Aspen White Shaker (The RTA Store): impressive matching interior
Today I was able to put together an Aspen White Shaker cabinet. The Aspen White Shaker is one of the four white shakers that are available through The RTA Store. From the time I ordered it from theRTAstore.com last Tuesday, it has taken 4 business days to finally arrive to me. Based in the Eastern United States, The RTA Store processed my order and ensured it arrived to me on the west coast in the allotted time advertised on their website.
***As I assembled this cabinet I discovered a Forevermark brand on the inside of the drawer. Naturally, this means the Aspen White Shaker from theRTAstore.com is a Forevermark cabinet and so there is no reason to believe that this product will be different from any other Forevermark cabinet sold by another retailer.**
Doors and Frame
This Aspen White Shaker was shipped with the door already connected to the frame, which saves significant time when assembling the cabinet. A fairly standard 5 piece door construction is employed, with the door being made entirely from Medium-Density Fibreboard (MDF). Doors are made from composite woods like MDF because it makes them more resilient to cracking and cheaper to manufacture.
The white paint on these doors is pretty nice. It’s not super glossy but it is far from being matte. There is a very satisfying feeling when your fingers touch the smooth surface. Unfortunately, there was a problem with my cabinet. As you can see in the pictures and specs, the Aspen White Shaker utilizes the common five-piece frame and panel doors known as the “Cope and Stick” design. The paint has noticeable cracks along the seams of the frame and drawer face. This is disappointing because the doors are made from MDF specifically to help prevent this problem.
Cabinet Box and Interior Finish
The first thing I notice about the box and interior of this cabinet is that the inside and outside of the panels are white. The interior “paint” is actually a white laminate-stain while the outside is covered in several layers of paint that have been evenly applied. Because the interior of this cabinet is white it does make the shelf holes, the shelf pegs, and the brackets visibly stand out.
Box & Storage
The quality of this cabinet box is considered fair. The side panels are composed of 1/2 inch thick plywood; this is fairly common for RTA cabinets, which is why when I find side panels any thicker then I immediately award a higher grade. The thicker the plywood is, the stronger the cabinet box will be. The back panel on the Aspen White Shaker is a thin skin panel supported by a sturdy frame of plywood, known commonly as a “picture-frame recess panel”. The bottom panel is only 3/8 of an inch thick, which is thinner than the 1/2 inch you’ll find in other cabinet models.
*A small problem I’ve encountered at this step was the bottom panel did not slide into the groove on the picture-frame back panel. I only needed to place some of the cardboard from the packaging material on the corner of the bottom panel and tap it gently with a rubber mallet before it fixing the piece into place.*
The drawer box assembly is straightforward and simple. The sides of the drawer box are 5/8 of an inch thick and made from hardwood with a soft laminate finish over the natural wood grain. The pieces are held together with very decent dovetail construction on each corner. Overall, I am highly impressed with the Aspen White Shaker’s top quality drawer.
**Despite the dimensions given on their website, the bottom panel of the drawer box is actually 3/8th of an inch thick rather than the 1/2 inch that is listed on their website. The box is still sturdy, dependable, and holds together at the joints.**
The shelf on this cabinet is a mixed bag. The floating shelf that is provided is a nice ¾ inch thick yet only 12 inches deep so it doesn’t provide as much shelf storage as a full shelf. Personally, I would rather have a full shelf to store more items in the cabinet box and this illustrates to be an attempt on the part of the manufacturer to cut corners and save expenses on the material. The shelf is held in place with four plastic pegs to allow for height adjustment of the shelf or complete removal. The plastic pegs have thin flimsy locking mechanisms that hold the shelf in place, and while this hardware is easily broken and not durable, the parts are also certainly replaceable.
The drawer is about 3 inches deep and the back of the drawer rests right at 2.5 inches from the picture frame back panel, which is standard. The drawer is a full extension to increase storage space. The frame on the Aspen White Shaker does protrude into the storage space but no more than a quarter inch. This is to be expected from a cabinet without the “frameless” feature.
The soft close mechanisms in each hinge all work well, preventing the door and drawer face from slamming into the frame. The full overlay style of cabinet keeps the hinges out of visibility until the cabinet door is opened fully. As previously mentioned, the door is shipped attached to the frame so assembly is unnecessary unless you would like to switch the door and hinges to the other side of the frame.
The Aspen White Shaker’s drawer box attaches to the cabinet by means of under mount tracks which anchor to the back panel via plastic brackets. The fronts of these metal tracks are then secured to the frame with small wood screws. Once installed the drawer slides into place with ease, is secured to the track with strong plastic clips, and closes quietly with soft-close mechanisms.
Aside from the dovetailing on the drawer, the majority of this cabinet is held together with metal “L” brackets. The brackets used on the Aspen White Shaker are 2 part brackets, securing side panels to the back panel by fastening the tongue of the “L” bracket through and to the designated sleeve. This allows for a quick and easy assembly, but I believe looks aesthetically disagreeable compared to unseen wood screws. I am pleased to see that the final connecting parts of the cabinet are four strong solid wood corner braces. After adding them I feel the cabinet is much sturdier and more durable than before.
Assembly & Support
As you can see from the pictures, the cardboard cabinet box has arrived in pretty good shape. The doors, frame, and the body are all packaged together in the same box. Inside the box, things are fairly well organized. The cabinet parts are protected by corner protectors, Styrofoam sheets, and Styrofoam blocks.
It doesn’t seem like the items could shift much during the shipping. The actual door and frame are well wrapped and protected with a large Styrofoam block and sheets. As stated previously, the door was shipped attached to the frame and The RTA Store used plenty of Styrofoam to protect these pieces in particular. The small hardware parts like the screws, the drawer tracks, and the instructions are all shipped in small cardboard boxes and are therefore easier to keep track.
Ease of Assembly
The cabinet is pretty easy to put together despite the obstacles I’ve encountered. I’m glad that they included tangible instructions with the cabinet but they aren’t very clear. The instructions are only simple picture diagrams. I assume this is so the instructions are more universally understood. There is nothing on the instructions anywhere concerning the assembly of the drawer. Also, two parallel supports are included that are clearly meant to fasten at the top adjacent to the corner braces for added stability but these are never mentioned in the instructions.
*When it came time to put these support pieces in place I had already secured the back panel of the cabinet body making it impossible. I had to go back a step and remove the back panel in order to affix them properly in place; this was a problem that was entirely the fault of the poor instructions.*
I think it is important to mention that there are a number of different sized screws provided for several purposes, BUT the instructions do nothing to explain which screws should be used wherein the assembly process.
I have been able to finish the assembly myself, without any major problems and only using a hand drill, a rubber mallet, and a knife to open the box.
To be fair theRTAstore.com does have a video on their website that helps illustrate the assembly of the cabinet step by step but even their video fails to include the step where you add the superfluous parallel supports. It also doesn’t show anything about assembling the drawer, drawer tracks, or the corner braces.
The instructions on this cabinet were lacking in clarity but they were better than nothing. The predrilled holes, the two-piece brackets, and the door being shipped attached to the frame made this an easy, fairly quick assembly.
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 information concerning cabinet specs I needed before placing my order. 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 on 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. This particular aspect of their service is worth noting
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 the reviews are 4 or 5 stars. One review mentioned the type of cabinets available and wanted some more options from which to choose. Something I did find curious was when I went back to Resellerratings.com to see if the rating for theRTAstore.com had changed since I first placed my order, the number of reviews had increased dramatically over a short period of time.
Overall, this is a great White Shaker cabinet offered by theRTAstore.com. There were some issues regarding cracks in the paint finish of the door and frame but Customer Support has assured me a replacement is on the way. If you are in the market for a cabinet with a matching painted interior then the Aspen White is a solid choice. Beyond the unnecessary parallel runners along the top of the cabinet and the vague picture diagram instructions, the Aspen Shaker is a straightforward, easy assembly considering theRTAstore.com offers an instructional video to assist in the process. Regarding the price for this cabinet, listed at the time of this review as $181.24, I recommend the Aspen White Shaker as a quality deal offered by theRTAstore.com.