Deciphering the Cabinet Conundrum: RTA vs. Pre-Assembled Cabinets

Choosing cabinets for your home involves more than just aesthetic considerations. Especially in areas like kitchens where functionality is key, understanding the construction and suitability of different types of cabinets is crucial. This guide aims to dissect the differences between RTA (Ready To Assemble) and Pre-Assembled cabinets, helping you make an informed decision.

A Close Look at RTA Cabinets

RTA cabinets are shipped as unassembled parts and are designed to be put together at the installation site. The complexity of their assembly varies with design intricacy. Typically, these cabinets come with pre-labeled and pre-drilled parts for easy assembly.

You can find RTA cabinets at major retailers like IKEA, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Costco. However, the variety available online far surpasses what you might find in physical stores.

Pros and Cons of RTA Cabinets


  1. Cost-Effective: RTA cabinets are less expensive as they exclude assembly costs.
  2. High-Quality Options: You can invest in higher quality materials within the RTA category.
  3. Flexible Design: The ability to assemble the cabinets yourself allows for customization according to your space.
  4. Quick Shipping: Being mass-produced, RTA cabinets typically have faster shipping times.


  1. Potential Assembly Challenges: The risk of incorrect assembly is always present.
  2. Professional Assistance Costs: Complicated designs may necessitate hiring a professional, offsetting the initial cost savings.
  3. Limited Design Options: RTA cabinets often have fewer style and design choices.
  4. Replacement Part Issues: Sourcing replacement parts can be difficult, especially for cabinets manufactured overseas.

Pre-Made Cabinets

Pre-Made cabinets are delivered ready for installation, with all components, including drawers and hardware, already in place.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Pre-Assembled Cabinets


  1. Ease of Installation: No assembly is required, making installation straightforward.
  2. Varied and Complex Designs: These cabinets often come with more advanced features like Lazy Susans and Pull Outs.
  3. Guaranteed Quality: Assembled in factories with industrial tools, these cabinets are generally more durable.


  1. Higher Cost: The expertise required for assembly at the manufacturing site increases the product’s price.
  2. Extended Shipping Time: Custom orders can lengthen the shipping process.
  3. Expensive Shipping: Due to their size, shipping costs for pre-assembled cabinets can be high.

Making the Right Choice

Your selection between RTA and Pre-Assembled cabinets should be based on your budget and the time you can allocate for installation. If cost is a concern, RTA cabinets offer quality at a more affordable price. However, if durability, complex design, and ease of installation are priorities, Pre-Assembled cabinets are the way to go. Each type has its unique advantages and is suitable for different needs and preferences.