Ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets are a popular option for many homeowners and renters looking to renovate their kitchens or bathrooms on a budget. As the name suggests, RTA cabinets come with all the parts and hardware needed to assemble them yourself, rather than paying for professional installation.
RTA cabinets offer a more affordable alternative to custom cabinetry, while still providing quality materials and plenty of style options. They have become an increasingly popular choice, especially for DIY-savvy homeowners. Here is everything you need to know about what RTA cabinets are, their pros and cons, costs, best brands, and how to install them.
What Are RTA Cabinets?
RTA cabinets, sometimes called flat pack cabinets, are shipped ready to be assembled. The cabinets come with all the cabinet parts, hinges, drawer slides, and hardware needed for installation. RTA cabinets are typically made from materials like wood, plywood, or medium density fiberboard (MDF).
The cabinets arrive in a flat box containing panels, doors, drawers, and all the installation hardware. Assembly is required, which is a key factor that allows RTA cabinets to be more affordable than pre-assembled cabinetry.
RTA cabinets are available from home improvement stores, online retailers, or directly from cabinet manufacturers. When you order RTA cabinets, you can select cabinet sizes and configurations to meet your exact kitchen or bathroom layout needs.
Key Features of RTA Cabinets:
- Shipped flat and require assembly
- Made from materials like wood, MDF, or plywood
- Doors, drawer fronts, panels and hardware included
- Offer wide range of sizes and configurations
- Budget-friendly vs. custom cabinetry
- Offer variety of door styles and finishes
RTA cabinets provide a versatile and customizablesolution for most kitchen or bathroom renovations. The DIY assembly makes them cost-effective, while still allowing you to achieve the style of cabinetry you want.
Pros and Cons of RTA Cabinets
RTA cabinets offer many benefits, but also have some downsides to consider. Here are the key pros and cons of using RTA cabinets:
- More affordable than custom cabinets
- Wide range of sizes, styles and finishes available
- Can be configured to fit your exact layout
- Easy to assemble with provided instructions
- Convenient home delivery
- Quick installation compared to custom cabinets
- Good quality materials and cabinet construction
- Need assembly before installation
- Not as customized as cabinetry made to order
- Limited configurations compared to semi-custom cabinets
- Prone to damage if not assembled correctly
- Shorter warranty periods than custom cabinets
- Resale value not as high as custom cabinetry
While RTA cabinets are not always on par with the quality and customization of cabinets made to your specifications, they offer an excellent value and quicker installation time.
Cost of RTA Cabinets
One of the biggest advantages of RTA cabinets is their lower cost compared to custom-built cabinetry. So how much can you expect to pay for RTA cabinets?
On average, RTA cabinets cost $80-150 per linear foot installed. This breaks down to:
- Cabinets only: $50-100 per linear foot
- Basic hardware and accessories: $10-20
- Delivery or pick-up fees: $10-15
- Installation (if hiring out): $20-50
However, costs can vary more widely based on the brand, materials, and features chosen. Some factors that affect RTA cabinet pricing include:
- Brand – Prices range from economy to premium
- Front material – Thermofoil, laminate, wood
- Door styles – Slab, shaker, ornate
- Drawer and cabinet features – Soft-close, roll-out trays
- Finish and color – Stain, paint, glaze
- Accessories – Moldings, glass cabinet doors
With RTA cabinets, you can select from a range of materials and features to meet your budget needs. Even with upgrades, RTA cabinets still cost at least 25-50% less than comparable custom cabinetry.
Top Brands of RTA Cabinets
There are many brands of RTA cabinets to choose from. Some of the best RTA cabinet manufacturers include:
One of the most widely available and affordable RTA cabinet options. IKEA offers a range of styles and configurations, but limited selection of finishes. Cabinets come unassembled with simple instructions for DIY installation.
Price Range: $100-300 per linear foot.
Offers wide range of RTA cabinet lines, from entry-level to premium styles. Available at Home Depot. Known for good quality and affordable pricing.
Price Range: $75-200 per linear foot.
Carried by Lowe’s, Barker makes good quality RTA cabinets in contemporary and traditional styles. Offers lots of customization and storage options.
Price Range: $150-300 per linear foot.
A leading cabinet manufacturer, KraftMaid’s RTA Norcraft line balances quality and affordability. Carried at Home Depot and independent kitchen design retailers.
Price Range: $200-400 per linear foot.
Home Depot’s in-house RTA cabinet brand. Offers lowest prices but less selection. Best for DIYers on a tight budget.
Price Range: $50-150 per linear foot.
No matter your budget or style, you can find good RTA cabinet options at major home improvement stores, kitchen design dealers, or online retailers. Carefully review materials, construction quality, warranties and reviews to choose the best brand for your needs.
How to Install RTA Cabinets
Installing RTA cabinets takes more time and effort than having custom cabinetry professionally installed, but it’s a DIY project that handy homeowners can tackle. Here is an overview of the RTA cabinet installation process:
Step 1: Assembly
Lay out all the cabinet parts and hardware. Follow the instructions to assemble cabinet boxes, doors, and drawers. Ensure parts are clamped securely during assembly.
Step 2: Hang wall cabinets
Measure and mark positions. Use a level and secure with cabinet screws to hang wall cabinets first.
Step 3: Install base cabinets
Set base cabinets in place, shim as needed, then fasten to wall securely. Attach cabinets together and install filler pieces.
Step 4: Countertops
Take measurements and have countertop material cut if not pre-cut. Set countertops in place and secure to cabinets.
Step 5: Doors, drawers and hardware
Install doors and drawers, adjusting as needed. Attach knobs, pulls and other hardware.
Step 6: Finishing touches
Add trim, panels, toe kicks and other final touches to complete installation.
While the basic installation process is straightforward, precise measurements and proper shimming is crucial for a clean finish. Having an experienced DIYer or carpenter help out can ensure cabinets are installed correctly on the first try.
Tips for Installing RTA Cabinets Successfully
Installing RTA cabinets yourself can save thousand of dollars, but does require skill and patience. Here are some top tips for a successful do-it-yourself RTA cabinet installation:
- Carefully read all instructions before starting
- Work on a level, cleared floor space
- Have all tools needed for assembly
- Drill pilot holes before screwing into cabinets
- Tighten screws and other hardware securely
- Follow exact measurements for placement
- Use shims to ensure cabinets are plumb and level
- Secure cabinets to wall studs with long screws
- Work slowly and double check everything
- Hire help if you lack carpentry skills
Take your time and do not rush through assembly or installation. Well-installed RTA cabinets should look and function just like any custom built-in cabinetry.
Are RTA Cabinets Right for You?
RTA cabinets offer a budget-friendly alternative to achieve the kitchen or bathroom of your dreams. However, they do require more work and DIY skills to get a professional-looking finished result.
RTA cabinets make the most sense for homeowners who:
- Are updating on a tight budget
- Are willing to invest sweat equity into installation
- Are renovating a rental property
- Have basic carpentry skills and tools
- Want to customize within set cabinet sizes
- Prefer a wider range of style options
Homeowners with unlimited budgets or wanting ultra-custom cabinets may still prefer working with an in-house kitchen designer and custom cabinet maker. But for most homeowners looking to maximize their return on investment from a kitchen or bath renovation, RTA cabinets check all the boxes.
RTA Cabinets FAQ
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about RTA cabinets:
How long does it take to assemble RTA cabinets?
It typically takes 8-16 hours for 1-2 people to fully assemble a kitchen’s worth of RTA cabinets. Simple slab cabinet styles go faster than more complex doors and drawers.
Can I install cabinets myself or do I need to hire a contractor?
Handy DIYers can install their own RTA cabinets, but you need some carpentry experience. Hiring a contractor starts around $50 per hour for installation help.
What tools do I need to put RTA cabinets together?
You will need basic tools like a drill, screwdriver, clamps, pry bar, and safety equipment like gloves and eye protection. Many cabinets can be assembled with just a Phillips head screwdriver.
Can I mix and match RTA cabinet brands?
It’s best to buy all matching cabinets from one manufacturer. Mixing brands can result in slight size variations that become noticeable once installed.
How good is the quality of RTA cabinets?
Quality varies by manufacturer. Top brands like Kraftmaid use sturdy plywood boxes and solid wood doors. Measure door thickness and check reviews to assess quality.
RTA cabinets provide an accessible option for homeowners looking to take on a DIY kitchen or bath remodel on a budget. With some time and effort, RTA cabinets can be transformed into custom-looking built-ins at a fraction of the price.
Choosing products from leading brands ensures you get durable cabinets constructed with quality materials and hardware. Investing in smart design and professional tips for installation allows your completed RTA cabinetry to look and function flawlessly for years to come.
What is a RTA Cabinets? Here are the key takeaways:
- RTA cabinets are ready-to-assemble; shipped flat-packed with included hardware.
- Offer a budget-friendly option vs. custom cabinetry.
- Wide range of sizes and configurations available.
- Need assembly and proper installation for best results.
- Top brands provide good quality and affordable prices.
- With careful installation, RTA cabinets can provide a custom built-in look at DIY cost savings.