Ready-to-assemble (RTA) kitchen cabinets are a popular option for many homeowners looking to remodel their kitchens on a budget. RTA cabinets offer an affordable alternative to custom cabinetry, with the convenience of easy assembly. Here is an in-depth look at what RTA cabinets are, the pros and cons, and what to expect when shopping at The RTA Store specifically.
What are RTA Cabinets?
RTA cabinets, sometimes referred to as flat pack or knockdown cabinets, come disassembled in boxes with all the components and hardware included. The homeowner assembles the cabinets themselves following instructions, rather than hiring a professional for installation.
These unassembled cabinets ship flat packed for more efficient transportation and take up less space in the home prior to installation. RTA cabinets typically come with cam locks, dowels, screws and detailed instructions for easy and quick DIY assembly.
The term RTA simply means “ready to assemble” or “ready to install.” RTA kitchen cabinets provide a versatile, affordable option for kitchen remodeling projects.
Pros of Choosing RTA Cabinets
There are many benefits to choosing RTA kitchen cabinets for your next remodel:
More Affordable Than Custom Cabinetry
One of the biggest advantages of RTA kitchen cabinets is their price point. RTA cabinets are significantly less expensive than full custom cabinetry which can cost tens of thousands more.
RTA cabinets provide a budget-friendly solution without sacrificing style or quality. The DIY assembly also saves on labor costs associated with a professional install.
Wide Variety of Styles and Finishes
Another pro is the abundant options you’ll find with RTA cabinets. From modern to farmhouse, painted to wood stain, and everything in between, there are endless styles and finishes to match your unique taste.
The RTA Store specifically has over 100 cabinet door designs to choose from across a range of prices.
Convenience of DIY Assembly
Because RTA cabinets ship disassembled, you can assemble them on your own time and schedule. The installation process is simplified into easy, manageable projects.
DIY assembly allows you to customize your layout exactly how you want it and gives you a sense of satisfaction completing the work yourself. Detailed instructions are provided.
Easier for Remodeling Projects
The DIY-friendly nature and smaller packaging of RTA cabinets also make them ideal for remodeling projects. The boxes are lighter and can fit through narrow spaces better than pre-assembled cabinets.
You don’t need to worry about damaging existing walls or cabinetry during the installation process either.
Cons to Consider
While RTA cabinets have their advantages, there are some potential downsides to consider as well:
Must be Assembled
The assembly process, while designed to be DIY-friendly, can still be seen as a con by some homeowners. Proper assembly is key to getting full functionality and longevity from your cabinets. It does require an investment of your time.
Some people prefer to have their cabinets professionally installed rather than taking on the assembly process themselves.
Potential Quality Issues
There can be some quality and consistency issues with RTA cabinets if not ordered from a reputable brand and source. Cheap hardware, warped panels, and finish blemishes are possible.
Doing your homework to find a high-quality manufacturer is important to avoid defects and problems down the road.
What to Expect with The RTA Store
The RTA Store is one of the leading retailers specializing in RTA kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Here is an overview of what you can expect when ordering from The RTA Store:
Free Design Services
The RTA Store offers free kitchen design services to help you perfectly plan and customize your space. You can request CAD kitchen drawings and work with their design experts at no charge.
Quality Materials and Construction
The RTA Store promises quality construction with all-wood cabinet boxes, soft-closing doors and drawers, adjustable shelves, European hinges, and more. Their RTA cabinets are CARB compliant and designed to last.
As a specialized RTA cabinet retailer, The RTA Store is able to offer very competitively priced RTA kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Their pricing routinely beats big box stores.
White Glove Delivery
You can opt for white glove delivery service when ordering from The RTA Store for a hassle-free experience. This includes scheduled delivery, unboxing, inspecting, and removal of debris.
The RTA Store provides a 1-year warranty on their RTA cabinets that covers manufacturer defects. Extended warranty options are also available for purchase.
How Are RTA Cabinets Shipped?
RTA or Ready-to-assemble cabinets are shipped in a flat pack, disassembled form to provide more affordable shipping rates and easier maneuverability. Here is an overview of how most RTA cabinet companies package and ship their products:
Boxes and Packaging
Each individual RTA cabinet and component will be packed and shipped in its own cardboard box. Boxes are typically made from double-walled cardboard to keep components protected.
Smaller parts like shelves and hardware may be bundled together in one box while large cabinet bodies or door panels will be individually packaged. Packaging is clearly labeled.
Organization of Boxes
The component boxes are organized and shipment grouped based on the room the cabinets are for. For example, all the kitchen cabinet boxes will ship together while bathroom vanities are separate.
This room-based organization helps keep all the necessary parts together and avoids mixing up hardware, doors, and components.
Multiple cabinet boxes are then loaded onto wooden pallets for shipping. Each pallet may hold 50 or more boxes, stacked and secured for safe transport. Pallets allow boxes to be moved together by forklift or pallet jack.
The pallets are typically wrapped with stretch wrap or shrink wrap plastic to unitize the material and prevent shifting during shipping.
Once palletized, the RTA cabinets will be picked up by a freight carrier such as FedEx Freight or a dedicated trucking company. The pallets are loaded into 53-foot trailers for over the road transport.
A truck and driver will deliver the palletized cabinets directly to the home or job site. A forklift or pallet jack is used to unload pallets from the truck upon arrival.
White Glove Delivery
Some RTA retailers offer white glove delivery for an upgraded experience. This includes room-specific delivery, unboxing, inspecting cabinets, and removing packaging debris. White glove service simplifies the delivery process.
What Tools Are Needed for RTA Cabinet Assembly?
Assembling ready-to-assemble kitchen cabinets is a fairly straightforward process with the right tools on hand. Here is an overview of the basic tools needed to properly assemble RTA cabinets:
Power Drill and Driver Bits
A power drill, either cordless or electric, is the most essential tool for assembling cabinets. Variable speed with a clutch is recommended. Phillips and square driver bits will be needed to install cam locks, screws, and hardware.
A hammer allows you to tap parts like dowels into place or make adjustments as needed. Use with care on finished cabinet components.
Frequently measuring parts during assembly ensures cabinets are square and properly aligned. A sturdy retractable tape measure is an important tool.
A small torpedo level or cabinet installation level allows you to check for level and plumb during the assembly process. This helps square the cabinet boxes.
Clamps like C-clamps or bar clamps hold pieces steady for drilling and driving screws. They help align components and keep them tight.
A pry bar is useful for nudging cabinets into alignment, adjusting doors and drawers, and maneuvering boxes into place. Protect finished edges.
A stud finder helps locate solid structural points in walls to anchor and attach cabinets. This prevents drilling into pipes or wires.
Safety essentials like gloves, eye protection, and dust masks should also be used when cutting, sanding, or drilling during cabinet assembly.
Investing in quality tools upfront makes DIY RTA cabinet assembly faster, safer, and secures a finished look and function. Always review and follow the manufacturer’s assembly manual.
RTA Cabinet Assembly Process Step-By-Step
Assembling ready-to-assemble kitchen cabinets is a project you can tackle yourself with proper instructions and preparation. Here is an overview of the key steps:
1. Review Instructions
First, open the boxes and thoroughly review the instruction manual. Familiarize yourself with the process, tools needed, hardware, and cabinet components.
Organize hardware packets by cabinet for easier access during assembly.
2. Prep the Install Space
Ensure the target installation space is clean and dry. Remove old cabinets if needed. Check for level, plumb walls, and square corners. Address any issues prior to starting.
Use a stud finder to mark where cabinets will be anchored to walls. Sweep and vacuum the floor.
3. Layout Components
Unpack the boxes and verify you have all the needed parts. Lay out cabinet components in organized groups on the floor to prepare for assembly.
Start with the corner and peninsula base cabinets first for proper layout.
4. Assemble Box Frame
Using cam locks, dowels, and screws, assemble the box frames per the instructions. Drill pocket holes if needed. Check for square and reinforce with corner clamps.
Attach the cabinet back panel into the groove or with finishing nails.
5. Install Shelves and Drawers
Insert the adjustable shelves at desired heights and secure with shelf clips. Install the drawer slides, then attach drawer boxes to test fit and function.
6. Mount Doors and Hardware
Attach hinges and hinge plates to cabinet doors and boxes. Install doors, adjusting as needed for proper reveal and operation. Add pulls, knobs, or handles.
7. Level and Secure Cabinets
Position assembled cabinets plumb and level, shimming as needed. Anchor to studs or wall framing using screws. Connect cabinets together through gables or face frames.
8. Finish Up
Complete final cabinet adjustments. Install remaining trim, end panels, crown molding, and other accessories to complete the kitchen.
With good instructions, tools, and patience, assembling RTA cabinets can be manageable as a DIY home project. Seek assistance from professionals if needed.
Common Problems and Solutions for RTA Cabinet Assembly
While ready-to-assemble kitchen cabinets are designed for DIY-friendly installation, there can still be some issues that arise during the assembly process. Here are some of the most common problems and solutions:
Cabinet Doors or Drawers Not Lining Up
Solution: Adjust hinge plates, tighten cam lock screws, check for level and plumb. Shim cabinets and re-fasten to the wall if necessary.
Cabinet Components Not Lining Up or Fitting Together
Solution: Loosen screws and cam locks to realign and straighten cabinets. Verify edges are clean and flush. Use clamps during assembly.
Stripped Screw Holes
Solution: Stop drilling, change to new pilot hole, use tapered fluted screws, or apply wood glue before re-driving screws. Use screw hole repair plugs.
Misaligned or Warped Doors
Solution: Adjust hinges, tighten hinge plate screws, add door shims behind hinges, or sand/plane door edges as needed.
Split Wood Around Screw Holes
Solution: Pre-drill holes with drill bit slightly smaller than screw diameter. Change to coarse threaded screws for better grip.
Difficulty Anchoring Cabinets to Wall
Solution: Use toggle bolts for drywall, ensure hitting wall studs, or use specialized wall anchor hardware.
Hardware Pieces Missing
Solution: Check packaging carefully, contact the cabinet company to request replacement parts, or visit a hardware store.
Unclear Assembly Instructions
Solution: Watch online video tutorials, reach out to manufacturer’s customer service, or hire an assembly professional if needed.
Carefully following the instructions, checking for square, level and plumb often, and securing cabinets with care will help avoid many assembly issues. Seek additional help for structural problems.
How Much do RTA Cabinets Cost?
RTA or ready-to-assemble kitchen cabinets provide a very cost-effective solution for kitchen remodeling projects. Here is an overview of typical RTA cabinet pricing:
Price Per Cabinet
On average, ready-to-assemble cabinets range from $50-300 per individual cabinet, depending on size, features, and materials. Base cabinets are on the lower end around $75-150 while larger pantry cabinets run $200-300.
Standard 30” base cabinets typically run $100-200 per cabinet through most RTA retailers.
Standard Kitchen Pricing
A typical 10×10 kitchen with 20 cabinets including uppers and lowers costs approximately $2,000-4,000 total with RTA cabinets.
This provides the average DIY homeowner an affordable kitchen upgrade at a fraction of custom cabinetry. Of course, more complex kitchens with more cabinets, upgrades, and customization will increase costs.
Compare to Stock & Custom Cabinets
RTA cabinets are about 30-50% less than buying in-stock cabinets. Custom cabinets range from $15,000-30,000+ for an average kitchen, while RTA cabinets provide huge savings.
Even going through big box stores, RTA cabinet specialists offer better selection and prices on par with or below home centers.
DIY Assembly Savings
Choosing RTA cabinets rather than pre-assembled stock cabinets saves 20-30% on the project due to no professional installation costs.
You invest your own time to assemble cabinets, but avoid high labor rates for install.
RTA cabinets provide incredible value. With a little DIY work, you can save thousands on a kitchen remodel with ready-to-assemble components. Carefully measuring and laying out your kitchen is key to determine total project costs.
Purchasing RTA Cabinets – What to Look For
Ready-to-assemble (RTA) kitchen cabinets offer an affordable DIY approach to kitchen remodeling. Here are tips on what to look for when purchasing RTA cabinets:
- Solid wood doors and fronts
- Plywood box construction (no MDF or particle board)
- Soft-close doors and drawers
- Dovetail joints on drawers
- Sturdy, adjustable shelves
- Quality hardware
Design and Finish
- Wide range of door styles from traditional to modern
- Large selection of stains and paints
- Matching cabinets, molding and accessories
- Coordinating finishes like handles and hinges
Construction and Performance
- Reinforced cabinet structure
- Thick face frames and gables
- Cabinet backs for stability
- Adjustable hinges and shelving
- Smooth operating drawers
Ordering and Delivery
- Detailed ordering process and confirmation
- All components and hardware included
- Organized delivery and numbering system
- Replacement parts readily available
- Optional white glove delivery service
- Knowledgeable kitchen designers
- Prompt response to questions
- Positive customer reviews
- Warranty and satisfaction guarantees
Carefully vetting an RTA cabinet supplier on these factors will ensure a high-quality finished product that looks great and functions flawlessly for your DIY kitchen project.
How to Install RTA Cabinets
While ready-to-assemble kitchen cabinets require assembly before installing, the installation process is straightforward for DIYers. Here are some tips:
Plan the Layout
- Map out your kitchen design and cabinet placement.
- Mark stud locations on the wall.
- Locate existing wiring, pipes and vents.
Prepare the Space
- Remove old cabinets if existing.
- Clean and vacuum the area.
- Address any plumbing or electrical needs.
Start with Base Cabinets
- Set corner cabinet and work outward.
- Level and shim cabinets.
- Join cabinets together.
Secure the Cabinets
- Pre-drill holes to avoid splitting.
- Anchor to studs with screws.
- Use toggle bolts for drywall anchoring.
- Take measurements.
- Install countertops on base units.
- Apply caulk along edges.
Install Wall Cabinets
- Mount rails and hang wall cabinets.
- Check for even gaps and alignment.
- Attach any additional trim, panels and molding.
Work systematically, checking level and plumb often. Having an extra set of hands helps. Take your time and don’t force pieces together.
Maintenance Tips for RTA Cabinets
Ready-to-assemble kitchen cabinets are a long term investment. Properly caring for your RTA cabinets will keep them looking beautiful for years. Here are some key maintenance tips:
- Use a mild soap and soft cloth for wiping down doors and surfaces.
- Avoid harsh cleaners or abrasive sponges.
- Dry immediately to avoid water damage.
Inspect Hinges and Hardware
- Lubricate door hinges if needed.
- Tighten loose hinge screws.
- Replace loose or worn hardware.
Touch Up Nicks and Scratches
- Use touch-up markers for minor flaws.
- Carefully sand and re-stain larger areas.
- Apply touch-up paint to painted cabinets.
Check and Adjust Doors
- Adjust hinges if doors sag or don’t close flush.
- Use shims if doors warp over time.
- Lightly sand and re-stain cabinets every 2-5 years.
- Update with new paint or stain colors periodically.
Replace Damaged Components
- Order replacement parts from the manufacturer.
- Switch out broken drawers, doors, or shelves.
With proper care and maintenance, RTA cabinets can withstand daily wear and tear and remain beautiful for 10-15 years or longer. Protect your investment with