Ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets have become an increasingly popular option for homeowners looking to remodel or upgrade their kitchens and bathrooms. RTA cabinets provide a more affordable alternative to custom cabinetry, while still offering quality construction and a wide range of customizable options. With many places to purchase RTA cabinets both online and in physical retail stores, it’s important to research your options to find the best value and service. This detailed guide will explore the pros and cons of various sources for RTA cabinets to help you make an informed decision when you shop.
Online Retailers Offer Convenience and Selection
One of the most convenient ways to buy RTA cabinets is through online retailers that specialize in cabinetry and kitchen remodeling products. Purchasing cabinets online provides a few key benefits:
Huge Selection of Brands and Styles
Online RTA cabinet stores have a massive inventory that would be impossible to match in a physical showroom. Browse hundreds of different door styles, wood types, finish options, storage solutions, and functional accessories. Whether you want modern shaker cabinets or traditional raised panel doors, glossy painted finishes or stained wood grains, you’re sure to find what you need online.
Ordering and Shipping Directly to Your Home
Another perk of buying cabinets online is the convenience of fast shipping right to your door. No need to borrow a truck or trailer to haul materials home from the store. RTA cabinet packages ship via common carriers and arrive securely packed and crated.
Competitive Pricing and Frequent Sales
Online retailers can offer more competitive pricing than local cabinet showrooms because of their volume discounts and lower overhead costs. Look for frequent sales, closeout deals, and coupon codes to save even more on your cabinet purchase.
Helpful Design Tools and Resources
The best online RTA cabinet showrooms have interactive design centers that allow you to virtually plan your space. See how cabinets will fit and look in your kitchen as you selectoptions. Download specifications and measurements for the renovation. Read buying guides, installation tips, and style advice.
While purchasing RTA cabinets online has many benefits, there are a few potential downsides to consider:
- You can’t see product samples in person before purchasing
- Large shipping costs for multiple packages to your home
- Need for DIY installation without professional guidance
- Difficulty with returns/exchanges for a large, bulky product
As long as you accurately measure your space, read cabinet specs and reviews, and inspect boxes upon arrival, buying online can be a great option. Make sure to comparison shop across a few websites to get the best deal. Some popular online retailers for RTA cabinets include:
One of the largest inventories of RTA cabinets online, with over 100 brand name manufacturers represented. All wood species, cabinet sizes, organizations, and finishes can be mixed and matched within kitchen designs. CabinetDirect also offers expert support via phone, email, and chat.
The RTA Store
Specializes in affordable, quality RTA cabinets, selling factory direct to save customers money. Large selection of cabinets, decorative hardware, organizers, moldings, and accessories. The RTA Store has a price match guarantee and offers deep discounts for bulk purchases.
Functional, affordable RTA cabinets shipped factory-direct with no middlemen markups. Choose from modern, traditional, and coastal styles across top brands. Cabinetry Warehouse offers customers 3D kitchen design software, special financing, and expert technical assistance.
RTA Cabinet Hub
Carries a wide range of budgets and styles from 12+ manufacturers of assembled and ready-to-assemble cabinets. Options include all-wood, plywood, particle board, and thermofoil finishes. RTA Cabinet Hub has fast shipping from multiple warehouses across the U.S.
Local Cabinet Showrooms Provide Hands-On Options
While ordering cabinets online provides convenience and competitive pricing, some homeowners prefer being able to see and touch products in person before purchasing. Visiting a local cabinet showroom or RTA retailer has advantages including:
Viewing Detailed Displays and Finished Samples
Seeing the quality of construction and cabinetry finishes in person can give you confidence before purchasing. Look at installation, storage accessories, moldings, handles, and more.
Getting Accurate Site Measurements
Having an expert come measure your unique kitchen space rather than taking DIY measurements ensures a perfect cabinet fit. Some local stores offer free measurement services.
Talking With Kitchen Design Experts
Bounce ideas off knowledgeable kitchen designers who can make recommendations for your space based on in-person feedback. Get custom layouts and 3D renderings.
Immediate Pickup or Fast Local Delivery
Once purchased, in-stock RTA cabinet inventory from a local supplier can be transported right away. No waiting days or weeks for delivery.
While buying locally has benefits, there are also some potential disadvantages:
- Smaller selection of cabinet brands, materials, and accessories
- Potentially higher pricing than online/wholesale options
- Pressure for upsells from commissioned salespeople
- Limited hours and availability for design help
To find the best experience purchasing locally, look for specialty RTA and cabinet showrooms in your area. Be wary of big box home improvement stores that stock only a few RTA lines and have commissioned sales staff. The best local RTA cabinet retailers will offer competitive pricing, solid expertise, and excellent customer service.
What to Look for When Choosing an RTA Cabinet Retailer
Regardless of if you choose to purchase your ready-to-assemble kitchen cabinets online or from a local showroom, there are key factors you’ll want to evaluate about any retailer:
Range of Brands and Product Categories
Look for an extensive selection of RTA cabinetry from reputable manufacturers like Hampton Bay, Knockdown Woodworks, Cabinet Tronix, Ready2Assemble, and others. Variety in kitchen cabinet lines, bathroom vanities, laundry and storage solutions, pantry cabinets, and cabinet hardware is ideal.
Cabinet Construction and Materials
Be sure your retailer offers choices like all-wood cabinet boxes, solid wood doors, plywood construction, melamine interiors, dovetail joinery, soft-close door hinges, and more. High-quality materials and sturdy cabinet box construction are essential.
Ordering and Delivery Service
Consider fast shipping times, affordable delivery fees, white-glove install options, easy returns and exchanges, top-rated customer service support, and order tracking. Be clear on lead times so cabinets arrive when needed.
Budget-Friendly Pricing and Sales
The most consumer-friendly RTA cabinet sellers offer very competitive pricing, price match guarantees, frequent sales and specials, and bulk order discounts. Make sure to get the lowest price possible on high-quality cabinets.
Helpful Online Planning Tools
For online cabinet retailers especially, interactive design centers that allow you to plan your space in 3D and visualize products in realistic room renderings are extremely helpful when making decisions.
Strong Ratings and Reviews
Reading feedback from past customers can provide valuable insight into the quality of products, pricing, service, delivery, and overall purchasing experience from any cabinet retailer. Seek consistent praise.
By carefully evaluating each of these factors, you can determine which option will be the best place to buy your RTA cabinets based on selection, service, pricing, and ease of purchase.
Key Tips for Purchasing RTA Cabinets
Once you’ve chosen where to purchase your ready-to-assemble cabinetry, follow these tips for the best results:
- Accurately measure your full kitchen or other space using a laser measuring tape. Account for uneven walls and floors.
- Read all cabinet specifications and check that chosen dimensions fit your space planning needs.
- Select cabinet boxes made with moisture-resistant materials like plywood rather than particle board.
- Upgrade to soft-close hinges and drawers to prevent slamming.
- Choose durable finishes like wood stains and veneers or high-quality thermofoil.
- Buy matching moldings and trim to cover any gaps for a built-in custom look.
- Order extra hinge plates, cam locks, keys, shelf pegs, drawer slides, and hardware.
- Plan workflow for installation and have all tools needed for assembly.
- Read manufacturer instructions thoroughly before beginning installation.
- Take your time assembling cabinets with care for proper alignment and function.
Are Stock, Semi-Custom, or Full Custom Cabinets Best?
Beyond choosing a retailer, another decision to make when cabinet shopping is what production method you want for your new cabinets:
The most affordable option, stock cabinets are pre-manufactured in standard box sizes and door styles. Inventory is produced in bulk and limited options keep costs down. Stock cabinets include most RTA and in-stock models.
Offering more flexibility, semi-custom cabinets are made only after an order is placed. Customers can select from a wider range of sizes, finishes, storage options and design elements for a more tailored look.
Full Custom Cabinets
Fully customized cabinets are built from scratch per your unique specifications. Choose from limitless premium woods, stains, door designs, sizes, and details. Highest quality comes at the highest price point.
Stock RTA cabinets provide the best balance of affordability and customization for most homeowners. Set yourself up for a successful purchase by measuring precisely, reviewing cabinet specs, and ordering everything needed for complete installation.
Common Questions When Purchasing RTA Cabinets
For those considering ready-to-assemble cabinetry for their home, there are a number of common questions that arise:
Are RTA cabinets high quality and durable?
Yes, when purchased through reputable retailers, RTA cabinets are constructed from quality hardwoods, plywood, and composites using sturdy manufacturing techniques. Most have hardwood veneer doors and drawer fronts and last for many years with proper installation and care.
Can I install RTA cabinets on my own?
While professional installation is recommended for some, with the right skills, tools, time, and help, DIYers can install RTA cabinets successfully themselves by thoroughly reading the manufacturer’s instructions. Patience is key.
How accurate do my measurements need to be?
Precise measurements are crucial for a custom RTA cabinet order, as a mistake of even 1/4″ can prevent cabinets from fitting. Laser measuring tools provide the most accuracy. Re-check measurements multiple times.
Should I assemble cabinets before installing?
Most experts recommend fully assembling cabinets before hanging them. This allows you to ensure everything fits together and operate doors, drawers, and mechanisms properly prior to mounting on walls.
What should I use to mount and secure RTA cabinets?
Proper fasteners are critical. Use cleats, ledger boards, and supports to adequately hang wall cabinets. Secure base cabinets through the cabinet rail or back panel, not just the bottom.
How are RTA cabinets shipped?
RTA cabinets ship disassembled in flat boxes via major freight carriers. Multiple packages are typical for full kitchen sets. Inspect boxes thoroughly for damage before signing. Report issues immediately.
Should I hire contractors to install RTA cabinets?
If DIY installation seems daunting, hiring kitchen remodeling contractors experienced with cabinetry provides expertise measuring, ordering, assembling, hanging, leveling, and adjusting cabinets properly. Peace of mind can be worth the cost.
Doing the homework ahead of time to understand what’s involved in RTA cabinet purchases will set you up for a successful installation. Seek help from experts if needed.
Deciding Between Wood or Thermofoil Cabinets
One of the most important cabinet decisions is choosing a finish. Wood cabinets offer a classic, natural look that’s custom looking. Thermofoil cabinets provide added durability at lower cost. Key differences include:
- Made from solid hardwood or veneers over wood products
- Stained, painted, glazed, rubbed, or distressed finishes
- Show wear over time, requiring occasional refinishing
- Cost more than thermofoil cabinets
- Resale value higher than thermofoils
- Vinyl laminate heat-fused to MDF or particleboard
- More resistant to chips, scratches, and moisture
- Seamless corners and clean lines
- Large color and pattern selection
- Affordable, uniform cabinet construction
- Limited ability to refinish or change style later
Ultimately, wood cabinets make the best long-term investment for those who can afford the initial spend. Thermofoils serve as a very cost-effective option for rentals, temporary spaces, and those budget conscious.
Setting a Realistic Budget for Your Cabinetry
One of the first steps when planning a kitchen or bath remodel is setting an overall budget. Cabinetry alone can account for 30-50% of total remodeling costs. Be sure to allocate a sufficient portion of your total budget to cabinet expenditures:
- Stock RTA cabinets: $75 – $250 per linear foot
- Semi-custom cabinets: $200 – $500 per linear foot
- Full custom cabinets: $500+ per linear foot
Factor in additional costs for cabinet hardware, molding and trim, lighting, countertops and installation fees. Hidden expenses can quickly balloon budgets, so build in at least 15% contingency above initial estimates. Know your total budget limits before starting to request quotes or place cabinet orders to avoid surprises down the road. Affordable financing can help spread payments over time if needed.
Choosing Cabinet Hardware and Accessories
Don’t overlook the importance of cabinet hardware like knobs, pulls, and hinges when purchasing your RTA cabinetry. These finishing touches greatly impact aesthetics and function. Consider coordinating finishes and styles between:
Cabinet Knobs and Pulls
- Brushed nickel, oil rubbed bronze, and matte black are popular
- Match other metallic finishes like faucets and lighting
- Pulls easier to grip than knobs for those with disabilities/arthritis
Sink and Drawer Hardware
- Look for soft-close slides for ultimate convenience
- Full extension slides maximize drawer access
- Hands-free electronic faucets are ideal
- Concealed hinges provide a clean, seamless look
- Self-closing hinges ensure doors shut fully
- Soft-close hinges prevent slamming and noise
Don’t forget functional organizers, roll-outs, lazy susans, and other accessories tailored to your storage needs. Take time selecting finishing touches that complete the look and utility of your cabinets.
Using an Experienced Contractor for Installation
Ready-to-assemble cabinets make the process of installing new cabinetry much simpler compared to traditional cabinet builds. However, RTA cabinet installation still requires proper skills to complete correctly:
- Correctly hang wall cabinets by securing to studs and using cleats for support. Improperly hung cabinets lead to skewed doors and drawers.
- Ensure all cabinets are perfectly level and plumb. Even small deviations quickly compound.
- Make adjustments to eliminate any gaps between cabinet boxes. Caulk and scribes create seamless built-in cabinetry.
- Install filler strips, end panels, and trim in the proper sequence for the best finished appearance.
- Adjust doors/drawers to ensure proper alignment and operation without binding or rubbing.
Reputable contractors are well-versed in the intricacies of cabinet installations. The costs of hiring a quality professional to get your new RTA cabinets properly adjusted and flawlessly functional are well worth it. Trying to cut corners with a novice installer can lead to problems and defects you’ll have to live with.
Caring for Your RTA Cabinets Long-Term
Once your ready-to-assemble cabinets are installed, proper care and maintenance will add to their lifespan and keep them looking like new:
- Use cabinet organizers and lazy susans to maximize interior storage space.
- Avoid spraying liquids directly on cabinet faces. Wipe up spills immediately.
- Install child safety latches on lower cabinets to prevent access.
- Clean cabinet surfaces using only a soft sponge or cloth with mild soap and water.
- Re-stain or paint cabinets every few years to refresh wood surfaces.
- Lubricate cabinet hinges, slides, and moving parts annually.
- Gently realign cabinet doors/drawers if they become slightly off-square over time.
Well-made RTA cabinets installed properly can last 15-25 years with proper care. Taking steps to keep your cabinets organized, dry, and maintained will enhance both their appearance and function for years to come.
The decision of where to purchase ready-to-assemble cabinets for your home improvement project is an important one that can impact your satisfaction greatly. By understanding the pros and cons of buying RTA cabinets both online and locally, carefully evaluating retailer options, setting a realistic budget, and planning installation details, you can set your cabinet upgrade on the right path. Focus on finding high-quality cabinets made to last within your budget from trusted brands. The convenience of RTA cabinets provides a great value for achieving the look of custom cabinetry installs. With your newly upgraded kitchen or bath cabinets, you’ll be glad to say: I bought them right here!