Unfinished Kitchen Cabinets vs. RTA Cabinets — the Ultimate Comparison!

By Sean Walsh

Did you know that the average kitchen remodels costs around $20,000? Cabinets are one of the largest parts of remodeling a kitchen. The good news is you can save thousands by handling the remodel yourself! If you choose the DIY route you need to know how unfinished kitchen cabinets compare to RTA cabinets. This detailed comparison will help you make an informed decision by zeroing in on 3 crucial matters: money, time, and quality.

First Things First – Comparing the Cost

We’ll start with comparing the cost because it’s usually the most important aspect of the decision-making process. The RTA cabinetry business is booming mainly due to the housing market’s increase (and more home remodeling projects) over the past few years. Therefore businesses must offer competitive prices to match their competitive market. The cost of RTA cabinets is less than that of unfinished cabinets across the board because the cost of shipping is often much cheaper due to the fact RTA Cabinets are unassembled and have a smaller footprint. Also, the cost of labor for unfinished cabinets must be taken into account as finishing cabinetry is a VERY time-consuming (messy) task. Manufacturers also must charge for having the cabinets put together before they’re shipped. Since unfinished cabinets can’t be shipped in flat boxes, like RTA cabinets, they take up a significant amount of space and dollars.

Time Flies When You’re… Remodeling a Kitchen – Comparing the Time

Speaking of time, let’s compare the time (and effort) it would take to install each of the types of cabinets. While RTA cabinets need to be assembled but not painted, unfinished cabinets need to be stained and/or painted but not assembled. However, assembling cabinets is a much easier process (and less messy one) as RTA cabinets come with pre-drilled holes and the brackets and hinges are already attached to the doors and cabinet sides. All you’ll need is a cordless drill, some glue, and a rubber mallet! No paint, paint brushed, paint remover (in case of a mess up), paint covers, and additional space for the painting process. Oh and no fumes filling the air. While RTA cabinets are prepared in such a way that any abled body person could put them together, there are no set instructions for how to paint or stain unfinished cabinets. It’s harder to learn how to paint unfinished cabinets for the first time but a novice can assemble RTA cabinets.

The Result – Comparing the Quality

While the cost and time are important factors, the quality of the finished product is often a top priority in determining which type of cabinets will make a remodel look and feel worthwhile. At the end of the day, you want your remodeled kitchen to have that ‘wow effect’. So let’s talk quality. Many unfinished cabinets are fairly cheap as manufacturers usually use particle boards or plywood as well as inferior hardware, which in turn affects the overall look of the cabinets. In comparison, RTA cabinets leave the store or warehouse with a factory finish that is often applied by hand (by professionals). State-of-the-art machinery is utilized when preparing the RTA cabinets. These major differences give RTA cabinets a superior look, adding both value and elegance to the kitchen’s presence. Not to mention the finish on RTA is MUCH more durable and will last A LOT longer.

It’s Time to Make an Informed Decision

We have evaluated the cost, time, and quality of RTA cabinets and unfinished cabinets, so we’ll keep the conclusion short and to the point. All the data points to RTA cabinets. RTA cabinets can save you money without the extra headache of painting, staining, etc. of unfinished cabinets. There may be people who are trying to save money by searching for unfinished cabinets that don’t even know what RTA cabinets are. If that’s you then this comparison guide should be an eye-opener. It’s also worth noting that RTA cabinets can have many more premium features (Dovetail Drawers, Soft Close Slides and Hinges, and All Wood/Plywood) than unfinished cabinets and still cost less money.

If you’re still not convinced or you just have more questions please give us a call at (888) 547-5573. At Walcraft Cabinetry, we pride ourselves on excellent customer service. We offer FREE KITCHEN DESIGNS and INEXPENSIVE DOOR SAMPLES, so let’s get started saving you some money, headaches, and fumes! We can’t wait to hear from you.