When it comes to kitchen cabinets, one of the biggest considerations is cost. Ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets have become an increasingly popular option for many homeowners looking to save money on their kitchen remodels. But are RTA cabinets actually cheaper than other cabinet options? Let’s take a closer look.

What are RTA Cabinets?

RTA cabinets, sometimes referred to as flat pack cabinets, are sold unassembled. The cabinets are shipped as individual pieces that you put together yourself using included instructions and hardware. Because no assembly is required from the manufacturer, this helps reduce costs. RTA cabinets can be made from materials like wood, plywood, melamine, thermofoil, and more. They come in a wide range of styles and finishes to choose from.

RTA Cabinets Typically Cost Less Than Other Cabinet Types

In most cases, RTA cabinets are cheaper than pre-assembled, custom, and semi-custom cabinetry. Here’s an overview of typical price differences:

  • RTA vs. Pre-Assembled Cabinets: Pre-assembled cabinets from home improvement stores usually cost $100-$300 more per cabinet. You’re paying for the convenience of having them already put together.
  • RTA vs. Custom Cabinets: Custom cabinets are the most expensive option, with costs starting at $500 per cabinet. You pay for customized sizing, layouts, materials, and finishes.
  • RTA vs. Semi-Custom Cabinets: Semi-custom cabinets fall between RTA and custom in price, typically $200-$400 per cabinet. You can customize some elements like sizing and finishes.

Keep in mind that prices can vary based on the quality of materials and manufacturing. But generally, RTA cabinets are 20-50% less expensive than other cabinet categories.

Factors That Impact RTA Cabinet Pricing

While RTA cabinets are cheaper on average, prices can range widely. Here are some of the factors that affect RTA cabinet costs:

  • Brand: Pricing and quality differs substantially by manufacturer. Well-known brands like KraftMaid and Hampton Bay are more expensive than brands exclusive to home centers.
  • Materials: Wood species, plywood grade, and finishes like stain and glaze impact costs. Oak, maple, and cherry typically cost more than paint-grade materials.
  • Door Style: Slab cabinet doors are the least expensive. More complex door styles like shaker, inset, and beaded inset cost more.
  • Quality: Better quality cabinets made with furniture-grade plywood boxes cost more than economy products with particleboard.
  • Size: Larger and deeper cabinet sizes that use more materials usually have higher price tags.
  • Order Volume: Buying full kitchen packages rather than individual cabinets can qualify you for bulk discounts.

Pros of Choosing RTA Cabinets

Given the significant cost savings, here are some of the advantages of selecting RTA cabinets:

  • Cost Effective: The biggest pro is that RTA cabinets are easier on your kitchen remodeling budget. You can get new cabinets at a fraction of the cost of custom cabinetry.
  • Convenience: Have cabinets shipped directly to your home rather than going to a store. Some retailers also offer White Glove delivery services.
  • Flexibility: Choose from a large selection of sizes, materials, finishes, and organizational features across multiple brands.
  • DIY Installation: If you want to do it yourself, installation is straightforward following included instructions.
  • Faster Lead Times: Stock RTA cabinets ship within days compared to weeks or months for custom orders.

Potential Cons to Factor In

While cheaper, some downsides to weigh include:

  • Assembly Required: You’ll need to block off ample time for assembling cabinets. Complex cabinet designs with intricate door styles can be tricky.
  • Varying Quality: Pay close attention to plywood grade, joinery methods and hardware quality between brands and models.
  • Limited Sizing: It can be hard finding cabinets sized perfectly for your kitchen layout if it’s uniquely sized. Not ideal for irregular spaces.
  • Can’t Customize: Options are limited to what’s available since cabinets aren’t made to order. For unique kitchens, semi-custom or custom cabinets may be better suited.
  • No Installation: While DIY-friendly, some homeowners don’t feel up to the challenge of properly installing their new cabinets.

Are RTA Cabinets Cheaper for Your Kitchen?

While RTA cabinets are cheaper on average, are they the optimal choice for your specific kitchen remodel? answering these questions can help you decide:

  • What’s my total kitchen cabinet budget?
  • What cabinet quality and features do I need?
  • Is my kitchen layout standard or uniquley sized?
  • Does my kitchen have any complexity I can’t DIY?
  • How much time can I devote to installing cabinets myself?

If you’re simply looking for an affordable kitchen upgrade and don’t need high-end custom designs, then RTA cabinets are likely the budget-friendly choice. Just be sure to compare quality and prices across multiple brands.

Final Recommendations on RTA Cabinets

Here are our top tips if you opt for ready-to-assemble cabinets:

  • Thoroughly check reviews and compare quality between RTA brands. Look for solid plywood boxes and furniture-grade features.
  • Plan cabinet sizes and your layout carefully. Accurately measuring your kitchen is crucial for a good fit.
  • Order all cabinets and accessories together for potential bulk pricing discounts.
  • Reserve plenty of time for assembly. Follow instructions closely and get help lifting heavy cabinets.
  • Consider hiring a contractor just for installation if you’re unsure about DIY.

While pre-assembled and custom cabinetry is higher priced, RTA cabinets offer an affordable middle ground. Just ensure you order quality products and properly install for a kitchen remodel you’ll love.