
    then duplicate cabinets and draws/cabinets above

    Island in front of kitchen counter 42 inchs from counter and 48 from leftist counter
    120 x48

    other appliances 2 under counter ovens, under counter microwave, dish, and separate range

    so with that all being said we really are at a crossroads with cabinets……As you can see we have picked most everything out but cabinets
    looking at white kitchen with Island brown and buffet area brown as well

    OR do you have another cabinet in mind….We are kind of leaning towards St Martin but reading on internet lots of issues 2-3 years ago with finishes of paint splitting or cracking

    HELP Craig and Bridget

  312. Craig, March 1, 2017 at 10:21 pm:

    sorry for duplicate didn’t think the 1st comment posted

  313. Jeff, March 2, 2017 at 3:20 pm:

    Thanks for the blog. Been reading through it as we’re doing a kitchen remodel. New kitchen will be an L shape 12×24′ with 4×8′ island. Off white painted maple shaker doors. Our contractor’s cabinet guy is quoting Brookhaven framed or frameless for around $30k. He’s pushing frameless but I’m leaning toward framed. Our friend’s cabinet guy is quoting framed Medallion-Gold for around $25k. Same designs. Both lines upgraded to all plywood. We have 3 small kids, so I am most concerned with durability, especially considering we’re doing painted. In the showroom both brands seemed fine, and their build quality seems about the same on paper. Brookhaven seems to be a bit higher regarded in general when reading online. Would like to save $5k, but it’s close enough that I would rather get the cab that will hold up the best in the long term. Not sure which way to go…..any help you could offer would be much appreciated.
    Thanks in advance.

  314. pmcalary, March 2, 2017 at 3:33 pm:

    Hi Jeff,
    Either cabinet choice is fine. I would do framed cabinetry if you are looking for durability. My concern would be your design. A 4′ x 8′ Island will not fit in your kitchen with any good design that I can conceive off. If you want to send us the plan I’d be happy to critique it. But my opinion of the design might be disappointing to you. Often designers give customers what they want at the expense of good and sometimes even safe design. The problem we see most often is jamming too much cabinetry into a space in a way that makes it less attractive and dysfunctional.
    Here if you need us,

  315. Jeff, March 2, 2017 at 6:46 pm:

    Hi Paul-
    Thanks for the reply. Part of that long run of cabinet/counter serves as a hutch type thing for the table as well as a window seat. Maybe that is what is throwing you off. I’ll bring in the design and scan/send it over for your opinion. It seems to work on paper, but maybe there are some issues you could help identify. Thanks again.

  316. Bridget, March 5, 2017 at 8:43 pm:

    Do you know anything about St Martin Cabinets based out of Cressona, Pa.

  317. pmcalary, March 6, 2017 at 9:06 am:

    Hi Amy,
    Yes we give them good reviews in our 2017 cabinet rankings. Link below:

  318. Robin, March 14, 2017 at 8:37 pm:

    Hi Paul,
    I am remodeling my kitchen and I am trying to decide if I should go with Kraftmaid or Starmark cabinety, both being all plywood. I do like the color and finish on the Starmark cabinets. Mostly I want to make the right choice on the best quality cabinetry.
    Thanks in advance,

  319. Donald, March 15, 2017 at 12:03 am:

    Hi Paul – thanks for this great blog and information. We are out in CA and our local dealer is recommending Columbia or Dynasty vs Decora. We don’t a huge need for custom cabinetry except for color (shaker style dark navy & white. Looking for a good solid cabinet without breaking the bank with a non standard color. Decora is $4k more than the Columbia frameless. Any recommendations for us?

  320. pmcalary, March 15, 2017 at 8:27 am:

    Hi Donald,
    For a shaker door style I would always recommend using a well made framed cabinet. Columbia does all the things that make me suspicious about a cabinet line. Namely talk about how green, and carb compliant, and wonderful their cabinetry is but not tell you how it is made on their web site. Touting yourself to be green is a lie when your cabinets are less durable because no matter how much wood you recycled in the production of your cabinetry if it needs to be replaced sooner because it is falling apart the material savings were valueless. I’d get the Decora upgraded to plywood.

    The cabinets are the foundation of your kitchen and everything you do and spend is wasted with a poor foundation. Of course as I have said before the designs we see are usually quite bad so most people’s cabinetry concerns are outweighed by there design issues.

  321. pmcalary, March 15, 2017 at 8:31 am:

    Hi Robin,
    If you upgrade Starmark it is almost as well made as Kraftmaid and Starmark does have nicer finishes. I would get the finish I like best since the construction differences are minimal and the finish difference is more important.
    Best of luck. You really can’t go wrong with either.

  322. Robin, March 15, 2017 at 8:50 am:

    Hi Paul,
    Thank you for your advice. I will go with the Starmark cabinets. Can you tell me what specificely I should be asking to be upgraded in the Starmark cabinets.

  323. Debbie, March 18, 2017 at 6:10 pm:

    Hi Paul,
    I want curved cabinet doors, both convex and concave, and have found them only in the Durasupreme line in the St. Louis area. After reading your remarks and other reviews I am skeptical about using the brand. I would prefer metal curved cabinets but they no longer seem to be made. Do you have any suggestions for a different line that carries curved doors besides high-end european lines?

  324. pmcalary, March 19, 2017 at 12:32 pm:

    Hi Debbie,
    Having been Durasupreme dealers for a short period of time we found the company “creepy”, if you can use that word to describe a manufacturer.

    Most custom cabinet lines will make convex and concave doors. These doors usually add between $500 and $1500 to the cost of any cabinet for each door depending on the style of the door. The more detailed or unusual the style door the more expensive. Even some mid to high end semi custom cabinet lines sell convex doors. I once had a mid priced cabinet rep offer me a free diner at an expensive restaurant for any order I sold with a convex door in it.

    Stainless Steel or metal cabinets are still made by companies like this one:
    Most of these companies specialize outdoor kitchens and they will be expensive but durable.

  325. Debbie, March 20, 2017 at 8:37 am:

    Thank you, Paul

  326. MaggieM, April 4, 2017 at 12:20 am:

    Hi Paul,

    I just want to say, your comment section here has helped me so much during my cabinet search! Thank you! We have narrowed it down to 3 manufacturers, we are going with inset cabinets and got quotes from Shiloh, Fieldstone and Mouser. All plywood. Which would be your pick? They are all relatively similar in price, but Fieldstone came out the lowest, is it true they are the same as Starmark? Same quality? I have been seeing the Starmark is very well reviewed. Thank you so much in advance!

  327. pmcalary, April 4, 2017 at 8:05 am:

    Hi Maggie,
    All three lines are rated on our 2017 cabinet brand review. Link below:

    Mouser over Fieldstone. Yes Fieldstone and Starmark are made by the same people with the same construction details. Shiloh construction and pricing does not impress us.

  328. MaggieM, April 4, 2017 at 10:59 am:

    Thank you Paul, sorry one more question. For an inset cabinet which wood do you think would be best, Alder or Cherry? We’d like to avoid the maximum amount of warping, although we are aware there will be some over time.

  329. pmcalary, April 4, 2017 at 11:19 am:

    Alder is more likely to warp than cherry. But all the cabinetry will be warrantied and warping always happens in the first year. After that you are pretty much safe unless you install central air or change the conditions in your home dramatically.

  330. Peter McCann, April 5, 2017 at 11:35 am:

    Your website has been incredibly helpful to me so far. Do you have any opinions on either BJ Tidwell cabinets or Kemper cabinets?

  331. pmcalary, April 5, 2017 at 11:51 am:

    Hi Peter,
    Here is our 2017 cabinet brand review:

    You’ll notice that we don’t love Kemper. BJ Tidwell has no information on their site on how they are made other than their claims of excellence and no specifics. 9 out of ten times this means that if we knew the answers we wouldn’t be impressed. There are better choices out there. These line are the types recommended by builders who don’t in general know anything about cabinetry.

  332. Mark, May 1, 2017 at 9:42 am:

    Any thoughts on Conestoga RTA cabinets? I don’t see them on your review page, unless they’re under another name. Thanks for the very informative web site.

  333. Paula Beatty, May 2, 2017 at 7:53 pm:

    Have you heard of Merillat Cabinets? Considering them for our kitchen. Price comparison cam in considerably less than other cabinet ps we have priced.

  334. pmcalary, May 3, 2017 at 6:21 am:

    Hi Paula,
    We give them pretty bad reviews in our 2017 cabinet review.
    Here’s the link:

  335. Randy, May 4, 2017 at 10:41 am:

    Hello Paul,
    Very generous of you to provide this valuable advice. Our house has some non-standard features requiring 19″ deep base and 14″ deep wall cabs (or we knock out walls and closets). Going with painted shaker style. You’ve convinced me on 1/2″ plywood and Blumotion drawers and probably MDF door panels for durability and better ability to handle weather extremes (we live in WI). No kids in the house and our kitchen is used lightly. In light of our basic door design, paint finish, and the need for custom depths are there any brands that stand out to you? Have shopped Medallion, Schrock, and am looking at Kraftmade and Shenendoah today.
    Again, thanks for your willingness to share.

  336. pmcalary, May 4, 2017 at 1:46 pm:

    Hi Randy,
    Based on your email I think you really need to be think through what you are planing on with a good kitchen designer. While almost all semi custom cabinet lines will make wall cabinets 14″ and base cabinet 19″ using these unconventional depths will create challenges and costs that would almost certainly leave you with a less functional and more expensive kitchen than you would get doing extra construction work and using standard depth cabinets. This is where most less experienced designers error. Knowing how much more you are spending to create custom sizes and the problems that creates, such as having wall cabinets in your face when you are trying to work at your countertops, versus how much moving a wall would cost is what good kitchen designers help you weigh. When you have unusual spaces you need very experienced designers.

  337. pmcalary, May 9, 2017 at 8:51 am:

    Sorry Mark we missed this one. Conestoga doesn’t say how the backs of their cabinets are constructed and is not detailed with other construction features on line so we don’t know.

  338. Mark, May 16, 2017 at 9:41 am:


    Thanks for the response. Conestoga RTA specs can be found here: More info here:

  339. pmcalary, May 22, 2017 at 7:29 am:

    Hi Mark,
    Sorry it took me a while to look at the specs. The Plywood Conestoga box is well constructed. I’d make sure I upgraded to soft close doors and drawers.

  340. Cindy, May 29, 2017 at 11:34 am:

    Thank you for running a very informative forum. Four companies have come out to measure and give us a design. The designs are all very similar so I feel that we probably have settled on a design that uses the space in the best possible way.

    One of the companies is a small custom shop that builds a very good cabinet (based on the criteria you list on your website)for a very reasonable price. He buys his doors from Conestoga and sends them to another fabricator that specializes in the finish coats. He uses Grass glides and Blum hinges. Are these quality doors,glides and hinges?

    The second is Kraftmaid from Lowe’s. The third is Waypoint from a local kitchen center. The fourth is Dura Supreme.

    I plan on going with a medium color stain (as our kitchen is not very bright) and light colored granite countertops.

    A couple questions:
    I love the grain in cherry and prefer it over maple but am concerned that I could end up with drastic color differences within each door (very blonde streak next to a darker piece as it ages.) Kraftmaid and Waypoint dealers say they have no control over this. Dura Supreme says they only use premium wood, not sapwood so this won’t happen and if it does they will replace the door. The guy who uses Conestoga says he hasn’t had any problems with that and would replace a door if it happens. Can you offer any insight here?

    I also have an “unusual” space where I really want to have a 21″ wide corner base cabinet clipped at a 45 degree angle. Dura Supreme and the custom guy can do this. Kraftmaid and Waypoint just insert a 9″ tray cabinet and a 12″ corner angle cabinet (much less desirable) in order for me to get that angled corner. The Kraftmaid gal at Lowe’s seems inexperienced and I was wondering if it is possible to get a semi-custom cabinet from them?

    I know you like Kraftmaid and don’t care for Dura Supreme but can you comment on/compare the quality of the door finishes of the 4 companies? The cabinets will be framed, full overlay.

    Thank you.

  341. pmcalary, May 29, 2017 at 1:04 pm:

    Hi Cindy,
    DuraSupreme has nice door finishes but we have found them dishonest and they have lied both to us and our customers as well as not replaced cabinetry their own representatives found defective. You will be buying a kitchen from them at your own peril. Waypoint isn’t in the same ball park as the other lines you are considering. The corner base you want clipped sounds odd. Often unusual solutions to space considerations are short short sighted and changing the space itself or simpler solutions look and function better. Not knowing your custom company and the exact hardware I can’t really make an informed evaluation of their product.

  342. Cindy, May 31, 2017 at 8:32 am:

    Thanks for your input. Can you comment on the quality of Conestoga maple doors? Also is pre-cat lacquer a good finish or should I stick with companies that use conversion varnish?

  343. pmcalary, May 31, 2017 at 8:42 am:

    Connestoga makes great doors and is one of the two suppliers to most major American made cabinet companies. All those companies will use a conversion varnish as far as I know. I sense from your question that you are considering having your cabinets made by a small custom shop. Here is one of our blogs on that type of cabinetry:

  344. Cindy, June 2, 2017 at 11:39 am:

    I was wondering if you know anything about Tru Cabinets. I am in Baltimore and working with Kenwood Kitchens.

  345. pmcalary, June 2, 2017 at 11:50 am:

    No I know nothing about them and they give no information on construction on their web site. Due to the different species of woods that they carry on simpler door styles they are probably all US made. The doors look nice but inexpensive all US made can also mean poor construction. Especially when you are keeping your construction a secret. Bragging that they comply with the KCMA’s very low standards is not encouraging. No cabinet line offered in the US isn’t so bragging about that is misleading at best and “alternative facts” at worst.

  346. Jennifer, June 2, 2017 at 4:09 pm:

    We recently got a quote for merillat classic line and schrock cabinetry…wondering if these two lines are comparable. Also what other manufacturers would be comparable.

  347. pmcalary, June 2, 2017 at 4:18 pm:

    These are not lines we think are great values or particularly well made. Schrock upgraded is the better of the two. See our 2017 review. Link below:

  348. Heather, June 4, 2017 at 9:30 am:

    Can you please list your top criteria for choosing a cabinet dealer? After reading through all of the information you’ve shared here, it’s clear that choosing a great dealer is right up there with choosing a great kitchen designer. But what should I be looking for?

  349. pmcalary, June 4, 2017 at 12:06 pm:

    Hi Heather,
    Great question. Here is what I would look for in a Dealer:

    1) A documented great reputation. Google the dealer and check their reviews on Google,, The Better Business Bureau and other sites. Established companies will have reviews and even reading the bad reviews will give you insights. Bad reviews mean the reviews you are reading are real and if the complaints are petty or sort of nutty you can dismiss them and rely on the better reviews as a good indicator.
    2) Good dealers will represent several cabinet lines with different price points and different styles. Selling only one or two lines means you can’t have your customer’s best interest at heart. Not everyone wants or needs the same cabinetry.
    3) Knowledgeable designers. Good companies won’t have apprentice designers helping customers. Competent kitchen designers should have at least a decade of experience in the industry.
    4) Does the company insist on measuring your kitchen? Good companies will insist on measuring an existing home and poor ones will take any measurements they are given just to expedite a sale at the customers expense.
    5) BIG sales. Big sales with expiration dates are not a good idea. Reputable kitchen dealers shouldn’t be pressuring customers to buy cabinetry before the project is completely thought out. This is how mistakes happen and how customers might not even understand exactly what they are buying. Sales from manufacturers are OK. For example a cabinet company might offer a free glaze or a free upgrade. I still don’t like the concept but the dealer is not responsible for a cabinet company’s sale. However if the dealer is having a sale that means they are over charging to begin with.
    6) Does the company you are considering respond to your phone calls and emails promptly? We all get busy but a dealer should be able to respond in one or at most two business days to any inquiry. Even if it is to say that they are busy and won’t be able to answer your question or look into your issue for a few more days.
    7)The Vibe. I am a firm believer in trusting your instincts especially if you are skeptical by nature. Don’t embark on the most expensive home renovation you are likely to undergo in your lifetime if you don’t have a very good feeling about the people you are working with.

  350. Lynn, June 4, 2017 at 1:48 pm:

    Hi. I’ve been looking at cabinet makes as my new house builder emails me suggestions, one of those was Conestoga. Would the 1-year warranty concern you if cabinets were purchased in the premium line with all the upgrades? Thanks

  351. pmcalary, June 4, 2017 at 2:02 pm:

    Conestoga is known for the doors they make and I know very little about their RTA cabinetry. RTA cabinetry can be well made but it should be assembled by the manufacturer which I don’t believe Conestoga does. I don’t like RTA cabinetry that is built on site. This means that someone with very little experience assembling cabinetry will be building your cabinets. The warranty is not the problem.

  352. Jessie, June 9, 2017 at 11:10 pm:

    Hi Paul,

    Do you know if J&K Cabinets and ProCraft Cabinets are good cabinets?


  353. pmcalary, June 11, 2017 at 9:19 pm:

    Not a fan of RTA cabinetry unless it is assembled in the factory and has detailed specs. Nor Frameless lines unlessthe style demands it.

  354. Jo Ann, June 23, 2017 at 8:33 pm:

    Hi, I have looked as Wolf, Waypoint and like the prices and options with the full upgrades. I gave also looked at the tried and true Kraftmaid. Is there something in the middle . the rankings you provide are helpful but I just can’t pull the trigger on the purchase just yet.

    Plus is it true that while a cabinet company offers a limited lifetime warranty, some states have laws that limit the lenght if the warranty??

  355. pmcalary, June 23, 2017 at 11:33 pm:

    Hi Jo Ann,
    Warranty length is most often meaningless. Even though we give all the cabinetry we sell a limited lifetime warranty it is a marketing decision and we find no correlation between quality and warranty span in the cabinetry we sell.

    There is not much construction or finish durability difference between the less expensive cabinet lines you are considering and Kraftmaid or even custom cabinet lines. However, there is a large difference in the ability to customize and the richness in the stained and glazed finishes.

    Surprisingly most customers not only can’t tell the difference between finishes, they often prefer less expensive finishes. And sadly most consumers don’t understand the value of good design. They just want to buy the cabinetry they, their contractor, or another less skilled person designed.

    So for most people once the cabinet line is better constructed the advantages of a higher priced cabinet line is wasted. However in the skilled hands of a great kitchen designer the higher priced cabinetry can be breathtaking.

    All good kitchen designers are frustrated when customers spend money on expensive professional appliances and expensive cabinetry and yet the kitchen design they or their architect insists on is amateurish. Thankfully I can now pass these projects on to the other designers in our company. Usually everyone is then happy since the other designers are easier going and the sale is often greater as well as less time consuming.

  356. Kenny, June 26, 2017 at 12:33 pm:

    We have a “moderate” budget ($10,000+) and are considering Wolf..both Classic and upgrade to Signature, as well as Waypoint and 6 Square. Which do you think has better “finish” and overall better quality? Or, are we better off spending a little more (15%??) and going to Kraftmaid??

    Also..was not aware that the chinese import that you carry-Fabuwood- is CARB compliant. Are you sure that their materials (including the plywood), meet all Calif environmental guidelines?? Thanks

  357. pmcalary, June 26, 2017 at 12:47 pm:

    Upgraded to all plywood construction or at least plywood sides Kraftmaid should be 40% more than Wolf or Waypoint and 20 to 30% more than 6 Square. Finishes will be similar durability wise – it’s all about the looks and you need to be the judge. Most customers can’t tell the difference.The Fabuwood and 6 Square line we carry are both Carb compliant. By the way the 6 Square parts are also coming from China as are Wolf and Waypoint. You can no longer get a quality cabinet inexpensively unless that’s the case.

  358. Jeanne, June 27, 2017 at 11:56 am:

    Wow your answers are a trove of information, thanks! We are redoing 20 year old kitchen. Passed through Home Depot and picked up the magazines for KraftMaid, Thomasville, Martha Stewart, and American Woodmark. On first glance, I liked the looks of Thomasville and MS, also partly because they offered toe kick drawers, which I hadn’t seen before and I love the idea.
    I see from reading your comments that Kraftmaid is better quality. is there something inherently bad about using the toe kick space for a drawer? Kraftmaid doesn’t seem to offer that as an option.
    Also I am thinking I want a navy or slate blue island, and only Thomasville shows that as a color option.
    I am very new to this arena, your comments are very educational. Where do I go to find a good kitchen designer? I’m in the Salt Lake area btw.
    Thanks in advance.

  359. Jeanne, June 27, 2017 at 12:45 pm:

    One more question: I am just learning the difference b/t frameless and framed. I looked and realized that my 20-year old maple cabinets are frameless. They’ve held up quite well, I have to say (in one place the laminate strip was coming loose) 1/2″ particle board boxes and 1/4″ MDF backs, no plywood that I can see. The door fronts are solid wood. But no dovetail joints. (Nor soft-closes–I am glad that seems to be standard these days.)
    After reading your site, it appears these would be less-desirable cabinets, yet they have stood up for a long time, and , but for being outdated, still look no worse for the wear overall (though yellowed with time and light). We are redoing the kitchen due to damage from a dishwasher leak. I am glad of a style update to be sure, but the cabinets themselves are in good condition generally.
    So I guess I have to ask, what is so bad about frameless construction and the other aspects I mentioned above? I see that the frame serves to strengthen the whole, but then access is limited too, right? I see where “frameless” is also called “full access”.
    Considering the longevity of these old cabinets…is it just that they don’t make cheap frameless cabinets like they used to? LOL 🙂

  360. pmcalary, June 27, 2017 at 3:35 pm:

    Many people would want cabinetry to last more than 20 years and yours are peeling, yellowed, and I’m sure sagging in many places. Some people are harder on things than others too and it doesn’t take much to pull the hinges out of the side of a frameless cabinet and if you do there is really no good way to repair it.

  361. pmcalary, June 27, 2017 at 3:38 pm:

    Thomasville is rebranded by Home Depot and a poor value. Toe kick drawers are a bad idea for many reasons. If we were working with you we could explain but these explanations can be lengthy.

  362. Jeanne, June 28, 2017 at 12:20 am:

    thanks for your reply.
    For the record: there is no sagging, any light-wood finish will yellow over 20 years, and “peeling” is an exaggeration–one 6-inch strip of laminate is loose, but I’v just been too lazy to apply a little glue. And the hinges have not been a problem. So I’m still as confused as ever as to why this type of cabinet is so undesirable. Like I said, the remodel is not at all due to cabinets wearing out–the dishwasher leaked and damaged things.
    Oh well, thanks anyway.

  363. pmcalary, June 28, 2017 at 6:33 am:

    The sides of the cabinets are not wood when they are made of particleboard they are plastic pictures embossed on wood that fade and look terrible after a short time. But as I said different people have different levels of both how hard they are on cabinets and how picky they are on quality. If you were happy get them again. We wouldn’t be nor would most of our customers.

  364. Tracy, August 7, 2017 at 11:15 am:

    Thank you for the incredible information provided on your blog. I have received quotes for kith cabinets and wolf cabinets. Have seen your reviews on both. I am now with a designer who is suggesting cafe series by NAC or Countryside Cabinetry. NAC looks to be frameless. Do you have any information on either of these brands? Thank you!

  365. pmcalary, August 7, 2017 at 6:21 pm:

    No I don’t know those brands and I would recommend framed cabinetry other than for very modern door styles. The wolf is inexpensive with good construction at least at the top of their line. I don’t know their line in too much detail.

  366. Dee, August 8, 2017 at 11:49 am:

    Thanks so much for all the information and for answering our questions. Deciding on kitchen cabinets feels very overwhelming. I’m wondering if your opinion on Waypoint has changed over the years? It seems in some comments you think they’re junk and some seem okay. Moreso, you seem to be fine with Shenandoah and American Woodmark when they’re upgraded, and I’ve heard that Waypoint is the dealer equivalent of those lines. I got a really good quote from Waypoint, and a similar quote for Diamond at Lowes was $5,000 more. I’m getting white shaker and Waypoint can satisfy my customizations. I’m concerned about the finish on it because I’ve heard there are issues with their finish. I just don’t know if I should be that concerned with it. My dealer says for white shaker with little customization there is no need to go to a more expensive cabinet. Waypoint has plywood sides but I could upgrade to all plywood (dealer doesn’t think this is necessary). They also have Grass undermount glides instead of Blumotion. Any thoughts on the Grass glides and whether it’s worth it to go with Diamond vs Waypoint. Thank you!

  367. pmcalary, August 8, 2017 at 12:04 pm:

    Waypoint has gotten better over time and the durability of the finish shouldn’t be an issue although the look of the finish could be a little sloppier. Plywood sides are OK and the Grass glides are OK but APC and Blum are better. Since we don’t carry them it’s hard for us to really know. If the dealer thinks it’s OK and they have a good reputation I’d listen to them.

  368. Dee, August 8, 2017 at 12:16 pm:

    Thank you for your quick response! And as far as finishes go, I appreciate your comments that a lot of consumers barely notice the difference in finishes. I read someplace on your website that we can find soemone to refinish cabinetry in the future if the finishes really needed updating. I feel like you gave a specific company name but I can’t remember it. Also, my quote was for all MDF doors (I realized this later) instead of wood doors. Is it possible to refinish MDF doors? And would the paint look different on the MDF portion vs. the wood portion over time since it’s white? Just trying to decide whether I should upgrade to wood doors, which I’d be happy to do. Thanks again.

  369. Dee, August 30, 2017 at 11:41 pm:

    We are looking at either Bertch or Great Northern cabinets. Have read some negative comments on the Bertch and am concerned although there are some positive comments too. Can you tell me anything I should be aware of with either of these brands or any of the positive features? Our new cabinets will be painted and wonder if there is anything to be aware of with this too. Thank you.

  370. pmcalary, August 31, 2017 at 8:50 am:

    Paint is less durable then stain. Here is our ratings for the most popular cabinet lines.

    I would disregard customer reviews of cabinets on line as most customers complaints are over cabinet properties they should have expected but were poorly informed. Such as all paints will chip and be damaged more easily by water especially farm sink cabinets.

  371. Dee, September 1, 2017 at 3:02 pm:

    Thank you for your response to my questions. If we go with painted cabinets, will putting on a tough sealant coat over the painted cabinets while new, help to protect the paint from chipping or will it change your paint color? Meaning putting a sealant over the finish they already put on over the paint. Thank you.

  372. paul mcalary, September 1, 2017 at 4:09 pm:

    Never alter your cabinets you will void the warranty from the manufacturer and experimenting with finishes should be left to serious professionals

  373. Liz, September 6, 2017 at 7:16 am:

    Hi! As others have said thank you for keeping this blog going and for continuing to answer questions. I’ve reference your site many times while researching cabinets and have ruled out some designers because I didn’t think the cabinet lines the offer will last us 20+ years in a heavily used kitchen. We are looking to improve our current layout and have met with several designers and are down to 3. One is recommending Kraftmaid Vantage, another Honey Brook Custom cabinets, and the 3rd Brookhaven. I am concerned about Kraftmaid’s 3/16″ for the bottom of the drawers. In the past, it’s been the drawers that have not held up for us. My neighbor has Brighton and I can definitely see a difference between their shaker style door and Kraftmaid’s door. The Brighton shaker seems much more substantial. The price for the cabinets – Kraftmaid vantage vs Honey Brook, are pretty close in price. We have not gotten a formal quote for Brookhaven yet. Any advice or insight into these cabinets and how they stack up against one another (Kraftmaid Vantage, Honey Brook, Brookhaven, and Brighton)? Also, do you recommend a door with a vaneer center panel on a recessed style door? We plan on having a mix of white cabinets and stained cabinets.


  374. pmcalary, September 6, 2017 at 8:29 am:

    I don’t know Honeybrook well. The other three are great choices. We carry Brighton because their finishes are so furniture like and because they do inset, beaded inset, and color matching so reasonably. If you are considering a custom painted finish or are getting inset cabinetry then the Brighten pricing will be tough to beat. If you are getting a full overlay door style then I go with the color and style I like best. That assumes the designers are all equal. In reality the designer is more important than any cabinet choice among these lines.

  375. monica richtsmsier, September 18, 2017 at 3:42 pm:

    Love your blog. have just moved into a home with Laminate cabinets – YIKES. Am looking for painted cabinets. Have you any experience with Forevermark? Or deerfield line? I am also looking at Diamond from Lowes. Am on a super tight budget.
    Thanks in advance for your advice…

  376. pmcalary, September 19, 2017 at 7:43 am:

    Foevermark is a very inexpensive line but there are way better inexpensive line. See our reviews of cabinetry here:

  377. Camille, September 29, 2017 at 9:33 am:

    First you are an amazing resource Paul, thank you. I’m considering a few brands in my champagne taste beer budget renovation, J&K, Waypoint, maybe Forevermark and now All Wood Cabinets through Costco since they have a 25% discount. All wood had an MDF center with a birch frame door 3/4″ thick solid MDF 3″ wide Shaker frame wall and base doors with 5/8″ thick solid MDF recessed center panels, Soft close doors and Fully concealed hinges. Is MDF inferior in this door construction? Should I eliminate Costco’s All Wood? I plan on hiring a kitchen designer, but would like to be economical with quality carb compliment cabinet choices. Can you compare the choices please. Thanks in Advance.

  378. pmcalary, September 29, 2017 at 9:51 am:

    Hi Camille,
    MDF on a recessed panel is actually a good thing on a painted cabinet. I don’t know the Costco line though and all discounts in the cabinet world are phony. No one sells cabinetry for list price. For example some of our lines we sell for 52% off or 48% of list.

  379. Denise, October 28, 2017 at 1:07 am:

    Great blog! You made comments early on that you do not recommend ordering cabinets online and I appreciate that advice. Having said that, using your guidelines for a well made cabinet, I wonder if you might comment again on those sold by Cliquestudios. I am also curious about Deerfield cabinets from Cliquestudios cabinets have 1/2″ plywood sides and 3/8″ backs. They do not use a hang rail system. Deerfield cabinets have 1/2″ plywood sides, 1/4″ birch backs and 1/2″ plywood hanging rails. I thought Deerfield was owned by Kith which you did not like in the past. Both claim to be American made although I’ve also read comments that they may be made in Asia. Would you know if the manufacturing has changed over the years and would either meet your qualifications for a well made cabinet? Is it better to have the hang rail?

  380. pmcalary, October 28, 2017 at 10:31 am:

    If you must order cabinets on line assuring that no designer measures and that the designers are inexperienced, order from Clique Studios. They give you the best chance of avoiding the most serious mistakes.

  381. DENISE, November 3, 2017 at 12:01 am:


    I found your comment a bit humorous although probably not intended as such. Your point is well taken. You’re the expert here and I can appreciate that this is not something you would ever recommend.

  382. Paul McAlary, November 3, 2017 at 6:45 am:

    Unfortunately we find it funny too when we get sent designs customers intend buying online. The designs have never been anything but terrible and they nearly always have serious mistakes in them. Examples we see over and over again are using 42″ high wall cabinets in a room 8 feet tall, not leaving enough space for the kitchen table, and all the mistakes you can find on our blog below:

    The mistakes above aren’t funny because they are so dangerous. Many people treat buying a kitchen like buying a toaster. They research forever about cabinets like they do with their appliances but overlook the complexity of the project and the need for a good kitchen designer, The video below is truly funny and makes this point:

  383. renee hernandez, November 3, 2017 at 1:13 pm:

    After house flooded during Harvey, i’m looking at American Woodmark Leesburg with Painted Linen. The specs show 1/2 structural Hanging rail with a 1/8 hardboard substrate captured back. Want to make sure this is ok per your suggestions and also is this a framed cabinet as I am totally brain dead after fighting with FEMA. Are these good cabinets? thank you for your time.

  384. pmcalary, November 3, 2017 at 1:56 pm:

    Hi Renee,
    We like Woodmark upgraded to all plywood construction. They meet our construction requirements and are an inexpensive US made line. Some Asian produced lines will be better values at the low end of the cabinet market but there is also some safety in buying a kitchen from Home Depot. Even if the designer is less experienced the company will pay to correct the mistakes. Sorry about the flood!

  385. Kim, November 15, 2017 at 7:59 pm:

    First thank you so much for all this information
    We are stumped between kraftmaid and schrock. Which one in your opinion is better

  386. pmcalary, November 15, 2017 at 8:20 pm:

    Upgraded they are both fine. Kraftmaid Advantage is a good buy. I’d pick the color and doorstyle you like best between the two lines or most importantly the designer that you think is better.

  387. Lance King, November 26, 2017 at 9:59 am:

    Wow! What a wealth of knowledge you have. We are redoing our kitchen and have narrowed it down to Kemper versus Kraft maid. The dealer selling Kemper is helpful, knowledgeable and inspires confidence. Kraftmaid at Home Depot and Lowe’s does not. So we are thinking the Kemper Kingston line in whiskey black. But we are still debating cherry versus alder wood. Thoughts?

  388. pmcalary, November 26, 2017 at 6:32 pm:

    Here is our 2017 ranking for cabinet lines:

    We rate Kemper far lower as a line than Kraftmaid. However the designer is as important as the cabinet line. How about finding an independent dealer that carries a line that we rate higher than Kemper? Kemper could have improved their cabinet construction of late but we wouldn’t know because like many of Masterbrands lines their web site doesn’t tell you how the cabinets are made. This lack of transparency is one reason we are extra skeptical of Masterbrand lines. Decora is certainly the best line Masterbrands makes. Possibly your Kemper dealer also sells Decora?

  389. Michael Mastrocola, November 29, 2017 at 1:27 pm:

    I am deciding on kitchen cabinets for 6 rental properties between Cliq Studios and JSI Cabinetry. In your opinion which company has a better product. JSI was $6000 less.

  390. pmcalary, November 29, 2017 at 3:22 pm:

    You will have to put the JSI together and they are not anywhere near as nice,

  391. Michael, November 29, 2017 at 9:23 pm:

    What do you mean put the JSI together? They are not delivered assembled?

  392. Paul McAlary, November 30, 2017 at 7:29 am:

    They are a “ready to assemble cabinet line” As far as I know everything is shipped flat packed unless they now also assemble them.

  393. Mary Lynn Crandall, December 24, 2017 at 6:33 pm:

    We are at the very beginning stages of a renovation project for our bathrooms that involves new cabinets. I thought I had chosen the right person to help us, but after reading your blog, I’m concerned that the line she mentioned to me for cabinets is Bellmont, which only make frameless cabinets. I’m beginning to feel like I need to take cabinet making 101 to make the best informed choice for our cabinets! It’s very complicated! Could you look at the construction page on their website and tell me what you think?

    I’m not sure what it means when they say the boxes are made of melamine, with a real wood veneer over the exposed parts. We do live on the coast, and she said melamine boxes are better than wood because of the moisture here. What is your opinion of that?

    Thanks for your help.

  394. pmcalary, December 25, 2017 at 9:36 am:

    For a bathroom that takes much less stress than a kitchen a frameless particle board cabinet is probably fine.

    But you are buying overpriced IKEA cabinets. Any frameless cabinet is certainly not as durable as a well made framed cabinet. And on the coast makes no difference. A bathroom gets a lot of moisture in every home.

    Wood is always better than particleboard in any setting. Unfortunately in the cabinet and countertop world the companies that tout how green they are are usually selling overpriced junk by trying to appeal to uninformed single issue buyers.

  395. Jane, December 31, 2017 at 1:56 pm:

    Hi Paul – I’ve spent hours reading through your blog and all the helpful questions/answers. You’re providing an amazing service to those of us who are looking for professional, unbiased information. Thank you!

    We are redoing our kitchen and my question relates to setting a cabinet budget. We want to put an appropriate amount of money into our kitchen based on home value. Is there a percentage or calculation you recommend for setting a kitchen budget relating to home value? Or are there certain cabinet lines you’d recommend for certain home values like $250k, $500k, $1m, $1.5m?

    We’re currently considering Plain and Fancy, but the showroom also has Candlelight which I was told is 12-15% less. However, our kitchen requires some custom work that P&F designed for me in less than a week. I’m quite impressed so far, but want to make sure it is an appropriate investment for our house value. Many thanks and happy new year!

  396. pmcalary, January 1, 2018 at 6:40 am:

    Hi Jane,
    This is a great question and one that comes up all the time. The answer is more complicated then a simplistic percentage formula could ever express. What is a good investment on a kitchen and an appropriate amount to spend on it actually has less to do with how much you are spending and more to do with what you are spending it on. Well made cabinetry doesn’t need to be expensive, solid surface countertops like granite can cost only a little more than Formica, and expensive appliances while very nice will seldom determine whether a home sells or not. However the layout of the first floor and the kitchen of a home and how attractive and functional it is can completely determine whether the home sells in a day or languishes on the market for years. Changing the layout and floor plan of a home to make the kitchen look and work better is almost always a good investment. So spending money on moving or removing walls, doorways, windows, plumbing, and other mechanicals is usually money well spent if it makes the space a better place to live.

    Buying very expensive cabinetry like Plain and Fancy or as splurging on 50K in professional appliances and level 10 countertops will never be a good investment even in a 5 million dollar home unless FIRST the best layout for the space has been created and then that the expensive selections that you are splurging on can be appreciated buy the next owner.

    For example, on the most popular cabinet finish and style (painted white shaker full overlay cabinets) customers can’t tell the difference between the most expensive cabinets we carry and the least. So spending double or triple the money on that particular finish and style is almost certainly money that will not be appreciated by the next homeowner because the difference in quality is almost undetectable. However inset cabinetry and stained finishes look incredibly better the more expensive the cabinet line is. Plain and Fancy for example has beautiful furniture stains and beaded inset cabinetry will never look quite right unless the cabinet line is a custom line.

    Great kitchen designers understand this and help customers spend their money on the things that matter more. Unfortunately there are very few good, practical, and knowledgeable kitchen designers because understanding what is the better layout and investment for a particular space takes talent, creativity, and many years of experience in our business.

    So my best advice is not to shop for the cabinets but to shop for your kitchen designer. If you pick a great designer and listen to them they will help you pick the layouts, styles, and materials that are better investments and which should make your home sell for far more than the money you invested in your renovation.

  397. Jane, January 1, 2018 at 9:43 am:

    Thank you! This is so helpful and reassuring. We are currently working with a designer and our experience with him so far ticks all the boxes you recommended in your blog post about choosing a designer. He is addressing the space by removing some doorways and adding others to create uninterrupted work spaces and kid-safe areas, as well as an entrance/exit flow. The cabinets will be inset, but not beaded, and painted in an ambiguous greenish navy with walnut countertops. With those cabinet specifications, do you think a more expensive cabinet would be noticeable or can we get away with less expensive cabinets?

  398. Paul McAlary, January 1, 2018 at 12:00 pm:

    Hi Jane,
    Well your answer also is reassuring. It sounds like you are in good hands. With your color choices and inset cabinetry and expensive countertops the choice here is tough. Plain and Fancy might be the better investment. But I don’t know the colors that are standard in Candlelight. Sometimes a line like Candlelight can be a great value but sometimes the custom colors you are choosing along with other customisations raise the price of a line like Candlelight almost to the Plain and Fancy pricing. I would defer to your designer that knows his lines and pricing better than I do.
    Here is a link to our ratings for different cabinet lines:

  399. Jane, January 1, 2018 at 12:03 pm:

    Thank you so much! I’ll check that link and talk more about it with our designer. I appreciate your help!

  400. Annie, January 2, 2018 at 5:50 pm:

    Wow, lots of information.
    My question-I’m getting ready to build an apartment bldg., it’s my first project so I have little experience in choosing cabinetry. My GC is a dealer for Aristocraft/Kemper and highly regards them. I am looking for cabinetry to be proud of. Obviously best price, long lasting, non off gassing. I’ve been researching for months and so much is conflicting. I do believe plywood is better than MDF for a ‘Green’ feature. I’ve gone to a few showrooms that have Aristocraft door styles but not any constructed cabinetry by Aristocraft. They are members of the Environmental Stewardship program, for what it is worth. Reviews are not great and I am at a loss with so many other types to choose from. Would you suggest any of your cabinetry for my situation of have any suggestions due to the fact that I will be making a large investment?

  401. pmcalary, January 2, 2018 at 6:45 pm:

    Aristocraft and Kemper are not a good value or well constructed. Being Members of the ES program is not worth anything more than being a member of the KCMA …ie just about zero. It only means you have the money to belong. I’d use our 2017 Cabinet reviews if you need help. Link below:

  402. Mary Lynn, January 5, 2018 at 2:00 am:

    Our designer was suggesting the Belmont cabinets for our 2 bathrooms, (I posted about 10 days ago), and you weren’t impressed with their website or construction. Of these other lines that she represents, I was wondering if you could tell me your thoughts: Ovation, Medallion (framed),and Design Craft (frameless). I haven’t been able to find too much online about these companies, other than Medallion and Design Craft are Elkay, which also sells a Home Depot line called Innermost. We aren’t looking for lots of bells and whistles, mainly good construction and a good finish on a standard drawers and doors bathroom vanity. I know you don’t do bathrooms, but I trust your judgement on cabinet lines. Would one of these lines have what we need without charging for the ability to customize and have fancy do-dads that we don’t want? Thank you for your help. Your blog is so educational.

  403. pmcalary, January 5, 2018 at 8:38 am:

    Bathrooms take much less stress than kitchens and there are usually no wall cabinets which required better construction. Any cabinet line upgraded to plywood construction and dove tail drawers will be fine for a bath. Medallion is the best line you mention but they will be more expensive.

  404. lacey, January 17, 2018 at 9:06 pm:

    We are trying to make a decision on kitchen cabinets. I have a quote from cliqstuidos ($22,000) for inset shaker cabinets and one for McItyer ($28,000) which is too expensive so they have suggested a stock cabinet using Wolf their York line ($17,500). Do you know anything about these three companies. The prices vary quite a bit. We want a quality cabinet that will last but all quotes seem very expensive.

  405. pmcalary, January 17, 2018 at 10:21 pm:

    I would never buy an inset cabinet from a relatively inexpensive but well made line like CliqStudios. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Inset cabinets are too difficult to make cheaply. Get the full overlay styles from Cliq or spend more to get the real thing.

  406. Anastasia, January 20, 2018 at 10:01 pm:

    I am looking to buy kitchen cabinets with slab doors in a dark chocolate color. I am getting conflicting advice from each designer I sit with regard solid wood (Kraftmaid, Shuler) versus Mdf with veneer (American Woodmark, Thomasville). I’m in South Florida and many are pushing for the Mdf vs solid wood slab will warp with all the humidity, even saying warranty won’t cover warping. But my instincts is to go solid wood

  407. pmcalary, January 20, 2018 at 10:23 pm:

    I would recommend that slab doors be a veneered wood over MDF if the finish is paint or a stain. Solid MDF will be be too easily damaged. Solid wood will either warp or look striped if stained and is a waste of money. Quality cabinetry is important with veneers.

    In can tell from the questions though that you need better help than you are getting at the home centers you are using now. Try a dealer we recommend in your area. List below:

  408. Anastasia, January 21, 2018 at 7:10 pm:

    Thank you so much for the info. I just read your entire blog and feel much better informed.

    Any chance that you can recommend a dealer in Palm Beach County? The closest one you have on that link is two hours away from me in Miami.

    Also is is OK to go with a framed cabinet with a slab door? I know you say it looks better in frameless but framed is more durable.

  409. pmcalary, January 21, 2018 at 10:45 pm:

    Hi Anastasia,
    You could try buying cabinets on line from CliqStudios. They are well made but have limited door styles.

  410. John Holmberg, January 28, 2018 at 1:19 pm:

    Do you have any thoughts on Koch cabinets? They’re not on your 2017 list. We’ve actually been on a tour of one of their production plants and were impressed with the quality. They have the upgraded features you talk about (plywood boxes, soft close drawers etc.)
    We used to like Kraftmaid cabinets, but have noticed that their dovetail joints have been getting rougher and rougher. We have used dovetail quality as one of our quality guides. Is that appropriate?
    Thank you.

  411. pmcalary, January 28, 2018 at 2:26 pm:

    Looks like their Imperial Line with Upgraded “everything” is a good cabinet. The Classic and Express lines with particle board options and without full extension soft close drawers and soft close doors are not good investments.

  412. Kjohnson, January 28, 2018 at 8:58 pm:

    You’ve been at this for a long time, and I’ve read almost everything on your blog. We are contemplating a kitchen redo, and have only started getting quotes. We went to a designer who quoted us for canyon creek cabinets, and I’m not all that impressed and don’t really want frameless cabinets. We looked into Forevermark, KraftMaid, etc. no quotes yet. We really favor on the side of RTA cabinets to save some money. Any suggestions?

  413. DAW, January 28, 2018 at 9:15 pm:

    So much good information. Thanks. Any comment on Kith cabinetry? Saw it at Ram in West Chester and finally a brushed gray shade I love.

  414. pmcalary, January 28, 2018 at 10:07 pm:

    My comment would be …You are spending a lot of time on our web site, live and in our area, and are not working with us when we are inexpensive, the most experienced, and get the best reviews? Sort of odd reasoning.

  415. LBeals, January 30, 2018 at 7:50 pm:

    I have referred to this blog many times. Thank you so much for the invaluable information. I still have no idea what I’m doing, but it’s not for lack of information!!

  416. pmcalary, January 31, 2018 at 10:22 am:

    Always the best advice is to shop for the best kitchen designer. The rest falls into place when you choose well finding a designer. And no matter how much research a customer does they can only scratch the surface of what a good designer knows and can help them with.

  417. Kirsten, February 4, 2018 at 1:36 pm:

    Thank you so much for sharing your expertise on this blog. I hired a designer to design our kitchen for a flat fee through her interior design company, but after completing the design she told me that she works with a kitchen design center and had assumed we would buy our cabinets there. We are not in a high-end house but would like durable, Shaker-style cabinets in a painted finish. The only cabinet brand the kitchen center carries that might work for us is Hardwood Kitchens, LLC, but it’s a very small company that only offers two paint colors, and I’m concerned that if anything goes wrong a few years from now it may not be in business any longer. I had considered getting KraftMaid through a different dealer, but I’ve been told that it’s having a problem with its painted finishes. Hardwood kitchens has a small website with spec sheets, but other than that I can’t find any reviews or information about the company, not even a listing in Dun and Bradstreet or the Better Business Bureau. Have you heard anything about this company?

  418. pmcalary, February 7, 2018 at 10:23 pm:

    Never heard of Hardwood kitchens LLC. Also be careful independent designers that don’t work out of kitchen cabinet dealerships are usually much less experienced. Kraftmaid is not as far as I know having trouble with paint colors. It is probably that customers who buy Kraftmaid from home centers haven’t been taught to understand that painted cabinets are less durable so they complain when problems ensue. All painted cabinets are more likely to nick, chip, and are more easily damaged by water. I’d use our 2017 cabinet rankings when selecting a cabinet line.

  419. jeff, February 15, 2018 at 9:56 am:

    pmcalary, In one of your earlier comments (2015) to talked about Waypoint not showing how their cabinets are made on the website. I just found this:

    and was wondering if your opinion or their quality has changed since 2015. From this link it seems to hit all the points of quality made cabinets. Just curious.

  420. pmcalary, February 15, 2018 at 2:30 pm:

    Yes we rate Waypoint pretty well on our 2017 cabinet review. Link to review below:

  421. Anastasia, February 17, 2018 at 11:25 am:

    What are your thoughts on the frameless lines at Lowes (Latitudes) and Home Depot (Noveau by Thomasville)? I am doing slab doors so that is why I am looking for frameless. Thank you!

  422. paul mcalary, February 17, 2018 at 12:45 pm:

    Both those lines are remarketed lines. That means that they are sold under a different name at the home center than at private dealerships. It also means that the home center could change lines without telling you.

    I don’t recommend remarketed lines unless I know exactly what line the home center is using. Like Shendoah at Lowes is Timberlake. I have no idea where the home centers are getting the two new frameless lines you mention. Thomasville frameless would probably be a Masterbrands line and the Masterbrand frameless lines can be anywhere from OK to terrible depending on which line Home depot is using. The Lowes line I don’t have a guess on. Remarketed lines are usually a little over priced too.

  423. Anastasia Boyer, February 21, 2018 at 11:21 am:

    What are your thoughts on Designer’s Choice Cabinetry? Sides, ends, tops and bottoms are 5/8″ but the backs are 1/4″. I am a little concerned with such thin backs. They are all plywood and frameless (as I am doing a slab maple door) I did find a good designer finally but this is her entry level cabinetry and wondering if I should look higher. Thank you in advance!!!

  424. pmcalary, February 21, 2018 at 11:48 am:

    Any frameless lines without 3/4″ thick sides are terrible. Here is a list of lines we reviewed:

  425. Laura, February 24, 2018 at 10:22 am:

    This blog is fantastic and has been a huge help. I’m in the process of researching kitchen cabinets and I am so confused! I am considering the following cabinets: Legacy (executive), Waypoint (650s door style), Schrock, Midcontinent, Shiloh. It’s important to me that the wood is sourced in the United States. Do any of these brands use wood from the United States? Which brand would you recommend? Thanks in advanced.

  426. pmcalary, February 24, 2018 at 11:25 am:

    It is difficult to know for sure which lines use all US lumber. But well made inexpensive lines will have to be using Asian plants to make cabinet fronts and doors. All US made Semi custom lines will be typically about 30% more for a similar cabinets. The best US made lines will not over advertise MADE IN THE USA or GREEN they will mention these things second and stress their construction, door styles, versatility, and Carb2 compliance as a secondary advantage to their particular line. The cabinet industry is not very transparent and often disreputable companies prey on single issue buyers buy making MADE IN THE USA and GREEN their selling points. These are the same companies that are less trust worthy and so less reliable concerning exactly where and how their product is made.

    Of the lines you mention Schrock is the line most likely to be all US made. However Masterbrands their parent company is far from transparent and has shown questionable ethics in the past.

  427. Laura, February 24, 2018 at 11:42 am:

    Thank you for the response. Of the brands I mentioned, how would you rank them, worst to the best? I’m having such a difficult time picking a brand and appreciate any input you have.

  428. paul mcalary, February 24, 2018 at 3:57 pm:

    They are different with much different pricing. We rate them in our cabinet review:
    In general Shcrock is the best cabinet and the most expensive. But none of these lines get stellar reviews from us.

  429. Natalie, February 26, 2018 at 10:38 am:

    Mr. McAlary, I have been reading your blog approximately a year! We are now in the deciding stage of cabinetry and your insight has been truly a godsend. Many cabinet lines we were interested in have been discounted based on your feedback to others in our same situation, Thank You! Although I have read the cabinet rankings and scoured through the questions that others have asked, I am most interested in your honest opinion on Shiloh Cabinetry. The ranking is a C for both categories. The price we received from our kitchen company reflects a high end price, so a person such as myself who has absolutely no inside contacts with the cabinet manufacturers would automatically assume the Shiloh cabinets are well made given the upgraded boxes and the finish being perfection. Quite literally the pricing is along the lines of Plain & Fancy. Any advice for us would be GREATLY appreciated!

  430. pmcalary, February 26, 2018 at 11:20 am:

    Yes Natalie the finishes are very nice as is the quality of the craftsmanship on the cabinet doors and fronts. But many expensive cabinet line put less value on construction because their customers and the designers that sell their cabinetry don’t. Here is a link from the Shiloh web site showing how their cabinets are made.
    Notice how vague description numbers 1 and 6 are. In the photo’s you can see that the hanging rail item #1 is only 3/4″ high. Better made cabinets will use 2 1/2″ or 3 1/2″ high hanging rails. #6 Says easy to clean interior which also make us suspect. For an expensive cabinet line we would like to see better construction. Possibly Shiloh can be upgraded to higher end construction much like expensive lines like Medallion that unupgraded are terribly made and far worse than this. But we don’t see this mentioned. Possibly we are being unfair but if you can upgrade your cabinets construction don’t you want to tell people?

  431. Carla, March 2, 2018 at 2:45 pm:

    I can’t say enough about this site/blog! Fantastic information. My question is about Waypoint vs. Cliq. We are new to the area and do not know a good independent installer, hence the hesitancy to go with Cliq. Other than that, they are great to work with and have quality lines. We have spoken to a cabinet company locally and they sent their designer out to measure the kitchen which will be a remodel. They have 3 lines, one of which is Waypoint. We are like most folks, on a budget and didn’t want to spend over 10K on this kitchen. We are wanting White Shaker style cabinets. The Waypoint catalog the designer left with us states their cabinetry is made as follows:
    Cabinet joints are pressure fitted, glued,stapled, double doweled construction.
    Kiln dried face frames made with 3/4″ by 1 5/8″ solid hardwood.
    Half inch furniture board corner blocks for cabinet integrity.
    Waypoint Standard construction includes 1/2″ thick plywood sides. Top. bottoms and floors are 1/2″ thick furniture board.
    5/8″ solid dovetail drawer box construction with plywood bottoms that exceed load standards.
    21″ drawers come equipped with German engineered GRASS Elite Plus full-extension glides with Cushion Close. The GRASS under mount technology with precision roller carriage leaves drawer sides and dovetails exposed while allowing access to everything. Six way adjustable hinges with Cushion Close that open 105 degrees with on/off switch. Other features standard are adjustable drawer front and a good basic variety of colors/finishes/glazes, etc. I cannot find anything that states the thickness of the back of the cabinet specifically. There are 2 shaker styles are are looking at: the 650 with Solid Door in Maple, Painted White or the 410 with Veneer Door, Painted White. The estimate for the kitchen including tax and delivery and install is $9000. The kitchen is approx 11 x 15. Based on this information, would you consider Waypoint a good choice for the money? It is just 2 adults and we will be living in the house for at least 10-15 years & we take great care of things. Thank you in advance as I need to place an order or look elsewhere within the next 2 weeks.

  432. pmcalary, March 3, 2018 at 7:47 am:

    Here is a rough video on Waypoint’s construction I found on line:

    And their specification guide:

    While Waypoint skimps on some construction features they choose wisely. We give them a B for construction and a B for value in our 2017 Cabinet Ratings link below:

    I would say that we give them B’s more because there are some slightly better alternatives out there that don’t skimp and are the same price or less like the Fabuwood line we carry. But their skimping is really not that significant and their price point is close so while I’m not raising them to B pluses they are close for both.

    All in all if you like the designer and the dealer I think Waypoint through them is a better choice than the slightly better made Clique Studios that our company carries under the dealer name 6 Square.

    Buying cabinets on line is just asking for trouble and designs always suffer without a competent kitchen designer following through on the kitchen from measuring to reordering parts and pieces. This is why no matter how often we get asked (which is almost daily) Main Line Kitchen Design will no longer sell a kitchen remotely. It is also why when customers foolishly steal our designs and buy IKEA or other cabinet lines on line I am comforted in knowing their project will almost certainly not run smoothly. Costly mistakes are the norm when the designer that measured and created a design isn’t available to be present if needed throughout the whole renovation process.

    Too often people treat buying a complex kitchen, custom designed for their space, like they are buying a toaster. When they do, and we hear about their trials and tribulations, as designers we are not surprised. You get the kitchen you deserve when you treat the process so cavalierly.

  433. Anastasia, March 3, 2018 at 8:17 pm:

    What are your thoughts on Raywal Cabinets and that they only provide a 5 year warranty. They are from Canada and have 3/4 thick sides all plywood construction. I love the walnut finish in french roast that sets it apart from others but don’t want to be making a mistake if the short warranty period is an insight into a lesser quality cabinet. Please advise your thoughts on warranties. Thank you!

  434. Paul McAlary, March 4, 2018 at 11:58 am:

    I don’t know Raywal cabinets but the 5 year warranty is not an issue. Warranties have no relation to cabinet durability. For example the Raywal are frameless cabinets like IKEA but made of plywood instead of particle board so far more durable. IKEA has a 20 year warranty which is meaningless. Giving a past customer a replacement cabinet if they are persistant enough to bring back a junky IKEA cabinet 18 years later costs IKEA nothing. If durability is an issue the Raywal cabinets are most likely close to the best you will get in a frameless cabinet. Although even inexpensive well made framed cabinets will be superior in construction to any frameless line.

  435. Cathy, March 8, 2018 at 10:18 pm:

    I am remodeling my kitchen and was very close to purchasing Shiloh cabinets, but since reading your blog I am not sure that is the way to go. I am now looking at Showplace cabinets but confused after reading about their construction and finish if they are any better. I could not find info about how well the wall cabinets are supported. Can you please help me

  436. Cathy, March 8, 2018 at 11:00 pm:

    Also can you tell me your thoughts of showplace cabinets

  437. pmcalary, March 9, 2018 at 6:57 am:

    I’d stop researching cabinets and start researching designers to find someone knowledgeable that can help you navigate cabinetry and most importantly design. Here are the designers and dealers we recommend. Hopefully one is close to you.

  438. Mary, March 11, 2018 at 11:35 pm:

    Thanks so much for the wealth of information. Do you have any recommendations for kitchen designers in the Cleveland/Northeast Ohio area?

  439. pmcalary, March 12, 2018 at 8:17 am:

    Sorry looks like we have only looked at the other major cities in Ohio so far. Link below:

  440. Pam, March 14, 2018 at 5:35 pm:

    Getting ready to order kitchen/bathroom cabinets. I’m stuck between deciding on Kraftmaid from Lowes, Wellborn from a local shop, or Cliqstudios online. Any suggestions?

  441. pmcalary, March 14, 2018 at 5:37 pm:

    Never order cabinets on line. There is no professional measuring your kitchen and responsible for mistakes, damages, and able to make a site inspection if needed.

  442. Pam, March 14, 2018 at 5:55 pm:

    Thank you! That helps my dilemma. If it were you, Wellborn or Kraftmaid?

  443. pmcalary, March 15, 2018 at 9:14 am:

    Both cabinets lines are very similar. Kraftmaid used to have the edge but Wellborn does now. However, I’d buy the kitchen from the designer that seemed more organized and knowledgeable. A bad designer can make your life miserable at the minimum. No designer available is worse but only a little.

  444. Thomas Sloane, March 15, 2018 at 12:52 pm:

    I have narrowed my cabinet choice, (with this forum’s help) down to either 6-square or Fabuwood. I feel they are very similar in quality, although I prefer the way that the Fabuwood fits together with tight notches, versus 6-square’s dado joints. Other than that the only difference I see is that 6-square uses a melamine interior. My specific question is how do you feel about their melamine interior versus the UV finished interior of Fabuwood. I’m buying cabinets for a rental/flip home I will sell in a couple of years, (FYI). Thanks in advance for offering your opinion.

  445. pmcalary, March 15, 2018 at 1:27 pm:

    For your purposes you are better off in Fabuwood. They are a little less expensive. I don’t think any buyers would notice the melamine vs the clear coat. Most people prefer a clear coat but it really isn’t that high on the importance scale.

  446. Doug, March 18, 2018 at 11:30 pm:

    Echo others on the great info on this site! We are buying a tract house so we don’t get to design the kitchen. The cabinet maker is Mid-Continent, which gets a “C” in your 2017 ratings. However, the builder will allow us to upgrade from their standard Mid-Continent’s industrial grade, 45 lb particle board boxes to Mid-Continent’s plywood construction for 10% more than standard cost.
    Specs as listed on Mid-Continent’s website for “½” All Plywood Construction Option” are: ” 3/8″ plywood back, top, bottom and 1/2″ end panels, plywood stretchers and hanger rails; istalled shelves 3/4″ plywood standard; finished ends with 1/2″ plywood hardwood veneer stained to match frame and matching 5/8″ flush plywood ends stained to match frame and door, both ends finished flush.”
    I know you don’t like the 3/8″ cabinet back—are the other parts an upgrade worth going for and paying the extra few thousand dollars?

  447. pmcalary, March 19, 2018 at 9:38 am:

    Hi Doug,
    The 3/8″ back is OK just not ideal. For 10% upgrading to APC and soft close solid wood dovetail drawers is definitely worth it. I don’t think we knew about both upgrades when we rated Midcontent so they could have done much better in our review. I’ll look into it.

  448. Josh, March 19, 2018 at 10:10 am:


    I echo the sentiments of the commentators above — you are doing a tremendous service for consumers with your candid responses YEARS after your initial post. Thanks for that!

    We are in the process of a new construction home and our builder uses J&K Cabinets. I’ve seen some posters ask about this brand but, at the time, you weren’t familiar with the product. Based on their literature, the cabinet specs seem to check a lot of the boxes that you’ve noted above — — and most “upgraded” features are included standard. Biggest drawback is that the selection is limited (can not mix and match colors/glazes/door styles), but if you find something you like, seems you get a lot for your money. Wanted to see if you had any updated opinion on this brand.

    Also, a local distributor is pushing my builder to try out CNC Cabinets as well, which I’ve seen you post about and noted that you carry as well. How would CNC compare to J&K? I am bit skeptical since I cannot find many reviews online for CNC — their online presence is almost non-existent.

    Thanks for your help!

  449. pmcalary, March 19, 2018 at 10:34 am:

    Hi Josh,
    I have not seen J&K cabinets first hand, but one of the designers I respect the most uses them as his less expensive well made cabinet line. Certainly they meet our construction requirements. We do sell CNC but usually for homes that are being flipped or for commercial use. They are well constructed but a little “rough” for discerning home owners. We sell Fabuwood as our version of J&K because Fabuwood is so versatile and around the same price point. I think the CNC would be less than the J&K but the J&K would most likely be worth the difference. Tough call for me not having seen the J&K finishes. Here’s a link to a video where Doug Mottershead and I discuss our less expensive lines.

  450. Mindi, March 19, 2018 at 7:57 pm:

    Hello – We are close to selecting our cabinets. What are your thoughts on Mouser Centra, Shiloh or Crystal Current? I see you rank Shiloh with a poor rating. Not sure of the others.

  451. Pam, March 19, 2018 at 9:16 pm:

    I own a condo that has a kitchen with a corner sink. Can’t move the plumbing. I have had 4 measures (2 big box & 2 local shops). Everyone comes up with different dimensions on the wall & base cabinets on either side of the sink and the sink base. How do I know who is correct? Thanks!

  452. Paul McAlary, March 20, 2018 at 6:55 am:

    Hi Pam,
    Kitchen designers don’t care what dimensions of existing cabinets are. We only care about the dimensions of the walls, doorways, and windows. We redesign the cabinetry to create better kitchens. Often even moving walls and doorways. And moving the location of a corner sink is nearly always not only possible but a good idea. I’d research what company in your area gets good reviews and go there or use our link to find the dealer we recomend closest to you.

  453. Pam, March 20, 2018 at 8:21 am:

    Sorry, I wasn’t clear. They did measure the walls, but the layouts for the cabinets adjoining the sink are vastly different. Moving walls and doorways are not possible in my kitchen, so I’m confused as to why none of them agree.

  454. pmcalary, March 20, 2018 at 9:26 am:

    Mouser is a great line and the Centra is good too. Regular Crystal is a great line, however I don’t know the Crystal Current line and they give no specs I can find.

  455. Debbie, March 26, 2018 at 6:59 pm:

    Hi. Just found your wonderful blog. My kitchen designer is steering me toward Tedd Wood Cabinets. Can you give me your opinion please? Couldn’t find them mentioned in your blog.

  456. pmcalary, March 27, 2018 at 7:02 am:

    While I haven’t seen Ted Wood cabinets first hand they look to be a very beautiful, extremely well made cabinet. Their landmark series would also score very high in our reviews. Their Frameless Luxury line we would need more data on to give an opinion. We will try to add this very nice line to our upcoming updated reviews. Besides the cabinetry the Tedd Wood website has all the earmarks of a good company. It supplies information on their products, is transparent, and has none the grandiose generalizations many of the lesser lines all seem to specialize in. Upstate Pennsylvania has many of these small to mid size companies that are large enough to make cabinetry well without being so small they are really making “home made” and not custom cabinetry.

  457. LL, March 29, 2018 at 3:01 pm:

    I am researching kitchen cabinets. I have read this blog and have seen your 2017 kitchen cabinet reviews. I would like your opinion on the Legacy Cabinets Debut Series, Executive Box Construction. Is this a quality cabinet?

  458. pmcalary, March 29, 2018 at 3:26 pm:

    Great cabinet construction but a still a less expensive line. So the construction gets an A but don’t expect the finishes to be equal to high end lines that will be more expensive. Lines like Decora, Kraftmaid, Brookhaven, Fieldstone, and Starmark might not be constructed quite as well but their stained and glazed finishes will be more attractive. If you are getting a solid painted door the finish difference might be undetectable. Use your sample door as a indicator of the finish quality.

  459. LL, March 29, 2018 at 6:05 pm:

    Thank you for your response. I’m going with a white shaker cabinet. Sounds like Legacy will be a good choice since I’m only doing a solid door.

  460. FBL, March 30, 2018 at 6:05 pm:

    Latest thoughts on the relative value of Schrock, Kemper, Kraftmaid or Bertch? Can you explain the difference between “frameless” and “framed”? Also, whites a “hanging rail?” Thanks for all the info.

  461. FBL, March 30, 2018 at 6:07 pm:

    Latest thoughts on the relative value of Schrock, Kemper, Kraftmaid or Bertch? Can you explain the difference between “frameless” and “framed”? Also, what is a “hanging rail?” Thanks for all the info.

  462. pmcalary, March 31, 2018 at 8:39 am:

    We rate these lines here:
    Kraftmaid is slipping a little of late.

    The backs of cabinets are very important because they are what gets screwed to the kitchens walls. There are two ways cabinet backs are made.
    1) Either a solid sheet of plywood 3/8″ gets a B+ at best 1/2″ gets a solid A and thicker an A+
    2) Or a hanging rail (a strip of thicker material across the locations where cabinets are screwed to the wall and a thin sheet of plywood or other board everywhere else. A 3/4″ solid wood hanging rail gets an A. 1/2″ ply a B+ and thinner then that less.

    Kraftmaid for example has reduced their hanging rail lowering there rating slightly.

  463. Chip, March 31, 2018 at 4:22 pm:

    Hi, great blog. I was wondering how much a kitchen designer charges for a full design and plans? A local Philly kitchen contractor will design and provide full plans for a fee after an initial free visit. I have an 18X10 kitchen with a typical builders grade 9X10 cabinet arrangement. I would also like some additional work on an adjacent powder room. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time if it’s going to be $1000 for the design. Thanks.

  464. pmcalary, April 1, 2018 at 2:03 pm:

    Hi Chip,
    Contractors are terrible kitchen designers.

    You are in our service area and we charge nothing to do designs and only charge a $150 deposit to measure the house and create designs and to go over them in a 2 hour appointment in our office. It’s about 8 hours of our time and if after we give you pricing you decide to continue working with us there is a second $350 deposit to have more appointments and to give you the plans. Both deposits are applied towards cabinetry and we are less than home centers and other dealers for well made inexpensive cabinetry as well as expensive cabinetry. It makes sense to work with us.

    Part of the reason we can be less expensive for cabinetry is that we qualify our customers. Some people can be so concerned with getting something for nothing that they would rather get bad and expensive help for free than invest $150. The customers we loose because of our small deposit free up our time to work with a better class of customers across all price points. This and our innovative business model make cabinetry less expensive for our customers and allows them to work with better designers.

  465. TYG, April 6, 2018 at 10:12 pm:

    Hi,pmcalary, I am trying to remodel our kitchen, cabinetry has was made by WoodCarv in Cincinnati OH, company is out of business. These cabinets are original to house. The cabinets are northern birchwood species. I have looked at so many brands over the last 5 years. I have recently, been set on buying, Starmark or Kraftmaid, Vantage from MBS. I have also, had an Amish cabinet maker come out to my home.
    Two different companies have sent designers to my home as well. I really like the one company. However, I do not like the aspect, schrock, Shiloh, homecrest, lines of cabinetry. Have you heard of Starmark cabinetry? Is this line
    By the way the bid for Shiloh was 10,000. The designer told us the cabinetry was APC. Then she sent me an email saying it was a high pressure laminate. Schrock too many conflicting information on the website about the construction of the cabinetry.
    Can you give any advise about Starmark VS Vantage Kraftmaid?
    By the way my kitchen is very small. I only have 4 base units in my kitchen, plus sink base. and 7 wall units. There are not fillers between cabinetry. We are the third family living in this house and we have been here for 28 years. I have replaced all appliances 2x. Not doing that now.
    Thank you.

  466. TYG, April 6, 2018 at 10:14 pm:

    Hello pmcalary,

    Have you any information on Starmark cabinetry in comparison to Vantage Kraftmaid.

    Thank you.

  467. pmcalary, April 7, 2018 at 8:15 am:
  468. Vanessa, April 11, 2018 at 7:46 pm:

    Hello are you familiar with FMG cabinetry in NJ. We can get them in 2 Weeks’s, which is our reasoning for wanting to purchase it.

  469. pmcalary, April 13, 2018 at 7:24 am:

    Never heard of FMG. Why not Fabuwood if you want a reasonably priced well made cabinet.

  470. Kellianne, April 18, 2018 at 9:02 am:

    What is your opinion of Quality Cabinets? We are remodeling our kitchen but don’t want to break the bank as its a starter home. We want quality without the price tag 🙂

  471. pmcalary, April 18, 2018 at 1:40 pm:

    sorry never heard of them

  472. Mary, May 12, 2018 at 2:52 pm:

    Hi…I don’t notice Norcraft on your list of cabinet rankings for 2017…how do you feel they compare to Diamond Reflections or Diamond Intrigue?

  473. mayer, May 17, 2018 at 4:39 pm:

    How would you compare CNC with Kemper? Kemper is at least 35% more expensive, but the dealer near me says that it is better because it is American made. Also, what can you tell me about cubitac

  474. Rich, May 24, 2018 at 3:12 pm:

    Hi Paul, I am looking at cabinets on, I believe they are Deerfield. They seem to be well made box, but I was looking for your opinion. I am specifically looking at the Cordova shaker II. Thanks

  475. deb, May 25, 2018 at 12:50 am:

    hello. thank you for this awesome blog. I am remodeling my kitchen with cream colored cabinets and I have quotes for Caldwell Diamond reflections cabinets from Lowes, Savannah Woodmark from Home Depot and signature pearl from local kitchen store. All of the contractors are quoting the same price and all of them look similar, however, can you please let me know what is the better quality of these 3 choices. I want to make sure what I decide on is high quality and not just a marked up cabinet of lesser quality. Thanks in advance.

  476. Mark, May 27, 2018 at 5:03 pm:

    Hi pmcalary,
    I have a very small galley kitchen that was built (not by me) with absolute bottom of the barrel cabinets.I’m going to rip the whole lot out.

    I have emailed Fabuwood, trying to find out if they have a dealer in Eastern Iowa, Western Illinois. I’ll be very interested in them if they are available near me.

    Otherwise, it’s probably going to be Kraftmaid with plywood sides from Lowes. Because of the extreme constraints of my kitchen, it will likely be nothing more than replacing the existing junk with the exact same size cabinets, except much higher quality with full roll outs and a super susan in the blind corner, making access to my limited spaces much easier. The lone addition will be two 36 inch wide base cabinets… those will double my storage. Even with that addition my countertop is only 26 sq.ft. Like I said, it is small.

    I would think that a inexperienced Lowes designer could handle something like a one for one direct replacement.

    If you have any thoughts, I’d like to hear them. This is what you’d call a “quality vs. quantity situation”. Good, just not big.

    Thanks, Mark

  477. Mary Morris, May 28, 2018 at 12:49 am:

    Thank you for this excellent resource. I purchased a 2nd home where I plan to move once it is renovated; it needs new kitchen cabinets. I have a quote from the local Home Depot kitchen representative for KraftMaid maple cabinets (painted white) in all wood. I have a second quote from a former cabinet builder that is now a Wellborn Forest cabinet dealer. (This cabinet builder built the cabinets in my current home and they are of the highest quality.) You refer to Welborn often as a quality cabinet manufacturer; however, I see no reference in your blog to the spinoff company, Wellborn Forest. Reviews for Wellborn Forest indicate that its products may not be the same quality as Wellborn. I am really struggling with this decision, and would sincerely appreciate any knowledge that you can provide about Wellborn Forest and its reputation. I have to make a decision within the next two weeks, so if it is possible for you to provide information in that timeframe. Either way, I would value your professional feedback

  478. Trish, May 31, 2018 at 11:08 am:

    Have you ever heard of Holiday kitchens by Mastercraft. The manufacturer is close to where I live. I am trying to find mid range cabinets although I would love high range, but I am afraid they are too costly for me. This is the first kitchen I remodeled, and I do not want to make a mistake.

  479. pmcalary, June 7, 2018 at 2:34 pm:

    Don’t know that line

  480. pmcalary, June 7, 2018 at 2:44 pm:

    Without researching which a designer could help you with on a Friday 2pm to 4pm. I think the Wellborn Forrest is well made but just has a limited selection

  481. pmcalary, June 7, 2018 at 2:48 pm:

    Designing kitchens is harder than people think. As an indication – we have almost never replaced a kitchen with close to what was there. Even though 90% of our customers come to us saying, like you, that there kitchen needs to be close to as it is.

  482. pmcalary, June 7, 2018 at 2:49 pm:

    All are good and similar. Upgrade to plywood construction and pick what you like best.

  483. pmcalary, June 7, 2018 at 3:00 pm:

    American made inexpensive cabinetry is not the best value. But CNC is also the least expensive of the US lines with imported materials. Possibly a better made US line or a better made US import like Fabuwood.

  484. pmcalary, June 7, 2018 at 3:22 pm:

    Norcraft is frameless. I don’t know the Intrigue line but upgraded I select Reflections.

  485. Alan Ballard, June 20, 2018 at 8:16 am:

    Our designer uses Touchstone and Wellborn Forest. I am having difficulty finding any reviews on the former and conflicting reviews on the later. Your comments would be appreciated.

  486. pmcalary, June 20, 2018 at 9:01 am:

    Hi Alan,
    Nice speaking with you over the phone. Both lines are good if upgraded to at least 1/2″ plywood sides and backs and soft close drawers.

  487. Nicole, July 5, 2018 at 3:40 pm:

    First of all thank you for your time and info about cabinetry
    We are remodeling our kitchen and I did a lot of research
    I narrow it down to a company on line
    Baker cabinets have you heard about them? What do you think about their cabinets
    And a local businesses that works with Jim bishop cabinets among others
    What is your opinion on them
    We are in south Carolina NY suggestions

  488. pmcalary, July 5, 2018 at 3:52 pm:

    Hi Nicole,
    I would not recommend Frameless cabinets unless the style cabinet you are looking for is very contemporary. Why sacrifice construction durability unless at least the style is enhanced by the frameless tighter look. Full overlay doors in a framed line will look as nice cost possibly less and be more durable.

    Secondly the most import component needed to get a good kitchen is a good kitchen designer. No good designers work on line, nor would any. Not being able to measure and see the kitchen you are working on makes it near impossible to be creative.

    All this being said -Baker cabinets are well made for a frameless line as are Bishop for both framed and frameless.

  489. Nicole, July 5, 2018 at 4:58 pm:

    Thank you so much for your prompt reply
    I did my design and worked on it with a local business
    I love contemporary design but I am more interested in durability as it involves a lot of money
    Baker has a traditional line as well I am interested in their shaker style white shaker and I would like your opinion
    Thank you

  490. Paul McAlary, July 5, 2018 at 5:04 pm:

    Baker only makes frameless cabinets as far as we know. They do look to be very well made frameless. But even putting cabinetry together on site can be problematic. And buying a kitchen from someone that didn’t design it is also dangerous.

  491. Gareth, July 14, 2018 at 10:39 am:

    Hi, this is an impressive amount of information here! I’ve scanned through a lot of it, but haven’t seen anything about Kountry Wood. Our local HOBO sells these. We are looking to remodel a kitchen in a rental property that hopefully will sell in the next year. I don’t want to put in too much money, but would like it to last a few years. The Kountry Wood cabinets do use 3/8″ vinyl covered particle board. Would this be a deal breaker if it’s for an investment property? (I feel like the finish or doors will be ripped off before the box fails???)

    Thank you for all the information!

  492. pmcalary, July 14, 2018 at 1:01 pm:

    Every element of these cabinets are inferior. 3/8 inch particle board sides, backs, drawer box. Inferior tracks and hinges. These cabinets don’t even make a rating as you can’t upgrade them to even a D rating. This is what inexpensive cabinets were like 10 years ago. But the cabinet industry has vastly improved in construction over the past decade. Better made cabinets will be far less than these now.

  493. Laura, July 26, 2018 at 1:43 pm:

    I am enjoying reading your blog, as my husband and I are trying to DIY our kitchen design and install to stay in a budget. Back in November you said a big design flaw is to install 42 inch wall cabinets in a kitchen with 8 foot ceilings. We were just grappling with this concept last night and talking about the crown molding. What is the problem with these dimensions? Does it look too tall and awkward? Is it a proportional thing? Or is it about the clearance needed between the counter and the cabinet? Thanks for any input.

  494. pmcalary, July 27, 2018 at 10:14 am:

    Hi Laura,
    There really is no sensible reason to design your own kitchen without professional help. Almost all kitchen designer’s time is included in the cost of cabinetry when you buy cabinets. This includes most cabinet dealers and all home centers. Thinking that you can gather enough information on line to do a good job designing your own kitchen is a serious mistake. Far greater a mistake than not understanding why you can not use 42″ wall cabinets in an 8 foot high room. The answer to your question is that no ones ceiling is level and so you need to have play to level your cabinets and even to stand tall pantry and oven cabinets up in the room. A two piece crown molding 5 or 6 inches high not only looks better and is the mark of a professional but it allows for your floors and ceilings being out of level and your walls being slightly out of plumb.

    Please don’t do what many people do and take this information and then think that they don’t need the free professional help every non kitchen designer does. We have a funny video on this topic. See link below:

  495. Christine McWilliams, July 30, 2018 at 8:05 pm:

    My husband and I have a dilemma. We purchased Fabuwood Hallmark Front because we liked the style and had a great price. The first delivery of our cabinets had 16 of the cabinets with defects. We were promised by the fabuwood rep that they would be replaced and that the quality control team would inspect our order so we would get cabinets without defects. Second order comes and the same thing happened. We returned all of the cabinets and receiving a full refund. The problem is trying to find a brand of cabinet that is rated well and we can afford. We are willing to come up on our price point, but every time I think I found something the rating are terrible. I got a quote on Wolf classic but the ratings are bad. looked into Kraftmaid but they are about 2 thousand above our budget. Just found Kemper Cabinets… any recommendations?

  496. pmcalary, July 31, 2018 at 5:07 am:

    We haven’t had this problem ever with over 400 Fabuwood orders sold over 5 years. I suspect since this happened to you twice that you are overly picky and will have trouble with any painted cabinet that you buy. From less expensive brands up to nearly custom cabinetry. You will need to spend almost 60% more than the Fabuwood cabinetry to enter the very high end of the semi custom cabinet market to see any improvement at all in cabinet finish. In fact finish quality will go down in most more expensive brands before they go back up and exceed the quality you rejected. We have had custom cabinets that customers found what they considered dozens of defects on that were within industry standards. Meaning that they could easily be touched up or that the tiny nick or chip was on the side or back of a cabinet that wasn’t going to be exposed. You need to have realistic expectations just as much as the cabinet company needs to have quality control.

  497. Lisa, August 3, 2018 at 8:54 am:

    Trying to decide between Waypoint and Eudora(a Kith Kitchen product). Any experience or comparisons that you can offer?

  498. pmcalary, August 6, 2018 at 4:15 pm:

    Hi Lisa,
    Our cabinet rankings list is below to help.
    Eudora is Kith’s frameless line and would be rated B for construction and C+ for value.
    I’d either get Waypoint or spend more and get Kith framed.

  499. Diane, August 8, 2018 at 8:39 pm:

    I just received our order of painted Kraftmaid cabinets and 90 percent of the cabinets were awfully painted. Missing paint on almost every single one. I cannot believe Kraftmade let them leave the factory this way. These are raised panel doors. This is my third time using KM and my last time. Always had great cabinets in the past. I am returning all of the cabinets and Lowes is issuing a refund.

    After checking the web, I found numerous complaints about the quality and finish with Kraftmaid. Sadly I guess their quality has decreased greatly.

    My question is what is your opinion of Shuler in both painted and stained cabinetry for kitchens? Is it still good?

    Thank you!

  500. pmcalary, August 9, 2018 at 9:03 am:

    Hi Diane,
    I would bet that your other Kraftmaid kitchens were stained and not painted. Higher end painted US made cabinets all show seams on the wood joints between cabinet parts which I’ll bet is what most of your complaints are over. Stained cabinets do not. Touching up these painted joints is to be expected.

    Once you get to the higher next level of cabinetry like Schuler nearly all these issues should be resolved but touch up will always be required on a painted cabinet. Ironically lower priced cabinets where the finish is done in China often do not have these issues. This is because filling and sanding joints smooth is labor intensive and US manufacturers can not afford to do this in anything below the highest price points. In China labor is much less.

    Consider that an iPhone would cost $3000 were it made in the US. The popularity of painted finishes on kitchen cabinetry has been a boom to the US manufacturers like Fabuwood and Wolf who maintain factories in China and only assemble cabinetry in the US.

  501. Gail Shaw, September 5, 2018 at 3:26 pm:

    What are your comments on Kitchen Craft Cabinets
    Ae they made in the US

  502. pmcalary, September 5, 2018 at 10:15 pm:

    Not a fan. They are poorly constructed frameless cabinetry. When I worked at a showroom years ago that carried that line I sold every framed and frameless line we carried except that line for the four years I worked there.

  503. Shelly, September 7, 2018 at 11:32 am:

    Thank you for this blog! It’s very helpful. I feel I am looking all over the place for kitchen cabinets but I do have a variety of quotes coming in. So far, I am considering Wellborn inset, Brookhaven, KraftMaid from Lowe’s and then a local custom cabinet maker. I may have missed it but can you please give a comparison of those 3?

    I have learned (from your blog 🙂 to upgrade to plywood and not choose frameless. But what about an inset, is it worth it?

  504. pmcalary, September 8, 2018 at 9:29 am:

    We rate these cabinets on our 2018 cabinet ratings blog. They will span a great price range. Tough call since there is such a difference in price. I would say that the design itself is more important and good designs are rare.

  505. Ruth Carr, September 10, 2018 at 12:47 pm:

    We just went to this Kitchen store and they carry three lines. The Waypoint line has been given a 2 B B rating by you. For the price they seem fairly good. Why is there only a B for Quality and value? Also they carry two lines that received a D quality and value-Kabinart. Their Cubitac line was not assessed by you. I think it comes out of New Jersey. These people in this store come to the home and help with design. I do not know if we should do business with them because of the two inferior lines they carry. What is your view?

  506. ruth, September 10, 2018 at 12:51 pm:

    What do you think of Waypoint as a cabinet opinion?

  507. pmcalary, September 10, 2018 at 1:20 pm:

    Hi Ruth,
    I think it is a bad sign if all the cabinet lines a dealer carries are not such great values. It means that the company isn’t very knowledgeable about the products they carry. The chance that this company will have good designers is also unlikely when they can’t select product well how can the hire designers well. That’s much harder to do. Unless they have other expensive lines that they offer that we give good reviews I’d steer clear of this dealer.

  508. Ruth, September 10, 2018 at 1:36 pm:

    I do not see a rating for Cubitac cabinetry in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Could you evaluate this line?

  509. Paul McAlary, September 10, 2018 at 1:48 pm:

    Hi Ruth,
    I don’t know Cubitac well. The upgraded lines look well constructed but I still worry about this dealer. All their lines are imported. They must be some kind of discount cabinet store. Companies that only sell inexpensive cabinets are telling you that they don’t care about good design only in selling cheaper cabinetry. Since the kitchen designer you work with is more important than the cabinet line, I would avoid this place. Giving you a design you came up with assures that your designer is a novice.

  510. Tracy J., September 16, 2018 at 9:51 pm:

    Curious as to your thoughts on the fact that i purchased Medallion cabinets through a Kitchen Design Company and some of the cabinets that were installed are also stamped Schuler! I feel as if there is some bait and switch happening here! Have you seen this happen before? What should be my response to both the Medallion Rep and the Kitchen Design Rep?

  511. pmcalary, September 16, 2018 at 10:54 pm:

    Both cabinet lines are the same thing just sold under different names at different locations. For example:
    Schuler at Lowes is Medallion at private dealers.
    American Woodmark at Home depot is Shenandoah at lowes and Timberlake at private dealers.
    Your response:
    Sorry I don’t know anything about this industry.

  512. scott, October 9, 2018 at 1:23 pm:

    I am looking to remodel my kitchen and have gone to a few places including MLK and I am just confused on what is quality, fair pricing, etc. A few contractors have told me to go with Kraftmaid. But I have also read that Wolf and Fabuwood is good. I want to do my kitchen right and do it once. So my question is, what is a good quality cabinet that is priced fair and will last me about 20 years.


  513. pmcalary, October 9, 2018 at 2:41 pm:

    Hi Scott,
    Upgraded to 1/2 plywood sides all three lines are well constructed and will last as long as any line. Unfortunately like most consumers you are focused on product and not trying to find a good kitchen designer. The difference in you final kitchen is huge. It is inefficient calling in contractors and researching cabinetry without fist finding a good designer that will help you redesign your kitchen. Most homeowners think they know the design they are getting but only because they know nothing about kitchen design. For example, over 90% of our customers get completely different designs and cabinetry then they came to us certain they wanted. They simply didn’t know any better. If you are outside our service area, we recommend good dealers and designers across the US on our web site. Here is link to the list:

    And here is our funny video where we try to gently convince the public what we as designers all know but that they as customers often refuse to accept. Namely that they need professional kitchen design help:

  514. scott, October 10, 2018 at 9:01 am:

    I have the design and layout but not sure of what cabinet to go with, because one dealer pushed Kraftmaid because of the lifetime warranty, another dealer pushed Fabuwood because that was their entry cabinet, and another one pushed Wolf, but said it was only 5 year warranty. So here I am looking at 3 different cabinets that are have some similarities but price is different but have been told they should last you 20 years. Kraftmaid is probably the obvious choice because of the lifetime warranty, but are the other brands going to fall apart after 5 years???

  515. Charley, October 17, 2018 at 3:52 pm:

    Hi Paul ~ my husband and I would like your input on two different cabinets (same wood, same finish). Starmark Inset Cabinetry and Bertch Inset Cabinetry. We have quotes/designs from to two different designers and each one has ‘pushed’ their line of cabinetry. Any pros/cons to each of these brands. Your response will be extremely helpful.

  516. pmcalary, October 17, 2018 at 3:57 pm:

    Hi Charley,
    This one is too close to call. They are both great lines. I would Google each company and buy my kitchen from the place that gets the best reviews.

  517. Lisa, October 24, 2018 at 6:13 pm:

    I got a quote for Starmark cabinets at 24K and then just got another from Norcraft at 9K…is there really that much difference between these two cabinets?

  518. amy, October 25, 2018 at 9:51 am:

    Can you please compare starmark cabinets vs. shenandoah kitchen cabinets painted maple? I am between these two for my kitchen remodel. I can save a considerable amount of money going with Shenandoah but I don’t want to sacrifice quality and craftsmanship and longevity.

    Thank you,

  519. pmcalary, October 28, 2018 at 10:19 am:

    Yes there is a huge difference. There are better choices than Norcraft if you are looking to spend less.

  520. pmcalary, October 28, 2018 at 10:27 am:

    Hi Amy,
    There is a big difference in the ability to customize between these two line. However most homeowners are pricing very simple designs that don’t require much customization. The finishes will be nicer in Starmark but not more durable. With both lines upgraded you won’t be sacrificing durability just better quality control and the beauty of the finishes which many people either won’t care about or be able to appreciate. Look at both sample doors you are considering. If the difference in the look isn’t worth the money to you I’d spend my money on something that makes a bigger impact on your kitchen like removing soffits, having cabinets reach the ceiling with moldings, or other design features.

  521. Shana, November 7, 2018 at 11:39 pm:

    Our Wellborn dealer is convincing us not to upgrade to full plywood construction. He is claiming that the particle board between the cabinets is high quality “furniture grade” and not the rental unit “cheap” particle board. We aren’t sure if he is just trying to get us to save money on the upgrade so we purchase his cabinets! Whats your opinion? Thanks!

  522. pmcalary, November 8, 2018 at 12:02 am:

    He is right that the the particle board is a higher grade but plywood is needed on wall cabinets for strength since they hang on walls loaded with heavy kitchenware. Base cabinets only need to be plywood on exposed ends so that they age as the other real wood does. However, It is usually cheaper just to order the whole kitchen in an all plywood box and less likely to create confusion and errors.

  523. JM Doire, November 14, 2018 at 7:32 am:

    Good website for cabinet comparison:
    Another good source of information:
    We were about to purchase cabinets from Home Depot and found these just in time…

  524. pmcalary, November 14, 2018 at 9:55 am:

    The first web site must have very old reviews as Mills Pride, one of the lines they rate, has been out of business for over 10 years. Also consumers are bad evaluators of cabinetry as often their complaints are misguided and no one asks them a decade later how their cabinets are holding up. This is why JD Power and Consumer Reports reviews have little value. Having experienced kitchen designers rate cabinetry is a far better way to judge cabinetry. Here is our most recent cabinet reviews:

  525. Jane, November 27, 2018 at 9:53 am:

    What is your opinion at this point of Wolf cabinets for a bathroom vanity? My GC is suggesting Wolf or possibly Waypoint. The 2018 ratings were higher than the 2017 rating

  526. pmcalary, November 27, 2018 at 12:32 pm:

    We still give Wolf a good rating for less expensive cabinetry. They do offer downgraded construction in their less expensive lines that we wouldn’t recommend. I think we tempered our overall rating of them slightly by their deciding to offer lesser quality construction.

  527. Dave, December 27, 2018 at 6:08 pm:

    Could you tell me about how much Woodmode cabinets generally run? Thanks for the help.

  528. Jill, January 3, 2019 at 1:39 pm:

    What is your opinion on the cabinets that Costco sells through a New Jersey company?

  529. pmcalary, January 3, 2019 at 9:36 pm:

    Construction wise some of the lines Costco sells are well built. Certainly Costco products are a huge step up from IKEA. But buying cabinets from both these companies or buying cabinets online guarantees that you have no qualified kitchen designer helping you. Spending so much money on cabinetry, appliances, countertops, flooring, construction and everything else involved in a kitchen renovation but avoiding the help of a knowledgeable kitchen designer to save 10 to 15% on cabinets is a bad idea.

    The more people believe that they don’t need the help of a kitchen designer the less likely they are to spend their budget wisely. And so the designs created without knowledgeable help are in general terrible wastes. This whole concept is part of The IKEA EFFECT. See blog below:

  530. Kieran Mahoney, January 12, 2019 at 1:33 pm:

    Living in Key West, I’m limited to the local Home Depot designer and showroom, which I have used on previous projects with good results. We are planning a kitchen renovation with choices of cabinets by Kraftmaid, Thomasville, American Woodmark, Martha Stewart, and Decora. Decora seems to have a wider selection of finishes but really don’t know much about them. We want all wood construction and no particle board. Your input would be appreciated. Thanks

  531. pmcalary, January 13, 2019 at 7:25 am:

    I would recomend Decora, Kraftmaid, and American Woodmark.
    Upgraded they are all well constucted. The American Woodmark will be about 20 % less expensive since their are fewer selections and modifications available. Decora offers the largest selection but should be very close to Kraftmaid pricing. If you are on a serious budget I’d use Woodmark. Otherwise I’d pick the Decora or Kraftmaid door style or finish you like best.

    Thomasville and Martha Sterwart are rebranded lines as is American Woodmark but unlike Woodmark thier is no gaurantee what line you are really getting. You will overpay for the first two lines and Home Depot can change who’s making them at them as they see fit since they aren’t real independent manufacturers. Lowes seems more honorable in this reguard. They rebrand for example their Schuler is Medallion and thier Shenendoah is Timberlake ie American Woodmark but like the American Woodmark at Home Depot the rebranded lines are brands that never change and you can rely on.

  532. karianne, January 16, 2019 at 9:57 pm:

    I am planning to sell my home with 20-year-old white thermofoil cabinets and Formica counters. I’m thinking about upgrading to granite. Will the granite just make the cabinets look older. My agent says we should give a $ credit for granite and let the buyer do what they want. Thoughts?

  533. pmcalary, January 17, 2019 at 9:06 am:

    It’s quite likely that the people buying your home will be tearing out the kitchen. I’d spend the money you would have spent on granite on painting, cleaning, sanding floors, or even landscaping before investing in a 20 year old thermofoil kitchen.

  534. Diane, January 21, 2019 at 4:32 pm:

    We live on Cape Cod, but are certainly not the rich people that you often think of. We essentially like the kitchen design we have, but need a few upgrades like pull out drawers and blind corner access. WE have looked at Diamond, Durasupreme, and Candlelight. Diamond from Lowes, Durasupreme from a mjlti-purpose hardware/home improvement center, and Candlelight from a kitchen designer. Candlelight seems to be the best product – construction, durability, made in the USA, etc. but the price point may be too high. We are concerned that the kitchen design company has increased the price because, well, it’s Cape Cod and for some other people cost is irrelevant. We plan on staying in the house for a long time and would be very disappointed if the cabinets didn’t last as long as the originals (house built in 1972 as a model home – cabinets are still very sturdy). Any suggestions on
    1. how to check what candlelight costs elsewhere
    2. how to compare the tradeoffs between candlelight, diamond, and durasupreme for longevity and function. Not too concerned about style as I am sure we can find something in any of those lines that would work. We will probably go with wood and not paint.

  535. pmcalary, January 21, 2019 at 4:59 pm:

    Hi Diane,
    If you upgrade all these cabinet lines to plywood construction they are well constructed and will last esentially a lifetime just getting nicked and scratched. Candlelight is a more expensive custom cabinet line that is why it is higher priced. You are paying for the ability to customise and other custom choices you are probably not taking advantage of. Simple designs don’t need the most expensive cabinetry to accopmlish and made in the USA does not mean better. Depending on the style and color you are selecting Fabuwood the least expensive line we sell could look the same and be a better made cabinet than Diamond or DuraSupreme if you didn’t upgrade them and equal if you did.
    Diamond, DuraSupreme, and Candlelight all have some very nice stains and glazes. So if you are selecting a stained finish that nicer stain is one of the things you are paying for. Durability or cabinet conveniences can be available in less expensive lines.

  536. Diane, January 21, 2019 at 5:11 pm:

    so, you are saying that I could probably get a good sturdy lasting cabinet from Fabuwood that would cost less than daimond, durapureme or candlelight. It would be wood and not fiberboard and of appropriate thicknesses and framed. We really just want a wood finish with a simply comfortable design on the door. BUt we do want a few special things like easy access to the corner spaces in both wall and base cabinets and prefer drawers to shelves in base cabinets as we are getting older.
    I am concerned about made in the USA because I heard too many horror stories of a lack of regulation on products made overseas. They *say* it is X, but it really isn’t, and too bad when you find out too late.

  537. pmcalary, January 21, 2019 at 5:54 pm:

    Fabuwood, Wolf (owned by Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf) and many other cabinet lines are American companies that assemble cabinets in the US. The doors and cabinet fronts and some other parts are made in China but under American supervision, just like your iPhone. And like you iPhone the quality of what you are buying is the same but the cost is less than if everything been made in the US. Even some US custom cabinet lines are starting to ship American high grade lumber to China to have their doors and cabinet fronts made at the lower labor costs to be shipped back and built and finished in the US.

    So yes if you don’t care about the nicer “looking” stained finishes a line like Fabuwood will be 30-40% less and be made the same with the exact same tracks and hinges. Other US lines like Homecrest, American Woodmark, or Shenendoah, sold at home centers or comparable lines sold at private dealers will fall in between these two price points. Upgraded they will also offer most of what you are looking for. They might be a little rougher finish wise and have slightly more shipping issues but all this cabinetry is guaranteed.
    This is why we believe the best money you spend is on getting the best layout and design so long as the cabinetry is well constructed which comes in many lines across all price points.
    These other features are nice but moving a doorway or getting rid of an ugly soffit that might cost $1000 is better money spent that 40% more on cabinetry or 200% more on professional appliances if the design of your kitchen isn’t great.

    As a kitchen designer it is always frustrating to me pricing out expensive custom cabinetry in a poor design created by a homeowner, contractor, or architect. And sometimes customers have paid an architect thousands to come up with novice designs which are difficult criticizing when so much has been invested in the amateurish design. And the architect is possibly present which just adds to the dilemma.

    Design trumps any expensive upgrades. So make sure you have a great design first. And if your kitchen layout is remaining the same I guarantee that it could have been improved.

  538. Diane, January 22, 2019 at 9:46 am:

    thanks for the info. The layout will be essentially the same. appliances need to stay where they are unless we take down walls, etc and we don’t think we want to go that route. They can shift a few inches left and right, and will as we wnat to cetner the sink on the window. We are going to get rid of soffits and get a toe kick heater under the sink instead of the baseboard on the wall so we can open the refrigerator door further. Two further questions.
    1.currently our wall cabinets are about 14 inches above the countertop. We have been told that it should be 18 inches. Is that right? How much does that matter? We plan to have a microwave over the range and I know there is a minimum distance for safety. Is that the driving factor?
    2. I have been warned about the toe kick heater that they can leave “burn marks” on certain flooring types. I actually saw this in a friends home. What should I watch out for? We were thinking floating vinyl but wonder if that would be a problem.

  539. pmcalary, January 22, 2019 at 10:25 am:

    Hi Diane,
    You are essentially doing everything we recommend against and yet still not trying to find an experienced designer to work with. The best advice I can give you is to stop what you are doing and seek out good design help. Anything short of that is just continuing to help you stay on a terrible path that will waste money and create terrible designs.

  540. Diane, January 22, 2019 at 11:15 am:

    actually, we HAVE spoken with a designer – one that supposedly has 30 years of design experience, but I am not convinced that I like all the results.
    The designer recommended a 12×12 void space in the wall cabinet corner – doesn’t seem efficient to me.
    the designer recommended getting rid of the soffits. OK, taller cabinets – that makes sense.
    The designer said the clearance from countertop to wall cabinet had to be 18 inches – is that true?
    Unless we knock out a wall, there is only ONE place the fridge can go – provided that we do not want to block the ONLY entrance to the kitchen when the fridge door is open. The kitchen is roughly 11 ft square – one exterior wall and one wall has the entrance and a peninsula (eating space – not cooking). Those 2 walls connect.
    THe designer recommended centering the sink on the window – makes sense.
    The designer recommended a peanut shaped pull-out for the blind corner of the base cabinets – nice that it pulls ALL the way out, but it really doesn’t seem like the most efficient use of space. I think a “super susan” or one of those 3-position pull-slide-pull units would be better.
    The designer recommended the toe kick heater under the sink. I like that as it solves some other questions about the peninsula that we are trying to put base cabinets under, but if it means a lot of work (and $$$) to move the heat to the opposite wall, and I run the risk of destroying a new floor, then maybe that’s not such a good idea. Friends said they explicitly asked if that would be a problem, were told no, and look at that, brown burn marks across their cream-colored floor. (I have a different designer and different company.)
    So, yes, some of the ideas we have come from an experienced designer, but how do you know if your designer has it right? Ask someone like you!! (and try not to throw anybody under the bus in the process.)

  541. pmcalary, January 22, 2019 at 12:54 pm:

    Without seeing the design I don’t know what we would recommend since it is never what you want – it is what design solution works best for the space. You can send us the design on a Friday between 2pm and 4pm EST and we could evaluate it.
    That being said everything this designer told you seems accurate and likely. You can’t have your cake and eat it too so not having a better use of the corners could be because it looks better and that the sink is centered. And yes 18″ between your countertops and wall cabinets is a must especially if you have Tall cabinets. Because doors and cabinet tops wouldn’t line up if your were to lower the wall cabinets. Not to mention that countertop appliances are all made for an 18″ space.
    A toe kick heater correctly installed should not burn floors although selecting vinyl could age it more rapidly. And finally moving heating or removing soffits will make your design better. So splurge on these things before selecting more expensive cabinetry, appliances, or countertops. This comes from the person that sells cabinets and tops so keep that in mind.

  542. Diane, January 25, 2019 at 8:51 am:

    How can I send you the design? is there an email?

  543. Mick, January 31, 2019 at 12:03 pm:

    I am meeting with a designer and contractor tonight to get the damage (I mean estimate) of my kitchen. I want inset cabinets, quartersawn oak, white finish. I have looked and looked, and came to the conclusion of Starmark Cabinetry. I cannot find many other companies that have the finish and look that I want. Before committing, any other cabinet makers that I should consider? Thanks for this blog!!!

  544. pmcalary, January 31, 2019 at 12:16 pm:

    I would recommend not buying an inset quartersawn oak cabinet in a painted or stained white finish. Not only is the color not popular, but it will look too much like the finish homeowners on a budget get when they paint over their oak cabinets. If you want any resale value on this expensive renovation you don’t have to select the most popular stains and finishes but you shouldn’t select unpopular ones. This is why you don’t see this color done by other cabinet companies.

  545. Mick, January 31, 2019 at 1:48 pm:

    Thanks! So torn. house is very old, and the painted maples look so new and not like wood. I do like seeing the texture that quartersawn gives. I have RUTT now, but cant afford new Rutt, so Starmark has had some of the best finishes. Thanks again. PS,,,just saw a rustic hickory and alder that piqued my interest. I will never decide!

  546. Mike, February 1, 2019 at 6:58 pm:

    I’ve met with a designer. Received prices on Forevermark and Wolf (York)line cabinets. Would you recommend looking for a better quality like the Fabuwood or Bishop?
    I know the Wolf comes with the 1/2″ plywood that you’ve recommended, think the Forevermark does as well, but not 100% sure. I’ve heard the finish on the Wolf is very thin and scratches easily. Does this fall in line with your experience?

  547. pmcalary, February 3, 2019 at 4:15 pm:

    Hi Mike,
    I like Fabuwood more than Wolf and Wolf more than Foevermark. You should always upgrade to 1/2 inch plywood.
    That being said I don’t think that the finish on Wolf is getting evaluated correctly. All painted cabinetry scratches easily. It is because Wolf is an inexpensive line that consumers blame the line for the scratches. Had they got expensive custom cabinets they would have had the same issue.
    Fabuwood is about 10 more expensive than upgraded Wolf and offers some nicer door styles and nicer looking finishes as well as a greater ability to customize. Whether that is worth it to you would be a personal choice. Durability of finish is not the issue.

  548. Kimberley Sims, February 5, 2019 at 12:51 am:

    Thanks so much for all your help… I made a decision to go with painted Dove white maple cabinets by Kraftmaid, 1/2” plywood boxes….I told my designer that I do not want to replace my cabinets for at least 20 – 30 years. She told me that I would not be happy with painted maple cabinets and that I should consider a low maintenance, but much more durable cabinet like the Kraftmaid “Evercore”… it’s not wood so there Will not be any joint separation because it’s 5/8” furniture grade.. very durable and more cost efficient.. I’m now confuse because I thought 1/2” plywood was the best you could buy… but according to my designer, the Evercore is kid tough, no swelling or joint separation, it holds it’s painted Dove White factory finished color for the life of the cabinet if properly cared for and it does not delaminate because it’s not thermal foil. Any thoughts on the Evercore cabinet or it my designer pulling my leg… it sounds too good to be true…

  549. pmcalary, February 5, 2019 at 7:44 am:

    Hi Kimberley,
    There is no joint separation because there are no seams as the door is MDF, IE compressed particleboard. The door will more easily get dinged and scratched but won’t show any expansion seams. I would not recommend this for anyone that is hard on things and would certainly not call it “kid tough”. Expansion seams can be touched up and furniture refinishers can touch up and repair real wood but not MDF. However since the MDF kitchen costs less you could replace damaged doors as needed and still have saved money up until the time that the paint ages past being a close match to any new replaced doors.
    I don’t like the fact that the designer is spinning the advantages of Evercore or not understanding how soft the doors truely are.

  550. Susan, February 8, 2019 at 11:46 am:

    I am building a new home. I am looking for a cabinet line that has low vocs and water based finishes. Was sent a painted cabinet door that the finish was not cured at all and had a bad allergic reaction. Found a cabinet line called breathe easy and was wondering if you know anything about this line (quality construction, etc.) and how the price compares with kraftmaid. That so much for you help.

  551. pmcalary, February 8, 2019 at 4:53 pm:

    I have never heard of “Breathe Easy” cabinets but I would be immediately skeptical of them. They are a frameless line that markets to this issue and companies that market to single issue buyers in the cabinet industry are most often scams or terrible investments.

    I would instead select a well made cabinet line that is documented CARB2 compliant. This is the only independent off-gassing accreditation that I know of. Any other undocumented assurances I wouldn’t trust.

    Next if you want to reduce your families exposure even further I would store your cabinets unboxed in a storage facility or your garage for 1 to 2 months prior to installation. If you use your garage try to keep the temperature between 40 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit and tape the interoior door from your garage to your home shut to keep gasses out. I’d also air out the garage as often as possible.

  552. Kim, March 15, 2019 at 6:01 pm:

    I just don’t know what to do. We built a house in 2005. I had Kemper Thermofoil cabinets put in.The design was wonderful and I always got so many compliments on that kitchen. In 13 years we had no problems. We just sold that home in August. Now we bought our retirement home last month and are doing some major renovations. Our goal is not get into debt at this point in our life. I learned about RTA cabinets. We were so excited about getting quality cabinets at a great price. The saving came in to play by us building them. Now I learn we had junk and almost bought junk again. PLEASE HELP!

  553. pmcalary, March 16, 2019 at 3:07 pm:

    Since cabinet companies only charge 15 or $20 per box to build cabinets it is usually not efficient assembling cabinetry on your own. Assuming you had even 30 cabinets that might only be $450 to $500. Buying cabinets on line also means that you have no kitchen professional helping you with your kitchen which everyone needs whether they believe it or nor. We recommend dealers around the US. I’d start there. Or we talk to people outside our service area Fridays between 2pm and 4pm EST.

  554. Kim, March 16, 2019 at 7:49 pm:

    The assembly charge is good to know.They make you think the saving is much more. I think you are unaware of the design help that all the RTA companies offer. Many emails and phone conversations back and forth. They all have been very nice and helpful. More than I’m getting from Home Depot. Please educate me on why the Thermofoil Kemper cabinets we had were bad? Are there ANY RTA companies you think offer a descent product? I also am working with a local company that is quoting TRU Cabinets. Do you have an opinion on those. Thank you. Kim

  555. pmcalary, March 17, 2019 at 6:29 pm:

    Thermafoil is easy to clean but should only be expected to last about 20 years before it begins to delaminate. The help you are getting from RTA companies is not from experienced designers. Home centers are not much better but at least they can measure and see your kitchen. Working with someone that has not measured your kitchen personally is foolish and asking for poor design and mistakes.

  556. Dale, March 24, 2019 at 3:57 pm:

    Thank you so much for such a great blog. You’ve eased my mind considerably regarding our upcoming kitchen remodel. Question: I’d like to reuse my old base cabinets (45 years old, all plywood/hardwood) to make a large island. I know they won’t match our new cabinet choice, and that’s ok. The contrast might look good. What’s the best way to finish/update them? Sand/re-stain/paint? The new cabinets will be a natural maple finish on simple recessed panel door. Old cabinets are walnut stained oak on much more ornate recessed panel doors. I’d hate to waste them. Thanks!

  557. pmcalary, March 24, 2019 at 4:30 pm:

    Hi Dale,
    Reusing your old cabinets makes no sense. It will cost you more than getting new cabinetry and respectable professionals probably wouldn’t get involved in a halfway kitchen renovation. Customers are almost never happy with the results of a project done this way. And to be frank the people that insist on doing these type renovations are harder to work with and are less desirable clientele. Because of this some professionals will steer clear of the project while other less ethical designers and contractors will simply charge more expecting problems down the road that they are pre charging for.

  558. 808kitchen, March 30, 2019 at 5:07 am:

    Wow, you are a wealth of information!!!
    We are limited in Hawaii, can’t do mitered doors, too humid. Only a few brands offer custom or semi-custom. Please help me decide on a cabinet brand: Belmont 1900, Omega, Nouveau Thomasville, Kitchen Craft, Kemper. I want a frameless, Traditional, cherry wood cabinetry. Seven of the cabinets have beveled glass and lighting inside. About 4 of the boxes are custom designed sizes. Kitchen is about 14ft x 11ft with an Island in center.
    I have a bad designer who is slow (8 months still incomplete kitchen design), excuses herself from answering more than 3 dozen questions from the past 4 months because she is…, “waiting for vendor response, crazy busy will answer when has time, closed during holidays, …etc etc etc.” I paid over $3000 to receive a kitchen design with Belmont cabinets, flooring, quartz countertops, lighting, etc… we haven’t gotten to talk about anything else except the cabinetry. I’m thinking I wasted my money on a kitchen designer. After 9 months working with them, I still don’t have a total cost of how much my kitchen remodel with be when completed. The estimation so far is over $175,000. I thought this was crazy. Other places have estimated my costs of my kitchen project with their cabinetry to be between $30,000 -$45,000. I don’t want to rush, because she makes a lot of mistakes. But I don’t think this is normal when working with the designer. Is this common practice with all designers? ‘JohnCook Kitchens’ pushes Belmont cabinets. Is Belmont 1900 the best? That’s what they tell me here. I no longer trust them.
    I’m now looking at ProSource designer who carries Omega and doesn’t charge a fee.

  559. 808kitchen, March 30, 2019 at 5:10 am:

    Yes these quotes are for the completed kitchen project.

  560. pmcalary, March 30, 2019 at 3:09 pm:

    How can I advise you? You say you are getting a traditional door style. If you aren’t getting a modern slab door style you would be going against our advice to start by getting frameless cabinetry.
    We get so many of these type questions. IE “I am not taking any of the advice you give on these topics, but can you advise me on this other topic?”
    This is how people get themselves in these types of drawn out situations. They don’t do the research needed to find a good designer. The people they choose to work with are often the people that tell them what they want to hear because they don’t want to take advice they don’t like hearing.
    I also suspect from your room measurements that your island is to tight for your kitchen. Has any designer suggested that? If so work with that designer. This is because the designers that disagree with you and with what you tell them you want are ethical and are putting good design above simply selling you cabinets.
    Whenever I hear a story about a renovation that took years with countless delays I always know that everyone involved was at fault.
    The designer that just wanted to get the sale and wouldn’t say no to the customer.
    The contractors that simply took the customers money and never objected to working without an organized plan that he agreed on. And also didn’t have no in his or her vocabulary.
    And the customer who always wanted what they wanted independent of advice from professionals.
    These type people will always find each other to create the perfect storm of a bad renovation. The job will cost a fortune and be poorly conceived and executed because it wasn’t well planed and no one was putting common sense ahead of what they wanted.

  561. Nadia, March 30, 2019 at 9:35 pm:

    Hi, I would love your thoughts on Duraform from Lowes in terms of durability? Thank you!

  562. pmcalary, March 31, 2019 at 9:15 am:

    Hi Nadia,
    Great question and a pet peeve of mine.

    Duraform is Thermofoil and so a thin coat of plastic glued to a MDF (particle board) constructed door. Here are the pros and cons of a thermofoil door style in my opinion:
    Because it’s plastic, Thermofoil is easy to clean, difficult to nick or scratch and will never show the joints or seams where wood pieces have been glued together to create the door. Think of the thermofoil white plastic doors that were so popular in the 1990’s.
    The painted cabinets that everyone loves right now are the opposite. Easily nicked and scratched and need to be very carefully cleaned because water can quickly degrade paint.
    Because they are plastic Thermofoil is very sensitive to heat, Professional cooktops and ranges can easily melt doors if the kitchen design does not account for their powerful burners. And any defective seals on self cleaning ovens or even regular ovens can melt doors. Heat shields (metal protective strips) need to be used between ranges and the cabinets next to them as a precaution but they are only partially effective.
    Thermofoil eventually will delaminate (bubble and peel) as the glue breaks down binding the foil to the door. In the past 20 years was the maximum time before this happened. Cabinet companies now claim their glues will last much longer but who knows how much longer and cabinet companies have a terrible track record as far as honesty and transparency is concerned.
    If you are getting modern slab doors then these styles can look better with a plastic look. And they definitely look better with a frameless cabinet which is also less durable. So the longevity issue of the thermofoil might not be an issue because the look is important and your cabinets lasting 20 years or a little longer is OK. However if you are getting a traditional or transitional door style I think the plastic looks cheap and I’d want these style kitchens to last a lifetime and just need to get touched up over time. Professional furniture repair companies like Guardsman will touch up a kitchen and make it look almost new for around $500.
    In the early 90’s when white thermofoil cabinets were the rage I always tried to steer customers away from them for kitchens and reserve them for mudrooms. They never looked tasteful to me. Nor did the gold and glass furniture from the 80’s. Nor the dark oak stains of the 70’s. Nor the pink and teal bath tile of the 60’s. Nor to be honest did the Frank Lloyd Wright style homes of the 40’s and 50’s.
    Some people will always be drawn to these less less practical, less durable type looks. But one of the questions I get asked almost every day is “will the cabinetry and color I am picking be timeless” The answer is tasteful, practical, and durable will always be “timeless” and will appeal to people in years to come. The painted white and gray shaker door styles so popular today will certainly never be so popular in the future but they will still look tasteful if the kitchen is designed attractively and functionally. Shaker styles and these confederate gray colors have be popular for hundreds of years.
    In the 90’s I used to ask other designers that sold mostly thermofoil cabinets if they really thought white plastic coated cabinets would be considered tasteful in the future. The answer was usually “no but it’s what people want.” Almost everyone now thinks white thermofoil traditional style cabinets are unattractive and the arched doors that were also so popular are out of style.
    Duraform is simply the next white thermofoil. And while Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous home Falling Water is beautiful in many respects, and visited by countless people each year, I doubt anyone would actually purchase a home to live in that was incredibly drafty, without screens on the windows to get air and keep bugs out in the summer, and was so poorly built that upkeep was a bottomless money pit.

  563. David, April 6, 2019 at 8:41 am:

    I went to Home Depot and with the help of the designer have a beautiful layout of Kraft Maid cabinets with all the extras I wanted. My contractor has a supplier that he works with who also gave me a layout, but I was not happy with Choice Cabinets. This supplier then tried another cabinet company, Tru Cabinetry. It looks like he just copied the Kraft Maid, but I don’t know if he has planned all the extras that I wanted. There is about a $4,000 difference in price. What would you suggest?

  564. pmcalary, April 6, 2019 at 9:21 am:

    I don’t know tru cabinetry but I suspect it is not as well made or nice as Kraftmaid and of course all the extras can’t be included without you sitting and going over and adding each one with the other designer. I would stop shopping you have a designer you like you are only going to get ripped off by an unscrupulous designer if you get into the shop till you drop mode.

  565. Dave, April 12, 2019 at 1:06 pm:

    Hi Paul, this blog is a wonderful resource and I am trying to sort thru all your advice. We are looking at Fabuwood, the galaxy frost door style. Are you still a fabuwood fan? When you say they have some bad dealers, generally what do you mean? We have received two prices one of $7300 an another of $8200 does that seem about right? Thank You

  566. pmcalary, April 12, 2019 at 10:05 pm:

    Hi Dave,
    Of course the size and the design of your kitchen dramatically effects the price. We have sold Fabuwood kitchens under $4,000 as well as Fabuwood kitchens well as Over $30,000. Different dealers will have different mark ups too. And any design you price could include some things that one designer added while another did not such as flush sides, moldings, or rollouts.

    When Fabuwood began they sold to very small carpenters and inexperienced dealers. They are more discriminating now. The reputation of the dealer you buy from is just as important as the cabinet line. You have no contract with Fabuwood your contract is with the dealer. So research your dealer as well as your cabinet line. And the most important part of the equation is the kitchen designer which is the hardest part to be able to evaluate unless you are another experienced kitchen designer. The best kitchen designer is not the person that makes your ideas a reality. It is the designer that teaches you why you need to consider other options and helps you evaluate the good and bad parts of any design.

    Many customers are angry when I tell them that the first design I will do could possibly not take any of their ideas into account. The first design they see is one that effectively uses their space and their budget. Because we change the design from that starting point, customers better understand why they might want something they hadn’t considered.

    I often speak with my mechanic about our businesses. He is not only a great mechanic and runs a fabulous and successful garage but he renovates properties on the side and has bought several kitchens from me. His customers trust him and rarely tell him how to do his job. He trusts me and asks for advice on what I think the best designs and values for his projects are.

    However many of our kitchen customers feel that they should direct the design process and that our job is to make their vision a reality. People often tell me that they have done 3 kitchens so they are pretty much experts. The first day on the job a novice kitchen designer will probably design three kitchens and they won’t be considered competent by other designers until they have been designing kitchens full time for probably ten years. Some will never get good and only a very few are truly gifted. Doug Mottershead who’s a little bit of a legend says it best in our video. See link below:

  567. Luciane Ramos, April 29, 2019 at 4:16 pm:

    I got a quote for Crew Series kitchen cabinets by Starmark for a large kitchen. This Crew series has a lower price point, 3/8″ plywood construction but a limited number of colors and finishes. How do these cabinets compare to the Thomasville Studio 1904 cabinet series offered by Home Depot that also have a lower price point and limited options for door styles, finishes and colors? I was leaning towards the Starmark Crew series but the quote came in high so I am looking for other medium cost cabinet options with plywood construction (not particleboard). My style is contemporary flat panel. Any suggestions? Thanks, Luciane.

  568. pmcalary, April 29, 2019 at 5:31 pm:

    It makes NO sense to get poorly made versions of expensive cabinetry. There are great better made inexpensive cabinet lines out there so why buy the thing that makes no sense? Get a better made US/Import like Fabuwood, J&K, Wolf, ProCraft, ect or upgrade a medium priced line like American Woodmark, Shenendoah, Homecrest, or just pay to have the expensive line made as well as the inexpensive alternatives.

  569. Nicole, May 2, 2019 at 3:07 pm:

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge! We are planning on a master bathroom remodel. I work with a designer who first recommended Medallion Silver line for a 72″ double sink vanity painted white. Throughout the planning stage we are trying to control budget on the bathroom cabinets and now she is recommending Tru Cabinetry. Both have 1/2″ side panels and all plywood construction, hardwood face frame. I also got quotes from local dealers on Showplace (paint grade maple), Kraftsmaid Vantage line and Kemper Choice line. We don’t want to spend over $2K on the vanity cabinets. My designer cautions me about Kraftmaid Vantage having lighter weight sides, smaller drawers, and fiber board and not all plywood. Since it’s going to be in a humid environment, we are also debating on wood vs. MDF. How would you rank these brands/lines in terms of quality and value? Thank you!

  570. pmcalary, May 2, 2019 at 4:54 pm:

    Kraftmaid Vantage is all plywood construction has standard size drawers for a framed cabinet and standard 1/2″ thick plywood sides. So your designer is confused at best. I would choose the Vantage from your list for quality and value.

  571. Russell, May 3, 2019 at 4:19 pm:

    Hi Paul,

    We are working with a kitchen designer we like a lot here in the Boston area: we are likely going to get a painted Candlelight Cabinet with all plywood construction. I have 2 questions for you, please:

    1. What’s your viewpoint/experience with inset vs full overlay? We love inset and realize these are more $ and you lose space. We live by the ocean and understand there may need to be adjustments made from time to time. Is this just a preference on look at the end of the day once you move past the issues of $, space and adjustments? Inset cabinets are beautiful to our eyes; we just don’t want to make a mistake on these, especially if they don’t operate well or don’t hold up for some reason or something else we’re not thinking of.

    2. Our new kitchen design includes an island. The space we are in puts significant constraints on the size of the island. Basically, 5′ to 6′ x 4′ to 5′. We love a 5′ x 5′ (cabs 4 x 4) design our designer came up with which includes 12″ overhangs for seating on 2 adjoining sides. Anything we should be thinking about with a square design vs more rectangular? One of these seating sides is in the work aisle – we are planning a 48″ counter to counter space for the aisle which includes the refrigerator and sink areas; there is some room as this 5′ run of the island with seating is fundamentally inside where the fridge and sink are positioned.

    Any thoughts/guidance is greatly appreciated – Thanks!

    Thanks very much

  572. pmcalary, May 3, 2019 at 5:50 pm:

    Hi Russel,
    Getting very expensive cabinetry like Candlelight and not getting inset cabinets takes away the identity of your cabinets as custom cabinets. So you are spending double the price on cabinetry but people can’t really tell. So I would get Beaded Inset cabinetry if I’m paying for custom cabinetry. And since you are in a beach area I would get 6 way adjustable concealed hinges.
    Islands look more proportional when they are rectangular. I have never seen a square Island that really wowed me. I haven’t seen your design but you should never sit at an island with your back to the sink or the cooktop. Only towards the table or the refrigerator. It disrupts the most important work areas and because it does it will look odd as well.

  573. Russell, May 4, 2019 at 11:44 am:

    Hi Paul – thank you very much for your excellent and fast response!

    Cabinets – I understand completely on inset with a cab mfg like candlelight, makes great sense. If you were going to go full overlay and had Decora as another option would that make sense? We are leaning towards inset.

    Island – thank you for tipping me back the other way against seating in a work aisle – it seemed all wrong to me – right in the thick of the work triangle in our design. I then discovered your kitchen renovation video in 211 seconds – that island design is awesome and achieves all we are looking for. It will be 4′ x 6’6″ We won’t have a sink in it, but it will have a Bev center and microwave drawer on the 6’6″ work side (sink/fridge) with an 18″ 3 drawer cab in the middle. The 24″ cabinet that you put to form the L on the 4′ work aisle side (range) will be either a 2 drawer cab or a large cab with pull out for big pots, which we need. Anything come to mind with this approach? People that have that island love it?

    Thanks very much!!!

  574. Russell, May 4, 2019 at 11:47 am:

    BTW – on the note above the 6’6″ dimension includes 12″ overhang for seating on the other side. Thanks!

  575. Paul McAlary, May 4, 2019 at 1:15 pm:

    We would need to see the design to comment further on layout. For a painted cabinet in full overlay style I might spend even less than you would on a very good line like Decora if a style and color I liked was available in a less expensive line. And the design could be easily reproduced with this less expensive cabinet line.
    Today there are very well made and very inexpensive cabinet lines that do the most popular door styles and finishes very reasonably. Ten years ago you would have had to buy a line like Decora to get a really well made nice cabinet. Today there are other alternatives. See our blog on cabinet ratings for inexpensive highly rated cabinets.

  576. Dave, May 11, 2019 at 8:42 am:

    Hi Paul, with the tariffs possibly effecting brands like fabuwood, what is a similar brand in cost and quality that wouldn’t be impacted? Thanks

  577. pmcalary, May 11, 2019 at 9:24 am:

    Hi Dave,
    The answer is none. All the less expensive well constructed cabinet lines like Fabuwood, Wolf, 6 Square, J&K, and others are inexpensive and well made BECAUSE they import at least the doors and cabinet fronts. They are all US companies but they are importing the most expensive parts to save the huge difference in labor costs having the cabinet fronts and doors made overseas.To get the same quality in a strictly US brands you have to spend at least 30% more. How much the tariffs are going to effect the cabinet market is yet to be determined.
    The only import line I can think of that possibly wouldn’t be effected might be Hanssem. Hanssem was originally made in South Korea. I’m not sure now if cabinet parts are also being made in China. I believe even IKEA now imports their doors from China.
    There is uncertainty about how the tariffs could effect prices overall because US companies might get exceptions or route parts through other countries. For example when the 10% tariffs went into effect Fabuwood went up 5% but The US lines we carried went up 3 to 5% as well. The US lines just took advantage of the tariffs to make their product lines more profitable.
    Time will tell.

  578. Dave, May 11, 2019 at 4:55 pm:

    Hi Paul, thank you for your answer, We have decided on white shaker cabinets, as a design point should we select our counter and back splash next and then choose our floor last? Or pick the floor and then choose a counter/ back splash base on the cabinets and floor? Thank You

  579. Paul McAlary, May 11, 2019 at 6:13 pm:

    Hi Dave,
    I think that I would pick my countertop next since there will be large differences in costs depending on type and color of the top. Then I’d select my floor since color doesn’t effect price very much and you will have many selections to chose from that will help you coordinate the cabinets and tops with the floor. Lastly I would select my backsplash, sink, faucet, and hardware all of which will be very inexpensive by comparison to tie everything together both in color and in style.

  580. Suzy, May 14, 2019 at 1:58 pm:

    My KD is a Tedd Wood dealer but I have been having a difficult time finding recent reviews by people who have actually used these cabinets rather than dealers. I have only been able to see a few bathroom vanities and they looked great but I am renovating a full kitchen which of course is a big difference. Below is your post from over a year ago & I was wondering if you have any updated info –
    March 27, 2018 at 7:02 am:
    While I haven’t seen Ted Wood cabinets first hand they look to be a very beautiful, extremely well made cabinet. Their landmark series would also score very high in our reviews. Their Frameless Luxury line we would need more data on to give an opinion. We will try to add this very nice line to our upcoming updated reviews. Besides the cabinetry the Tedd Wood website has all the earmarks of a good company. It supplies information on their products, is transparent, and has none the grandiose generalizations many of the lesser lines all seem to specialize in. Upstate Pennsylvania has many of these small to mid size companies that are large enough to make cabinetry well without being so small they are really making “home made” and not custom cabinetry.
    Thank you

  581. pmcalary, May 14, 2019 at 2:15 pm:

    Hi Suzy,
    I still haven’t seen a Ted Wood cabinet but I have gotten additional comments from people about how much they loved the cabinets. I think that you should be able to judge a cabinet line from a single cabinet or vanity. What a completed kitchen looks like has more to do with the kitchen design and the installer. The quality of the cabinet line can be evaluated from a single cabinet. However always get a sample door made in your door style and color so that you can see what that looks like together.

  582. Suzy Brady, May 14, 2019 at 3:14 pm:

    Thank you for the quick reply. Much appreciated.

  583. Mike, May 19, 2019 at 6:14 pm:

    Has anyone had a recent experience with wolf designer cabinets? We were looking at kraftmaid but then saw Wolfe designer, both price out almost the same with same options. I have had great experience with Kraftmaid in the past but from what I see at the kitchen design center the wolf designer line seems ok also. Does anyone have a comparison.

  584. pmcalary, May 19, 2019 at 9:49 pm:

    I like Wolf but at the same price point Kraftmaid is a steal.

  585. Mark Thomas, May 24, 2019 at 9:16 pm:

    I am a small licensed contractor in WI. I try to give my customers all their wants, needs, and wishes within there budget. I cannot justify doing so by using products that are not up to my expectations. I am researching RTA cabinets that are already assembled from JSI cabinetry. Any comments on JSI? Do you have any suggestions for a company that is reputable?

  586. pmcalary, May 24, 2019 at 9:56 pm:

    JSI is OK but spending a little more on Fabuwood, Wolf Classic, J&K, or Procraft might be worth it.

  587. Ralph Wagner, May 30, 2019 at 6:04 pm:

    I find this blog to be extremely beneficial and appreciate all of the information. Do you have any experience with Diamond’s Vibe brand? I see it’s 3/8″ construction, which doesn’t seem the way to go base on what I’m reading here. I’m wondering if Kraftmaid is a better option over the Diamond Vibe.

  588. pmcalary, May 31, 2019 at 7:43 am:

    Upgraded to APC construction the Diamond box is 1/2″ plywood sides and it doesn’t say in their spec book but I believe it’s a 3/8″ plywood back. This would get a B+ for construction under our rating system and be similar to upgraded Kraftmaid. The lack of transparency in many of the MasterBrands cabinet lines I find frustrating. It’s one of the reasons we started this rating system and it puts pressure on cabinet companies to increase their transparency and to make better constructed cabinets.

  589. jmjuve, June 1, 2019 at 7:04 pm:

    We are building a new construction home and want a high quality product. We live in California and have questions about water soluble paints and finish that are mandated in California. If the cabinet is manufactured outside of California what is the difference in finishing products that other states use? It seems many of the quality cabinets you list: Bishop, Brighton, Wellsford, Signature and style craft do not have dealers in California which I am not sure why? Is it possible any of the above will work with a contracture in Fresno, CA on a large new construction project? Thank you

  590. pmcalary, June 2, 2019 at 12:06 pm:

    Hi Jimjuve,
    Because California was the first state to regulate off gassing with their CARB California Air Resource Board requirements many cabinet companies didn’t bother expanding into California even if they would have passed the standard simply to avoid the paperwork and testing. As of March of this year all cabinets need to pass EPA requirements that are essentially equivalent to California’s CARB2 standard. However many of the cabinet lines we list still have no dealers in California. Many cabinet companies popular in the western US have also not expanded east. For example I believe Main Line Kitchen Design is the first dealer in the North East to carry ProCraft an inexpensive line that is popular on the West Coast and down south. We saw ProCrast at The National Kitchen and Bath Industry Show KBIS in Las Vegas this year and were impressed with their quality and pricing.
    There are many great cabinet lines available out west so finding one in your price range should not be that difficult. For example Decora, or Starmark, Fieldstone, and Medallion, or Plain and Fancy would be similar is quality and pricing to Bishop / Brighton / Stylecraft.

  591. jmjuve, June 2, 2019 at 4:29 pm:

    Thank you, I have found a kitchen design center in Fresno that carries Crystal, Canyon Creek and Waypoint cabinets and another which sells Omega and KitchenCraft. What would be your top choice from those? I appreciate your help and the information you provide on this site.

  592. pmcalary, June 2, 2019 at 5:48 pm:


  593. Jacquie Copeland, June 5, 2019 at 7:48 pm:

    What do you think of Kraftmaid duraform cabinets?

  594. Jacquie Copeland, June 5, 2019 at 7:58 pm:

    I forgot to mention that I am only replacing my kitchen island. My white Thermofoil cabinets were put in by a big builder in 2003. I am not sure if I should try to match Thermofoil in Kraftmaid possibly, or go with a painted wood. This is the last remodeling we will do in our kitchen. I hate to put a great island in, when we are stuck with the ALL of the other cabinets. I have decided against refacing, but maybe that’s what I should do. What do you suggest. Thank you.

  595. pmcalary, June 6, 2019 at 7:20 am:

    Hi Jacqie,
    White raised panel Thermofoil doors especially with the arch popular in 2003 are very unpoplular today. Add to that that Thermofoil usually delaminates as the glue breaks down after about 20 years so I would not spend much money on this project as you will be doing it strictly for your own happiness without any resale value. So my advice would be to get the least expensive cabinetry you can find and not to splurge on any very temporary upgrades line new countertops or new flooring. Your kitchen is most likely not long for this world.

  596. Melissa williams, June 12, 2019 at 4:41 pm:

    I’m currently working with Home Depot. What is your opinion on America Woodmark cabinets. They are offering me a free upgrade for white cabinets. I looked at some reviews and they were not good.

  597. pmcalary, June 12, 2019 at 5:43 pm:

    Hi Mellisa,
    On line reviews are pretty meaningless. Most of the time customers blame problems that arose out of the designer’s, contractor’s, or their own misunderstanding, on the cabinet company. Add to that that a few damages occurring during shipping or installation are common and to be expected and home center customers treat ordering cabinets like ordering a toaster. I like American Woodmark as a product. Home Depot designers are another matter. Home centers in the last ten years have reduced the salary of their kitchen designers over 50%. Anyone that is a good kitchen designer probably left your Home Depot years ago. Working with a poor designer is usually far more costly than the cost of cabinets.

  598. David Gladstein, June 16, 2019 at 4:37 pm:

    I am looking at purchasing Bertch cabinets for my bathroom vanity. You have them rated high in your 2017 ratings, but I cannot find any other specs on their website or literature. I know that is a no-no for you. Can you tell me why you have them rated high. I like their style and price point, but concerned by the lack of specs.

  599. ITSAdmin, June 16, 2019 at 4:46 pm:

    Hi David,
    You bring up a good point. Most of our designers have sold Bertch and so we know how the cabinets were made when we sold them. However since they do not tell say on their web site there would be no way for us to know if they downgraded their construction recently since Main Line Kitchen Design does not sell Bertch. I would get construction specs from the dealer before you buy them.

  600. David Fortier, June 17, 2019 at 10:55 am:

    Hi Paul, we have followed your advice on selecting our cabinets and countertop, before choosing a floor. We have the fabuwood galaxy frost cabinets being delivered 7/2 and have selected a Viscont White Granite countertop. We are going with a Flooret LVT, but are undecided whether to go with their Ashford, which is a light brown.Hafren which is a light grey, or Maderia which is a darker brown with light grain lines. I feel the light grey floor would make the visont white appear darker in comparison, while the maderia would lend itself to making the viscont appear lighter. The light brown is kinda the compromise choice. Any thoughs? Thanks again for your great advice.

  601. pmcalary, June 17, 2019 at 11:41 am:

    Hi David,
    Without seeing the colors first hand I should not make selections. Photographs are never representative. Even individual computer monitors will make colors look different.

  602. Herman Stark, June 18, 2019 at 5:41 am:


    The very nice point you have brought up here, Like the way you have described it, I still remember the days I was used to work with a kitchen renovation in atlanta.

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