RTA Cabinet Reviews: RTA vs. Home Depot

RTA vs. Home Depot Review

When we were investigating RTA (ready to assemble) kitchen cabinets, we found a lot of information on company websites. However, when we tried to find out the experiences of homeowners, like us, there was very little information. Moreover, the reviews we did find were sometimes tied with companies, so that it was hard to know what were advertisements and what was actual consumer experience.

So for the record, I want to explain that I have no connection with any cabinet manufacturing company. At the time of this project, I was a 49-year old housewife who had done many home renovation projects but had limited experience in building anything out of wood. Many homeowners looking to purchase RTA cabinets may have much more experience than I had, so my successful assembly of 35 RTA cabinets should encourage anyone that you can do this too.

This project was done in 2009 and the RTA cabinets still are in beautiful condition. They require very little maintenance and in spite of my fears, the detail work on the rope cabinets has not collected dirt or grime. I dust them and clean them every couple of months with a kitchen cabinet cleaner and that's it. The inside of the cabinets are in great shape and have held heavy dishes with no problem.

Our Home Depot cabinets are a couple of years older and have also held up well. What I've disliked most about the Home Depot cabinets is that they really don't use space well. The drawers are too small and they don't have nice shelves that hold things. I've had to jerry-rig containers to try to hold things in them. The Home Depot cabinets were much more expensive and are more cheaply made. I would never choose anything but RTA again.

RTA Cabinet Kitchen before and after

Click thumbnail to view full-size
RTA Kitchen afterOur "before" kitchenRTA pantry cabinets
RTA Kitchen after
RTA Kitchen after | Source
Our "before" kitchen
Our "before" kitchen | Source
RTA pantry cabinets
RTA pantry cabinets | Source

RTA Cabinets vs. Home Depot

After sending an order for thousands of dollars of cabinets, I began to worry. What if they aren’t as high a quality as I’ve been led to expect? What if they don’t look like the pictures? I was very relieved when the cabinets came, I assembled them myself and discovered:

  • Solid Build: With RTA Cabinets, I got cabinets that were even more beautiful than I expected and very solidly built.
  • Easy to Assemble: As I put them together, I was even more convinced that RTA cabinets are the best bargain around because they were not difficult for a 50-year-old woman to do.
  • Better Product at a Cheaper Price: For about half of what I paid for my Home Depot bathroom cabinets, I was able to get adjustable solid wood shelves (my Home Depot cabinets didn’t even come with shelves) and deep drawers (about twice as deep as the drawers in my previous kitchen).
  • Can Afford More Custom Features: In addition, because of the low cost of the RTA cabinets, I was able to afford some of the design features I wanted, like corner cabinets, a lazy susan, and base drawer cabinets.
  • Use Pantry Cabinets as Built-in Shelving: I also was able to afford to use Pantry cabinets in my laundry room, craft room and living room as permanent storage areas. The pantry cabinets offered far more storage in these rooms than traditional furniture and also serve as a beautiful accent to each room.
  • Good Quality Shelves: Some of these cabinets hold heavier items like books and appliances. Particle board shelves might warp, but the solid wood shelves on these RTA Cabinets have held up beautifully for over 10 years now.

Home Depot, IKEA and RTA

When we decided to remodel our kitchen, we initially thought we’d return to Home Depot and use the same light maple shaker style cabinets we’d used in our remodeled bathrooms. We also considered buying Ready to Assemble cabinets from IKEA. Unfortunately, none of the IKEA styles really seemed to match the Mediterranean style of our house. Additionally, I read some consumer reviews of IKEA which indicated that their cabinets were difficult to put together.I also had some concerns about IKEA quality since some of the furniture we'd purchased from them had not lasted well.

Somewhere along the way in my internet research, I discovered RTA cabinets. I’d never liked the fact that my Home Depot cabinets seemed so cheaply built with laminate insides and no shelves in some of the base cabinets. After watching some RTA assembly videos, I decided I could probably do it.

How to install wall cabinets

How to Choose an RTA Cabinet Company

What to Look for in an RTA Company: We did extensive research before choosing our RTA Cabinets. We looked at all the choices at our local Home Depot and Lowe's as well as investigating at least 30 RTA companies. In the end, we decided that the most important criteria for choosing a company were:

  • The type of cabinet style they offered.
  • The wood colors and types available
  • Customer service.
  • Company reputation and length of time in business.
  • Return policies.
  • Can order door to check color and style.

Ask for References: We asked for sample work done for other customers as well as some references we could call. We also investigated the return policies and shipping services.

Pick Cabinets You Really Like: We finally chose to work with RTA Cabinets Unlimited (a division of Custom Service Hardware) because they had two cabinet choices we liked, Warwick Walnut and Cherry Tuscany (which has been discontinued, but is replaced by a maple cabinet which has a similar cinnamon color stain).

Look for a Company that lets you see before buying. We liked the fact that RTA Cabinets Unlimited allowed us to order cabinet doors to see if we liked them. Some other companies offer this or you can also order a small cabinet. The doors were not expensive and were well worth the price because it enabled us to see how well the company serviced their orders, test the quality of the cabinets, and also see how those cabinets would look in our house. In addition, I found that having those doors was very helpful in making other decorating decisions because I could carry them with me to check the color against paint and drapery choices.

What is your biggest concern in your remodel?

  • Quality of cabinets
  • Cost of project
  • Having choices
  • Can I put these together?
  • Reliablity of Company--potential problems
See results without voting

RTA Cabinet vs Home Depot

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Tuscany RTA tongue and grove drawer box is deep and has with wood sides and bottomHome Depot cabinets have cheaper doors and a wide space between drawersHome Depot has shallow drawers, laminate bottom of cabinet and no sides to drawers (also no shelves in door cabinets)Shallow drawers of Home Depot cabinets and laminate bottom
Tuscany RTA tongue and grove drawer box is deep and has with wood sides and bottom
Tuscany RTA tongue and grove drawer box is deep and has with wood sides and bottom | Source
Home Depot cabinets have cheaper doors and a wide space between drawers
Home Depot cabinets have cheaper doors and a wide space between drawers | Source
Home Depot has shallow drawers, laminate bottom of cabinet and no sides to drawers (also no shelves in door cabinets)
Home Depot has shallow drawers, laminate bottom of cabinet and no sides to drawers (also no shelves in door cabinets)
Shallow drawers of Home Depot cabinets and laminate bottom
Shallow drawers of Home Depot cabinets and laminate bottom | Source

Warwick Walnut Assembly (gives nice pictures and good illustration of assembly)

Check Out Customer Service

One of the best things about the company I dealt with was customer service, so you do want to ask what sort of support the company has after you receive the product. With the company we dealt with, as soon as I made my first email contact asking a question, I was assigned James as my customer service representative and given both his email and phone number. I recently learned that James is still with the company and is now in management. That makes me feel sure that the customer service aspect of the company is on the right track. Here is why customer support is important for me:

  • Whenever I needed help, James was quickly responsive and he either knew the answer or was willing to find someone who could help.
  • My support person helped me with some design decisions by giving me some photos of other customer’s projects.
  • James called me frequently throughout my assembly process to make sure I was doing all right and to find out if I had any questions.
  • He was particularly helpful to me when I was trying to decide whether I needed to buy a nail gun. I had never used one before and was concerned about how to do it. James reassured me that using a regular hammer and finishing nails would work just as well to hold the Warwick Walnut pantry cabinets together while the glue dried.
  • He also suggested using wood clamps, which were not in the instructions but which made much of my assembly easier.

RTA Cabinet Quality and Features

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RTA Tuscany cabinet has detailed design and raised panel constructionRTA Tuscany Lazy Susan is all wood and very well builtRTA Tuscany cabinet drawers are deep RTA cabinet has all wood adjustable shelves
RTA Tuscany cabinet has detailed design and raised panel construction
RTA Tuscany cabinet has detailed design and raised panel construction | Source
RTA Tuscany Lazy Susan is all wood and very well built
RTA Tuscany Lazy Susan is all wood and very well built | Source
RTA Tuscany cabinet drawers are deep
RTA Tuscany cabinet drawers are deep | Source
RTA cabinet has all wood adjustable shelves
RTA cabinet has all wood adjustable shelves | Source

RTA Cabinets are a Good Choice

RTA cabinets offer a fantastic opportunity to remodel your home at a reasonable price. Overall, our experience with RTA Cabinets was very positive.

Provided you are prepared to design your own kitchen and make sure you have the correct measurements, you will find ordering, shipping and assembly of these products to go smoothly/ While there were a few minor flaws in or order, such as somewhat warped boards in a couple of the pantry cabinets, none of these flaws affected my ability to assemble the cabinets and none are visible in the finished product.

Since reviews of RTA cabinet companies are so limited on the internet, I’d encourage you to write a comment if you have used RTA Cabinets Unlimited or any other company so that other buyers will have information to help them make their decision. Do you have experience with RTA cabinets in your home? Please share your own stories in the comments section.

Quick illustration of assembly from RTA Unlimited

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Comments 9 comments

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 2 months ago from United States Author

You are correct that it is possible to buy quality cabinets at Home Depot and Lowes but they generally cost more than RTA cabinets. Of course with RTA you are doing the work of putting them together, so that saves a lot of money. My Home Depot Cabinets were on the lower end of the price spectrum but not ones that you just pick up in the store. They were special ordered. They do have some nice construction features but they are not as high quality as my RTA cabinets, even though they cost twice as much.

anonymous 2 months ago

VirginiaLynne - correction quality cabinets will also use plywood for the box and solid wood for doors. Particle board and MDF is used in the assembled cabinets found at homedepot and lowes and some of IKEA. There are different grades and types of plywood, thickness (1/2" 5/8" & 3/4") and also number of layers are indicators of quality. Look for KCMA and CARB 2 certifcations

ClaytonDaily profile image

ClaytonDaily 10 months ago

Great review thanks for the info

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 13 months ago from United States Author

Theod--We used Custom Service Hardware. They seem to have changed their name or to go by this other name. Here is the contact information:

Custom Service Hardware

1170 N Wauwatosa Rd

Cedarburg, WI 53012

Phone: 800.882.0009

Mon - Fri, 8:00am - 4:30pm

Theod 13 months ago

I counted 5 RTA Cabinets Unlimited store in 5 different State. Which one did you use Lynne? Thanks very much.

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 23 months ago from United States Author

It depends on the style you want. Most RTA cabinets are better than something you would buy fully constructed at Home Depot, Lowes or another big store. That is because the fully constructed cabinets are usually made with plywood rather than real wood. It might be that the most expensive cabinets use real wood inside, but the lower end ones don't. All of the cabinet doors are generally all wood but the inside shelves and sides are not.

seoexpertamitsaha profile image

seoexpertamitsaha 23 months ago from Kolkata

What is the Best Kitchen cabinet door in USA?Please help me..

Teri Gary 2 years ago

I too just had rta cabinets installed and they are absolutely amazing. They are durable good quality quite inexpensive and absolutely beautiful!!!! LOVE

The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States

I have been looking at RTA cabinets but am concerned about quality and options. Glad to see yours. Will have to look at RTA Unlimited to see if they have the specialty cabinets we're looking for. Thanks!

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