Assembling ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets can be an intimidating task for many homeowners. RTA cabinets come unassembled in flat boxes, and putting them together involves following often-complex instructions with many pieces and hardware. However, with the right tools, patience, and this helpful guide, you can assemble your RTA cabinets like a pro. We will walk you through the complete process with tips, tricks, and a video to make your cabinet assembly project go smoothly.

Gather Tools and Supplies

Before starting the assembly process, make sure you have all the necessary tools and supplies. Here is what you will need:


  • Power drill with Phillips head and drill bits
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver set
  • Utility knife
  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Pliers
  • Sandpaper
  • Stud finder


  • Cabinet boxes and parts
  • Cabinet hardware like hinges, pulls, and screws
  • Wood glue
  • Rags
  • Pencil
  • Painter’s tape

Pro Tip: Lay out all the cabinet pieces by box number and hardware bags before beginning so everything is organized and ready for each step.

Prepare the Installation Space

To ensure your cabinets align properly during assembly, take time to prepare the installation area first:

  • Remove existing cabinets if replacing.
  • Clean the floors and walls thoroughly where cabinets will be installed.
  • Find wall studs and mark locations with painter’s tape for attaching cabinets later.
  • Check for level and plumb with a level tool. Mark any uneven areas.

Review Instructions Thoroughly

Before picking up any tools, carefully read the RTA cabinet instruction manual from start to finish. This will give you a good understanding of the entire process and how the components fit together. Pay attention to notes about install order and alignment. Having the manual handy during assembly for reference is also wise.

Start Cabinet Assembly

With your workspace prepared and instructions reviewed, you are now ready to put those RTA cabinets together. Follow these tips for smooth, successful assembly:

1. Unpack boxes carefully

Open cabinet boxes and unpack parts without damaging or losing any pieces. Organize hardware bags by cabinet box number.

2. Attach cabinet frames

Start by constructing each individual cabinet box frame. Identify back, bottom, and side panels from the illustrations. Attach with cam locks, screws, or nails by following instructions precisely. Use a power drill to insert hardware for sturdy assembly.

3. Install shelves and partitions

Once frames are assembled, install the cabinet shelves and partitions in the appropriate locations according to your manual. Make sure everything is level.

4. Attach doors and drawers

Align cabinet doors and drawer fronts properly on the frames and attach them securely using the provided hinges and slides. Adjust hinges so doors close straight with even gaps.

5. Attach decorative trim

If your RTA cabinet set includes decorative trim and panels, attach them to door and drawer fronts with finish nails for an enhanced custom look according to the instructions.

6. Connect cabinets together

Finally, attach cabinets to each other using screws through pre-drilled holes or connectors in the frame. Make sure cabinets are plumb, level, and properly aligned as you work.

Helpful RTA Cabinet Assembly Tips

Follow these additional pointers to master DIY RTA cabinet assembly:

  • Read instructions thoroughly multiple times before starting.
  • Work on a soft, clean surface to avoid scratches.
  • Have a partner to help align pieces and provide extra hands.
  • Tighten hardware securely but be careful not to overtighten.
  • Use painter’s tape on connecting cabinet frames to hold alignment while drilling and screwing.
  • Use wood glue for extra strength on key joints. Wipe away excess glue immediately with a damp rag before it dries.
  • Work slowly and double check your work, accuracy is important.
  • Take breaks to avoid fatigue and mistakes from working too fast. Assembly can take several hours.
  • Save all extra hardware pieces in case replacements are needed down the road.

Cabinet Installation After Assembly

Once all cabinets are fully constructed, the next step is installing them in your kitchen or bathroom. Here is a quick overview:

  • Confirm wall stud locations are marked.
  • Lift and fasten cabinets to walls by screwing into studs through back frame.
  • Attach cabinets to each other with screws or hardware provided.
  • Level and shim cabinets so they are plumb and even.
  • Secure cabinets together with appropriate adhesive or connectors as needed per instructions.
  • Attach any remaining countertops, trim, panels, or molding to finish installation.

Video Guide for Assembling RTA Cabinets

Watching a video of the assembly process from start to finish can be tremendously helpful. Here is an excellent video that clearly demonstrates constructing RTA cabinets:

[Embed video guide for assembling RTA cabinets]

Seeing each assembly step in action helps illustrate the process for a better understanding. Be sure to watch videos for your specific RTA cabinet brand and design since assembly can vary.

Common Questions about Assembling RTA Cabinets

Many DIYers have additional questions when taking on RTA cabinet assembly for the first time. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:

Does Assembly Order Matter?

Yes, the sequence of putting components together is often critical for proper alignment. Always follow the order specified in the instructions manual.

How Long Does Assembly Take?

It depends on cabinet size and complexity, but plan on assembly taking 2-3 hours for an average kitchen set. Having an assistant speeds up the process.

What If I Mess Up Assembly?

Don’t panic if you make a mistake! Disassemble components and start again if needed. Extra hardware is provided to replace damaged pieces.

Should I Replace Existing Cabinets?

If your current cabinets are structurally sound, adding new doors, drawers and hardware can refresh them cost-effectively. But for fully remodeled kitchens, replacing with new RTA cabinets is best.

Is Professional Installation Worth the Cost?

Pro installation ensures proper assembly, but isn’t necessary. With time, patience and this guide, DIY cabinet installs can look great.


Assembling RTA cabinets is an achievable DIY project for most homeowners with these helpful instructions. Proper preparation and attention to detail during the process will ensure your cabinets come out fitting together perfectly. Follow each assembly step in order, use tools carefully, and don’t be afraid to get hands-on installing your RTA cabinets. You will save significant money compared to custom cabinetry, and have the satisfaction of completing the project yourself. With this guide’s video walkthrough and tips, your next RTA cabinet assembly task will be a success.

How to Watch RTA Cabinet Assembly Videos

Viewing video guides and tutorials is one of the best ways to gain the knowledge and confidence to properly assemble ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets yourself. But with cabinet assembly videos spread across YouTube and cabinet brand websites, finding the most helpful ones can be a challenge. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your RTA cabinet assembly video viewing:

Pick Reputable Sources

Stick to videos from well-known RTA cabinet brands like IKEA and YouTube channels with expertise in home improvement and woodworking. Avoid shady or spammy looking videos. Some solid sources include:

  • IKEA – Official assembly videos for IKEA kitchen cabinets
  • Lowe’s – Video library includes excellent RTA cabinet assembly guides
  • The Home Depot – Features branded assembly videos and how-tos
  • Family Handyman – DIY site with lots of cabinetry tips and videos
  • 3×3 Custom – Specialty woodworking and RTA videos

Search Cabinet Brand Names

Use your specific RTA cabinet brand and model name as search terms to find videos for your exact cabinets. For example “Solid Wood Express Auburn Assembled Cabinets”. This ensures the assembly process shown matches your cabinets.

Watch Full Assembly

Seek out videos that show RTA cabinets being put together from start to finish. Viewing the entire assembly sequence will prepare you best. Splitting up the process can cause confusion.

Observe Carefully

Pay close attention to small but important details like where glue is applied or the order hardware is attached. Taking notes can help you remember these key steps.

Review Complex Steps

Certain stages like attaching doors or connecting cabinets warrant watching more than once. Rewind to re-watch tricky sections until you feel comfortable with that assembly technique.

Consider Paid Options

Some RTA cabinet brands offer paid assembly videos specifically tailored to their products. The investment might be worthwhile to guarantee an ideal instructional video.

Seek Out Hacks and Tips

Look for videos that point out assembly shortcuts, tricks, and modifications to make the process easier. These pro tips can save you time and frustration.

Compare Various Methods

Watching multiple videos can provide alternate techniques on pieces like drawer glides or hinges for a better result. See which option seems simplest for your skill level.

Gather Correct Tools First

Note the tools and supplies used in the videos to ensure you have what’s needed before starting. A discrepancy can stall your progress and lead to mistakes.

Set Aside Ample Time

Don’t underestimate the assembly time needed. If a video is 3 hours long, set aside at least that much time for yourself. Rushing through assembly can ruin cabinets.

Ask An Expert

If you are unsure about a particular cabinet assembly technique after watching videos, consult with a carpentry professional. Proper training is wise for complicated build steps.


Viewing online video guides is one of the smartest ways to learn RTA cabinet assembly. With these tips for choosing educational installation videos that match your specific cabinet set, you can gain the skills to take on this DIY project confidently. Remember to watch carefully, take notes, and review any unclear steps. By thoroughly studying video instructions ahead of time, your cabinet assembly process will go smoothly.

Common Problems When Assembling RTA Cabinets

Ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets make kitchen and bathroom renovation projects more affordable for DIYers. But because you must construct them yourself, there is also room for error if instructions are not followed properly. Being aware of the most common mistakes and problems that can occur when putting RTA cabinets together is half the battle. Here are some of the top issues to watch out for:

Misaligned Doors and Drawers

Cabinet doors and drawers that don’t align evenly on the cabinet frames are one of the most frustrating issues with RTA cabinet assembly.


  • Carefully follow hinge adjustment instructions to realign doors.
  • Remove and reattach drawer slides until properly aligned.
  • Adjust tightness of hinge screws gradually to nudge doors into place.

Improper Assembly Sequence

Assembling cabinet components in the wrong order can affect how they fit together. Always follow the assembly steps outlined in the instructions manual.


  • Disassemble and rebuild cabinets in the correct order if major issues occur.
  • For small discrepancies, try detaching individual pieces and reassembling in proper sequence.

Forgetting Adhesive

Adhesive is often required in key structural joints, so forgetting this important step jeopardizes the cabinet’s stability and strength.


  • Disassemble and reassemble with wood glue on all adhesive joints noted in directions.
  • If missed only on certain spots, apply additional adhesive before continuing assembly.

Incorrect Hardware Used

With multiple hardware bags, it’s easy to mix up which screws, nails, and fasteners go where. Using the wrong hardware in the wrong spots can severely affect assembly.


  • Organize hardware bags clearly by cabinet number before starting.
  • Follow instructions precisely on which hardware goes with each component.
  • If unsure, trial fit hardware before attaching to avoid issues down the road.

Rushing Assembly

Working too fast inevitably leads to fumbling pieces, skipping steps, and improper alignment when assembling RTA cabinets. Taking your time is crucial.


  • Read instructions thoroughly multiple times before starting assembly.
  • Set aside more time than you think you’ll need to avoid feeling rushed.
  • Take breaks if you find yourself working hastily or making mistakes.

Not Pre-Drilling Holes

Cabinet panels and frames often split or crack if screws are inserted without pre-drilling appropriate pilot holes first.


  • Review instructions to determine size and locations of necessary pilot holes.
  • Pre-drill holes slightly smaller than screws to prevent cracking wood.
  • Disassemble and re-attach split wood with wood glue and clamps before re-drilling holes.

Forcing Misaligned Pieces

Trying to force cabinet components together that aren’t properly aligned can damage the materials.


  • Take cabinets back apart and realign components if they don’t fit together smoothly.
  • Identify spots that are misaligned and use painter’s tape, clamps, or shims to hold in correct position when reassembling.
  • File or sand problem edges that won’t align correctly before reattempting assembly.

Improperly Secured Cabinets

Not adequately securing cabinets together with screws or hardware provided leaves the entire installation unstable and vulnerable.


  • Review instructions for proper locations of anti-tip brackets, reinforcements, and securement points between cabinets.
  • Disassemble to access missed connection points and reassemble securely.
  • For wall cabinets, ensure strong attachment to studs through back frame.


Learning from mistakes is part of the assembly process. If you encounter any issues putting your RTA cabinets together, the above troubleshooting tips will help identify solutions to get your project back on track. Slowing down, following directions diligently, and taking your time will go a long way in avoiding most common cabinet assembly problems from the start.

Tips for Assembling IKEA Cabinets

IKEA is perhaps the most well-known source for affordable ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets. But assembling the popular Swedish flat-packed furniture, including kitchen and bathroom cabinets, comes with its own set of specific challenges. Here are helpful tips for smoothly assembling IKEA cabinetry yourself:

Study Instructions Thoroughly

IKEA’s infamously wordless visual instructions can be confusing if you don’t study them extensively before starting. Read each step multiple times and lay out parts to visualize how they fit together.

Work on Protected Surface

Lay down a smooth, soft blanket or cardboard to avoid damaging IKEA’s easily-scratched cabinet parts. Use covers for flooring as well to protect from hardware scratches.

Assemble Cabinet Box First

Construct the outer cabinet box including sides, top, bottom and shelves according to the order in the instructions before doors and fronts.

Make pilot holes

Pre-drilling holes for the small screws prevents IKEA particleboard from splitting. Use appropriately sized drill bits for each screw.

Don’t Overtighten

It’s easy to overtighten tiny IKEA screws and damage particleboard. Tighten just until snug enough to assemble securely.

Add Adhesive

For added stability and strength, apply small dots of wood glue before attaching cabinet backs, bottoms, and sides. Remove any squeezed-out glue immediately.

Align Doors Carefully

When hanging doors, adjust hinges gradually by loosening screws in one hole at a time until doors are straight.

Use Helper Tools

IKEA cabinet assembly can benefit from extras like clamps, rubber mallets, and drill guides to improve alignment and prevent damage.

Check Level Frequently

Use a level tool often to ensure each cabinet section is plumb and level as you build. Adjust piece alignment if needed.

Secure Properly

Follow instructions for use of wall anchors, securing cabinets together, and anti-tip hardware. Proper support prevents accidents.

Take Breaks

IKEA cabinet assembly is exhausting. Take frequent breaks to avoid mental fatigue and oversights from working too fast or long.

Don’t Get Frustrated

IKEA’s quirky instructions and multitude of pieces and fasteners can quickly lead to frustration. Stay calm, focused, and ask for help if needed.

With attention to detail, patience, and these tips, you can master affordable IKEA cabinet assembly. Taking time to construct cabinets methodically will yield furniture that looks great and will last for many years in your home.

Fixing Common Mistakes Assembling Cabinets

Putting together ready-to-assemble cabinets involves following often complex instructions with many small components. As such, it’s easy to make the occasional mistake that affects the final outcome of your cabinets. Luckily most common assembly mishaps can be fixed with a few adjustments. Here are solutions for remedying frequent cabinet assembly errors:

Misaligned Doors

Issue: Doors not closing properly or uneven gaps.

Fix: Loosen hinge screws incrementally to adjust door alignment on the cabinet frame. Frequently check gaps and closing with a straight edge.

Crooked Drawers

Issue: Drawer fronts sitting crooked in opening.

Fix: Remove and realign drawer slides, shim if needed. Adjust soft-close mechanisms until slides operate smoothly.

Improper Hardware

Issue: Wrong screws, hinges etc. used in incorrect locations.

Fix:Replace incorrect hardware immediately to avoid structural issues. Review instructions to ensure you use the right parts in the right places.

Back Panel Installed Upside Down

Issue: Cabinet back is inverted or doesn’t align to edges.

Fix: Disassemble and reattach back panel in correct orientation for proper fit and finished edges.

Shelves Installed Crooked

Issue: Shelves don’t sit level within the cabinet.

Fix: Remove shelf pins or rails and reinstall straight and true. Use a level tool to double check. Add shims if needed.

Cabinet Box Out of Square