Installing a ready-to-assemble (RTA) wall cabinet can seem intimidating, but with the right preparation and tools, it can be a straightforward DIY project. Proper installation is essential for the cabinet’s functionality and aesthetic appeal. Follow this step-by-step guide to successfully install your RTA wall cabinet.

Things You’ll Need

  • RTA wall cabinet
  • Stud finder
  • Level
  • Drill with assorted drill bits
  • Screws for mounting to wall studs
  • Screws for attaching cabinets together
  • Cabinet handles or knobs (optional)

Preparing the Work Area

Before installing the RTA cabinet, make sure you have ample workspace to unpack, assemble, and mount the cabinet. Clear the wall area and floor around the installation location. Lay down a protective mat or blankets to avoid damaging existing flooring or walls while working. Ensure you have good lighting and ventilation in the workspace.

Finding the Wall Studs

Wall cabinets must be securely screwed into the wall studs for stability and weight support. Use a stud finder to locate studs in the wall where you’ll be mounting the cabinet. Mark the center of each stud to target when screwing in the cabinet later. Having two studs to mount to is ideal, but at minimum you need to locate one stud in the installation area.

Pre-Assembly of the Cabinet

Lay out all the RTA cabinet parts and hardware on a clear, protected surface like the protective mat or blankets. Refer to the instruction manual and diagram provided to identify all the pieces. Make sure you have all the required parts before beginning assembly. Assemble the cabinet box and face frame according to instructions, lightly tightening screws and bolts until fully constructed. Do not attach doors yet.

Leveling and Mounting the Cabinet

  1. Place the assembled cabinet against the wall in the desired installation location. Use a level tool to ensure the cabinet is plumb and level. Mark the wall at the top of the cabinet to indicate placement.
  2. Set the cabinet aside and pre-drill holes at the stud center marks. Drill 2-3 pilot holes per stud, evenly spaced vertically for stability. Hole size depends on cabinet screws, but 1/8″ is typical.
  3. Position the cabinet against the wall again over the pre-drilled holes. Insert mounting screws through the cabinet back or side panels and screw firmly into the wall studs. Tighten all screws securely.
  4. Re-check leveling and make any necessary adjustments by loosening screws and shifting the cabinet position slightly. The cabinet must be perfectly plumb and level before finalizing installation.

Completing the Assembly

Once the cabinet box is securely mounted to the wall, complete final assembly according to the manufacturer’s instructions:

  • Attach hinges and doors, adjusting until doors are aligned and functional.
  • Add interior shelves, racks, or drawers as needed.
  • Attach face frame, side or base panels if your cabinet model includes them.
  • Consider adding closed cabinet door dampers to prevent slamming.
  • Install handles or knobs if desired for easier opening.

Caulking and Touch-ups

Fill any visible gaps around the edges of the cabinet with painter’s caulk to seal and create a more seamless look. Use caulk color matched to your cabinet finish. Touch up any scratches or nail holes with finish paint or use wood filler for a flawless appearance. Let caulk fully dry before using the cabinet.

Following these key steps will help you successfully install an RTA wall cabinet. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for variations based on cabinet style and mounting requirements. With proper planning, tools, and technique, you can get professional-looking results installing cabinets yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions About Installing RTA Wall Cabinets

What tools do I need to install an RTA wall cabinet?

The essential tools are a stud finder, level, drill with drill bits, screwdrivers, and safety equipment like glasses and gloves. You may also need a jigsaw if altering cabinet size. Have wood glue, caulk, and touch-up paint on hand too.

How do I know if my wall is suitable for a wall cabinet installation?

Walls need sufficient structural studs to handle cabinet weight. Drywall alone is not enough. Locate studs with a stud finder and ensure you can screw firmly into multiple studs for stability. Consult a contractor if unsure about wall suitability.

What size screws should I use to mount the cabinet to studs?

For most standard cabinets and walls, #8 or #10 wood screws between 2-3″ long are ideal for mounting through the back panel into studs. Always check screw length against your cabinet backing and wall depth.

Should I attach cabinets together before mounting to the wall?

It’s generally easier to pre-assemble the cabinet box before wall mounting so you can check alignments. But leave off doors and final trim until after securely fastening the cabinet to studs in the proper position.

How much weight can an RTA wall cabinet hold?

Average capacity is about 75-100 lbs for wall cabinets. But check your specific cabinet’s weight rating and use appropriate mounting hardware. Wall strength also impacts weight capacity. Sturdy mounting into studs is key.

Can I install an RTA wall cabinet on drywall without hitting studs?

No, you should always mount wall cabinets into the structural wall studs for security and stability. Anchoring solely into drywall cannot reliably support cabinet weight long-term. Proper stud mounting is crucial.

What do I do if my wall cabinet isn’t level after mounting?

Recheck positioning against your level lines and make adjustments as needed by loosening the mounting screws. You may need to add shims or washers between the cabinet and wall to achieve the proper plumb.


Installing an RTA wall cabinet transforms your space with increased storage while also customizing to your style. Following the detailed steps for careful preparation, assembly, stud mounting, and quality finishing ensures your cabinet looks and performs beautifully. Paying attention to proper techniques and using the right tools goes a long way for successful DIY cabinet projects. Enjoy your refreshed space and organized storage!