RTA vs Pre-Assembled Cabinets: Which is Right for You?

When it comes to home renovation or kitchen remodeling, it often feels like there are endless possibilities for every choice you have to make about your new space. Kitchen cabinets are one of the bigger remodeling choices, as they are so prominent in the kitchen space, and there are a number of choices to choose from in terms of material and design. However, before you decide what you want your cabinets to look like, you have to choose how you want them to arrive. You have two options in terms of delivery and installation: RTA vs pre-assembled cabinets. We will go into detail about their differences and some of the pros and cons of both below. 

What’s the Difference?

Before we try to answer which type of cabinet better fits your needs and preferences, it’s best to explain what the terms “RTA” and “preassembled” really mean.

Commonly referred to as RTA, ready-to-assemble cabinets are exactly what they seem. These cabinets are not assembled by the manufacturer prior to shipping and installation, so you will have to assemble and install them yourself, or hire someone to do so for you. RTA kitchen cabinets are typically shipped in individual pieces or small sets, which means that when the cabinets arrive, they’ll come flat-packed. Flat-packed furniture should arrive in a flat box and contain kits that include instructions and, occasionally, some hardware to aid in assembly. That being said, you may have to make a trip to the hardware store for things like wood glue and tools. 

Pre-assembled cabinets, on the other hand, arrive at your door fully assembled. All you need to do upon arrival is install the cabinets wherever you would like them in your kitchen. Many think that pre-assembled cabinets are made of a different material from RTA cabinets or that there are a multitude of differences in quality, cost, and customization options. This used to be the case, but, as we’ll explain further along, both types of cabinet have a full spectrum of options for you to choose from. The only real difference between RTA and pre-assembled cabinets nowadays is quite literally whether you need to assemble your cabinets yourself or not. 

Are RTA or Pre-Assembled Cabinets Cheaper?

Technically speaking, RTA cabinets tend to be cheaper than pre-assembled cabinets because of the additional labor and shipping costs involved. Because RTA cabinets are flat-packed, the packages take up less room and are usually easier to ship than their pre-assembled counterparts. Also, because the manufacturer does not spend time or labor on assembling the cabinets themselves, you will generally see a lower price point than on pre-assembled cabinets, where the cost of labor is included. This means that you may be able to afford a higher quality material or design than if you order pre-assembled cabinets. 

On the other hand, while pre-assembled cabinets typically have a higher price point up front, they won’t necessarily end up being a higher cost than RTA cabinets. It all depends on how you decide to assemble your RTA cabinets. RTA cabinets that you assemble yourself with the tools provided by the manufacturer may be less expensive than pre-assembled cabinets, but you can easily end up spending the same amount of money that you would have on shipping a pre-assembled cabinet by getting higher-end tools from a hardware store or outsourcing the labor to assemble the cabinets at home. Sometimes, pre-assembled cabinets end up being cheaper because you don’t have to buy tools, and pre-assembled cabinets are always cheaper than RTA in terms of your time and effort. 

It’s important to note that the cost of your cabinets does not necessarily denote their quality. Let us explain.

Are Pre-Assembled Cabinets Higher Quality than RTA Cabinets?

In terms of the quality of materials, both RTA and pre-assembled cabinets come in the full spectrum of materials, from particle board to high-quality solid wood. The biggest difference in quality between these two kinds of cabinets will come from how well the cabinets are assembled and installed. Pre-assembled cabinets will be assembled by trained professionals, who will use their industrial-grade tools and expertise to provide the best quality craftsmanship for your cabinets. While RTA cabinets may be the exact same quality of material as pre-assembled, it is up to you to assemble them in a way that ensures that they will look good and last you a long time. 

RTA vs Pre-Assembled Cabinet Quality Guarantees

Oftentimes, pre-assembled cabinets come with a quality guarantee from the manufacturer because there is more risk of damage during shipping. Because RTA cabinets are packaged so securely, it’s unlikely that you’ll get a refund or replacement if you damage something while you put it together. Be sure to look into the warranty and quality assurance policy when deciding which cabinets to purchase. 

Can You Customize RTA or Pre-Assembled Cabinets?

The customization of your cabinets, whether they be pre-assembled or RTA, is limited only by your imagination. Pre-assembled cabinets are usually made to order, so you can essentially build your dream cabinet online and have it shipped right to your door. While RTA cabinets are more likely to be mass-produced, you have the unique ability to mix and match the individual elements of your cabinets from multiple sources or various collections on a seller’s site. 

Contractor Pricing for Everyone

Whether you decide that ready-to-assemble (RTA) or pre-assembled cabinets are the best choice for you, Buy Wholesale Cabinets has you covered. We offer a number of different designs and features in your choice of either RTA or pre-assembled form, including our Shaker White and raised panel collections. At Buy Wholesale Cabinets, we pride ourselves on excellent quality, customer satisfaction, and unbeatable wholesale prices for everyone. Contact us today for a free quote or to speak with one of our friendly representatives about your cabinetry needs.