Main Line Kitchen Design
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Posted January 1, 2011 by pmcalary


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 two more recent bogs below that discus similar topics:

2015 Popular Kitchen Cabinetry Brand Comparison.

What kitchen cabinet brand is the best for me?

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?

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