Assembling ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets can be a satisfying DIY project that allows you to upgrade your kitchen or bathroom on a budget. However, it does require time and patience to complete. Here is a detailed overview of how long the process takes from start to finish.

Preparation Time

Before you can start putting the cabinets together, some prep work is required:

  • Read the instructions thoroughly – Make sure you understand all the steps, hardware, and tool requirements before beginning. Reading through the manual once can take 15-30 minutes.
  • Organize hardware and tools – Gather all the screws, fasteners, wrenches, and power tools you will need and sort them. This can take 15-20 minutes.
  • Clean assembly area – Clear a large, clean workspace with good lighting. Sweep or vacuum the floor. This can take 10-15 minutes.
  • Unpack cabinets – Carefully unpack all the cabinet boxes, doors, drawers, and shelves. Inspect for any damage. Set aside boxes and hardware for each cabinet. This can take 20-30 minutes.

Assembly Time Per Cabinet

The actual hands-on assembly time will vary:

  • Base cabinets – 45-90 minutes each. The large box-like cabinets that sit on the floor have more parts to assemble.
  • Wall cabinets – 30-60 minutes each. Wall-mounted cabinets tend to have simpler designs that go together faster.
  • Drawers and doors – 15-30 minutes each. Attaching drawer slides and hinges takes less time but must be done precisely.
  • Trim and molding – 30-45 minutes total. Installing any decorative trim and end panels goes quickly after the cabinet box is together.
  • Size and design complexity – More complex cabinet designs with more parts, drawers, and features will take longer than simple cabinet boxes.

Total Assembly Time

To estimate the total time for an entire RTA cabinet installation:

  • Count the number of base cabinets, wall cabinets, drawers, and doors needed.
  • Multiply the per-cabinet estimate by the number of each item.
  • Add up the totals for an approximate total assembly time.

For example, a small to medium sized kitchen with 5 base cabinets, 8 wall cabinets, 10 drawers, and 10 doors could take:

  • 5 base cabinets x 60 minutes = 300 minutes
  • 8 wall cabinets x 45 minutes = 360 minutes
  • 10 drawers x 20 minutes = 200 minutes
  • 10 doors x 20 minutes = 200 minutes

Total estimated assembly time: 300 + 360 + 200 + 200 = 1060 minutes (or 17.6 hours)

This example kitchen would take an experienced DIYer about 2 full weekends to assemble. For your specific kitchen, make sure to account for the total cabinetry being installed and budget the appropriate amount of time.

Tips to Speed Up Assembly

There are some techniques that can shave off time when assembling RTA cabinets:

  • Work with an assembly partner – having an extra set of hands makes many steps faster.
  • Use power tools like an electric drill with driver bits to quickly insert screws.
  • Stage all the hardware, tools, and cabinet parts before starting assembly.
  • Follow instructions precisely the first time to avoid mistakes that require disassembly to fix.
  • Take breaks to avoid fatigue and frustration – assembly requires patience.

With some experience and efficiency, an RTA cabinet installation is definitely a DIY-friendly project. Just be sure to give yourself plenty of time based on the scope of cabinets being installed. Check the instructions, prep your tools, and work methodically for a quality finished product.

Frequently Asked Questions About Assembling RTA Cabinets

How long does it take to assemble an entire kitchen of RTA cabinets?

For a full kitchen with about 10-15 base cabinets, 15-20 wall cabinets, 20-30 drawers, and 20-30 doors, expect the total assembly time to be 40-60 hours. Work for 8-10 hours across 4-5 days.

Should I assemble RTA cabinets on-site or off-site?

On-site assembly allows you to install the cabinets right away. Off-site lets you work comfortably and bring finished cabinets to install. Either works, just allow extra transport time if assembling off-site.

What tools do I need to assemble RTA cabinets?

Common tools include drill/driver, hammer, screwdriver, wrench, level, tape measure. Also useful are clamps, carpenter square, rubber mallet. Ensure you have any specialty bits or fasteners specified.

Should I assemble RTA cabinet doors and drawers separately?

Yes, it’s easier to assemble the cabinet boxes first. Then once the cabinets are installed, attach the doors and drop in the drawers.

What mistakes should I avoid when assembling RTA cabinets?

  • Skipping instructions and trying to figure assembly out yourself
  • Forcing wrong parts together because they look similar
  • Over or under tightening screws
  • Not leveling or lining up cabinets correctly

Can I get help to assemble RTA cabinets faster?

Yes, hire an experienced cabinet installer or handyman for an hourly rate to assemble some or all of the RTA cabinets for you. This saves time and frustration.


Assembling RTA cabinets allows you to refresh your kitchen or bathroom at a reasonable cost. While the assembly process is straightforward, dedicate ample time based on the total number of cabinet components being installed. Carefully following instructions, having the right tools, and working efficiently can help streamline the assembly process. With some patience, assembling RTA cabinets is an achievable DIY project that yields a beautiful new storage space.