How to shop for Cabinets and FAQs




We fully understand how difficult it can be to compare "apples to apples" when shopping for cabinetry. Below you will find a few explanations of some of the features that affect price / quality / visual: Most of the discussion is about doors and drawers as that's where most of these decision factors are found.


Full overlay versus traditional overlay...full overlay is where the door and drawer front cover or almost cover the face frame of the cabinet box. Traditional overlay cabinets use a slightly smaller door/drawer front that allows a bit more of the face frame to be visible. The traditional overlay cabinets tend to look a little more intricate with more depth variations and shadow lines. Full overlay doors usually cost a bit more and can lead to a more uniform "contemporary" feel. One advantage of the full overlay cabinet is that the double door boxes can be "butt doors". A term used to describe the elimination of the center stile (the post between the doors) which allows easier access to the inside of the cabinet. A disadvantage of the full overlay is that it requires hardware (knobs or pulls) which can be a significant expense and overly complicate the visual. I should mention that some manufacturers offer a modified full overlay. This is basically a full overlay application with a little extra space left between the door and drawer front on the base cabinets which eliminates the need for knobs or pulls. Full overlay cabinets may also require a little extra effort when applying trim like crown molding. Because there is not much face frame to work with, most installers will need to run a cleat or scrap wood around the upper perimeter to attach crown molding.





5 piece versus slab door ....Most of our wood cabinet doors are constructed using 5 components...the 4 outer frame pieces (stiles and rails) and a floating center panel. The floating panel is only captured inside the frame and is not actually attached or glued to the frame pieces. This allows both the frame and center panel to expand and contract with temperature and humidity without cracking or warping. A larger solid slab door can be more prone to warp. Some of our cabinets do have a slab drawer front. [see above - left]

Door Frame Construction....Mortise and tenon versus Miter Corner. Mortise and tennon construction seems to be the industry standard. When pinned and glued this is a very strong joint but can slightly amplify the color/tone/grain variations at the joint. The miter joint tends to expand the frame visually and is often found on higher end custom doors.





Solid wood center panel in the door...some doors will have an MDF substrate core covered with a matching veneer while some more expensive doors will have a center panel constructed out of solid wood. In most cases, you'd have to be a real wood connoisseur to notice a difference. Even in flat panel or recessed panel doors you can find veneers and solid (reverse raised). See pic below




Applied or decorative moldings and/or inlays have become quite popular and are another indication of a higher end door. See Pic above

Finishes     Stains are pretty much not a factor...if at all, very dark may cost slightly more than the light. As expected, lighter stains let a lot more of the natural characteristics show through....more pronounced veining, graining, mineral streaks, etc. Some of the medium toned stains tend to look a little splotchy rather than a uniform coverage, I was told that this is done intentionally to better blend the different wood variations and soften the overall look of the cabinets. Hmmm?  Not sure if I buy that one....        We offer only one painted cabinet...its our most expensive...I should also disclaim that you can expect the painted door frame joints to develop hairline cracks during or after installation.  Most of our doors have a medium sheen or matte finish on the clear protective coat. Not a significant factor as far as cost goes but, keep in mind that glossier coatings tend to show more smudges and scratches.   Applied glazes and accent lines are another item that typically adds to the cost. Glaze is extra the dark areas in the finish, usually very noticeable in the corners and crevices. I often describe it as dirt in the cracks. A Glaze or accented finish tends to give a warm distressed dimension but, not at all dirty looking. For further study you might consider researching the different finish processes used. Terms to look for: AC (acid curing or acid catalyst) PU (poly urethane) NC (nitro cellulose) ... pre catylized lacquer ... poly poxy. We prefer fabrication facilities that use a low pressure misting application that lowers VOCs (volitile organic compounds) released into the atmosphere.

Framed vs. Frameless.... ADI sells only framed cabinets, all with 3/4" solid wood face frames. (oops...we now offer the Euro Bamboo and several other frameless cabinets...9-15-09)"Framed" is simply a cabinet construction method designed to add strength and durability to the cabinet box. Frameless (or euro style) construction is where the door (hinges) are mounted directly to the side panels of the cabinet box. Frameless cabinets are, by definition, full overlay and will always require knobs and/or pulls. Frameless boxes are typically constructed of slightly heavier material than framed and will require a little more time and effort to get them installed properly....framed cabinets are more rigid and can hold square where frameless can tend to follow or settle into wall/floor imperfections with time.

Plywood vs. particle board box.... ADI sells only plywood box cabinets. The obvious plywood advantage is that plywood will hold up better to moisture than particle board. In all fairness, there is nothing wrong with particle board......its sturdy and stable....just don't get it wet. I believe you will find there is a significant upgrade charge with domestic manufacturers to get plywood construction although I suspect that may be changing in the future with the influx of the Chinese RTAs and the Russian plywood flooding the market.

Wood drawer box vs. .....ADI sells only wood boxes. The cabinet drawer is the heaviest use and most likely to fail of all your cabinet components. Many low to mid range cabinet lines offer a vinyl wrapped particle board drawer box usually glued and or stapled at the joints. The Solid wood boxes that are screwed together are quite durable and a glued dovetail joint may actually be a bit of overkill!

Drawer Hardware (guides, slides and glides).... All ADI drawer hardware is rated at 75 lb or better. We sell standard as well as upgraded glides. Under Mounted - Self Closing - full extension - telescoping - ball bearing - stainless steel - soft close (just some of the "upgrade" terms) -vs.- standard - side mount - 3/4 extension - epoxy coated - nylon roller. My feelings are that you can get the same functionality and less problems from the cheaper drawer guides but that's just my opinion. I have had many clients replace our standard hardware with upgraded hardware only to report back that they wish they had left 'em alone. I use standard hardware in my personal kitchen and have never had a problem. I do however, like the soft close feature as it helps quiet the kitchen and saves wear and tear on the drawer box. Another thing to note is that under mount glides will (in theory) allow a slightly wider drawer box than the side glides however the RTAs seem to use standardized drawer box sizes regardless of hardware and their clearances.

Door Hinges... Like the drawer hardware, I don't see two hoots worth of difference between the cabinet lines that use standard and the lines that use upgraded hinges. We've not heard of a hinge failure yet! All ADI hinges are recessed hidden. some have a additional adjustment settings but all of our doors come prehung on the face frames and will rarely need tweaking.


lets review a set of specs at the lower end of the scale


Mocha Oak

Face Frame:     3/4" Solid    
Door:   Flat Panel 5 pc                     
Door Frame: mortise and tenon
Door Core:    veneer         
Overlay:  traditional 1" reveal   
Box:  1/2" Plywood (no Particle Board)
Drawer Head:  slab           
Drawer Hdwr: std side glide    
Drawer Box: ply  plyfloor 
Stain-Glaze paprika no glaze 

    Mocha Oak (oakland dark)Cabinet door close up

     Mocha Oak wall and base Kitchen Cabinets


and compare to a more expensive door


Cinnamon Maple

Face Frame:     3/4" Solid
Door:   Raised Panel 5 pc        
Door Frame: Mitered appl rope inlay
Door Core:    Solid                 
Overlay:  Full 1/4" reveal     
Box:  1/2" Plywood (no Particle Board)
Drawer Head:  5 Pc raised panel  
Drawer Hdwr: UM  Full Ext Sft Clos
Drawer Box: dovetail plyfloor 
Stain-Glaze Cinammon w Dark Accent  

    Carson Cherry (tuscany) Cabinet Door up close

       Carson Cherry wall and base Kitchen Cabinets


if we take the basic "econo line" cabinet and add in the up-charges for a raised panel door, miter corner door frame with rope inlay, solid wood core, full overlay, 5 pc drawer head, upgraded drawer glides, dovetail drawer box, premium stain with glaze, maple vs oak, etc.... you begin to understand the various factors and choices involved with picking your cabinets. We recommend that you prioritize your cabinet search using budget and color/finish rather than getting caught up in the endless search of finding the perfect cabinet with all the bells and whistles. Let's be honest, the basic function of your cabinetry changes very little when going from economy cabinets to the upper end lines. Look at a few door styles and finishes that are visually pleasing to YOUR eye. Your drawer will function the same (slide in and out) whether you choose the basic epoxy coated drawer guide or the stainless steel, undermounted, telescoping, ball bearing, super smooth drawer glide system.


                                   Some FAQs from our Clients




Can I Special Order Certain Cabinets? All of the Cabinets we offer are fabricated and prepackaged overseas. Once here in the U.S., The packages are simply pulled off of a shelf and sent directly to you so there's not much of a chance for box alterations or accessory installation. The Various Stains, Glazes, Wood Species and Door Profiles are not interchangeable.  Each cabinet (name) line is separate and individual....we can't offer the honey stained cabinets with anything other than the honey stain. In other words, what you see is what you get.

Can I pick up my order from your warehouse to save on freight? Most of our warehouses prefer to distribute through a Dealer Network and do not allow customer pick ups. In short, the shipper's terminals are not set up to handle a retail transaction which triggers the collection of sales tax (which can wipe out your freight savings).

How do I qualify for an ADI Dealership? In most cases, Dealerships are available to Established Kitchen and Bath Professionals Only. Requirements such as Physical store front, EIN#, Design and layout experience, etc. There are also some restrictions as to what door styles may be available in your area.

How do I get Samples? Some of the individual cabinet lines do offer single doors for purchase. Typically, they run $20 to $25 each including postage. We also offer small pieces of matching trim for color match. Many clients opt to purchase a single small cabinet from their design before committing to the entire project. This option lets you see the ease of assembly and the workmanship as well as the color and finish details.

Do you charge sales tax? For most clients, No. The exception is shipments going into the State of FL. I have argued with them til blue in the face but the bottom line is that we are a registered FL Corporation, with an office in FL and selling products to FL residents. Any FL business with a resale certificate would of course be exempt.

Who manufactures your cabinets?  All of our cabinets are fabricated, packaged and imported from China. I have seen pictures and names of some of the plants but most are written in Chinese??? The warranties are covered by the manufacturers but goes through a chain of brokers and distributors. Alert Data, Inc (ADI supply) (RTA Kitchen Cabinet) (RTA Cabinet Mall) is fully responsible and will back the cabinets against defects.

Do you offer other Cabinet Lines or door styles?  We currently offer 48 different door styles. All with solid wood face and door frames, all with plywood boxes. If you see anything you like, give us a call 386-761-4946. 



Below are some very informative questions and answers coming from ebay and our websites.

as you will see, these are real questions from real people and our unedited answers,


Q:     Are the upper cabinets available in 42" height? I'm looking for cabinets (or combined with top trim) that will go to the ceiling. What about RTA quality? I've been looking at cabinets for a while on eBay, and I'm unsure of the RTA quality. 

A:    Hello and thank you for the inquiry. Almost all of our suppliers offer 30 and 42 inch high wall cabs and many offer 36s for that staggered look. Venetian maple has 30,36 and 42.... go to the ceiling?....Standard installations procedures will set the bottom of your wall cabs at 54 inches off of the floor so the top of a 42 will finish at 96 inch. 
The quality of the RTAs is great! With the solid wood face frames and plywood boxes, they're hard to match with a domestic manufactured cabinet. on a scale of 1 to 10....I would score the quality at about  8. There is a few draw backs to the RTAs to consider....they do require your time for assembly and the door profiles and finish (color) selections can be a bit limited. Statistically, Most of our DIY clients are attracted by pricing, quality and speed of delivery (in that order)..... Quite often, clients will purchase a single cabinet prior to buying the whole project. 



Q:     Would these cabinets work only in the layout specified in the picture? I have an L shape layout, but I am very confused as to the size and spacing of these cabinets. Thanks

A:     Hello and thank you for the inquiry. We rarely sell the exact set of cabinets as shown in the 10x10 layout. We are glad to work with you to help design a custom package....that fits your needs. For example...your refrigerator, window, sink may be in a different location. The 10x10 ads are simply to give you an idea of the pricing rather than limit your selection to that single parts list. If we reach an agreement, We will gladly run a separate buy it now auction (with your customized parts list) so you can maintain the ebay/paypal protection.

Q:    What do you charge for designing a custom kitchen for me. Can you send me a price list for your extras and upgrades

A:     We don't charge for basic design services and would like to show you what we can do for you! 
Although our free design service does have time limits and our system will often make substitutions to match our cabinet SKU offering, the design service is focused on giving you an accurate quote. If you need to see multiple combinations of layouts with 3d color view, (all the bells and whistles) you may want to consider a professional design service. I encourage you to at least give us a try....its strings attached. However, Our service does require a little effort on your end. Could you fax or email us a rough sketch of your project? We need an idea of your wall dimensions and appliance,sink,window,etc locations. Accurate measurements can save us both a lot of headaches. Would also need your ship to zip code (to calculate freight) and your regular email address (we will send you pdf files) (Ebay doesn't allow attachments on their mail system).
Unlike a conventional shop, we don't have much in the way of upgrades or extra charges. The price lists published here are pretty much all there is....freight is determined by your distance from the shipping warehouse and weight of your order. Most warehouses have a pallet charge or packing charge ranging from $20 to $40. Sales tax is added only to orders shipped into the state of FL. 


Q:     I also need to ask you in your professional opinion, how do they compare to kraft mid and johnsonville? I see they are all wood but how do the finishes hold up? Are they urethane? Sorry for the 20 questions

A:     Please, Ask all the questions you want. I'll will answer them as honestly and quickly as possible. I would much rather inform now than surprise you later!
I used to sell kraftmaid but not sure about johnsonville? I should mention that all of our cabinets and most of the RTAs on the market today are imported from China. Many of the door styles offered are actually close copies of American made "best sellers". The RTAs have several drawbacks.... Limited SKUs, as in fewer parts to design with when compared to semi-custom lines. Limited color and door style selection as in most RTA Distributors offer 3 or 4 door styles and each style is usually available in 1 color only....and RTA stands for "ready to assemble" as the cabinets are shipped to you unassembled. The advantages are lower price with better quality and quicker delivery.         The standard RTA cabinet will have a comparable overall finish to mid range domestic manufacturers (like kraftmaid) but I wouldn't call it superior. Wood selection (as in grading for color and grain match) is about the same or maybe a bit better on our more expensive lines. Urethane? we typically advertise a "catalyzed protective coat" which just means a poly clear coat with an additive to make it dry fast. The catalyst is used by most manufacturers to add durability without making the finish so hard that it is prone to scratches. When we "spec" a new door style with Chinese manufacturers, we usually ask for a magnamax equivalent. 


Q:      I am no expert and appreciate your input. How do you feel about wall ovens and a slide in cook top as opposed to a range? What if we add cabinets on the wall opposite the window no counter just cabinets? would that occupy too much space? Note the house is not built yet and If I need to chage the french doors to a single door for more room i can do that as well but would prefer not to do that. What about cabinets over the pennisula? I appreciate you working with me. Thank you! Jason
Please let me know what you think

A:     Hello J, the imported stock cabinets have some drawbacks when designing with larger than standard appliances.... namely, most of our lines don't offer large bridge cabinets to set over refrige/range (largest is 39"). Can be done but requires a little carpentry work on your end. A lot will also depend on your ceiling height?
Personally, I don't care for the oven/cook top combo as it is overpriced, complicates the work flow and would further "shrink" your room. The large "tall cabinets" like oven/pantry/refrig tend to overwhelm a smaller floor plan both visually and functionally. Fill the wall opposite the window? Is there a french door there? Moving the Refrig/pantry to that wall may not add much more storage space but would definitely allow more usable counter space around the range and visually give symmetrical placement of the cooking center. Cabs over peninsula? Can be done but again, our SKU offering limits sizes and configurations and a lot still depends on the ceiling height.???


Q:     Is this pricing set, or can I make an offer?

A:     Hello and thank you for the inquiry. Its not that we aren't open to offers but have had to remove that option from our Ebay ads. Too many ridiculous offers. Please shop around, compare apples to apples, and you will find our prices are quite reasonable. Some competitors have added  hundreds of dollars to their cabinet prices so they can blast you with free freight, discount coupons or other fluffery.
We know your smarter than that and would prefer to do business in a more ethical manner that gives you our best price up front.

PLYWOOD vs PARTICLE BOARD Most domestically made kitchen cabinets use particle board for the carcass(the cabinet box itself, behind the face). The manufacturers use particle board because its cheap and stable ( doesn't warp). Besides the obvious deterioration with water, there may be other environmental factors to consider. The particle board panels give off harmful gases into your kitchen. The urea ( a formaldehyde resin) is a known carcinogen. What's worse is that when the resin gets heated, the emissions are more concentrated and more toxic. How many appliances in your kitchen are near the cabinets heating these poisonous panels - range/ovens, dishwashers, etc. Non-green cabinets can disperse chemicals into your kitchen: in the very place where you prepare your food to nourish your family. Other reasons not to use particle board is that its very hard to repair if damaged, it doesn't last as long, it won't hold a screw very well (so your drawer glides and other hardware tends to fail earlier). Kraftmaid typically charges a 15% upgrade fee to replace their standard particle board cabinets with plywood construction. Well worth the investment.......or you could visit and get a much better deal.

If you've been internet shopping for cabinets, you've probably found that there are hundreds of websites for new kitchen cabinets, custom and semi-custom cabinets,  name brand cabinets, modular and flat pack (ready to assemble cabinets) and another array of sites for cabinet accessories, cabinet knobs and cabinet hardware and still more industry experts like cabinet contractors, cabinet installers and cabinet designers..... all demanding your attention. How does one sift through all this information? We've done the leg work for you. We've been through the confusing maze of online cabinet outlets. We've tested the products and experienced the different levels of service. We have sifted through the online cabinet industry to bring you the best priced and most reliable rta products found in the market today. Consider a quick review of our article, how to shop for cabinets. You will quickly see a few key points about cabinets that may or may not be important for you. The point is that with a little education, you will be able to eliminate thousands of door styles and specs to narrow your search to only a few specifications or cabinet door colors-profiles that fit your wants, needs and pocketbook. At some point you should be able to easily describe your particular likes. For example: rta kitchen cabinets, maple, full overlay, raised panel.....

Questions??????? Call us 386-761-4946 Mon thru Fri  9a to 4p EST


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