Ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets offer a cost-effective option for homeowners looking to remodel their kitchens or bathrooms on a budget. RTA cabinets provide significant savings over custom cabinetry, with the trade-off being that you have to assemble them yourself. Just how much can you save by going the RTA route? Here’s a detailed look at the typical percentage savings with RTA cabinets.
What are RTA Cabinets?
RTA cabinets, also known as flat pack or knockdown cabinets, come packaged in a flat box with all the parts and hardware needed for assembly. RTA cabinets offer the following advantages:
- Cost savings – Since you assemble them yourself, you avoid paying added labor costs associated with custom cabinetry. RTA cabinets are mass-produced, keeping costs down.
- Convenience – RTA cabinets can be easily transported and installed on your own timeline. Custom cabinetry usually requires professional installation.
- Customization – Many RTA cabinet brands allow you to customize door styles, finishes, sizes and organizational accessories.
- Quality materials – RTA cabinets are typically constructed using plywood boxes and solid wood doors and drawers. Durability and quality are on par with custom cabinetry.
The main disadvantage is that you have to assemble RTA cabinets yourself. But with the inclusion of detailed instructions and labeled parts, DIY assembly is very manageable for most homeowners.
What Percentage Savings to Expect with RTA Cabinets
So what kind of percentage savings can you expect to see with RTA cabinets versus custom cabinetry?
On average, RTA cabinets cost 30% to 50% less than custom cabinets.
Exact savings depend on factors like:
- Brand of RTA cabinets
- Quality of materials
- Door styles and finishes
- Overall kitchen size and layout
- Geographic location
But generally, most homeowners see RTA cabinet prices come in at around 50% less than comparable custom cabinets from a kitchen design showroom.
Let’s break down the factors that result in these average percentage savings:
1. No Labor Costs
One of the biggest factors in the price difference comes down to labor. With custom cabinets, you pay for the following:
- Professional kitchen design fees
- Carpentry and fabrication labor
- Installation labor
These labor costs can account for 30% or more of the total price for custom cabinetry.
With RTA cabinets, you handle the design, construction, and installation yourself. While this requires more sweat equity on your part, it results in major cost savings.
2. Streamlined Manufacturing
Another factor is the simplified manufacturing process for RTA cabinets.
Custom cabinets are hand-built to order from scratch, usually in relatively small local workshops. The customization adds time and cost to each project.
RTA cabinets use automated manufacturing techniques like flat-panel assembly lines. Mass production with standardized sizing cuts down on overhead expenses. And purchasing materials in bulk also keeps material costs lower.
Together, the streamlined manufacturing and materials buying contribute to the more budget-friendly pricing for RTA cabinets.
3. Lower Profit Margins
One other pricing factor is lower profit margins with RTA cabinets.
Local cabinet shops usually mark up their prices significantly because they have higher operating costs. Custom cabinetry is seen as a premium product, allowing bigger profit margins.
RTA cabinet companies operate on thinner profit margins. Keeping pricing competitively low is key to success in the budget-friendly RTA market. Lower markups result in more wallet-friendly prices for consumers.
Cost Comparison of RTA vs. Custom Cabinets
To give a specific cost comparison, let’s look at price estimates for a mid-sized kitchen with 10 base cabinets and 7 wall cabinets:
- Custom cabinets from a local cabinet shop: $7,000 total
- Materials: $3,500
- Labor for design, fabrication and installation: $3,500
- RTA cabinets ordered online and self-installed: $3,500 total
For this hypothetical kitchen, the RTA cabinet option provides 50% savings over the custom cabinetry price.
Where does the 50% savings come from?
- No labor fees which make up 50% of the custom cabinet price
- Lower RTA material costs due to mass production
- Thinner profit margins with RTA cabinets
This illustrates how RTA cabinets can offer such significant percentage savings over custom cabinetry. Savings of 30% to 50% are quite typical for most kitchen or bathroom remodels using RTA products.
Factors That Affect Percentage Savings with RTA Cabinets
While 30% to 50% savings is a reasonable average, your particular percentage savings may vary somewhat based on these factors:
Quality and Brand
Higher-end RTA cabinet brands that use luxury materials and finishes generally cost more than budget-friendly options. The more premium the RTA product, the lower the cost differential from custom cabinets.
However, even high-quality RTA cabinets still provide at least 30% savings over comparable custom products.
In areas with a higher cost of living, custom cabinetry pricing is typically higher due to increased labor and material costs. This makes the percentage savings with RTA cabinets even more substantial.
In lower cost-of-living areas, custom cabinet prices are a bit lower. So while RTA cabinets still offer significant savings, the percentage difference may be slightly less compared to pricier areas.
Kitchen Size and Layout
For larger, more complex kitchens with challenging layouts, custom cabinetry has a higher price tag. So the percentage savings with RTA increases for bigger projects.
With small or simple kitchen layouts, custom cabinet pricing is a little lower. This reduces the relative percentage difference somewhat when comparing to RTA cabinets.
Still, even with small kitchens, you should expect at least 30% savings by using RTA products.
Making the Most of Your RTA Cabinet Savings
To maximize the cost savings from using RTA cabinets:
- Do as much of your own labor as possible – Avoid hiring out for cabinet installation if you can reasonably tackle it as a DIY project.
- Compare prices and shop sales – Price compare between RTA brands and retailers. Sign up for sales alerts. RTA cabinets often go on sale.
- Buy during slow seasons – Cabinet demand fluctuates by season. Ask retailers for the best deals in their slower sales months.
- Go for simple door styles – Opt for slab, Shaker, or simpler door designs which are cheaper to manufacture than ornate doors.
- Choose stock sizes – Cut down on modifications by using standard cabinet widths, heights, and depths.
- Select budget-friendly finishes – Thermofoil and vinyl finishes cost less than real wood veneers or painted cabinets.
Following these tips maximizes the percentage savings off custom cabinet prices that RTA products can provide.
Popular Budget-Friendly RTA Cabinet Brands
To give you a better idea of real-world RTA cabinet pricing, here is an overview of some of the top value-focused RTA cabinet brands and their typical price points:
One of the most affordable and widely available RTA cabinet options is IKEA. Their kitchen cabinets include:
- SEKTION – Their standard modular cabinet line with multiple sizes and configurations. Highly customizable with a range of door styles and finishes. Prices from $50 – $400 per cabinet.
- METOD – A more premium modular cabinet with thick plywood boxes. Advanced fittings and soft-closing hinges. Prices range from $100 – $600 per cabinet.
- VOXNA – A new high-quality fresh take on RTA cabinets. Prices from $200 – $500 per cabinet.
Overall IKEA kitchen prices work out to around 30% to 60% less than custom cabinetry.
Ohio-based Barker Cabinet offers excellent value with quality construction and materials.
- Designer – Their standard RTA line with attractive Shaker-style doors. Highly configurable cabinets at $75 – $300 each.
- Estate – Step-up line with solid wood doors and dovetail drawers. $250 – $600 per cabinet.
Overall Barker RTA prices average out to 50% less than comparable custom cabinetry.
Part of the Platinum Brands family, Cabinets.com focuses exclusively on RTA cabinetry with frequent sales.
- Aspen – Affordable laminate RTA cabinets from $50 – $100 each.
- Nova – Mid-priced RTA cabinets constructed of plywood. From $100 – $300 per cabinet.
- Luna Pearl – Higher-end line with pearl paint finishes and soft-close. $250 – $500 per cabinet.
Total costs run around 40% to 60% below custom cabinet prices.
This sampling of pricing shows the significant cost savings RTA cabinets can offer across all budget levels.
Should I Purchase RTA or Custom Cabinets?
RTA cabinets offer major percentage savings over custom cabinetry. But are they the right choice for your kitchen or bath remodel?
Here are some things to consider when deciding between RTA vs. custom cabinets:
RTA makes sense if you:
- Are renovating on a tight budget
- Are comfortable with DIY installation
- Prefer a more modular, mix-and-match system
- Want a wider selection of budget-friendly door styles and finishes
- Don’t require fully custom-fitted cabinetry for an unusual layout
Custom cabinets may be preferable if you:
- Have an unlimited renovation budget
- Want a trained professional handling the installation
- Need cabinets fully customized to unique sizes or layouts
- Prefer traditional cabinet construction and fittings
- Want to select from the widest range of premium materials and finishes
For many homeowners, RTA cabinets provide an appealing middle ground – offering quality materials at an affordable price point. And with enough customization options to personalize your kitchen design.
Frequently Asked Questions About RTA Cabinet Savings
Here are answers to some common questions homeowners have about realizing savings with ready-to-assemble cabinets:
How much labor is involved with installing RTA cabinets?
Typical DIY installation time for a moderate kitchen is around 30-40 hours. The most time-consuming parts are assembly, leveling and securing cabinets, and adjusting doors/drawers. Having an extra set of hands speeds up the process considerably.
Can I customize RTA cabinets like custom cabinetry?
Many RTA brands offer customization options like:
- Selecting door styles and finishes
- Mixing-and-matching cabinet sizes
- Adding accessories and organizational inserts
- Modifying with fillers or trim kits
While not as flexible as fully custom cabinetry, you can often achieve a semi-custom look and layout.
Is the quality of RTA cabinets good enough for long-term use?
Absolutely. Durability meets or exceeds that of custom cabinetry. Quality brands use furniture-grade plywood boxes, solid wood doors, and soft-closing hardware. Box construction and joinery methods match custom cabinet standards.
Do I need carpentry skills to assemble and install RTA cabinets?
Basic DIY skills are sufficient for most homeowners. No advanced woodworking knowledge required! Clear instructions and labeled, pre-cut parts simplify the assembly process. And you can outsource modifications that are beyond your skill level.
What are the delivery timeframes for RTA cabinets?
From order to delivery, standard lead times range from 2-6 weeks with most top brands. Smaller expedited orders sometimes ship within 1 week. This allows faster project timelines versus custom cabinets at 6-8+ weeks.
Get Significant Savings with Ready-to-Assemble Cabinets
In summary, RTA cabinets provide typical percentage savings of 30% to 50% compared to custom cabinetry. You realize major savings from avoiding professional labor costs. And lower manufacturing and operating costs for RTA brands also contribute to lower pricing.
While custom cabinets allow unlimited project-specific customization, RTA products offer an affordable alternative with some size/style flexibility. Quality RTA cabinets provide long-lasting durability to suit any home or lifestyle.
For cost-conscious homeowners taking on cabinet installation as a DIY project, RTA cabinets are an optimal choice. They combine everyday affordability with the flexibility to add your own personalized touches. So you can enjoy a stylish, functional kitchen or bathroom at a fraction of the price of custom cabinetry.
RTA cabinets offer homeowners an excellent opportunity to save 30-50% versus going the custom-built cabinetry route. With some handy DIY skills, you can assemble and install RTA cabinets yourself and avoid expensive professional labor fees. Simplified manufacturing techniques also allow RTA brands to offer budget-friendly pricing with quality construction.
While custom cabinets provide endless project-specific customization, RTA products give you lots of style and configuration options at a wallet-friendly price point. And leading brands like IKEA, Barker and Cabinets.com continue to expand their RTA catalogues with attractive budget-priced selections.
For cost-conscious renovators comfortable doing their own installation, RTA cabinetry provides the biggest bang for your buck. Take advantage of the significant percentage savings RTA cabinets afford, and create a stunning new kitchen or bath without breaking your budget!