What Are RTA Kitchen Cabinets?

Home Builder with Walsh Built Homes / Walcraft Cabinetry B - 1011954

You may be very familiar with RTA kitchen cabinets, or perhaps not at all. For those who are not familiar, I would like to tell you all about RTA cabinets.


Quite simply, RTA kitchen cabinets are just unassembled cabinets. They come shipped in a flat-pack box with all of the parts and pieces needed to assemble them. Typically, there will be a piece of paper in the box with instructions on how to assemble the pieces, which simplifies matters. Once the first cabinet has been assembled, it becomes pretty easy to figure out how to work with the remainder.


At some point in every cabinet’s life it is an RTA cabinet. Custom cabinet makers produce RTA cabinets, and then they assemble them. So, essentially, they're just cabinets … unassembled.


That being said, the RTA cabinet market is growing by leaps and bounds. Here's why: RTA cabinets make kitchen cabinetry more affordable. Because they are shipped flat-packed, the shipping costs are much less, as well as the labor cost to assemble them. And, they come in all shapes and sizes. They also come in all types and price ranges.


Chinese RTA kitchen cabinets are the most well-known. These cabinets are manufactured by hundreds of different manufacturers and shipped into the United States in mass quantities. They are built so that someone with nominal handyman skills can easily assemble them. The assembly process ranges from lower-end cam locks and metal clip assembly all the way up to traditional wood joinery with glue.


Manufacturers use different techniques and have different quality standards. Almost all Chinese cabinets have the same features: plywood construction, solid hardwood, dovetail drawer boxes, and soft close door and drawer slides have become industry standards. However, that doesn't speak to the quality of those items. Less reputable Chinese manufacturers will be more prone to using lower quality plywood, dovetail drawer boxes that are sloppily made, inferior finishes, and softer hardwoods. They're not all equal.


There are also numerous American-made RTA kitchen cabinetry manufacturers as well. Many of these are traditionally framed cabinets, some are European style without a face frame, and others are modern-style cabinets. You name it, they're out there!


A major benefit of purchasing RTA cabinets is, of course, the price. With a little bit of sweat equity, you can save thousands of dollars. The other benefit is getting your cabinets sooner. By being an in-stock product that is flat packed and ready to ship, RTA cabinets can often be delivered to your home or project within two to three weeks. Typically, cabinetry is 6 to 12 weeks out. This can be a huge convenience when time is of the essence.


But, are they any good? Yes! In fact, some Chinese-made RTA cabinets are better quality than American-made custom cabinets. The high-dollar precision machinery with which they are crafted ends up creating a beautiful product.


If you are looking for an affordable solution to your kitchen remodeling needs, then look no further than imported RTA cabinets. Just make sure you choose a reputable company with which to work! Do your research, look for reviews that are not on company websites, such as Better Business Bureau, Yelp, Houzz, and Google reviews. You can end up with a kitchen that looks like you paid a lot more, when you didn't!



Comments (3)

MichelleCherie Carr Crowe Just Call...408-252-8900
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

Hi there,


Well it sounds like RTA cabinets are basically like IKEA furniture-they come flat and ready to assemble.

Jan 26, 2020 02:52 PM
Sean Walsh
Walsh Built Homes / Walcraft Cabinetry - Grass Valley, CA
Home Builder / Online Cabinetry Retailer

You got it Michelle. Same concept, but better quality. Ikea uses particle board, cam-lock assembly, and does not have dovetail drawers. Some RTA manufacturers use camlocks, or other cheesy ways of assembling cabinets. There are some lines out there who use traditional wood joinery though.We work with the higher end ones and put them in our custom homes we build mainly for resale value. I wouldn't want a potential buyer to open up a cabinet and see cam locks or odd metal clips holding them together after all! Bad first impression.

Jan 26, 2020 03:21 PM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Sean and Welcome to the Rain where we all learn from each other and help each other.

Jan 27, 2020 11:34 AM
Sean Walsh

Thanks Will! I am glad I stumbled unto Active Rain. I appreciate the warm welcome...


Jan 27, 2020 09:22 PM