Main Line Kitchen Design
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Why does pricing a kitchen plan at a bunch of different places almost assure that a consumer gets taken advantage of?

Cabinet pricing is dependent on dozens of factors that customers are not knowledgeable enough to price compare accurately. Accordingly customers who shop too much and don’t trust a good kitchen designer usually fall prey to the first unscrupulous designer they meet.

Bishop Framed Ultimate Box
Framed Cabinet Box

For example, a designer making any of the changes listed below could significantly lower a cabinet price quote while also lowering cabinet quality. These subtle changes would often go undetected by the customers:

  1. Not upgrading to plywood sides. Up to 15% less but substantially less durable.
  2. Not flushing out the sides of the end cabinets. 5% less but less custom looking.
  3. Not upgrading track Hardware. 5% less but drawers would be less sturdy and probably not soft close.
  4. Not adding Decorative doors. 10% less but less attractive.
  5. Quoting a veneer raised center panel door instead of a solid wood raised center panel door. 15% less and undetectable to almost any homeowner. Note: Some customers might prefer the less expensive look but if they were quoted for the more expensive look they aren’t comparing “apples to apples”.
  6. Quoting a plywood center panel door instead of a solid wood one. 15% less. Again difficult to detect and again possibly preferable to some customers.
  7. Quoting a standard overlay or partial overlay door instead of a full overlay door. Up to 25% less. A huge difference in price and looks that could not be appreciated by non cabinet professionals.
  8. Different box upgrade for example 1/2″ instead of 3/4″ box. Or melamine interior instead of a plywood veneer interior. 5-10% less. Again a significant price difference while most customers could never detect the difference.
  9. 5/8″ thick shelves instead of 3/4″. 5-10% less – quality reductions again.
  10. Soft maple, beech, or birch drawer box instead of a solid maple or walnut drawer box. 5-10% less – easily overlooked except for walnut.
  11. Keeping the same stain or paint color but changing the species of wood from Cherry to Maple or Cherry to Alder or Maple to Birch. 8% less – lower quality color and appearance to some peoples eye.
  12. Not including sales tax or shipping in the price to tack it on later. 6-10% less. What does this say about the designers integrity?
  13. Not including the same amount or type of moldings in the cabinet order. Up to 10% less – starting the see the many ways to work the price?
Roll out trays inside a cabinet
Roll out trays inside a cabinet

14. Changing drawer bases or base cabinets with roll outs to regular base cabinets. $200 to $400 for every cabinet changed.
15. Quoting a more expensive cabinet brand but downgrading, like the list above, to give you a worse product at a worse price. A customer would often believe they got “a deal” on a more expensive brand.
16. Special sale prices. Lets just say be VERY suspicious of cabinet sales.

All these examples make finding a talented, ethical, and experienced kitchen designer FAR more important than shopping cabinet pricing. Using cabinet pricing as a criteria to purchase usually makes it more likely a customer will get a bad design and a lower quality product at an inflated price.

Main Line Kitchen Design actually sells cabinets for less than home centers and most other dealers. However, we never quote pricing on another dealer’s design because there is no winning the price battle without deceiving the customers who get on this pricing train.

The designer is THE most important part of the kitchen renovation process. Customers who prioritize price over design end up working with less transparent designers and end up either spending more or losing value in the end.

Looking for the best deal on a kitchen?? STOP researching cabinet prices and brands! INSTEAD research to find the best designer and cabinet dealer. Click here for an account of a buyer who followed this advice and one who didn’t . . .


  1. pmcalary, September 15, 2021 at 8:56 am:

    Hi Ron,
    Mantra is the cheapest line that Masterbrand sells. Masterbrand is not transparent about their cabinetry so we have trouble rating them. Many of their more expensive brands we like and rate well like Decora. However, buying the cheapest brand that a huge corporation sells, when they have a reputation for a lack of transparency is probably dangerous.
    Other smaller brand offerings that tell you how their cabinetry is made and specialize in less expensive cabinetry is a better idea.
    I don’t know where you are located so I don’t know what brands are available near you.

  2. Ron Thompson, September 14, 2021 at 10:38 am:

    Have you rated Mantra cabinets?

  3. pmcalary, July 27, 2021 at 7:22 am:

    Hi Brenda,
    Be careful. Structural engineering is an afterthought with many of the most modern frameless lines. The C series in Golden Home is constructed well and the only one I’d recommend. Unfortunately not many kitchen designers that design in these lines know the limitations they should be considering when designing in frameless cabinetry.

    When you want truly contemporary cabinetry it is hard to find a brand and a designer up to the task. Finding a well constructed brand first might be the best strategy because the cabinet dealership that sells that brand made a good choice in carrying them which is half the battle. I worry about any dealer that sells either of the lines you mention as it’s only the C series in Golden Home that I would recomend and I’d bet that 95% of the Golden Home kitchens the dealer sells aren’t C series.

    I would use our ratings of frameless lines to pick a dealer that carries a better made brand like Dynasty by Omega, Kountry Kraft, or we carry Bishop and Wellsford and love them. In a less expensive frameless brands I’d pick lines like Marsh, CNC, Adornus, or Cabinet Depot. Lead times and stocking issues need to be checked with all of these lines.

    Once you find the dealer that carries a line that’s better made in your price range next try to find a designer there that’s experienced.

    To be perfectly frank, shopping for contemporary cabinetry is harder because so many of the kitchen designers that are frameless enthusiasts are a little nuts. If your designer looks or seems “out there” that could be a bad sign in a frameless line. 🙂

  4. Brenda Proctor, July 26, 2021 at 8:27 pm:

    Which framless cabinet is better – Golden Home or Ultra Craft?

  5. pmcalary, July 20, 2021 at 7:17 am:

    Hi Dani,
    Big price difference between the first two and Wolf Classic. The more expensive lines offer nicer looking finishes, more door styles, more customization, more cabinet sizes, and many more finishes. They should all be just as durable though.

  6. Dani, July 19, 2021 at 10:21 pm:

    Hi there, looking to get opinion on Crestwood vs diamond vibe and Wolf classic in regards to quality/build and overall lifespan.

  7. pmcalary, May 9, 2021 at 9:51 am:

    Hi Julie,
    I think you may be going about this the wrong way. First I would find a good cabinet dealer and kitchen designer and have them design your kitchen. Once the kitchen is designed with drawings and notes and all the materials specified and priced out, IE Cabinetry, countertops, appliances, flooring, sinks, faucets, fixtures windows and doors if any, THEN get estimates from contractors for just the labor. The kitchen designer should be able to recomend a couple of contractors. This is why cabinet dealers are the best place to start. They aren’t design and build firms looking to do the construction. Separating the materials and labor helps you compare apples to apples. I don’t know where you are located but here is our list of recommended dealers and designers around the US. Hopefully it gives you a place to start.
    You can also call in to our Friday helpline and podcast between 2 and 4pm EST and get more detailed advive. Call 610-500-4071 between 2 and 4pm Friday and leave your number and we will call back when your turn comes up.

  8. Julie Bolthouse, May 8, 2021 at 4:56 pm:

    This articles are so helpful but I am so overwhelmed by the prospect of select a contractor. I have gotten quotes from 5 remodelers and they have ranged from $30,000-85,000. They all are licensed and a couple have been in business for over 5 years. I’m asking for the same thing from all of them but getting completely different prices with little to no info on how they come to these numbers other than cabinetry. For example the 84,000 one was Waypoint, another at 80,000 was Fabuwood, and a 45,000 was Forevermark. They have all been a little shady in one way or another and I’m at the point of just giving up and letting my water samaged floors stay warped and keeping gluing my laminate counters back together. How do I know who is going to give me a quality product not rip me off? What should I be looking for? Do the cabinet brands they use matter? Thanks for your guidance!

  9. pmcalary, April 12, 2021 at 10:38 am:

    Hi Camilla,
    I think that you might not be comparing apples to apples in these different lines. Are the door styles identical in all lines? Is Molding included in the two other quotes? Are the other upgrades like finished door panels or back panels on the Fabuwood order that aren’t on the others? The price difference is larger than I would expect. Fabuwood is definitely a better line. I’d switch to the Galaxy door style if you are in a more expensive Fabuwood doorstyle like Nexus or Onyx. There is a 15% saving. Hallmark is even less than Galaxy in Fabuwood but a slightly less upgraded line.

  10. Camilla, April 12, 2021 at 9:34 am:

    Thank you for this information. With a limited budget, I’m trying to decide between Fabuwood quote of 12k for a 12×12 kitchen versus another kitchen vendor offereing Mantra for $8k or solid wood cabinets from Aristokraft for a little more but under 10k. It’s so hard to decide which one to go with because i dont know where I’m sacrificing between both places. With twin toddlers at home, I need longevity. But I feel like it’s so pricey but not sure if its my area with everyone home renovating (MD/DC area).

  11. pmcalary, April 3, 2021 at 2:09 pm:

    Hi Jeff,
    I would definitely recomend never buying cabinets from an individual cabinet maker. Here’s our blog on that topic:

    Never pay attention to negative cabinet reviews from consumers. Generally consumers have no idea what they are talking about and often complain about cabinet properties they should have expected or blame cabinet makers for their designer or their contractor’s errors.

    So I would recomend a framed Omega cabinet.

    I also don’t like when contractors direct customers on cabinetry as they also usually don’t know what they are talking about when it comes to cabinet quality or good design. If he is giving out design advice then you really have to watch out.

    I have never met a contractor capable of giving good kitchen design advice and we work with hundreds each year. The best contractors know they should stay away from designing kitchens. Just as most kitchen designers unless they have been general contractors should stay out of installation debates.

  12. Jeff, April 3, 2021 at 1:40 pm:

    Hi, my contractor prefers to use Woodharbor or Omega. He says he also could use a custom cabinetmaker if we prefer. Looking online, I see a lot of negative reviews for Omega, but generally positive reviews for Woodharbor. It sounds like you recommend buying from a manufacturer as opposed to a cabinetmaker. Appreciate your thoughts.

  13. pmcalary, February 22, 2021 at 10:03 pm:
  14. Theresa, February 22, 2021 at 6:41 pm:

    This is a great, helpful site. I plan to remodel our small kitchen. I’d rather not go to a big box store, but I don’t know who to go to in the Columbus, Ohio area. Do you have recommendations?

  15. pmcalary, January 23, 2021 at 3:32 pm:

    Hi Gregory,
    There are many brands that we review favorably on our blog:

    Brands that specialize in modern cabinet styles will be frameless. So any brand listed as frameless with a B,B rating would be a good selection. How much you will like the look of the cabinet will be dependent on your taste and not on the pricing of the cabinet line.

  16. Gregory Young, January 23, 2021 at 2:58 pm:

    I am looking to upgrade our kitchen in Salt Lake City, but I am having difficulty finding a cabinet maker in your list. Can you recommend a top rated modern cabinet maker? The kitchen will go into a high-end modern home. Of course, I am not looking to overspend, but I also need it to look appropriate for a high-end home.

    Your help would be appreciated.

  17. Jim Stim, January 12, 2021 at 11:10 am:

    Hi Paul. Great response. That explains a lot. I am fortunately working with a very talented private kitchen designer in NJ who has his own business, but had to get a day job at Home Depot due to sluggish COVID sales this past year. He offered us the best KM upgrades at HD contractor prices – a win-win. I was glad to see KraftMaid in the upper tier on your ratings list. Thanks again!

  18. pmcalary, January 12, 2021 at 8:53 am:

    Hi Jim,
    Kraftmaid Vantage sold only at independent showrooms and not at home centers is the same cabinet except that the Vantage comes automatically with the upgrades most designers would recomend. At a Lowes or Home Depot you would have to pay for those upgrades individually and sort of like getting a cable TV package when you pay for them individually it costs more. This is Kraftmaid’s concession to private dealers. Since most private dealers sell Kraftmaid for a little more than a homecenter giving the dealer the Vantage line to sell equals the playing field for the customers that want those upgrades. I would always recommend getting those upgrades so often working with a private showroom costs no more and you get a more experienced designer to work with. Of course every designer is an individual and so there are still grate home center designers. But they are getting to be the exception to the rule as home centers continue to pay their kitchen designer less and less.

  19. Jim Stim, January 11, 2021 at 7:34 pm:

    Hi Paul. I am curious as to the quality difference between a KraftMaid cabinet purchased at Home Depot vs. a KraftMaid Vantage cabinet purchased at a private dealer. Are they truly different? Your 10/13/20 comment said Vantage is an “upgraded KraftMaid cabinet”. This of course makes me wonder if the quality of KraftMaid cabinet sold through Home Depot will be of lesser quality. Is that true?

  20. pmcalary, January 9, 2021 at 9:29 am:

    Hi Kim,
    Forevermark will be much less than the other lines ( maybe 30% or more) but will not have the variety of finishes you might want. Forevermark also previously had some supply issues due to Covid and Tariffs. If they no longer due and you like the colors available they could be a good choice.

    As always the design itself is always undervalued and getting a better layout is more important that the choices between these lines.

  21. Kim Nelson, January 4, 2021 at 3:35 pm:

    We will be remodeling are kitchen this summer 2021. I am having trouble deciding on the cabinet lines of Kemper, Meallion Silverline and Forvermark. The kitchen designer carries Kemper and Medallion and the contractor carries Forevermark. We want to go with a stained cabinet and do not need custom cabinets. Any thoughts on price, quality and durability? Both Medallion and Kemper have life time guarantees but Forever Mark does not. I requested the plywood upgrade in all the quotes I received. Your help is most appreciated.

  22. pmcalary, December 24, 2020 at 9:25 am:

    Hi Kristin,
    I think you are reading our review incorrectly. We rate Tru as being more expensive but not quite built as well as the better Wolf lines.

    Because it is a more expensive line Tru will have more door styles, wood types, and finishes available. But because they aren’t built quite as well they get a slightly lower rating for Value. “Better” is a relative term depending on what you are looking for. “More expensive” is simply price point. If the dealer described these two lines that way he/she has over simplified the advantages of both product lines.

    If you can’t get the wood, door style or finish you want in Wolf Tru could be a fine choice. If the design is the same and the doorstlye and color are the same or close spending more on Tru would be a waste of money.

  23. Kristin, December 22, 2020 at 10:46 am:

    Hi there, wondering about your rankings of Wolf and Tru Cabinetry. Our dealer told us Tru is a better, more expensive cabinet than Wolf, but your rankings indicate the opposite. What are your thoughts? Thanks~

  24. pmcalary, November 3, 2020 at 10:00 am:

    Hi Ross,
    A 1/4 inch MDF center recessed panel on a painted door style is fine.

  25. Ross Lewin, November 3, 2020 at 9:50 am:

    Dear Mr. McAlary,
    You have rated Crown Point cabinetry very highly, but I’m wondering what you think of Crown Select, Crown’s less expensive line. In contrast to Crown Point, Crown Select’s doors have a 1/4″ MDF core.
    Would that be a dealbreaker for you? I have spoken to a KD at Crown Point, and have been impressed, but I’m curious about what you think of working with Crown Point in general. I would use your service if I lived in your service area. Thank you.

  26. pmcalary, October 13, 2020 at 12:27 pm:

    Hi Douglas,
    Do you mean Kraftmaid Vantage? This is an upgraded Kraftmaid cabinet sold at private dealers. Kraftmaid was owned by Masco for many years. I’m not sure how their sale in 2019 to ACProducts Inc is affecting the quality of their cabinetry. I hadn’t heard anything about a change in construction just some quality control issues that many cabinet lines have experienced during Covid.

  27. Douglas, October 13, 2020 at 12:11 pm:

    hello I saw your 2020 cabinet ratings my question pertains to kraftmaid vangard cabinets. I had heard they went bankrupt and got bought, the company bought them for the name and that the product is poor now?

  28. kitchen showroom, September 24, 2020 at 8:55 am:

    Hey thanks for posting this useful information about price comparing kitchen cabinets and why it is a bad idea here, I really hope it will be helpful to many. It will help a lot; these types of content should get appreciated. I will bookmark your site; I hope to read more such informative contents in future. Appreciative content!

  29. pmcalary, September 11, 2020 at 8:47 am:

    Hi Ronnie,
    The LifeArt framed cabinets are pretty well constructed for a VERY inexpensive line. As always the elephant in the room is the bad design that can be improved to make the shore house rent and sell for far more or simply be a better place to live. Saving 20% on cabinets but not getting a slightly better product along with a good kitchen designer to work with remains the mistake that most people make.

    Whenever I get sent the designs that people are considering I still marvel at how 95% can be so terrible without the homeowner realizing it. And ALWAYS the more amendment the the homeowner is that their design NEEDS to be a certain way the MORE terrible their design is.

    This phenomena is explained by a combination of both the Dunning–Kruger and the IKEA effect which Doug Mottershead explains in a funny way in our video below:

  30. Ronnie Beezer, September 10, 2020 at 5:15 pm:

    How would you rate Lifeart cabinets for a shore kitchen remodel? Also, what is the best finish for a humid location? Thank you

  31. pmcalary, September 7, 2020 at 8:04 am:

    Hi Leeann,
    We rate about 100 cabinet lines here:

    We discuss Shiloh in particular in the comments on our blog. Here’s one excerpt:

    In both the Shiloh framed lines and the Eclipse frameless line Shiloh does almost everything right except a small construction upgrade that would allow us to rate both lines far higher. The hanging rail in the framed line is too tiny and insufficient to withstand much weight or stress.

  32. leeann, September 6, 2020 at 12:23 pm:

    We are remodeling the kitchen of a second home on a lake in New England. What are you thoughts on inset doors and their ability to withstand humidity? Also, do you have any reviews on Shiloh Cabinetry?

  33. pmcalary, August 5, 2020 at 8:36 am:

    Hi Olga,
    Some sales from manufacturers are real. These sales are usually upgrades that the brand is offering for free or at a discount. For example a free glaze or a free upgrade to an all plywood box.

    VERY VERY rarely a brand will offer a percentage discount sometimes 5%. I have heard of a 10% discount from a manufacturer only once in the last 15 years

    Most often sales saying things like 20%, to 50% off are talking about “off of list price”. No dealer sells cabinets for list price so these sales are in fact misleading and fake. Advertising these types of sales is like the carpet companies that have going out of business sales that last decades.

    Fake sales tell you what type of company you would be dealing with. I would never shop somewhere that false advertises.

    An additional worry with cabinet sales is that they encourage rushing. Not just the customer rushing to buy but the designer and dealer rushing their orders and the contractor rushing their work. Rushing a complicated kitchen design, order, and renovation is a stupid idea and causes mistakes.

    The last 5% sale we let customers know about caused rushing and mistakes that created ill will our customers and cost us a great deal of money rectifying. For this reason we no longer advertise any type of sale.

  34. Olga, August 5, 2020 at 2:35 am:

    Could you please explain a little more why sales are a suspect? Is customer able to find out if manufacturer is in fact offering a particular special at the time? Thanks!

  35. pmcalary, July 17, 2020 at 3:13 pm:

    HI JUDY,

  36. Judi, July 17, 2020 at 1:27 pm:

    Would you please clarify your price ratings from 1-6. I’m not sure if it goes from high to low or from low to high. Is 1 high or low?
    Thank for this excellent reference guide to cabinet quality!

  37. Tim, June 22, 2020 at 10:14 am:

    Hello everyone,

    Has there been an update on Showplace Cabinetry? Do anyone have any positive or negative thoughts or experiences with the? I’m interested to know what folks think.

    Thank you!

  38. pmcalary, April 30, 2020 at 5:08 pm:

    Hi Gina,
    Yes we have updated Showplace. Where exactly their new pricing falls we don’t have a 100% handle on but they are well made and meet our criteria for A construction.

  39. Gina, April 29, 2020 at 2:59 pm:

    I’m curious if the cabinet rating table has been updated to show the new rating for Showplace?
    Cost 4
    Quality A
    Value B++

    I’m considering the Showplace cabinets for my unplanned kitchen remodel. A water leak and kitchen floor damage 🙁

    This site has been very informative and I love that it is current and updated regularly.

  40. pmcalary, April 21, 2020 at 7:57 am:

    Hi Scott,
    My apologies. Neither I nor anyone that worked for me was aware that much like several popular cabinet lines, Showplace Cabinetry had upgraded their construction. Upgraded Showplace now meets all the standards we have for a well constructed cabinet. I am fixing our ratings of Showplace and I truly apologize for not being current as to Showplace Cabinetry construction specifications.

  41. Scott, April 20, 2020 at 12:44 pm:

    I see my previous message is being moderated…makes sense. I’ll take that knowledge to add a couple of other standard features I missed mentioning:
    – 13″ deep wall cabinet are standard
    – Top drawer openings are 5-1/2″ tall standard, more clearance to prevent things from sticking in your drawers.

    Thanks again Paul.

  42. Scott, April 20, 2020 at 12:39 pm:

    Hi Paul,

    Full disclosure, this message is coming to you from Showplace Cabinetry, respectfully requesting that you re-evaluate your opinion on quality and value of the Showplace brand based on our cabinetry checking all the right attributes mentioned on your site as determining what makes a quality cabinet.

    – Standard 1/2″ plywood end panels, check. Upgrade to 3/4″ flush plywood available.
    – Standard full-extension, soft-closing Blummotion drawer glides, check.
    – Standard soft-closing 6-way adjustable Blum hinges, check.
    – Standard solid hardwood, dovetail drawers with fully-captive drawer bottoms, check. Upgrade to solid walnut dovetail drawers available.
    – Solid hardwood doors, frames, drawer fronts all standard. Some alternative materials, such as plywood center panels, available at lower cost. Paint grade blends solid hardwood with HDM center panels for situations where improved environmental stability is a needed.
    – Custom paint colors available.
    – Oven-dried, hand-wiped, multi-step catalyzed varnish finishes are all standard.
    – Custom sizing to the 1/16″ often at no charge solve fit problems in ways that are visually appealing. Custom-built cabinets available, designers draw them, we build them.

    I realize this post is self-promoting and recognize it may need to be removed. I just ask that you take another look at your rating of Showplace based on current information. Thank you.

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