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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:

Cabinet Reviews: Ratings for the top 130 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. Mark

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  2. Peter McCann

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Peter,
      Here is our 2017 cabinet brand review:

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

  3. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  4. MaggieM

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

  5. MaggieM

    Hi Paul,

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

  6. Debbie

    Thank you, Paul

  7. Debbie

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

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

  8. Robin

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

  9. Donald

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

  10. Robin

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  11. Bridget

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  12. Jeff

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

  13. Jeff

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  14. Craig

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

  15. Craig

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

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

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

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

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

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

    HELP Craig and Bridget

  16. Craig

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


    not sure if you ever talk live

  17. Craig L

    Has any one heard of
    St Martin

    Any of these a good vale for the money

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  18. Regina

    Any advice on Kemp cabinets or plain and fancy

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  19. Christine

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  20. Jackie

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

  21. Judy johnson

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

  22. DavidR

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

  23. DavidR

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

  24. Judy

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

  25. Judy

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  26. Zev67

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

  27. Zev67

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  28. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  29. Bill

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

  30. Bill

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  31. Bill

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

  32. Marti Selle

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

  33. Jim

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

  34. Jim

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

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


    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  35. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

  36. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  37. Jacki

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

  38. Jackie

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

  39. Tracie

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

  40. Jackie

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

  41. Tania

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  42. Jackie

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  43. Mila

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  44. Kimberly

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  45. Mark

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  46. Wendy

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

  47. Wendy

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  48. David

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  49. lkeaney

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

    Thanks in advance!

  50. Diane

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

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