Installing ready-to-assemble (RTA) wall cabinets is a great way to customize your kitchen or bathroom without breaking the bank. With some basic tools and a bit of know-how, you can achieve a high-end built-in look in no time. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the entire process of installing RTA wall cabinets step-by-step.

Choose the Right RTA Cabinets

When selecting RTA cabinets, you’ll first want to measure your space carefully to ensure you get cabinets that fit properly. Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Focus on standard cabinet widths like 12″, 18″, 24″, 30″, and 36″. Custom sizing can get expensive.
  • Standard cabinet depths are 12″ or 24″. Choose 24″ depth for more storage capacity.
  • Make sure to account for filler panels you may need to cover gaps between cabinets.
  • Pick a durable cabinet construction like plywood boxes and solid wood doors. Stay away from particle board.
  • Opt for soft-close hinges and drawer glides for a high-end feel.
  • Choose a timeless style and finish that matches your kitchen or bathroom decor.

Gather the Right Tools and Materials

Installing wall cabinets is an easy DIY project as long as you have the right tools and supplies on hand. Here’s what you’ll need:


  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Stud finder
  • Drill/driver
  • Step ladder


  • Cabinet units
  • Mounting screws
  • Filler strips or panels
  • Decorative end panels, crown molding, or light rails (optional)

Prepare the Wall for Installation

With your cabinets purchased, it’s time to start prepping the installation area. Be sure to:

  • Remove existing wall cabinets if replacing old ones.
  • Fill any holes or imperfections in the wall with joint compound. Sand smooth.
  • Paint the wall if needed so everything looks uniform after install.
  • Locate and mark studs using a stud finder.
  • Place a level line to guide cabinet placement. Account for filler panels.

Mount Wall Cabinets

Now onto the fun part – hanging the cabinets! Follow these steps:

  1. Place corner cabinets first if applicable. Level and attach to studs with screws.
  2. Hang adjacent cabinets by pre-drilling through the back frame. Make sure cabinets are level.
  3. Use filler strips to fill gaps between cabinets. Cut panels to size and attach to wall.
  4. Install decorative end panels, crown molding or light rails if desired. Use construction adhesive for molding.
  5. Attach cabinets together with clamps or screws if needed for stability.

Install Interior Fittings and Decorative Hardware

You’re so close to completion! Keep trucking with:

  • Installing cabinet doors and adjusting hinges as needed.
  • Adding pull-out shelves, cabinet organizers and other functional fittings.
  • Attaching knobs or handles with proper hardware.
  • Adjusting any doors or drawers that don’t operate smoothly.

6 Tips for Installing RTA Cabinets Like a Pro

Follow these final professional tips and tricks for foolproof results:

  • Always lift and carry cabinets by their sides, not handles.
  • Pre-drill cabinet back frames to prevent splitting wood.
  • Use shims if cabinets aren’t flush with the wall.
  • Fill any gaps around cabinets with caulk for a seamless look.
  • Check each cabinet for plumb and level as you go.
  • Carefully read manufacturer’s instructions for best practices.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the basic steps to install wall cabinets?

The basic process includes preparing the wall, mounting the cabinets level and secure, adding filler panels as needed, installing cabinet doors and interiors, and finishing with hardware and adjustments.

What mounting hardware should be used?

Use #8 or #10 pan head screws long enough to penetrate the wall studs by at least 1 inch. Pre-drill holes to avoid splitting.

How are filler panels installed?

Measure and cut filler panels to size. Attach them directly to the wall studs with adhesive and finishing nails or screws.

What’s the easiest way to hang cabinets alone?

Use a ledger board secured to the wall to support cabinet weight as you attach it. You can also place cabinets on a step stool fitted below.

Should I caulk around cabinets?

Yes, caulking around cabinets provides an aesthetically pleasing finish by minimizing gaps and crevices. Use a high-quality paintable caulk that matches your cabinet color.

Do new cabinets need to be sealed or finished?

Most RTA cabinets come pre-sealed and ready for installation right out of the box. No additional finishing is required.


Installing RTA wall cabinets allows you to reap the rewards of customized cabinetry without the designer price tag. With the right prep work and some DIY dedication, you can tackle this project yourself and save thousands in the process. Just follow our guide closely during each installation step, take your time, and don’t be afraid to call in backup if the cabinets are too heavy or cumbersome to maneuver alone. Investing some sweat equity will pay off big time when you stand back to admire your stunning new built-in cabinets.