RTA Cabinets- Has anybody used them?

iowa_garden_girlApril 25, 2010

We are in the process of renovating our entire home ourselves. We have finished the exterior of our home, the bedrooms, and the bathrooms. We are now working on the kitchen, dining room, and living room. I am a regular viewer of HGTV, DIY, etc. I have seen them use RTA cabinets (ready to assemble) on different shows and the home owners always seem happy with them. I have looked into RTA cabinets on the internet and found that they are usually made of ½ - ¾ inch plywood and can come with upgraded drawer glides for as low as $1,400 for 10 linear feet of cabinets. This is far cheaper and better quality than what you see as the lowest priced cabinets at your DIY store. Does anybody have any experience with them? Thanks!

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I used to use those years ago. Back then they were made of pressed sawdust and covered with plastic paper thin covering. I was not impressed by the construction or the longevity. Once I bought a table saw and some basic woodworking tools, i found I could build similar looking stuff that was far stronger, longer lasting, and better looking.

I have helped assemble some of that kind of thing a couple of times in the last several years. I am still not impressed.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 11:19PM
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I made my kitchen cabinets from Conestoga. The offer a range of options and upgrades so you can get cabinets that range from Merillat-quallity to Omega Dynasty quality.
Their doors are all of the best quality of workmanship.


Here is a link that might be useful: Conestoga dealer catalog

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 8:00AM
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handymac I'm sure you are right that making them ourselves would be a better quality and we did think about it, but we have been working on our home for 2-1/2 years now and we are ready to be done.
sombreuil_mongrel thanks for the pics. Your cabinets look great!
When we started our home improvement project our children were 6 & 9, now they're 9 & 12. They are ready to have friends sleep over again, time to go camping, and time to have fun at home with mom & dad. They won't want that for too much longer. I just want to be done. I don't mind getting new pricier cabinets again in 10-15 years. I would like to know that the RTA cabinets are better than the cheap basic model at the hardware store, the way they appear to be. Thanks again:)

Here is a link that might be useful: RTA Cabinet Store

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 11:10PM
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I used Scherr's Custom Cabinets (a custom RTA cabinet company located in North Dakota) in my DIY kitchen remodel and was really happy with the results. Here's a link to some pictures of my new kitchen:

While it certainly is possible to buy RTA cabinets and get a well-made, sturdy cabinet that can be a beautiful part of a new kitchen, it is also possible to buy RTA cabinets that are engineered to be a cheap as possible and end up with a nightmare as in the following post:


Too bad the images in that thread are gone, some were really awful.

Also in the following post the poster had problems with the very company you linked to.


It seems she was led to that site by articles that were written by someone claiming to be a contractor or remodeler who had used those cabinets, but who seems to actually have been an employee of that company.

So don't take the results that Casey and myself ended up with as an indication that all RTA cabinets are high quality. I'm sure there are some that are as bad or worse that the cheapest you can find at the big box stores.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 3:13PM
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I was dreaming yesterday and window shopping for other things than cabinets, but while I was there anyway I might as well take a look. Lowes has and I believe Home Depot has cabinets that are already together except the end pieces and they are available. All you do to my understanding is put them on the wall and secure them the way you normally would any cabinet. This would be more costly then the ready to assemble, but I believe a lot less headache in the long run and I have had experience with other ready-to-assemple furniture and I personally think you have a lot of headaches to come if you go that route. I know that I have had natural inclinations to put stuff together.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 9:59AM
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Lowes has great RTA cabinets....all plywood sides, and 3/4" plywood shelving. And dovetailed drawers. They come in a "thin" box and you assemble. A thousand times better than the pre-assembled particle board stuff they sell right next to them (with the particle board shelves than warp). I used them for my laundry room and am very pleased. Easy to assemble...after you learn the first one, they take 5 minutes to build. They had metal clamps that slid together and locked.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 10:51PM
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Lowes also has some nice "off the shelf" stock cabinets that area already assembled and not expensive.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 11:25AM
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And so cars and airplanes are next. After that, they'll be making our children for us.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 8:59PM
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I've been happy with the IKEA ones I used in my daughters play room. Love the full pull out drawers and soft close. The inside drawers are metal and so sturdy. Looks brand new still after 2 1/2 months of a 3 year old using them.

I used some in my old house from home depot and the quality was not the same. You certainly can save money on using them, but realize like others said that not all quality is the same.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 6:05PM
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I looked at both Home Depot and Lowes and I did like them but they were expensive. So I searched online and found the rta cabinets. I didnt know what they were at first so I did some more research and I narrowed it down to thertastore.net and cabinetsdirectrta.com . I found the pricing on cabinetsdirectrta.com 10-30% less. So I called them and spoke to Andrew who explained to me they are less then there competitors because they directly import there cabinets from Asia so there is no middle man. Since they are based in Chicago like myself I visited there warehouse and was shocked to see they where the same construction as Home Depo's. While there warehouse isn't as nice as the big box stores I was impressed with the quality and the price. And here is my kitchen pictures as we are installing!

Here is a link that might be useful: Cabinets Direct Link

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 8:17AM
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I going to be remodeling my kitchen so I went and looked at some RTA cabinets that a guy in San Mateo, CA is selling. I don't know a lot about cabinets but they look and sound good:

"They are soft white Alaskan alder, dovetail drawers with soft close full extension under mount ball bearing slides, also has soft close feature on door hinges, plywood box frame, no particle board, 3/4" thick full depth shelves."


Best part they are priced right. So what am I missing? Is this too good to be true? What should I be questioning?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 10:44PM
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There are definitely good and bad RTA cabinets (even the company that bob_cville mentioned has their cabinets made overseas). If you are going with RTA cabinets, I would stay away from frameless cabinets and anything that has particle board (unfortunately that rules out most of what Ikea sells even though they have some great door styles).

Particle board or fiberboard will tend to warp and sag over time, and the frameless aspect of the cabinet will make that even worse.

Most of the RTA companies are getting them from the same exact place, so there really isn't much difference between them all, except the customer service and whether or not they actually stock the cabinets themselves. I know there are a couple that actually stock and manufacture their own cabinets: aaadistributors.com, rtacabinetstore.com, cshardware.com, sunnywood.biz...and a couple of others. The rest are just reselling them.

If you are thinking about buying RTA cabinets, here is a semi-entertaining article about reasons why you may NOT want to buy them

Here is a link that might be useful: Reasons NOT to Buy RTA Kitchen Cabinets

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 8:12AM
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RTA cabinets are an excellent option if you are remodeling on a budget ,or looking to save money over the inflated costs of name brand semi-custom cabinets. I did a lot of homework last year when I was shopping for cabinets and was surprised to find that many of these semi custom lines didn't even have all plywood construction as a standard feature. I ultimately decided to go with RTA cabinets due to the construction quality/savings and I love my new kitchen. However not all RTA cabinets are created equal, a few things to look for:

1 - all plywood construction(at least 1/2" box and 3/4" shelf)
2 - Find out how they are assembled - metal interlocking brackets are stronger than cam-lock assembly
3 - Drawer system - best on the market is undermount soft closing full extension dovetail drawers
4 - Look for matching finished interior, sides, and toe kicks
5 - CARB 2 compliant - California Air and Resource Board complaint - this warrants the cabinets do not have any harmful emissions such as formaldehyde.
6 - base cabinet structural features such as I-beam construction and wood corner brackets

Here is a link that might be useful: Quality RTA Cabinets

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 1:32PM
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As a licensed GC building new homes and renovations for almost 30yrs, I've bought, built and installed a lot of cabinets. A couple of years back I had a burn-down to rebuild on a tight budget so I opted to skip the pre-assembled cabinetry and try the RTA route.

Though quite dismayed that every box included a big 'Made in China' tag on the inside (didn't see that mentioned on the vendor's website anywhere but I was not surprised to see it), I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the products and the precise machining of parts. Thru the entire order (almost $4k) I only had to modify 2 components to correct factory errors. My experience with major name brands of pre-made cabinets (and local custom made units) boasted no better average than that, and in fact were sometimes much worse.

One of the things that impressed me the most was the fit of the drawer dovetails. Though the instructions did not call for glue (relying on a dry fit lock joint), I put a drop of glue on each pin for a little extra 'insurance', only to have most of it squeezed out at assembly as the joints fit so tightly!

Other pro's: great finish (these were glazed and highlighted), top notch door hinges and self-closing drawer guides, all plywood construction. This level of door style and finish would have easily been triple this cost in a pre-assembled name brand cabinet.

Perhaps the greatest 'pro' was that I placed the actual order myself so I got all the parts that I needed to do the job done the first time around,and that normally doesn't happen with a cabinet order placed thru any retailer I've dealt with.

Con's: fillers were only 1/2' thick (factory cab's are 3/4') so they were a little harder to hit drilling blind thru a cabinet side, and the actual clear coat outer finish rubbed off of a couple of raised door edges, though I didn't see it happen and don't know how hard they got 'rubbed'.

It took about 2 days to assemble and set all the cabinets working by myself (about 18' in kitchen +7' in laundry). The customer loved them.

I would use these cabinets again!

Here is a link that might be useful: Profitt Custom Homes

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 3:18PM
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