Ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets offer a more affordable option for renovating your kitchen compared to custom cabinetry. Here’s an overview of how much you can expect to save by going the RTA route.

Cost Comparison Between RTA and Custom Cabinets

On average, RTA cabinetry costs about 30-50% less than custom cabinetry. Here’s a typical price breakdown:

  • RTA cabinets – $80 – $200 per linear foot
  • Custom cabinets – $200 – $500+ per linear foot

So for a 10×10 kitchen with 30 linear feet of cabinetry, RTA cabinets could cost $2,400 – $6,000 versus $6,000 – $15,000+ for custom. That’s a potential savings of $3,600 – $9,000+ with RTA.

The main factors that affect the cost differences:


  • RTA cabinets use engineered woods like particle board, melamine, MDF.
  • Custom cabinets use solid hardwoods, exotic veneers.


  • RTA cabinets use cam locks, dowel joints, glue.
  • Custom cabinets use mortise and tenon joinery, dovetail joints.


  • RTA has size/finish limitations.
  • Custom can be fully customized.

So in summary, RTA uses less expensive materials and simplified construction, while custom offers premium materials, craftsmanship, and customization.

Factors That Affect RTA Cabinet Costs

While RTA cabinets are generally cheaper, prices can vary based on:

  • Brand – Quality and features affect price.
  • Materials – Particle board, MDF, plywood. Plywood is most expensive.
  • Door styles – Slab, shaker, inset panels. Inset panels are priciest.
  • Finishes – Thermally fused laminate is cheapest. Wood veneer and painted are expensive.
  • Hardware – Upcharges for soft-close hinges, shelves, etc.

Higher-end RTA lines from brands like KraftMaid offer more customization and quality more similar to custom cabinets, but at a higher RTA price point.

What Are the Trade-Offs With RTA Cabinets?

While RTA delivers big savings, some trade-offs versus custom cabinets include:

  • Less durable materials and construction
  • Limited sizing/layout flexibility
  • Fewer customization options
  • Potential quality control issues

So RTA makes the most sense for DIYers on a budget, in standard kitchen layouts. Custom cabinetry is better for luxury kitchens, unique layouts, and those wanting maximum quality.

Tips for Maximizing Savings With RTA

To get the lowest price possible with RTA:

  • Shop sales and clearance items
  • Stick to simpler slab or shaker door styles
  • Opt for lighter finishes like white paint or light stains
  • Avoid a lot of specialty accessories and upgrades
  • Install yourself if possible

Bottom Line

RTA kitchen cabinets can save 30-50% or more versus the cost of custom cabinets. But savings depend on the quality tier, features, and options selected. For significant savings without compromising quality, stick to the middle or upper end RTA brands and styles. With smart choices, RTA cabinets can be a budget-friendly solution for achieving the kitchen of your dreams!

FAQs About RTA Cabinet Savings

How much can I save by assembling RTA cabinets myself?

If you install RTA cabinets yourself rather than hiring a contractor, you can save an additional 15-30% on the total project cost.

Should I expect RTA cabinets to be lower quality than custom?

Not necessarily – some RTA brands actually rival custom shops in quality. Focus your search on higher-end RTA cabinet lines to get good value and quality.

What are the best ways to cut costs with RTA cabinets?

Opt for minimal door styles like slab or simple shaker, avoid a lot of upgrades/accessories, buy during sales, and install yourself. This will maximize savings on RTA cabinetry.

Is it worth paying more for plywood RTA cabinets?

Plywood is more durable than particle board or MDF. So for heavily used cabinets, or cabinets prone to moisture, paying a bit more for plywood construction can be worth it.

Should I hire a contractor or install RTA cabinets myself?

If you’re fairly handy and have help for large cabinets, DIY installation can save you at least 15% of project cost. But if complex changes are needed, hiring a pro may be wiser.


RTA cabinets provide a more affordable alternative to custom cabinets, with potential savings of 30-50%. Focus on reputable RTA brands, simpler styles, and DIY installation to maximize value. With some smart choices, RTA cabinets can help you achieve your dream kitchen on a budget!