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Ready to Assemble Kitchen Cabinets: A Quick Guide

Ready to Assemble Kitchen Cabinets: A Quick Guide


Are you considering ready-to-assemble (RTA) kitchen cabinets for your home improvement project? RTA cabinets are a popular choice due to their affordability and ease of installation. However, before diving into your kitchen renovation, it’s essential to have a comprehensive understanding of RTA cabinets. In this guide, we’ll address the ten most frequently asked questions about RTA kitchen cabinets to help you make informed decisions for your kitchen upgrade.


What are Ready-to-Assemble Kitchen Cabinets?

Ready-to-assemble (RTA) kitchen cabinets are pre-manufactured cabinets that come in flat-pack boxes. Unlike traditional cabinets, RTA cabinets are designed to be assembled by homeowners or contractors, offering cost savings and flexibility in design. These cabinets are available in various styles, finishes, and sizes, making them a versatile choice for kitchen remodels.

Advantages of RTA Kitchen Cabinets

  1. Cost-Effective: RTA cabinets are generally more affordable than custom or pre-assembled cabinets.
  2. DIY-Friendly: They are designed for easy assembly, making them accessible to homeowners with basic carpentry skills.
  3. Customization Options: RTA cabinets come in various styles and finishes, allowing you to choose the one that suits your kitchen’s aesthetic.
  4. Quick Availability: RTA cabinets are readily available, reducing lead times for your kitchen project.
  5. Efficient Shipping: Flat-pack cabinets are space-efficient during transportation, reducing the environmental footprint.

Disadvantages of RTA Kitchen Cabinets

  1. Assembly Required: Some homeowners may find the assembly process challenging or time-consuming.
  2. Limited Personalization: While customizable to a degree, RTA cabinets may not offer the same level of customization as custom-built cabinets.
  3. Quality Variations: The quality of RTA cabinets can vary among manufacturers, so research is crucial.

How Do I Choose the Right RTA Kitchen Cabinets?

Selecting the right RTA kitchen cabinets requires careful consideration of several factors:

1. Budget

Determine your budget for kitchen cabinets, including installation costs. RTA cabinets are cost-effective, but prices can vary widely.

2. Kitchen Layout and Size

Measure your kitchen space accurately to choose cabinets that fit seamlessly. Consider the layout, including the location of appliances and fixtures.

3. Cabinet Style and Finish

Select a cabinet style and finish that complements your kitchen’s design and your personal taste. Popular styles include shaker, raised panel, and flat panel.

4. Cabinet Material

Choose the cabinet material that suits your preferences and budget. Common options include plywood, particleboard, and solid wood.

5. Hardware and Accessories

Decide on the hardware and accessories, such as handles, knobs, and pull-out organizers, to enhance the functionality of your cabinets.

6. Assembly Complexity

Consider your DIY skills and the complexity of cabinet assembly. Some RTA cabinets are easier to put together than others.

7. Manufacturer Reputation

Research RTA cabinet manufacturers and read reviews to ensure you choose a reputable brand known for quality and customer support.

8. Warranty and Return Policy

Check the warranty and return policy offered by the manufacturer to protect your investment.

9. Shipping and Delivery

Factor in shipping costs and delivery times when planning your kitchen renovation timeline.

10. Customer Support

Choose a manufacturer or supplier with reliable customer support to assist with any questions or issues during the installation process.

Are RTA Kitchen Cabinets Durable?

One of the common concerns about RTA kitchen cabinets is their durability. Homeowners want to ensure that their investment will last for years. The durability of RTA cabinets depends on various factors, including the quality of materials used, construction methods, and proper installation.

Factors Affecting Durability

  1. Material Quality: High-quality materials, such as solid wood or plywood, contribute to cabinet longevity.
  2. Construction: Cabinets with sturdy construction, including dovetail joints and reinforced corners, tend to be more durable.
  3. Assembly: Proper assembly following manufacturer instructions is crucial for durability.
  4. Maintenance: Regular cleaning and maintenance can extend the lifespan of RTA cabinets.
  5. Climate: Cabinets can be affected by extreme humidity or temperature fluctuations, so consider your kitchen’s environment.

Can I Customize RTA Kitchen Cabinets?

Customization is a key consideration for homeowners seeking a unique kitchen design. RTA kitchen cabinets offer some level of customization, allowing you to tailor them to your preferences.

Ways to Customize RTA Cabinets

  1. Paint or Stain: You can paint or stain RTA cabinets to achieve the color and finish you desire.
  2. Hardware: Choose cabinet handles, knobs, and pulls that match your kitchen’s style.
  3. Additional Features: Add accessories like pull-out trays, lazy Susans, or spice racks for enhanced functionality.
  4. Cabinet Size: Select cabinets in various sizes to fit your kitchen layout.
  5. Cabinet Configuration: Customize the arrangement of cabinets to suit your storage needs.

What Tools and Skills Do I Need to Assemble RTA Cabinets?

Assembling RTA kitchen cabinets requires some basic tools and skills. Here’s a list of what you’ll typically need:


  • Screwdriver (Phillips and flathead)
  • Rubber mallet
  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Clamps
  • Drill and bits
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Cabinet hardware installation template


  • Reading and following assembly instructions
  • Using basic hand and power tools
  • Understanding cabinet assembly techniques
  • Patience and attention to detail

Are RTA Kitchen Cabinets Suitable for Small Kitchens?

RTA kitchen cabinets can be an excellent choice for small kitchens. Their flexibility in size and configuration allows you to maximize the use of available space efficiently.

Tips for Small Kitchens

  1. Opt for Vertical Storage: Use tall cabinets to make the most of vertical space.
  2. Consider Open Shelving: Open shelves can create a more open and airy feel in a small kitchen.
  3. Choose Light Colors: Light-colored cabinets can make a small kitchen appear larger.
  4. Use Pull-Out Organizers: Incorporate pull-out trays and organizers to maximize cabinet space.
  5. Customize to Fit: Select cabinets that fit precisely into your small kitchen’s dimensions.

What Is the Average Cost of RTA Kitchen Cabinets?

The cost of RTA kitchen cabinets varies widely depending on factors like material, style, and brand. However, as a rough estimate, you can expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 for a standard-sized kitchen.

Cost Breakdown

  • Low-End: Basic RTA cabinets made from particleboard or MDF may cost around $2,000 to $4,000 for a small kitchen.
  • Mid-Range: Mid-quality RTA cabinets with plywood construction typically range from $4,000 to $6,000.
  • High-End: Premium RTA cabinets made of solid wood or high-quality plywood can cost $6,000 to $10,000 or more for a standard-sized kitchen.

How Do I Ensure Proper Installation of RTA Cabinets?

Proper installation of RTA kitchen cabinets is essential to ensure they function correctly and look their best. Here are some steps to ensure a successful installation:

1. Follow Manufacturer Instructions

Carefully read and follow the assembly instructions provided by the manufacturer. These instructions are tailored to your specific cabinets.

2. Gather Tools and Materials

Collect all the necessary tools and materials before starting the installation to avoid interruptions.

3. Check for Level and Plumb

Use a level and plumb line to ensure that the cabinets are installed straight and level.

4. Secure Cabinets to Wall and Each Other

Use appropriate hardware to secure the cabinets to the wall and connect them securely to each other.

5. Install Countertops

Install countertops, backsplashes, and any other finishing touches according to your kitchen design.

6. Double-Check Measurements

Measure and re-measure to confirm that all cabinets are correctly aligned and spaced.

7. Test Cabinet Functionality

Test all cabinet doors, drawers, and hardware to ensure they operate smoothly.

8. Seek Professional Help if Needed

If you’re unsure about any aspect of the installation, consider hiring a professional cabinet installer.

Are RTA Cabinets Environmentally Friendly?

Many homeowners are concerned about the environmental impact of their choices. RTA kitchen cabinets can be more environmentally friendly than traditional cabinets in some aspects.

Eco-Friendly Aspects of RTA Cabinets

  1. Reduced Transportation Space: Flat-pack cabinets take up less space during transportation, reducing fuel consumption and emissions.
  2. Sustainable Materials: Some RTA cabinet manufacturers use sustainable materials like bamboo or FSC-certified wood.
  3. Minimized Waste: Precise manufacturing and packaging result in less waste compared to on-site cabinet construction.

However, it’s essential to research individual manufacturers and their sustainability practices to make an eco-conscious choice.

What Maintenance Is Required for RTA Cabinets?

Proper maintenance can extend the life of your RTA kitchen cabinets. Here are some maintenance tips to keep them in excellent condition:


  • Regularly wipe down cabinet surfaces with a soft, damp cloth.
  • Use a mild, non-abrasive cleaner for tougher stains, avoiding harsh chemicals.


  • Periodically check for loose hardware and tighten screws and knobs as needed.
  • Inspect cabinet joints for any signs of wear or damage.

Humidity Control:

  • Maintain stable humidity levels in your kitchen to prevent warping or cracking of cabinet materials.

Preventive Measures:

  • Use cabinet liners or mats to protect cabinet interiors from spills and scratches.
  • Avoid excessive weight or pressure on cabinet shelves and drawers.

By following these maintenance guidelines, you can ensure that your RTA cabinets continue to look and function well for years to come.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ve addressed the ten most common questions about ready-to-assemble (RTA) kitchen cabinets. Whether you’re looking to save on your kitchen renovation budget, customize your cabinets, or ensure proper installation, this information will help you make informed decisions for your kitchen upgrade. Remember to research manufacturers and suppliers, consider your budget, and plan carefully to achieve the kitchen of your dreams with RTA cabinets.

How Can I Tell if RTA Cabinets Are Right for My Kitchen?

Determining whether RTA cabinets are the right choice for your kitchen involves considering your specific needs and preferences. Here are some factors to help you make an informed decision:

1. Budget:

Evaluate your budget for the kitchen renovation. RTA cabinets are generally more budget-friendly than custom options, making them suitable for cost-conscious homeowners.

2. DIY vs. Professional Installation:

Consider your DIY skills and the time you can dedicate to cabinet assembly. If you’re confident in your abilities and have the necessary tools, RTA cabinets can be an excellent option. However, if you prefer a professional touch, you may opt for pre-assembled cabinets.

3. Kitchen Layout and Style:

Examine your kitchen’s layout and style. RTA cabinets come in various styles and configurations, allowing you to choose options that complement your kitchen’s design.

4. Customization Needs:

Think about your desire for customization. If you want complete control over cabinet design, including finishes and hardware, RTA cabinets can offer flexibility in this regard.

5. Timeframe:

Consider your renovation timeline. RTA cabinets are readily available and can expedite your project since they require less lead time compared to custom cabinets.

6. Quality Expectations:

Determine your expectations for cabinet quality. While RTA cabinets come in various quality levels, you can find options that meet your standards with careful research.

7. Environmental Concerns:

If you’re environmentally conscious, assess the sustainability practices of RTA cabinet manufacturers. Some brands prioritize eco-friendly materials and production methods.

8. Support and Warranty:

Check the manufacturer’s customer support and warranty policies to ensure you have assistance if any issues arise during or after installation.

9. Kitchen Size and Configuration:

Take into account your kitchen’s size and configuration. RTA cabinets are versatile and can be tailored to fit various spaces, including small kitchens.

By considering these factors and weighing your priorities, you can determine whether RTA cabinets align with your kitchen renovation goals and preferences.

Are There Any Downsides to RTA Cabinets I Should Be Aware Of?

While RTA cabinets offer numerous advantages, they also come with a few downsides that you should be aware of:

1. Assembly Required:

The most significant drawback is that you must assemble RTA cabinets yourself or hire someone to do it. This process can be time-consuming and may require basic carpentry skills.

2. Quality Variations:

The quality of RTA cabinets can vary significantly among manufacturers and suppliers. It’s crucial to research and choose a reputable brand to ensure durability and satisfaction.

3. Limited Customization:

While RTA cabinets provide some customization options, they may not offer the same level of personalization as fully custom cabinets. If you have highly specific design requirements, you may find RTA cabinets limiting.

4. Potential for Errors:

Assembling cabinets involves following detailed instructions, and errors can occur if not done correctly. Mistakes during assembly can affect the cabinet’s functionality and appearance.

5. Investment of Time:

Assembly can take time, so if you’re working on a tight schedule, the time required for RTA cabinet assembly might be a concern.

Despite these downsides, many homeowners find that the cost savings and customization options of RTA cabinets outweigh the disadvantages. Careful planning and consideration can help you mitigate these challenges and make the most of your RTA cabinet investment.

What Is the Typical Assembly Process for RTA Cabinets?

Assembling RTA cabinets may seem intimidating at first, but following a systematic process can simplify the task. Here’s a general overview of the typical assembly process:

1. Gather Tools and Materials:

Collect all the necessary tools and materials listed in the cabinet assembly instructions.

2. Read Instructions:

Carefully read the manufacturer’s assembly instructions that come with the cabinets. These instructions are specific to your cabinets and provide step-by-step guidance.

3. Organize Components:

Organize all cabinet components, hardware, and accessories to ensure everything is readily accessible.

4. Start with the Base Cabinets:

Begin with the base cabinets, as they provide the foundation for the rest of the kitchen cabinets.

5. Follow Step-by-Step Instructions:

Follow the assembly instructions meticulously, starting with the cabinet frames, sides, and back panels.

6. Secure Hardware:

Use the provided hardware (screws, cam locks, etc.) to secure the components together. Ensure everything is tightened properly.

7. Install Drawer Slides and Hinges:

If your cabinets have drawers or doors, install the drawer slides and hinges according to the instructions.

8. Level and Align:

Use a level to ensure that the cabinets are level and align with each other. This is crucial for a professional look.

9. Secure Cabinets to Wall:

Once all the cabinets are assembled and aligned, secure them to the wall using appropriate wall anchors or brackets.

10. Install Countertops:

After the cabinets are securely in place, install countertops and complete any finishing touches.

Remember that patience and attention to detail are essential during the assembly process. If you encounter any difficulties or have questions, refer to the manufacturer’s customer support or consult online resources for guidance.

As you embark on your RTA cabinet assembly journey, following these steps will help you achieve a successful and satisfying kitchen renovation.

In this extensive guide, we’ve addressed ten of the most frequently asked questions about ready-to-assemble (RTA) kitchen cabinets. From understanding what RTA cabinets are to assessing their suitability for your kitchen and the assembly process, you now have a comprehensive overview to guide you through your kitchen renovation project. Whether you’re looking for budget-friendly options or a chance to customize your kitchen cabinets, RTA cabinets offer versatility and convenience for homeowners.

Read: The Pros and Cons of Custom Built Kitchen Cabinets

Read: Cabinet Refacing: An Affordable Option for Upgrading Your Kitchen Cabinets

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