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Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

Posted by Lorenza5064 (My Page) on
Wed, Nov 21, 12 at 8:04

I am planning a total kitchen renovation. I have a design that I have paid a designer to develop. I am now shopping for the cabinets. I have obtained quotes from three separate vendors representing six manufacturers. Given that construction techniques, materials(including glides, hinges, wood species and finishes) are equivalent among the cabinet companies, I am flummoxed by the disparity of the quotes. The main difference between the high and low quotes is that the the high end $$ are from larger companies, the lower $$ are from smaller mfrs. including Amish Companies. Inquiries re finishes and warranties have been made and compared as well. Any insights from others who have had this dilemma?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

A list of the companies would help. Usually the differences are:markup, details in the design that consumers don't notice, and frame construction. Least pricey are pocket hole frames,next are doweled, and most expensive are mortise andtenon frames (not doors).
Details in the design-to tell you need a list or an explanation from the dealer. They are things that make the install easier/ better.
The Amish are known to be a good value.
You may alsobe getting a break for already having a design fromsome and not others. Very few companies discountfor that


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

Not to say that some custom cabinet makers who are worth of the name don't produce some beautiful and durable cabinets. It's just they will never equal the durability of a finish that almost any larger company can put on a cabinet.

And most of those money differrences in those quotes will be due to the quality of the wood used and it's finishing process. I have yet to find a small cabinet maker who can produce a product that will be both beautiful and pass the most rigid KCMA testing prcedures for finishes. There are all different grade of catalyzed varnish, and the most hazardous to deal with top grade stuff will provide the best protection. However, most small shops aren't equipped with the necessary equipment to use these products. Nor do many of them want to pay the money to buy enough quantity to make them affordable to use. A large company can buy several 55 gallon drubs of A B components per week. There just isn't any way a small shop will even do 5 gallons.


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

A list of vendors would help.

I know of one cabinet line that is an "ALL WOOD" cabinet but their finish is CR@P!!! I know of a "builder grade" line whose finish is semi-custom to custom looking and no one would ever guess they are inexpensive!!!

The finish is just as important, if not more important than the construction. You can always beef up the ends and upgrade to soft-close drawers with just about any line nowadays. The finish is what you see and what takes the daily abuse.
KOMPY


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

Okay, vendor names are important for this discussion. From high end to low; Pennville, Mouser, Greenfield, Nichols, Kemp, and an independent Amish cabinetmaker. I have seen a completed kitchen by the Amish cabinetmaker. It has been in place nearly a year and is the white painted finish and door style I would choose. It was handsome and the detail work and finish were very nice. My research has indicated that the finish he applies meets the KCMA standards and he is guaranteeing the finish for 5 years. With a price differential of more than 25% from high end to low, I have pretty much decided to work with him.


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

As to your original question,- Pennville are loose tnone frames, Mouser are doweled, Kemper are pocket hole. Don't know the others. There will be other construction details that differ. Bottom line is the price palcement on your list is proper. No way to tell but I'd suspect the Amish are pocket hole- most local makers use that.


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

As to your original question,- Pennville are loose tnone frames, Mouser are doweled, Kemper are pocket hole. Don't know the others. There will be other construction details that differ. Bottom line is the price palcement on your list is proper. No way to tell but I'd suspect the Amish are pocket hole- most local makers use that.


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

jakuvall (as in "trades"...) Many thx for your follow up. Now, if you could only provide a brief tutorial re the three frame construction techniques that you mentioned. What are the salient differences among the three in terms of form and function? A bit more background re my skepticism about big names and big prices; I purchased a WoodMode kitchen 22 years ago, the one that I am replacing. I thought I was buying quality per the name and reputation. My experience has been that the finish (paint) has stood up fairly well, although all of the door and drawer fronts had to be replaced within the first year because of finish failure. It is a painted finish that cracked and crazed. So you might understand my approach and my apprehension as I undertake the renovation. Ciao Ciao and Mille grazie


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

...and master of none":) wasn't sure I wanted to get into this - it's long, but here you go.

The frame is the structure on a framed cabinet. Frames are glued. Modern glues are incredibly strong but bond best when the wood is glued long grain to long grain. An end grain to long grain joint will fail without any other means of connection.

A pocket hole joint is end grain to long grain, so a metal screw is added to hold the joint together longer, increase the strength. Without the screw the joint will fail. (when installing pocket hole cabinets it is a good idea not to put too much pressure in the middle of a wide top rail or you may hear a little crack. Once the counters are on the load is distribuetd so not as big an issue)

The other factore is that wood expands and contracts seasonally. Metal does not. As the wood expands it pushes against the metal of the screw and compresses. Eventually it compresses and does not expand back again. This is called "compression set". That's what causes the heads to fall off of hammers (see Bruce Hoadley- Understanding Wood)
Until the invention of pocket hole screws some form of joint was always used to allow for a long grain to long grain glue joint. Originally this was a mortise and tenon- the strongest most durable joint for this application.

A loose tenon, or dowels are a variations on the tenon joint. Both are easier to use in production. Loose tenon having more surface for the glue joint and IF properly fit (big if,I once handled a brand that used loose tenons that I will not sell) are better than dowels. Dowels are easier to use in production and don't have the same fit problems.

Which construction one picks is a matter of budget and how long you want things to last. Pocket holes frames are just fine, there are lots of pocket hole cabinets out there, likely more than 70% of the market (I carry one in my store and put them in my fathers kitchen-in wood) Overall though, mfg using better frame construction typically use better methods for other aspects of construction, particularly since it is something that you don't see and that the average consumer must be shown. Hoever price does not always guarantee better construction, there are some pricey pocket hole cabinets.
So when you ask about the disparity in cabinet pricing, there is a little more to it than dovetail drawers with soft close and some sort of..don't get me starte- plywood sides- those are the easiest things for a mfg to control and IMO are not indicative of quality, merely the minimum requirements.

As to your paint issue- I'm surprised but don't doubt you. I used to work for a Wood-Mode/Brookhaven dealer for 8 years, very nice cabinet, good company (they did replace your doors). During my tenure there we likely sold 1000 kitchens in those brands, statistically 40% would have been painted. Never had an issue similar to yours.

I wonder if 22 years ago the paint was different, polyester perhaps. It is one of the materials that has a tendancy to craze, especially as formulated back then (spent a while dealing with lots of kinds of materials, where the jakuvall comes from)
The most common reason I've ever seen crazing is the inadvertant inroduction of a solvent. It can be surprising what cleaning products have solvents. But hard to say.
Cracking- if it was at the joints that is to be expected in a painted finish- in any brand with any joint. It will be less with better joints, but wood moves more than paint. Other cracking- have not idea.
BTW Wood-Mode cabinets are doweled- one reason they lasted 22 years.


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

OP: thank you for asking these questions and starting this thread.

To hollysprings, kompy and jakuvall: how do we ever thank you for your endless teaching? A wonderful holiday season to you all is the least I can offer.

-SW


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

Wow great thread. I'm just starting to think about redoing my kitchen and 2 bathrooms. My dream kitchen includes a soft white shaker style cabinet with the most durable finish. At this point I don't know what makes the best finish or what to look for regarding construction, but you guys have given me some great info to start with. Thanks!


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

The best painted finish I have sold is Plain & Fancy. But not everyone has a budget for that line of cabinets. Plain & Fancy is probably 20% to 50% more than KraftMaid....depending on where you live, the dealers markups and what sales/promotions are going on.

If I couldn't get P&F, then I think Showplace or Medallion would be the next step down. Shiloh is right there too. But I have run across a couple of rough spots on the Shiloh finish recently. For the builder budget, Medallion offers Silverline in their painted finish...a GREAT value!!! I am posting a photo of Medallion's SILVERLINE painted Carlisle doorstyle....one of my best sellers!!!


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

Another aspect that affects price is the level of choices in door styles and how those doors are made. For example, Yorktowne & Medallion have set door/drawer combinations with specific edge profiles and door center panels. Executive (semi custom) will offer you a choice of center panel & drawer heads (slab or recessed center panel), but not the edge profiles. Rutt & Rutt Regency (custom) you can have any door any way with choices of rail/stile widths, center panels, edge profiles and drawer heads.

Each cabinet line is different their level of wood grain/color matching. Yorktown & Medallion will use nearly every stick that comes off the truck. They are not very selective if the wood colors or graining matches. This is very noticeable in Cherry as well as light stained oak & maple. Executive is better, but Rutt/Rutt Regency is by far the best. Since Rutt makes all their own doors, they can be selective of the wood for color and grain matching.

Just as a note, while Rutt is competitive with Woodmode & Rutt Regency is competitive with Brookhaven/Signature/Plato/Kountry Kraft/Plain & Fancy etc.


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I know we are talking about painted cabinets, and since there are some very knowlegable experts here, I would like to ask which cabinet manufacturer has the best finish for dark stained cabinets, not painted cabinets
TIA Karen


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

sparkling water happy to you too :)

Parts- there is no "best"
You will find the most consistant dark finishes in cherry.
Other than that the variables involved in finishing are more complex than construction and harder to describe.

Ther are a number of brands that KD's or reps will refer to as known for their finish. Brookhave/Wood-Mode, Quality Custom (QCCI), Rutt, Crystal, Plain n Fancy, Dura Supreme, Signature (I would agree with Kompy about Showplace at the price) was just speaking with mamadapige who likes Pennville.
Likely someone will want to add to the list- these are the ones I've heard the most talk of. A lot has to do with market share though.
Some are "better" than others but the pros could argue which, usually in favor of whatever we sell. (On that list -I sell QCCI and Showplace, used to work for a Wood-Mode dealer)

In many a cases a brand can get one color or finish right and not another. A good KD will tell you. My own opinion is that mid size companies (at any price) more often do a better job than either large or small ones. With the exception o Wood-Mode who is the most commonly referred to "our finish is just like..." And bigger than many.

Some better brands always use a color contol sample-a door done in the style and finish you want, signed off on, cut in half, half goes back to factory to be used for referance where they will tone anything that needs it resulting in superior consistancy.

Lastly, as I've said before, who you work with is more important than ANY specific brand.

This post was edited by jakuvall on Fri, Nov 30, 12 at 21:49


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

Agree with everything Jakuvall said...especially "there is no best". Each line has a niche...what us as kitchen designers, have learned over time which lines work better with certain criteria. For instance, for me and my manufacturers, if someone wants a 'shaker' style, I almost always steer them towards Medallion or Silverline....they offer a ton of different Shaker styles and modified Shaker designs. If someone wants a frameless kitchen, you can't beat Holiday Kitchens for their price and quality. Distressed or glazed finishes? Some companies do glazes that are very subtle, some look like they used a Sharpie marker! It depends on which way the client likes it :-) Distressing is an art and some do it better than others. Showplace's VINTAGE finish looks naturally aged. I've seen some distressed finishes that look deliberate. A good KD, like Jakuvall said, is MUCH more important. They will be able to steer you in the right direction and educate you about cabinets and design. Someone with over 5-10 years experience preferred, but obviously the longer someone has been in the industry, the more they will know. Also getting a good vibe from that designer/salesperson is a must. Integrity and creativity are important....they must be honest with your dollars...and also be open to your ideas...it's your kitchen.

Kompy

Ps. I recently ordered a vanity for my own home. I can get Shiloh, KraftMaid or Medallion for less, but chose Showplace for their beautiful distressed VINTAGE finish and their FURNITURE style vanity designs (with feet!). Posting a photo below of their Cherry - Autumn - Vintage door sample.


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Showplace distressed

Oops pic didn't post. I love Showplace's Vintage finishes. For a semi-custom cabinet company....they do an AMAZING job!
Kompy


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

Thanks to you all for this helpful thread. Lorenza- can I ask where you are located?
Thanks


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Chestnut3, I Iive in Indianapolis. This thread is providing an amazing amount of knowledge and expertise. I am trying to keep up with the conversation and absorb the details of construction, finishes, brand hierarchy, etc etc. I am a bit overwhelmed by all of the options and nuances to consider before making my final selection for cabs. I have seen a kitchen mfr'd by the Amish company that has provided the most competitive pricing for my project. Having learned a bit more about cab construction via this post, I inquired about their joinery and finishing techniques. This company uses pocket hole construction and his painted finish includes a catalyzed paint finish and catalyzed to coat. His warranty is 5 years on the finish, lifetime on the hardware. The fit and finish of the kitchen I saw was very good. When I examined an open drawer and cabinet I noticed that the drawer front and can door had chamfered edges where the fronts met the frame. It seems that there is much attention to the details on his cabinets.


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

Does anyone have experience with Amish Cabinet makers in Arthur Illinois? Thank you so much in advance for any reviews of information.


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

I'll add another cabinet maker name to the list. We're about to undertake an addition and my builder included cabinets by a company called Integrity Cabinets, LLC in their proposal. I did a search for reviews on GW and Google to no avail; here's a link to their website describing the construction process: http://integritycabinets.com/construction.html Does anyone on GW have any experience with them?

This post was edited by armada on Tue, Jan 15, 13 at 13:02


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

anybody reading this thread still?


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

Me. It was incredibly informative.


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Yep. Me too.


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

thanks to you all, its overwhelming to renovate a 35 year old home. so much i need to know - once.


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

I'm re-reading this one and the 'everything you need to know about drawers'. Getting close to ordering and am trying to make sure that nothing is forgotten! These threads are SO helpful.


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

In our experience, there's a great deal of disparity and you can spend quite a bit more if you don't shop around first.

We priced a complete kitchen in cabinets made by Decora.... a nice line Home Depot sells. The HD price was $43,200 for the complete kitchen.

Then we found a remodeler in Scottsdale Arizona called Republic West Remodeling that also carries the Decora line. We took the exact same design to them for a second quote. They didn't even have to create a new design... just used the same design we quoted at Home Depot. The same Decora cabinets from them were quoted at $88,400!

We ended up going with a small, local custom cabinet maker and paid $35,000 for cabinets that we're able to personalize. It's very nice to not be restricted by the cabinet specifications of the big manufacturers ("...can't do this, can't do that"), the quality is excellent, and it feels good to give the business to a local small business.


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

Thanks all for your very helpful posts!

Carol


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

This thread has been very informative, thank you.

There are so many cabinet brands, it quickly becomes overwhelming. The KD we're leaning towards recommended Mouser for white Shaker painted frameless cabinets. They have less Shaker styles than others, but still have a "thin", a "thick", and one in between. They seem to be well constructed and well regarded, but how does their painted white finish compare to other brands?

I feel like you need to be a KD yourself, or spend all your time touring houses, in order to be able to adequately compare different brands. Picking cabinets seems to require a fair amount of trust and faith in your KD, and finding a KD that will match a brand to you rather than just going with the same brand they always use.


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RE: Disparity of pricing in Kitchen Cabinets

Yup, will get better results shopping for a KD than for a cabinet. The KCMA has over 300 member, some with multiple brands.


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