Brilliant White Shaker (The RTA Store): Arch-top molding = awkward corner joints
Today I have assembled a Brilliant White Shaker cabinet ordered from theRTAstore.com. I placed the order about a week before so it arrived in just under a week.
* This may seem like nit-picking, but some purists would say that the Brilliant White Shaker is technically not a shaker style because the inner edges of the four outer door pieces are beveled creating a little 45-degree slope down into the center panel of the door. I consider this a decorative choice and therefore constitute the Brilliant as having a Shaker style door.
This cabinet has a face-frame made from Birchwood. The Brilliant White Shaker utilizes a traditional five-piece frame and panel door that the website claims is composed from a High-Density Fibrewood (HDF) composite. Unlike most doors, the center panel on the Brilliant White Shaker is held in place using staples. Although this is barely visible on the inside of the cabinet, it speaks to the quality of the door itself especially given the Brilliant White Shaker’s higher price.
The texture is evenly applied and thick on the drawer face, door, and frame finish. This cabinet is aptly named because the door and drawer front has a “brilliant” white finish. The composite wood possesses no visible grain pattern and as a result, the finish is smooth and nearly flawless in appearance.
Cabinet Box and Interior
The Brilliant Shaker has a natural maple interior. This is often referred to as a non-matching interior. The insides of the cabinet panels have a nice laminate surface. For many people having a matching interior is not a priority. Most companies utilize universal bodies for their cabinets so a non-matching interior is sometimes necessary.
The quality of this cabinet box is fair. As usual, the side panels are 1/2 inch thick plywood. This panel thickness is fairly common for RTA cabinets. I am very pleased to see that the back panel on the Brilliant 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 ½ inch thick plywood. It may seem like an obvious way to make a sturdy cabinet body but surprisingly most cabinets makers do not do this.
*Unfortunately, the cabinet body does have a few places like the toe kick where the panels don’t line up perfectly. After installing the cabinet to your kitchen, however, these problems would be unseen by a runner covering the faces of the toe kicks.
The Brilliant Shaker cabinet’s box is stabilized with four wooden corner braces. While these are effective, fastening them to the corners is difficult without a bit extension on your power drill.
The drawer is very easy to put together. The sides of the drawer box are all ½ inch thick and made from hardwood in a natural wood color. The drawer box bottom panel is just under 3/8 of an inch thick. The corners of the drawer box are held together with dovetails, but the joints are weak without additional adhesive. Each of the top edges on the drawer box are slightly rounded to create a soft arch. Though this is initially pleasing to the eye, the result of this design creates an awkward joint that appears cheap compared to the traditional flat top edges found on other cabinet drawer designs.
The floating shelf that is provided is a nice 3/4 inch thick but is only 12 inches deep so it functions as more of a half shelf. This is not particularly common. 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 2.25 inches deep and the back of the drawer rests about 2.5 inches from the cabinets back panel. The design of the drawer has some flaws. This shallow drawer will have trouble holding large items without hitting the cabinet frame when opening and closing the drawer. The frame does protrude into the storage space but not any more than you would expect from a traditional framed cabinet.
The soft close mechanisms (SCM) in each hinge all seem to work well. The hinges use the SCM that fit into the inner workings of the hinge. Attaching the door to the frame with the hinges is accessibly easy, first affixing the hinges to the door in the designated borings and then to the frame with screws into the pilot holes.
The Brilliant White Shaker uses undermount tracks for its drawers. The metal tracks attach to the back panel of the cabinet using a pair of plastic brackets. The front is then secured to the frame with small wood screws. Once installed the drawer slides into place with ease. These drawer tracks also come with soft close mechanisms. My only concern for the drawer slides is that the plastic bracket has a minimal grasp on the metal drawer track. This left a very small part of the slide attached to the bracket. I would think that this will affect how much weight the drawer can safely hold.
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 like the Aspen Shaker. 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 a very sturdy cabinet.
Assembly & Support
The Brilliant Shaker cabinet arrived in a soundly packaged box. All the cabinet pieces were delivered without any damage. Each of the cabinet pieces (door, frame, drawer and the body) are packaged together in the same box. The pieces are well-organized in the box. The box has Styrofoam blocks and sheets protecting the cabinet pieces. The instructions included with the cabinet are clear and presented no challenges.
Ease of Assembly
Assembling this cabinet is not difficult. I have experienced a few very minor issues but nothing major. The instructions are very helpful. A Step by step instructions is included that give a list of parts with pictures. Then there is a step by step guide with corresponding pictures and it was all in English. I finished the cabinet by myself. There were a few moments that would have been easier with two people but it was certainly not difficult to do by myself.
Attaching the corner brackets to the inside corners of the cabinet box was made slightly more difficult when trying to use a power tool. For a few of the screws, it is probably best to use a normal hand driver or have a bit extension for your impact driver or drill.
When I was nearing the end of the build, there were one or two spots where the pieces didn’t line up as snug as I wish they had. These were not serious problems but they were disappointing anyway. As I was attaching the last of the 4 corner braces a few of the screws spun freely in their holes leaving the brace with a little wobble. While this was frustrating and made me question the quality of the screw and the side panel, it was also very easy to fix. The Brilliant Shaker cabinet came with a few extra screws. I simply added these to the corner brackets and the brace was solid.
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.
As a unit, the Brilliant White Shaker cabinet is a fine cabinet. While it does have the sharpest, cleanest White exterior finish, it suffers from a lesser quality door build with the HDF composite five-piece door. The other major issue is the shallow drawer, as drawer storage space is a priority when shopping for a dependable cabinet. Depending upon what you are seeking in a cabinet, for the price listed at $226.23, the Brilliant White Shaker is the choice cabinet for an individual willing to spend a higher price for a brighter white finish and less focused on the quality of the materials composing the unit.
Overall Score: 3.5/5