RTA Cabinets vs. Custom Cabinets

Kitchen with brown countertops, white shaker cabinets and a fruit basket

RTA Cabinets vs. Custom Cabinets

Remodeling or designing a kitchen from scratch is thrilling. It is also intimidating to consider all the options when deciding what is best for your project. One area where you don't want to skimp is the quality of the cabinets you choose to install. You want all the value for money you can get.

Understanding the differences between the types of cabinets and the pros and cons of RTA cabinets vs. custom cabinets will help you decide.

What Are RTA Cabinets?

Ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets, also called stock cabinets, are the best option for those who want quality workmanship at an affordable price. They are cut and pre-built in specific styles, sizes and colors. You can browse an online catalog or visit a showroom to view the various options and designs.

The expected lead time for RTA cabinets to be delivered is about one to two weeks or less, depending on the manufacturer. This is the fastest of the cabinet options. Alternatively, you can pick it up at a physical store the same day if you need it urgently.

RTA cabinets are cheaper, but one RTA cabinetry benefit is that they are functional and versatile. There is no compromise on the quality. Whether you have them shipped to your home fully assembled or in pieces, assembly is quick and easy. You can do it yourself or get a reputable cabinetmaker to help put them together.

What Are Custom Cabinets?

Some associate the high cost of customization with increased quality, but this is not always the case. While custom cabinets give you complete freedom to have them manufactured according to your specifications, the style, sizes and finish you choose could change whether they also look expensive. If the cabinetmaker does a poor job fabricating or installing the cabinets, they could look worse than a less expensive solution.

Custom cabinets are more expensive. They require more attention to detail and technical skill and often use higher-quality materials. This extra work is costly, but custom cabinetry lasts a long time and can increase your home's value if you decide to sell. There won't be another kitchen quite like yours, so it comes with a price.

Although the manufacturing lead time is the longest — often taking six weeks or more — it is definitely worth the wait once delivered. An experienced cabinetmaker should only fit these since custom cabinets are built according to stringent specifications to fit precisely in a unique kitchen space.

White shaker cabinet with two doors

What Are Semi-Custom Cabinets?

Semi-custom cabinets can provide the best of both RTA and custom cabinets by being mid-range in price and design, yet still high in finishing and overall quality. They offer less customization than custom cabinets but have more designs and colors than RTA cabinets. You can generally adjust cabinets in increments of 3 inches during installation if you need to fit them into non-standard sections. The same cannot be done with RTA cabinets.

This type of cabinet may take slightly longer than RTA cabinets to be manufactured, but not as long as custom cabinets. You can assemble them yourself or with the help of a cabinetmaker.

RTA Cabinets vs. Custom Cabinets

When determining if custom cabinetry or RTA cabinets are worth it, you'll want to compare the benefits of RTA cabinets and custom cabinets. Consider each cabinet type, cost, customization, convenience and quality to make an informed decision.


When planning to renovate a kitchen, the cost is one of the main implications determining which cabinets you choose.

  • RTA cabinets: One of the advantages of RTA cabinets is that they are generally cheaper to purchase and install than custom cabinets. This is because they are a one-size-fits-all solution, pre-built and ready for you to assemble on-site, which lowers production costs. You need to pay a contractor separately if you want professional installation.
  • Custom cabinets: The cost of custom cabinets vs. prefabricated cabinets is much higher. You will spend more money for the same quality, but the difference is that you have more options for the material, design, color and style to tailor your kitchen to your taste and preference.


If you intend to customize your kitchen, you will learn the differences between what you can opt for and the price associated with these.

  • RTA cabinets: There are very little to no customization opportunities with RTA cabinets, but it doesn't mean you are limited in what you can select for your kitchen. From white shaker cabinets to grey shaker cabinetry and more, you can find an RTA cabinetry selection that works for you. Explore the various options, mix and match cabinet styles and colors, and show off your own unique design without the costly price tag of custom cabinets. You can also choose framed or frameless cabinets to give your kitchen the look you want without paying more.
  • Custom cabinets: Since kitchens all vary in size and floor space, you are not restricted in terms of customization. You can be bold or play it safe. Enjoy unlimited options as long as you are ready to pay the price for having a one-of-a-kind kitchen.


Convenience covers everything from browsing to installing a specific cabinet type. Consider the convenience of placing an order, the delivery and subsequent installation of the kitchen cabinets and how they compare:

  • RTA cabinets: This cabinet option is manufactured so you can install it quickly and with minimal effort. Since it is a DIY option, you can install it by following the installation manual, which shows you how everything fits together. You would need the right tools for this. Or, consult a professional cabinetry company for assistance. It may be more convenient for you to get help if you don't want to handle the installation yourself. Part of the convenience of RTA cabinets is that you won't have to wait long for them to be delivered. You can also visit a shop and take them home the same day.
  • Custom cabinets: You are not able to install custom cabinets on your own since they are specifically cut into form to be fit by a cabinetmaker or contractor. Although this may be convenient because you won't physically be involved in the installation process, you will pay more to have it installed by someone else. The waiting period for your custom cabinets to be delivered is anything but ideal or convenient, as it may take up to two months before you can start on the renovations.


Any homeowner takes pride in the improvements they have made to their home. When guests admire your newly renovated kitchen, you want it to exude elegance and top quality, regardless of the price you've paid.

  • RTA cabinets: While the cost to install RTA cabinets may be less than that of custom cabinets, there is no difference in the quality. Choosing RTA cabinets does not mean they look cheap because they are more affordable. Some designs are so stylish and unique that they can compete with any top-range elite product line units. The same can be said about the quality. They are manufactured in solid wood and plywood for your peace of mind, knowing they are as durable and long-lasting as their custom counterparts.
  • Custom cabinets: One thing to remember when you consider custom cabinets is that their price does not automatically prove their quality to be better than RTA cabinets. The quality is often the same — the cabinets may even be manufactured by the same company. The finishing is what sets any renovation job apart from the next. This has more to do with the installation, so find a trustworthy contractor who can leave you satisfied with the work done.

Brown shaker cabinets and brown countertops in a modern kitchen

Choose PKB Cabinetry for the Best RTA Cabinets for Your Remodeling Needs

Your next kitchen remodeling job can have jaws dropping at the beauty and quality of the RTA cabinets you have chosen. PKB Cabinetry can help you achieve this. We have a wide range of cabinets for you to choose from. We are excited to get things started! Find a dealer near you today or inquire about joining the PKB Cabinetry family as a cabinetry dealer or a PKB franchise!