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What are RTA Cabinets?

Also known as ready-to-assemble cabinets (RTA), RTA cabinets can be easily ordered online and delivered in parts, along with the hardware needed for assembly. Available in many styles, from traditional to modern, RTA cabinets range in price depending on their quality.

Here is your complete guide to understanding RTA cabinets.

What are the Types of RTA Cabinets?

One of the key aspects of choosing an RTA cabinet is deciding on the overlay. The overlay refers to how the cabinet doors fit over the frame. Understanding the different types of overlays can help you make the best choice for your kitchen design.

Full Overlay

Full Overlay RTA cabinets

Full overlay cabinets are designed so the doors completely cover the cabinet frame. Their clean, uninterrupted lines make them great for modern, minimalist kitchen designs.

Partial Overlay

Partial Overlay RTA cabinets

Partial overlay cabinets feature doors that only partially cover the cabinet frame, leaving a portion of the frame visible around each door. This offers a more traditional and classic aesthetic.


Inset cabinets have doors that sit flush with the cabinet frame, fitting inside the frame instead of overlaying it. This look is often associated with a distinct, high-end look and adds a touch of historical charm and sophistication to a kitchen design.

How are RTA Cabinets Assembled?

Assembling RTA cabinets doesn’t require specific skills or equipment. The supplies you need are included with the cabinet parts, along with clear instructions.

The instructions include assembling the cabinet box, attaching the back panels, installing shelves, and attaching the face frame, if applicable. Afterward, you would install the doors, assemble them, and install the drawers and hardware. After the cabinets are built, you would secure them by attaching them to the wall studs.

Assembling each cabinet should take about an hour, and it will be even quicker if you enlist a friend to help.

What is the Cost of RTA Cabinets?

The cost of RTA cabinets varies depending on their quality and the number of cabinets purchased. Like all cabinets, the cost of RTA cabinets is measured per square foot. The range of RTA cabinet costs is from $175 to $400 per square foot, depending on the quality of the cabinet—whether it is low, medium, or high quality.

Types of RTA Cabinets

 There are three types of RTA cabinets based on how they’re assembled: dovetail, metal plate, and cam lock assembly.

Dovetail Assembly

dovetail assembly

Dovetail cabinets use interlocking joints to hold them together. This offers the highest quality and strongest type of assembly, which we use as one of our quality standards in all our semi-custom cabinets.

Metal Plate Assembly

metal plate assembly

Metal plate assembly joins the cabinet sections together. The process includes flat metal pieces with pre-drilled holes and screws to attach these plates to the cabinet parts, often used with L-brackets for additional support. The pre-drilled holes are easy and are the most cost-effective since no specialized tools are needed.

However, the metal plates may be visible inside the cabinets, potentially affecting the aesthetic appeal.

Cam Lock Assembly

cam lock assembly

Cam lock assemblies are popular because they are quick and easy to use. Cam locks and dowels are used to join the cabinet components together by placing the dowels in pre-drilled holes. The cam locks are concealed inside the cabinets, maintaining a clean look. Cam lock assembly is great for DIY lovers.

All types of RTA cabinet assembly offer distinct advantages, and they are relatively quick and easy to assemble.

RTA vs. Pre-Assembled: What’s the Difference?

There are a few significant differences between RTA and pre-assembled cabinets. RTA cabinets ship directly to your home in flat-pack boxes with all the necessary tools to assemble. The DIY assembly is ideal for budget-conscious homeowners and offers a wide range of styles and colors in a range of quality.

Pre-assembled cabinets arrive at your home fully constructed and ready to install. They offer consistently high-quality craftsmanship, are made of high-quality materials, and have excellent warranties. These cabinets include custom features and convenient, hassle-free installation with professional installers.

What are the Pros and Cons of RTA Cabinets?

Pros and Cons of RTA cabinets

Some advantages of RTA cabinets include:

  1. Cost-effective: The price for an average sized kitchen varies from $1000 to $7000 for a more custom design.
  2. Flat-pack shipping – this type of shipping reduces shipping costs due to being shipped in flat boxes.
  3. DIY-friendly – RTA cabinets are easily assembled for DIY enthusiasts and come with the tools needed.

Some disadvantages of RTA cabinets include:

  1. Quality varies – RTA cabinets don’t necessarily meet the high standards of pre-assembled cabinets. This depends on the types of materials and finishes used.
  2. Labor-intensive assembly – Assembly can be difficult and time-consuming unless you are a great DIYer. Instructions must be followed meticulously to avoid mistakes.
  3. Warranty is less comprehensive – warranties vary from five to 20 years and may be less inclusive than pre-assembled cabinets.


RTA cabinets provide a versatile DIY option for homeowners and are available in various materials and colors. However, they require careful assembly and may vary in quality depending on the materials used. On the other hand, pre-assembled cabinets deliver consistent quality and convenience with professional installers. By understanding the types of RTA cabinets and the difference with pre-assembled, you can decide which type of cabinets to get. To help with that decision, you can visit your local dealer to learn the distinct advantages of pre-assembled cabinets and how they work in your kitchen.


  1. What are RTA cabinets made of?
  2. RTA cabinets are made of various materials, each offering different levels of quality and durability. They can be made of solid wood, plywood, medium-density fiberboard (MDF), high-density fiberboard (HDF), or particle board.
  3. Why are RTA cabinets cheaper than pre-assembled cabinets?
  4. They are cheaper because you install them yourself and are shipped in flat panel boxes, reducing shipping costs. They are also more affordable depending on the level of quality you purchase.
  5. What do I need to consider before buying RTA cabinets?
  6. Consider the quality of the materials and how they would work in your lifestyle. Also, think about whether you can DIY the cabinet assembly, the styles and finishes available, the length of the warranty, and whether the RTA cabinets fit your budget.
  7. What are the cons of RTA cabinets?
  8. Some cons include the variety of durability and quality, the labor-intensive assembly and potential for assembly errors, warranty limitations, and difficulty in installation if you do it yourself.
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