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, 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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!

  4. 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:

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

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

    HI JUDY,

  11. 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!

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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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