RTA Cabinets – The Best ULTIMATE Guide !

Have old cabinets? Looking for a way to get amazing cabinets, but not spend a ton of money doing it? Getting your cabinets replaced, can be an extremely expensive cost…but it doesn’t have to be.
You have options and today, with this ultimate guide to ready to assemble cabinets. If you don’t know what RTA cabinets are, over the course of this guide I will show you:

  • What RTA cabinets are.
  • Advantages and disadvantages of a DIY project or if you are a contractor..
  • How RTA cabinets are made.
  • What to look for in RTA kitchen cabinets.
  • How to choose RTA cabinets.
  • How to install RTA kitchen cabinets – Especially in a kitchen remodel

Follow me as I will break down this process and turn you into a “Mean, Lean, cabinet-assembling, machine!”
Ok, let’s get into it.

What are RTA Cabinets?

rta cabinets

RTA cabinets are cabinets that are READY-TO-ASSEMBLE. They come pre-cut, with all of the necessary screws, nail, and bolts to assemble them yourself. No different than any other piece of furniture you would buy for kitchen design project or your home.

Why would you want to buy Ready to Assemble Cabinets?

Why? The simple answer to this is the price. However, there are many factors that you should consider when purchasing these types of cabinets to make sure they are what YOU want.

Let’s go over some pros and cons of them:

Pros and cons of rta cabinets for a DIY Person


  1. Price

Like I mentioned before they are drastically cheaper due to no labor cost from the cabinet company. Most of all, the difference in this price can be anywhere from 2000-4000 dollars.

Why so much?

This is because it costs a lot of money to have a company come out and install those cabinets.

  1. Convenience

Being able to pick out the exact type and color of your cabinets, is one of the best things about RTA cabinets. Therefore, this can help simplify your home remodeling plan.


  1. Some DIY skills

While the cabinets are very easy to put together, a little knowledge on how a screwdriver and basic tools work is a plus. You don’t need to be Mr./Mrs. Fix-It, but if you can work a wrench, I think you’ll be just fine.

  1. Limited Types of Cabinets

While it is nice to be able to pick out the cabinets you like, their variety to choose from can be restricted.

What about if I am a contractor?

RTA cabinets for contractors can be one of the most practical items to buy as a home contractor.

Hiring out cabinet companies to build and install cabinets is:

Time-consuming    AND Expensive

This is because you are waiting on the cabinet installers to complete the work which could end up costing you, even more money if the cabinets aren’t finished on time, causing you to be frustrated.

Save your time and money by buying RTA cabinets.

Advantages of RTA cabinets for contractor:

They can save you:

  1. Time

Your team can install these cabinets in a short amount of time

  1. Convenience

Not only are these readily available, but if needed in bulk for multiple houses, you will be able to order and not have to wait weeks or even months for custom orders. This can reduce your completion time on projects.

Cons for the contractor

  1. Custom cabinets for expensive homes

While these cabinets are ideal for most homes, this might not be a suitable solution for expensive homes, where custom features are expected.

How to choose RTA cabinets

Not all cabinets are created EQUAL.

The understanding between the difference in the type of wood used, finishes, and just overall quality will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Learn to spot the differences so you can make the right decision for your home.

What to look for in RTA kitchen cabinets

  1. Cabinet Frame

Typically, the frame of the cabinets are made from plywood as the base and are made with what is called a “cam lock” feature. This is used by locking the wood in from the opposing piece or in shorter terms.

 It is like putting together a piece of IKEA furniture, where screws are used to fasten on a turn.

This is used to help make the installation of the cabinets much easier.

Once the cabinet box is made, they use a veneer coating for the outside of the box and an interior coating to help protect the inside of the cabinets. There typically is an inside veneer coating on the inside of the cabinet as well.

Now, let’s focus on the veneer layer.

What exactly is veneer?

The veneer coating is a design that is ADDED to the frame of the cabinet.

It is typically used in two formats:

Wooden Veneer – where the design is pressed on a thin sheet of particle board or medium density board

Melamine Veneer – This is also referred to as thermofoil.

This is where a thin layer of veneer is heated on a thin piece of wood.

While both are common for these types of cabinets, there is no noticeable difference on which one to use.

You should choose whichever style cabinet YOU prefer.

Besides, Veneer is designed to be able to configure the look you want for your cabinets. You can start looking at any of the following as possible options for your cabinets: White Oak, Birch, Walnut, Hickory, Pine, and maybe even Bamboo.

The choice is up to you.

  1. Wood Quality

Your typical doors for these types of cabinets are made out of 100% wood. They can come in generally, any kind of wood you would like, but a Russian Birchwood is one of the more common ones.

  1. Accessories

Ever wanted a roll out trays?

Maybe even a spice rack?

You have a wide array of accessories you can choose to add to almost any of the cabinets. Here is a list of just some of the accessories to choose from:

  • Lazy Susans
  • Soft close drawers and doors
  • Built in waste bins grooves
  • Silverware drawer
  • Spice rack/wall
  • Pull out adjustable shelves

and more…

Other considerations.

Look, thing happens every so often, a shelve could break, or a door gets busted; it is always important to find out the information on replacement parts.

How long would it take to get a replacement door?

 Are they in stock?

Are they discontinued?

These are all questions to ask when choosing your rta kitchen cabinets.

 How To Install RTA Cabinets.

rta kitchen cabinets installation

This final part of the guide is intended to be a general outline for how to install rta cabinets as everyone’s situation is a little different.

Where to begin

Step 1: Remove everything in the way of old cabinets.

Don’t skimp on moving things because the fridge is just “close.” You will need to be able to go around everything freely so you can pick up the cabinets and put them in place.

Remove all of the following:

  • Faucet and sink
  • Existing cabinet top
  • Any appliances
  • Existing utilities – Turn both the gas and water offer before deconstruction.
  • Existing cabinets.

Step 2: Evaluate your space

Every kitchen is different. Corners might not be square; walls may be uneven, the floor might not be level. Figuring out this now will help you make the adjustments when you start installing the cabinets.

Step 3: Getting the right measurements.

We want to start out by using a level on the floor to find and label where the bottom of the top cabinets will be. Standard countertop for a standard size cabinet from the floor is 34 1/2″. You need to add 1 1/2″ to account for the size of the countertop bringing your total to 36.” Your typical backsplash size is 18″. Add 36 to that and you get 54″. Meaning, you should have accounted for so far: Base cabinet w/ countertop: 36″ Backsplash: 18″ Measure 54″ across. This is going to be the bottom of your top cabinets.  Measure using a level, making sure there is no crooks or unevenness. Once you have marked off the 54″ on the wall, you are going to need to find the wall studs.


Use a stud finder tool to find them on your wall. They are usually spaced out around every 16″ from the center of the stud to center. You will be aiming to drill in the center once you get your cabinets up.

Once you have found them and marked the 54″ appropriately, you are going to screw a 2×4 support board at the base of your 54″ markings. This is what’s going to help “support” the cabinets when you start mounting the cabinets.

Next step is to have a friend help you pick up the pre-made cabinet and install on top of the support board that you have drilled into the studs.

Use this leverage to then drill your screws from the cabinet to the wall.

Your first cabinet should now be mounted!

Feel accomplished? You should!

Now all that is left is to put on the doors, install the shelves, and remove the support board (Only when you are done installing the rest of the cabinets, silly!)

Final Thoughts

You’ve made it all the way through this post? You get a gold star!

What did you think of the guide? Helpful? Not detailed enough?

Let me know by commenting in the comments section below!

ready to assemble cabinets

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