When it comes to kitchen design and remodeling, KraftMaid is one of the most popular and recognized brands for high-quality kitchen cabinets. KraftMaid offers a wide variety of styles, finishes, and configurations to create a beautiful custom kitchen. However, KraftMaid (and other premium cabinetry brands) come at a high cost. This leads many homeowners to seek more affordable alternatives, like RTA (ready-to-assemble) cabinets. RTA cabinets provide a budget-friendly way to get a new kitchen while still getting a similar style. But what RTA cabinets will best match the style and quality of KraftMaid?
An Introduction to KraftMaid Cabinets
KraftMaid is known for its wide range of classic and contemporary styles, high-quality construction with solid wood doors and drawers, and customization options. Here are some key features of KraftMaid cabinetry:
- Wide Range of Door Styles – From traditional raised panel doors, to recessed panel, to slab doors and more modern styles. Materials include solid wood, maple, oak, cherry, and thermofoil.
- Durable Plywood Box Construction – Boxes feature furniture-grade plywood rather than cheaper particleboard. Drawers are dovetailed.
- Soft-Close Drawers and Doors – Drawers and doors close slowly and quietly with self-closing hinges and glides.
- Customization Options – Cabinets can be customized with storage accessories, finishes, glass doors, and hardware.
- Quality Materials and Finishes – KraftMaid uses kiln-dried hardwoods, high-grade plywood, and topcoat finishes like KraftMaid’s Effex for a furniture-like feel.
This quality in design, construction, and materials does come at a cost. KraftMaid is considered a premium or semi-custom cabinetry brand and is pricier than stock or RTA lines. The brand recognition and quality make it a popular choice for upscale kitchen remodels.
What are RTA Cabinets?
RTA stands for ready-to-assemble. RTA cabinets come packaged in a flat box with all the components and hardware needed to assemble the cabinets yourself. RTA cabinets are a more affordable option than custom cabinetry, providing a simpler cabinet construction at a lower price point.
Here are some key things to know about RTA cabinets:
- Pre-Assembled Cabinets – Doors, drawers, and faces are pre-assembled. You attach the cabinet boxes, shelves, hinges, etc.
- Flat-Pack Shipping – Packages can ship via standard courier lowering shipping costs.
- Particleboard Construction – Most RTA cabinets use particleboard instead of plywood for the cabinet box. Particleboard is weaker and less moisture-resistant.
- ** Limited Customization** – Modifications like finishes and accessories are limited with RTA stock cabinets. You get what you see.
- Affordable Pricing – Pre-fabrication and customer assembly bring costs down significantly over custom cabinetry.
While not at the quality level of premium custom cabinets, RTA provides an affordable medium-to-good quality alternative. Many home centers like Home Depot and online retailers offer RTA lines.
What to Look for in an RTA Cabinet Matching KraftMaid
To find RTA cabinets that can match KraftMaid style and quality as closely as possible, there are a few key features to look for:
Construction and Materials
- Plywood boxes – Seek RTA lines using plywood rather than particleboard for the cabinet box. This matches KraftMaid’s durable plywood construction.
- Dovetail joinery – Dovetailed drawers are stronger. Many KraftMaid drawers feature dovetails.
- Solid wood doors – Solid wood cabinet doors hold up better than veneers. KraftMaid uses solid maple, oak, and cherry.
- Soft-close hinges – Look for soft-close hinges and glides for the smooth closing of KraftMaid.
- Thick face frames – KraftMaid has thick solid wood face frames. Better RTA face frames are at least 3⁄4″ thick.
Finishes and Hardware
- Stained finishes – Seek an RTA brand that offers stained finishes like KraftMaid rather than just paint-grade finish options.
- Full overlay doors – KraftMaid cabinets feature full overlay doors that fully cover the face frame. Many RTA lines offer this.
- Hardware – Choose an RTA with upgraded hardware options to match KraftMaid quality.
- Matching valances – Higher-end RTA lines may offer matching valances like KraftMaid’s Crownlect panels.
Styles and Details
- Door styles – Find RTA cabinet lines that mimic popular KraftMaid styles like cathedral, beaded inset, urban flat panel, etc.
- Molding/trim – Details like light rail molding and trim can help match the KraftMaid look.
- Matching appliance panels – Some even offer matching panels for appliances, just like KraftMaid.
- Toe kick options – Does the RTA line have matching toe kicks, finished on all sides like KraftMaid?
With attention to these construction and aesthetic details, you can find an RTA that looks very similar to KraftMaid cabinetry at a fraction of the cost.
Top 3 RTA Brands Comparable to KraftMaid
Based on the above criteria, these three RTA cabinet brands rise to the top as offering quality and styles that can closely match KraftMaid.
1. Hampton Bay Designer Series
Home Depot’s upgraded Hampton Bay Designer Series provides perhaps the closest RTA match to KraftMaid with its plywood construction, dovetail drawers, solid wood doors, and similar style and finish options.
Some key features of Hampton Bay Designer that help it match KraftMaid:
- Plywood sides, backs, bottoms, and shelves
- Solid hardwood dovetail drawers
- Solid oak, maple, or cherry doors
- Soft-close hinges and glides
- Tongue and groove drawer boxes
- Full overlay doors
- Thick face frames
- Matching panels and trim
- 10+ door styles from traditional to modern
- Multiple stain and paint finishes
The Designer Series provides great quality for an RTA line while keeping the price at about 25-50% less than KraftMaid. Its mix of solid wood doors, plywood box construction, and KraftMaid-like finish and style options make it one of the top choices to match with KraftMaid aesthetics and quality at a much lower price.
2. Barker Cabinets
This lesser-known, family-owned RTA company offers slightly higher-end construction coupled with a smooth, modern style reminiscent of KraftMaid.
Here are some of the comparable features Barker shares with KraftMaid:
- Dovetail drawer boxes
- Ball-bearing drawer glides
- 3⁄4” plywood sides
- Solid wood doors and frames
- Full overlay, soft-close doors
- Matching panels and trim
- Modern door styles like shaker, slab, and thermofoil options
- Stained and painted finishes
- Lifetime warranty
The Barker RTA lines offer a sleek, almost European style while focusing on plywood construction and soft-close function. This makes it another great pick for those preferring a mix of modern and minimalist styles similar to many KraftMaid door styles. You can achieve a high-end look for potentially 35-50% less cost.
3. Cabinets.com RTA Line
Formerly RTA Cabinet Store, Cabinets.com offers 100% American-made RTA cabinets with nice quality and finish/style options on par with Kraftmaid.
Key similarities include:
- 3⁄4” thick cabinet boxes
- Plywood side panels
- Soft-close doors and drawers
- Full overlay door styles
- Matching trim and panels
- Maple, oak, hickory, and thermofoil door options
- Dovetail drawer boxes
- Blown finishes like KraftMaid’s Hand-Rubbed glazing
- Limited lifetime warranty
With their made-in-USA pledge and range of traditional to modern door styles, Cabinets.com provides another nice RTA choice for the quality-minded buyer. Their prices run around 30-60% less than comparable KraftMaid cabinetry.
While no RTA cabinet can perfectly match everything KraftMaid offers, these three options come impressively close in offering a similar high-end style, quality of materials, and robust construction. Any of the three can be combined seamlessly with KraftMaid cabinets to create a beautiful kitchen at considerable cost savings.
Tips for Combining KraftMaid with RTA Cabinets
If you want to enjoy the premium style and quality of KraftMaid for visible areas like the main kitchen cabinets, while saving costs on RTA cabinetry for less seen spaces like pantry, laundry, and closets, here are some tips for blending them:
- Select RTA cabinets with similar finishes and hardware to KraftMaid cabinets. Try to match wood species and stain colors.
- Use matching panels, trim, and molding to create a cohesive look.
- Make sure cabinet heights, depths, and toe kick dimensions align.
- Place the higher quality KraftMaid cabinets in the main kitchen area and use RTA cabinets in secondary spaces and behind appliances.
- Use matching valance options from both brands to maintain the visual flow.
- Install lighting to help hide or blend any slight differences in cabinet colors or quality.
With some strategic planning, you can create a stunning kitchen combining KraftMaid and more affordable RTA cabinetry. The key is choosing an RTA line like Hampton Bay Designer, Barker, or Cabinets.com that closely aligns with KraftMaid’s quality and appearance. Careful installation and cohesive trim and finishes will complete the upscale custom look at a fraction of the price.
Cost Comparison of KraftMaid vs RTA Cabinets
Just how much can you save combining RTA and KraftMaid versus using all KraftMaid cabinets? Here is a rough pricing comparison:
KraftMaid Cabinet Cost (per linear foot)
- Lower cabinets – $200 – $300
- Upper cabinets – $100 – $200
- Pantry/utility cabinets – $100 – $150
Equivalent RTA Cabinet Cost (per linear foot)
- Hampton Bay Designer
- Lower cabinets – $100 – $150
- Upper cabinets – $50 – $100
- Pantry/utility cabinets – $50 – $75
- Barker Cabinets
- Lower cabinets – $125 – $175
- Upper cabinets – $75 – $125
- Pantry/utility cabinets – $75 – $100
- Lower cabinets – $150 – $200
- Upper cabinets – $75 – $125
- Pantry/utility cabinets – $75 – $100
Assuming a typical 10×10 kitchen space and 20 linear feet each of base and upper cabinets, you could save $2,000 – $6,000 combining RTA and KraftMaid versus using all KraftMaid. Exact savings depend on brands and configurations selected. But the numbers show the potential for major savings without sacrificing style and quality in key visible areas.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the main differences between KraftMaid and RTA cabinets?
The main differences come down to:
- Construction – KraftMaid uses higher grade plywood boxes while most RTA uses particleboard. KraftMaid drawers feature full dovetails vs. just side mount glides on many RTA drawers.
- Materials – KraftMaid doors and face frames are usually solid hardwood. Many RTA lines use veneers and composites.
- Customization – KraftMaid offers far more sizing, storage, finish, and style options. RTA offers minimal modifications.
- Cost – KraftMaid costs significantly more given its premium materials, construction, and customization abilities.
- Brand reputation – KraftMaid is a recognized premium brand. Most RTA brands lack brand identity.
- Ordering and assembly – KraftMaid cabinets are purchased through designers/retailers and professionally installed. RTA cabinets are ordered direct and assembled by owners.
Is it easy for a homeowner to assemble RTA cabinets?
Assembly of RTA cabinets is designed to be simple enough for most homeowners to tackle successfully. Here are some tips:
- Review instructions thoroughly before starting. Organize parts and hardware.
- Have helpers for large cabinets. Lift and install cabinets carefully.
- Use levels, shims, and braces to ensure cabinets are plumb and aligned.
- Follow provided hardware and directions for connecting cabinets together.
- Take your time following each step. Don’t force pieces together.
With good instructions, enough helpers, and attention to detail, RTA cabinet assembly can be manageable for DIYers without professional installation experience.
What are signs of quality in RTA cabinets?
Signs to look for in better quality RTA cabinets:
- Plywood sides instead of particleboard
- Solid wood doors and face frames
- Dovetailed drawer boxes
- Soft-close hinges and full-extension glides
- Tongue and groove joinery in drawer boxes
- Thick 3⁄4”+ cabinet frames and doors
- Limited lifetime warranty from manufacturer
These features help RTA cabinets achieve a more premium fit, finish, and durability closer to semi-custom cabinetry. Avoid RTA lines with mostly plastic/composite materials and ultra-thin face frames.
Can you mix some KraftMaid cabinets with RTA cabinets?
Yes, absolutely! A common strategy is using KraftMaid for your main kitchen cabinetry and an RTA like Hampton Bay Designer Series in secondary areas like pantries, closets, laundry, etc. With cohesive finishes and trim, you can seamlessly blend KraftMaid and RTA cabinets for maximum style at minimal cost.
When seeking alternatives to expensive premium cabinets like KraftMaid, higher-end RTA cabinet brands can provide a quality solution at significant cost savings. By selecting RTA lines like Hampton Bay Designer, Barker, or Cabinets.com with construction and style similar to KraftMaid, you can achieve nearly the same elegant look and feel. Focus on plywood boxes, solid wood doors, robust frames, and matching finishes. Combine KraftMaid in visible areas with RTA cabinets in secondary spaces for the best of both worlds – premium brand quality with budget-friendly prices. With some savvy planning, you can get the KraftMaid kitchen of your dreams on an RTA budget.