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Top 10 Things to Know When You Buy Kitchen Cabinets

Homeowners planning to buy kitchen cabinets should read this blog before beginning the design process. Lots of mistakes and problems will be eliminated by simply considering the 10 tips below.

person looking through cabinet selection
  1. Don’t buy IKEA cabinets. There are better, even less expensive, choices out there. See first link See other brands
  2. If you are renovating the kitchen to sell your home, do what’s popular and not what YOU like.
  3. Google cabinet places and find a kitchen designer and cabinet dealer that gets good reviews. DO NOT design the kitchen without knowledgeable help. Would you represent yourself in court? Would you cut your hair yourself on your wedding day? This is too important and too big an investment to satisfy a need to do it yourself. See link
  4. Always pay for soft close doors and full extension soft close drawers. See Link
  5. Keeping the soffits over your cabinets makes the renovation significantly less valuable.
  6. Oak cabinets, arched door styles, and raised Therma foil door styles are outdated and have no resale value.
  7. Coordinate your color selections. If you make bold color choices like greens and blues for cabinet colors make sure there are coordinating colors in your backsplash, wall paint, countertop or fixtures. Eclectic is code for “bad taste”.
  8. If you are buying white or grey, shaker, full overlay cabinets – you can purchase this style in less expensive cabinet lines that can look and last as well as more expensive lines. Don’t waste money on expensive cabinet brands when you aren’t taking advantage of what THOSE lines do well.
  9. Make sure you know the lead time, and if there are back-order problems, in the cabinet line you are purchasing. Supply chain issues can destroy your renovation timeline. Only the short-sighted rip out an existing kitchen before planning and scheduling the new kitchen
  10. Never pay 100% down to order your cabinets unless you buy kitchen cabinets from a major home center like Lowes or The Home Depot. Other dealers may have financial problems it they ask for payment in full to order.

Below is a link to our article rating the top 100 kitchen cabinet brands.

Our ratings are used more often by consumers than Consumer Reports or JD Power. This is because they are comprehensive, accurate and the ratings are judged by experts in cabinetry and not by consumers.

Kitchen Cabinet ratings for 2020. Reviews for top selling cabinet brands. (

If you need more help than our website can give, call into our helpline and podcast on Fridays between 2 and 4 pm. We answer questions from all over the world and review any designs that people send us. Simply call 61O-5OO-4O71 Friday 2-4 pm EST and follow the directions on the recording if the lines are full.

If you would like to listen to our podcast here is a link to past podcasts:

Main Line Kitchen Design Podcasts Archives – Main Line Kitchen Design

5 Replies to “Top 10 Things to Know When You Buy Kitchen Cabinets”

  1. Zorina

    I wish you had a design review service. I’d love to call but I’m at work Friday afternoons.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Zorina,
      I do in fact advise marketers, cabinet companies, and many other people, at a rate of $250 per hour. And I would be happy to advise any home owners, flippers, and builders, at the same rate. However, everyone wants expert advice for free.

      So you would need to take an afternoon off in order to have me redesign your kitchen for free, or be willing to pay for an hour our two of my time to have me work on your schedule.

  2. Tim Cragin

    Thanks for your wonderful website. What is your opinion on cabinets that use MDF? We are being told that a lot of manufacturers are using MDF — we live in New Orleans where the humidity is oppressive and have been told that MDF stands up better to humid conditions.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Tim,
      MDF is not wise for cabinet boxes and the doors if you want your kitchen to last. Center panels on painted doors are the only thing that make sense.
      However, if you are flipping a home it doesn’t matter, but otherwise always get all plywood construction. Especially since so many very reasonable cabinet brands are only sold this way. More expensive brands will come either plywood or particleboard, but why spend more to get an inferior product.

      While in an actual flood particle board will fair better than plywood. Inside a home, no matter how humid, Plywood is far more durable and ages with the rest of the cabinetry as opposed to the plastic coatings on the sides of the particle board cabinets which fade over time.

      Even in a flood, the water would need to recede quickly, and the home dried out immediately to be able to save the cabinets. The only time I have heard of flooded cabinets remaining undamaged was in fires with sprinkler water or water main breaks where clean water was the water flooding the home or business. In those cases the particle board was fine while the plywood was discolored needing to be replaced.

      Stained cabinets instead of painted cabinets will be the most durable in a humid environment.

      1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

        FYI to all – While particle board sides, backs and shelves are still a bad idea for cabinet longevity. Many HDF and MDF doors and drawer fronts have improved in density and now resist damage in painted finishes as well as solid wood. Main Line Kitchen Design tested a complete array of painted finishes in MDF and wood and found little difference in resistance to damage. For those interested in watching the video of our test just search our site for the term MDF.

        Stained solid wood cabinets would still be far more durable than any painted cabinets, no matter what the doors and drawer fronts were made of.

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