Everybody knows that RTA Cabinets can save you a significant amount of money on your new kitchen or bathroom, but not everybody knows the difference between the various types of RTA Cabinets that are on the market. It seems like for every person who had a good experience with assembling and installing their own cabinets, there are just as many people who have horror stories from dealing with the wrong supplier or buying the wrong type of RTA Cabinets. In this article I am going to cover the differences between the various ready-to-assemble cabinets that are on the market so that you can ensure your experience is a positive one.
Materials- whether you are talking about custom, stock, or RTA cabinets, the materials used for the construction of the cabinets should be the biggest factor in what cabinets you are buying. The most common question that I get from customers is "what is the door made of?". People want to make sure that the door is made of real wood, when in reality they should be more concerned with what the cabinet box is made of. 95% of the RTA Cabinets that are the market are going to have solid wood doors and face frames (if not, that should be a red flag!!). Where they differ will be what they use for the box and the back panel. There are a wide variety of materials that are used by manufacturers, including- plywood, fiberboard, particle board, MDF, and solid wood. Plywood and Solid wood are going to be your strongest cabinet box. There are several issues that you might have to deal with if you buy cabinets that use particle board or fiberboard with a veneer cover..... 1) if the material gets wet, fiberboard and particle board tend to swell or buckle 2) both materials tend break or split, especially screws or nails are used. Screws will have a tendency to lose their grip because the material is made of shredded wood or paper vs. a plywood or solid wood material. Ironically, most of the cabinets that you have to special order from Lowes or Home Depot are actually made of fiberboard with a veneer. For a strong, long lasting cabinet, make sure that the cabinet box is made of plywood or solid wood.
Ease of Assembly- if you have heard any stories horror stories about RTA cabinets, it most likely had to do with the complicated assembly that is required. If you have ever bought anything from IKEA than you know exactly what I am talking about. One of my neighbors who just remodeled their kitchen with cabinets from IKEA was telling me her story about the cabinets she thought she was getting a great deal on. I was amazed to find out that everything literally comes in its own box.... the hinges are in a box, the screws are in another box, the cabinet faces are another box, etc, etc.... she was telling me that it took a couple of hours just to identify all of the different parts. After hearing her story, I can understand why some people might not what to deal with the headache. I can assure you that not all RTA cabinets are that hard to assemble. A good, high quality cabinet will come with everything ready to assemble in a single box. Having worked with ready-to-assemble cabinets for the past 15 years, the cabinets that I am used to dealing with only require a screw driver to assemble, and can be assembled in 5-10 minutes. On a high quality cabinet, the doors will already be attached to the face frames, and everything interlocks using cam locks. If you find yourself buying each piece in a separate box, make sure you set aside a couple days for assembly because you are going to need it!!
Price- let's face it, most people associate the price of a product with the quality of the product..... this is not true. If you have ever searched for RTA Kitchen Cabinets on the internet you will find several dozen cabinet stores selling the same exact line of cabinets, with highest priced websites selling the same exact cabinets (changing the name to slightly) for 2-3 times as much as the lowest priced cabinet store. Don't be fooled by price. Check into the materials, assembly procedure, and shipping schedule to determine if the cabinet is right for you. Shop around... just because a big box store has the buying power, doesn't mean you are going to get the best deal... in reality, the best deals available are going to come from the internet sites that have very little overhead and are working off of lower margins. They can usually offer better customer service as well.
So if you are at the point where you are thinking about RTA Cabinets, make sure you ask the right questions to ensure you have to best experience possible. By finding cabinets made of the right materials, that are easy to assemble, and priced appropriately, you can ensure a beautiful kitchen or bathroom and a project that is easy to accomplish.