Ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets are a popular choice for many homeowners and DIYers looking to renovate or remodel their kitchens on a budget. RTA cabinets come packed flat in boxes, with all the pieces and hardware needed for assembly. But how long does it actually take to put them together? Here is a detailed guide on what to expect when assembling RTA cabinets.

Overview of RTA Cabinet Assembly

The time it takes to assemble RTA cabinets can vary greatly depending on the size of your kitchen, the number of cabinets, and the complexity of the cabinet design. Some key factors that affect assembly time include:

  • Number of cabinets – More cabinets equals more assembly time. Even a small kitchen can have 15-20 cabinets or more.
  • Size of cabinets – Larger cabinets with more shelves, drawers, and door fronts take longer than simple cabinets.
  • Design features – Special features like lazy susans, pull-out shelves, and custom drawer configurations add steps.
  • Skill level – Beginners take more time than those with cabinet assembly experience.

Generally, budget at least one full day for RTA cabinet assembly for an average 10 x 10 kitchen. Larger kitchens could take two days or more.

Steps to Assemble RTA Cabinets

The basic process for assembling RTA cabinets involves these key steps:

1. Unpack and Organize Parts

  • Remove all components from boxes and packaging.
  • Verify you have all the needed parts by checking against a packing slip.
  • Organize hardware like screws, bolts, and hinges into labeled bags.
  • Stack panels, shelves, and doors neatly in assembly order.

This initial unpacking and organizing takes 30-60 minutes for a full kitchen.

2. Assemble Cabinet Boxes

  • Lay out the cabinet bottom, sides, back, and front frame parts.
  • Follow instructions to join pieces together with screws or fasteners.
  • Add shelves, partition panels, and other internal parts if needed.
  • Repeat assembly for all cabinet box components.

Assembling the box frames takes the bulk of total assembly time. Plan on several hours for 10-20 cabinets.

3. Install Doors and Drawers

  • Attach hinges and hinge plates to cabinet doors.
  • Mount drawer slides onto drawer boxes and cabinet frames.
  • Attach assembled doors, drawers, and trays onto the cabinet boxes.

Installing all doors, drawers, and pull-out trays adds 1-2 hours more.

4. Adjust and Install Finishing Details

  • Adjust cabinet doors and drawers for proper fit and function.
  • Add knobs, pulls, or other hardware to doors and drawers.
  • Complete any finished end panels, trim, or molding details.

These final adjustments and finishing touches can take another hour.

Tips for Faster RTA Cabinet Assembly

Here are some tips to help speed up the assembly process:

  • Read instructions thoroughly before starting. Understanding the steps will avoid mistakes.
  • Organize hardware and parts so everything is easily accessible.
  • Use power tools like an electric screwdriver to save time over hand tools.
  • Work with a partner so one person can hold parts while the other screws them together.
  • Take breaks to avoid fatigue, which can lead to sloppy work. Stretch or walk away for 10-15 minutes every hour.
  • Install cabinets in stages and take cabinet doors off during assembly for easier access.

With some experience and preparation, RTA cabinet assembly can be accomplished efficiently. Allow plenty of time for your project, and the end result will be a DIY kitchen to be proud of!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to assemble 10 RTA cabinets?

For an average sized kitchen with 10 RTA cabinets, expect the assembly process to take 6-10 hours. Simple base cabinets may only take 30-45 minutes each, while wall cabinets with more parts can take over an hour. Working efficiently, two people could assemble 10 cabinets in 5-6 hours.

Can RTA cabinets be assembled in one day?

It’s possible for one motivated person to assemble a small number of RTA cabinets (10 or less) in one long day, allowing 6-8 hours for assembly. However, for larger kitchens with 15-20 cabinets, it’s best to schedule two days, allowing your first day for unpacking and door/drawer installation and the second day for cabinet box assembly.

Should I hire someone to assemble RTA cabinets?

If you don’t feel up to tackling RTA cabinet assembly yourself, hiring an experienced kitchen installer or carpenter is a good option. They can typically assemble cabinets faster and more accurately. Expect to pay $50-$100 per hour or more for professional cabinet assembly labor.

What tools do I need to put together RTA cabinets?

At minimum, you’ll need a power drill, screwdriver bits, measuring tape, level, hammer, wood glue, and clamps. A power screwdriver or drill/driver makes assembly faster. A stud finder helps position cabinets accurately on walls. Safety gear like gloves and eye protection is also recommended.

Can I install RTA cabinets by myself?

While challenging, it’s certainly possible for one person to install assembled RTA cabinets alone. The key is taking things slowly, using cleats and temporary supports to hold cabinets in place as you secure them. Just be prepared for the process to take longer without a helper. Consider asking a friend to assist.


Assembling ready-to-assemble cabinets is an involved but rewarding DIY project. With adequate time, organization, and patience, RTA cabinets can transform the look of your kitchen at a fraction of the cost of custom cabinetry. Allow one full day for assembly for smaller kitchens, and up to two days for larger projects. Following the steps outlined and working efficiently, you can have your new RTA kitchen cabinets installed in just a few days.