RTA Cabinets are often referred to as DIY Kitchen cabinets. I was drawn to this cabinet style thanks to the higher end look that I am able to create for my kitchen renovation projects.

RTA Cabinets with a low price guarantee

Positives

  • Cost: It has been my experience that the RTA cabinets are about 30% to 50% lower priced than comparable kitchen cabinets from a big box store of kitchen cabinet supplier. I typically utilize a portion of the savings to upgrade certain parts of the kitchen that I might not have otherwise.  On a recent kitchen our entire cabinet order was about $2,500 (including shipping). This was a savings of $1,600 when compared with a local supplier carrying a traditional cabinet of similar quality.  We took that savings and upgraded to a granite countertop.
  • Construction Quality: Some will knock the quality of the construction on these cabinets. I disagree.  I have a 25 year history as a woodworker and appreciate the fact that the cabinet sides, back, and bottom are made of plywood rather than particle board. The typical knock is that they are not glued the way a traditional cabinet is. True… but, you can simply run a bead of glue along the seam during installation if that is a concern. I haven’t taken that step since it has not been necessary.
  • Customization: When you compare the price of an RTA cabinet with that of a stock cabinet from your local home store you will probably find that they don’t have too many options that allow for a custom kitchen. Wine racks, varying pantry sizes, built in oven cabinets, plate racks, light rails, varying lazy Susan widths. One of my biggest complaints when I see a renovation, or flip, is that the contractor will simply put a 12″ deep cabinet above the fridge and won’t finish off the end with a panel. With an RTA supplier, you should find the 24″ deep cabinets for above the fridge and end panels readily available.
  • Styles: As you will see, there are many styles with an RTA cabinet. They range from the traditional oak, to a modern mocha, to a transitional cabinet style that will work with any neutral decor, yet will still provide you with a custom look.

Here are a few of the popular door styles from the RTA Cabinet Store (we are an affiliate and a customer of the RTA Cabinet Store)

Oak RTA Kitchen Cabinets

Oak RTA Cabinets

Oak RTA Cabinets

Chestnut Glazed Maple Kitchen Cabinets

Chestnut glazed maple kitchen cabinets

Chestnut glazed maple kitchen cabinets

Marquis Cinnamon Maple Cabinets

Marquis Cinnamon Cabinets

Marquis Cinnamon Cabinets

Sunset Maple Cabinets

Sunset Maple Cabinets

Sunset Maple Cabinets

Negatives – Issues that traditional suppliers will raise

  • Shipping: You should find that the cost difference is so large that the shipping cost will still allow for a hefty savings.
  • Construction Quality: As mentioned above, this is a misnomer that some will bring up.  They will say that a stock cabinet is glued. To that I often ask “what if I just run a bead of glue in the few areas where they do during my assembly”. In the end, I am getting a plywood cabinet box whereas a stock cabinet (or lower end cabinet) is a particle board cabinet box.  In fact, most RTA cabinet suppliers are moving toward dovetail drawer boxes with plywood drawer box sides and no slam drawer hardware. These are options found at the mid to higher price points with other cabinet manufacturers.
  • Assembly Required: Some will tell you that this is a big deal. It really isn’t.  Each cabinet can take about 5-15 minutes. This will usually depend on whether or not there are drawers. Once you understand how they assemble, you will realize it is much easier than the assembly of your kids toys.  There is one fortunate side effect of the cabinets not being assembled upon delivery. The boxes are not too large and provide terrific job site work space when stacked.  I mean it, my stack of cabinet boxes is not only not in the way, but it provides a terrific work surface at that stage of the home renovation game.
  • Finish: This is the one negative that I will agree with. However, with good communication between you and your supplier, it becomes a non-issue.  The finish can be inconsistent with some suppliers (depends on the supplier you choose).  Colors will vary from one manufacturing run to the next. Ideally your supplier will have stock from single runs. That isn’t generally possible, so be sure your supplier is will to consider replacement if your finish variation is too great.

Part of the reason that we affiliated with the RTA cabinet store is that they are located in Pennsylvania and are very easy to reach out to.  Since we are located in NY State, the transit times are short and the freight charges are lower for us.  The RTA Cabinet Store has also garnered some media attention with their work with Habitat for Humanity and their kitchen renovation projects completed in association with the DIY Network and HGTV (photos below).

HGTV Carter Can Kitchen Renovation

HGTV Carter Can Kitchen Renovation

Carter Can Cabinet Installation

Carter Can Cabinet Installation