RTA (ready to assemble) kitchen cabinets in white

RTA Furniture

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 3/15/2021

Whether you’re renovating your kitchen or just picking out functional home office furniture, you may have come across the expression RTA. That’s because ready-to-assemble kitchen cabinets and home furnishings are very popular at the moment. These build-it-yourself ensembles often come with lower price tags, easy and inexpensive shipping, and quality designs and styles, making them a great choice for a lot of situations.

Definition

The acronym RTA stands for the expression ready-to-assemble. The term applies fairly specifically to kitchen cabinets and other home and office furnishings that need to be assembled by the customer before they can be used. With this type of furniture, all of the separate pieces typically come pre-cut and finished. They are then packaged together, usually with instructions and hardware, and require the customer to use basic tools, adhesives, and/or other materials to finish putting them together. RTA furniture is designed to be less expensive for manufacturers and retailers to produce, store, and ship, which is supposed to help reduce the sale price for the customer. However, due to popular appeal, many versions can be quite expensive and require professional assembly and installation.

What Are Some Common Problems With RTA Furniture?

Ready-to-assemble kitchen cabinets and home furnishings have many advantages. Typically, they are easier and cheaper to produce, store, and ship, which generally makes them more affordable than their fully assembled counterparts. However, there are some serious drawbacks that could end up costing way more in the end. Here are a couple of things to consider before you purchase an RTA product:

  • Although ready-to-assemble products may seem like an easy and cost-effective solution at first, some of them come with difficult instructions and/or may require numerous supporting materials and tools to complete the assembly properly. Mistakes during assembly can often be costly and difficult, if not impossible, to fix.
  • The quality of ready-to-assemble products can range from low to high. It’s important to do your research and find what works for your budget and taste. But as a general rule, cheaper versions will tend to chip, break apart, and show their wear quicker than more expensive models.
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