We have used RTA (ready-to-assemble) cabinets in our kitchen, and our home office. There are definite RTA Cabinet Pros and Cons, and I wanted to share a full review so you can help decide if this is the route you want to take for your next remodel.
RTA Cabinet Pros and Cons
- Cost-Efficient: RTA cabinets come in a variety of options, but since you do the assembly, the cost is lower than traditional cabinets.
- Quality Construction: Most RTA cabinets are solid wood with dovetail drawers. Mine are also soft-close, and the construction is very solid.
- Customer Service: I have had two very separate experience with this. My first experience (with our kitchen cabinets) was very good – great customer service, video tutorials, and printed instructions.
- Customization: Although they’re not 100% custom, RTA cabinets provide several options – color, cabinet style, and trim.
- Easier/Quicker to Ship: RTA cabinets take up much less space than pre-assembled cabinets and can ship as soon as the order is taken.
- Customer Service: Although we had a fantastic experience with this on our kitchen remodel, we have a very different experience with our office cabinets. There were no instructions and no video tutorials to be found. Thank goodness this wasn’t our first time with RTA cabinets.
- Time: Building RTA cabinets takes time. We averaged around 1 hour for each cabinets and our kitchen has 20 cabinet units (although many RTA sources will claim 30 minute assembly).
- No Guarantees: Most RTA cabinets do not come with guarantees since you do the assembly.
- Added Expense In the rare case that assembly is to difficult, you may need to hire a professional which adds to the cost.
It is overwhelming at first when you see your entire kitchen in a group of small, flat boxes. Steve and I spent all our nights and weekends assembling cabinets in the garage (notice the tv we brought out to help make the process a little less tedious).
For us, the assembly time was worth the savings, and we actually enjoy taking on projects.
Our kitchen cabinet turned our gorgeous, and we are so pleased – two years later. Our only frustration is some of the drawers don’t close all the way, and some of our drawer fronts are just a little off (due to our assembly). You can see more on our RTA kitchen cabinets HERE.
- Order sample doors. It is very helpful.
- Wait for a sale (and if you find a great sale, you can buy your cabinets ahead of time and store them easily since they don’t take up much room).
- It may be worth to pay a little more for cabinets from a reputable company. Customer service will be better and as a result, the building process will be much smoother for you.
- Use wood glue for added reinforcement.
- Use brackets for additional support. Some cabinets came with the L brackets and some didn’t, but we bought some and added them to all.
- Use a cordless screwdriver. You don’t want to risk stripping the screws, so opt for a cordless screwdriver over an electric drill.
- Watch cabinet assembly videos. Although some RTA cabinets come with detailed instructions, not all do. Search for cabinet assembly videos for additional help.
- Assemble on a flat surface. Don’t try to assemble cabinets on carpet – it is important that the cabinets are square.
- Assemble similar cabinets at once. Save time by assembling similar cabinets together. Assemble all the top cabinets and then the base cabinets. Save the harder cabinets (like drawer and lazy Susans) for last as you build up your expertise and confidence.
After our experience with RTA cabinets in our kitchen, we decided to use them again in our office remodel (see more on the office cabinets here). Unfortunately our customer service experience was MUCH different from our previous one.
The first order contained the wrong cabinets, and we had to ship them back. When we received our cabinets, there were no instructions to be found. It was a frustrating assembly process. However, once assembled, the quality was great.
Watch this video on a little more info on RTA cabinets:
Hopefully this post helps you decided whether RTA cabinets are right for you. Overall, we’re pleased with the quality and would recommend RTA cabinets but encourage buying them from a reputable, helpful company.