Builder Grade or RTA Cabinets: Are They a Good Option for Your Kitchen?

Brooke Nero | Discovery Team | Dean Cabinetry Leah Dean | Owner | Dean Cabinetry

By Brooke Nero, and Leah Dean

Builder grade and RTA cabinets are usually the most affordable cabinets available in the marketplace. They are a low cost option for kitchen and bath cabinetry. 

If you are looking for a low cost cabinet, and quality is not high on your list of priorities,  these might be a good choice for your project.

What does builder grade and RTA cabinets mean?

Builder grade cabinets are named as such, as they are sometimes used by builders in new construction.  

RTA stands for cabinets that are delivered as cabinet parts that are marketed as ready to assemble kitchen cabinets. 

Is there a difference in quality between builder grade cabinets and RTA cabinets?

Both options usually use the simplest and most bare-bones materials. 

These low to medium-grade materials might include particle board with plywood backing, particle board with a wood or plastic veneer, MDF covered in wood, or a laminate veneer.

Builder grade and RTA cabinets are usually a step below stock cabinet quality. 

Are there limitations to builder grade and ready to assemble cabinets?

Both options are usually very limited on the available door styles, finishes, and cabinet sizes. Door style and finish options could be limited anywhere from 3 to 8 choices, depending on the manufacturer. 

These limitations allow the manufacturer to keep costs low, making them more affordable for the consumer. 

If cabinet modifications are available, they are very limited. Often no modifications can be made. If you need a cabinet that is not a standard offering, builder grade or RTA cabinets will not be your best option.

Available cabinet accessories are also limited in builder grade and RTA cabinets. These would include rollouts, inserts, and corner cabinet accessories. RTA cabinets may have no accessory options. 

Could both builder grade and RTA cabinets be a good option for my project?

This depends on how handy you are.

Builder grade cabinets are delivered already assembled. 

Ready to assemble cabinets are cabinet parts that are flat packed and delivered on pallets. The contractor, cabinet company, or homeowner would need to assemble the parts in their shop, on the job site, or in their home.  

Builder grade and RTA cabinets can be used for many projects, whether you’re remodeling a kitchen, bath, laundry room, or basement. It comes down to personal preference and budget. If someone is on a tight budget, and they are handy, RTA cabinets might be a great option.

Can I save money by purchasing RTA cabinets?

RTA cabinets might be the lowest cost cabinet, but one needs to consider the cost of assembly. 

Assembling cabinets takes time and the proper tools. You will also need to have a certain amount of skill. If this sounds like you, then RTA cabinets might be a great option for you and your project.

It is important to understand the product you choose for your project. We created a blog about plywood vs. MDF vs. particle board, that you may find helpful. 

We provide many other helpful resources on our website’s “Learning Page,”. We strive to be your kitchen cabinet expert so clients can quickly find answers to all of their questions relating to new kitchens.