Gladiator garage storage cabinets are a really good low-cost option if you’re looking to add a little more storage space to your garage. But they have two different lines of garage cabinets, and it can get a little confusing to try to tell the difference between the Premiere vs RTA (Ready to Assemble) cabinet models.
I purchased a few Gladiator garage cabinets from both the Premier line and the Ready to Assemble (RTA) line, so this review will cover both.
To make it easy, I’ll mention which specific model or product line I’m talking about each time.
Here’s what I’ve got:
- Two Premier 30″ wall cabinets (GAWG302DRG)
- One RTA 28″ wall cabinet (GAWG28KDYG)
- One Premier 65″ tall GearBox (GATB302DRG)
- One RTA 72″ tall GearBox (GALG36KDYG)
I also picked up a couple of things I’ll be covering in a different review. You may see them in photos, but I won’t specifically cover them here.
- 6′ adjustable hardwood workstation (GAWB06HWEG) (Click for my review)
- Premier series modular GearBox (GAGB272DRG)
- Premier series modular GearDrawer (GAGD275DRG)
So let’s dive in.
Let me be clear about one thing right off the bat:
Gladiator is not a top-of-the-line garage cabinet, but they are a really good storage cabinet for the money.
If you’re looking for top-of-the-line, and you’re prepared to shell out a lot of money to get it, I recommend something like Vault Garage or BaldHead Cabinets. Once I make my millions, a garage full of Vault cabinets is high on my wish list.
For now, I have better things to spend my money on.
I wanted durable, great looking garage storage cabinets but can’t justify spending thousands of dollars. That’s a big reason why I went with Gladiator GarageWorks.
Gladiator costs about a third as much as Vault or BaldHead, so it’s a great value for the money.
Even when you compare them to Craftsman, Kobalt or some of the other cabinets you see at Lowe’s or Home Depot, the Gladiator garage cabinets still win out in my opinion.
Maybe what I like best about Gladiator garage storage is that they have a ton of different cabinet options to choose from.
Want a tool drawer that matches your cabinets and workbench? They’ve got that.
Want a modular system where you can reposition the cabinets on your wall whenever you want? They can do that too.
You can create a cohesive look for your entire garage, instead of buying this cabinet from Company A and this other cabinet from Company B.
Overall, it’s a good, all-around lineup that you can be happy with, without paying a fortune for it.
Still with me?
My Gladiator Garage Cabinets
Before I get into the review, let me give you some more specifics on the exact Gladiator garage cabinets I own, from both the Premier and Ready To Assemble (RTA) lineup.
This is a straightforward comparison because both cabinets fill essentially the same slot in each lineup.
As you can see, the RTA Large GearBox on the right is noticeably bigger.
It’s 72″ tall by 36″ wide whereas the Premier Tall GearBox is shorter and narrower (65″ tall by 30″ wide). Both cabinets are 18″ deep.
My smaller Gladiator cabinets aren’t as simple of a comparison.
The Premier GearBox has a door that runs the full height height of the cabinet. By contrast, the door on the RTA 3/4 GearBox only covers the top three quarters of the cabinet – hence the name.
What I liked about the 3/4 RTA GearBox is the exposed shelf that’s perfect for smaller items. It even has a built-in grommet for an electrical cord.
How Much Do Gladiator Garage Cabinets Cost?
In general, the Gladiator Premier cabinets have between a $30 and $100 premium to the closest equivalent Ready-To-Assemble cabinet.
My 30″ Premier Wall GearBox lists for $249 while the 28″ RTA Full-Door Wall GearBox retails for $215. When they’re on sale, those prices normally drop to around $220 for the Premier and $160 for the RTA.
The Premier Tall GearBox normally retails for $449 while the Ready-to-Assemble Large Gearbox lists for $319. I ended up paying $380 for my Premier Tall Gearbox and $299 for my RTA Large GearBox.
The great thing about Gladiator garage cabinets, especially the RTA line, is that you can usually find them on sale at Amazon or any of the big-box stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot if you’re patient.
For more details including a comparison between Gladiator and some of the other main brands, I wrote a huge article comparing 30 different models to figure out how much garage cabinets should cost.
- Pre-assembled, welded Garage cabinet; wall bracket kit included
- 200 lb. Total capacity, 50 lb. Per shelf
- Easily re-position on GearTrack or GearWall
- 2 adjustable shelves for versatile storage of items of various sizes
- Extremely durable magnetic catch powerfully holds the cabinet door when closed
- Built-in lock offers additional security.
What Gauge Steel are Gladiator Garage Cabinets?
Gladiator is pretty up-front in telling us that the Premier line is made with a thicker grade steel than the Ready To Assemble (RTA) lineup.
However, they don’t tell you how much thicker it is.
To find out, I bought a digital micrometer and measured them. I compared my results to the US Code Title 15, Section 206 – the Standard Gauge for sheet and plate iron and steel (link here).
Now before you say that I’m not being exact enough in my measurements, take a breath.
I’m trying to get a rough idea of what gauge steel they use so I’m only going to the hundredth of a millimeter as a margin of error.
First up was my Gladiator Premier Wall GearBox. At 0.94 mm thickness, that puts it right about 20 gauge steel.
Next was my Gladiator Ready-To-Assemble 3/4 Wall GearBox. At 0.76 mm thick, that’s somewhere between 22 gauge and 23 gauge steel.
Since I rounded up slightly for the Premier cabinet, let’s call the RTA 22 gauge steel.
The thicker gauge steel of the Premier cabinet increases the amount of weight it can take.
The Premier is rated for 200 lbs total weight and up to 50 lbs per shelf. The RTA cabinet is only rated for 150 lbs overall and 40 lbs per shelf.
Some Assembly Required – Even for Premiere Cabinets
No matter which Gladiator garage cabinet you choose, there’s going to be some assembly required.
Even for the Premiere cabinets.
I feel I have to say that because I’ve seen some comments from disgruntled customers who were upset that they had to install the casters on their Premier cabinets.
Which makes sense, once you think about it.
The freestanding Gladiator Premiere cabinets don’t ship with the casters installed because you have the option to wall mount on the wall.
Additionally, if you want to wall mount a tall GearBox, there will be a bracket that you’ll need to purchase separately. The wall GearBoxes only mount on the wall, so the bracket is already built in.
The Ready to Assemble (RTA) cabinets come as a giant Lego set.
It took me about an hour to assemble my tall RTA GearBox, including the time it took to re-do a couple steps because I was assembling it upside down.
The smaller wall-mount GearBox went a lot smoother and only took about 15 minutes to assemble.
Feet & Casters
Depending on the model of cabinet, it comes with either leveling feet or wheeled casters.
If your cabinet shipped with adjustable feet, but you want casters, that’s OK. Gladiator makes a caster kit that that you can buy separately.
The leveling feet are pretty basic.
There’s a hard plastic base on the bottom of a single screw. The screws are long enough so that you can adjust the cabinet to be level even if your garage floor isn’t.
The 5″ casters that came with my Gladiator Premier storage cabinet are massive! I’ve goot big hands and you can see in this image just how huge they are.
The casters are made of heavy rubberized plastic and attach with four bolts each. The front two casters swivel while the back two are fixed.
All things considered, if you’ve got the option of wall mounting your cabinets, I highly recommend it.
I love having that little extra bit of space underneath my garage cabinets. It makes it a lot easier to clean. It also puts more of your cabinet space near eye level.
- Easy to Assemble: The tab and loop design on all of the panels minimizes the need for hardware and removes guesswork in assembly
- Easy access: An electrical access area allows radios and battery chargers on the open lower shelf to power up without taking up workspace
- Full-width adjustable shelf and open bottom shelf for storage versatility
Gladiator Premiere Vs. RTA
The Gladiator RTA cabinets obviously aren’t going to fit together as well as the Premier cabinet that’s professionally welded from the factory.
Each panel on the Gladiator RTA garage cabinets is attached independently from all the others.
That means there’s always the potential of small gaps in places where you don’t want them.
I had about a 1 mm gap along the side panels in some places. It’s not obvious from more than a few inches away. However, it’s big enough that water could leak inside.
I wouldn’t recommend using RTA cabinets outside and you’ll need to be careful when cleaning them.
The Gladiator RTA cabinets have black powder-coated 5/16″ hex-bolts and flange nuts, which stand out against the hammered-steel finish. Each side is connected by eight total screws and there aren’t any other connections on the side panel other than that.
By contrast, the Gladiator Premier cabinet is welded together. It’s not a seamless weld, but it’s much harder to see where the bottom piece meets the side panel unless you’re looking for it.
There’s no gap where the side panels meet either the top or the bottom panels. Everything is sealed all the way along the edge, except for a little gap right at the corner.
In my opinion, I like both looks.
The bolts give it a bit more industrial, heavy-duty look and the Premier’s corners are clean and simple. It all depends on what style you’re going for in your garage.
Fit & Finish
If I had to pick one challenge spot, it was the back panel on the tall GearBox.
The side panels are two long pieces of steel. However the back panels are comprised of five smaller pieces that stack on top of each other.
Here’s a look at how the panels stack together as well as the wall-mount brackets for the RTA cabinet.
As you can see, there are some small gaps where everything fits together.
If you have something that spills on one of the shelves inside, it’s probably going to leak down the back and on to your wall and floor.
I don’t want to give the impression that the welded Premier cabinet is water-tight.
However, it will give you a little more protection than the RTA cabinet.
Cool Features of Gladiator Garage Cabinets
There are some really cool touches to some of the cabinets.
Be aware that not all of these features are available in every cabinet. If you see something that’s a deal-breaker, be sure to double check before you buy it.
Every double-door Premier cabinet from the smallest Wall GearBox to the free-standing Tall GearBox comes with a circular key lock and two keys.
The single door 24″ Premiere cabinet doesn’t have a lock.
Many of the Ready-to-Assemble cabinets have locks, but some of the cheaper ones like my 3/4 door GearBox do not.
They won’t keep out a determined thief, but they will keep children away from things that might hurt them.
I love this feature, but of all the cabinets I purchased, only my 28″ RTA cabinet has this.
It’s great if you’re going to use that open lower shelf to hold a small Bluetooth speaker.
Full Length Door Magnets
This is only on the Premier line of Gladiator garage cabinets. You can definitely feel the difference it makes when you open the door.
The door magnets in the Gladiator Premier line run all the way along the top and bottom of the door. The entire length metal is one big connection point so when the door closes, it stays closed.
There’s just something solid about having the magnet contact points run the entire length of the door instead of just a small magnet in the center.
The RTA cabinets only have a small magnet in the middle of one shelf so it doesn’t feel as solid when you’re opening or closing the door.
Some of the cabinets have peghook slots on the inside of the doors to give you a little extra places to stick things. I don’t use them personally because I’m not a fan of peghooks, but I’m sure someone will appreciate them.
If you’re into peghooks, the doors of the Premier lineup have slots built-in that you can add peghooks or ringhooks for extra storage.
- 1 fixed and 2 adjustable shelves
- Heavy-Duty Steel Construction and Hammered Granite Powdercoat Finish
- Locking Tread Plate doors with large recessed handles
- Rated load 300-Pound per cabinet, 50-Pound for each shelf
- 72-Inch height x 36-Inch wide x 24-Inch deep
I like the way that the Gladiator cabinets look overall, but there are some minor annoyances.
During assembly, one of the inner shelves on my RTA cabinet got bent. It was totally my fault, but I was surprised how easy it was to do.
The thinner gauge of steel in the RTA cabinet is pretty easy to bend back into shape. But I’m OCD enough to notice that it’s never going to be perfectly smooth.
The cabinet colors are a mixed bag.
The dark grey hammered finish hides most small imperfections, but shows every little bit of dust. If you’ve ever owned a black car, you understand what I’m talking about.
The interior shelves are adjustable, but only to a point.
The side panels of the cabinet have tabs that are spaced out each side. Unfortunately, you can see the tabs from the outside of the cabinet, which makes the finish feel a little cheap.
It might be a minor thing, but I want the entire edge of the cabinet to be smooth.
On the flip side, I was really impressed with the fit and finish of the doors themselves.
I worry whenever I have to install doors on something. They never seem to fit as straight as I want them to.
The RTA cabinets have a lot of small adjustments that you can make to help each door line up correctly.
The doors have a shiny diamond-plate look. It looks really good and feels solid to the touch.
I’ve heard a few complaints that the finish can show some imperfections, especially if you spill grease on it.
However, after two years of owning my Gladiator garage cabinets, this hasn’t happened to me.
Mounting Gladiator cabinets on the wall
Mounting the Gladiator cabinets on the wall is super easy.
Getting them to look nice and clean is super annoying.
Let me explain.
The Gladiator cabinets are designed to be mounted on their GearTrack or
The tall GearBoxes like you see below have additional hardware kits that you purchase separately to do the same job.
The tall GearBoxes will have three support brackets. The smaller cabinets will only have two.
To start, only the topmost bracket is securely fastened.
During installation, you don’t tighten the bolts on the others because you want them to be free to move about, and slide into the track channel.
It’s a bit tough if you’re installing them yourself because the cabinets can get heavy and awkward when you’re trying to line them up just right.
This is why you don’t tighten the lower brackets. It makes it so much easier when you only have to worry about getting one bracket in at a time.
Unless you get really lucky, you’re going to have to adjust the lower brackets to get them to fall into place.
As you can see, this bracket was about an inch below where it should have been. If you’re mounting one of the tall GearBoxes like you see here, you may have to go back and forth between two brackets to make sure everything is lining up correctly.
One trick I found helpful was to use a long ruler or broom handle to try to lift the bracket into place.
Either that, or just have another person help you like the instructions tell you.
Once you’ve got everything lined up correctly, the brackets fall into place with a satisfying thud.
From there, you just have to tighten up the bolts on the inside and you’re all set.
Now for the annoying part.
Premiere & RTA Cabinets Don’t Line Up
There’s one thing that just annoys the crap out of me. It seriously makes me question what the hell Gladiator was thinking when they designed it.
Everything should line up perfectly.
The tops of the cabinets should all line up.
The door handles should all line up.
But for some crazy reason, Gladiator didn’t make that easy on us.
Let me show you:
These three cabinets, the 30″ Premier GearBox, the 28″ RTA GearBox and the 72″ RTA Tall GearBox on the left edge of the photo ARE ALL ON THE SAME TOP TRACK!
How difficult would it be to make the distance from the top of your cabinet to the top of the bracket be the same, no matter what cabinet line you have?
Obviously this setup is just for illustration.
I actually have my 28″ GearBox on a different wall, but my original plan was to have a combination of RTA and Premier wall cabinets because I liked the different functionality of each piece.
That’s not possible without A LOT of hassle mounting different pieces of GearTrack at different heights just to get everything lined up correctly.
Of course, you can skip the GearTrack\
- 36 inches w x 72 inches H x 18 inches D
- Holds up to 225 lbs. per cabinet and 45 lbs. per shelf
- 2 adjustable shelves and 1 fixed shelf
- Leveler legs compensate for uneven floors
- 10-year limited
Gladiator Cabinets vs NewAge, Saber & Craftsman
When I was shopping for garage cabinets, my short list came down to Saber, NewAge, Craftsman and Gladiator.
Each had their pros and cons and it helps to list them out to get a better idea of which cabinets work for you.
It ultimately made this a pretty easy decision for me.
In my next garage, I’ll probably end up going with Saber cabinets. They’re really high-quality stuff, but you’re definitely paying a premium for it once shipping is factored in (comparatively speaking).
Pros: Great looking. Very well made. Reasonable price for 20 gauge welded steel cabinets.
Cons: Expensive shipping. For me in Florida, their estimated shipping charge was around 25% of the price of the cabinets. If you’re on the west coast, shipping is only 10-15%, but that’s still pricey.
NewAge has two main lines that you can mix and match. The Pro series is welded, 18 gauge steel while the Bold series is the thinner 24 gauge steel.
Pros: Cost and color options. The Bold series is cheaper than the Gladiator RTA cabinets, especially if you can find them on sale from Costco or Home Depot. The paint colors are the same between both lines so you can mix and match, if you want.
Cons: 24 gauge steel on the Bold series, which feels flimsy when you open the doors and drawers.
I’d seriously look at Craftsman cabinets if you’re on a tight budget and don’t mind red and black. In my case, I wanted something more heavy-duty and not as flashy.
Pros: Least expensive cabinets. Works with their VersaTrack system for an integrated look and flexibility to move them around later.
Cons: Thinnest gauge steel. Ready to assemble only, no welded options. Only one color option.
Gladiator GarageWorks Cabinets
Gladiator has two model lines, the cheaper Ready To Assemble (RTA) line that you’ll find in most of the local big-box hardware stores and the heavier-duty Premier line of welded steel cabinets.
Unless you have both RTA cabinets and Premier cabinets in front of you, it can be difficult to tell them apart.
Pros: Integrates well with their GearTrack and GearWall track system which means you can move the cabinets around later. Easy to find locally.
Cons: Not a big fan of the diamond-plate look of the doors. The design is the opposite of flashy.
In my opinion, the extra cost for the wall cabinets is pretty fair considering you get a much heavier-duty cabinet that you don’t have to assemble. I’ll gladly but more of them if I end up needing more space.
Looking back, I’m not sure I’d go with the Premier Tall GearBox again. It’s a smaller unit. Sure the heavy duty shelves can hold more weight, but the heavy stuff can just as easily be put on steel racks instead.
Instead I’d opt for another RTA Large GearBox which has more storage space inside.
All things being equal, I’d prefer to have all my cabinets be the Premier line. The build quality is excellent for the cost and I love not having to assemble them myself.
But all things aren’t equal and some cabinets are only available in the RTA line. The important thing for me was to pick and choose what I was going to put in them before I decided which cabinet to buy.
Gladiator Premier and RTA cabinets aren’t perfect by any means, but they’re a great, low-cost option to add a little style to your garage organization.