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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.

Jim Bishop off white

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.


Call in to our recorded Podcast 2-4 pm Fridays Eastern Standard Time to ask cabinetry and design questions. Have designs ready to email for layout advice. Call 610-500-4071


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. pmcalary, June 26, 2021 at 10:21 pm:

    Hi Vandana,
    You should definitely upgrade to plywood. Mdf panel for the door is OK. To determine how well the cabinet is constructed requires more information.

  2. Vandana Dommaraju, June 26, 2021 at 10:04 pm:

    Hi, we are building a new house and my builder is offering cabinets boxes with MDF for interiors back, sides and shelves.
    Cabinet doors are maple with MDF flat panel for painted cabinets. I am debating if we need to upgrade to all plywood construction for interiors? Appreciate your response! Thank you!

  3. pmcalary, April 29, 2021 at 12:27 pm:

    Hi Diana,
    For a Bathroom they aren’t bad. Of course painted cabinets in a bath can be problematic if you don’t have good ventilation, as paint and water don’t mix.
    There are better choices for the same money, though. See the other brands in the same price point with higher scores.

  4. Diana K, April 29, 2021 at 12:22 pm:

    What are your thoughts on Waypoint cabinets? I see you gave them a straight B score. Are they well made and durable? I am remodeling the master bathroom and leaning towards white cabinets.

  5. pmcalary, March 21, 2021 at 4:59 pm:

    Hi Laurie,
    I’m away so I can’t check on some things but I believe showplace is now being made by a different company hence the rating change. Recessed center panel in MDF is fine. Having a dealer recomend MDF for a whole door, without a warning, is troubling. I think the paint on the cabinet brand here will not be important. However I would consider a different designer. What other bad advice are you getting?

  6. Laurie, March 20, 2021 at 1:06 pm:

    Did Showplace cabinetry improve from last year and earn a better rating from you? I may be mistaken, but I thought last time I saw your cabinet rating chart, they were only a “C” for quality and now the have an”A” grade. I’m interested because our dealer is recommending Showplace or Candelight for painted cabinets. If construction for the two lines is good/similar, we would go with the one with a better paint finish. Which would you recommend? Do you know if both lines will do an MDF recessed panel door? The dealer recommended an all MDF door, but I know you’ve posted they are easily damaged, so was planning to avoid that. Thanks for any input you can give.

  7. pmcalary, March 7, 2021 at 11:14 am:

    Hi Hilaire,
    As long as the sides are 1/2 ply a 3/8″ solid back is OK. Not as good as a 1/2″ back but we give that type construction a B+. I think the real problem here was having someone less qualified design your space. They can try all they want to make it right but if they don’t know what they are doing due to inexperience, getting thigs right a second time is far from certain. People shop for cabinets – they should shop for designers first and cabinets second.

  8. Hilaire Quinn, March 7, 2021 at 9:43 am:

    Just received an order for Thomasville Classic cabinets for a bar area in our diningroom. Home Depot couldn’t have messed up the order more so it all needed to go back anyway, though they are trying to make it right. Really what I wanted to mention is that this line of cabinets still only uses 3/8 inch (we upgraded to ply)backings to attach to the wall. How is this going to support any weight and not just fall off? Luckily, we have 3/4 wood plank walls, but still, I am concerned. I would also like to note that the dovetailing on their drawers is absolutely horrible. I wish I went with a better cabinet maker.

  9. pmcalary, March 7, 2021 at 8:15 am:

    Hi ML,
    Upgraded these are all good cabinet lines. So no matter which line you choose you can’t go wrong. HOWEVER almost every design that people send us is terrible. Focus on getting a good designer that will direct you. Preventing customers from buying the badly designed kitchen they want is a full time job in of itself for most kitchen designers. Consider calling into our podcast on a Friday 2-4 EST with your design read to email. We almost never get sent a kitchen without many mistakes that are easy to make you aware of.

  10. ML, March 6, 2021 at 10:35 pm:

    Hello, we are choosing between the cabinets listed below. Any insight in to who makes the best cabinet to last a lifetime?
    Bertch, Decora, Starmark, Fieldstone.

    Thank you!

  11. pmcalary, January 27, 2021 at 8:31 am:

    Hi Keith,
    I would not get all MDF doors on cabinetry as they would be very easy to damage. Having a MDF recessed center panel on a door would be a good idea, all MDF would be a problem.
    Here is our cabinet rankings for 100 brands (we rate Candlelight well):

  12. Keith Hamel, January 27, 2021 at 8:25 am:

    Hi folks,

    Building a new home in New England and looking for your thoughts on Candlelight Cabinets. Considering painted MDF as we are near the coast. Meeting with rep shortly so any advice is appreciated. Great site and refreshing.

    Best regards,


  13. pmcalary, January 8, 2021 at 4:04 pm:

    Hi Kathy,
    If Holiday is having problems now I would recomend taking on two lines if you only carry Showplace. A less expensive well made line like Fabuwood and a more expensive high end custom line like maybe Plain and Fancy. Then you would have all price points covered. And three separate cabinet Reps all of who will carry other brands to consider should you get in a bind again.

  14. Kathy, January 8, 2021 at 3:48 pm:

    Dealership. Horrible experiences with Holiday Kitchens. Can understand extended lead times. The quality they have been shipping is unimaginably terrible. 60+ negative reviews on Houzz. Unlike any other mfg’s recent reviews. Very poor management. Any advice on a replacement line? Already a Showplace dealership in my area.

  15. paul mcalary, January 1, 2021 at 8:37 am:

    Hi Harriet,
    Unfortunately, all painted cabinets are damaged by water and no painted cabinet brands are warrantied against water damage which is probably what is causing your cabinet’s finished to be damaged. So were you to be able to contact Hanssem, I doubt they would cover the damage. You need to either repair the finish or replace the cabinet with one that doesn’t have a painted finish.

  16. Harriet, December 31, 2020 at 10:14 pm:

    Do you know anything much about Hanssem cabinets? I purchased those for a bathroom remodel four years ago from a cabinet dealer. They supposedly had a five-year warranty. We noticed the painted finish failing on a couple of drawer fronts. Since it’s still in the warranty period, I went back to the dealer who’d sold them to me. Turns out they don’t sell Hanssem anynore, and refuse to help me with the warranty claim. I then tried Hanssem directly with no success. Calls go to a full voicemail box so I can’t leave a message; no one ever picks up at that number; and I get no response from the only email that I have for them. What’s the point of a warranty if neither the dealer who sold them won’t help with a warranty claim, and if there is no response at all from the manufacturer? I’m left wondering if Hanssem is even operating at this point – do you know?

  17. paul mcalary, December 17, 2020 at 1:01 pm:

    Hi Laurie,
    No they are probably the same paint, with the same durability. The more expensive line might have a slightly smoother finish due to extra sanding on the door.

  18. Laurie O, December 17, 2020 at 10:44 am:

    Hi Paul,
    Thanks for your response. One quick follow up, for white painted cabinets,do you think the paint finish on Candelight is better than on Teddwood?

  19. paul mcalary, December 16, 2020 at 7:40 am:

    Hi Lauri,
    Tedd Wood has amazing stained finishes but on a solid white painted cabinet You could probably not even notice a difference in finish and durability between Fabuwood (one of our least expensive lines) and Ted Wood. Both Tedd Wood and Candlelight will do most customizations. A 21 1/2″ wide cabinet wood be silly with two doors and sets off alarm bells with me on who your designer is. They should know better.

  20. Laurie O, December 16, 2020 at 1:36 am:

    Hi Paul,
    Thank you for your great blog! We are looking for white painted cabinets that can be customized. Our dealer recommended/priced out Tedd Wood, however, he mentioned Candelight has a superior finish, but is more expensive. The finish is very important to us. Would you recommend Candlelight over Tedd Wood for overall quality as well as the paint quality?

    We noticed you rated Tedd Wood a 5 and Candelight a 4 for price. Tedd Wood includes customization in their price. Do you know if Candelight doesn’t, which might explain why if we make changes they could end up costing us more?

    Also, would you say a 20 1/2″ wide upper cabinet is too narrow to have two doors? Thanks for any advice!

  21. pmcalary, November 22, 2020 at 2:50 pm:

    Hi Hope.
    I’m not a fan of independent designers as what they offer cabinet dealers offer for free, and are usually better at it. Shiloh makes nice looking cabinets but both their framed and frameless cabinets are engineered poorly. See our cabinet reviews here:

  22. Hope, November 22, 2020 at 12:08 pm:

    Our designer, who is independent, apparently has a relationship with Shiloh – but no showroom. With the pandemic, and the lack of a place to see anything finished, I’m having a hard time making a decision, or wanting to go look at other options. I also see a lot of mixed comments about Shiloh or Shiloh Eclipse – I did Brookhaven frameless in my prior home about 8 years ago, and loved it, though I know they had a bankruptcy last year. Is Shiloh comparable?

  23. pmcalary, November 12, 2020 at 11:59 am:

    Hi Amanda,
    I know that Tedd Cabinets makes a great product. Exactly how it stacks up against Plain & Fancy I don’t know since we do not carry either line and only know them from trade shows and from online information.

    Woodmode I would stay away from. They were a great cabinet but they have been a combination of bankrupt, out out business, and needing refinancing twice in a couple of years. Who knows how stable the new company will be?

  24. Amanda, November 11, 2020 at 9:12 am:

    Am considering Tedd Cabinets, Plain & Fancy, and Brookhaven/Woodmode for kitchen and baths. I had never heard of Tedd until recently. Am wondering about how to rank these in terms of quality of construction. Would love to know if anyone has had experience with the Tedd lines, too.

  25. pmcalary, August 7, 2020 at 9:03 am:

    Home Depot and Lowes often re-brand the cabinets that they sell. For example Home Depot’s Thomasville is in fact Diamond from Lowes and a Masterbrands cabinet possibly made in the Schrock plant. American Woodmark at Home Depot is Shenandoah at Lowe’s and called Timberlake at private dealers. Hampton Bay is a re-branded name so it is obviously actually JSI which I didn’t know. I wouldn’t be concerned about the branding mix up. They are both the same animal I’m sure.

  26. Micki, August 6, 2020 at 9:14 pm:

    We odered the JSI cabinets from Home Depot. Most of the cabinets have a Hampton Bay label in them and only one is stamped JSI. Do you know why that might be and if this happens often? Should we be concerned about a difference in quality?

  27. pmcalary, June 10, 2020 at 10:49 am:

    Hi Jef,
    I would use our cabinet rankings, see link below, to select a brand. As always the designer you work with is equally as important as the brand you select and most often under appreciated.

  28. JEF, June 10, 2020 at 9:02 am:

    Going back and forth between Tru and Kith….Leaning toward Kith simply because they make the hood for the stove whereas Tru, we have to get that custom made and custom painted….it will get on my nerves if the paint does not match exactly.
    We were originally quoted Merillat but I have seen terrible reviews for them so I eliminated them, but honestly, the cabinet color scheme was my favorite out of the three…but construction and durability is more important. Need to make a decision this week and am struggling…. I can’t find many reviews on Kith on line.

  29. pmcalary, June 5, 2020 at 8:06 am:

    Hi Dena,
    Lilly Ann Cabinets are apparently Clique Studios, A company that went bankrupt 3 months ago, brought back to life.

    I do not like buying cabinetry on line and I worry about online companies especially in a tough economy. Several inexpensive brands have already failed and more will soon. Customers lose their deposit money when cabinet companies go bankrupt.

    I would recommend working with a reputable local cabinet dealer that sells several different cabinet brands. Putting all your eggs in an online basket that failed once and could fail again is a bad idea.

  30. Dena Hamilton, June 4, 2020 at 5:53 pm:

    Hi Paul.
    We have seen great reviews on Lilly Ann cabinets. Do you know anything about them?

  31. pmcalary, May 1, 2020 at 1:09 pm:

    Hi Lora,
    Nearly every European frameless cabinet line will make laminate slab doors. Expensive brands might also make acrylic or parapan doors to.
    There will also be foil doors in slabs available.

  32. Lora Brady, May 1, 2020 at 1:00 pm:

    Three years ago, bought a house with laminate (formica) kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities, all with granite tops. The cabinets are original to the house, built in 1984, and in almost perfect condition. Unfortunately, the kitchen and baths need updating. I have had wood cabinetry before, both stained and painted, and there were always dinks and scratches needing repair. Does anyone make laminate cabinets anymore? Much thanks!

  33. pmcalary, April 28, 2020 at 7:09 am:

    Thank you Jacob for the compliment. One of our blogs that you might find just as useful is this one:

  34. Jacob Smith, April 28, 2020 at 4:54 am:

    Thanks for sharing this information

  35. Chris, February 11, 2020 at 5:32 pm:

    Thank you so much for this comprehensive response. Appreciate it very much!

  36. pmcalary, February 11, 2020 at 9:29 am:

    Hi Chris,
    Tru cabinets actually has a 1/2″ plywood hanging rail so where you are screwing the cabinets to the wall it is 11/16″ thick plywood. This is still not nearly as well made as Fabuwood but would get a solid B for construction from us assuming that the hanginging rail was at least 3 1/2″ high. The reason you like their stains better is that they are on Maple and not Birch like Fabuwood. This is also why they are more expensive. Tough call depending on how much more they are, how much more you like the finish, and how long you plan to stay in your home.

    If the cost of TRU is 20% more than the Fabuwood than there should be a lot of other cabinet lines that will be very well made and have the colors you like around that price. For example the Wolf Designer series, or for a tiny bit more Legacy Presidential. Home centers would sell American Woodmark at Home Depot and Shenandoah at Lowes. However remember our mantra “the kitchen designer you work with is more important than anything else”.

    So if for example you created your design yourself, or your contractor did, or it is the same as it was before we can be certain that you haven’t worked with a good kitchen designer yet. And that is what you should be researching to find first.

  37. Chris, February 10, 2020 at 8:11 pm:

    Thank you for the information that you provide on your site. We are looking at Tru Cabinetry shaker style wood stained kitchen cabinets for a remodel. Looking at their catalogue it appears they use 1/2 inch plywood on the sides and base of the cabinet but the back is 3/16 inch. How much of a concern is the thinner back panel? We were told these were similar to Fabuwood, but they offer more door/color options. Fabuwood is a bit less expensive, but did not have a similar color stain that we liked in the Tru Cabinetry line.

  38. Noah Katz, January 23, 2020 at 11:37 pm:

    OK, thanks again, Paul.

  39. Paul McAlary, January 23, 2020 at 7:03 pm:

    Hi Noah,
    Generally buying RTA cabinets does not save more than 20% off the cost of inexpensive well made assembled cabinetry, And the Better made imported assembled cabinetry will come with free design help as part of the price. You won’t have to assemble it, it will be a better cabinet, and free design help means the alternative makes little sense.

  40. Noah Katz, January 23, 2020 at 2:33 pm:

    Thanks, Paul, very informative.

    On a more general note, I’ve been shopping for RTA cabinets online, which looks like it could save me 1/2 to 2/3 based on prices I got from a few local dealers.

    I’m also suitably chastened by your many convincing articles on getting a kitchen designer.

    Anything wrong with hiring a designer and procuring the cabinets myself?

    I’ll be doing the installation so there are no contractors involved.

    Thanks very much.

  41. pmcalary, January 23, 2020 at 8:29 am:

    Hi Noah,
    On The video Murder By kitchen design it is the sides of the hood that are too close to the flames on the burners of the cook tops that will set the hood on fire or in another instance that there is no countertop on the side of the range. In that case people passing by the range can be burned by the flames, set of fire or knock things off the stove when they pass by. Here is the blog that might make it clearer to you if you read it.

  42. Noah Katz, January 23, 2020 at 12:26 am:


    I just discovered your site – what a great resource!

    I watched Murder by Kitchen Design hoping to learn what the error was, but I’m left with a burning question:

    The setup doesn’t look any different than most every kitchen I see, including the ones in your gallery, which have cabinets on either side of the stove/range.

    How is the scorched kitchen you show different?

    Do modern stoves not have insulated sides?



  43. pmcalary, January 22, 2020 at 10:45 am:

    Hi Joy,
    There is no question that frameless will look better. I’d make sure sides of the frameless cabinets were 3/4″ thick plywood and that the widest base cabinets I used were 30″ wide. Do not overload the roll outs and drawers and NO cast iron pots and pans and you should be OK. If you are particularly rough on things and have a big family with little kids possibly switching to framed cabinetry might make sense but they will not have the sleek seamless look that frameless slab doors make so attractive.

  44. Joy, January 22, 2020 at 9:46 am:

    Bless you for this blog and the insight you provide to the questioners. We favor the modern design that slab doors and drawers provide and lean toward frameless for this reason. However, we are anticipating our design to be comprised primarily of drawers and/or pull outs for our lower cabinets and only a few that will require hinged doors. What are you thoughts on the design/look of a framed cabinet in this situation?

  45. pmcalary, December 5, 2019 at 8:48 pm:

    Hi Dennis,
    I believe we have rated Wellborn Forrest as a 3 for price a B+ for construction and a B or B+ for value for blog requests in the past. We are working on our 2020 ratings which will be released late Jannuary or early February after KBIS The National Kitchen and Bath Industry show in Las Vegas. Here are our 2018 reviews:
    Wellborn Forest will be included in the 2020 reviews.

  46. Dennis Mathis, December 5, 2019 at 7:25 pm:

    I currently have Kraftmaid solid cherry cabinets in my house, which I am very happy with. I am buying a new house that I am remodeling. A local kitchen & bath contractor is recommending Wellborn Forest cabinet, but I can find little information or reliable opinions on then. Any thoughts on the best quality line of Wellborn Forest cabinets?

  47. pmcalary, November 18, 2019 at 10:47 pm:

    Hi Kathy,
    I don’t know how much less Countryside is vs Decora. But if both lines are upgraded they are both well made. Decora just has nicer looking door styles and finishes and a greater ability to customise.

  48. Kathy, November 18, 2019 at 9:04 pm:

    Wondering if you have any knowledge or experience with Countryside cabinets? We are looking at this brand at a local lumberyard and an independent dealer who works with Decora cabinets.

  49. ITSAdmin, November 12, 2019 at 10:05 am:

    Hi Amy,
    All painted cabinets scratch, chip, and are damaged by water more easily than stained cabinets. We have not noticed much of a difference between major brands, although Amish cabinet paint would almost certainly be less durable.The issue with Ultracraft is that they are a frameless cabinet line while Starmark is a framed line. Upgraded Starmark is more durable construction. If you are getting a modern slab door style the Ultracraft will look better due to the slightly closer gaps between doors because of how the hinges work on a frameless line.

    Here is our blog on Amish cabinetry:

    Also keep in mind that homemade cabinetry has no reliable warranty and were the owner to die, become incapacitated, or go bankrupt during construction of your kitchen you would lose your deposit.

    Starmark here is the more durable and reliable choice.

  50. Amy Vandenburg, November 11, 2019 at 11:40 pm:

    Hi, we have a cottage in northern Michigan and are renovating the bathroom. We have a designer we really like up there. Her firm uses Ultracraft, Starmark or custom Amish cabinets – currently we are debating between Ultracraft versus Starmark. No air conditioning and since on a lake it can be humid. No heat in the winter so temperature extremes. The plan calls for a simple design painted white. The reviews I’ve seen online of Ultracraft painted cabinets are lukewarm about the quality and durability of the painted surface. When I looked at samples at a showroom, the cabinets looked tired – chips in the paint at cabinet seams, marked up and gashes in the paint. Since it’s a showroom am I being too harsh by judging? We’d really like these cabinets to be in place and decent looking for many, many years, but realistically it is just a cottage and not a showplace. To keep the designer do you have any recommendations between Ultracraft versus Starcraft? We are assuming the Amish cabinetry would be too pricey for a cottage. Thanks for the blog! We have a nephew who just bought a fixer upper in Malvern/Wayne. Does your firm work out there?

  51. pmcalary, November 10, 2019 at 7:54 am:

    Hi Pam,
    If you are just adding cabinets that won’t match your other cabinets or improve the kitchen floor plan beyond adding some cabinets that were not in the original plan then get less expensive cabinetry than either of these lines. Your project will look piecemeal and there will be little if any resale value added to your home with a project like this. Try to spend less and get well made inexpensive cabinetry and certainly less expensive countertops like level 1 granite.

  52. Pam Murray, November 9, 2019 at 11:57 pm:

    I just want to add 4 base cabinets, a blind corner and 3 three drawer cabinets. I do like the look of inset cabinets but figured the cost would be too much. I got estimates for Kraftmaid full overlay and Omega Dynasty inset. Without the 15% up-charge for inset cabinets the prices are comparable. With such a small order the up-charge is only about $500.
    My concern is about the quality of the Dynasty line. I’ve had my Kraftmaid kitchen cabinets for over 20 years and I’m happy with the construction. Other then the finish being worn a bit they have held up well.
    What are your feelings about Dynasty and is there any other reasonable priced inset cabinet makers ? Thank you for your informative website and posts.

  53. ITSAdmin, October 15, 2019 at 8:53 pm:

    Hi Catherine,
    That would be news to me. Medallion was an Elkay company but was sold along with American Cabinetry Collection, InnerMost, DesignCraft Cabinets, Mastercraft Cabinets, Schuler Cabinetry, and Yorktowne to the ACPI Corporation in 2018.
    I would think that if Medallion were in trouble all those lines would also be.

    Does your kitchen designer sell Medallion. If he or she does than they might have information the rest of us don’t. If the kitchen designer is saying this and they aren’t a dealer of ACPI cabinetry then he or she couldn’t know for sure.

  54. catherine g., October 15, 2019 at 5:32 pm:

    I just heard from my kitchen designer that Medallion is in financial trouble and can’t guarantee shipment. true? should I be looking elsewhere?

  55. ITSAdmin, October 15, 2019 at 8:22 am:

    Merilat Classic is just about the worst made cabinet out there. It would be a tough choice between IKEA and Classic as to which junky cabinet is a bigger waste of money. And that is being gentile.

  56. Jean, October 14, 2019 at 9:17 pm:

    Anyone have any experience with the Merilat Classic Collection?

  57. ITSAdmin, October 13, 2019 at 3:45 pm:

    Hi Gary,
    Don’t have enough information on these lines to comment

  58. ITSAdmin, October 13, 2019 at 11:47 am:

    I like both lines. Fabuwood a little more, but it depends on the door style and color you like which would be the best fit

  59. Karen Simone, October 12, 2019 at 11:54 pm:

    I am considering buying J&K Cabinets. Any thoughts???? How do they compare to Fabuwood?

  60. Gary, October 12, 2019 at 1:01 pm:

    I have received bids for Forevermark, Jarlin, and Southern Stone cabinets. Which would be a better choice for quality? Thanks,

  61. Alivia, September 15, 2019 at 12:29 pm:

    Thanks for sharing!

  62. ITSAdmin, August 27, 2019 at 8:00 am:

    Hi Ryanne,
    CS cabinets are part of the wave of better made Asian cabinets that offer good construction at very affordable prices. I have not seen them so I can only judge them by their specifications which are good. Whether they have some of the of the finish issues that some of these lines have such as slight paint drips or inconsistent stains I would not know, but these issue don’t effect durability only looks. You should be able to see this from samples, and if it bothers you.
    On another front, having your contractor steering you to a cabinet brand might mean that you aren’t working with a kitchen designer. And often less expensive brands that only sell that brand have terrible designers. Solid Wood cabinets in our area would be such an example. Or buying cabinetry at Costco also eliminates having qualified designers. Cabinet dealerships with several brands at several different pricepoints usually have better designers.
    Contractors are notorious for not valuing good design and for pushing their own design ideas which in general are amateurish and easier for them to install. Working with a good designer that won’t rubber stamp your contractors bad ideas will get you the best kitchen. The difference between working without a kitchen designer and with working with a great one usually translates into your home being worth tens of thousands of dollars more.

  63. Ryanne, August 26, 2019 at 8:13 pm:

    Are you familiar with CS Cabinets? Whats’s your opinion on them? We are looking for a moderately priced kitchen remodel and this is the brand the contractor uses. Thanks in advance.

  64. Kavita, August 25, 2019 at 8:46 pm:

    Thank you so much for your feedback. Can you please suggest any particular contemporary door styles which will be better for painted Decora doors? We are thinking of white w/ expresso glaze for main cabinet and peppercorn w/expresso for island. Also, any upgrade is allowed for Decora cabinets construction? End panels, top, bottoms of wall and base cabinets are of 1/2” ply wood but backs are of 3/16”. Any other suggestion you could provide for Decora cabinets would be greatly appreciated.
    I also have question for legs for island support. We have island as 65*85 with 13” and 12” of over hang on both sides. Will 3 3/4” island legs on 3 sides would be strong enough or do we need 5” legs?

    Thank you,

  65. ITSAdmin, August 25, 2019 at 9:01 am:

    Hi Kavita,
    Good designers would never encourage customers to get a mitered door style like the Decora Airedale in a painted finish, especially a light colored painted finish like a white. Because the seams between the stiles and the rails of the door are across the grain of the wood and longer, all mitered doors from all cabinet lines will open up over time. White doors will show the seams as black which looks terrible.
    The other door styles you mention are not mitered, so seams are less of an issue, but they are also not contemporary in style. The Roslyn is a transitional style at best. MDF center panels are a better choice for a flat recessed panel door. They will not shrink and will keep doors from warping.

  66. Kavita, August 24, 2019 at 6:31 pm:

    We are working on kitchen remodeling project and working with local designer for Decora cabinets. I have 2 questions.
    1. I have noticed few of that some Decora painted doors styles crack vs others. What is best door style would work painted door for contemporary look. We are looking at Haskins, Roslyn and Airedale. I order d Airedale style as an sample and cracked at the corner in just 4 weeks. Designer suggested Haskins or Roslyn might be better option. Any thoughts?
    2. Do we request center panel solid wood or MDF? Decora is offering both options and I would prefer solid center panel but was told that MDF might be better for painted doors. Any recommendations?
    Thank you,

  67. ITSAdmin, August 24, 2019 at 9:46 am:

    Hi Tom,
    I couldn’t find where one of us misspoke and said that Yorktowne was a Masterbrands line but yes we know it is an Elkay line. My extended family are reps for Elkay in New England. I deleted your description of Elkay and the link as that would be an advertisement.

  68. Tom Grant, August 23, 2019 at 2:52 pm:

    Yorktowne cabinets has never been owned by Masterbrands. For many years they have been owned by elkay industries. This is from the Medallion web site:

  69. ITSAdmin, August 22, 2019 at 7:51 am:

    Hi Bryan,
    5/8″ thick particle board frameless cabinetry is not something we recommend. This is the same construction as IKEA essentially. Homeowners love IKEA and it has it’s place but as an investment over the long term it is a bad idea. Spending the huge amounts of money needed on a kitchen renovation and using poor quality cabinetry rarely makes sense unless you are flipping a home.

  70. Bryan Goure, August 21, 2019 at 10:27 pm:

    Hi! I am looking at Yorkshire HDF cabinets by Urban Effects, would love your opinion on this? Thank you!

  71. ITSAdmin, August 17, 2019 at 8:24 am:

    I would never buy cabinets on line without a professional kitchen designer measuring my space and examining my home, walls, doorways,soffits, etc. Being around to help when the kitchen is installed is also essential. So even though both lines are fine construction wise you are missing the most important part of the project buying on line.

  72. Jamie, August 16, 2019 at 12:15 pm:

    Cliq versus Schuler? Any input? Thanks!

  73. ITSAdmin, July 28, 2019 at 11:02 am:

    With painted cabinets in a full overlay door style there is usually little reason to pay for Brighton. The costs are almost double not because the cabinets are better made but because the cabinets are custom and can be made in any size, and style. If your design does not take advantage of this then you won’t even be able to tell the difference. On stained cabinets the high end finishes that you get on custom cabinetry are much more beautiful. On painted finishes there is not a noticeable difference and we haven’t even noticed a difference in the durability of the finishes.

  74. SM, July 27, 2019 at 10:10 am:

    My Husband and I are in the market for new kitchen cabinets. We found a local dealer who carries Brighton and Fabuwood. I know you carry both brands, can you tell me your opinion on why Brighton is double the price and is it worth that price over Fabuwood? We are getting the cabinets in a painted finish. Our kitchen is small, we only have one wall that is 11.5’ of cabinets and a pantry around our refrigerator. Thank you

  75. pmcalary, July 20, 2019 at 7:42 am:

    Hi Julie,
    We Like Bishop for this type of door. They will have foils and also some less expensive and more durable laminates. Upgrade to their plywood frameless box wherever possible.

  76. pmcalary, July 20, 2019 at 6:31 am:

    Lots of cabinet choices here. Most good, some bad. I would use our cabinet ratings blog to help. See link
    But as always when builders are sending you to buy boxes it nearly always means the kitchen design is poor. Thinking that the issue is simply selecting cabinets and not finding a good designer screams “incompetence’, and an inability to understand the value of good design.

  77. LB, July 19, 2019 at 9:38 pm:

    I am overwhelmed and frustrated trying to keep all the cabintry info clear. Many contractors here in Pgh suburbs are sending us to wholesalers to select all kitchen products from them and then give a final job price. I have to demand stats to know what I am buying or how to compare. So far the choices are Wellborn or KountryKraft (CabinetWorld); Kemper (Prosource); Marsh (Pgh Mills); FoeverMark-Budget or NKBC, Bertch Bertch+ or Diamond-various levels (New Choice). ANY input is appreciated. Our total kitchen redo is @ 11 x 12 in a $220K very average home. They want 30-40K for job.

  78. Hunymama, July 17, 2019 at 8:18 pm:

    Thank you. I couldn’t find information on their website or brochure. I appreciate your response.

  79. Paul McAlary, July 17, 2019 at 5:20 pm:

    BJ Tidwell doesn’t give enough information on their website for us to rate them. But from the information we can get it looks like their cabinet box is particle board construction and that there are far less options available than in a line like Medallion.

  80. Hunymama, July 17, 2019 at 5:02 pm:

    Thank you. We are doing Shaker Paint around the perimeter; shaker wood on the island (66″ x 114″). Very large kitchen. We are in AZ…other than Medallion, what would you recommend? Aslo, just curious…Can you tell me more about BJ Tidwell and why you don’t love them? I didn’t see them in your rankings for 2017 and 2018.

  81. pmcalary, July 17, 2019 at 6:38 am:

    Medallion is a better line. Upgraded it will be better constructed and their finishes are nicer. They will be more expensive I would think. The door style and finish and the kitchen design are needed to judge whether getting a more expensive line like Medallion is a good value vs some less expensive but well made lines. I don’t love BJ Tidwell though.

  82. Hunymama, July 17, 2019 at 12:49 am:

    Hello! Thank you for all the information. So valuable. We are building a home plus a casita. Lots and lots of cabinets. We are working with two designers and are finalizing the layouts. One offers BJ Tidwell cabinets; the other Medallion. Which is better quality and value; and would it be worth it to upgrade to the better one?

  83. Julie, July 13, 2019 at 3:25 pm:

    I am wanting to do a thermo foil modern look with faint horizontal lines in a white or soft color. Who would you recommend for this kitchen cabinet? It will be in Florida. Thanks so much!

  84. pmcalary, July 12, 2019 at 10:55 pm:

    Yes Brighton and almost all custom cabinet companies are made in the US

  85. Brady, July 12, 2019 at 5:54 pm:

    Hello pmcalary, Thank you for getting back to me. I am in Pittsburgh and Wellsford doesn’t sell in my area. Do you know if Brighton Cabinetry is 100% USA made?

  86. pmcalary, July 12, 2019 at 8:12 am:

    I know Brighton better because we carry the brand, but both are good lines. The better designer would be what I’d use to chose in this case. Wellsford is a small cabinet company and only sold in the North East. You don’t say where you are or what color your cabinets are, but spending 10% more on Wellsford makes sense when you are getting stains. Wellsford cabinetry looks like fine furniture. On a painted cabinet it would not be noticable.

  87. Brady, July 12, 2019 at 1:30 am:

    I have quotes for Brighton cabinets and for Bertch cabinets. Both are almost the same price. Can you tell me if there’s anything that makes one better than the other ( construction, materials, customer service etc.)? Also would it be worth it to spend more on Wellsford if I can find a dealer in my city? Thank you!

  88. pmcalary, July 1, 2019 at 8:09 am:

    Hi CabinetNewbie,
    Mouser is a more custom line and would have nicer finishes but this might not be what you are noticing on a white shaker style door. It’s possible that you could be noticing a difference in sheen (shine) that might be intentional. Some lines intentionally make their white cabinetry a flatter finish that appeals to some customers.

    As far as painted finishes go on all cabinetry- The nicest painted finishes are on the most expensive US made custom cabinetry. However once you take a step down in price only the most expensive semi custom lines and some of the very inexpensive US brands with imported doors and fronts will be even close in quality. Most of the middle priced cabinetry will have inferior looking painted finishes compared to the more expensive and surprisingly many of the least expensive lines. This is because making a painted finish look really nice requires labor intensive additional sanding that is only done on the most expensive domestic lines and, because labor overseas is so much less, on many of the inexpensive lines.
    For example: Our customers can not tell the difference between the white painted finish on Fabuwood, one of the least expensive lines we sell, to all but the most expensive custom lines we sell. It is the other features like inset and beaded inset styles and customisation that are are the selling points for the custom lines. The paint upgrade is barely detectable. And in the middle priced lines it is the stains, glazes, and the variety of woods, and door styles that are their selling points.
    Because of the popularity of painted finishes the middle price point of the cabinet market lost sales which is why many mid-priced US cabinet lines are beginning to import paint ready pre-sanded or pre-painted doors. The only way professionals can now tell where cabinet doors are coming from is by price. US companies like Masterbrands and I suspect Masco (Kraftmaid) are now importing some of their mitered and painted doors which are the most labor intensive.
    All this is fine in my opinion. The only thing I find objectionable is the hypocrisy of some US brands flying the US flag all over their web sites while obviously importing doors. Companies that use misleading advertising are also usually not good choices for other reasons. This is why US flags and also companies that advertise being “green” instantly arouse my suspicions. These single issue sales techniques coupled with a lack of transparency on how their companies cabinetry is made is a very bad sign in general.

  89. CabinetNewbie, June 30, 2019 at 10:52 pm:

    Hi there –
    Your blog is an incredibly valuable resource — thank you for sharing your years of experience with those of us who are learning about this industry!

    I was about to purchase Brookhaven by Wood-Mode cabinets, just before they shut their doors. We worked with a talented kitchen designer and now we are in the process of taking her plans and finding a substitute cabinet line elsewhere.

    The two options currently on the table are: Mouser and Omega Dynasty (framed, white shaker style). The Mouser cabinets looked and felt like higher quality to me (although, as a newbie to the cabinet world, it’s hard to put my finger on what made them feel that way). However, the Mouser line is about 30 percent more expensive. I am wondering if the quality of cabinet is really worth the increased premium — now or in the future?

    I am also open to other suggestions as well!


  90. pmcalary, June 19, 2019 at 3:00 pm:

    Hi David,
    I think the backs of the Bertch are 1/4 but with a 3/4″ solid wood hanging rail. The hanging rail thickness is the important part.

  91. David Gladstein, June 19, 2019 at 1:24 pm:

    I received the specs on the Bertch cabinets for my bathroom vanity. They meet all your requirements excepts for the plywood back. They are 1/4″ birch plywood. This is not a floating vanity, but a free standing one. Would you eliminate Bertch based on this specification. Great blog. I wish I lived in your area.

  92. 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.

  93. 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.

  94. 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.

  95. 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.

  96. 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.

  97. 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.

  98. 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.

  99. 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.

  100. 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.

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