Main Line Kitchen Design
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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. Laura, July 26, 2018 at 1:43 pm:

    I am enjoying reading your blog, as my husband and I are trying to DIY our kitchen design and install to stay in a budget. Back in November you said a big design flaw is to install 42 inch wall cabinets in a kitchen with 8 foot ceilings. We were just grappling with this concept last night and talking about the crown molding. What is the problem with these dimensions? Does it look too tall and awkward? Is it a proportional thing? Or is it about the clearance needed between the counter and the cabinet? Thanks for any input.

  2. pmcalary, July 14, 2018 at 1:01 pm:

    Every element of these cabinets are inferior. 3/8 inch particle board sides, backs, drawer box. Inferior tracks and hinges. These cabinets don’t even make a rating as you can’t upgrade them to even a D rating. This is what inexpensive cabinets were like 10 years ago. But the cabinet industry has vastly improved in construction over the past decade. Better made cabinets will be far less than these now.

  3. Gareth, July 14, 2018 at 10:39 am:

    Hi, this is an impressive amount of information here! I’ve scanned through a lot of it, but haven’t seen anything about Kountry Wood. Our local HOBO sells these. We are looking to remodel a kitchen in a rental property that hopefully will sell in the next year. I don’t want to put in too much money, but would like it to last a few years. The Kountry Wood cabinets do use 3/8″ vinyl covered particle board. Would this be a deal breaker if it’s for an investment property? (I feel like the finish or doors will be ripped off before the box fails???)

    Thank you for all the information!

  4. Paul McAlary, July 5, 2018 at 5:04 pm:

    Baker only makes frameless cabinets as far as we know. They do look to be very well made frameless. But even putting cabinetry together on site can be problematic. And buying a kitchen from someone that didn’t design it is also dangerous.

  5. Nicole, July 5, 2018 at 4:58 pm:

    Thank you so much for your prompt reply
    I did my design and worked on it with a local business
    I love contemporary design but I am more interested in durability as it involves a lot of money
    Baker has a traditional line as well I am interested in their shaker style white shaker and I would like your opinion
    Thank you

  6. pmcalary, July 5, 2018 at 3:52 pm:

    Hi Nicole,
    I would not recommend Frameless cabinets unless the style cabinet you are looking for is very contemporary. Why sacrifice construction durability unless at least the style is enhanced by the frameless tighter look. Full overlay doors in a framed line will look as nice cost possibly less and be more durable.

    Secondly the most import component needed to get a good kitchen is a good kitchen designer. No good designers work on line, nor would any. Not being able to measure and see the kitchen you are working on makes it near impossible to be creative.

    All this being said -Baker cabinets are well made for a frameless line as are Bishop for both framed and frameless.

  7. Nicole, July 5, 2018 at 3:40 pm:

    First of all thank you for your time and info about cabinetry
    We are remodeling our kitchen and I did a lot of research
    I narrow it down to a company on line
    Baker cabinets have you heard about them? What do you think about their cabinets
    And a local businesses that works with Jim bishop cabinets among others
    What is your opinion on them
    We are in south Carolina NY suggestions

  8. pmcalary, June 20, 2018 at 9:01 am:

    Hi Alan,
    Nice speaking with you over the phone. Both lines are good if upgraded to at least 1/2″ plywood sides and backs and soft close drawers.

  9. Alan Ballard, June 20, 2018 at 8:16 am:

    Our designer uses Touchstone and Wellborn Forest. I am having difficulty finding any reviews on the former and conflicting reviews on the later. Your comments would be appreciated.

  10. pmcalary, June 7, 2018 at 3:22 pm:

    Norcraft is frameless. I don’t know the Intrigue line but upgraded I select Reflections.

  11. pmcalary, June 7, 2018 at 3:00 pm:

    American made inexpensive cabinetry is not the best value. But CNC is also the least expensive of the US lines with imported materials. Possibly a better made US line or a better made US import like Fabuwood.

  12. pmcalary, June 7, 2018 at 2:49 pm:

    All are good and similar. Upgrade to plywood construction and pick what you like best.

  13. pmcalary, June 7, 2018 at 2:48 pm:

    Designing kitchens is harder than people think. As an indication – we have almost never replaced a kitchen with close to what was there. Even though 90% of our customers come to us saying, like you, that there kitchen needs to be close to as it is.

  14. pmcalary, June 7, 2018 at 2:44 pm:

    Without researching which a designer could help you with on a Friday 2pm to 4pm. I think the Wellborn Forrest is well made but just has a limited selection

  15. pmcalary, June 7, 2018 at 2:34 pm:

    Don’t know that line

  16. Trish, May 31, 2018 at 11:08 am:

    Have you ever heard of Holiday kitchens by Mastercraft. The manufacturer is close to where I live. I am trying to find mid range cabinets although I would love high range, but I am afraid they are too costly for me. This is the first kitchen I remodeled, and I do not want to make a mistake.

  17. Mary Morris, May 28, 2018 at 12:49 am:

    Thank you for this excellent resource. I purchased a 2nd home where I plan to move once it is renovated; it needs new kitchen cabinets. I have a quote from the local Home Depot kitchen representative for KraftMaid maple cabinets (painted white) in all wood. I have a second quote from a former cabinet builder that is now a Wellborn Forest cabinet dealer. (This cabinet builder built the cabinets in my current home and they are of the highest quality.) You refer to Welborn often as a quality cabinet manufacturer; however, I see no reference in your blog to the spinoff company, Wellborn Forest. Reviews for Wellborn Forest indicate that its products may not be the same quality as Wellborn. I am really struggling with this decision, and would sincerely appreciate any knowledge that you can provide about Wellborn Forest and its reputation. I have to make a decision within the next two weeks, so if it is possible for you to provide information in that timeframe. Either way, I would value your professional feedback

  18. Mark, May 27, 2018 at 5:03 pm:

    Hi pmcalary,
    I have a very small galley kitchen that was built (not by me) with absolute bottom of the barrel cabinets.I’m going to rip the whole lot out.

    I have emailed Fabuwood, trying to find out if they have a dealer in Eastern Iowa, Western Illinois. I’ll be very interested in them if they are available near me.

    Otherwise, it’s probably going to be Kraftmaid with plywood sides from Lowes. Because of the extreme constraints of my kitchen, it will likely be nothing more than replacing the existing junk with the exact same size cabinets, except much higher quality with full roll outs and a super susan in the blind corner, making access to my limited spaces much easier. The lone addition will be two 36 inch wide base cabinets… those will double my storage. Even with that addition my countertop is only 26 sq.ft. Like I said, it is small.

    I would think that a inexperienced Lowes designer could handle something like a one for one direct replacement.

    If you have any thoughts, I’d like to hear them. This is what you’d call a “quality vs. quantity situation”. Good, just not big.

    Thanks, Mark

  19. deb, May 25, 2018 at 12:50 am:

    hello. thank you for this awesome blog. I am remodeling my kitchen with cream colored cabinets and I have quotes for Caldwell Diamond reflections cabinets from Lowes, Savannah Woodmark from Home Depot and signature pearl from local kitchen store. All of the contractors are quoting the same price and all of them look similar, however, can you please let me know what is the better quality of these 3 choices. I want to make sure what I decide on is high quality and not just a marked up cabinet of lesser quality. Thanks in advance.

  20. Rich, May 24, 2018 at 3:12 pm:

    Hi Paul, I am looking at cabinets on, I believe they are Deerfield. They seem to be well made box, but I was looking for your opinion. I am specifically looking at the Cordova shaker II. Thanks

  21. mayer, May 17, 2018 at 4:39 pm:

    How would you compare CNC with Kemper? Kemper is at least 35% more expensive, but the dealer near me says that it is better because it is American made. Also, what can you tell me about cubitac

  22. Mary, May 12, 2018 at 2:52 pm:

    Hi…I don’t notice Norcraft on your list of cabinet rankings for 2017…how do you feel they compare to Diamond Reflections or Diamond Intrigue?

  23. pmcalary, April 18, 2018 at 1:40 pm:

    sorry never heard of them

  24. Kellianne, April 18, 2018 at 9:02 am:

    What is your opinion of Quality Cabinets? We are remodeling our kitchen but don’t want to break the bank as its a starter home. We want quality without the price tag 🙂

  25. pmcalary, April 13, 2018 at 7:24 am:

    Never heard of FMG. Why not Fabuwood if you want a reasonably priced well made cabinet.

  26. Vanessa, April 11, 2018 at 7:46 pm:

    Hello are you familiar with FMG cabinetry in NJ. We can get them in 2 Weeks’s, which is our reasoning for wanting to purchase it.

  27. pmcalary, April 7, 2018 at 8:15 am:
  28. TYG, April 6, 2018 at 10:14 pm:

    Hello pmcalary,

    Have you any information on Starmark cabinetry in comparison to Vantage Kraftmaid.

    Thank you.

  29. TYG, April 6, 2018 at 10:12 pm:

    Hi,pmcalary, I am trying to remodel our kitchen, cabinetry has was made by WoodCarv in Cincinnati OH, company is out of business. These cabinets are original to house. The cabinets are northern birchwood species. I have looked at so many brands over the last 5 years. I have recently, been set on buying, Starmark or Kraftmaid, Vantage from MBS. I have also, had an Amish cabinet maker come out to my home.
    Two different companies have sent designers to my home as well. I really like the one company. However, I do not like the aspect, schrock, Shiloh, homecrest, lines of cabinetry. Have you heard of Starmark cabinetry? Is this line
    By the way the bid for Shiloh was 10,000. The designer told us the cabinetry was APC. Then she sent me an email saying it was a high pressure laminate. Schrock too many conflicting information on the website about the construction of the cabinetry.
    Can you give any advise about Starmark VS Vantage Kraftmaid?
    By the way my kitchen is very small. I only have 4 base units in my kitchen, plus sink base. and 7 wall units. There are not fillers between cabinetry. We are the third family living in this house and we have been here for 28 years. I have replaced all appliances 2x. Not doing that now.
    Thank you.

  30. pmcalary, April 1, 2018 at 2:03 pm:

    Hi Chip,
    Contractors are terrible kitchen designers.

    You are in our service area and we charge nothing to do designs and only charge a $150 deposit to measure the house and create designs and to go over them in a 2 hour appointment in our office. It’s about 8 hours of our time and if after we give you pricing you decide to continue working with us there is a second $350 deposit to have more appointments and to give you the plans. Both deposits are applied towards cabinetry and we are less than home centers and other dealers for well made inexpensive cabinetry as well as expensive cabinetry. It makes sense to work with us.

    Part of the reason we can be less expensive for cabinetry is that we qualify our customers. Some people can be so concerned with getting something for nothing that they would rather get bad and expensive help for free than invest $150. The customers we loose because of our small deposit free up our time to work with a better class of customers across all price points. This and our innovative business model make cabinetry less expensive for our customers and allows them to work with better designers.

  31. Chip, March 31, 2018 at 4:22 pm:

    Hi, great blog. I was wondering how much a kitchen designer charges for a full design and plans? A local Philly kitchen contractor will design and provide full plans for a fee after an initial free visit. I have an 18X10 kitchen with a typical builders grade 9X10 cabinet arrangement. I would also like some additional work on an adjacent powder room. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time if it’s going to be $1000 for the design. Thanks.

  32. pmcalary, March 31, 2018 at 8:39 am:

    We rate these lines here:
    Kraftmaid is slipping a little of late.

    The backs of cabinets are very important because they are what gets screwed to the kitchens walls. There are two ways cabinet backs are made.
    1) Either a solid sheet of plywood 3/8″ gets a B+ at best 1/2″ gets a solid A and thicker an A+
    2) Or a hanging rail (a strip of thicker material across the locations where cabinets are screwed to the wall and a thin sheet of plywood or other board everywhere else. A 3/4″ solid wood hanging rail gets an A. 1/2″ ply a B+ and thinner then that less.

    Kraftmaid for example has reduced their hanging rail lowering there rating slightly.

  33. FBL, March 30, 2018 at 6:07 pm:

    Latest thoughts on the relative value of Schrock, Kemper, Kraftmaid or Bertch? Can you explain the difference between “frameless” and “framed”? Also, what is a “hanging rail?” Thanks for all the info.

  34. FBL, March 30, 2018 at 6:05 pm:

    Latest thoughts on the relative value of Schrock, Kemper, Kraftmaid or Bertch? Can you explain the difference between “frameless” and “framed”? Also, whites a “hanging rail?” Thanks for all the info.

  35. LL, March 29, 2018 at 6:05 pm:

    Thank you for your response. I’m going with a white shaker cabinet. Sounds like Legacy will be a good choice since I’m only doing a solid door.

  36. pmcalary, March 29, 2018 at 3:26 pm:

    Great cabinet construction but a still a less expensive line. So the construction gets an A but don’t expect the finishes to be equal to high end lines that will be more expensive. Lines like Decora, Kraftmaid, Brookhaven, Fieldstone, and Starmark might not be constructed quite as well but their stained and glazed finishes will be more attractive. If you are getting a solid painted door the finish difference might be undetectable. Use your sample door as a indicator of the finish quality.

  37. LL, March 29, 2018 at 3:01 pm:

    I am researching kitchen cabinets. I have read this blog and have seen your 2017 kitchen cabinet reviews. I would like your opinion on the Legacy Cabinets Debut Series, Executive Box Construction. Is this a quality cabinet?

  38. pmcalary, March 27, 2018 at 7:02 am:

    While I haven’t seen Ted Wood cabinets first hand they look to be a very beautiful, extremely well made cabinet. Their landmark series would also score very high in our reviews. Their Frameless Luxury line we would need more data on to give an opinion. We will try to add this very nice line to our upcoming updated reviews. Besides the cabinetry the Tedd Wood website has all the earmarks of a good company. It supplies information on their products, is transparent, and has none the grandiose generalizations many of the lesser lines all seem to specialize in. Upstate Pennsylvania has many of these small to mid size companies that are large enough to make cabinetry well without being so small they are really making “home made” and not custom cabinetry.

  39. Debbie, March 26, 2018 at 6:59 pm:

    Hi. Just found your wonderful blog. My kitchen designer is steering me toward Tedd Wood Cabinets. Can you give me your opinion please? Couldn’t find them mentioned in your blog.

  40. pmcalary, March 20, 2018 at 9:26 am:

    Mouser is a great line and the Centra is good too. Regular Crystal is a great line, however I don’t know the Crystal Current line and they give no specs I can find.

  41. Pam, March 20, 2018 at 8:21 am:

    Sorry, I wasn’t clear. They did measure the walls, but the layouts for the cabinets adjoining the sink are vastly different. Moving walls and doorways are not possible in my kitchen, so I’m confused as to why none of them agree.

  42. Paul McAlary, March 20, 2018 at 6:55 am:

    Hi Pam,
    Kitchen designers don’t care what dimensions of existing cabinets are. We only care about the dimensions of the walls, doorways, and windows. We redesign the cabinetry to create better kitchens. Often even moving walls and doorways. And moving the location of a corner sink is nearly always not only possible but a good idea. I’d research what company in your area gets good reviews and go there or use our link to find the dealer we recomend closest to you.

  43. Pam, March 19, 2018 at 9:16 pm:

    I own a condo that has a kitchen with a corner sink. Can’t move the plumbing. I have had 4 measures (2 big box & 2 local shops). Everyone comes up with different dimensions on the wall & base cabinets on either side of the sink and the sink base. How do I know who is correct? Thanks!

  44. Mindi, March 19, 2018 at 7:57 pm:

    Hello – We are close to selecting our cabinets. What are your thoughts on Mouser Centra, Shiloh or Crystal Current? I see you rank Shiloh with a poor rating. Not sure of the others.

  45. pmcalary, March 19, 2018 at 10:34 am:

    Hi Josh,
    I have not seen J&K cabinets first hand, but one of the designers I respect the most uses them as his less expensive well made cabinet line. Certainly they meet our construction requirements. We do sell CNC but usually for homes that are being flipped or for commercial use. They are well constructed but a little “rough” for discerning home owners. We sell Fabuwood as our version of J&K because Fabuwood is so versatile and around the same price point. I think the CNC would be less than the J&K but the J&K would most likely be worth the difference. Tough call for me not having seen the J&K finishes. Here’s a link to a video where Doug Mottershead and I discuss our less expensive lines.

  46. Josh, March 19, 2018 at 10:10 am:


    I echo the sentiments of the commentators above — you are doing a tremendous service for consumers with your candid responses YEARS after your initial post. Thanks for that!

    We are in the process of a new construction home and our builder uses J&K Cabinets. I’ve seen some posters ask about this brand but, at the time, you weren’t familiar with the product. Based on their literature, the cabinet specs seem to check a lot of the boxes that you’ve noted above — — and most “upgraded” features are included standard. Biggest drawback is that the selection is limited (can not mix and match colors/glazes/door styles), but if you find something you like, seems you get a lot for your money. Wanted to see if you had any updated opinion on this brand.

    Also, a local distributor is pushing my builder to try out CNC Cabinets as well, which I’ve seen you post about and noted that you carry as well. How would CNC compare to J&K? I am bit skeptical since I cannot find many reviews online for CNC — their online presence is almost non-existent.

    Thanks for your help!

  47. pmcalary, March 19, 2018 at 9:38 am:

    Hi Doug,
    The 3/8″ back is OK just not ideal. For 10% upgrading to APC and soft close solid wood dovetail drawers is definitely worth it. I don’t think we knew about both upgrades when we rated Midcontent so they could have done much better in our review. I’ll look into it.

  48. Doug, March 18, 2018 at 11:30 pm:

    Echo others on the great info on this site! We are buying a tract house so we don’t get to design the kitchen. The cabinet maker is Mid-Continent, which gets a “C” in your 2017 ratings. However, the builder will allow us to upgrade from their standard Mid-Continent’s industrial grade, 45 lb particle board boxes to Mid-Continent’s plywood construction for 10% more than standard cost.
    Specs as listed on Mid-Continent’s website for “½” All Plywood Construction Option” are: ” 3/8″ plywood back, top, bottom and 1/2″ end panels, plywood stretchers and hanger rails; istalled shelves 3/4″ plywood standard; finished ends with 1/2″ plywood hardwood veneer stained to match frame and matching 5/8″ flush plywood ends stained to match frame and door, both ends finished flush.”
    I know you don’t like the 3/8″ cabinet back—are the other parts an upgrade worth going for and paying the extra few thousand dollars?

  49. pmcalary, March 15, 2018 at 1:27 pm:

    For your purposes you are better off in Fabuwood. They are a little less expensive. I don’t think any buyers would notice the melamine vs the clear coat. Most people prefer a clear coat but it really isn’t that high on the importance scale.

  50. Thomas Sloane, March 15, 2018 at 12:52 pm:

    I have narrowed my cabinet choice, (with this forum’s help) down to either 6-square or Fabuwood. I feel they are very similar in quality, although I prefer the way that the Fabuwood fits together with tight notches, versus 6-square’s dado joints. Other than that the only difference I see is that 6-square uses a melamine interior. My specific question is how do you feel about their melamine interior versus the UV finished interior of Fabuwood. I’m buying cabinets for a rental/flip home I will sell in a couple of years, (FYI). Thanks in advance for offering your opinion.

  51. pmcalary, March 15, 2018 at 9:14 am:

    Both cabinets lines are very similar. Kraftmaid used to have the edge but Wellborn does now. However, I’d buy the kitchen from the designer that seemed more organized and knowledgeable. A bad designer can make your life miserable at the minimum. No designer available is worse but only a little.

  52. Pam, March 14, 2018 at 5:55 pm:

    Thank you! That helps my dilemma. If it were you, Wellborn or Kraftmaid?

  53. pmcalary, March 14, 2018 at 5:37 pm:

    Never order cabinets on line. There is no professional measuring your kitchen and responsible for mistakes, damages, and able to make a site inspection if needed.

  54. Pam, March 14, 2018 at 5:35 pm:

    Getting ready to order kitchen/bathroom cabinets. I’m stuck between deciding on Kraftmaid from Lowes, Wellborn from a local shop, or Cliqstudios online. Any suggestions?

  55. pmcalary, March 12, 2018 at 8:17 am:

    Sorry looks like we have only looked at the other major cities in Ohio so far. Link below:

  56. Mary, March 11, 2018 at 11:35 pm:

    Thanks so much for the wealth of information. Do you have any recommendations for kitchen designers in the Cleveland/Northeast Ohio area?

  57. pmcalary, March 9, 2018 at 6:57 am:

    I’d stop researching cabinets and start researching designers to find someone knowledgeable that can help you navigate cabinetry and most importantly design. Here are the designers and dealers we recommend. Hopefully one is close to you.

  58. Cathy, March 8, 2018 at 11:00 pm:

    Also can you tell me your thoughts of showplace cabinets

  59. Cathy, March 8, 2018 at 10:18 pm:

    I am remodeling my kitchen and was very close to purchasing Shiloh cabinets, but since reading your blog I am not sure that is the way to go. I am now looking at Showplace cabinets but confused after reading about their construction and finish if they are any better. I could not find info about how well the wall cabinets are supported. Can you please help me

  60. Paul McAlary, March 4, 2018 at 11:58 am:

    I don’t know Raywal cabinets but the 5 year warranty is not an issue. Warranties have no relation to cabinet durability. For example the Raywal are frameless cabinets like IKEA but made of plywood instead of particle board so far more durable. IKEA has a 20 year warranty which is meaningless. Giving a past customer a replacement cabinet if they are persistant enough to bring back a junky IKEA cabinet 18 years later costs IKEA nothing. If durability is an issue the Raywal cabinets are most likely close to the best you will get in a frameless cabinet. Although even inexpensive well made framed cabinets will be superior in construction to any frameless line.

  61. Anastasia, March 3, 2018 at 8:17 pm:

    What are your thoughts on Raywal Cabinets and that they only provide a 5 year warranty. They are from Canada and have 3/4 thick sides all plywood construction. I love the walnut finish in french roast that sets it apart from others but don’t want to be making a mistake if the short warranty period is an insight into a lesser quality cabinet. Please advise your thoughts on warranties. Thank you!

  62. pmcalary, March 3, 2018 at 7:47 am:

    Here is a rough video on Waypoint’s construction I found on line:

    And their specification guide:

    While Waypoint skimps on some construction features they choose wisely. We give them a B for construction and a B for value in our 2017 Cabinet Ratings link below:

    I would say that we give them B’s more because there are some slightly better alternatives out there that don’t skimp and are the same price or less like the Fabuwood line we carry. But their skimping is really not that significant and their price point is close so while I’m not raising them to B pluses they are close for both.

    All in all if you like the designer and the dealer I think Waypoint through them is a better choice than the slightly better made Clique Studios that our company carries under the dealer name 6 Square.

    Buying cabinets on line is just asking for trouble and designs always suffer without a competent kitchen designer following through on the kitchen from measuring to reordering parts and pieces. This is why no matter how often we get asked (which is almost daily) Main Line Kitchen Design will no longer sell a kitchen remotely. It is also why when customers foolishly steal our designs and buy IKEA or other cabinet lines on line I am comforted in knowing their project will almost certainly not run smoothly. Costly mistakes are the norm when the designer that measured and created a design isn’t available to be present if needed throughout the whole renovation process.

    Too often people treat buying a complex kitchen, custom designed for their space, like they are buying a toaster. When they do, and we hear about their trials and tribulations, as designers we are not surprised. You get the kitchen you deserve when you treat the process so cavalierly.

  63. Carla, March 2, 2018 at 2:45 pm:

    I can’t say enough about this site/blog! Fantastic information. My question is about Waypoint vs. Cliq. We are new to the area and do not know a good independent installer, hence the hesitancy to go with Cliq. Other than that, they are great to work with and have quality lines. We have spoken to a cabinet company locally and they sent their designer out to measure the kitchen which will be a remodel. They have 3 lines, one of which is Waypoint. We are like most folks, on a budget and didn’t want to spend over 10K on this kitchen. We are wanting White Shaker style cabinets. The Waypoint catalog the designer left with us states their cabinetry is made as follows:
    Cabinet joints are pressure fitted, glued,stapled, double doweled construction.
    Kiln dried face frames made with 3/4″ by 1 5/8″ solid hardwood.
    Half inch furniture board corner blocks for cabinet integrity.
    Waypoint Standard construction includes 1/2″ thick plywood sides. Top. bottoms and floors are 1/2″ thick furniture board.
    5/8″ solid dovetail drawer box construction with plywood bottoms that exceed load standards.
    21″ drawers come equipped with German engineered GRASS Elite Plus full-extension glides with Cushion Close. The GRASS under mount technology with precision roller carriage leaves drawer sides and dovetails exposed while allowing access to everything. Six way adjustable hinges with Cushion Close that open 105 degrees with on/off switch. Other features standard are adjustable drawer front and a good basic variety of colors/finishes/glazes, etc. I cannot find anything that states the thickness of the back of the cabinet specifically. There are 2 shaker styles are are looking at: the 650 with Solid Door in Maple, Painted White or the 410 with Veneer Door, Painted White. The estimate for the kitchen including tax and delivery and install is $9000. The kitchen is approx 11 x 15. Based on this information, would you consider Waypoint a good choice for the money? It is just 2 adults and we will be living in the house for at least 10-15 years & we take great care of things. Thank you in advance as I need to place an order or look elsewhere within the next 2 weeks.

  64. pmcalary, February 26, 2018 at 11:20 am:

    Yes Natalie the finishes are very nice as is the quality of the craftsmanship on the cabinet doors and fronts. But many expensive cabinet line put less value on construction because their customers and the designers that sell their cabinetry don’t. Here is a link from the Shiloh web site showing how their cabinets are made.
    Notice how vague description numbers 1 and 6 are. In the photo’s you can see that the hanging rail item #1 is only 3/4″ high. Better made cabinets will use 2 1/2″ or 3 1/2″ high hanging rails. #6 Says easy to clean interior which also make us suspect. For an expensive cabinet line we would like to see better construction. Possibly Shiloh can be upgraded to higher end construction much like expensive lines like Medallion that unupgraded are terribly made and far worse than this. But we don’t see this mentioned. Possibly we are being unfair but if you can upgrade your cabinets construction don’t you want to tell people?

  65. Natalie, February 26, 2018 at 10:38 am:

    Mr. McAlary, I have been reading your blog approximately a year! We are now in the deciding stage of cabinetry and your insight has been truly a godsend. Many cabinet lines we were interested in have been discounted based on your feedback to others in our same situation, Thank You! Although I have read the cabinet rankings and scoured through the questions that others have asked, I am most interested in your honest opinion on Shiloh Cabinetry. The ranking is a C for both categories. The price we received from our kitchen company reflects a high end price, so a person such as myself who has absolutely no inside contacts with the cabinet manufacturers would automatically assume the Shiloh cabinets are well made given the upgraded boxes and the finish being perfection. Quite literally the pricing is along the lines of Plain & Fancy. Any advice for us would be GREATLY appreciated!

  66. paul mcalary, February 24, 2018 at 3:57 pm:

    They are different with much different pricing. We rate them in our cabinet review:
    In general Shcrock is the best cabinet and the most expensive. But none of these lines get stellar reviews from us.

  67. Laura, February 24, 2018 at 11:42 am:

    Thank you for the response. Of the brands I mentioned, how would you rank them, worst to the best? I’m having such a difficult time picking a brand and appreciate any input you have.

  68. pmcalary, February 24, 2018 at 11:25 am:

    It is difficult to know for sure which lines use all US lumber. But well made inexpensive lines will have to be using Asian plants to make cabinet fronts and doors. All US made Semi custom lines will be typically about 30% more for a similar cabinets. The best US made lines will not over advertise MADE IN THE USA or GREEN they will mention these things second and stress their construction, door styles, versatility, and Carb2 compliance as a secondary advantage to their particular line. The cabinet industry is not very transparent and often disreputable companies prey on single issue buyers buy making MADE IN THE USA and GREEN their selling points. These are the same companies that are less trust worthy and so less reliable concerning exactly where and how their product is made.

    Of the lines you mention Schrock is the line most likely to be all US made. However Masterbrands their parent company is far from transparent and has shown questionable ethics in the past.

  69. Laura, February 24, 2018 at 10:22 am:

    This blog is fantastic and has been a huge help. I’m in the process of researching kitchen cabinets and I am so confused! I am considering the following cabinets: Legacy (executive), Waypoint (650s door style), Schrock, Midcontinent, Shiloh. It’s important to me that the wood is sourced in the United States. Do any of these brands use wood from the United States? Which brand would you recommend? Thanks in advanced.

  70. pmcalary, February 21, 2018 at 11:48 am:

    Any frameless lines without 3/4″ thick sides are terrible. Here is a list of lines we reviewed:

  71. Anastasia Boyer, February 21, 2018 at 11:21 am:

    What are your thoughts on Designer’s Choice Cabinetry? Sides, ends, tops and bottoms are 5/8″ but the backs are 1/4″. I am a little concerned with such thin backs. They are all plywood and frameless (as I am doing a slab maple door) I did find a good designer finally but this is her entry level cabinetry and wondering if I should look higher. Thank you in advance!!!

  72. paul mcalary, February 17, 2018 at 12:45 pm:

    Both those lines are remarketed lines. That means that they are sold under a different name at the home center than at private dealerships. It also means that the home center could change lines without telling you.

    I don’t recommend remarketed lines unless I know exactly what line the home center is using. Like Shendoah at Lowes is Timberlake. I have no idea where the home centers are getting the two new frameless lines you mention. Thomasville frameless would probably be a Masterbrands line and the Masterbrand frameless lines can be anywhere from OK to terrible depending on which line Home depot is using. The Lowes line I don’t have a guess on. Remarketed lines are usually a little over priced too.

  73. Anastasia, February 17, 2018 at 11:25 am:

    What are your thoughts on the frameless lines at Lowes (Latitudes) and Home Depot (Noveau by Thomasville)? I am doing slab doors so that is why I am looking for frameless. Thank you!

  74. pmcalary, February 15, 2018 at 2:30 pm:

    Yes we rate Waypoint pretty well on our 2017 cabinet review. Link to review below:

  75. jeff, February 15, 2018 at 9:56 am:

    pmcalary, In one of your earlier comments (2015) to talked about Waypoint not showing how their cabinets are made on the website. I just found this:

    and was wondering if your opinion or their quality has changed since 2015. From this link it seems to hit all the points of quality made cabinets. Just curious.

  76. pmcalary, February 7, 2018 at 10:23 pm:

    Never heard of Hardwood kitchens LLC. Also be careful independent designers that don’t work out of kitchen cabinet dealerships are usually much less experienced. Kraftmaid is not as far as I know having trouble with paint colors. It is probably that customers who buy Kraftmaid from home centers haven’t been taught to understand that painted cabinets are less durable so they complain when problems ensue. All painted cabinets are more likely to nick, chip, and are more easily damaged by water. I’d use our 2017 cabinet rankings when selecting a cabinet line.

  77. Kirsten, February 4, 2018 at 1:36 pm:

    Thank you so much for sharing your expertise on this blog. I hired a designer to design our kitchen for a flat fee through her interior design company, but after completing the design she told me that she works with a kitchen design center and had assumed we would buy our cabinets there. We are not in a high-end house but would like durable, Shaker-style cabinets in a painted finish. The only cabinet brand the kitchen center carries that might work for us is Hardwood Kitchens, LLC, but it’s a very small company that only offers two paint colors, and I’m concerned that if anything goes wrong a few years from now it may not be in business any longer. I had considered getting KraftMaid through a different dealer, but I’ve been told that it’s having a problem with its painted finishes. Hardwood kitchens has a small website with spec sheets, but other than that I can’t find any reviews or information about the company, not even a listing in Dun and Bradstreet or the Better Business Bureau. Have you heard anything about this company?

  78. pmcalary, January 31, 2018 at 10:22 am:

    Always the best advice is to shop for the best kitchen designer. The rest falls into place when you choose well finding a designer. And no matter how much research a customer does they can only scratch the surface of what a good designer knows and can help them with.

  79. LBeals, January 30, 2018 at 7:50 pm:

    I have referred to this blog many times. Thank you so much for the invaluable information. I still have no idea what I’m doing, but it’s not for lack of information!!

  80. pmcalary, January 28, 2018 at 10:07 pm:

    My comment would be …You are spending a lot of time on our web site, live and in our area, and are not working with us when we are inexpensive, the most experienced, and get the best reviews? Sort of odd reasoning.

  81. DAW, January 28, 2018 at 9:15 pm:

    So much good information. Thanks. Any comment on Kith cabinetry? Saw it at Ram in West Chester and finally a brushed gray shade I love.

  82. Kjohnson, January 28, 2018 at 8:58 pm:

    You’ve been at this for a long time, and I’ve read almost everything on your blog. We are contemplating a kitchen redo, and have only started getting quotes. We went to a designer who quoted us for canyon creek cabinets, and I’m not all that impressed and don’t really want frameless cabinets. We looked into Forevermark, KraftMaid, etc. no quotes yet. We really favor on the side of RTA cabinets to save some money. Any suggestions?

  83. pmcalary, January 28, 2018 at 2:26 pm:

    Looks like their Imperial Line with Upgraded “everything” is a good cabinet. The Classic and Express lines with particle board options and without full extension soft close drawers and soft close doors are not good investments.

  84. John Holmberg, January 28, 2018 at 1:19 pm:

    Do you have any thoughts on Koch cabinets? They’re not on your 2017 list. We’ve actually been on a tour of one of their production plants and were impressed with the quality. They have the upgraded features you talk about (plywood boxes, soft close drawers etc.)
    We used to like Kraftmaid cabinets, but have noticed that their dovetail joints have been getting rougher and rougher. We have used dovetail quality as one of our quality guides. Is that appropriate?
    Thank you.

  85. pmcalary, January 21, 2018 at 10:45 pm:

    Hi Anastasia,
    You could try buying cabinets on line from CliqStudios. They are well made but have limited door styles.

  86. Anastasia, January 21, 2018 at 7:10 pm:

    Thank you so much for the info. I just read your entire blog and feel much better informed.

    Any chance that you can recommend a dealer in Palm Beach County? The closest one you have on that link is two hours away from me in Miami.

    Also is is OK to go with a framed cabinet with a slab door? I know you say it looks better in frameless but framed is more durable.

  87. pmcalary, January 20, 2018 at 10:23 pm:

    I would recommend that slab doors be a veneered wood over MDF if the finish is paint or a stain. Solid MDF will be be too easily damaged. Solid wood will either warp or look striped if stained and is a waste of money. Quality cabinetry is important with veneers.

    In can tell from the questions though that you need better help than you are getting at the home centers you are using now. Try a dealer we recommend in your area. List below:

  88. Anastasia, January 20, 2018 at 10:01 pm:

    I am looking to buy kitchen cabinets with slab doors in a dark chocolate color. I am getting conflicting advice from each designer I sit with regard solid wood (Kraftmaid, Shuler) versus Mdf with veneer (American Woodmark, Thomasville). I’m in South Florida and many are pushing for the Mdf vs solid wood slab will warp with all the humidity, even saying warranty won’t cover warping. But my instincts is to go solid wood

  89. pmcalary, January 17, 2018 at 10:21 pm:

    I would never buy an inset cabinet from a relatively inexpensive but well made line like CliqStudios. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Inset cabinets are too difficult to make cheaply. Get the full overlay styles from Cliq or spend more to get the real thing.

  90. lacey, January 17, 2018 at 9:06 pm:

    We are trying to make a decision on kitchen cabinets. I have a quote from cliqstuidos ($22,000) for inset shaker cabinets and one for McItyer ($28,000) which is too expensive so they have suggested a stock cabinet using Wolf their York line ($17,500). Do you know anything about these three companies. The prices vary quite a bit. We want a quality cabinet that will last but all quotes seem very expensive.

  91. pmcalary, January 5, 2018 at 8:38 am:

    Bathrooms take much less stress than kitchens and there are usually no wall cabinets which required better construction. Any cabinet line upgraded to plywood construction and dove tail drawers will be fine for a bath. Medallion is the best line you mention but they will be more expensive.

  92. Mary Lynn, January 5, 2018 at 2:00 am:

    Our designer was suggesting the Belmont cabinets for our 2 bathrooms, (I posted about 10 days ago), and you weren’t impressed with their website or construction. Of these other lines that she represents, I was wondering if you could tell me your thoughts: Ovation, Medallion (framed),and Design Craft (frameless). I haven’t been able to find too much online about these companies, other than Medallion and Design Craft are Elkay, which also sells a Home Depot line called Innermost. We aren’t looking for lots of bells and whistles, mainly good construction and a good finish on a standard drawers and doors bathroom vanity. I know you don’t do bathrooms, but I trust your judgement on cabinet lines. Would one of these lines have what we need without charging for the ability to customize and have fancy do-dads that we don’t want? Thank you for your help. Your blog is so educational.

  93. pmcalary, January 2, 2018 at 6:45 pm:

    Aristocraft and Kemper are not a good value or well constructed. Being Members of the ES program is not worth anything more than being a member of the KCMA …ie just about zero. It only means you have the money to belong. I’d use our 2017 Cabinet reviews if you need help. Link below:

  94. Annie, January 2, 2018 at 5:50 pm:

    Wow, lots of information.
    My question-I’m getting ready to build an apartment bldg., it’s my first project so I have little experience in choosing cabinetry. My GC is a dealer for Aristocraft/Kemper and highly regards them. I am looking for cabinetry to be proud of. Obviously best price, long lasting, non off gassing. I’ve been researching for months and so much is conflicting. I do believe plywood is better than MDF for a ‘Green’ feature. I’ve gone to a few showrooms that have Aristocraft door styles but not any constructed cabinetry by Aristocraft. They are members of the Environmental Stewardship program, for what it is worth. Reviews are not great and I am at a loss with so many other types to choose from. Would you suggest any of your cabinetry for my situation of have any suggestions due to the fact that I will be making a large investment?

  95. Jane, January 1, 2018 at 12:03 pm:

    Thank you so much! I’ll check that link and talk more about it with our designer. I appreciate your help!

  96. Paul McAlary, January 1, 2018 at 12:00 pm:

    Hi Jane,
    Well your answer also is reassuring. It sounds like you are in good hands. With your color choices and inset cabinetry and expensive countertops the choice here is tough. Plain and Fancy might be the better investment. But I don’t know the colors that are standard in Candlelight. Sometimes a line like Candlelight can be a great value but sometimes the custom colors you are choosing along with other customisations raise the price of a line like Candlelight almost to the Plain and Fancy pricing. I would defer to your designer that knows his lines and pricing better than I do.
    Here is a link to our ratings for different cabinet lines:

  97. Jane, January 1, 2018 at 9:43 am:

    Thank you! This is so helpful and reassuring. We are currently working with a designer and our experience with him so far ticks all the boxes you recommended in your blog post about choosing a designer. He is addressing the space by removing some doorways and adding others to create uninterrupted work spaces and kid-safe areas, as well as an entrance/exit flow. The cabinets will be inset, but not beaded, and painted in an ambiguous greenish navy with walnut countertops. With those cabinet specifications, do you think a more expensive cabinet would be noticeable or can we get away with less expensive cabinets?

  98. pmcalary, January 1, 2018 at 6:40 am:

    Hi Jane,
    This is a great question and one that comes up all the time. The answer is more complicated then a simplistic percentage formula could ever express. What is a good investment on a kitchen and an appropriate amount to spend on it actually has less to do with how much you are spending and more to do with what you are spending it on. Well made cabinetry doesn’t need to be expensive, solid surface countertops like granite can cost only a little more than Formica, and expensive appliances while very nice will seldom determine whether a home sells or not. However the layout of the first floor and the kitchen of a home and how attractive and functional it is can completely determine whether the home sells in a day or languishes on the market for years. Changing the layout and floor plan of a home to make the kitchen look and work better is almost always a good investment. So spending money on moving or removing walls, doorways, windows, plumbing, and other mechanicals is usually money well spent if it makes the space a better place to live.

    Buying very expensive cabinetry like Plain and Fancy or as splurging on 50K in professional appliances and level 10 countertops will never be a good investment even in a 5 million dollar home unless FIRST the best layout for the space has been created and then that the expensive selections that you are splurging on can be appreciated buy the next owner.

    For example, on the most popular cabinet finish and style (painted white shaker full overlay cabinets) customers can’t tell the difference between the most expensive cabinets we carry and the least. So spending double or triple the money on that particular finish and style is almost certainly money that will not be appreciated by the next homeowner because the difference in quality is almost undetectable. However inset cabinetry and stained finishes look incredibly better the more expensive the cabinet line is. Plain and Fancy for example has beautiful furniture stains and beaded inset cabinetry will never look quite right unless the cabinet line is a custom line.

    Great kitchen designers understand this and help customers spend their money on the things that matter more. Unfortunately there are very few good, practical, and knowledgeable kitchen designers because understanding what is the better layout and investment for a particular space takes talent, creativity, and many years of experience in our business.

    So my best advice is not to shop for the cabinets but to shop for your kitchen designer. If you pick a great designer and listen to them they will help you pick the layouts, styles, and materials that are better investments and which should make your home sell for far more than the money you invested in your renovation.

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