What Are RTA Kitchen Cabinets?
If you are currently in the market for kitchen cabinets, you may have deduced by now that they can be very expensive, often accounting for as much as 25% to 50% of the entire budget people typically set aside for kitchen remodeling. So, you may be thinking that it’s definitely in your best interest to do whatever you can to lower the cost of the cabinets you choose. If that’s the case, then you may want to seriously consider RTA cabinets. The acronym stands for “Ready to Assemble” and they are an easy way to reduce the rising costs of a kitchen remodel. Sure, they require a bit of work on your part, but for a majority of people who have chosen that direction, the savings were worth it.
Don’t think for a second that somehow RTA’s aren’t ‘real’ cabinets. They are just like the products you buy that are already assembled from your big box or home improvement stores. The only difference is they need to be built and installed, and you are generally given everything you need. They are packed and shipped in long flat boxes with the panels disassembled. All you have to do is put them together!
RTA cabinets have come a long way
Not too long ago they were extremely limited in availability, materials and styles. Typically they could only be found in a small collection of materials such as very plain MDF (medium density fiberboard), melamine, laminate, or thermofoil. Rarely could they be found made from real wood other than in a very minor selection of wood species, door styles or finishes. The market for RTA cabinets has grown considerably, however, and you can practically get anything that’s available fully assembled. Not just plain white thermofoil and crisp contemporary veneers, you’ll be surprised by how many choices you have when you opt to assemble them yourself.
How much will your kitchen cost?
So let’s look into the logistics that matter. For instance, what kind of budget would you be working with if you were to decide to go with RTA cabinets? Typically, you would expect to pay $1,800 on the low end up to $4,500 for the highest quality unassembled cabinets (estimates INCLUDE shipping costs). These prices are based on “standard” kitchen sizes (most often 10’x10’) that accounts for a full kitchen that includes boxes, doors, drawer fronts, side pieces, shelves, pull out trays and molding. Not automatically included are items considered to be extras such as a lazy Susan, roll out spice racks, wine racks and more. Of course, the bigger your kitchen is the more costly it will be.
Assembling and installing your cabinets
One factor making RTA cabinets more desirable than ever before is their design, as they’re made to be assembled with ease. You don’t need to be a professional woodworker to successfully put them together. But beware – some RTAs require much more labor than others. For instance, those that you get from IKEA-like vendors may only need as few as three to four tools (such as a screwdriver, drill and mallet). Often they feature a cam-lock and bracket system that makes assembly a breeze – no hammering, stapling, gluing or cutting. Nearly anybody can work with these.
The other type of RTA’s, however, requires a bit more from you. They’re like building the cabinet from scratch. You’ll need the same tools mentioned previously, but you’ll need to add wood glue, a staple gun, spring and bar clamps, a cordless drill/driver, hammer and saw.
Depending on how much you’re actually comfortable with taking on, it’s a good idea to check out the assembly instructions before you make your purchase. In a common 10’x10’ kitchen you could have anywhere between six to ten cabinets. You don’t want any unpleasant surprises – don’t take on an RTA if you feel the challenge could be too great. It will take time, it’s a project that you need to schedule accordingly, but the end result is rewarding personally and financially.
You may prefer to skip the step of assembling the cabinets if you think you’ll be overwhelmed. Not all do-it-yourself cabinets are RTA. You can choose to purchase them fully assembled, and have only the installation to worry about. Preassembled factory cabinets are delivered ready to go. Take them out of the box and it’s up to you to install them. Here’s the catch, you’ll pay around 25% more on cabinets that are assembled for you.
Receiving your cabinets
The cost of shipping is a substantial concern, actually. Kitchen cabinets are, for lack of a better phrase, HEAVY. When you consider the added weight of plywood, particleboard, doors and accessories it all comes out to around several hundred pounds. Shipping charges on RTA cabinets should be considered from the onset of your research. However, at The RTA Cabinets, all orders over $2,500 qualify for free shipping.
I hope this minor exercise has made you more informed on what to know and expect when seriously considering RTA cabinets. When done properly your groundwork, self-assembly and installation can be responsible for substantial savings.