RTA Cabinet Help

monkeystomachOctober 13, 2010

Hi Everyone,

I have been doing a lot of research on this site (and others on the net) because I need to replace my kitchen cabinets. To save money I plan on purchasing RTA cabinets and installing them myself.

Everything that I have read says that I need to stay away from Chinese made cabinets, but is that completely true?

I know that Scherr�s makes great cabinets, and I am waiting to get a quote back from them, but I fear that it still might be too much for my budget.

What are some great, reputable RTA cabinets on the market? Who are the American Made RTA cabinet makers? I am looking for a light/medium color Shaker style cabinet.

Has anyone dealt with MEI Kitchens?



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We purchased Conestoga RTA cabinets thru Rick at www.cabinetauthority.com. We've been happy. They offer a lot of different sizes and you can also order custom cabinet sizes as well. Hope that helps.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 7:12PM
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I am evaluating this myself. I had a few unique things I was looking for and Scherrs so far can do it all. I am almost at the process of asking for a quite. I have some prelim pricing from local cabinet guy but wanted to see what it would cost for the RTA route.

Scherr's cabinets are frameless

Conestoga's are face framed

IKEA is another one that many people love. They com with Blum hardware and are actually highly regarded. But you loose customization abilities. Although I hear people have gotten pretty creative on the Ikea fans web pages.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 8:39PM
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Do a search on this site for "daveinorlando". he's posted tons of info on value cabinet lines, including reputable US made RTA cabinets. good luck!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 10:24PM
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Would you be kind enough to share some details your experience with us? i am looking for painted RTA and would love to know what you thought of the whole experience.
Thank you!

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 6:03PM
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"Everything that I have read says that I need to stay away from Chinese made cabinets, but is that completely true? "

Very little that you read is "completely true" everyone always has an agenda to drive and crafts their statements to meet that.

With regard to the China cabinets: what are they going to offer you that would make the risk acceptable? There are plenty of cheap cabinets made in the USA if price is your main concern.

Chinese drywall looked like the next best thing to illegal labor in the construction industry a few years ago .....................until folks found out it made them sick and corroded their electrical and plumbing systems inside there walls. You should ask all those people if saving $600 on their home was worth it now.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 1:37PM
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I'm in a similar situation and have tried to do lots of research for RTA options. I got a quote from Scherr's, but I was disappointed their standard offering is particle board sides and not plywood. For the price, I was expecting more. Heck, Kraftmaid from HD was less than Sherr's.

I want frameless cabinets, so I just realized that now rules out Conestoga. At this point I'm stumped about quality frameless RTA cabinets.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2010 at 1:55PM
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There's no such thing as a free lunch. If you wan't quality, you will not find it cheap. If you want cheap, you won't find quality.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is to wait. Accumulate more funds to bring to the project and do more planning.

And despite the very successful marketing campaigns to convince the public that "furniture board" isn't "real wood", it's every bit as much "real wood" as any plywood. Good quality furniture board beats cheap quality plywood anyday and twice on Sundays.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2010 at 4:16PM
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But its VERY easy to over pay for cheapo quality. Just because someone wants a lot of $$ for their cabinets does not mean its better quality. So the trick is finding a good deal on quality without over paying..thus the question about RTA outfits.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2010 at 5:07PM
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I must say, I have Scherr's and they are extremely sturdy no matter if you choose the particle board or the plywood. I ordered mine with a combination of both. I have the plywood on the 4 ends that show and the particle board on the sides that are attached to other cabinets. Also, the tops and bottoms.

I also have some IKEA cabinets in my laundry room and my garage and these two brands cannot be compared.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2010 at 8:27PM
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Ya I went to my local Ikea store, and was wholely unimpressed. What really turned me off was the cheapo grey metal drawers. I could get the fronts replaced, but Sherr's doesn't make drawer boxes for Ikea.

Right now it boils down to Sherr's and Kraftmaid for me...similar prices. I have other Kraftmaid cabinets and they are good quality. Not high end of course, but better than Ikea.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2010 at 10:53PM
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Try Cabinet Giant. Wood construction, solid wood doors, nice finishes. Very reasonable. Excellent customer service.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2010 at 8:44PM
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I have not posted in quite a while as not many of the posts in the last month have related to my experience to make it worth chiming in. Here we go!

First off if price matters most to you american made is the cheapest made (in $ and looking ugly!) I have a start up cabinet store in the DC area used to be orlando but moved for lack of customers. Suprisingly it is pretty rough inside the beltway of DC. Anyhow I am rejected on price constantly being told that people are able to find other prices less then me weekly. I offer RTA cabinets from 11 companies. I know of 15 but am not in a position to offer more at this time. I plan on going the networking show for my industry next year to learn what else is out there.

Rule # 1 If you want it cheap (lowest cost regardless of style look and construction) it is on the shelf of your neighborhood Lowes or Home Depot. Many kitchen and bath cabinets there are sold for less then cost to bring you in the store and fill up your basket with other goodies that makes a lot more money.

I quoted a 8 x 10 kitchen for a local customer last week with 15 different cabinets from my american made and RTA made suppliers. I was only able to beat the price of the Lowes on the shelf product using 1 Chinese made RTA cabinet from TSG. www.tsgcabinetry.com I could offer him 13 different cabinets about 1/3 of those american made with choice of box construction and stain color for about $1,500. Lowes was 1,200 My cheaper cabinet was oak and he wanted maple.

Rule #2 No one who sells the cabinets on line that are RTA wants you to know where the cabinets come from. The chinese have not agreed with the idea that americans want brand name recognition with the assumption that quality comes with a name you know. Notice very few of the posts that have commented on here know much about the products in question. Conestoga makes doors for a large % of the companies everyone knows on here. I need to contact them to learn of their RTA product. I am not familar with it directly.

I have been anoying in the past and refuted the chinese drywall comments. I will do it again. Pardon me for being rude but that is an ignorant comment. You know nothing of what you are talking about. I just read tonight that 60% of China's GDP is construction spending right now. At the peak of our boom it was 15-20% according to the article I read. They built last year 30 BILION SQFT. That requires an awful lot of cabinets. They are not as dumb as you think. There is a California Air Resources Board requirement for low emission of formaldihyde (sp?) and other chemicals that release gasses as they cure over time. Most RTA cabinets meet this standard. Many american companies are still getting equipment in place to do this. Sunco has been selling RTA and Conventionaly assembled cabinets since the early 80's I challenge anyone to find a class action lawsuit that is equivalent to the chinese drywall mess. After a divorce of the couple owning sunco one spouse started JSI in the Boston area and has become a large player in the industry. Where is a lawsuit on file with them for a large production quality control probelm? Supposedly the factory making the JSI cabinets makes the cabinets for about half of all the other competitors out there. Allwood sells cabinets to costco on a large scale I have not heard of a lawsuit with costco or allwood?

This site is great but many times people spread the same false ideas they read from everywhere else.

What you need to know.

American made is cheaper then chinese
Very few small cabinet companies can beat the price of American Woodmark cabinets at home depot or at Lowes (shennadoah brand.) I have spent 3 years as a self taught cabinet retailer to find companies that have lower cost that allow me to have a markup that keeps me in business against the price of woodmark cabinets. I am honest and run the business completely alone so I tend to attract bargain hunters. (My curse) Any how I am always compared in price to them. Aristokraft for example is low enough in price with the right door styles to be cheaper the most RTA chinese cabients. I used to have the same expierence with Smart Cabinets. I was selling them 1 order at a time. I was notified they would be raising the price on that program 30% so now RTA is generally cheaper. I work with Brandom American made in TX they have some door styles that cheaper then RTA Chinese any day of the week.

RTA Chinese is a better buy in the high end door styles.
Generall you get a better deal in comparision to American made cabinets on the more elaborate looking door styles. American made builder grade cabinets are cheaper then builder grade chinese.

RTA Chinese normally have shorter warrantys
The chinese do not warrant their product to the companies that buy it. The stocking company buying from the Chinese has to offer warranty for a product they do not make. You can imagine that is risky. Almost all Chinese RTA products are offered with a 1 year warranty from the company that imports them. Most low cost american cabinets come with 1-5 year warrantys with the exception of Woodmark Cabinets in Lowes And Home Depot with Limited Lifetime.

Low cost = little choices
Your choice of cabinets shapes and sizes is generally limited when you are looking for the lowest costs in either american made or Chinese.

No one but me will tell you the name of Chinese Cabinets on the internet!
The attitude of the supply chain is to keep you in the dark on what you are getting. People who sell cabinets struggle to find suppliers at lower costs. School of hard knox is how cabinet dealers learn where lower cost products are. They do not want to teach the competion where to get their cabinets from. The company trying to sell you the Chinese RTA cabinets does not want you to google the cabinet and figure out who may sell it cheaper at the next website. You will notice that the names are different on each website even though the pictures look very similar.

Factory direct websites for RTA Chinese is a lie!
Americans are not always that smart in the heat of a purchase. Everyone wants a deal so the seller needs you to feel you got a deal. The truth of if you did is not important you just need to think you did. The web is flooded with factory direct marketing to convince you that it is the best price. Truth is everyones supply chains are struggling to get competitive with the next one. I never know if my price is going to be lower or higer then the next any more. One day I am a deal the next day I am high while using the same 25% mark up to my repeat buyers and 50% to people who only shop one time with me.

Profits in Cabinets are not as high as they used to be
I used to be able to do 50% markup on my american brands and beat Woodmark prices or the equivelant with my better cabinet brands. Now I am lucky if I can get 25%. My voulume is not as high as it used to be either. So now I have to work twice as hard to make half as much money. Translation if I screw up it is much harder to pay for it and stay in business. So.... if you buy localy and the price is the cheapest you can find you better chech the better business burea rating of the company you are going to buy from. Many do not stand behind the sales if something goes wrong. They can not afford to and have the money to pay the bills that month. Obviously that is bad business but it happens everywhere.

In my case if the cabinets cost me 10,000 I am happy to sell them for 12,500. If I quote out 1,250 which I have done several times over the last month they cost me 1,000 it only takes 1 cabinet that was not right to make the profit of the sale negative. I have no where to go to stay in business with mistakes.

So yes being to cheap is dangerous.

What you should do.

1 Check with Lowes and Home Depot to see what is on the shelf in your area if you need rock bottom prices.

2 Google these names for RTA education.

Adornus (for your frameless lovers)
Allwood (highest quality limited lifetime warranty)
6 square (inset door styles) (highest quality limited lifetime warranty)
River run
J & K ( hard to put together be very handy and paitent to survive assembly)
Clark And Son

These are the names of the RTA and Instock cabinets that are conventionaly made that I know of where the quality is fairly consitent. RTA cabinets are handled many times in warehousing from china to the truck that brings them to you. It is common for there to be slight blemishes on every cabinet when you open the box. Surfaces the size of pencil lead or smaller on any part of the cabinet is an everyday occurance. The attitude is generally what do you expect they are imported. Going in with that attitude will save you a lot of grief.

If you google the names above you will find the importers website as they generally are not the company that actually made them. If you contact them directly you should be told where you can locally buy them. It will be luck of the draw as to who sells them cheap and who does not if you go with a local company. If you look on the interent to purchase with shopping cart websites the names of the cabines and the importer who sells them will be hidden from you most of the time. If you go that route pick out the door styles you like the pictures of and order a door sample. After liking the price and the door sample order 1 cabinet you know you need and see if you can assemble it and are satisfied with the quality. If you still like what you see and got and are ok with the warranty then purchase the whole kitchen and you will generally be happy.

I would not purchase from a website that does not reveal the location of the business that is collecting your money. Check the rating of the company that runs the site with the better business bureau. That will tell you a lot for the customer service. Think about it how many people who get buyers remorse after receiving the cabinets would be tempted to damage them on site to then have an excuse to return unusable merchandise? People return things to big box stores all the time knowing the return is not 100% honest. The margins in online cabinet sales do not allow for absorption of a lot of funny business. So there is a trust issue on both sides of the transaction that is not easy to maintain.

Some of the cabinet companies I have will not allow you to advertise the name of the cabinets if you have online shopping carts to protect the ability of a local company to charge a mark up that allows profit to offer good service for the money made on the transaction.

The quality of the consestoga cabinets will never be in question. I assume they are unfinished only. If so then you have to be good at finishing cabinets to make sure your kitchen will look good.

Resarch the brands I have given you to find reviews of the cabinets themselves and the companies that sell them. You will learn a lot more doing that then reading most of the posts on here in respect to RTA cabinets. The industry is set up to be secret which makes the knowledge of the average consumer limited. I am not expert but I am fairly correct in this oppinion.

Also Live wire oak posts all the time and I generally agree with him but I have to dissagree on that furniture board is just as durrable as plywood. Move the cabinets around on the floor out of the boxes of the two types and tell me again that furniture board or MDF is just as durrable. The melamine (sp) will peel much faster on the MDF and furniture board then the plywood will splinter. The compostion of the materials is just as durable once the boxes are installed. But the acutal surface of the materials are not equal. I sold used cabinets the other day that were mdf and some of the cabinets had come apart from the glue joints. I tried to staple them back together which was a bad idea the MDF just blew apart when the staple went into it. If they had been plywood the material would have stayed intact and the staple would have held together. Plywood is definetly stronger from that perspective. MDF surfaces are generally not as color matched with cheaper cabinets particularly when you suggest buying an american made cheap cabinet to be in the price point of plywood RTA Chinese. Now obviously if the wood species on the plywood is the not same as the door then it will not match either. Note that many american made cabinets use a cheaper species on the plywood then the solid wood doors making the colors slightly different in the less expensive cabinets.

I know there are many spelling errors on here. I am not here to impress you. I do not feel like taking the time to look up the spelling of every word I do not have memorized properly. I have read the post after typing it and see there are typos. It is late and you will get the point with them!

Be smart and open minded but question what you learn before you decide you believe what someone tells you me or anyone else. Much of the concern over the quality of a chinese RTA or cheap american made product is over lack of knowledge the industry keeps us in the dark to create market advantage for companies that know where to get cabinets at low prices. I do not like it anymore then the average consumer.

If you want cheap inset look at 6 square and sunny wood. If you want cheap framless look at adornus. There are others but I do not know the Importers names. I tend to repost afer further comments. A lively discussion is a good discussion.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 2:44AM
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Check out Kabinart. They are made in Tennessee. Some of their door styles are much cheaper than Chinese. It comes with 10 Yr warranty. We sell it for the last 3 years and no complaints from any customers so far. Many Chinese comes with 1/2" o 3/4" cheap plywood box stained everywhere to cover the defects. Buy American made to save some jobs!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 7:06AM
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Sophie Wheeler

So basically, you can get cheap crappy Chinese freight damaged cabinets with no warranty from a fly by night retailer who will close down his shop and set up elsewhere less than a year after he's opened and leave you high and dry with any issues you may have.

Or you can get American made decent quality already assembled cabinets for less money than the Chinese crap at a major box retailer who's been in business for decades and has the power and resources to stand behind a lifetime warranty.

Sounds like a no brainer to me. But what do I know. I only sell thousands of dollars worth of those less expensive American made already assembled cabinets every year to hundreds of satisfied customers.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 12:35PM
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I recently installed a large quantity of Chinese made cabinets from rtacabi.net. I paid around $4,000 shipped. Scherr's quoted me over $10k for the same layout, plus shipping. Low end cabinets from HD/Lowes for the same layout were coming in around 5,000-6,000. I got a better quality, nicer looking cabinet for less money.

Overall, I'd do it again. The quality was good, and prices were great.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 2:42PM
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I sell kabinart as well. It is not the least expensive brand out there but the post is correct that it is well made. Other cabinet companies like brandom that offer particle board box construction will be cheaper as a general rule of thumb. Truwood has a innovation series that is less expensive then kabinart. Smart is generally cheaper than Kabinart as well they changed their prices in a new price book released in the last month or two. Now their 10 door styles or so are probably closer in dealer cost to Tru wood it was a fair amount less. Brandom tends to cheaper then Kabinart particularly in the lower priced door styles that are column K in the catalog. Aristokraft with the lower end door styles are also pretty low in price also in this type of category.

I took delivery of of 60 cabinets today from Brandom a well respected semi custom cabinet company in Tx. The cabinets were for an apartment complex and honestly the box construction of some of the imported like River Run Or KCD which are glued and stapled are better then Brandoms current method for base cabinets hang rails and exposed staples behind the drawer boxes on the inside of the cabient. This was the oppinion of my customer today and I agree with him.

If people on here want to give you advice to do something a certain way they should explain to you why so you are smarter then you were after reading the post instead of trying present themselves as all successful and important and more established. That has nothing to do with the question that was orignialy asked. They also should be willing to tell you what brand they sell that is cheaper and better made then Chinese so you can learn what you should do instead of leaving you personaly in the dark and no better off then you were before. That is a big loss of creditbilty to me because your initial question of what to do with a tight budget was not helped.

Nothing personal just drives me crazy when someone generalizes with such harshness and gives no real information to solve the original problem.

Personally in my experience the best made cabinets with the greeatest flexibiltiy at the lowest national price is Bridgewood Custom from Hil Lo Industries. They do not offer complete custom options for anything you can dream up. But in framed and Frameless cabinets the price is unbeatable for overall value. I do 25-50% mark ups based on repeat buyers and come in with prices generally less then Kraftmaid. Comes with 10 year warranty.

Also for the info of a person that really wants to learn something some imported cabinets are made with stained interiors to create more value for the purchase. It is considered an upgrade in an american cabinet that normally is only chosen in cabinets with glass doors. JSI cabinets interior finish is very good quality for example. Other brands like GHI I personally think it looks cheesy

This thread is a good example of the need for this site to help the average consumer sift thru truth and distortions to make the best educated purposes. I am dissapointed how so many people spend their time trashing other people or products for what ever reason particularly without giving you postivie information to help you learn from their oppinion. I am glad to be able to post on here and read from others. I am always learning things from here and hope others are also.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 6:13PM
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daveinorlando, i just wanted to thank you for your posts! They're very helpful, as we are looking at kraftmaid, and also had wondered about the chinese cabs. My friend is going with custom cabs from www.gaosgroup.com, which she priced out as being comparable to kraftmaid, so I'll be looking at them, but definitely I'll check out Bridgewood custom per your recommendations.
Thanks again!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 11:08PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Simply quoting daveinorlando.....

1. "I have a start up cabinet store in the DC area used to be orlando but moved for lack of customers." Yes, you moved less than a year after you opened up shop and what about that "warranty" that you provided for those Orlando customers? Pound sand? I think that's the very definition of fly by night.

2."The chinese do not warrant their product to the companies that buy it." See point #1 about any retailer that handles these no warranty cabinets who does supply a warranty folding up and leaving the customer high and dry.

3. "It is common for there to be slight blemishes on every cabinet when you open the box. Surfaces the size of pencil lead or smaller on any part of the cabinet is an everyday occurance. The attitude is generally what do you expect they are imported. Going in with that attitude will save you a lot of grief." I think that'd be anyone's definition of crappy quality. BUt, as Dave points out, what do you expect? Something for nothing?

4. "Very few small cabinet companies can beat the price of American Woodmark cabinets at home depot". Yes, as I said, I've sold thousands of these to hundreds of happy customers who didn't even have to assemble them. Yet many people continue to search for a nonexistant "inexpensive" product that isn't built here, won't come assembled, and doesn't have a lifetime warranty from a major industry player. You can always find cheap. What's a lot more difficult is to find good value for an inexpensive price. American Woodmark provides that, and anyone looking to do a budget kitchen should RUN to their nearest HD.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 10:13AM
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This discussion is not personal to me. I will respond because I think it will help people see what happens in the world good and bad!

1 I have been involved in 2 kitchen and bath stores in DC as partners. I left the DC area to to get away from those partherships. I learned the lesson to not partner with individuals I did not know for years. That was my mistake. I went to florida to start my business there and put all my eggs in one basket to develop a strong web presence and like others on here who have paid large sums of money to someone to remodel their home only to find the money and the indivuals who took it gone with the wind. We all have made mistakes in our lives. I picked up the pieces and made the decision to come to back to the market I was more familar with to move on as I lost the money I had to invest in the business model I was working to acheiving. Adjusting to my conditions is not fly by night. All of the people I worked with are satisfied and love their kitchens. Yes businesses can come and go as did mine. Fly by night is taking money for products and services not given. Moving your business to a new location after your local obligations are fulfilled is not fly by night to me. We all are welcome to our own oppinions!

2 Let me re explain the rta business model. Either I did not state it correctly the first time or you miss understood it. If you owned your own store you would understand this.

RTA Supply Chain From China To End User

1. Cabinets are made in China by a independent factory who do not offer a warranty to the american buyer
2. Cabinets are bought in bulk by American companys that in essence are investors who buy low, warehouse and re sell to either the direct public or a distribution network of retailers using independent sales reps. This company has to offer a warranty to the end user. This company will be one of the ones I listed in my original post suggesting people google them to learn more. They create the brand name of the business and product line. They risk their money to import what they believe will be popular to resell. They make the choices of what cabinet skus will be kept in inventory
3. A kitchen and bath store usually an indpenedent small local store find companys that do the importing and request permisson to sell their products. By far the majority of companies that have websites that sell cabinets online with shopping carts are getting the cabinets from companies like the ones I listed in my original post. Generally to qualify to buy the cabinets from the importers in postion 2 in the supply chain you have to own or rent a comercial space to be allowed to open an account. The website hides the identity of this local business. They change the names of the cabinets and hide the name of the company that actually imports the cabinets. The local company does not offer the warranty, the importer who bought from China does. If you have a problem with your cabinets and you know who made them in the USA or who imported them you should contact the maker or importer and they will replace the defective product if they are a reputable company that cares about its reputation. If the local company that sold the product to the consumer has relocated like I did. The importer or US maker will replace the defective cabinets regardless.

It is possible that the company that runs a website for online sales can go out of business. This is a worse position to be in if you do not know who actually imported them. If you buy off the internet it would be better if you were told who originaly imported them or what brand name they actually are.

Point #3. I stated the truth what other people will not. I have personally assembled over 1,000 cabinets from 15 different imported companies. All of them will have the slightest blemishes somewhere on each one. Most of my customers do not notice them. I know they are there. I am a perfectionist and always get stressed about it. Live wire oak was correct that there is a relationship of quality and cost. It is an eternal law. RTA cabinets are not full of blemishes rather there is always at least 1 on every cabinet somewhere.

Point 4. I have sold hundreds of RTA kitchens in my 5 year carrer in kitchen and bath store ownership. I have assembled every cabinet for every customer. The customers who bought those cabinets paid 25-50% less then Woodmark Prices. The trade off was the warranty was (1) 1 year instead of lifetime (2) choice of multiple stain or paint colors was not available (3) Their are not as many choices in cabinet sizes and specialty configurations.

Generally stores that sell RTA cabinets to local customers double the cost and pay for shipping and assembly and deliver them boxed and ready to install to the end user. (this is how I do it for local customers of mine) Companies that sell the cabinets online from the same importers I have accounts with as general rule have the prices about 50% above dealer cost.

American Woodmark is sold at a very low cost. Most independent stores struggle to match their prices. The buying power of the Home Depot is very large. Some door styles from the American made companies I represent I can beat the price of Woodmark with same warranty and like quality with comperable amount of choice in finish and sku selection. Other door styles I am not able to. It is luck of the draw. Woodmark makes a good product for its price.

It does not work for everyone neither do less expensive limited brands wether Aristokraft, 6 square, allwood, or rta products. They all have their places to meet the varrying needs of the consumers in our country.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 8:02PM
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daveinorlando,In your experience which are the best RTA and best low priced American cabinets? Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 1, 2010 at 8:17AM
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ok i have to pipe in. i have cabinets on order from scherr's.
Granted, they havent been installed but here's what i can say so far. their customer service is amazing...the nicest people really! And although they are RTA they are pretty much custom. They're totally building cabinets to my architects exact specifications and strange sizing...and providing extremely detailed shop drawings 5 times back and forth now for our approval before they start. And it's been quite affordable. We're doing a 12 x 12 kitchen with 8 ft of cabs on one wall to the ceiling and just lowers on the opposite side...custom painted 2 different colors for 6 grand. all made in u.s.a.
so far i highly recommend. get a quote...it's totally easy and they can get it back to you in like 2 days.

Here is a link that might be useful: designsmitten

    Bookmark   December 1, 2010 at 9:07AM
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You might want to read up on Conestoga cabinets. Check their website and also cabinetmakerschoice.com. I'm not 100% sure but I think they are less expensive than Scheers's. Everyone who see's my kitchen in person is very impressed with the quality and thinks I bought high-end cabinets. The service you get in amazing! This picture doesn't show the quality very well but here it is anyway...I got the full overlay doors and a few pullouts, the spice pullouts on upper sides of micro are not pushed all the way in in the picture but may give you an idea. Complete DIY except countertops.
http://s1004.photobucket.com/albums/af170/jterrilynn/kitchen%20progress%20pictures/?action=view&current=finished022.jpg"; target="_blank">

    Bookmark   December 1, 2010 at 10:30AM
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Monkeystomach - I am in the exact same place as you so I'd love to know what you end up doing. I decided to go with Ikea with Scherrs doors, until I got all the ikea cabs home and started assembling them. I got completely freaked out by the flakey particle board and assembly methods. My kitchen is ripped out and I am now without cabinets. After alot of research, I am leaning toward Conestoga - but I'll let you know after I get the full quote, hopefully today. Still waiting on Scherrs quote.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2010 at 9:09AM
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hi kpowers, check you mail. I hope I answered some of your questions, let me know.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2010 at 11:24AM
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Oh, I just realized I did not state that Conestoga's are face frame not frame-less in my email response to your email. I bought a full overlay door. Doing a face frame cab was a non-issue with me.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2010 at 11:29AM
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As jterrilynn stated, Conestoga's are face frame where Scherr's are frameless cabinets. This may lead you in one direction or another depending on the cabinet type you want.

I hopefully, after like 2 years will be getting drawing over to Scherrs to get a quote. I had one from a local shop but want to see what the RTA would cost me.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2010 at 1:33PM
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I would bet I can match or beat Scherrs price on the 12x12 kitchen using Bridgewood Advantage (most popular door styles of their custom cabinets all at the same price) For RTA that is not a low price. Granted the kitchen is custom sized. I find the term custom to be thrown to losely here in Garden Web. I read a post just a few minutes ago that mentioned they were getting custom cabinets 36 high 15" deep with crown. All modular sized cabinets in 30 36 and 42 are sized to fit to the ceiling heights of 84 90 and 96 without using crown. A 39" would have been a custom height to be a know it all!

Any how. Scherrs and Conestoga have with out a doubt high quality with a price that is appropriate.

Some one asked what was a company to recomend in low cost RTA and US made.

RTA is tricky. If you want highest quality every time and lifetime warranty research 6 square and Allwood they will be way cheaper the scherrs and conestoga but will come fully assembled every bit as well constructed as Kraftmaid and the like.

For lower price and you do not want to put them together still look at CNC Associates cabinets, or Sunco in Maine.

RTA is more project specific. You will not know what cabinets will meet your needs untill you talk specifics. Each company buying in bulk makes their own decisions on what to stock. So you can not get the same cabinet list from each company.

Adornus has the best frameless cabinets for the money in RTA format.

JSI has best brand name recognition with great looking doors. But it uses plastic cam locks which are easy to spot after the kitchen is done. Also on the higher end in price.

KCD is the best one out there for the money on dealer cost. Not as many online stores sell them. You have to glue it and staple it together. Very hard to tell once it is done. River Run has the best priced soft white cabinet with glaze that I know of.

Clark and Sons has great cabinets but I can not get them at a good price. I am stay loyal to the company that offered them to me but I am charged a middle man fee. This means I just do not make sales in it and I sell other brands.

TSG country oak is the cheapest cabinet I can get that I know of from 30 cabinet companies I have the prices on.

Contractors choice is the best priced american made cabinet I know of. It does not show up much on google searches. It is Aristokraft kept in stock by Wolf Distributing in Pa. They only sell to kitchen dealers.

There are a lot of cabinet companies in Alabama which are spin offs of Wellborn. Truwood, Wellborn Forrest, Legacy, Door Components etc. Each of these companies has different cabinets that are priced pretty good. Door components and Legacy are probably the lowest.

Woodmark cabinets prices are pretty rock bottom also. Smart cabinets were low priced until recently. I am not sure if they raised the price on everyone or if I complained about shippin damage and they changed my multiplier when they released the new price book.

I am able to beat merilats price on an apt complex using brandom cabinets they are pretty low in price on their standard overlay door styles. Kabinart is pretty low as a general rule available in plywood construction only. A particle board box cabinet will be less from other companies I have mentioned. If you can find a company that sells Bruce cabinets by Armstrong they will give you a great price also if they work on competitive margins. I would like to sell their cabinets but I do not have the abilty to stock them to meet the required investment.

kitchen compact prices are rock bottom low also if you can find a dealer for them pretty much builder grade only door styles.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 3:09AM
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Dave- what do you think of Fabuwood? My KD told me he thinks they are made bettter than JSI which he also carries.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 10:20AM
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Great list Dave, that should be helpful to many. I do need to make a little correction though, one could need custom cabinets in standard size H's. We had to customize all three of our corner cabinets that were in standard H's. Our corners are flat back (don't know tec term)so that's where the RTA's came in on picks.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 11:11AM
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FWIW, Conestoga is now marketing frameless cabinets (by Haansem) but it's unclear based on their website if they are RTA. You could call to clarify.
They offer a full (1 1/4") overlay with a faceframe, BTW.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 6:05PM
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Fabuwood is pretty good. I have put kitchens in my last store I was partner in for most of thier door styles. Stay away from their islands they are a nightmare to put together. Their were 3 consistant weaknesses of their product. The drawer front does not come attached to the interior drawer box.

1 The factory fails to pre drill a hole to make it easy to get it to line up right. You end up making a bunch of measurements to get it right and do it yourself. Can be frustrating if you only put them together 1 time. There is a learning curve to getting it right.
2. The painted white cabinets all had peeling paint on the plywood boxes. I do not know if that has been resolved. I have not assembled a painted white box from them in about 6 months. They looked similar to clay that shrinks and cracks after getting very wet and drying up.
3. The drawer glides of the 100 or so cabinets I have personally put together are not as smooth in the ball bearing mechanism as JSI.

If you are in the North East the dealer can order them assembled for you for. Dealers recieve a 5% discount if they order the cabinets in the box unassembled. If you live close enough to the Warehouse of Fabuwood where your dealer gets them delivered by a Fabuwood truck then they can be ordered assembled. I would go that route. Now make sure you compare possible prices each way and that you are not being ripped off by large mark up. The going rate for cabients being assembled by companies that ship out that way is $15-$18 being charged to the dealers with accounts to these companies.

JSI has great finishes. I do not have an acount currently with them. I still get all the emails from them for promotions and orders of my last partnership. The business was mine orignialy and foolishly I gave up ownership in exchange for capital for investment. I realized I handed over the keys to a person who would close up the books and all I could do was walk away or deal with it. Lost everything I had worked for to date! AHHH! Anyhow I am not interested in adding them untill I am more invested in displays of some American companies I want. I will add JSI in the coming months again. Back to the point. I never liked the Arlington Antique White. It was way to pink like a salmon color. It is supposed to have been adjusted to a more antique tanish white color. It that is the case it should be an imporvement. I also felt the glazing was weak as well. I was able to smear it by accident a few times durring handling them in the past.

JSI's finish other then that is very consistent. The Georgetown door styles is by far their most popular. The sturbridge is a reverse raised panel that is a great shaker door style. Fabuwood V groves the intersection of the stiles of the shaker doors and I think that is cheesy. Just my personal taste.I also do not care for the brandy color it is not a rich looking red to me.

Fabuwood is a glue and staple cabinet that anyone who knows how to operate a compressed air staple gun can assemble. The drawer header is the only thing that is a pain. If you put a dovetail drawer together yourself few people tell you to squeeze it together with a bar clamp or something similar. That is the way to do it right. Many people pound them together with a rubber mallet. A clamp is much easier and the joint will remain clean and crisp. Beating them together will tend to create areas of wood that do not fit and you get a splinter effect. All of JSI drawer boxes are factory assembled in China. They are perfectly crisp and clean. I would say the polyurethane or like finish on the drawerbox of a JSI drawer is much better then most of the RTA cabinets available.

Fabuwood has 2 series of cabinets the better series with the more expensive door styles uses plywood rails that go down the sides of the plywood box of the cabinet. That stiffens the box against the plywood trying to warp. JSI uses plastic corner blocks instead which is not as good also used by the cheaper doorstyles by Fabuwood.

Fabuwood has matching woodhoods the only company I know of in the RTA market that offers those. That is a big plus if you want a high end look on a low end budget. They are not Stanici if any of you are familar with those but it is a step up from your typical RTA.

Fabuwood also has more pantry cabinet widths and depths then most other RTA cabinets. I do not have my book here but I am pretty sure that they have some 12" deep pantrys and 12 or 15" witdths. I think they also have a 30 or 36" width. Most RTA companys only offer 18 and 24.

JSI pantrys come in 2 boxes for all sizes. This means you set one box on the other to create the whole cabinet. I hate that. You have a horizontal joint you have to trim if the side is exposed. I would definelty order a plywood panel to skin the side of all JSI pantry and oven cabinets. The oven cabinet is sold in 84" to get a 96 you have to set a 12" box on the top. Cheesy to me. They are the only RTA company I know of that decided to import their tall cabinets this way.

The roll out trays of Fabuwood cabinets are adjustable in height. It is a pretty simple way they do it. I had a hard time figuring it out the first time and had to call to ask how to do it. I think this is more functional then the JSI method where you have to screw the rails into the side of the cabinet to install it. If you move it you have holes to fix. JSI roll out trays are shipped pre assembled. Fabuwood you have to put them together yourself.

Lastly you can find the plastic cam lock systems inside the cabinets of JSI. This means a know it all jerk you are all ready annoyed durring your Christmas party can figure out you have RTA cabinets in your kitchen and complain that you got poor quality things. With a Fabuwood cabinet this is not possible to figure out for sure.

The builder series of Fabuwood cabinets allow upgrade to soft close on the drawers. The drawers are also solid wood dovetail in the builder series of door styles which is a rare. You will not find that on most american products that are close to chinese price point. Although truthfully the dealer cost to upgrade to soft close rails is $30 that makes them more expensive on the base cabinets then some other RTA cabinets which would be full overlay instead of standard or what is referred to as 1/2" meaning the door when shut is 1" wider then the opening behind it as it overlays the face frame by 1/2" on each side. A full overlay door typically overlays the face frame by 1 1/4".

When you look seriously at RTA cabinets you need to find out which cabinet lines offer the sized cabinets you are looking for. Some offer wine racks some do not some have the width pantry you want some do not. Some have soft close some do not. Some have plate racks some have light rail molding some do not. Some have full depth base shelves some 3/4 depth (Fabuwood) some have 1/2 depth (JSI) Some soft close rails allow for adjustment to ensure the drawer is paralel with the face frame behind. So if the cabinet is racked durring install for some reason you can adjust the drawer so you can not tell. Some of the soft close drawers release by handle underneath (Fabuwood) some the rails are screwed to the drawer and take more time to remove from a cabinet(JSI) Some use a full 1/2" thick back panel. Other use a 1/8" back with a picture frame plywood structure that makes the border of the cabinet 1/2" thick and the center section only 1/8.

If you want to be educated and you are sold on the best price. Order a door sample. If you still are happy order a cabinet you need in base and wall and put them together. If you still feel good about it order everything and you will be happy.

Everyone will tell you there are different things that make the quality of the cabinet better or worse. Beyond the captain obvious items most dealers do not have the technical data to back up claims of which is superior to what. It is not common knowledge where the wood comes from and what species it truly is. No dealer knows in great detail what grade the plywood is in veneer qualites and methods of adhesive to each layer. Most dealers including myslef could not tell what chemical type is used for finishing the cabinets in domestic made or RTA. That is hard to find out for every cabinet you may be considering.

Also JSI is weak in my opinion in accesory trim. They do not offer angled fluted fillers. Or fluted fillers 96" long I forget the maximum length but it seems like it is 60 something. Never understood that one. If I remeber corretly JSI has the interior finished to match the exterior of all but the Arlington cabinet. Fabuwood I believe is natural interior finish.

This is just a comparison of 2 product lines. I have accounts with 11 RTA compaines and know of several more. This could go on forever. Each has different ways of importing the cabinets and what is available and what is not. It is very tricky if you do not have the help of someone to sort it out with you.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 10:45PM
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Thanks Dave- this is really helpful!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 6:12AM
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Wow this is great information!

I'm also researching this subject. I have a question about assembly mechanisms.

It looks like the RTA cabinets have different kinds of assembly methods. I've seen

1. glue and staple
2. glue and dowel
3. camlock - metal or plastic
4. interlocking metal
5. L bracket

Does anyone have any input on which is best? pros and cons of each? long term durability of the methods? highest probability that a diyer is not going to mess assembly up? :-)

Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 12:25PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Assembly of the RTA cabs is pretty important. If anyone here remembers the old Mills Pride cabinets that HD used to sell, well, those were medium quality when it came to quality and assembly issues. But we sold tons of them, and had very few complaints because it was pretty obvious you weren't getting even Kraftmaid quality but you weren't paying KM prices either.

Yesterday, we had a lady come in the store that used them for her whole house. She was pretty happy with them, except that the reason she was in the store was one had fallen off the wall when she was having some exterior siding redone. The cabinet back and hanging rail was still attached to the wall. Her son had put them together, and had failed to seat the dowels properly or use any additional glue. The additional glue wasn't in any of the instructions, but it's something I recommend to any person doing RTA cabinets. A bead of construction adhesive along with the cam locks and dowels (and a good set of strap clamps) can mean the difference between something that looks OK to the naked eye and something that will support your 40 pc set of stoneware dishes.

And, American Woodmark is still a better buy than most of the RTA cabinetry out there. They lowered their prices 3rd quarter and are more than competitive pricewise with cabinets that are much worse in quality and require you to spend 2 hours to assemble each one.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 12:38PM
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I am selling Fabuwood. They are good, but limited door styles.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 4:44PM
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Conventional wisdom in the distribution network side of life says the L bracket Or metal interlocking ( both terms mean the same thing) and the plastic or metal cam lock are the easiest. The camlock cabinets have much tighter tolerances when you are placing the items together. The metal brackets are pre loaded on the cabinet with one side being left lose to snap over the other. You then install a screw thru both brackets in holes that line up to keep them locked together. If you over tighten the screw you messed it up. Every once in a while you have a hard time getting the cam locks to allow the mechanism inside to twist and lock them together. I have broken a few of these in my day.

Everything has its risk. I would say the plastic cam lock cabinets are by far the easiest to put together and the most intuitive. All the parts are pre loaded so you insert A into B and turn the screw till it is tight and you are done.

After getting the hang of one a wall cabinet takes about 20 minutes in the camlock or glue and staple. A interlock metal bracket system is trickier to get everything interlocked and you have 3 screws at a minimum to install or tighten. Some are pre loaded by design some you must get out of the bag and insert them afterwards. This inherently takes more time.

A base cabinet takes longer because of the drawer. If you have to assemble the drawer this slows you down. If you have to place the drawer head on the drawer box this slows you down more. Particularly like a Fabuwood Cabinet where they are not always pre aligned in some way and you have to figure out your own measurements to get it lined up right in relation to the doors and other drawer headers around it.

J & K which is a pretty good sized company with warehouses around the US has awesome looking door styles with a fair amount of cabinet sizes and shapes to chose from. If you listen to them you are supposed to nail the cabinets together from the outside. Very tacky. I read a post a while back where the person could not figure out how to do them.

If you go back to my posts on here and google the names of the companies I listed you will find the pictures of the door syles. If you then start googling RTA cabinets to look at the sites selling them. Look at the pictures and you will realize that they match up in groups to many of the companies that I have mentioned. You will begin to see the dishonesty in marketing by so many of these companies using phrases intended to make you believe you are buying from the American representation of the Chinese Factory.

I already explained many of the reasons for this. You can gauge the size of the RTA importer in many ways by the strength of their website. JSI is one of the biggest companies and no surprise they have one of the best sites.

J & K (Grand) has a different website for each of the warehouse locations. Each inventory is independently owned by investors that compete for customers to sell their cabinets. None of the marketing is impressive and the dealers do not have well thought out catalogs or price sheets. The websites of each location reflects this as well. The show rooms I have been to in Florida and Ga look pretty good but they fail to tell you that they are a night mare to put together. There is nothing to mark the locaitons of the where to install the drawers and the rails they glide on. This makes lining the drawers up with each other from cabinet to cabinet very difficult! No one wants to tell you that to get you to buy them. Who would purposefully buy a product that is cumbersome to put together and get it right?

    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 5:49PM
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Fabuwood kitchen we designed & installed 2 months ago.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2010 at 5:22PM
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Wow! Designer 888- that's beautiful! All by yourselves? You need to tell us more! How was the experience because ther results are fantastic.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2010 at 6:17PM
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This is our regular work. I am very happy that you liked it.


    Bookmark   December 10, 2010 at 5:58PM
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Can anyone comment on Door Component kitchen cabinets.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 9:14AM
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I made my living installing IKEA cabinets and designing kitchens that were very gorgeous. Licensed contractor and Grad School Architecture Designer. You'd never in a million years guess that the cabinets were IKEA. Often I asked Scherr to make custom panels and fronts.

Don't make the mistake of comparing Ikea's other crapstastic cabinets for other rooms to the kitchen cabinets. It's a non starter. Ikea's furniture and tables and closets are for kids rooms, not for any other room--they're really not so great. We all know that.

But the kitchens are a whole other world, with Blum hardware and a fantastic track records.25 year warranty, and they stand by it--although nobody ever makes a claim, because they are that well made. They are inexpensive, and IKEA usually has a 20% off sale twice per year, so it's even cheaper.

They rock, and I recommend them. However. Dealing with Ikea is a nightmare, and you need to take a valium or bring a flask before shopping. The order process and returns are horrible. Get a pro who knows the ropes to handle it for you. Don't use IKEA unless you are prepared for the red tape nightmare of your life. They are the worst.

As far as quality, the top RTA I've used is MEI. Their frameless boxes are the best. Their cabinet cover styles are very limited. The worst by far is InStock Kitchens. The owners are really nice and helpful, but sorry, their product is flimsy and worthless. Talk about Chinese slave labor! And I'm talking the US. I've seen sweatshops full of non-English speaking Chinese workers in the US, and I am sure their benefits and pay aren't so great. It's sweat shop low end labor.

The made in China thing is a real issue, for me. Most of IKEA's stuff is made in China, but a ton of it is also made in Hungary. MEI---I am not sure.

Hope this helps. Don't count out IKEA, for the price and quality. Do an Ikea kitchen, and finish it with Scherr fronts, and you will be really really happy.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 1:12PM
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Sunco owns their own factory, I visited it as part of business trip.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 3:54PM
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here is another fabuwood kitchen, it looks amazing!
they are really getting there,

    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 10:22PM
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I know this is an old discussion but does anyone know about sunny wood? I an thinking of getting some of there Cambrian cabnets with inset doors for my kitchen. Thanks

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 3:48PM
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I am a cabinet dealer in Raleigh, North Carolina. I mostly sell KCD (River Run and Carriage House are the same cabinets) and Fabuwood RTA cabinets. I have used both for about 5 years. I have been very pleased with both lines. The KCD line is less expensive than Fabuwood by quite a bit. The only real difference that I see in them are the pullouts (also a huge difference in price). Both lines are easy to assemble and both lines have a video to show you how to assemble them. I have never had a customer tell me that my quote was more expensive than any line of cabinets at big box stores. One thing that helps out a little on that though is that most of my customers can pick them up or have them delivered from the warehouse (located in Raleigh, NC). Shipping is fairly inexpensive as well (usually round $350). Of course that depends on how many cabinets, and where they are being shipped to. It is also more expensive to ship pantry and oven cabinets (requires a double pallet).

Both lines are full overlay but, they do not have center styles so when you order a 42" cabinet, you get a 39" opening. KCD currently has 9 cabinets (two are furniture board) and will be adding more over the next few months. The next one to be added will be a white painted Shaker (very white....beautiful). It will be fully stocked by mid February.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 12:45PM
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We recently did a DIY refacing on our kitchen, using Conestoga doors, panels and veneers. We went through the Cabinet Joint, they sell RTA cabinets as well as refacing supplies. I can tell you, we are extremely pleased with everything. Brian, our salesperson was very helpful and patient with us throughout the process. The quality was excellent, not a scratch on anything, all the doors and panels we ordered which were custom sized, were spot on. Only one drawer front was slightly larger, we called and it was immediately replaced. Conestoga is a quality product, not sure what the RTA's cost, but I agree with the other posts, pay cheap get cheap. If you are going through all that work, mess and expense, get quality if you can afford it. Of course cabinets cost more than doors, end panels and veneers, but we paid under $4000 for 24 doors, 8 end panels, 2 rolls of veneer, 7 drawer fronts and crown moulding, all solid maple, we felt it was very reasonable for the quality. You can go to their site and get a free quote on the RTA cabinets, Brian is very prompt getting back to you, usually within 24 hrs. I am trying to convince my husband to order some RTA bathroom cabinets now that we've finished the kitchen. Why not price it and see if its in your budget?

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 1:28PM
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Hpn2, I fully agree with your good review of Conestoga! My husband and I did a kitchen in our last house (2010) with this brand. I would not hesitate to recommend them. I went with Conestoga after visiting many upscale kitchen show rooms and leaving depressed because high-end cabinetry was not in my budget. The cabinets in other shops that were in my budget were so cheesy in comparison. Of course going with RTA’s (quality higher-end like Conestoga) will only result in higher-end if put together properly. I enjoyed that kitchen for around three years until I put the house on the market. That house sold for top dollar in that particular price bracket and in a few short weeks. The kitchen sold the house. The new owners were happy that I gave them all the info including paint and stain colors as they were thinking of acting on my uncompleted dream of a big wet bar and extra cabinetry on a near to the kitchen wall.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 2:57PM
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For those of you who go the RTA cabinet route, what did you do about painting the doors? Did you hire out a sub contractor to paint the doors, paint them yourself, or find a RTA company that sells pre-painted doors. It the latter, which companies do offer the service of painting the doors for you?


    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 4:49PM
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I am not affiliated in any way with Conestoga but when I ordered they had a zillion choices in paint and stain. You don't have to do it all if you don't want.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 5:28PM
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Good to know. Thanks jterrilynn!


    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 5:48PM
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We chose prefinished doors, veneers, panels and mouldings for our Conestoga refacing job. They come finished or unfinished, but we felt doing the refacing ourselves was enough work, we didn't want to do the finishing too. We didn't check prices on the unfinished, , but I assume it is cheaper. Many colors and door styles to choose from, as well as a lot of different wood choices, and thermofoils. Some woods that you don't usually see in big box stores, such as bamboo, lyptus, walnut. Plenty of accessories to match - furniture feet, corbels, wine racks, etc. We ordered a sample door in the style and finish we were interested in from the Cabinet Joint, if you place an order with them they will refund the sample door price. I am not affiliated with Conestoga or the Cabinet Joint either, just passing along my experience in ordering from them, which was very positive.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 10:54PM
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