Kitchen Cabinet Brand Comparison. ⋆

Kitchen Cabinet Brand Comparison. ⋆


Main Line Kitchen Design compares the construction of Kitchen Cabinet Brands.

Note: Originally posted in 2015. Several of the kitchen cabinet brands mentioned here have since upgraded their cabinet construction. For example, Yorktowne now offers excellent construction. 

There are two basic ways cabinetry is made.

Kitchen cabinet brands can be framed construction or frameless construction. Frameless cabinetry is also called European or easy access construction. See Below:

Example of frameless cabinet brandExample of frameless cabinet brand
Frameless Cabinet Construction

 

Example of framed cabinet brandExample of framed cabinet brand
Framed Cabinet Construction

 

Kitchen cabinet brands using frameless construction are made with either a 5/8″ or 3/4″ thick plywood or particleboard box.  Of course, thicker is better and a plywood box is superior construction wise but will not work with some of the high gloss laminate and foil finishes that are popular in the European style cabinetry. With these finishes only particleboard sides are possible.

Knowledgeable cabinet professionals usually agree on a few things-

First, that streamline frameless kitchen cabinet brands look better with modern door styles because of how close the drawers and doors are.

This is due to how the European style hinges operate.

Second, that traditional and shaker style doors look equally well in both framed and frameless cabinet lines.

Third, that a well-made framed cabinet is a much more durable cabinet.

steam punk style kitchen in Bishop Cabinet brandsteam punk style kitchen in Bishop Cabinet brand
Example of a Frameless Kitchen
2014 CotY Award winning kitchen featuring Bishop Danbury cabinetry in Nordic White with quartzite countertops in Lafayette Hill, PA.2014 CotY Award winning kitchen featuring Bishop Danbury cabinetry in Nordic White with quartzite countertops in Lafayette Hill, PA.
Framed cabinet construction

In framed kitchen cabinet brands the frame holds the cabinet box square, and each solid wood cabinet front is screwed to the ones next to them adding considerable strength.

The hinges and drawers are attached to solid wood in framed cabinetry as opposed to the particle board in most frameless lines.  A well-made framed cabinet will last almost forever and simply become scratched and possibly out of fashion with the passing years.

Frameless lines require designers to consider the frameless cabinetry’s construction limitations and to keep door widths and drawer widths to a minimum to avoid undue stress on the cabinetry. Even designing this way, the average lifespan of a well-made frameless line is probably 20 to 25 years, particularly if you are hard on things in general.

With frameless kitchen cabinet brands the construction is similar from line to line. The thickness of the cabinet box and whether the box is made out of particleboard or plywood determines which brand is better built. But the basics are the same.

Expensive lines will have better drawer options but if the drawers are upgraded to at least a solid wood box and blumotion tracks the longevity of each cabinet line will be very similar if the box is 3/4″ thick and particularly when the box is made out of plywood.

Popular frameless kitchen cabinet brands are:

IKEA, Kitchen Craft, Poggenpohl, Merit Kitchens, Pedini, Ultra Craft Cabinetry. Design-Craft and most Merillat and Omega styles. The majority of the cabinetry coming from Europe and Canada is frameless.

All of Main Line Kitchen Design’s frameless cabinetry is upgraded to the best construction possible. Frameless construction is available in our CNC, Bishop, Wellsford, Brighton and Fabuwood cabinetry lines.

With framed cabinetry there are many variations in construction.

To make framed kitchen cabinet brands durable you need several features or the construction advantages of a framed cabinet are lost. Cabinet fronts are always 3/4″ solid wood. All plywood box construction is far better than having any particle board. Cabinet sides, tops and bottoms must be at least 1/2″ thick. Base cabinets can have plywood tops or beam construction. Drawer tracks should always be upgraded to either Blum’s BlueMotion tracks, or the equivalent and drawer boxes should be solid wood dovetail drawers with a captured plywood bottom. Soft close doors are a nice feature as well as full depth shelves.

Main Line Kitchen Design only sells cabinetry with all these features. Our framed cabinetry brands include Cubitac, Fabuwood, 1951 Cabinetry, Integrity, Bishop, Brighton and Wellsford.

 

natural wood kitchen with large island natural wood kitchen with large island
Berwyn, PA Kitchen framed cabinet construction

Even some more expensive framed cabinet lines will need to be upgraded to this minimum level of construction quality.

Examples of more expensive kitchen cabinet brands that need to have their construction upgraded to meet these minimums are DuraSupreme and Medallion. Often, if you can’t find out on a cabinet company’s website how the cabinets are constructed it is because they don’t meet these minimums. A company’s website might highlight their cabinetry being green, carb compliant, or American made. But if they are avoiding showing you how the cabinetry is constructed watch out!

One of the largest cabinet distributors in the United States is MasterBrand Cabinets. Up until a few years ago all of the popular lines that they carried with the exception of their Decora and Homecrest lines fell short on construction quality. They have since upgraded most of their lines.

Many builders use lower quality cabinet brands as the standard cabinetry in their homes. Even though the added cost for better made cabinetry is usually no more than 10%. When a builder uses these inferior lines, I wonder where else they are cutting corners.

One important fact that consumers should be aware of is that both Consumer Reports and JD Power publish inaccurate cabinetry ratings based on customer satisfaction.

IKEA and other lesser made cabinet lines always do very well in these reports because customer satisfaction is rated immediately after buying the cabinets. Consumers buying less expensive cabinetry have lower expectations which are easily met, and the cabinetry hasn’t had time to develop the problems caused by poor construction. 

The Home DepotThe Home Depot

Kraftmaid, the best made cabinet brand offered at both Lowes and The Home Depot, consistently does poorly in these reports. Even though Kraftmaid is easily upgraded to better framed construction. I believe this is due to the much higher expectations of the consumers buying a home centers “top” brand.  And because inexperienced home center designers fail to explain cabinet properties and upgrades.

Consumer Reports and JD Power also rate the same cabinetry being sold under different names at different places differently. Cabinet professionals know that these reports are misleading, and consumers should be advised not to consider them when evaluating the quality of cabinetry. 

Below are the most important  blogs that evaluate kitchen cabinet brands:

Cabinet Reviews for 2022: Cabinet Ratings for the top cabinet brands

If You Are Buying Kitchen Cabinets, Beware!

Why Price Comparing Kitchen Cabinets Can be a Bad Idea

Which Cabinet Brand is Best for Me?

Paul

Main Line Kitchen Design


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