Arctic White Shaker (The RTA Store): Major shaking in the epoxy drawer glides
Doors and frame
Like the Brilliant White option, this cabinet also uses High-Density Fiberboard or HDF for the doors. Many cabinet companies use MDF or HDF for their door because it makes them more resilient to paint cracking issues and it usually costs a lot less to manufacture. What is sacrificed in exchange is the quality and value of a wood-built door.
The smooth white paint on the door, the frame, and the drawer front are all decent. Enough paint has been applied to the cabinet frame so that none of the Birchwood grains are visible. The paint on the five-panel door and drawer face does not seem nearly as thick or layered as what you would find other white shaker models.
Cabinet Box and Interior
The Arctic White Shaker has a natural maple interior, also known as a “non-matching interior” in reference to the contrast between the interior and exterior of a cabinet. The interior of the cabinet panels has a nice laminate surface. For many people having a matching interior is not a priority. As I’ve said in other reviews, most companies utilize universal bodies for their cabinets so a non-matching interior is a symptom of that.
The quality of this cabinet box is ok. As usual, the side panels are 1/2 inch thick plywood. This panel thickness is fairly common for RTA cabinets. Like with the Brilliant White Shaker, it was nice to see that the back panel on the Arctic White Shaker is not the normal thin skin panel supported by a sturdy frame of plywood, or “picture frame panel”. The back panel and the bottom panel of the cabinet body are all 1/2 inch thick plywood, so the continuity in the thickness of panels definitely adds to the stability.
The toe kick on the Arctic White shaker is low-quality and unsightly. As you can see in the pictures it is built to fit between the two side panels. This is not a big deal if you are going to install the cabinet into a run and cover it with long toe kick skin, but it is very odd because it seems like a strange place to save money by cutting cost in materials. Much like the Aspen white shaker, this cabinet is also supported with 4 wooden corner braces.
The Drawer Box is severely lacking. The RTAstore.com website claims the side panels are built of 5/8 inch plywood, but this did not match my measurements (as can be seen in the pictures). The Arctic White Shaker drawer panels are ½ inch thick. The drawer box bottom is only 5/16ths of an inch thick. The side panels of the drawer are rounded off on top, and the result is an aesthetically disagreeable look at the corners where the dovetail joints meet. Concerning the dovetails, they do not snugly fit together in addition to arriving with some damage.
The shelf on this cabinet is sad. The Arctic Shaker has a 3/4 inch thick “half shelf.” Unfortunately, the Arctic shelf isn’t even 12 inches in length. At just over 10 inches, this is the least useful shelf I have seen so far. The shelf is held in place with 4 metal pegs so you can adjust the height of the shelf or remove it entirely if necessary. The metal pegs feel very secure even though they do not lock the shelf in place.
The drawer is about 3 inches deep and the back of the drawer rests about 2.5 inches from the back panel of the cabinet. The Arctic White Shaker drawer is NOT a full extension. This means that the drawer does not slide all the way out, which is indicative of the low-quality of the hardware as soft-close has quickly become industry standard.
The cabinet frame does protrude into the storage space but not any more than you would expect from a traditional framed cabinet.
This cabinet uses hinges which attach to the frame of the box itself. They do not contain soft close mechanisms.
The best feature of the Arctic White Shaker drawer slides is that they are undermount so you do not see the unsightly racks every time you open the drawer. The tracks are not the soft close variety. The tracks attach to the back of the cabinet body using plastic brackets that do not appear to be particularly strong.
This cabinet is mostly held together with tongue and grooves that are cut into the panels. Wood screws are used to hold the pieces together. This makes the cabinet a little harder to assemble compared to a cabinet that uses a lot of brackets. If I were assembling this cabinet for my kitchen I would add some wood glue to the grooves and I am sure that it would make this cabinet a little better.
Assembly & Support
The Arctic White Shaker cabinet was well packaged. As you can see in the pictures, the box itself is made from good cardboard and they used sheets of bubble wrap as well as some Styrofoam sheets to protect the cabinet parts. All parts arrived in the same box and they were undamaged. There are no Styrofoam blocks separating the pieces, as I would expect based on the packaging of models I’ve ordered before.
*As you can see in the picture, one small piece of plywood was missing from a panel. I didn’t count this as damage in this case because it was superficial cosmetic damage that would never be seen once the cabinet was assembled.
Ease of Assembly
This is not a difficult cabinet to assemble. It would have been easier and faster to finish if the manufacturer had shown a little more precision in preparing their panels.
As you can see in the picture, the Arctic White Shaker is similar to the Brilliant White Shaker in that they both use grooves and a few brackets to hold the panels together.
The instructions are very helpful. A step by step guide is included that gives a list of parts with pictures. I have been able to finish the cabinet by myself. As can be expected, there were a few moments that would have been easier with two people but it was certainly not difficult to do by myself.
*By the end of the build, the back edges of the side panels were bowing out from the edge of the back panel. I had to add a few screws to make this work. After doing that, it was a lot better. It makes me wonder why they do not simply ask us to use more wood screws to begin with.
So far my customer support experience has been pretty good with theRTAstore.com. They answer the phone and they seem to know what they are talking about. After asking a few questions on their Live-Chat service I was able to get the info that I needed before ordering. Throughout the ordering process, they have been prompt with their emails. The designers were able to provide me with a clear well-designed kitchen based off a simple sketch that I provided. They listened to my concerns and made changes accordingly.
When I did have a problem with a defective door that was sent to me, they responded the next day with all the requirements spelled out as to how I can get a replacement, then explained that I had met those requirements in my email AND that the replacement was on its way. That particular part of their service was something I appreciated.
Customer reviews: 8 positive reviews, 1 neutral, 7 negative
The customer reviews are split. Some of the negative reviews have been addressed and responded to by the company, some have not. MOST of the issues seem to be in the form of shipping delays, damages, and back ordered items. None of the reviews are complaining about their cabinets.
= 9.62 / 10
The vast majority of their reviews are 4 or 5 stars. Their reviews with less than 4 stars make up a very small percentage of the reviews. The reviews are mostly positive. One review mentioned the type of cabinets available and wanted some more options to choose from.
Although the Arctic White Shaker is an easy cabinet to assemble, the negative aspects far outweigh the positive features and leave the customer with a structurally weak unit. With a subpar finish, unsatisfying box/storage, and hardware that leaves the cabinet asking for extra screws, at the price of $181.24 the Arctic White Shaker is not advised for anyone looking to spend a higher expense for a deficient cabinet.