Ratings of Cabinet Manufacturers?

treegardenJune 15, 2009

We're doing a kitchen renovation, and have been researching cabinet manufacturers (and quickly becoming overwhelmed with the choices). I'd appreciate input on cabinet quality relative to price. I went to three kitchen stores this weekend, and will be getting quotes within a few days. But we're struggling with assessing the relative quality of the manufactuers. As reference: I'm interested in a frameless style, with full overlay. Planning to do maple cabinets, with a light colored stain.

What do you think of:







What else would you suggest I look at? I was also contacted by a designer who offers KountryKraft custom cabinets (from PA). Thoughts?

I also looked at Candlelight -- but found out that they do not offer frameless.


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Check with local cabinet builders for custom cabinets. You might be very pleasantly surprised at how competitive their pricing can be as compared to the mfg ones.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 12:36PM
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I will admit to a very strong bias here, but I would strongly recommend your checking with local cabinetmakers. I was in a Pro Guild for a long time and knew quite a few, every one of whom made a much better product then the ones you buy at big box outlets.

The reason is that in order to make a bazillion cabinets for the ABC Big Box Outlet, you need a big factory and lots of financing. Then you get the bean counters who tell you that you can cut such-and-such a corner to save a few bucks, but, always, "it will be just as good."

I learned my skills at a college where the slogan was, "close enough never is." And most people working out of a garage somewhereÂor who start in that garageÂlearned the same way and have the same dedication to the craftsmanship they know is required by well-made cabinets.

The other interesting part of this equation is that the small independent cabinetmaker will usually sell his cabinets for very competitive prices. In fact I know of people who routinely sell theirs for less then the Big Box People, because the BBP usually just quote the price of the cabinets. They then charge an equal amount to install the cabinets! And when you're done, you've paid as much, or more, as you would have paid to the dedicated independent cabinetmaker, but you've not gotten the same quality.

Check it out. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cabinet & Furniture Trends & Information

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 1:14PM
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I suggest you check out independent dealers. They will want to do a good job, because your happiness is their livelihood! They are held accountable. The big box store employees might not really care because they don't have a stake in the business. Some homeowners don't even bother to check out the local dealers...thinking that the big box stores will be cheaper. And well, it's so much more convenient, right? But where will you get the best value? You will get the best value from a place that has a vested interest in your kitchen, has competitive prices, good design and service. You will usually have someone that has been doing kitchens for many years (not months) and will help you along the way. Many dealers will cater to do-it-your-selfers, just like the BB stores.

Now, as to the cabinets? I find that most people (in my store, at least) end up going with a semi-custom line of cabinets. That is in between a builder/stock grade and custom. A good finish is important! Most manufactured cabinets are a catalyzed varnish....meaning there's a chemical bond in the curing process. Aside from a polyester finish (which is big bucks), there's no better finish available today. Cabinetmaker that don't use the pre-catalyzed type, their prices should be the same as a factory made cabinet. But I've heard that most cabinetmakers probably use a pre-catalyzed varnish, which isn't as tough. And don't ignore the cabinet interiors. Some cm's just apply a polyurethane. I have seen beautiful cabinets by the local guys and I have seen some that were just awful.

Regarding the cabinets you mentioned, people here at GW say good things about Brookhaven and Medallion. Holiday Kitchens offers a nice priced frameless line.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 3:10PM
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Thanks all for your input. Let me clarify - we are not going to bix box stores -- just to local kitchen dealers with their own Kitchen Designers. They all represent different cabinet manufacturers, so my struggle is getting an unbiased assessment of cabinet quality across the same relative price point.

I have seen good posts on Brookhaven. I've also seen some good posts on Cabico. Of the ones I mentioned I haven't seen much on Crystal or anything on Acorn (a Canadian manufacturer). Also -- where would you stack Plain and Fancy against these cabinet makers?

Regarding the independent cabinet maker -- my concern is whether the independent maker will be around to support me in 5-10 years if there is an issue.


    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 9:13PM
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I did Crystal and all I can say about the finishing is WOW!
I looked at Woodmode, Plato, Woodharbor, Avon, and local cabinetmakers. I also visited the Plato and Crystal factories. I agree though that you should solicit bids from local cabinetmakers. I found it hard to find local cabinetmakers that did inset. The big lines all do it by computer so it is perfect. Don't be the guinea pig.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 11:37PM
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P&F is above Medallion and Brookhaven. It's a custom line. Their frameless line, I have no experience with. Although, I've heard it's less than their framed line. I do have experience with their framed line...and their paints and inset doors are beautiful!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 12:13AM
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modern life interiors

why don' you look into apple valley? they make a nice frameless cabinet. they are from pennsylvania. reasonably priced.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 12:49AM
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Cabico is also a custom line.

I wish I knew more about Acorn but despite being from the province I have never heard of them and I don't know anybody who represents them here in Ottawa. We are on the border of Quebec so most local shops carry the Quebec manufacturers.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 12:59AM
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I am really happy with my Brookhavens, if that is any help. I think they are beautiful, and they offer a number of really nice white finishes. Also, I've been told that if you want painted cabinets, factory finished is the way to go. However, I can't tell you if this info is accurate... just passing along what I've heard.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 6:39AM
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Regarding your concern about the cabinetmaker still being around in five or ten years if there's an issue with the cabinets, my question would be, what kind of issue would you expect in that time span? It would seem to me that if there was a problem with the cabinets that this problem would crop up at the beginning. The only other issue would be the durability of the finish applied to the cabinets, but that would probably apply to any line of cabinets. They tell you they used the ABC Bulletproof Finish. Well, maybe they did and maybe they didn't. Maybe they did but didn't apply enough coats of it. How do you know what they do? You don't, really. It's just a matter of trust.

Again, I'm biased against the Big Manufacturer, but that's just me. Well, not entirely. Think about it. Do you check the labels on the things you buy these days? How many of those items are made in China? And how long will it be before the ABC Cabinet Company begins outsourcing their work to China? Then, where is your quality control?

Really, it's like a client I had who needed some very small and hideously strong tables for some stereo equipment (held hundreds of pounds each!). I used mortise-and-tenon joints throughout, as that's the absolute strongest method I know, and I told him that's the joinery I would use. But once the piece is finished, not even another cabinetmaker can tell you if there really was mortise-and-tenon joints or dowels or biscuits or even simple butt joints. You'd have to dissemble the piece to see how it was made. The client just had to trust me to do right by him. But what he did was talk to me for quite a while before he got to the job he needed, and I know he was checking me out, trying to get a feel for my honesty quotient. And rightfully so. He paid a small fortune for that equipment, and he did NOT want those tables collapsing under it.

Go local. But check him out as thoroughly as you can.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 9:51AM
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Curious about all of the recommendations to try a local cabinetmaker. I've contacted three in the DC area - two at a distance from the city - and received amazingly high bids. I want three desk height cabinets-- two 18" drawer stacks and a 24" door/drawer base cabinet. All the estimates came in between $5000-6,000 for painted white maple. I know the workmanship is outstanding at all three places, but I just can't afford those prices. Where are all these great, reasonable local cabinetmakers!?

    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 11:22AM
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My "fully custom" Kountry Kraft cabinets are fine, but pale in comparison with the quality of my custom cabinets and furniture made for my bathrooms and family room by a very talented cabinet maker. If you are in NJ, email me and I'll send you his contact info.

I went with KK and one of their designers bc I was clueless about how to properly lay out my kitchen and really wanted guidance. The guy I worked with was amazing and I'm really happy with my layout. However, KK installed leaves much to be desired. Details I NEVER knew to consider were far inferior to the details in my bathroom vanities and the furniture our cabinet maker did. In hindsight, I'd pay him the few thousand more to do my kitchen than what I ended up with, but would still have hired the same designer.

Today, after my massive experience renovating our entire house including 6 bathrooms, laundry rooms, closets, etc. I know I wouldn't need the designer, but would work with Rich, my cabinet guy, myself.

Examples of details lost w/KK and probalby any other big company.

The exposed hinges on my inset cabinets were not aligned lever with all the other cabinet doors.

The seams between boxes (yes, there are boxes even with "fully custom" cabs) are not tight. Why? BC the company sands the edges of each box ever so much, so when two edges go together there is a bit of a dip, which creates a very obvious line especially with white cabinets like I have. This did not happen with my cabinet maker.

Inset doors and drawers are not "centered" perfectly in their spaces. Cabinet maker would make it work.

Tops of exposed cabinets were not finished; left "bowls" of unfinished and shimmed bare wood which was not acceptable in my vaulted ceiling kitchen. It "doesn't show" but it sill is an area that has to be wiped clean occasionally. Cabinet maker would have finished it without having to do after the fact.

Other, numberous details that are difficult to remember.

Kountry Kraft may or may not be around in 10 years, but they couldn't even replace a damaged cupboard door and make the white color match after 3 attempts within weeks of installation! My cabinet maker is still around, raising a family and standing behind every detail. In fact, we keep hiring him to build us more and more! Check out this awesome tv cabinet he built for us, custom!

Good luck to you!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 11:51AM
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Thanks for all the great input. Does anyone have experience with Signature Cabinets? I've been impressed with their quality relative to the price. I'm looking at frameless cabinets with full overlay.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 10:09PM
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Frameless by definition should be full overlay. In relation to larger manufacturers not all national companies are owned by conglomerates like Masco, Elkay and MasterBrand some are very successful privately owned businesses. Any of the companies local to your area? Buying close to home usually means less shipping and handling as well as better response times.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 2:27AM
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Smarge makes my point exactly. And the pictures she posted well, they say it all. Find someone local who does this kind of work for the love of it, and you won't go wrong. One of the sayings that goes around in cabinetmaking circles is "God is in the details."

The problem with the big box manufacturers, no matter what they tell you, is that, at some level, the bean counters always take over. And it's always on details that "don't really matter." I say it all matters. I have read on these pages about the woes of one lady who wants to put dishes in one of her drawers and can't because the bottoms are only ¼" thick, another one of those details that "don't really matter."

One-man shops tend to do it the right way. Or they should. But, by all means, check them out thoroughly, and if you get a chance to look at some of their finished projects, go over them with a fine-tooth comb. Every part of it is really supposed to be right. That's what you're paying for, isn't it?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 2:14PM
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Where about do you live? I am using an Amish cabinet maker in Southern PA (outside of Philly) just by the Delaware and Maryland border.

They had a fantastic price and their construction is really good. And you can pick anything for finish or color - anything.

The hard part is that you will need your own KD, however, in the end you will get a better product.

I got a total of 6 bids - local kitchen places that use cabinet manufacturers etc. and then the Amish cabinet maker. The Amish manufacturer was the best by far. The catch - he is not listed in the phone book. So sometimes the best people are the hardest to find.

I don't know where you are located, but perhaps you might be able to find a local cabinet maker like I did, that doesn't even need to advertise!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 3:17PM
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I'm attaching a link to an older thread that discusses many different cabinet manufacturers. Out of your list, I've only seen Brookhaven in person - though I liked it, we ended up leaning towards either Crown Point (who I believe offers a frameless line) or our local cabinetmaker, who eventually won the bid. Brookhaven didn't have all of the options we were looking for in finishing or in door styles. But this thread may help as well - good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Cabinet comparisons

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 3:23PM
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I live in Nj and was interested in a custom cabinet makers. could you pass along yours if you wouldn't mind. I'm not to far from Philly. Thks

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 11:26PM
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Yes, I'm happy to share. I am working with an Amish cabinet maker. I do not know how far they travel, but they make a quality cabinet for incredible prices.

Call between 8:00-8:30am M-F and you will be able to talk to Jacob. If you can not call between those hours, they have a message line. The only challenge in working with them is that you will really need your own designer. They do not have a designer or anything like that. And their "showroom" is on their farm. However, like I said - their cabinets are great. A local builder uses them exclusively, which is how I found them.

Oxford Cabinet Shop
120 Quarry Road
Oxford, PA 19363

Phone: 717-529-0949 (use this number between 8:00-8:30am)
Message line: 610-932-3770

I did also finally find a designer that I love. If you live close to Philly - check out her site. I am planning on working with her as well.

Good luck in your search for a cabinet maker!

Here is a link that might be useful: Kirsten's Kitchens Designs

    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 11:48PM
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    Bookmark   August 25, 2009 at 1:28AM
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If you are in the Midwest or beyond, I would suggest a company called "Best Cabinets". They are not a large conglomerate but rather a medium sized family business.

They build a custom and semicustom line. Both Framed and Frameless and they also do Inset cabinets with or without a bead.

I would compare their custom line is similar to a Woodmode and their frameless line is similar to Brookhaven.

This company offers much more customizationthan any large conglomerate. Plus, they are local and they manufacturer all their own moldings, doors, and dovetail drawers.

They do all sorts of high end finishes such a Glazes, Rub Throughs, Crackle Finishes, Milk Paint, Low VOC and No VOC Finishes. Also, they offer "All Glass" Cabinets and "High Gloss" Finishes.

I would say this company is similar to Crown Point Cabinetry but this company is growing. Also, they offer a "free" final measure service anywhere in the Continental United States and they also offer instalation by "certified installers" anywhere in the US.

They also manufacturer custom furniture. They will do custom colors for "no extra charge". Also, there painted finishes are the same price as their stained finishes. This company is also unique because they own their own forest and sawmill and their wood is locally harvested and milled. They also own their own kiln and therefore can Kiln Dry their lumber to their exact specifications. The lumber is also custom milled to the requirements of the custom cabinet shop. Much of the wood is bookmatched and sequenced.

Here is a link that might be useful: Best Custom Cabinets

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 12:06AM
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We are starting a kitchen renovation and are considering the following brands of semi-custom cabinets - Apple Valley, Embassy by Omega and Lewistown. All are from different kitchen cabinet/remodeling businesses. Does anyone have experience with these brands, and could maybe suggest one over the other? Does anyone have experience/thoughts re:semi custom vs. custom, including price differential. Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 9:55PM
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Does anyone have any experience with semi-custom brands Woodland cabinetry or Fieldstone? How would you rank them for quality? My KD's use these but I cannot find out much about them in comparion to other brands such as Thomasville.

Thanks for your advice.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 12:49PM
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I am new to this forum. I hope your kitchen turned out well. I live in NJ and I am interested in Oxford Cabinet Shop. How was your experience with them? Is there anyway I can talk to you about the cabinet maker. Thanks.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 9:05PM
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Has anyone had any experience with Woodland Cabinetry? Also looking at Omega Dynasty, Kemper and Waypoint.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 4:20PM
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I didn't need to replace my cabinets, only the doors and drawer fronts.
I know there are cabinet door makers all over the country but I was very happy with the quality and the prices from cabinetdoors.com.
One of our doors was damaged in shipping and they replaced the door in 4-days. All they asked was that we send them a picture of the box and a picture of the damaged door.
The customer service was exceptional and the quality (except for the damaged door) is excellent.
I would recommend cabinetdoors.com to my own family members.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 6:55PM
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