Kitchen cabinets are one of the most important elements of any kitchen remodel or new construction project. They make up a large portion of the aesthetic appeal and functionality of the space. When shopping for new cabinets, many homeowners opt for Ready-To-Assemble (RTA) options as an affordable and customizable solution. But with so many RTA cabinet brands on the market, how do you know which one to choose? In this comprehensive guide, we will compare the top brands of RTA kitchen cabinets and outline the key factors to consider when selecting the best option for your needs and budget.
What are RTA Cabinets?
RTA, or Ready-To-Assemble cabinets, come packaged with all the cabinet parts and hardware needed for installation. The cabinets arrive in a flat pack with panels, doors, drawers, and hardware. The components simply need to be assembled to create a fully functional cabinet. RTA cabinets typically require basic tools and take less skill to install than custom cabinetry. They allow for an efficient and cost-effective way to remodel your kitchen.
The convenience of RTA comes at a fraction of the cost of custom cabinetry, while still offering style and organizational options. RTA cabinets provide the flexibility to choose your own layout and select customize features like door styles, finishes, organizers and more. They are a great choice if you want to replace old cabinets or redo your entire kitchen without breaking the bank.
Benefits of Choosing RTA Cabinets
There are several compelling reasons to choose RTA cabinets over custom options:
Cost Savings – RTA cabinets provide dramatic savings over custom. According to Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value report, replacing old cabinet boxes with RTA cabinets recoups over 70% of the project cost. They offer great value for the quality.
Convenience – RTA cabinets ship quickly and allow flexible assembly timelines. Since they ship disassembled, RTA cabinets are also easier to transport and fit through tight spaces during installation.
Customization – Although not fully custom, RTA cabinets offer many customizable options like finishes, storage solutions and decorative hardware. This allows you to design a unique look that matches your style.
Quality Materials – Leading RTA brands use quality materials like plywood boxes, soft-close hardware and durable finishes. Choosing a reputable brand ensures you receive well-made cabinets designed to last.
Ease of Installation – RTA cabinets use simple joinery so they can be assembled with basic tools and minimal carpentry skills. The cabinets click and lock together for fast DIY installation.
Factors to Consider When Choosing RTA Cabinets
With many RTA brands to choose from, keep the following factors in mind when selecting the cabinet line that will work best for your kitchen:
The quality of materials and manufacturing has a significant impact on durability and functionality. Be sure to inspect cabinet components closely before purchasing.
Boxes/Frame – The strongest RTA cabinets have plywood side panel construction, rather than particleboard. Dovetail joinery and additional corner bracing add stability.
Drawers – Look for full extension drawer glides that allow the drawer to be pulled out completely for full access. Drawers should have durable bottoms made of plywood or treated composites.
Doors and Drawer Fronts – Quality cabinet doors will be made with medium density fiberboard (MDF) or plywood, with veneers, laminates or finishes that resist chipping and warping.
Hardware – Soft-close hinges and full extension drawer glides operate smoothly and quietly. Sturdy drawer glides are rated for a minimum of 75 lbs.
The finish protects the wood from moisture and damage while providing aesthetic appeal. Consider how well the finish resists scratching, moisture, and UV light. Common RTA cabinet finishes include:
- Laminate – Most affordable, resists scratching but can chip along edges
- Wood veneers – Durable and repairable real wood finish
- Thermofoil – Very durable plastic laminate applied with heat + pressure
- Painted – Custom painted look, some lines offer multiple color options
- Stained – Shows off wood grain, multiple stain options often available
Planning your storage needs will help you select optimal cabinet sizes and configurations. Consider incorporating elements like:
- Lazy susans – Corner storage that glides out for easy access
- Tray and roll out dividers – Manage clutter in base cabinets
- Tilt out hampers – Easy access to trash or recycle bins
- Wine racks, niche shelving – Specialty storage solutions
RTA cabinets are available in a range of standard sizes and configurations including:
- Full height wall cabinets – 30” or 36” tall with top molding
- Base cabinets – 34 1⁄2” tall standard, sink base, drawer base, etc.
- Tall cabinets / pantry units – 84” or 90” tall narrow cabinets
- Island and peninsula units – With or without finished ends
- Fillers and trim – Shaped end panels cover uneven walls
Prices can range dramatically based on the quality of materials, construction and features included. Be wary of prices that seem too good to be true. Investing in better quality often pays off long-term. Expect to pay:
- Economy – Particleboard boxes, limited sizes. Starts under $100 per cabinet box.
- Standard – Plywood boxes, veneer finishes. Around $200-500 per cabinet.
- Semi-custom – Durable finishes, more sizing options. $300-800+ per cabinet.
- Accessories – Add $100-300 for specialty storage and hardware.
Now that we’ve covered how to assess cabinet construction, options and pricing, let’s compare some of the top ready-to-assemble kitchen cabinet brands.
Top 6 Brands of RTA Kitchen Cabinets
1. Cabinet Joint
Cabinet Joint is one of the fastest growing RTA cabinet brands due to their quality construction at reasonable price points. Their line includes over 65 cabinet sizes to customize your layout.
Quality: Cabinet Joint uses furniture grade plywood constructed with pocket holes, ensuring strength and durability. The finish is a UV-cured acrylic that resists scratching and moisture.
Customization: Available finishes include laminates, wood veneers, and UV painted acrylic options in numerous colors. Accessory enhancements like glass doors, molding profiles, drawers dividers and more can be added.
Cost: A mid-priced brand, expect to pay $350 – $800 per cabinet box, plus accessories.
Notable Features: Soft-close doors and drawers, dovetail drawer boxes, full extension undermount glides able to hold 100 lbs. Lifetime warranty.
2. Barker Cabinets
This vertically integrated company prides itself on quality construction with its U.S. manufacturing and lumberyards. Barker offers a good selection of storage enhancements to maximize kitchen functionality.
Quality: Barker constructs cabinets with 3⁄4” solid wood face frames attached with pocket screws. Box sides are 3⁄4” birch plywood.
Customization: Choose from oak, maple, cherry or thermofoil door styles. Add roll outs, tray dividers, wine racks and other storage options.
Cost: Barker is competitively priced in the standard RTA market, ranging $250 – $600 per cabinet.
Notable Features: Soft-close doors and drawers, dovetail joinery, lifetime warranty on the box construction.
This tech-savvy company has robust online design tools to visualize your kitchen and streamline ordering RTA cabinets directly to your home.
Quality: CliqStudios provides solid wood doors and 3⁄4” plywood cabinet boxes. Finishes include maple, oak, thermofoil and UV paint.
Customization: Fully customize doors, drawers and finishes on their intuitive 3D design platform. Add accessories like roll outs, glass doors, and under cabinet lighting.
Cost: Competitively priced, cabinets range $200 – $500 with frequent sales and specials.
Notable Features: Lifetime warranty on cabinetry. Advanced online planning and ordering process.
4. Hampton Bay / Home Depot
As Home Depot’s house brand, Hampton Bay offers affordable RTA cabinets conveniently available at the home improvement chain. They offer a nice variety of options, especially for stock cabinets.
Quality: Hampton Bay features plywood sides with pressed wood doors and drawer fronts. Some lines include soft-close hinges and glides.
Customization: Choose from in-stock, semi-custom, or full custom design. Options include glass doors, finished ends panels, and storage enhancements.
Cost: In-stock prices start under $100 per cabinet. Semi-custom runs $200 – $500 per cabinet.
Notable Features: Convenient availability through Home Depot. Lifetime warranty on boxes, 5 years on doors and drawers.
The iconic Swedish furnishing company is known for their affordable, modular RTA cabinets sized for European dimensions. Great for small or rental kitchens.
Quality: IKEA bases cabinet boxes on particleboard with foil or wood veneer finishes. Hinges are adjustable but not soft-close.
Customization: A wide range of organizing accessories like shelves, racks and bins can be added. Doors come in stained, painted or integrated styles.
Cost: IKEA hits the lowest price points, with cabinets starting under $100. Full kitchen around $2k – $4k.
Notable Features: Cost-conscious product line. Compact sizes suit small kitchens. Easy to disassemble and take with you.
6. Kraftmaid Cabinetry
Kraftmaid brings semi-custom styling and quality to their RTA cabinetry line, so you can buy directly online at competitive price points.
Quality: Constructed with solid hardwood doors, 3⁄4” furniture grade plywood cabinet boxes, and soft-close hardware.
Customization: Order cabinets fully assembled or ready-to-assemble. Accessorize with glass door inserts, spice pull outs and storage options.
Cost: Price per cabinet ranges $250 – $750, depending on features selected.
Notable Features: High-end materials like solid wood doors. Coordinating moldings and trim.
Key Takeaways – Selecting the Best RTA Cabinets
When selecting RTA cabinets, follow these guidelines:
- Inspect construction – opt for plywood over particleboard, dovetail joinery.
- Choose durable finishes that resist moisture, UV light and scratching.
- Add storage solutions like roll outs, drawer organizers and lazy susans.
- For cost savings, opt for RTA over custom cabinetry.
- Order samples to view quality of materials and finishes.
- Consider delivery timelines and installation requirements.
- Read reviews and purchase from reputable brands that offer warranties.
Investing in well-constructed cabinets made with quality materials will ensure your kitchen remodel will last for years to come. Carefully measuring your space, choosing cabinets sizes and layout wisely, and customizing with smart storage options will result in a high-functioning kitchen designed around your needs. With some savvy shopping skills, RTA cabinets give homeowners the ability to achieve beautiful, high-quality results on a budget.
Frequently Asked Questions about RTA Kitchen Cabinets
Many homeowners considering RTA cabinets have additional questions as they weigh their options. Here we address some of the most common queries.
Are RTA cabinets of good quality?
Quality varies widely among RTA cabinet brands. Leading brands like Cabinet Joint use furniture grade plywood and quality joinery in their construction, so they are quite durable. However, cheaper lines often cut corners with cheaper materials like particleboard. As with most products, you get what you pay for when it comes to quality.
How much do RTA cabinets cost?
RTA cabinets range dramatically in cost from $50 – $1000 per cabinet. Average costs fall around:
- Economy brands: $100 – $250
- Mid-range RTA: $250-$500
- Semi-custom RTA: $500-$1000
Expect to invest $5,000 to $15,000 for a full kitchen, not including countertops and installation.
What are the best RTA cabinet brands?
Some of the best RTA cabinet brands based on quality, selection and value include Cabinet Joint, Barker Cabinets, KraftMaid, and CliqStudios. See our top picks outlined above for comparison.
Should I assemble RTA cabinets myself?
If you are moderately handy with tools, assembly of RTA cabinets is a reasonable DIY project. Brands include detailed instructions and provide customer support. However, you can also pay an additional fee to have your cabinets professionally assembled prior to delivery.
How long do RTA cabinets take to assemble?
On average, it takes about 20-30 minutes to assemble each base cabinet. A full kitchen could take 15-40 hours for assembly, not including installation. Having an extra set of hands helps speed up the process.
Can RTA cabinets look high end?
Absolutely! Well constructed cabinets with solid wood doors, quality finishes and coordinating moldings can definitely achieve a luxury, custom look at a fraction of the price. Mixing some stainless steel or glass accessories adds style.
How much does it cost to install RTA cabinets?
Installation fees for RTA cabinets generally range $150-$200 per cabinet. This includes delivery, assembly, fitting, leveling, and anchoring cabinets to walls. Some choose to DIY install to save costs.
While custom cabinetry provides the ultimate dream kitchen for some, quality RTA cabinetry makes kitchen remodels accessible and affordable without sacrificing style or functionality. Taking the time to educate yourself on construction, smart storage solutions and reputable brands means you can shop confidently. Ordering sample cabinets can help customize the perfect components for your space. With some strategic planning, handy DIY skills, and help from an experienced kitchen designer, RTA cabinets can transform your cooking space beautifully and cost-effectively.