Before You Buy Ready-to-Assemble Kitchen Cabinets

A shopper seeks assistance from IKEA employees
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Ready-to-assemble or RTA kitchen cabinets offer homeowners to save money on kitchen remodeling. The cabinets are delivered in a flat pack along with all the hardware needed for assembly. Because you do the assembling yourself, you can cut costs significantly.

Before you start shopping for new kitchen cabinets, it pays to take some time to learn more about RTA cabinets. Here are some tips and suggestions to help guide your choice.

What are RTA cabinets?

RTA stands for "ready-to-assemble," which explains these products in a nutshell. When you order RTA cabinets, all of the parts have been cut to size, holes drilled where they needed and any finishes you requested applied. Then the parts are stacked, wrapped and shipped to your home. You then fact the job of assembling and installing the cabinets.

Where Can I Buy RTA Cabinets?

You can find RTA cabinets at some big-box stores (IKEA, Home Depot and Lowe's), but a much broader selection and better quality is available online. Search the Internet for suppliers and information. I have also prepared a list of RTA suppliers whose products and service I know enough about to make a recommendation.

Can I Get Good Quality RTA Cabinets?

Yes. Like pre-assembled cabinets, ready-to-assemble cabinets cover the full spectrum of quality, from poor to very good. You can buy RTA cabinets that are every bit as strong and attractive as anything you find in a kitchen showroom.

    Can I Save Money Buying RTA Cabinets?

    Yes, you can save a substantial amount of money with RTA cabinets. The savings come in two ways. First, because they come to you disassembled, RTA cabinets can be shipped for less than fully assembled cabinets (they take up less room). Second, because you are taking care of assembly and installation, you will save on labor charges.

    What affects the Cost of RTA Cabinets?

    Your costs can vary significantly depending on such factors as materials, finish, complexity and degree of completion.

    At the low end of the cost spectrum are cabinets with white melamine-coated particleboard cabinet boxes and drawers, flat panel doors and paint-grade doors that you paint yourself. More expensive options will include veneered plywood cabinet boxes, hardwood face frames, solid wood doors and dovetailed drawers. Cabinets in odd sizes and with angles can cost more, as can accessories like crown molding.

    How Much Do RTA Kitchen Cabinets Cost?

    Kitchen cabinets are often priced by the lineal foot, which is simply the horizontal distance along the all that will be filled with cabinets. The lineal foot cost typically includes both upper (wall) and bottom (base) cabinets in one price.

    Depending on the mix of low-cost and expensive options you choose, kitchen cabinets for a full kitchen can range from roughly $250 per lineal foot to $750 or more.

    Will I Have Trouble Assembling RTA Cabinets?

    Ready-to-assemble cabinets have become so popular in part because they are so easy to put together. Most products need nothing more than glue, wood dowels and screws, all of which should be supplied with the cabinets along with clear instructions.

    Cabinets, drawers, and doors are predrilled for attaching hardware and hinges. Often the only tool you will need for assembly is a screwdriver.