Ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets are a great option for DIYers looking to upgrade their kitchen or bathroom without breaking the bank. RTA cabinets come unassembled with all the parts and hardware you need to put them together yourself. With some basic tools and a little bit of know-how, you can transform your space with beautiful new cabinets. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make RTA cabinets.

Planning Your RTA Cabinet Project

Before you start putting cabinets together, take the time to plan out your project. Here are some tips:

Choose the Right RTA Cabinets

There are tons of RTA cabinet options out there from various manufacturers. Pick cabinets that fit your style, budget and kitchen layout. Opt for cabinets with plywood boxes over particle board for more durability.

Take Measurements

Carefully measure your space so you can choose RTA cabinets in the proper sizes. It’s crucial that your measurements are accurate to ensure a good fit. Don’t forget to account for filler panels.

Create a Layout

Map out the cabinet placement in your kitchen. Mark stud locations on the walls and figure out your base cabinet configuration. Having a detailed layout is key.

Order Correct Quantities

Use your measurements and layout to determine how many of each cabinet and accessory you need to order. Double check that your order is complete.

Prepare the Installation Space

Clear the area where you’ll be installing the RTA cabinets. Remove old cabinets if needed. Address any issues with walls or floors that could interfere with installation.

Assembling RTA Cabinets

Once you’ve done the prep work, it’s time to put those Ready-to-Assemble cabinets together. Follow these steps:

Review Instructions

Thoroughly read the assembly directions that come with your RTA cabinet packaging. Familiarize yourself with the process and identify all cabinet parts and hardware.

Organize Parts and Hardware

Unpack cabinets and hardware and organize parts. Group together pieces for each cabinet. Separate hardware into bags by type (screws, hinges, etc).

Work on a Soft Surface

Set up a workspace on a soft surface like carpet. This will prevent scratches or damage to the cabinets during assembly. Cover with a sheet if needed.

Assemble Cabinets

Using your instructions, carefully assemble the cabinets. Pay close attention when installing door hinges and drawer glides to ensure proper alignment.

Check for Square

As you assemble cabinet boxes, check for square often. Make sure the corners form 90 degree angles as you attach panels together.

Secure RTA Cabinets

Use clamps, temporary braces or an extra set of hands to hold pieces in position when screwing parts together. This prevents shifting.

Install Adjustable Features

Add any adjustable shelving, drawers or other interior fittings following your directions. Test to make sure parts slide and adjust properly.

Installing Your RTA Kitchen Cabinets

Once assembly is complete, it’s time to hang your Ready-to-Assemble cabinets:

Mark Cabinet Locations

Use your layout to mark cabinet locations on the walls with masking tape or painter’s tape. Mark evenly spaced upper and lower mounting points.

Level and Hang Cabinets

Place base cabinets in position and use shims to level, if needed. Attach to wall studs securely using proper screws. Hang wall cabinets level and attach firmly to studs through back panel.

Add Support Bracing

For extra strength, install support bracing at wall stud locations. Brace wall cabinets to wall and base cabinets to wall and/or floor.

Secure Cabinets Together

Screw face frames of adjoining cabinets together. Attach filler strips or panels between any gaps.

Install Countertops

Carefully measure and cut countertops to fit your cabinet run. Install countertops securely using recommended fasteners. Apply caulk along seams and edges.

Add Finishing Touches

Install knobs, pulls and any other cabinet hardware. Seal around edges and openings with caulk. Touch up any nicks or scratches with finish paint. Enjoy your new DIY kitchen!

FAQs About Making RTA Cabinets

What tools do I need to assemble RTA cabinets?

You’ll need basic tools like a drill, Phillips head screwdriver, hammer, level, tape measure and clamps. A rubber mallet can also be helpful for adjusting cabinets.

How long does it take to put RTA cabinets together?

With some experience, you can expect to assemble RTA cabinets at a rate of about one cabinet per hour. Larger kitchen installs with multiple cabinets could take 15-20 hours.

What type of screws should I use to install RTA cabinets?

For framing, use 2-inch wood screws. For attaching cabinets together, 1-inch wood screws are ideal. Make sure screws are designed for wood not drywall.

Should I assemble RTA cabinets before installing?

It’s generally easiest to assemble cabinets fully before hanging them. However, some pros partially assemble cabinets and then complete assembly during installation.

How do I ensure my RTA cabinets are installed level?

Check for level front to back and side to side as you install using a 4′ level. Shim under cabinets and use furring strips on uneven walls to correct any inconsistencies.


Installing ready-to-assemble cabinets is a satisfying DIY project that can upgrade your space. With proper planning and some basic construction skills, you can transform your kitchen or bath. Following the steps above will help ensure your RTA cabinet installation goes smoothly from start to finish. Pay close attention to measurements, assembly and securing cabinets properly. Take your time and don’t be afraid to ask for help lifting heavy cabinets. Your new RTA cabinetry will look beautiful and provide functional storage for years to come.