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If You Are Buying Kitchen Cabinets, Beware!

Recalling a time when the cabinet industry was less transparent. If you are buying kitchen cabinets this blog originally from 2011 is a valuable read.

Note:  Since posting “If you are buying kitchen cabinets, beware” in 2011 many of the Masterbrands cabinet lines changed. They 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 a more recent bog below that reviews current cabinet brands:

Kitchen Cabinet Ratings for 2021. Reviews for the Top Selling Cabinet Brands.

Here is the original blog from March 2011

Kitchen cabinet buyers need reputable, professional assistance for many reasons.  Top concerns are safety (see the blog below) and good design.  And . . . there’s probably no less blunt way to say this. . . to avoid being ripped off.

Is Your Kitchen Designer Going to Kill You?

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 (and again many times after) Consumer Reports was completely duped.  They continually publish cabinet reviews in which they compare cabinets that are actually the same product.   And they always review these identical cabinet brands differently.  Ikea duped them as well – – garnering top ratings despite durability and construction flaws. These flaws only a few years to become problems.

Blue Island Kitchen. While the kitchen shown is a quality cabinet brand consumers should beware when buying kitchen cabinets

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.  However, even the most expensive frameless lines such as Poggenpohl are nowhere near as durable as any well-made framed cabinetry.

When buying kitchen cabinets, it’s important to know that 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. Very little resources go into the cabinet’s construction.  These lines include:  Aristocraft, Schrock, Diamond, Yorktowne, and Kemper.

 

Kitchen with post on the end of the island These are Brighton Custom inset cabinets. Beware when buying kitchen cabinets in lesser made brands

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. Nor do they know much about cabinetry because they do not sell cabinetry.

white kitchen with island and column posts. These are well made Bishop cabinets. When buying kitchen cabinets online or elsewhere always be careful
Bishop Collegeville PA Kitchen

The best Kitchen Designers explain as much about buying kitchen cabinets and kitchen 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 when you are buying kitchen cabinets.

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

Main Line Kitchen Design

721 Replies to “If You Are Buying Kitchen Cabinets, Beware!”

  1. Marc

    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..?

  2. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    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.

  3. Marc

    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.

  4. Marc

    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 ?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  5. Judy

    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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  6. Bryan

    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?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  7. Mark

    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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  8. FS

    should I be concerned with purchasing FABUWOOD??

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  9. Linda

    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?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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,
      Paul

  10. Mike

    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.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  11. Jennifer

    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!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  12. Sarah

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  13. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    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.

  14. Birdman

    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?

  15. Birdman

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  16. Jason k

    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.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  17. Robin Smith

    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.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  18. Lisa

    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?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  19. Jan

    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.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  20. Roni

    Hi,

    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)?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  21. Brian

    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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  22. Sally

    What is your opinion on CabCraft?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  23. Craig

    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.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  24. Lucy

    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?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  25. Kendall

    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?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  26. Tracie

    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!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  27. cindy

    What do you think of DeWils cabinets?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  28. Paul

    Kraftmaid if costs are close

  29. Tbarb

    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?

  30. Tbarb

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  31. D. Lieberman

    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?

  32. D. Lieberman

    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!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  33. Paul

    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.

  34. RY

    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

  35. Ry

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  36. kim

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  37. corina pica

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

  38. Raymond

    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?

  39. Raymond

    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.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  40. Matt

    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?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Fabuwood is better by far

  41. Amy Spear

    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?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  42. Carolyn

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  43. Alex

    Thank you.

  44. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    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

  45. Alex

    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.

  46. Alex

    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?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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:
      https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/2015-popular-kitchen-cabinetry-brand-comparison/

  47. Nicolette

    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.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.”

  48. Lorraine

    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!!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  49. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    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.

  50. Ella

    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?

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