Any complaints about RTA chinese cabinets?

chinchetteFebruary 9, 2013

I'm doing a flip house. I don't want to pass on anything bad to the buyer. I read good and bad, but mostly the bad is people saying they are bad without particular experience. I do understand that we don't know what they use in the plywood and the finish.

Does anyone have direct experience with the cabinets over a period of time?


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We had the opportunity to carry Chinese cabinets. One brand looked OK at first glance. But put inside a closed room for a couple of days, they reeked. Wasn't a formaldehyde type smell either. Kinda of a swampy smell. Another had one of the most horrible looking finishes that I've seen. Another just was obviously poorly built.

We aren't carrying any Chinese cabinets. None passed my scrutiny.

Look at doing a budget American brand like Aristokraft instead. Quick shipping and economical. It's what I used for my own personal office in the new showroom, although I did upgrade to all plywood for the better deflection rating so they could handle the heavy spec books better.

I did a 8' section of the basic construction for a coffee service station in our new showroom. It has a sink base, a 4 drawer base and 2 regular door and drawer, all with 42" high cabinets, crown molding, fluted fillers and rosettes. The total was $1700 in a Sasparilla oak that is going to look terrific with the Formica 180FX Calcatta Marble top and Blanco Silgranite sink in black. If I had chosen just basic cabinets without all of those upgrades, it would have been around $1200.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 2:28PM
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LWO, when it's done can you please post some photos here? I'd really like to see how the sink looks with the countertop.

Sorry for the semi-OT, chinchette.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 3:00PM
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Anybody have them for several years and holding up?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 10:44PM
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We have several college rental properties that we installed RTA cabinets in (some have been in for about 10 years). The cabinets have held up great. I have been using them for rental properties, and some handyman jobs I do on the side, and I really don't have any complaints other than the occasional piece that gets damaged in transit. I would imagine experiences will vary based on what cabinet company you are buying them from, but I have no complaints.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 8:17AM
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>some have been in for about 10 years

But ten years ago, would they have been Chinese?

(LWO, I'd still love to see pics of that counter.)

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 9:58AM
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Yeah.. believe it or not, they have been manufacturing RTA cabinets for longer than that, but they really didn't become super popular until recently. I think have some pictures for each of the kitchens, since we had to have pictures for the real estate agent. Are you looking for lighter or darker colors? I will check my computer for older pics.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 10:05AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

We had a hard time finding any company that had ALL the sizes we needed for our kitchen, so we went semi-custom American Made.

They would have odd sizes in stock, and it would be a 6 week wait for the others, so that was discouraging, and our contractor didn't have confidence in them.

They are easy to spot. We looked at some "flippers," in our recent home search, and we didn't buy because we'd have paid a high price for a home, only to tear it all out and do it over.

We bought a short sale and are giving it the good treatment it deserves because we intend to live there for many years.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 10:06AM
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We did our kitchen with Chinese RTAs (GHI is the manufacturer). It's only been 9 months or so but I have no complaints. I'm sure the quality isn't on par with $20k cabinets, but they only cost 25% of that. We had them in the house and many of them assembled for months before the reno and I wasn't bothered by any strange odors.

My husband also did his parents' kitchen with RTAs about 10 years ago (lovely golden oak, arched raised paneled doors--LOL) and they've held up fantastically for them. Those were bought locally from Grossman's Bargain Outlet. Grossman's also carries the GHI ones we ended up getting, but I got them online from RTA Cabinet Store cheaper.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 4:07PM
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A friend of ours has a kitchen with Chinese cabinets. It has been in for 5 years. Looks just fine to me; they are very happy with it.

Personally, I'd rather keep people employed here than in China.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 8:12PM
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Don't buy chinese kitchen cabinets!!! These cabinets contain up to 100% more formaldehyde than american manufacturers are allowed to use. The formaldehyde content is so high that in three years it breaks down the glue in the plywood and the plywood delaminates. I have witnessed this as I used to assemble these cabinets. Many of these plywood sides were already delamanated before they left the shop. When I would get a splinter it would get infected quickly. I also contracted a skin disorder that I can't identify or get rid of. Over two million children die in China in a year from leukemia and cancer due from the exposure to the formeldahyde. If you have these cabinets and can't replace them, keep the room cool as heat releases formeldahyde at a faster rate.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 8:37PM
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We debated this on our project, and what finally made our minds up is going to a few open houses here and there, and we could tell instantly which RTA cabinets they had selected. There aren't that many options of features, their finishes are nice, but the ones we saw all kind of look the same. Same gloss, a general lack of umph I guess I could describe my feelings as.

I agree with Caliente63, buy American when we can these days.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 4:38PM
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If you're gonna go budget RTA, why not Ikea?

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 4:52PM
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Ikea cabinets look nice, but they are traditionally made of particle board boxes, rather than plywood. In fact, most American made cabinet lines use particle board unless you upgrade (Kraftmaid is notorious for this). The cabinets look great, but are not constructed as well.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 4:58PM
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Sophie Wheeler

There is an unreasonable prejudice against particle board. Good particle board is 4x better than bad plywood. Any moisture event that will damage particle board will damage plywood. You just won't see the delamination quite as easily.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 5:06PM
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Agree with holly that anti-particleboard prejudice is unfounded. The reason most cabinet lines use particleboard unless you upgrade is because it works well and it's less expensive. I just ripped out a 35 year old kitchen and the particleboard cabinet boxes themselves were in perfect structural condition. And I'm sure countless folks on this board have had similar experiences.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 5:32PM
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I realized that I never included the completed pic of the Aristokraft coffee bar.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 8:09PM
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