RTA vs. Assembled Cabinets

The decision of RTA, or ready to assemble, cabinets and already assembled cabinets may not be the exact choice that you first imagine. Most often, people think that, in considering their options, that they are really making a choice between mass manufactured and convenient over quality. But this is hardly the case.

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.  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.


The primary advantage of ready to assemble 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.

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.


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.

Assembled Cabinets Pros

As for 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 taken the time to assemble them.

The Downside…

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 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 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.