9 Tips for Buying and Assembling IKEA Furniture

  • 01 of 10

    We're Here to Help

    IKEA boxes

    Many IKEA customers have at one time felt stumped by the wordless instructions and strange hardware that comes with the furniture. The assembly process is all a part of what makes IKEA, IKEA.

    But decorating your home shouldn't feel like a frustrating or overly time consuming process, and we don't want you to regret your next flat packed purchase.

    So to make your next trip to IKEA easy and worth it, here's what you need to know about buying and assembling IKEA furniture.

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  • 02 of 10

    Stick to Your Skill Level

    ikea shopper

    IKEA says their products are designed for easy assembly, but if you're a flat packed furniture newbie, you should know some items are harder to put together than others, especially if you're not particularly handy. If the latter is the case, individual items that come packaged in more than one or two boxes can be epic for first-timers to assemble.

    Here's how you can figure out if an IKEA product may be above your do-it-yourself skill level:

    • First, go to IKEA's website and find...MORE the webpage for the flat packed item you wish to buy.
    • Next, click production information.
    • Look at the section titled, "Package measurements and weight." It shares the number of boxes that contain the product's parts. For example, this item from the Billy Series is packed into one compact box while this bookcase from the same collection comes unassembled in nine different packages.

    To make the assembling process easier, IKEA created how-to videos for six of their best sellers, which includes the PAX wardrobe and MASKROS pendant lamp.

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  • 03 of 10

    Don't Put That Dented Box in Your Cart

    how to shop ikea

    Picture this: You just returned from your IKEA shopping trip and discovered that the flat packed bookcase you purchased is damaged. Harrumph!

    Don't let this happen to you. Here's how:

    • Carefully inspect each box for damage before buying.
    • If a package is nicked, dented or scraped, no matter how small put it back, grab another, and repeat the inspection process.

    Why is this necessary? IKEA flat packs their furniture using minimal packaging materials, which doesn't include padding like...MORE Bubble Wrap or crinkled cut paper. That's why components inside a dinged package may also be damaged. It happens.

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  • 04 of 10

    Avoid Damage When Assembling

    how to assemble flat packed furniture

    Ahh, melamine veneer. We love that it makes furniture easier to clean, but we hate that it's a pain to fix when damaged. You can avoid scratching or nicking your new purchase while assembling by prepping your work.

    You'll need:

    • Clear floor space. To calculate how big your work area should be, double the item's measurements. 
    • A rug or canvas drop cloth to cover your work area. You can also use the cardboard boxes that came with your purchase.
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  • 05 of 10

    Don't Be Intimidated

    Trick to Reading Ikea Instructions
    Deirdre Sullivan

    Baffled by IKEA's wordless assembly instructions? Here's the key to understanding each step:

    • Review the instructions from start to finish before getting started. 
    • Notice that each illustration provides important visual clues for proper assembly, for example, the drawing above shares which direction the exposed particle board should be facing.
    • Lay out the components you're connecting as shown in each of IKEA's diagrams. See photo above. 
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  • 06 of 10

    Use Glue

    Glue Screws and Joints
    Deirdre Sullivan

    Flat packed furniture that's a bit wonky after assembling looks cheap. The good news is we have 3 tips that will make any IKEA item you put together feel more expensive.

    The first tip: Glue, when applied correctly, is the secret ingredient that prevents wobbling. But you have to use the right kind. Assembly experts recommend the following:

    The first option bonds to a wide range of materials including wood and metal. The second product is an...MORE all-surface adhesive that sticks to pretty much everything. Even better, both products expand while drying, which forms a super strong bond that makes the furniture you assemble feel rock solid. For tips on how to apply, keep reading.

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  • 07 of 10

    Don't Forget to Hammer

    Hammer Wood Dowels
    Deirdre Sullivan

    Use a hammer or rubber mallet to place wood dowels accurately. You'll also need one of the glue products just mentioned.

    Here's the deal, the predrilled holes on IKEA items run small. The tiny openings make it nearly impossible to place the wood dowels far enough down to create an entirely flush fit for the connecting piece that's added later — unless you use a hammer:

    • Dab a little glue on the end of the wood dowel.
    • Twist the end covered with adhesive into the predrilled hole. 
    • Using...MORE your hammer tap the dowel lightly until it reaches the bottom of the predrilled hole.
    • At this point, roughly one-third of the dowel should be sticking out.
    • Now wipe off any excess glue with a rag. 
    • FYI, you can use a dab of glue to bond each screw and cam lock permanently too. 
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  • 08 of 10

    Steal This Drill Trick

    Drill out holes for dowels
    Deirdre Sullivan

    Now you need to make sure the wood dowels you just added will create a flush fit when popped into the next component. You'll need a drill bit that's the same diameter as the wood dowel. To do:

    • Set your drill in reverse so you don't drill all the way through by mistake. 
    • Now use the drill to widen the opening.
    • Next, take the component with the attached dowel (as shown on the left) and pop it into the drilled hole (as indicated on the right). Don't forget to add a dab of expanding...MORE glue beforehand.
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  • 09 of 10

    Don't Sweat Missing Pieces

    oops ikea

    Just like you, IKEA makes mistakes. If the bed frame, bookcase, or whatever you purchased is missing parts or hardware, the retailers will send them to you free of charge. 

    You'll need to email their customer service department the following:

    • Your name and address.
    • Contact information including address and phone number.
    • Order number.
    • Product number for the item that's missing parts.
    • Explanation of the missing parts including their reference numbers. For small parts like dowels and screws,...MORE you'll find this information in the assembly instruction booklet.
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  • 10 of 10

    Get Help

    Professional Help Ikea

    If you're not very handy or dread the thought of putting together flat packed furniture, you should know IKEA feels your pain.

    They partnered with local and experienced professionals who deliver and then put together your in-store purchase. An item's retail cost determines the price for assembling, which starts at $89, not including shipping. Get more details here.

    Want to avoid the long checkout line? 

    You can hire a local furniture assembler found on YELP or Angie's List to put...MORE together your online IKEA purchase.

    If the item you want is not available for sale on the retailer's site, companies like Perfect Assembly in New York City will shop at IKEA for you. Afterward, they will deliver and assemble your new purchase.