Ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets have become an increasingly popular option for homeowners looking to remodel their kitchens on a budget. But are RTA cabinets a good choice when it comes to quality? Here is a detailed look at the pros and cons of RTA cabinetry to help you decide if they are the right fit for your next kitchen project.
What are RTA Cabinets?
RTA cabinets, sometimes referred to as flat pack or knockdown cabinets, come shipped as a kit that requires assembly. The cabinets arrive in a flat box with all the pieces and hardware included. You simply put them together yourself using the included instructions.
RTA cabinets offer several benefits over pre-assembled cabinetry:
- Cost savings – Because RTA cabinets ship flat, they are more affordable than pre-assembled cabinets which can be bulky and expensive to ship. RTA cabinets allow you to save 20-50% on average over pre-assembled options.
- Convenience – RTA cabinets are lightweight and can fit through narrow spaces like doorways. This makes them easier to get into your home for installation versus lugging in heavy pre-assembled cabinets.
- Customization – Many RTA cabinet brands allow you to customize the cabinet sizes, colors, and features to fit your unique space. Pre-assembled stock cabinets don’t offer this flexibility.
However, there are some downsides to RTA cabinets that are important to consider:
- Assembly required – You or a contractor will need to assemble the RTA cabinets. This takes time and careful attention to detail.
- Potential quality concerns – Some brands manufacturing overseas use lower quality materials susceptible to damage during shipping and assembly.
So when it comes to quality, there can be a wide range – from cheap DIY brands to premium cabinet lines. Let’s take a closer look at what impacts RTA cabinet quality.
Factors that Impact RTA Cabinet Quality
Several key factors determine whether an RTA cabinet line offers good quality and durability:
1. Materials Used
Higher end RTA cabinets use plywood box construction and solid wood doors and drawers. Plywood is stronger than cheaper particleboard, which can sag over time. Solid wood doors hold up better than those using a wood veneer. Quality finishes like thermofoil and polyurethane make for more durable cabinets.
Lower priced RTA cabinets may use more particleboard and cheaper plastic laminate finishes. These are more susceptible to chips, scratches, and wear.
Look for RTA cabinets that use full extension drawer glides for smooth opening and closing. Soft-close hinges are also a sign of quality hardware. Sturdy drawer boxes with dovetail joinery prevent sagging.
Avoid cabinets with cheaper slides, hinges, and basic butt joint drawers which don’t last.
3. Construction and Assembly
Precision manufacturing and engineering results in cabinets that align and fit together seamlessly during assembly. Look for cam locks, corner blocks, and interlocking wall cabinets for optimal stability.
Pay attention to finishes – signs of sloppy gluing, uneven paint, or router marks indicate lower attention to detail.
4. Certifications and Warranties
Reputable RTA cabinet brands test their products to meet or exceed ANSI quality standards. Look for certification marks indicating they meet voluntary product performance standards.
Longer warranties (10 years and above) show the brand stands behind their quality claims. Beware of brands with no warranties or extremely short periods.
Top Quality RTA Cabinet Brands
After considering the above factors, these RTA cabinet brands rise to the top when it comes to offering quality construction:
Based in Michigan, Barker uses 3⁄4” thick plywood construction, soft-close drawer glides, and your choice of solid wood doors and finishes. Their RTA cabinets comply with KCMA testing standards and come with a limited lifetime warranty.
With a 10-year warranty on their RTA cabinets, Kabinart is known for excellent quality at mid-level pricing. Their cabinets feature furniture-grade plywood, soft-close hinges, and optional upgrades like glass cabinet doors.
Ready To Assemble Kitchens
For a more affordable option, Ready To Assemble Kitchens RTA cabinets offer plywood construction, soft-close drawers, and adjustable shelves starting under $100. Their modern, transitional, and shaker cabinet lines come with a 1-year warranty.
On the higher end, Crystorama uses luxury materials like solid maple and cherry wood. Their RTA cabinets boast soft-close hinges, adjustable shelving, and strong warranties on the cabinet box and hardware.
Cabinets To Go
At lower price points, Cabinets To Go proves you can still get good quality with their solid plywood construction, adjustable cabinets, and wide variety of finishes. Their RTA cabinets come unassembled or pre-assembled.
No matter your budget, always inspect the specific materials and construction features to assess quality. Don’t assume cheaper necessarily means lower quality.
Are RTA Cabinets a Good Choice?
For homeowners on a tight kitchen remodeling budget or wanting a faster cabinet installation, RTA cabinets make an excellent choice – provided you select a quality brand using durable construction methods.
The convenience and cost savings of RTA cabinets make them a great option that doesn’t sacrifice quality. Just be prepared for the assembly process and enlist help installing them properly. With good brands and proper handling, RTA cabinets will look beautiful and function just as well as pre-assembled cabinets.
Frequently Asked Questions about RTA Cabinets:
Are RTA cabinets cheaper than custom cabinets?
Yes, RTA cabinets are generally 20-50% cheaper than full custom cabinetry. Their ship-flat capabilities and DIY assembly result in significant cost savings.
How long do RTA cabinets last?
Quality RTA cabinets can last as long as traditional pre-assembled cabinets, or 15-20 years on average with proper care. Cheaper brands may start showing wear and tear in under 5 years.
Should I get RTA or pre-assembled cabinets?
RTA makes sense for DIYers on a budget wanting more customization. Pre-assembled is better if you want faster installation without assembly. Evaluate your budget, skills, and project timeline.
What are the top RTA cabinet brands?
Some of the best RTA cabinet brands for quality are Barker Cabinets, Kabinart, Ready To Assemble Kitchens, Crystorama, and Cabinets To Go.
Can I install RTA cabinets myself?
With some DIY experience, you can install RTA cabinets yourself. Make sure you have a helper for heavy lifting. Enlist a contractor if you are unsure about tackling cabinet installation.
RTA cabinets offer homeowners a budget-friendly way to get quality cabinets for their kitchen remodel. Choosing a reputable brand and inspecting cabinet construction and features help ensure you select durable RTA cabinetry built to last. With proper assembly and handling, RTA cabinets provide an attractive, functional, and cost-effective cabinetry option.