Guys! I’ve been spending too much time posting things on Instagram and not enough time blogging here, so I’m hoping that with the arrival of fall and less fun to be had outside I’ll get back to blogging a little more. I really need to share my finished window seat but am waiting to add the sconces because then it will be all done (finally)! So in the meantime, let’s get back to my other favorite topic: kitchens.
One of the most asked about topics this summer after our kitchen reveal was how we like our kitchen cabinets and how we liked ordering them online. After responding to a bunch of emails, I thought I’d share our experience and the pros and cons of RTA (ready-to-assemble) cabinets in a quickie review. For those thinking this quick review is not short enough, the bottom line is we love them, loved the price, loved the process, and couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out.
As background, this is our second kitchen remodel and the second time we decided to go with ready-to-assemble or RTA cabinets. RTA cabinets are like Ikea cabinets. They come in boxes and you need to assemble them. Unlike Ikea cabinets, you can get RTA cabinets in an endless variety of finishes, they are usually solid hardwood, and are delivered to your door. All for about the same price as Ikea cabinets.
We got the Aspen White Shaker cabinets from The RTA Store (no affiliation, just sharing what we did). The cabinets are manufactured by a company called Forevermark and you can shop around and compare with other companies that sell the same cabinets (also called Ice White Shaker). We researched pricing and options through a lot of different companies because yes, I do enjoy creating cabinet-comparison spreadsheets in my spare time. I didn’t go crazy trying to get the best price for the cabinets, but feel really comfortable with what we paid, especially for the value.
Now onto the pros and cons with a few added tips for ordering RTA cabinets online.
Cost Efficient: These cabinets are super cost efficient. I haven’t done a direct cabinet-by-cabinet comparison to Ikea, but I recall that they are fairly comparable. We purchased a lot of cabinets, including primarily base cabinets with drawers, a pantry unit, an island panel, filler pieces, three refrigerator panels, and a few custom pieces. All of this ended up costing just over $5000 for our kitchen which is about 9’x18’.
Quality Construction: The cabinets are solid wood with dovetail drawers. They are assembled via a locking system, which is super secure. Having put together more than my fair share of Ikea furniture, I consider the locking system on the RTA cabinets to be more secure than the general camlock system for Ikea cabinets. Adding wood glue during assembly makes them even stronger. The only exception to the “solid wood” is that the cabinets we got have painted doors, so the doors alone are mdf. The goal is to reduce paint cracking, and so far we haven’t had a single crack despite year round temperature swings.
Details: Soft-close drawers come standard (at least for ours). Also, the sides of each cabinet and the insides of the cabinets are finished. No need for end panels. And they have lots of good add-on options like pull out drawers for the pantry unit and options for trim pieces.
Customer Service: The RTA Store is great to work with. They helped us with our layout and were very cheerful despite our numerous questions and changes. When our cabinets arrived, the 4’x8’ island piece was damaged – they shipped us a new one quickly and at no cost.
Perfect paint: The white cabinets we picked are a true white. We received door samples from multiple companies and so many of the white doors looked cream, off-white, or dingy. These cabinets are a bright (but not shocking) white. For comparison, we’ve found that match really well to Sherwin Williams’s Extra White.
No Inset Cabinet Doors: I really, REALLY wanted inset cabinet doors when designing our kitchen. I couldn’t find those easily. Most RTA cabinets come with partial or full overlay doors. Now that I have my cabinets it is totally not a big deal, but at the time I ordered I wish there had been some good RTA inset door options.
Add-Ons are Costly: Some add-ons can be found much cheaper on sites other than the cabinet site. For example, the soft-close hinges were cheaper through Amazon and we purchased our garbage pull-out insert and spice-pull-out insert from another website for less.
Lack of Directions: The directions that come with the cabinets are not particularly helpful. Your best friend will be YouTube videos.
Time: It takes more time. Any time you design your own kitchen it will be slower than having a professional do it for you. Same goes for building your own cabinets. Just be prepared to add in extra time for both planning, working with the website’s cabinet designer on changes, and then the shipping/building time.
Shipping: If you decide to order pieces after your initial order, the shipping is expensive. Just get everything you want at once and, if your order is over a certain amount, shipping should be free.
- Get a sample door. There really is no substitute for seeing the color and quality in person. Internet words lie! (But not mine.) Don’t trust, see for yourself.
- Even if you have the best layout ever, have a company representative review it for any issues. I thought our design was perfect, but I totally missed an issue in one particular corner (where I needed a filler) and was so glad someone helped with that.
- After you’ve picked your cabinets, use as many of the stock cabinet dimensions to minimize any custom requirements.
- Wait for a sale! We got 20% off our cabinets by ordering them on a sale. Also, some companies will price-match so give that a go, too.
- While I’ve shared my experience with our cabinets, all online cabinets are different. Some have finished sides, some don’t. Some include upgrades, some don’t. So be sure to check the specs carefully before ordering.
Pros, cons, and tips aside, we just really love how our cabinets look and function for us. Clearly I have been using the heck out of them for the past year.
Did I forget something? Want to know more? Ask in the comments and I’ll be glad to answer!