There are literally hundreds of cabinet producers and probably thousands when you include all the local and small-business cabinet makers. While there is skill and craftsmanship necessary to produce quality results, producing quality doesn't necessarily require highly complex machinery or factory conditions. In other words, you may find a talented carpenter or local cabinetmaker with the ability to produce fine cabinetry.
Given the number of cabinet producers, you're probably asking what the differences are, if any, among them all. In reality, the differences are really found in the same general categories that make them similar. It's back to the car analogy again: the auto manufacturers all make vehicles that do the same job; they're just variations on a theme.
How They're Similar
How They're Different
So what's the bottom line when it comes down to sorting through all the various cabinet makers? There's no right or wrong way to narrow down to a short list of candidates but here are some suggestions:
So who are the best kitchen cabinet manufacturers? While it's a legitimate question, the answer isn't as definitive as you might think. And here's why:
There are makers of cabinets almost too numerous to catalog, let alone do independent tests on to determine who's best. I'm sure Consumer Reports has their short list of brands that they rate as good/better/best. But how many do they test relative to what's available in the marketplace?
Second, the determination of "best" is somewhat subjective. Sure, there are definite indicators of good quality and poor quality but there isn't one gold standard. One person may think that anything other than plywood construction is "poor" quality. However cabinets made with medium density fiberboard may be just as durable and last just as long. Let common sense prevail here. "Better" products are those made with stronger construction techniques and more durable finishes. But there aren't only 5 or 10 of these manufacturers out there.
To some extent cabinets are a commodity. There are probably hundreds of producers that fall into the "best" category if you look across the spectrum of national and local manufacturers.
Your most effective way to find the best brands are to look at what is available to you locally (both from a 'national' brand perspective as well as local producers) and see how they compare. Then, determine how they match up with your budget. What you should be shooting for is a kitchen cabinet manufacturer that can give you the most of what you're looking for (quality -- as you judge it, options, quantity, etc.) for what you're willing to pay.
In my opinion, that's your "best" kitchen cabinet maker. Because at the end of the day, even if someone was able to say that Brands A, B & C are the best brands, they may not be the best fit for your budget. You need to take some responsibility for understanding what makes cabinets good/better/best and make an educated buying decision. I think that's a more rational approach than simply relying on an arbitrary list of "great" kitchen cabinet producers.
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