Ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets are a popular option for many homeowners and contractors looking to save money on their kitchen or bathroom remodels. RTA cabinets come unassembled, allowing the buyer to put them together themselves. This cuts out the costs associated with shipping and installation, making RTA cabinets a budget-friendly choice. But just how much cheaper are RTA cabinets compared to other cabinet options? Here is an in-depth look at the cost differences.

What are RTA Cabinets?

RTA stands for “ready-to-assemble.” RTA cabinets come packed flat in a box along with all the hardware and components needed to put them together. The cabinets arrive unassembled with pre-drilled holes and factory finishes already applied. The buyer simply follows the included instructions to put the cabinet boxes, doors, and drawers together using screws, cam locks, and other fastening hardware.

The main advantage of choosing RTA cabinets is the cost savings. Since the cabinets ship flat in boxes, shipping expenses are reduced. The buyer also saves on installation costs by assembling the cabinets themselves. RTA cabinets provide an affordable way to get custom-style cabinetry without the custom price tag. They come in a wide range of styles, colors, and organizational features to suit any design taste.

Average Cost of RTA Cabinets

The cost of RTA cabinets varies based on the manufacturer, materials, door styles, and features. Simple shaker-style cabinets in a painted finish generally start around $50 per linear foot. More elaborate cabinet designs in solid wood with specialty finishes can range from $200-300 per linear foot.

According to 2021 cost data, the average price per linear foot for RTA cabinets falls between $100-150. So for a 10×10 foot kitchen with 30 linear feet of cabinets, the total RTA cabinet cost would be approximately $3,000 to $4,500. Of course, many factors like layout, selections, and sales can alter the final price.

Cost Comparison to Custom Cabinets

Custom cabinets are typically priced per linear foot as well. The starting price for simple flat-panel custom cabinets is around $200 per linear foot. More complex fully custom cabinets run $800-1000 per linear foot. The average cost of mid-range custom cabinets lands around $400-600 per linear foot installed.

Comparing average RTA and custom cabinet prices:

  • RTA cabinets: $100-$150 per linear foot
  • Custom cabinets: $400-$600 per linear foot

On average, RTA cabinets cost 60-75% less than mid-range custom cabinetry. The price difference equates to hundreds or even thousands of dollars in savings on the total project cost.

Some of the reasons RTA cabinets are less expensive include:

  • No custom design fees – You select from preset RTA options rather than paying for a designer.
  • No professional installation – DIY assembly saves on labor.
  • Streamlined manufacturing – RTA uses efficient production and packaging.
  • Material limitations – RTA uses a set range of material options, keeping costs down.
  • Order quantities – Custom shops charge higher prices for one-off orders rather than bulk.

Cost Comparison to Stock Cabinets

Stock cabinets fall between RTA and custom in terms of pricing. Stock cabinets are pre-assembled by the manufacturer but available in limited sizes and configurations. The average price per linear foot for stock cabinets ranges from $135-185 per linear foot.

Comparing the averages:

  • RTA cabinets: $100-$150 per linear foot
  • Stock cabinets: $135-$185 per linear foot

RTA cabinets are typically 15-30% less expensive than comparably styled stock cabinet options. Stock cabinets make up some of the price difference by including professional installation in the total cost. But RTA cabinets maintain a significant savings for buyers willing to take on the DIY assembly.

Cost Factors to Consider

Though RTA cabinets offer big savings potential, the exact cost difference depends on several factors:


Stock and custom cabinets often use higher-end materials like solid wood doors and frames, full wood construction, and plywood boxes. RTA relies more heavily on engineered wood and laminates to keep costs down. Upgrading RTA cabinets with solid wood doors, dove tail drawers, and furniture-grade finishes will lessen the price gap versus other cabinet types.

Door Styles

Simple slab or shaker-style RTA doors are typically much less costly than intricate custom carved door fronts. Custom door elements like inlays, carvings, distressing, and molding details can significantly increase the custom cabinet cost versus clean-lined RTA options.


RTA cabinets most often use oak, maple, and thermofoil options. Custom cabinets can be crafted from premium species like cherry, hickory, alder, and walnut for a luxury look. Unique woods drive up the linear foot price rapidly.

Labor Costs

DIY assembly of RTA cabinets can save 50% or more on labor versus hiring a carpenter to install custom or stock cabinets. But some regions have lower labor rates that bring down custom installation pricing.

Quantity Discounts

Stock and custom shops offer larger quantity discounts for big projects compared to per-box RTA discounts. The price gap narrows if purchasing a large volume of RTA cabinets.

Pros and Cons of Choosing RTA Cabinets

Below is a summary of the main advantages and disadvantages associated with selecting RTA cabinets:


  • Significant cost savings over custom & stock
  • Wide variety of styles and colors
  • Ships direct with no delivery fees
  • Convenient home assembly
  • Quick factory order fulfillment
  • Easy modification and customization


  • Need for DIY assembly
  • Less durable than solid wood options
  • Limited sizing may require filler panels
  • No special customization services
  • Difficult returns if issues arise

RTA vs Assembled Cabinets: Which is Right for Your Project?

Deciding between RTA and assembled (custom or stock) cabinets depends on your budget, diy skills, and project scope.

RTA makes the most sense for:

  • Cost-conscious remodels and new builds
  • Simple layouts without specialty sizes
  • Straightforward cabinetry needs
  • DIY-friendly homeowners

Assembled cabinets are better for:

  • Luxury kitchens with exotic materials
  • Heavily customized cabinets
  • Unique kitchen layouts and sizes
  • Homeowners wanting turnkey installation
  • Builders managing multiple job sites

Many homeowners mix RTA and assembled cabinets to maximize savings while still getting designer options in key areas like an angled pantry or oven cabinet. The mix and match approach provides the ideal balance of affordability and customization.

Optimizing the Cost Savings of RTA Cabinets

Follow these tips to get the lowest price possible on RTA cabinets for your kitchen or bath remodel:

  • Shop online for web-exclusive deals and coupon codes
  • Buy during seasonal sales events and clearance closeouts
  • Stick to standard cabinet sizes to avoid filler panels
  • Select simple shaker-style doors over ornate designs
  • Use the most affordable wood species and finish option
  • Order cabinets and hardware/accessories together for package discounts
  • Provide accurate measurements to minimize adjustments
  • Order all cabinets at once to qualify for volume discounts
  • Handle the installation yourself to avoid labor fees
  • Ask about current promotions and price-matching policies

With the right choices and timing, RTA cabinets can cost 50-75% less than custom or stock cabinetry while still transforming the look of your space. Careful planning maximizes the big savings RTA cabinets offer.

The Bottom Line

RTA cabinets provide homeowners, contractors, and designers an affordable way to get stylish, durable kitchen and bathroom cabinetry. By ordering cabinets to assemble yourself, you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars compared to stock or custom cabinet options. For cost-conscious renovators willing to take on some DIY, RTA cabinetry makes it possible to afford the high-end looks usually accompanied by designer price tags. Focus your savings on splurges like statement lighting, luxury appliances, or minutes cabinet accents to complete your dream space.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much should I budget for RTA cabinets?

For budgeting purposes, expect to pay around $100-$150 per linear foot for RTA cabinets. This equates to $3000-$5000 for a typical 10×10 kitchen. Upgrades like solid wood doors and luxury finishes can drive the costs above $200/linear foot.

What are the most affordable RTA cabinet brands?

Some of the most competitively priced RTA brands include IKEA, Cabinet Joint, Ready to Assemble Cabinets, Barker Cabinets, and Even big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s offer RTA lines that cost 20-40% less than their assembled cabinet offerings.

Should I choose RTA over custom cabinets?

RTA makes sense for DIYers on a tight budget. But if you have a large budget, want luxury features, and don’t mind paying for professional installation, custom cabinets may be worth the higher investment. Determine what factors are most important for your project.

Can RTA cabinets look high-end?

Definitely! Look for solid wood doors, furniture-grade finishes, soft-close hinges, and hardware upgrades to get a high-end built-in look on a budget. Careful attention to design, molding, and trim details helps too. RTA cabinet interiors can also be customized to hide the assembly hardware.

How difficult is it to assemble RTA cabinets?

With pre-drilled holes and labeled parts, RTA cabinets go together surprisingly smoothly. Most homeowners can assemble their kitchen RTA order over 1-2 weekends. Basic hand tools, patience, and movers to lift into place are musts for a frustration-free experience. Watch manufacturer videos to see the process before committing.


RTA cabinets provide big savings for kitchen and bath remodels without sacrificing style. Taking the time to assemble cabinets yourself can reduce total project costs by thousands. Careful shopping and design choices help maximize the cost difference. For homeowners flexible on installation and features, RTA cabinetry makes high-end looks achievable on tight budgets.