Ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets provide a convenient and affordable way to get a custom look for your kitchen without the high cost of full custom cabinetry. With some basic tools and DIY skills, RTA cabinets can be installed in your home to create a kitchen design that fits your style, storage needs and budget. But with the many RTA cabinet brands on the market, how do you determine what is the best RTA cabinets for your project? We’ll explore the options to help you choose the right ready-to-assemble cabinetry for your needs.

What are RTA Cabinets?

RTA cabinets, also sometimes called flatpack or knockdown cabinets, come packaged with all the cabinet parts ready for assembly. The cabinets are shipped in a flat box with panels, doors, drawers and hardware included along with instructions for putting them together. RTA cabinets provide the look of custom cabinets, but without the high cost since you are assembling them yourself.

RTA cabinets offer several benefits:

  • Lower Cost – Since you assemble them yourself, RTA cabinets are priced lower than pre-assembled cabinets from a cabinet shop or big box store. The DIY assembly allows manufacturers to save on labor and pass those savings to you.
  • Custom Look – RTA cabinets come in a wide range of styles, finishes and storage options allowing you to give your kitchen a custom designed look. Panel options include recessed, raised and slab cabinet door styles.
  • Easy to Assemble – RTA cabinets are designed for DIY installation. The cabinets pieces fit together using cam locks or dowels with pre-drilled holes. Basic tools like a drill, screwdriver and level are all that’s needed.
  • Convenient Shipping – Because RTA cabinets ship flat in boxes, they can be conveniently shipped directly to your home. This avoids the hassle of getting pre-assembled cabinets into your house.

While ready-to-assemble cabinets provide many benefits, they also have some potential drawbacks to consider:

  • More time consuming assembly and installation
  • Need for basic DIY skills and tools
  • Potential for damaging finishes or components
  • Can’t see actual cabinet quality until assembled
  • Smaller selection than made-to-order cabinets

When choosing RTA cabinets, opting for a high-quality brand with sturdy materials and hardware can help avoid some of these potential downsides.

What to Look for in the Best RTA Cabinets

With many RTA cabinet brands and quality levels to choose from, it’s important to know what to look for when selecting cabinets to find the best option for your kitchen. Key factors to consider include:

Cabinet Materials

The materials used to construct RTA cabinets impact their quality, durability and price. Common options are:

  • Wood – Solid hardwood or plywood provides durable cabinet boxes. Oak, maple and hickory are common woods.
  • Engineered Wood – Made from wood fibers pressed into boards, used for affordable cabinet boxes.
  • Melamine – Resin-coated engineered wood creates water-resistant cabinet interiors.
  • MDF – Dense fiberboard with smooth faces creates strong, uniform cabinet components.
  • Thermofoil – PVC plastic laminate thermally fused to MDF or particleboard creates durable doors and drawer fronts.

Opt for plywood over particleboard or MDF for the most durable cabinet boxes. Look for thick, sturdy materials. Superior finishes include full-overlay wood doors and thick plywood drawers with dovetail joints.


High-quality hardware ensures cabinets function properly and last. Look for:

  • Full extension drawer glides rated for 75-100 lbs
  • 6-way adjustable European-style concealed hinges
  • Sturdy fixed shelving with metal shelf pegs
  • Soft-close hinges and drawers

Avoid basic friction glides, plastic v-groove hinges and tack-on shelving brackets.


The finish impacts the cabinets’ appearance and durability. Options include:

  • Stain – Penetrating stains in various wood tones
  • Paint – Factory applied or DIY paint for custom colors
  • Laminate – Heat-fused laminate in numerous colors and patterns

The finish quality varies between RTA brands. Higher-priced cabinet lines typically have more durable finishes able to better withstand moisture, wear and tear.

Design Options

RTA cabinets are available in many configurations:

  • Sizes – Varying cabinet widths, heights and depths
  • Door Styles – Slab, inset, shaker, raised panel and more
  • Colors – Range of stain, paint and laminate colors
  • Molding – Optional crown molding and trims available

Consider how well the door styles and sizes work for your kitchen’s particular storage and design needs.


RTA cabinet prices can range from $50 per cabinet for basic options to $200+ for premium lines. Consider:

  • What you’re willing to spend
  • Quality of materials and manufacturing
  • Brand reputation

Cheap cabinets may warp or wear quickly. Higher quality materials and engineering improve durability and function, making mid-priced options of $100-150 per cabinet a good value.

What is the Best RTA Cabinets Brand?

With all the factors to consider when selecting RTA cabinets, you may wonder, what brand is the best? With many manufacturers and retailers selling ready-to-assemble cabinets, here are some of the top options to consider:

1. Cabinet Joint

Founded in New York in 1982, Cabinet Joint is one of the leading brands of RTA cabinets known for quality and selection.

Quality: They use sturdy 3⁄4” solid wood frames and plywood cabinet boxes along with quality hardware. Dovetail drawer boxes provide strength.

Design: Cabinet Joint offers hundreds of kitchen and bathroom cabinet styles from traditional to contemporary. Customization like adding cabinets, trim or accessories is available.

Cost: Prices range from $120-$350 per cabinet.

Bottom Line: Provides well-made cabinets, extensive choices and customization at reasonable prices compared to competitors. A great overall brand.

2. Barker Cabinets

This employee-owned Pennsylvania company launched in 2004 to provide affordable, eco-friendly RTA cabinets.

Quality: Barker uses formaldehyde-free plywood sourced from sustainable forests. Hinges are commercial grade.

Design: Over 65 cabinet styles are available including shaker, inset and louvered designs. They have modern and traditional options.

Cost: Roughly $100-$200 per cabinet.

Bottom Line: Provides greener cabinets at a reasonable value. Limited finish options but good quality.

3. Affordable Cabinets

As the name suggests, this manufacturer focuses on budget-friendly RTA cabinets. The company started in 2003.

Quality: Uses laminated particle board for cabinet boxes rather than wood. Limited warranty.

Design: Trendy shaker and contemporary styles offered. Several stain and paint colors available.

Cost: $50-$150 per cabinet.

Bottom Line: A decent lower-priced choice but may lack the quality and durability of other brands.

4. Ready To Assemble Cabinets Depot

This retailer focuses on affordable RTA cabinetry, selling online and in stores since 2008.

Quality: Semi-custom line has solid wood doors with plywood boxes. Standard line uses MDF and particleboard.

Design: Dozens of door styles from slab to cathedral designs. Custom cabinet configurations available.

Cost: Approx. $90-$300 per cabinet.

Bottom Line: Provides economy and upgraded cabinets. Good option if you have DIY skills and need to save.

5. DIY Express

Known for selling affordably-priced cabinets online, DIY Express has been around since 2007.

Quality: Cabinet boxes are melamine-coated engineered wood. Limited lifetime warranty.

Design: Trendy shaker-style cabinets in multiple colors. Add-ons like windows or trim available.

Cost: Roughly $50-$120 per cabinet.

Bottom Line: A decent choice for contemporary style on a very tight budget. Lacks wood cabinet upgrade options.

While these are some of the most popular and reputable RTA cabinet brands on the market, there are many other manufacturers to consider. Do your research to find the best match of quality, style and price for your specific kitchen design needs.

What is the Best Place to Buy RTA Cabinets?

You can purchase RTA cabinets through several sources:

  • Manufacturer’s Website – Most brands like Cabinet Joint sell directly through their own website. Provides widest selection.
  • Online Retailers – Large retailers like The Home Depot or WayFair sell multiple brands online for convenience.
  • Kitchen Cabinet Showrooms – Some cabinet showrooms offer RTA models alongside custom options.
  • RTA Specialty Stores – Retailers focusing just on RTA cabinets like Ready To Assemble Cabinets Depot.

Buying directly from the manufacturer generally provides the best availability and customization options. Pricing may also be a bit lower.

Retailers can offer wider brand selection and may include promotions or sales. Be aware that stock can vary. Carefully check quality and specifications.

Try to see door samples in person when possible. Due to variability in materials and finishes, the actual cabinets may not match photos online.

Shop around to find the ideal source for your selected RTA cabinet brand, price and availability.

How Much do RTA Cabinets Cost?

RTA cabinet pricing depends on several factors:

  • Brand – Quality and manufacturing impacts price
  • Materials – Real wood is more costly than laminates
  • Door Style – More intricate door designs cost more
  • Size – Larger cabinets or deeper cabinet boxes add cost
  • Special Features – Glass doors, storage accessories, molding and more affect price

Typically though, RTA cabinets range from:

  • Economy – $50 – $80 per cabinet
  • Standard – $80 – $150 per cabinet
  • Premium – $150 – $300+ per cabinet

With RTA cabinets, you make some tradeoffs between quality and price to stay within your kitchen remodeling budget. Paying a little more tends to get you thicker cabinet sides, sturdier hardware and better finishes.

Your total spend also depends on how many cabinets you need. Consider your entire cabinetry layout and measure carefully to determine quantities.

RTA cabinets provide cost savings over custom cabinetry, which can be $500 – $1000+ per cabinet installed. The DIY assembly and installation of RTA cabinets helps keep costs down.

How to Install RTA Cabinets

While RTA cabinets allow you to save on installation costs through DIY assembly, installing them properly still takes some work. Follow these steps for a successful cabinet installation:

‍1. Prepare the Work Area

Clear space for assembly. Have all your cabinets and hardware ready before starting.

‍2. Assemble Cabinets

Follow instructions to assemble cabinet frames, doors, drawers and shelves using cam locks, screws and glue.

3. Hang Wall Cabinets

Mark stud locations. Use a level and secure cabinets with screws through the cabinet backs.

4. Install Corner Cabinets

Anchor to studs and attach adjacent cabinets. Use specialty hardware like L-brackets if needed.

5. Hang Base Cabinets

Shim as needed to level and secure through cabinet backs into studs or use anchors.

6. Complete Transport Process

Install remaining fillers, panels and trim. Add doors, drawers and adjust hardware.

7. Install Countertops and Appliances

Complete your new kitchen with countertops cut to fit your new RTA cabinet layout.

While the assembly process may seem intimidating, take your time and follow the guidelines closely. Watch online video tutorials for guidance. The effort pays off with thousands of dollars in savings over hiring a kitchen remodeler.

RTA Cabinets: An Affordable DIY Option

Ready-to-assemble cabinets provide a customizable, budget-friendly option for achieving a beautiful new kitchen. With so many RTA cabinet brands and buying choices on the market, carefully consider the quality, design and price to determine the best RTA cabinets for your needs. Invest in the highest quality materials you can afford for durable results. With research and planning, you can install stylish, high-performing RTA cabinets as a DIYer and save significantly over custom cabinetry.

Frequently Asked Questions About RTA Cabinets

RTA cabinets provide a convenient DIY approach to installing an affordable new kitchen. But you probably still have plenty of questions about purchasing and installing ready-to-assemble cabinetry. Here we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about RTA cabinets.

Are RTA Cabinets a Good Choice?

RTA cabinets offer a great choice for budget-conscious homeowners able to install their own kitchen cabinets. Compared to custom or pre-assembled cabinetry, RTA cabinets offer big cost savings. Their quality and durability have also improved over the years, making them a viable option. Just be sure to select a reputable brand.

How Long do RTA Cabinets Last?

With proper care and maintenance, quality RTA cabinets can last 10-15 years or longer. Opt for solid plywood over particle board for the most durable cabinets. Sturdy hardware also helps extend cabinet life. Avoid excessive moisture and use care when cleaning. Refinishing or repainting scratched or damaged cabinets helps prolong their lifespan.

Can I Customize RTA Cabinets?

Many RTA brands offer semi-custom cabinetry allowing you to modify sizes, finishes and hardware. Customization adds cost but allows a tailored fit. Retailers may have more limited customization than a manufacturer. Expect to pay an upcharge for custom changes.

Are RTA Cabinets Difficult to Assemble?

Basic DIY skills and tools are needed, but RTA cabinets are designed for simplified assembly. Pieces fit together with cams, dowels or screws. Clear instructions are provided. Budget extra time as assembly takes longer than installing pre-built cabinets. Watch online videos for tips.

Do RTA Cabinets Come Pre-finished?

Typically, RTA cabinet components come with finished sides, doors and faces. The cabinet boxes have melamine interiors and raw wood exteriors. The raw wood surfaces get finished after assembly during installation. This allows for color matching and you only finish visible exterior areas.

Should I Hire a Contractor for Installation?

If you are comfortable taking on DIY projects and have basic construction skills, installing RTA cabinets is very doable. Have a helper for lifting cabinets and an electrician hook up any needed wiring. Otherwise, a contractor can assemble and install for you, eliminating labor savings.

How are RTA Cabinets Shipped?

RTA manufacturers ship cabinets in flat boxes via parcel delivery services. Pieces are individually wrapped and labeled. Delivery companies will bring boxes inside to your chosen room. Inspect boxes for damage before accepting delivery. Cabinets ship directly to homes or local distribution centers for pick up.

Can I Return RTA Cabinets?

Always check return policies closely before purchasing. Many RTA retailers don’t accept cabinet returns once packages are opened. However, unopened boxes can be sent back within a set time frame, for example 30 days. Restocking fees around 25% often apply to returns.

Do RTA Cabinets Come with Warranties?

Most RTA cabinet brands offer some level of warranty covering defects in materials and workmanship. Warranty periods range from a few years up to a lifetime. Limitations apply, so review warranty terms closely. Improper installation or misuse voids many warranties.

RTA cabinets present an affordable way for homeowners to tackle a DIY kitchen remodel. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely during assembly and installation for long-lasting results. Carefully research brands and options to determine the best RTA cabinet choice for your needs, style and budget.


RTA cabinets offer homeowners an affordable way to achieve beautiful, customized kitchen cabinetry through DIY installation. Choosing quality ready-to-assemble cabinets and buying from a reputable manufacturer enables you to avoid the high cost of custom cabinetry with professional installation.

Look for RTA cabinets constructed with durable plywood boxes, solid wood doors and high-end hardware. Leading brands like Cabinet Joint pair quality materials and engineering with broad design options. Careful assembly and installation along with proper care helps quality RTA cabinets perform well and last for many years.

With some basic tools, DIY skills and help lifting heavy cabinets, you can successfully install RTA cabinets. Taking the time to properly prepare your layout and work area makes the installation process smoother. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely for assembling the cabinet boxes, doors, drawers and hardware. Then carefully level and secure the cabinets.

While RTA cabinet installation requires an investment of your time and work, the impact on your budget makes it worthwhile. The ability to gain custom details and choices at a fraction of the cost of custom cabinetry, makes RTA cabinets a go-to choice for budget-savvy homeowners taking on a DIY kitchen remodel. Just be sure to do your homework selecting the best RTA brand, buying source and cabinet options for your needs.