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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. Noah Katz


    I just discovered your site – what a great resource!

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

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

    How is the scorched kitchen you show different?

    Do modern stoves not have insulated sides?



    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  2. Joy

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  3. Dennis Mathis

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  4. Kathy

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  5. Amy Vandenburg

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

    1. ITSAdmin

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

      Here is our blog on Amish cabinetry:

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

      Starmark here is the more durable and reliable choice.

  6. Pam Murray

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  7. catherine g.

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

    1. ITSAdmin

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

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

  8. Jean

    Anyone have any experience with the Merilat Classic Collection?

    1. ITSAdmin

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

  9. Karen Simone

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

    1. ITSAdmin

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

  10. Gary

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

    1. ITSAdmin

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

  11. Alivia

    Thanks for sharing!

  12. Ryanne

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

    1. ITSAdmin

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

  13. Kavita

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

    Thank you,

  14. Kavita

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

    1. ITSAdmin

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

  15. Tom Grant

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

    1. ITSAdmin

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

  16. Bryan Goure

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

    1. ITSAdmin

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

  17. Jamie

    Cliq versus Schuler? Any input? Thanks!

    1. ITSAdmin

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

  18. SM

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

    1. ITSAdmin

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

  19. LB

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  20. Hunymama

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

  21. Paul McAlary

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

  22. Hunymama

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

  23. Hunymama

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  24. Julie

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  25. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  26. Brady

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

  27. Brady

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  28. CabinetNewbie

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

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

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

    I am also open to other suggestions as well!


    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

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

  29. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  30. David Gladstein

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

  31. Herman Stark


    The very nice point you have brought up here, Like the way you have described it, I still remember the days I was used to work with a kitchen renovation in atlanta.

  32. David Fortier

    Hi Paul, we have followed your advice on selecting our cabinets and countertop, before choosing a floor. We have the fabuwood galaxy frost cabinets being delivered 7/2 and have selected a Viscont White Granite countertop. We are going with a Flooret LVT, but are undecided whether to go with their Ashford, which is a light brown.Hafren which is a light grey, or Maderia which is a darker brown with light grain lines. I feel the light grey floor would make the visont white appear darker in comparison, while the maderia would lend itself to making the viscont appear lighter. The light brown is kinda the compromise choice. Any thoughs? Thanks again for your great advice.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi David,
      Without seeing the colors first hand I should not make selections. Photographs are never representative. Even individual computer monitors will make colors look different.

  33. David Gladstein

    I am looking at purchasing Bertch cabinets for my bathroom vanity. You have them rated high in your 2017 ratings, but I cannot find any other specs on their website or literature. I know that is a no-no for you. Can you tell me why you have them rated high. I like their style and price point, but concerned by the lack of specs.

    1. ITSAdmin

      Hi David,
      You bring up a good point. Most of our designers have sold Bertch and so we know how the cabinets were made when we sold them. However since they do not tell say on their web site there would be no way for us to know if they downgraded their construction recently since Main Line Kitchen Design does not sell Bertch. I would get construction specs from the dealer before you buy them.

  34. Melissa williams

    I’m currently working with Home Depot. What is your opinion on America Woodmark cabinets. They are offering me a free upgrade for white cabinets. I looked at some reviews and they were not good.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Mellisa,
      On line reviews are pretty meaningless. Most of the time customers blame problems that arose out of the designer’s, contractor’s, or their own misunderstanding, on the cabinet company. Add to that that a few damages occurring during shipping or installation are common and to be expected and home center customers treat ordering cabinets like ordering a toaster. I like American Woodmark as a product. Home Depot designers are another matter. Home centers in the last ten years have reduced the salary of their kitchen designers over 50%. Anyone that is a good kitchen designer probably left your Home Depot years ago. Working with a poor designer is usually far more costly than the cost of cabinets.

  35. Jacquie Copeland

    I forgot to mention that I am only replacing my kitchen island. My white Thermofoil cabinets were put in by a big builder in 2003. I am not sure if I should try to match Thermofoil in Kraftmaid possibly, or go with a painted wood. This is the last remodeling we will do in our kitchen. I hate to put a great island in, when we are stuck with the ALL of the other cabinets. I have decided against refacing, but maybe that’s what I should do. What do you suggest. Thank you.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Jacqie,
      White raised panel Thermofoil doors especially with the arch popular in 2003 are very unpoplular today. Add to that that Thermofoil usually delaminates as the glue breaks down after about 20 years so I would not spend much money on this project as you will be doing it strictly for your own happiness without any resale value. So my advice would be to get the least expensive cabinetry you can find and not to splurge on any very temporary upgrades line new countertops or new flooring. Your kitchen is most likely not long for this world.

  36. Jacquie Copeland

    What do you think of Kraftmaid duraform cabinets?

  37. pmcalary[ Post Author ]


  38. jmjuve

    Thank you, I have found a kitchen design center in Fresno that carries Crystal, Canyon Creek and Waypoint cabinets and another which sells Omega and KitchenCraft. What would be your top choice from those? I appreciate your help and the information you provide on this site.

  39. jmjuve

    We are building a new construction home and want a high quality product. We live in California and have questions about water soluble paints and finish that are mandated in California. If the cabinet is manufactured outside of California what is the difference in finishing products that other states use? It seems many of the quality cabinets you list: Bishop, Brighton, Wellsford, Signature and style craft do not have dealers in California which I am not sure why? Is it possible any of the above will work with a contracture in Fresno, CA on a large new construction project? Thank you

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Jimjuve,
      Because California was the first state to regulate off gassing with their CARB California Air Resource Board requirements many cabinet companies didn’t bother expanding into California even if they would have passed the standard simply to avoid the paperwork and testing. As of March of this year all cabinets need to pass EPA requirements that are essentially equivalent to California’s CARB2 standard. However many of the cabinet lines we list still have no dealers in California. Many cabinet companies popular in the western US have also not expanded east. For example I believe Main Line Kitchen Design is the first dealer in the North East to carry ProCraft an inexpensive line that is popular on the West Coast and down south. We saw ProCrast at The National Kitchen and Bath Industry Show KBIS in Las Vegas this year and were impressed with their quality and pricing.
      There are many great cabinet lines available out west so finding one in your price range should not be that difficult. For example Decora, or Starmark, Fieldstone, and Medallion, or Plain and Fancy would be similar is quality and pricing to Bishop / Brighton / Stylecraft.

  40. Ralph Wagner

    I find this blog to be extremely beneficial and appreciate all of the information. Do you have any experience with Diamond’s Vibe brand? I see it’s 3/8″ construction, which doesn’t seem the way to go base on what I’m reading here. I’m wondering if Kraftmaid is a better option over the Diamond Vibe.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Upgraded to APC construction the Diamond box is 1/2″ plywood sides and it doesn’t say in their spec book but I believe it’s a 3/8″ plywood back. This would get a B+ for construction under our rating system and be similar to upgraded Kraftmaid. The lack of transparency in many of the MasterBrands cabinet lines I find frustrating. It’s one of the reasons we started this rating system and it puts pressure on cabinet companies to increase their transparency and to make better constructed cabinets.

  41. Mark Thomas

    I am a small licensed contractor in WI. I try to give my customers all their wants, needs, and wishes within there budget. I cannot justify doing so by using products that are not up to my expectations. I am researching RTA cabinets that are already assembled from JSI cabinetry. Any comments on JSI? Do you have any suggestions for a company that is reputable?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      JSI is OK but spending a little more on Fabuwood, Wolf Classic, J&K, or Procraft might be worth it.

  42. Mike

    Has anyone had a recent experience with wolf designer cabinets? We were looking at kraftmaid but then saw Wolfe designer, both price out almost the same with same options. I have had great experience with Kraftmaid in the past but from what I see at the kitchen design center the wolf designer line seems ok also. Does anyone have a comparison.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      I like Wolf but at the same price point Kraftmaid is a steal.

  43. Suzy Brady

    Thank you for the quick reply. Much appreciated.

  44. Suzy

    My KD is a Tedd Wood dealer but I have been having a difficult time finding recent reviews by people who have actually used these cabinets rather than dealers. I have only been able to see a few bathroom vanities and they looked great but I am renovating a full kitchen which of course is a big difference. Below is your post from over a year ago & I was wondering if you have any updated info –
    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.
    Thank you

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Suzy,
      I still haven’t seen a Ted Wood cabinet but I have gotten additional comments from people about how much they loved the cabinets. I think that you should be able to judge a cabinet line from a single cabinet or vanity. What a completed kitchen looks like has more to do with the kitchen design and the installer. The quality of the cabinet line can be evaluated from a single cabinet. However always get a sample door made in your door style and color so that you can see what that looks like together.

  45. Paul McAlary

    Hi Dave,
    I think that I would pick my countertop next since there will be large differences in costs depending on type and color of the top. Then I’d select my floor since color doesn’t effect price very much and you will have many selections to chose from that will help you coordinate the cabinets and tops with the floor. Lastly I would select my backsplash, sink, faucet, and hardware all of which will be very inexpensive by comparison to tie everything together both in color and in style.

  46. Dave

    Hi Paul, thank you for your answer, We have decided on white shaker cabinets, as a design point should we select our counter and back splash next and then choose our floor last? Or pick the floor and then choose a counter/ back splash base on the cabinets and floor? Thank You

  47. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Hi Dave,
    The answer is none. All the less expensive well constructed cabinet lines like Fabuwood, Wolf, 6 Square, J&K, and others are inexpensive and well made BECAUSE they import at least the doors and cabinet fronts. They are all US companies but they are importing the most expensive parts to save the huge difference in labor costs having the cabinet fronts and doors made overseas.To get the same quality in a strictly US brands you have to spend at least 30% more. How much the tariffs are going to effect the cabinet market is yet to be determined.
    The only import line I can think of that possibly wouldn’t be effected might be Hanssem. Hanssem was originally made in South Korea. I’m not sure now if cabinet parts are also being made in China. I believe even IKEA now imports their doors from China.
    There is uncertainty about how the tariffs could effect prices overall because US companies might get exceptions or route parts through other countries. For example when the 10% tariffs went into effect Fabuwood went up 5% but The US lines we carried went up 3 to 5% as well. The US lines just took advantage of the tariffs to make their product lines more profitable.
    Time will tell.

  48. Dave

    Hi Paul, with the tariffs possibly effecting brands like fabuwood, what is a similar brand in cost and quality that wouldn’t be impacted? Thanks

  49. Paul McAlary

    We would need to see the design to comment further on layout. For a painted cabinet in full overlay style I might spend even less than you would on a very good line like Decora if a style and color I liked was available in a less expensive line. And the design could be easily reproduced with this less expensive cabinet line.
    Today there are very well made and very inexpensive cabinet lines that do the most popular door styles and finishes very reasonably. Ten years ago you would have had to buy a line like Decora to get a really well made nice cabinet. Today there are other alternatives. See our blog on cabinet ratings for inexpensive highly rated cabinets.

  50. Russell

    BTW – on the note above the 6’6″ dimension includes 12″ overhang for seating on the other side. Thanks!

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