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RTA Cabinets vs Pre-Assembled Cabinets

The choice between RTA, or ready to assemble cabinets and pre-assembled cabinets may not be the exact choice that you first imagine. Some people have the impression that the choice between RTA cabinets and assembled cabinets is a choice about quality, but that is not the case at all.

RTA Cabinets

RTA cabinets are shipped to a homeowner or builder in flat boxes. The pieces are all cut to size, labeled, and finished with the hardware holes pre-drilled and ready to go. When you order from Kitchen Cabinet Kings, the hardware is attached to the cabinet ready for you to put the cabinets together, although many other companies do not offer this extra service. The cabinets arrive at the construction site in the flat boxes, and the homeowner or the person they have hired puts each individual cabinet together and then attaches it to the wall and floor.

Advantages of RTA Cabinets

The primary advantage of RTA kitchen cabinets or bathroom cabinets is the cost savings. With RTA cabinets, you can choose any quality level you want, from inexpensive pressed wood to the best hardwood. Regardless of the quality of the wood and finish, by choosing RTA over assembled cabinets, you save a significant amount over purchasing the same quality cabinet in an assembled or custom built form.

Because of this excellent price to quality ratio, people who choose ready to assemble cabinets are often able to buy a higher-quality cabinet than they would have been able to afford with an assembled cabinet.

Another advantage of RTA cabinets is how easy they are to assemble. Kitchen Cabinet Kings uses high quality hardware, with holes pre-drilled and the brackets and hinges already attached to the doors and cabinet sides. To assemble, you'll only need a screwdriver and perhaps a rubber mallet to put the cabinets together.

Disadvantages of RTA Cabinets

While RTA cabinets cost less in cash outlay, they cost more in time and effort. Although many manufacturers have made the cabinet assembly extremely easy, it will take a novice about 35-45 minutes to assemble the first cabinet. After the initial cabinet, assembly speeds considerably, with many people taking only 15 minutes to assemble each cabinet after the first.

You'll also need to have a design layout of the cabinets so that you know which goes where in the kitchen, and you'll need to take extra care to be sure you put the correct pieces together in the right direction. There is also some concern that you will scratch the finish on the cabinet as you put it together. However, following care instructions will help you avoid that problem.

Advantages of Assembled Cabinets

When you purchase assembled cabinets, they are ready to install as soon as they arrive. Installation is straightforward, and you or a handyman you hire can begin installing the cabinets as soon as they arrive without having take the time to assemble them.

Disadvantages of Assembled Cabinets

The primary disadvantage of cabinets that are shipped already assembled is that the cost is higher. Manufacturers have to charge for the labor of putting the cabinets together, but that is actually a nominal cost compared the the cost of shipping. Since assembled cabinets cannot ship in flat boxes they take up much more space in a shipping container, so the shipping costs are significantly higher than the costs for RTA cabinets.

Another disadvantage of assembled bathroom cabinets and kitchen cabinets is that it generally takes from three weeks to three months longer to get those cabinets than it does to get RTA cabinets. So if you are under time pressures, this can be an important consideration.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both RTA and assembled cabinets. Weighing choices between cost, speed and personal labor will allow you to make the right choice for your own new kitchen.

Cost Considerations

As mentioned in the comparison above, one of the many factors differentiating a pre-assembled cabinet from an RTA model is the final price tag. For the average 10x10 kitchen, there is a noticeable difference in cost when comparing various types of cabinet materials. For example, Country Oak Classic cabinets sold at our store will run you $1,175 in the RTA version, and $1,382 for the pre-assembled variety. If you prefer the Cherry Glaze option, you can expect to pay around $1,526 for an RTA model and $1,974 for the alternative. Conventional wisdom suggests that few things can provide as great of a return on investment as kitchen renovations can. But if you are looking to upgrade your kitchen without blowing your budget, you can still find a beautiful set of cabinets to invest in your kitchen without having to sacrifice financially.


If you have any additional questions or comments now that you’ve learned a bit more about the different cabinet types available, our staff would love to hear from you. Simply fill out this contact form and a member of the Kitchen Cabinet Kings will reach out to advise you on the perfect cabinet and help you find the right furniture to make your kitchen feel complete. When it comes to kitchen renovations, we believe that cabinets fit for royalty should still be affordable for all. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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