Assembling ready-to-assemble (RTA) wall cabinets can seem intimidating, but with the right tools, patience and these step-by-step instructions, you can have beautiful new cabinets on your wall in no time.


RTA cabinets provide a budget-friendly way to renovate your kitchen or bathroom. Also known as flat-pack or knockdown cabinets, RTA cabinets come packaged in a flat box with all the parts and hardware needed for assembly. With some basic DIY skills, you can assemble these cabinets yourself and save on installation costs.

The key to successfully installing RTA wall cabinets is taking the time to carefully read the instructions and understand how the parts fit together before beginning. Having the right tools on hand will also make the assembly process smoother.

This guide will walk you through the complete process of assembling and hanging RTA wall cabinets, from unpacking the boxes to attaching the cabinet securely to the wall. Let’s get started!

Before You Begin

Before starting the RTA cabinet assembly, take the time to do the following preparations:

Carefully Read the Instructions

Every manufacturer provides detailed instructions specific to their RTA cabinet products. Read through all of the documentation carefully before you begin. This will help you:

  • Familiarize yourself with the parts included and how they fit together.
  • Understand the order of operations for assembly.
  • Identify the required tools for assembly.
  • Avoid mistakes that could damage the cabinets.

Gather the Right Tools

Having the proper tools on hand will make assembling the RTA cabinets much easier. Here are some essential items to have ready before you start:

  • Power drill and drill bits
  • Phillips head and flat head screwdrivers
  • Hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Stud finder
  • Pencil or marker
  • Safety glasses and gloves

You may also find the following helpful, though not always required:

  • Clamps or vise grips
  • Wood glue
  • Cabinet puller
  • Rubber mallet

Choose Installation Location

Decide on the exact wall location where you want to install the RTA cabinets. Make sure there is adequate space for the cabinets you purchased without interfering with doors, appliances or other fixtures.

Mark the wall stud locations using a stud finder to ensure the cabinets will be properly secured. Having a helper here can make this easier.

Prepare the Installation Space

To allow the cabinets to sit flush against the wall, remove any baseboard trim or molding from the installation area. Empty out the space under the cabinet footprint and clean the wall surface so it is ready for cabinet installation.

Step-by-Step Assembly

With the preparations complete, it’s time to assemble the RTA wall cabinets. Follow these steps carefully:

1. Unpack and Organize the Parts

Carefully unpack the RTA cabinet boxes and lay out all the parts on a soft, clean surface. Organize hardware like screws and bolts in separate containers to avoid mixing them up.

Check that all listed parts are present and free from damage. Read through the documentation again to identify each component.

2. Attach the Sides to the Top and Bottom Panels

Begin by attaching the side panels of the cabinet to the top and bottom panels according to the instructions. This will form the basic cabinet box shape.

Position the panels correctly so the pre-drilled holes line up. Insert screws in each hole to secure the panels together. Do not overtighten.

3. Attach the Back Panel

Place the cabinet box front-side down. Fit the back panel over the back edges of the side, top and bottom panels. Insert screws into the pre-drilled holes to attach the back panel securely.

4. Insert Shelves and Interior Parts

Turn the cabinet box right-side up. Slide any included shelves or drawer boxes into position in the cabinet according to the instructions.

Attach any other interior parts like drawer glides at this point, again following the documentation carefully.

5. Attach Doors and Drawer Fronts

Using the provided hinges, attach the cabinet doors to the front edges of the cabinet box, making sure they are aligned and functioning properly.

For drawer cabinets, attach the drawer fronts using the small screws to connect them to the drawer boxes. Install handles or knobs if included.

6. Attach the Cabinet to the Wall

With assembly complete, it’s time to mount the wall cabinet onto the wall:

  • Hold the cabinet in position against the wall, centered on the studs. Mark the outline of the cabinet.
  • Set the cabinet aside and align the wall mounting rail or cleat horizontally along the outline marks. Attach securely to the wall studs using screws.
  • Lift the cabinet and set it on the mounted rails, keeping it centered. Insert hanging rail screws from inside the cabinet into the wall rail. Tighten securely.
  • Make sure the cabinet is level before filling in with trim screws. Add brackets for extra support if needed.

7. Install Remaining Cabinets

For multiple RTA wall cabinets, fully assemble each cabinet individually following steps 1-5.

Determine the position and mounting height for each cabinet based on your kitchen or bathroom layout. Leave at least 30 inches between countertops and wall cabinets.

Install all wall cabinets starting from one end, leveling and securing each cabinet properly before moving on to the next. Use fillers or spacers between cabinets when needed.

Tips for Successful Assembly

Follow these useful tips to help your RTA wall cabinet project go smoothly:

  • Read and follow the instructions carefully at every step. Never force parts together if they don’t fit.
  • Work on a soft, clean surface to avoid scratching cabinet parts. Have adequate space to lay out parts.
  • Tighten screws gradually, alternating between holes to pull the parts together evenly.
  • Use clamps, rubber mallets or cabinet pullers to help dislodge stuck parts. Don’t hammer directly on cabinet boxes.
  • Install cabinets level and plumb for proper functioning. Use shims behind cabinets if necessary.
  • Fill holes and gaps around mounted cabinets with caulk for a seamless finish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Having trouble with some part of assembling your RTA wall cabinets? Here are answers to some common questions:

What do I do if the pre-drilled holes don’t line up perfectly?

Holes may become misaligned if parts are forced together incorrectly. Disassemble and realign the component parts gently without forcing. Use a drill to carefully increase hole sizes as needed.

What is the best way to secure the cabinets to the wall?

Always try to hit wood studs when screwing cabinets in place. For added support, use toggles, molly bolts or sheetrock anchors in the empty spaces between studs.

How much space do I leave between countertop and wall cabinets?

Standard guideline is 18 inches of space between countertops and wall cabinets. But 30-36 inches is recommended for adequate open space in kitchens and bathrooms.

My cabinet doors are uneven and don’t close properly. How do I fix this?

Make sure cabinets are mounted plumb and level. Adjust hinges to properly align and space doors. Add door bumpers to help doors close smoothly without hitting adjacent cabinets.

What is the proper height to mount wall cabinets?

Standard height is 54 inches from the floor to the bottom of wall cabinets. Adjust height based on your needs, but keep at least 30 inches between countertop and cabinets.


Installing RTA cabinets is an achievable DIY project for any homeowner with basic skills and tools. Carefully assembling the cabinet boxes, doors, drawers and hardware according to instructions is key to creating sturdy, functional cabinets. Mounting the assembled cabinets properly on walls requires accurate measuring and leveling.

Taking your time to follow these assembly steps will help you get the most value out of RTA cabinets. Just think of the money you’ll save compared to custom cabinetry or hiring a carpenter. And you’ll feel a great sense of DIY accomplishment having created a beautiful, brand new kitchen or bathroom yourself.