Guide To Remodeling With Kitchen Cabinets

RTA, Stock, Custom, Semi-Custom, Styles, Installation, and More

  • 01 of 06


    Kitchen in Barbican Apartment, London, UK.
    Oliver: Robert / Getty Images

    Cabinets are definitely one thing to get serious about when remodeling your kitchen. They form an integral part of the look, layout, and function of your kitchen. But because they are so expensive, it is worth your while to learn about all aspects of them--as this guide will show.

  • 02 of 06

    Basic Cabinet Concepts

    rta sonoma kitchen cabinets
    Sonoma Cabinets, RTA Cabinet Store

    RTA Cabinet Store

    Before going further, it helps to understand a few basic concepts behind kitchen cabinetry:

    • MDF: Standing for medium-density fiberboard,it's a term you hear over and over in connection with kitchen cabinets.
    • Base Cabinets: Base cabinets rest on the floor and determine the kitchen's basic layout.
    • Wall Cabinets: These cabinets hang from the wall and are usually in lesser number than base cabinets. They usually follow the same layout shape as base cabinets.
    • Framed Cabinets: For a more traditional look, framed cabinets look like they have a "frame" (actually the cabinet box) around each door. In contrast to...
    • Frameless Cabinets: Frameless have a door-against-door, drawer-against-drawer appearance. Looking at frameless cabinets from the front, you will see almost no cabinet box.
  • 03 of 06

    10'x10' Kitchen: A Standard of Comparison

    10 x 10 Kitchen


    Mint Images / Getty Images

    Kitchen sizes vary wildly. That's why cabinet manufacturers often express prices by one standard of comparison: a kitchen measuring 10 feet by 10 feet.
    The 10x10 kitchen measurement is used in two ways. First, it's often used by kitchen remodel companies to show how much a fully outfitted kitchen will cost: cabinets, range, dishwasher, sink, and basic flooring.
    But it's also used by cabinet companies to express a standard for cabinet-only packages, nothing else included. Be sure to verify exactly which cabinets the company is including.
    Finally, don't feel that you need to purchase the exact 10x10 package. They can usually be changed to suit your needs.

  • 04 of 06

    Can You Beat the High Cost?

    Couple shopping for cabinets


    SDI Productions / Getty Images

    Buy a fridge, stove, stove vent, dishwasher, or sink for your kitchen and the cost will not drain your bank account. But kitchen cabinets come with serious costs, sometimes as much as purchasing a small vehicle. What to do?
    Choosing MDF over all-wood construction usually can save you some money. Cut out the installation charges by doing in yourself, and you can cut a few bucks from your budget.
    If it's your style, IKEA cabinets usually come in cheaper than comparable cabinets from other RTA retailers.
    Instead of replacing, try refacing (see separate section). And instead of either, try spiffing up your cabinets with a product such as Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Cabinet Refacing

    Cabinet Refacing - Before and After

    Judy Hedding

    Cabinet refacing was once derided as an inferior way to get "new" cabinets for your kitchen.
    Now, with a wider range of veneers and improved installation techniques, refaced cabinets look just as good as new cabinets.
    And cabinet refacing keeps tons of materials out of landfills. So it's green, too!

  • 06 of 06

    Ready to Assemble (RTA) Cabinets



    Helena Wahlman / Getty Images

    Look at ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets as a type of IKEA product. Like IKEA, all RTA cabinets are delivered by freight (not UPS or FedEx) to your house disassembled and flat-packed. It's your job to assemble the cabinets with the included "cam lock" system, along with a set of basic hand and power tools. No carpentry involved.

    RTA Pros and Cons

    Yes, RTA cabinets are cheaper than designer or store-bought cabinets. Remember, though, then you'll need to pay for delivery, whether you are directly assessed the fees or they are woven into the company's "free delivery" offer. Many companies claim "No Sales Tax," which is fine--except you are still legally obligated to pay those taxes directly to your tax authority. But that's your decision.

    Factory-Assembled RTA

    If you can't stand the idea of assembling cabinets before you've even begun remodeling your kitchen, there is an offshoot called factory-assembled RTA, though its very name sounds contradictory. Basically, the RTA company builds the cabinets at their factory and ships them to you fully assembled. It's just another way of blurring the line between RTA and "real" cabinets, begging the question: Which is which?

Watch Now: Designer Kitchen Tips