Category Archives: remodeling

RTA cabinets–Can I build it?


I’m still plastering and painting, but some of my remodel jobs are done.  I finished building the RTA cabinets we put in four rooms of our house (kitchen, craftroom, laundry and living rooms–all of which are part of an open floorplan). RTA stands for ready to assemble.  Each cabinet is flat packed with all of the hardware you need to assemble it.  There are instructions, but it helps to have at least some knowledge of how to put things together in order to figure them out.  I’m not a cabinet builder but I do have experience in refinishing wood and in general remodeling projects.  Looking back, I’m wondering if I was crazy to think I could really build 31 cabinets all by myself.  But I did it, with only a couple of minor mistakes which we were able to hide in the installation.  The cabinets are beautiful and solid wood throughout.  I know, I built them!

Why pick RTA?  I picked them because I was not impressed with the Home Depot cabinets we had ordered for our bathroom remodels.  They were expensive, but they had laminate inside and we didn’t even get shelves in one of the units.  On top of that, I didn’t like the order process.  The Home Depot people came out and designed the kitchen for you.  I wanted to have more control over the process.  I knew I could measure my kitchen and I wanted to be able to look at the different available pieces and make my own design.  With RTA cabinets, I probably had a more limited choice of type of cabinets in some instances, but I was able to know what my choices did to the overall cost of the project.

Why RTA Cabinets Unlimited?  I was hoping to get cabinets that were not oak or maple. Most cabinets available are in those two woods. However, RTA Cabinets Unlimited offers a line of cherry cabinets called Tuscany and another walnut line called Warwick.  We liked both of them and after ordering samples decided with much trepidation  to use both cabinets.  The cherry in our kitchen/craftroom area and the walnut in our living room and laundry.  The living room opens into the kitchen, so we weren’t sure how this was going to work, but in the end, we think the reddish woods match well.

I was impressed at the service from this company.  Several times, the salesman, James, called me to ask if I needed anything.  The first time he called, I was just starting to assemble my first cabinet and he gave me exactly the advice I needed.  After we had installed everything, I received a hard copy catalog which very clearly proclaimed that they were a Christian company.  James’s kindness and patience in helping me get everything right in the order showed an attitude of service.

It wasn’t easy to put all of the cabinets together, and a few slightly warped sides had me worried that things might fall apart, but now that they are all assembled and installed, I’m very happy with them and sort of amazed that I actually did this project.  RTA cabinets are not for the faint of heart, but if you have some skills and more time than money, they can be a good choice.

Update May 2011—For more information see my articles: I know these all sound the same because I kept on planning to write a review of RTA Cabinets–then as I wrote, I ended up on a different topic.  I’d added pictures and video before I realized that the http was not what I’d actually wrote!  So see the title in front for the real topic!

Can Homeowners Build RTA Cabinets? (includes videos which show you how to assemble them)

How to Choose RTA Cabinets (Step by step guide of how to choose)

Review of RTA Cabinets Unlimited


Covering Popcorn ceiling with plaster



update May 2011–I’ve had thousands of hits on this blog post.  In fact, it is #1 on Google searches on this topic.  So I felt guilty I had not put more information to show people how to do this.  I’ve now done all but two rooms of our house and it has made a dramatic improvement throughout.  I’ve put more detailed instructions of how to do this technique, along with more pictures on:

Full Instructions and Pictures for Covering Popcorn Ceiling with Plaster


Original post:

Ok–I’m posting this hoping it helps other people.  Popcorn ceilings are ugly–or at least unfashionable.  They make a house dated.  We’ve wanted to get rid of ours ever since we moved in.  How to do it?  Scraping is the usual way, but ours is painted and may have asbestos (1972) so we were searching for a different solution.  I’ve been thinking about trying to plaster over it ever since I re-plastered our bathrooms after remodeling/re-tiling four years ago.  Most internet sites I visited suggested it would not work, but I decided to try a small bathroom area.  Our popcorn is probably plaster rather than the softer kind which you can wet and scrape.  I tried wetting and scraping and it didn’t work.  Well, the plastering over did work.  I used lightweight joint compound.  It took about 4 hours for the bathroom.  It would probably take a full 8 hours to do a bedroom ceiling.

I’ve done all of our house now except for two bedrooms which I plan to finish this summer.  They all look great.  Here is the before:


Here is the after (a different room–I forgot to take the before photo ahead of time):


How?  I took the joint compound on my scraping tool and pressed it against the wall then kept on pressing down as I pulled the compound across the popcorn.  Then I’d go back and keep on pressing and pulling away in different directions.  On one ceiling I did it very fast and used a lot of compound.  On another ceiling, I worked more slowly and tried to put just enough compound to cover the popcorn and look all right.  The ceiling with a lot of compound did have some small cracks–the paint filled these in somewhat and it does add to the “old plaster” look of our house.  The thin compound ceiling sort of has ridges a bit more.  I did find that you can go over the plaster and touch up if you want.  On my laundry ceiling, I worked harder to press into the corners to make the plaster of the ceiling match better with the wall.  It was sometimes hard to make it look good around the air conditioning ducts and lights.  The best thing might be to remove these and replace them over the new plaster.   After letting the plaster dry for a few days, I painted.  One of the paints was a primer/paint, the other one was just a good white.  Both look good, but a primer paint probably covers better.   This technique wouldn’t work for everyone, but it has definitely been great for us.