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If You Are Buying Kitchen Cabinets, Beware!

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

Note:  Since posting “If you are buying kitchen cabinets, beware” in 2011 many of the Masterbrands cabinet lines changed. They have switched from 3/8″ sides to half inch sides. Possibly due to better consumer awareness. Instead of removing or editing the blog I am keeping it posted as it was to mark the time and place our industry was at in early 2011. We also have a more recent bog below that reviews current cabinet brands:

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

Here is the original blog from March 2011

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

Is Your Kitchen Designer Going to Kill You?

For example, many cabinet companies sell the same product for different prices by having multiple cabinet line names.  Even in the same cabinet line, exact same door styles and finishes will have different names at different locations. 

In 2004 (and again many times after) Consumer Reports was completely duped.  They continually publish cabinet reviews in which they compare cabinets that are actually the same product.   And they always review these identical cabinet brands differently.  Ikea duped them as well – – garnering top ratings despite durability and construction flaws. These flaws only a few years to become problems.

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

Here are some examples of advice Main Line Kitchen Design professionals share with our customers:

Frameless cabinets are much less durable than framed cabinets. Frameless or European Cabinetry can definitely look sleeker and are better suited to the most modern door styles.  However, even the most expensive frameless lines such as Poggenpohl are nowhere near as durable as any well-made framed cabinetry.

When buying kitchen cabinets, it’s important to know that the worst way to make a framed cabinet is with 3/8″ sides and backs.

Quality framed cabinetry has 1/2 or 3/4″ sides and backs with solid wood hanging rails.  Watch out for Masterbrands — They are the largest cabinet conglomerate in the US and produce most of their cabinetry with the less durable 3/8″ sides and backs. Many home builders including Toll Brothers use these type lines because more money goes into the door styles and finishes. Very little resources go into the cabinet’s construction.  These lines include:  Aristocraft, Schrock, Diamond, Yorktowne, and Kemper.

 

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

A cabinet by any other name….

Thomasville, a fine furniture company, sold the right to use their name to Home Depot to sell kitchen cabinetry.  Home Depot’s “Thomasville” cabinets are actually 3/8″ constructed cabinetry with the Thomasville name.  At one point Home Depot actually had Mills Pride their least expensive cabinet line making half of the Thomasville line.

Thicker plywood sides, solid wood hanging rail, Ibeam or plywood tops, along with dovetail drawers and Blumotion tracks can be had for less. Higher end framed custom cabinets differ in finer finishes and in the availability of custom pieces  —  not construction and durability.  Kraftmaid, Woodmode Brookhaven and Main Line Kitchen Design’s Jim Bishop cabinet lines for example can all provide the same quality construction as higher priced custom alternatives.

Selecting a Kitchen Designer is just as important as the cabinetry you select.

Unfortunately, accreditation in the kitchen industry is fairly nebulous.  Going to the most expensive showrooms doesn’t assure you of getting a good designer. Or one that has your interest at heart. Architects are also generally less capable designers because they spend so much less time designing kitchens. Nor do they know much about cabinetry because they do not sell cabinetry.

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

The best Kitchen Designers explain as much about buying kitchen cabinets and kitchen design to their customers as time allows. When you know what you are buying, and why and what the negative and positive aspects of your design are, you can make an informed decision about what matters to you most, and where you want to spend more and or less.  Kitchen Designers also add NO COST as the design costs are included almost everywhere in the cost of the cabinetry.

Getting a great kitchen requires one big investment that many customers have a hard time making.  The investment of their own time. 

It always surprises my customers when I tell them that we would prefer them to take more rather than less of our time making their decisions.  It is only the customers that invest too little of their own time that are ever unhappy with their selections.

Watch our very funny video below to see why you need a kitchen designer when you are buying kitchen cabinets.

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

Main Line Kitchen Design

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

  1. Mike

    I was reading your blog about Masterbrand cabinets, specifically the Thomasville line, and as a designer that regularly uses the Thomasville cabinet line, I found much of your information misleading or completely incorrect. I’m not sure when this blog was created but Thomasville does not use a hanging rail on their cabinets. In fact the total back of the Thomasville cabinet is actually a 3/8 ” solid back instead of the hanging rails that most manufacturers use. In addition to that standard cabinet manufacturing uses 1/2″ fiberboard, or for a fee, an all plywood box upgrade. I have been designing kitchens for about 6 years now and Thomasville (made by Masterbrand) has used the 1/2 construction since I before I was a designer.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Mike,
      You really don’t comprehend what you read, and you comment without examining what you are commenting on.
      First example:
      If you are not sure when the blog was created you only needed to read the first two huge type BOLD sentences to see that the blog was originally from 2011.
      Second example:
      After the two first Bold sentences there is a Bold note and a first paragraph that explains that Masterbrands changed Thomasville after 2011. Nowhere, does the post say that Thomasville uses a hanging rail. It says the opposite, that Thomasville used to use 3/8″ backs and sides, but has changed after 2011 to 1/2″ sides but still uses 3/8″ backs.

      As a Home Depot Employee designing kitchens for people I worry about the Home Depot customers you are serving. So much of kitchen design requires an exactness for detail. Plus, the ability to learn and the curiosity to investigate are also very important traits that good kitchen designers need. You don’t appear to have these important attributes. Plus Home Centers are not good environments to learn. Consequently, I worry that your customer’s designs are poor and mistake filled.

  2. Anne

    Hi! We are presently deciding between Cabico Unique and NAC North American Cabinets Cafe with wood on bottom and paint on top. Will need some custom cabinet work. Which would you recommend. Thank you!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Anne,
      Giving good advice requires more information than you give here. Knowing the door style and finish that you are looking for and the design itself and what brand would work well with that design is important. Both the brands you mention are Canadian companies that make frameless cabinets. Generally, these brands only make sense if you are getting a slab door style. For a shaker or any mortice and tenon door style a framed cabinet line would be a more durable and possibly less expensive choice. Thinking you need custom cabinet work would also be something many homeowners would firmly believe and be wrong.

      Choosing between these brands I might choose NAC, but most likely neither brand would be a top consideration.
      Here is our rankings for the top brands:

      https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/cabinet-reviews-ratings-for-the-top-100-cabinet-brands/

      As always-
      My MANTRA remains:
      People worry about cabinet quality and price far more than they worry about their designs. This is because they aren’t kitchen designers themselves and don’t understand how poor their designs usually are. If you listen to one of our podcasts this is usually a central issue. The Podcast below illustrates how different designs can be from what a homeowner might expect, while still staying within their budget. So, it makes little sense splurging on cabinets and appliances, when there are design improvements left on the table.

      https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/calls-with-paul-the-kitchen-design-podcast-episode-28-finding-a-kitchen-designer/

  3. Jessica

    Hello,
    I can’t decide between Shiloh MDF vs maple for painted white inset cabinet. I have two young kids and a humid house. Please help!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Jesica,
      Not a fan of Shiloh – see our reviews below.
      NEVER get a complete MDF door! The center panel should be MDF on a painted cabinet but never the outside frame of the door. You are selecting, and require, pretty expensive cabinetry because you are choosing the style to be inset. Are you Shure you want to pay 60% more to get a cabinet style that needs more adjustments, is harder to install, and will require more work to keep up in a humid house? I love the style, but full overlay cabinetry could be WAY less expensive and just as durable.

      Below are our cabinet reviews for the top 100 brands:
      https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/cabinet-reviews-ratings-for-the-top-100-cabinet-brands/

      Spending 60% more on cabinetry only makes sense if every possible construction and design change has already been selected that makes the layout and design better.

      As always-
      My MANTRA remains:
      People worry about cabinet quality and price far more than they worry about their designs. This is because they aren’t kitchen designers themselves and don’t understand how poor their designs usually are. If you listen to one of our podcasts this is usually a central issue. The Podcast below illustrates how different designs can be from what a homeowner might expect, while still staying within their budget. So, it makes little sense splurging on cabinets and appliances, when there are design improvements left on the table.

      https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/calls-with-paul-the-kitchen-design-podcast-episode-28-finding-a-kitchen-designer/

  4. Caroline

    Hi Paul! My designer is pressuring me to not buy from MARFA cabinets because he said they are comparable to IKEA, which I disagree with. Instead, he wants me to go with UltraCraft one of his vendors instead. Isn’t MDF, just MDF? He said MDF UltraCraft is not the same as MDF Marfa… what? Does that even matter when Marfa charges 50% less? Both companies said the same thing about the other company: “You’re comparing apples to oranges. It’s like comparing a Honda Civic to a Mercedes Benz”<– what? How could one cabinet company say that about the other? Help!! I have to make a decision in 2 days.

    1. ITSAdmin

      Hi Caroline,
      UltraCraft can be upgraded to a 3/4″ plywood box. Marfa looks like 3/4″ water-resistant MDF sides and a 1/2″ MDF back. Companies like CNC make 3/4″ all plywood frameless cabinets for less than both of these lines.

      Many, Many framed lines are better built and also less expensive than these frameless lines. Not knowing what style cabinets you want limits my advice here, but making rushed decisions is ALLWAYS a bad idea.

      If you are getting a slab style door then frameless looks best. However, if you are getting other door styles and the door style and finish you want is available in a framed line, I would recommend getting framed cabinetry. You could spend less AND get a better constructed cabinet.

      Here are three blogs to read:
      https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/what-cabinet-line-is-the-best/
      https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/kitchen-cabinet-storage-space-framed-vs-frameless-cabinets/
      https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/cabinet-reviews-for-2022-ratings-for-kitchen-cabinet-brands/

      My MANTRA remains:
      People worry about cabinet quality and price far more than they worry about their designs. This is because they aren’t kitchen designers themselves and don’t understand how poor their designs usually are. If you listen to one of our podcasts this is usually a central issue. The Podcast below illustrates this point:

      https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/calls-with-paul-the-kitchen-design-podcast-episode-28-finding-a-kitchen-designer/

  5. Julie

    Hello Paul;
    Have you heard of Doca and Conestoga Cabinetry?
    I’m in the planning of a total kitchen renovation. Is
    One better that the other one?
    Thanks for your reply and keep up with such an amazing and helpful website.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Julie,
      I have never heard of Doca which is very unusual, and an internet search came up empty for a cabinet brand. So I am leery of Doca. Conestoga is the door and drawer front maker for many nice cabinet brands. However, they don’t really have a reputation as a cabinet brand. I would stick with better known brands that specialize in selling kitchen cabinetry. You may be getting Conestoga doors and drawer fronts but the brand has a history of and specializes in selling assembled kitchen cabinets. Below are our recent reviews of the top 100 selling cabinet brands:
      https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/cabinet-reviews-for-2022-ratings-for-kitchen-cabinet-brands/

  6. Michael

    I’m in the Chicago area and have stumbled upon Cadence Cabinetry in Kenosha, WI. I can’t find any details on their website about their cabinet construction, and I left a message with them yesterday to discuss with a designer. Do you have any knowledge of Cadence, and from your experience, do you think they may make a worthwhile investment?

    Michael

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Michael,
      Cadence Cabinetry is a custom cabinet maker so they will probably make a well-constructed more expensive but nice cabinet if you ask for all the upgrades. However, as with most custom cabinet makers they are not focused on design and so do not have the best kitchen designers. Looking at the kitchens they show on their website, it obvious that they do not excel at design. So I would recommend finding an outside experienced professional kitchen designer to design your kitchen if you are choosing their cabinetry.

  7. Randi

    We are deciding between HOliday Kitchens, Shiloh and Lauriermax for white shaker. (inset) what is your recommendation?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Randi,
      Tough question for me to answer because I don’t know Lauriermax or how they are made. Holiday had a lot of factory and supply chain problems a couple of years ago, but the issues could be over now. And Shiloh has improved their cabinet construction but comparing is difficult when I don’t have more information. The design itself would determine if these more expensive brands even made sense. For full overlay shaker doors in standard sizes all three of these lines would be more expensive than needed. For inset or beaded inset Lauriermax might be best but that’s just a guess.

      As always, the design itself is the elephant in the room.

      My MANTRA is below:
      People worry about cabinet quality and price far more than they worry about their designs. This is because they aren’t kitchen designers themselves and don’t understand how poor their designs usually are. If you listen to one of our podcasts this is usually a central issue. The Podcast below illustrates this point:

      https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/calls-with-paul-the-kitchen-design-podcast-episode-20/

  8. Sheryl

    Hi Paul. We had just finished an entire home renovation approximately a year ago and then the lower level of our house was flooded with 3 feet of water from Hurricane Ian. The cabinets I previously had were Woodharbor. When they were purchased the total cost, including installation and hardware was $40,000. Less than two years later and the current cost to replace is $67,000 and that doesn’t include hardware and labor, and the wait time is a minimum of 13 weeks. What are some comparable cabinets I can look for that provide a similar quality and look? I am hoping not to have to spend $67,000. I had the white shaker cabinets. I have the entire layout and want exactly what I had.

    Your comments are appreciated.

    Regards,

    Sheryl

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Sheryl,
      I would need to see your design to advise on the best cabinet brand, that being said I see lots of red flags here:
      1) Cabinet prices have not increased much in two years.
      2) Wood harbor was a bad value before and worse now.
      3) Because of this increase I don’t like anyone involved in the pricing and installation here.
      4) This makes me suspect LOTS of issues beyond the simple cost.

      I would call in to our Podcast with your design.
      Thanks,
      Paul

      1. Tim

        Paul,
        While I agree with just about all of your commentary but I have to disagree about the last post.
        1) Cabinet prices have soared the last 2 years. They plateaued about 6 months ago (late summer 2022). Cabinet grade plywood rose 50% in those 2 years and have not come down. Maple doubled from $2.50/ bf to $5 at its peak, it is currently backtracked to around $4.30/ bf. Labor prices have rose about 30% and have not backed down.
        2) Don’t Disagree
        3) Your opinion.
        4) Your opinion.

        Best,
        Tim

        A note for Sheryl (and everyone else out there) DO NOT BUY CUSTOM OR EXPENSIVE WHITE SHAKER! It’s a waste of money, EVERYONE from here to Vietnam makes it, so don’t pay a premium for it.

        1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

          Hi Tim,

          I agree in general about buying full overlay expensive white shaker cabinets. It wastes money. Some people want a lower sheen than the less expensive brands offer though.

          Prices are very location related. In our area:

          The less expensive cabinet brands we sell have gone up about 10% in the last two years but that’s about even with inflation. Some of the most expensive brands that we carry have increased at most 20%. However, they are losing sales and may need to adjust going forward.

          Labor prices here did increase by 30% because of the crazy demand in 2021 and the first half of 2022. However now contractors are calling for work. Even though they are spoiled they will have to lower prices. I think their prices will be forced to maybe being up 10% from 3 years ago by the summer.

          Thanks for your input,
          Paul

  9. Sean

    Hi Paul,

    First off, thank you for this very informative website! There really is no comparison out there.

    We’re doing a major renovation in our home and we’ve yet to decide on cabinets. We have a design we like and having been leaning towards fabuwood since we’ve seen them as solid and affordable. Not to mention it was the initial cabinet shop’s entry line.

    However, Bertch (marketplace w/ kitchen plus where necessary) and Designers choice are now options we’re considering.

    The reasons are this; fabuwood quote came back quite a bit higher than anticipated. After informing myself on your website (and others) I didn’t expect the price for fabuwood to be what it came back as. Kitchen alone 2.5 times our reno line item budget for cabinets for kitchen and two bathrooms.

    From research, Fabuwood seems to be a great value and affordable line. We’ve really bent ourselves to fit within their selections. I kick myself for waiting so long to get numbers from this cabinet shop.

    I see that you rate bertch quite well, but from your description you’re only really rating the all wood cabinet (kitchen+) and not the MDF box line (marketplace).

    We have recently went to another cabinet shop whose entry line is designer choice. I see you rate them quite high as well. Waiting on a thorough quote there, but his high level quote from looking at designs on my phone were about 15%-20% less than fabuwood quote. The Bertch (market place w/ kitchen+ where necessary) quote was about 10%-15% lower than fabuwood auote.

    What I was hoping for was are my instincts correct that fabuwood quote seems to be high in comparison? Also, I just want to verify (even though I see you say time and time again) that we should really try to stick to all plywood boxes.

    We don’t want anything really custom and we’re picking just wanting white shaker.

    **waiting on another quote from another fabuwood vendor in area to verify my thoughts as well.

    Thank you for any insight you can provide!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Sean,
      If Fabuwood is coming back expensive for their Galaxy Frost door style in standard sizes then you are probably not comparing apples to apples. This blog explains:
      https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/price-comparing-kitchen-cabinets-and-why-it-is-a-bad-idea/
      You are probably getting pricing for terrible versions of the other cabinet brands as they are generally about 25% more expensive. Something is wrong even beyond the particle board sides which is a bad idea in of itself. You don’t say where you are located and I haven’t seen your design, but there are other well-made inexpensive brands besides Fabuwood. For example, J&K, Cubitak, Wolf, Forevermark, and Procraft. These lines only come with all plywood boxes, soft close doors and drawers and dovetail solid wood drawers. These are all things you should get and are probably not getting in any more expensive brand that you are getting lower prices for.

      Plus, even Fabuwood has a standard overlay shaker door style that 25% less, Discovery Frost. Discovery will still be well made all plywood cabinets with soft close tracks and hinges, just available in fewer sku’s and slightly downgraded. Still way better made then a downgraded more expensive brand.

      1. Sean

        Thank you Paul!

        We’re located in Jacksonville, Florida. It looks as if ProCraft has a large location here, but not the others you mentioned (I’m searching on my phone today so maybe I’m missing the others; will search later to be sure) we’ll definitely check ProCraft out.

        With regard to the blog about “apples to apples” I will study some of those details more and continue to educate myself…thank you for that!

        How would you characterize the door overlay effect on overall quality and/or durability? . With a 25% potential savings may this door overlay be a good area to compromise a bit with regard to price?

        1. Paul

          Hi Sean,
          The overlay is just how much of the door covers the front of the cabinet so in Fabuwood it is mostly looks although the shelves are slightly thinner, and the soft close tracks are 3/4 extension instead of full extension. You shoud go to the Fabuwwod website to see a whole kitchen in each style.

  10. Victoria

    Doing a complete renovation of my home. Considering -wellborn, candlelight, medallion silver line, and Yorktown. White cabinets and black island. Near water, but not on the water. Prices are similar, which is best choice?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Victoria,
      Yorketown and Medallion are now pretty much the same cabinets as they are made in the same plant. Wellborn has several lines. Their top construction would be similar to Yorketown and Medallion. All these lines are similar so I think the company, the designer, and the design itself are most important here. And that the cabinets are upgraded to all plywood and soft close everything.

      When people ask about cabinet brands, particularly brands that are so similar, getting a great design is far more important. We see very few good designs when people call into our podcast and help line. So, I would recommend letting us look at the design to find the issues before selecting a brand. The design you received from different designers is often telling as to who knows what they are doing and who doesn’t.

      Here’s one of our podcasts to get an idea of how they work.
      https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/calls-with-paul-the-kitchen-design-podcast-episode-15/

  11. Mary Lagerblade

    I had Cherry Tree Kitchens replace the doors and reface the trim with wood . The refacing glue is drying and pieces of it are popping off.
    The doors are very disappointing. Any place where water or any liquid has landed on the drawer tops the paint comes off and the finish “opens up”
    . See photo. Do I have any recourse with Cherry Tree?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Mary,
      We do not recomend refacing cabinets. I don’t know if the water damage to your painted cabinetry is normal, but all painted cabinets are easily damaged by water and should never be allowed to have water sit on the finish. You should call Cherry Tree, at least the veneer should not be “popping off”

  12. Vandana Dommaraju

    Hi, we are building a new house and my builder is offering cabinets boxes with MDF for interiors back, sides and shelves.
    Cabinet doors are maple with MDF flat panel for painted cabinets. I am debating if we need to upgrade to all plywood construction for interiors? Appreciate your response! Thank you!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Vandana,
      You should definitely upgrade to plywood. Mdf panel for the door is OK. To determine how well the cabinet is constructed requires more information.

  13. Diana K

    What are your thoughts on Waypoint cabinets? I see you gave them a straight B score. Are they well made and durable? I am remodeling the master bathroom and leaning towards white cabinets.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Diana,
      For a Bathroom they aren’t bad. Of course painted cabinets in a bath can be problematic if you don’t have good ventilation, as paint and water don’t mix.
      There are better choices for the same money, though. See the other brands in the same price point with higher scores.

  14. Laurie

    Did Showplace cabinetry improve from last year and earn a better rating from you? I may be mistaken, but I thought last time I saw your cabinet rating chart, they were only a “C” for quality and now the have an”A” grade. I’m interested because our dealer is recommending Showplace or Candelight for painted cabinets. If construction for the two lines is good/similar, we would go with the one with a better paint finish. Which would you recommend? Do you know if both lines will do an MDF recessed panel door? The dealer recommended an all MDF door, but I know you’ve posted they are easily damaged, so was planning to avoid that. Thanks for any input you can give.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Laurie,
      I’m away so I can’t check on some things but I believe showplace is now being made by a different company hence the rating change. Recessed center panel in MDF is fine. Having a dealer recomend MDF for a whole door, without a warning, is troubling. I think the paint on the cabinet brand here will not be important. However I would consider a different designer. What other bad advice are you getting?

  15. Hilaire Quinn

    Just received an order for Thomasville Classic cabinets for a bar area in our diningroom. Home Depot couldn’t have messed up the order more so it all needed to go back anyway, though they are trying to make it right. Really what I wanted to mention is that this line of cabinets still only uses 3/8 inch (we upgraded to ply)backings to attach to the wall. How is this going to support any weight and not just fall off? Luckily, we have 3/4 wood plank walls, but still, I am concerned. I would also like to note that the dovetailing on their drawers is absolutely horrible. I wish I went with a better cabinet maker.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Hilaire,
      As long as the sides are 1/2 ply a 3/8″ solid back is OK. Not as good as a 1/2″ back but we give that type construction a B+. I think the real problem here was having someone less qualified design your space. They can try all they want to make it right but if they don’t know what they are doing due to inexperience, getting thigs right a second time is far from certain. People shop for cabinets – they should shop for designers first and cabinets second.

  16. ML

    Hello, we are choosing between the cabinets listed below. Any insight in to who makes the best cabinet to last a lifetime?
    Bertch, Decora, Starmark, Fieldstone.

    Thank you!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi ML,
      Upgraded these are all good cabinet lines. So no matter which line you choose you can’t go wrong. HOWEVER almost every design that people send us is terrible. Focus on getting a good designer that will direct you. Preventing customers from buying the badly designed kitchen they want is a full time job in of itself for most kitchen designers. Consider calling into our podcast on a Friday 2-4 EST with your design read to email. We almost never get sent a kitchen without many mistakes that are easy to make you aware of.

  17. Keith Hamel

    Hi folks,

    Building a new home in New England and looking for your thoughts on Candlelight Cabinets. Considering painted MDF as we are near the coast. Meeting with rep shortly so any advice is appreciated. Great site and refreshing.

    Best regards,

    Keith

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Keith,
      I would not get all MDF doors on cabinetry as they would be very easy to damage. Having a MDF recessed center panel on a door would be a good idea, all MDF would be a problem.
      Here is our cabinet rankings for 100 brands (we rate Candlelight well):
      https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/kitchen-cabinet-ratings-for-2020-updated-reviews-for-the-top-selling-cabinet-brands/

  18. Kathy

    Dealership. Horrible experiences with Holiday Kitchens. Can understand extended lead times. The quality they have been shipping is unimaginably terrible. 60+ negative reviews on Houzz. Unlike any other mfg’s recent reviews. Very poor management. Any advice on a replacement line? Already a Showplace dealership in my area.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Kathy,
      If Holiday is having problems now I would recomend taking on two lines if you only carry Showplace. A less expensive well made line like Fabuwood and a more expensive high end custom line like maybe Plain and Fancy. Then you would have all price points covered. And three separate cabinet Reps all of who will carry other brands to consider should you get in a bind again.

  19. paul mcalary

    Hi Harriet,
    Unfortunately, all painted cabinets are damaged by water and no painted cabinet brands are warrantied against water damage which is probably what is causing your cabinet’s finished to be damaged. So were you to be able to contact Hanssem, I doubt they would cover the damage. You need to either repair the finish or replace the cabinet with one that doesn’t have a painted finish.

  20. Harriet

    Do you know anything much about Hanssem cabinets? I purchased those for a bathroom remodel four years ago from a cabinet dealer. They supposedly had a five-year warranty. We noticed the painted finish failing on a couple of drawer fronts. Since it’s still in the warranty period, I went back to the dealer who’d sold them to me. Turns out they don’t sell Hanssem anynore, and refuse to help me with the warranty claim. I then tried Hanssem directly with no success. Calls go to a full voicemail box so I can’t leave a message; no one ever picks up at that number; and I get no response from the only email that I have for them. What’s the point of a warranty if neither the dealer who sold them won’t help with a warranty claim, and if there is no response at all from the manufacturer? I’m left wondering if Hanssem is even operating at this point – do you know?

  21. paul mcalary

    Hi Laurie,
    No they are probably the same paint, with the same durability. The more expensive line might have a slightly smoother finish due to extra sanding on the door.

  22. Laurie O

    Hi Paul,
    Thanks for your response. One quick follow up, for white painted cabinets,do you think the paint finish on Candelight is better than on Teddwood?

  23. paul mcalary

    Hi Lauri,
    Tedd Wood has amazing stained finishes but on a solid white painted cabinet You could probably not even notice a difference in finish and durability between Fabuwood (one of our least expensive lines) and Ted Wood. Both Tedd Wood and Candlelight will do most customizations. A 21 1/2″ wide cabinet wood be silly with two doors and sets off alarm bells with me on who your designer is. They should know better.

  24. Laurie O

    Hi Paul,
    Thank you for your great blog! We are looking for white painted cabinets that can be customized. Our dealer recommended/priced out Tedd Wood, however, he mentioned Candelight has a superior finish, but is more expensive. The finish is very important to us. Would you recommend Candlelight over Tedd Wood for overall quality as well as the paint quality?

    We noticed you rated Tedd Wood a 5 and Candelight a 4 for price. Tedd Wood includes customization in their price. Do you know if Candelight doesn’t, which might explain why if we make changes they could end up costing us more?

    Also, would you say a 20 1/2″ wide upper cabinet is too narrow to have two doors? Thanks for any advice!

  25. Hope

    Our designer, who is independent, apparently has a relationship with Shiloh – but no showroom. With the pandemic, and the lack of a place to see anything finished, I’m having a hard time making a decision, or wanting to go look at other options. I also see a lot of mixed comments about Shiloh or Shiloh Eclipse – I did Brookhaven frameless in my prior home about 8 years ago, and loved it, though I know they had a bankruptcy last year. Is Shiloh comparable?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Hope.
      I’m not a fan of independent designers as what they offer cabinet dealers offer for free, and are usually better at it. Shiloh makes nice looking cabinets but both their framed and frameless cabinets are engineered poorly. See our cabinet reviews here:
      https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/category/kitchen-cabinets/

  26. Amanda

    Am considering Tedd Cabinets, Plain & Fancy, and Brookhaven/Woodmode for kitchen and baths. I had never heard of Tedd until recently. Am wondering about how to rank these in terms of quality of construction. Would love to know if anyone has had experience with the Tedd lines, too.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Amanda,
      I know that Tedd Cabinets makes a great product. Exactly how it stacks up against Plain & Fancy I don’t know since we do not carry either line and only know them from trade shows and from online information.

      Woodmode I would stay away from. They were a great cabinet but they have been a combination of bankrupt, out out business, and needing refinancing twice in a couple of years. Who knows how stable the new company will be?

  27. Micki

    We odered the JSI cabinets from Home Depot. Most of the cabinets have a Hampton Bay label in them and only one is stamped JSI. Do you know why that might be and if this happens often? Should we be concerned about a difference in quality?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Home Depot and Lowes often re-brand the cabinets that they sell. For example Home Depot’s Thomasville is in fact Diamond from Lowes and a Masterbrands cabinet possibly made in the Schrock plant. American Woodmark at Home Depot is Shenandoah at Lowe’s and called Timberlake at private dealers. Hampton Bay is a re-branded name so it is obviously actually JSI which I didn’t know. I wouldn’t be concerned about the branding mix up. They are both the same animal I’m sure.

  28. JEF

    Going back and forth between Tru and Kith….Leaning toward Kith simply because they make the hood for the stove whereas Tru, we have to get that custom made and custom painted….it will get on my nerves if the paint does not match exactly.
    We were originally quoted Merillat but I have seen terrible reviews for them so I eliminated them, but honestly, the cabinet color scheme was my favorite out of the three…but construction and durability is more important. Need to make a decision this week and am struggling…. I can’t find many reviews on Kith on line.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Jef,
      I would use our cabinet rankings, see link below, to select a brand. As always the designer you work with is equally as important as the brand you select and most often under appreciated.

      https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/kitchen-cabinet-ratings-for-2020-updated-reviews-for-the-top-selling-cabinet-brands/

  29. Dena Hamilton

    Hi Paul.
    We have seen great reviews on Lilly Ann cabinets. Do you know anything about them?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Dena,
      Lilly Ann Cabinets are apparently Clique Studios, A company that went bankrupt 3 months ago, brought back to life.

      I do not like buying cabinetry on line and I worry about online companies especially in a tough economy. Several inexpensive brands have already failed and more will soon. Customers lose their deposit money when cabinet companies go bankrupt.

      I would recommend working with a reputable local cabinet dealer that sells several different cabinet brands. Putting all your eggs in an online basket that failed once and could fail again is a bad idea.

  30. Lora Brady

    Three years ago, bought a house with laminate (formica) kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities, all with granite tops. The cabinets are original to the house, built in 1984, and in almost perfect condition. Unfortunately, the kitchen and baths need updating. I have had wood cabinetry before, both stained and painted, and there were always dinks and scratches needing repair. Does anyone make laminate cabinets anymore? Much thanks!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Lora,
      Nearly every European frameless cabinet line will make laminate slab doors. Expensive brands might also make acrylic or parapan doors to.
      There will also be foil doors in slabs available.

  31. Jacob Smith

    Thanks for sharing this information

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Thank you Jacob for the compliment. One of our blogs that you might find just as useful is this one:

      https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/price-comparing-kitchen-cabinets-and-why-it-is-a-bad-idea/

  32. Chris

    Thank you so much for this comprehensive response. Appreciate it very much!

  33. Chris

    Thank you for the information that you provide on your site. We are looking at Tru Cabinetry shaker style wood stained kitchen cabinets for a remodel. Looking at their catalogue it appears they use 1/2 inch plywood on the sides and base of the cabinet but the back is 3/16 inch. How much of a concern is the thinner back panel? We were told these were similar to Fabuwood, but they offer more door/color options. Fabuwood is a bit less expensive, but did not have a similar color stain that we liked in the Tru Cabinetry line.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Chris,
      Tru cabinets actually has a 1/2″ plywood hanging rail so where you are screwing the cabinets to the wall it is 11/16″ thick plywood. This is still not nearly as well made as Fabuwood but would get a solid B for construction from us assuming that the hanginging rail was at least 3 1/2″ high. The reason you like their stains better is that they are on Maple and not Birch like Fabuwood. This is also why they are more expensive. Tough call depending on how much more they are, how much more you like the finish, and how long you plan to stay in your home.

      If the cost of TRU is 20% more than the Fabuwood than there should be a lot of other cabinet lines that will be very well made and have the colors you like around that price. For example the Wolf Designer series, or for a tiny bit more Legacy Presidential. Home centers would sell American Woodmark at Home Depot and Shenandoah at Lowes. However remember our mantra “the kitchen designer you work with is more important than anything else”.

      So if for example you created your design yourself, or your contractor did, or it is the same as it was before we can be certain that you haven’t worked with a good kitchen designer yet. And that is what you should be researching to find first.

  34. Noah Katz

    OK, thanks again, Paul.

  35. Paul McAlary

    Hi Noah,
    Generally buying RTA cabinets does not save more than 20% off the cost of inexpensive well made assembled cabinetry, And the Better made imported assembled cabinetry will come with free design help as part of the price. You won’t have to assemble it, it will be a better cabinet, and free design help means the alternative makes little sense.

  36. Noah Katz

    Thanks, Paul, very informative.

    On a more general note, I’ve been shopping for RTA cabinets online, which looks like it could save me 1/2 to 2/3 based on prices I got from a few local dealers.

    I’m also suitably chastened by your many convincing articles on getting a kitchen designer.

    Anything wrong with hiring a designer and procuring the cabinets myself?

    I’ll be doing the installation so there are no contractors involved.

    Thanks very much.

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