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In this article, we will take an in-depth look at Lily Ann Cabinets, one of the most popular online RTA cabinets suppliers.
Lily Ann has thousands of cabinets to choose from, and they are available in many styles and with many different customizations.
Table of Contents
- About Lily Ann Cabinets
- Lily Ann Cabinets selection, variety, and pricing
How difficult is it to assemble Lily Ann Cabinets?
- Do you need any special experience or expertise to assemble Lily Ann Cabinets?
- What tools do you need to assemble Lily Ann Cabinets?
- How much time does it take to assemble Lily Ann Cabinets?
- Lily Ann Cabinets assembly tips
- Lily Ann Cabinets quality
- Lily Ann Cabinets customer service
- Comparing Lily Ann Cabinets to other RTA cabinets
- Common questions about Lily Ann Cabinets
- The verdict: should you buy Lily Ann Cabinets?
About Lily Ann Cabinets
Lily Ann Cabinets is one of the largest RTA (or ready-to-assemble) cabinet sellers online. They offer around 20 different cabinet types, from simple shaker designs to much more complicated designs. They also offer several customizations to cabinets, which is nice to ensure that you can build a kitchen that you are looking for.
The business was started in 2004, and has amassed a large and loyal customer base. It has also grown rapidly and now has a large portion of the online RTA cabinet market.
The cabinets that Lily Ann Cabinets sells are ready-to-assemble. That means they arrive flat-packed in a box, and you (or your contractor) are responsible for assembly. The cabinets come with all of the assembly hardware and wooden parts pre-finished, but you are expected to have certain tools, and a bit of experience assembling flat-packed items.
Lily Ann Cabinets selection, variety, and pricing
Lily Ann Cabinets has many excellent cabinet options, with all frames made of plywood, and doors made HDF or wood.
There are about 20 different cabinet styles to choose from, which is great, but a bit less than some competitors, like TheRTAStore.
Lily Ann has some excellent customization options. The reason I originally purchased Lily Ann Cabinets was due to these options. For instance, you used to be able to get glazing on you cabinets, which made them look extremely beautiful. Also, Lily Ann Cabinets glass doors come with the glass built in, which makes putting the cabinets together easier.
Pricing for Lily Ann Cabinets is very good, although they have had to increase their prices recently.
How difficult is it to assemble Lily Ann Cabinets?
Lily Ann Cabinets are generally not particularly difficult to assemble. In building my kitchen, I assembled over 100 of them. Below is a chart of how long they took to assemble.
Do you need any special experience or expertise to assemble Lily Ann Cabinets?
Although I have assembled IKEA flat pack furniture before, I am no expert carpenter. Nevertheless, I was generally able to assemble the Lily Ann Cabinets that I purchased without problem.
What tools do you need to assemble Lily Ann Cabinets?
You don’t need too many tools to assemble the RTA cabinets from Lily Ann Cabinets, but you absolutely need these:
A cordless screwdriver with multiple sized flat and Phillips bits
Your cordless screwdriver should last for a while on a single battery, and you must have several different sizes of bits, since Lily Ann uses several different sized screws. If you try to use a single size bit, you will quickly end up with stripped screws, which are very difficult to remove.
I have tried many different cordless screwdrivers for assembling my Lily Ann cabinets, and have found that this Black and Decker set is the best.
If you’re experienced in carpentry or DIY, you may consider using an impact driver or professional cordless drill. These can be problematic with RTA cabinets, since they are faster and provide more torque, which can damage the screws — or worse, the cabinets.
I learned this fact the hard way when I used a Dewalt with a bit too much torque and cracked a cabinet.
You need to glue each joint when assembling Lily Ann and other RTA cabinets. This helps the cabinets maintain their rigidity and ensures that they don’t come apart with vibrations or wear.
My favorite wood glue is Gorilla Wood Glue, which comes in a nice, large tube and has a tip that can be cut to a fine tip.
The fine tip is necessary because it’s very easy to dispense too much glue, and if you do, you will end up with glue residue on your new cabinet surfaces. To avoid this, it’s important to dispense a thin bead of glue in each joint.
In assembling Lily Ann cabinets — especially the drawers — you will need something hard to tap parts into place. A rubber mallet allows you to tap parts without damaging them, like a regular hammer would.
How much time does it take to assemble Lily Ann Cabinets?
When I assembled these cabinets, I timed myself on different types of cabinets. Here are the amounts of time I spent on each one:
|Standard (upper) wall cabinet||30 – 45 minutes|
|Standard base cabinet without drawers||45 minutes – 1 hour|
|Base cabinet with drawers||1 hour – 1.5 hours|
|Full height utility cabinet||1.5 – 2.5 hours|
|Individual drawer assembly||20 minutes each|
|Small upper cabinets||30 minutes|
Lily Ann Cabinets assembly tips
Here are some tips that I have found to be useful when assembling Lily Ann’s RTA cabinets. There is more information here.
- Make sure to glue all joints with wood glue, but don’t use too much, since it will ooze out of the joints.
- There are many parts that are tongue and groove. These generally go in smoothly, but sometimes they don’t. Before gluing each tongue and groove piece, try sliding it and make sure it slides easily. If it doesn’t, it’s most likely because the part isn’t going in straight. If the part goes into the groove at an angle, it sometimes gets stuck. If you try multiple times and the part still doesn’t go in, it may have warped or been mis-cut. In that case, the best thing to do is get a replacement. This happened with only a small percentage of cabinets I purchased, but it can be very frustrating.
- Check all cabinets as soon as you get them for damaged parts. Damaged parts are rare — but you don’t want to have to wait for parts during assembly.
- The full height utility cabinets are easier to put together with a helper, and since you need to slide the tongue and groove parts from the top, you need a lot of space. If you assemble them right-side-up, you will need up to 16 feet of vertical clearance. If you assemble them horizontally, you need a large open area.
Lily Ann Cabinets quality
Now we get to the big question: what is the quality of Lily Ann Cabinets? I found the quality to be very high — in fact, much higher than much more expensive non-RTA brands. In fact, I had contractors in and out of the house while I was assembling the Lily Ann Cabinets, and I got multiple comments about how great the quality was.
Lily Ann Cabinets quality: materials
Lily Ann Cabinets uses top quality materials in their cabinets. All boxes for all of their cabinets are made from real plywood (generally birch or an equivalent). Here is a cross-section photo of a cabinet frame panel cut in half, so you can see what the innards are made of:
The cabinet faces are either made of solid wood or engineered high-density fiberboard. High-density fiberboard (or HDF) is a is a type of engineered wood product made from wood fibers. HDF is much denser than MDF (which is used in a lot of IKEA and other RTA cabinets), and is therefore stronger and more durable. It is often used in high quality furniture, cabinetry, and flooring.
In the photos below, we have cut two Lily Ann Cabinets doors in half (one solid wood, the other HDF), as well as an IKEA door made of MDF.
From the photo, it is clear that the solid wood door is the highest quality, followed closely by the HDF door. You can also see why the MDF is considered a much lower quality material. It is made up of loosely packed sawdust, which means it is light and a bit flimsy. Also, when it cracks it comes apart easily.
Solid wood is generally preferred over HDF, although HDF looks smoother when painted (and doesn’t show the wood grain). This is why many cabinet suppliers (Lily Ann included) use solid wood for stained cabinet doors, and HDF for most painted cabinet doors. HDF also tends to be more temperature and water resistant than solid wood.
Lily Ann Cabinets quality: millwork
The of the milling of Lily Ann Cabinets tends to be very good, although not 100% perfect.
Their drawers are joined with dovetails which I found to be very accurately cut and fit together very nicely, with the right amount of tightness. Here is a picture of one of the dovetail joints:
Most of the Lily Ann cabinet frames are joined using tongue and groove rails. To assemble them, you generally need to slide the cabinet side panels into grooves in the face frame, then slide the back of the cabinet into the grooves in the sides.
Generally, this works fine, and the parts slide in easily, with just the right amount of resistance to ensure a good hold. However, I found that on a few cabinets, the fit was a bit too tight, and I had to file the tongue a bit in order to get it to slide well. I explain this more in depth in assembling RTA cabinets.
Lily Ann Cabinets quality: hardware
Lily Ann Cabinets, like most cabinets, don’t come with much hardware. What you get for a cabinet is generally just the hinges, frame support pieces, and screws. Drawers additionally come with drawer glides.
I found the hardware to be of high quality. The hinges and drawer glides are both soft closing, although that’s generally expected these days. The soft close mechanism for the drawer glides is of good quality. I tested it by slamming the drawer a few dozen times, and found that the mechanism was reliable and solid. Most of the drawers glides I assembled also didn’t require any sort of adjustment.
The drawer glides also are full extension, so you can use 100% of the drawer, and the drawers easily clip in and come out for access. Here are pictures of the drawer glides and clips:
Lily Ann Cabinets customer service
Lily Ann Cabinets has average customer service. They will address your concerns, although I found some competitors’ service to be better.
During the sales process, I had a hard time getting a response to my emails. But things were a bit better after I ordered.
For damaged parts, I found that Lily Ann Cabinets was generally responsive. I placed several different orders with the company and I was able to get replacements for damaged parts.
However, I often had to call to get the orders out of processing stage, and sometimes the replacements were incorrect.
When you find a part that’s damaged, you’re directed to submit a ticket using their website. The time to receive replacements varied. Many came in as little as 5 days, though some took a lot longer.
Lily Ann Cabinets: complaints
In 2020-2021 Lily Ann Cabinets saw an uptick in complaints on Google and other review sites. This was due to cabinets taking a long time to be shipped. I had a similar experience: my first order from Lily Ann took a much longer time than expected to arrive.
I had to call several times to get to the bottom of the issue, but eventually it was resolved and Lily Ann worked to ensure I was satisfied.
However, this appears to have been an isolated experience, and I placed several additional orders since then, and they all went smoothly.
The issues in 2020 and early 2021 were mostly due to the long early-COVID lead times for certain building materials. Another cause of the delay was that requested glazing for many of my first cabinets. Lily Ann Cabinets has recently decided to stop offering glazing services, so this will not affect future orders.
Comparing Lily Ann Cabinets to other RTA cabinets
Lily Ann Cabinets has excellent cabinet options and quality. They also have a wide variety of customization options.
The materials and construction quality is very similar to other RTA cabinet sellers. You can see a Lily Ann Cabinets cabinet cut in half, and a TheRTAStore cabinet cut in half:
Here is a comparison of the hardware that comes with Lily Ann Cabinets vs another RTA cabinet seller:
However, Lily Ann Cabinets did have some drawbacks. In my experience, Lily Ann Cabinets took longer (sometimes much longer) to get products fulfilled and shipped to me than other sellers.
Also, I felt that the customer service provided by Lily Ann wasn’t quite as good as TheRTAStore.
Another issue I had with Lily Ann Cabinets was that not all of their parts have pictures online. This was a problem for me: I ordered one set of trim pieces thinking it was something different from what it actually was. When I received the trim pieces, they were not what I wanted, and I had to place another order for something different.
Finally, one of my favorite things about Lily Ann Cabinets was that Lily Ann would glaze your cabinets (for a fee), giving them excellent depth. Unfortunately, they stopped providing that service, which is unfortunate.
Lily Ann Cabinets Pros
- Great quality
- Excellent selection
- Many nice customization options
Lily Ann Cabinets Cons
- They used to offer glazing on cabinets, which was really nice; they no longer offer it
- Sometimes slow order fulfillment
- Sometimes hard to get responses to emails
- The website doesn’t have pictures of all parts, so you sometimes don’t know what you’re getting
Common questions about Lily Ann Cabinets
What should I do if my frame parts don’t fit together easily?
I found that on very small percentage of my Lily Ann Cabinets frames, the tongues didn’t fit perfectly into the grooves when assembling. If you have this problem, make sure you are fitting the panel in perfectly straight.
For rear cabinet panels, which need to fit into two grooves at the same time, make sure that the rear panel is 100% level. If the rear panel goes farther into one side than the other, it will get stuck. Use a mallet to knock the off side in, so that the panel is level (and perfectly perpendicular to the sides).
If you still have problems, you can either contact the company for a new grooved panel, or use a file to file down the tongue a bit. Just make sure to add wood glue after doing so, to ensure that the filed tongue doesn’t move around. I explain this more in depth in the article about assembling RTA cabinets.
Where are Lily Ann Cabinets made? Are Lily Ann Cabinets made in the U.S.?
Unlike some other cabinet sellers, Lily Ann Cabinets are not always marked with a place of manufacture, so we don’t know for sure.
At least some of the cabinets I purchased from Lily Ann Cabinets are marked as made in Malaysia.
The verdict: should you buy Lily Ann Cabinets?
Lily Ann Cabinets are definitely worth a look, especially if there are certain styles or features that you prefer about Lily Ann Cabinets.
But after looking at many different RTA cabinet options, we prefer TheRTAStore, with their top notch service.