What is an RTA Cabinet?

If this is your first time shopping for kitchen cabinets, you may be confused by some of the terms other sites and stores use to describe their products. One of the most prominent of those terms is RTA, which stands for ready to assemble. Essentially, an RTA cabinet is one that is assembled by the buyer after delivery as opposed to arriving fully assembled. Though that in itself is an easy enough distinction to make, it doesn’t answer the question of why one would want to purchase an RTA cabinet. It seems, after all, as though all but the most dedicated do-it-yourselfer would prefer to receive their cabinets fully assembled. The answer is a matter of cost, convenience, and quality.


This is perhaps the most well-known benefit of buying RTA. Allowing your cabinets to arrive unassembled lowers the amount of work the retailer must undergo before your product can be shipped, which in turn keeps costs down. The difference can be seen in the prices of our competitors who sell both RTA and traditional cabinets; generally speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere from 50 to 75% more for a cabinet that arrives assembled. Though that may not seem like much on paper, consider that a kitchen’s worth of cabinets can cost just shy of two thousand dollars (and that’s going by Lily Ann’s prices, which are among the best in the industry). For more expensive retailers, buying pre-assembled cabinetry could add hundreds or thousands of dollars to the cost of your remodeling plans, which is quite a lot of money to pay just to have someone else put your cabinets together.


The thought of assembling your cabinets on your own, however, might make you consider whether that’s a price worth paying. Maybe you feel as though you simply don’t have the technical skills necessary for the task, or that you just don’t have the time to put your cabinets together. The truth, however, is that Lily Ann cabinets can be assembled by anybody with access to a few simple tools (wood glue, a drill and a mallet) and the ability to follow simple instructions. We’ve designed the components of our RTA cabinets to lock together like puzzle pieces, meaning that you don’t have to be particularly strong or dextrous to assemble them yourself. What’s more, the simplicity of the process makes assembly fast enough that one person can put together an entire kitchen’s worth of cabinets over a single afternoon, especially if they’re making use of Lily Ann’s helpful video and DIY guides. Even if assembly would be an impossible task - if you’re, say, elderly or differently abled - it still makes more sense to order RTA cabinets over traditional models. After all, you’re going to need a contractor’s assistance in installing your cabinets, and the amount they’d charge you to put them together (which would not take very long at all for a professional) would still be less than what it’d cost to order them fully assembled.

It should be mentioned that traditional cabinets have the benefit of being more easily customized, which ostensibly makes them easier to integrate into an existing kitchen design. The reality, however, is that it’s impossible to know exactly how cabinetry will look in your home until it’s actually there; that is, unless you have technology and expertise on your side. Lily Ann’s free 3D Kitchen Design Tool puts you in touch with a professional designer that will provide you with a digital mockup of how our cabinets would appear in your kitchen, information of indispensable value that we feel more than makes up for the costly, often disappointing customizability offered by traditional models.

Finally, there’s the matter of shipping time. While it can take sellers of traditional cabinets as long as two months to ship their products, Lily Ann prides itself on delivering their RTA cabinets within two business weeks of ordering. As an added benefit, RTA cabinets take up much less room when boxed than fully-assembled models, which adds to the ease of delivery and in keeping your home uncluttered until you can schedule installation.


This is the sticking point for many consumers, as a belief persists among many amateur remodelers that RTA cabinets are inherently of a lower quality than traditional models. That belief, to be fair, has some basis in history; up until fairly recently, RTA cabinets were defined by cheap materials and flimsy construction that gave the resulting product a chintzy, institutional feel.

Lily Ann, however, has proven that the days of substandard RTA models are well behind us. For over thirteen years, we’ve created our cabinets out of the finest cores of birch and North American maple, woods celebrated for their remarkable sturdiness and strength. Furthermore, we don’t dilute these incredible materials by using inferior products like particle board in the construction of our cabinets. Every cabinet we make is designed to last just as long as traditional varieties, and our models - unlike RTA cabinets offered by some other retailers - hold only two small assembly clips that remain completely out of sight after construction.

Our commitment to quality goes beyond the cabinets themselves, though. Each cabinet component we create is put through a 12-step process in which its stain, paint or glaze is hand-applied by an experienced cabinetry aspect. While other retailers have similar processes, most are just six or nine steps and none exhibit the same dedication to long-lasting durability that Lily Ann demonstrates with every cabinet we make.


First-time cabinet shoppers can be easily confused by the sheer amount of choices on the market, confusion that can lead to misguided notions about what makes for a quality cabinet. We hope that this breakdown of everything RTA cabinets have to offer has given you a clearer picture of the benefits they hold over traditional models, and we believe that our superior craftsmanship, service and affordability makes Lily Ann the perfect design partner for your next remodeling project. If you have any other questions about RTA cabinets - or would simply like to know more about the Lily Ann difference - please feel free to reach out to one our friendly and knowledgeable customer service representatives.