Making The Grade: How To Choose Kitchen Cabinets

Posted on: 3 November 2015

Cabinets are an important part of the overall design of your kitchen. Kitchen cabinets are separated into several quality categories, called grades. These grades are used to assess both the price-point and quality of a given cabinet and can help you assess which cabinets are right for your kitchen and budget. Learning more about them can help you decide what type of kitchen cabinets best suit your needs.

Ready-to-Assemble (RTA)

The least expensive grade of kitchen cabinets come with the materials and parts boxed up and ready to put together. RTA cabinets can save homeowners a lot of money, but often require a sacrifice in quality and a significant time investment.


A step up from RTA, stock cabinets come preassembled in specific sizes and styles. While they are not easily customized or altered, there are a wider variety of choices to fit your kitchen. These represent a happy medium between RTA and the custom options below.

Semi-Custom and Custom

Both options in this category allow some customization for your kitchen, but come at a higher price point than the above options. Semi-custom cabinets are stock cabinets where certain alterations can be made, normally to the depth of the cabinet or to the style of the doors. Custom cabinets are completely made from scratch for your kitchen and are the highest quality available. With both types, installation is included in the price.

Making the Choice

The first consideration for many homeowners is price. RTA cabinets are nearly always the cheapest option, because you have to assemble them yourself. However, improper assembly and installation can increase the risk of damage to your cabinet or kitchen, which can be expensive to repair. Stock cabinets are ideal if you have a low budget and standard sized cabinets will work in your kitchen.

If your kitchen has spaces that are an unusual size, or you want deeper than average cabinets to allow more storage space, then semi-custom will likely be the preferred choice. Since RTA, stock, and semi-custom cabinets generally are only made with wood, if you want an unusual material, such as metal or plastic, or uniquely shaped cabinet, custom will be the preferred choice.

As you can see, each different kitchen cabinet grade comes with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Choosing the right one for your kitchen will help you to narrow down other aspects of your kitchen design. The above tips should help make the overwhelming process of kitchen remodeling