7 Mistakes To Avoid Building Flat Packed Furniture

  • 01 of 08

    Avoid These Mistakes to Assure Smooth Assembly

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    Flat-pack furniture is one of the greatest inventions of the twentieth century. Give thanks to IKEA founder Gillis Lundgren for the idea, which revolutionized the way we outfit and decorate our spaces.

    But flat pack has one major flaw: assembly can be a pain. No, not just a pain — a nightmare. So many screws! Itsy-bitsy wooden pegs! You can feel the headache coming on just looking at the mess that spilled out of the box.

    Prepare yourself in advance and you'll have no troubles building flat packed furniture. Avoid these seven mistakes to assure smooth assembly — and a gorgeous new home in no time.

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  • 02 of 08

    Ignoring the Instructions

    Sure, you're the master of the monkey wrench — but that doesn't mean you should throw that handy instruction pamphlet into the recycling bin. Read the instructions carefully before you begin. It's just like following a recipe: skipping this crucial step could lead to irritating surprises later.

    For example, IKEA's 75th anniversary collection may be a stunning work of art, but the GAGNET round rattan armchair will sure look funky if you're winging it during construction. Flat-packed furniture can be a bit finicky, and a single missed instruction may lead to disaster. Paying attention to what pieces go where — and when — ensures you'll have a beautiful piece (without the headache).

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  • 03 of 08

    Not Laying out Materials Beforehand

    You've read through the instructions. Congratulations! Now, make sure you have enough work space, because you'll need to lay out all of the materials.

    Review the materials list, counting each set of screws and confirming that each wooden peg is present. Any missing pieces should be reported immediately, and any flat-pack company will be glad to send you a replacement for free. Also ensure you have any additional materials the instruction booklet demands. Assembly may require a screwdriver or a hammer — substituting a pile of books to help you set that peg won't be nearly as effective.

    The goal of buying flat-pack is to move from box of parts to fully assembled furniture as quickly as possible. In the process, you'll likely make a mess, which will continue cluttering up your living room if you're missing a crucial piece. Prevent a half-assembled disaster by ensuring you have everything necessary before you start.

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  • 04 of 08

    Plowing Forward When It's Broken

    If the surface of your brand-new flat-pack desk arrived broken in the box, then we recommend immediately contacting the company for a refund or replacement. But if you're responsible for the breakage, you still shouldn't keep moving forward with assembly.

    A broken piece of furniture not only looks bad — it's potentially dangerous. If you're assembling an armchair, a wonky leg could send you smashing to the ground. A broken tabletop could suddenly crack, spilling your dinner across the dining room floor. And those bed slats may seem flimsy, but if too many go kaput, you'll wake up unexpectedly mid-REM.

    Pause assembly if you find something broken, and resist the temptation to fix it using duct tape. Your new furniture should be beautiful, functional — and not dangerous.

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  • 05 of 08

    Not Investing in Basic Tools

    Flat-pack furniture brands insist you only need what comes in the box for assembly. Occasionally, they'll say you need a screwdriver, too. But true assembly heroes go one step further by investing in a basic tool kit. Here are the basics you'll need:

    • Drill: This can save you hours of twisting and turning with a standard screwdriver. Any time a kit recommends utilizing a screwdriver, upgrade to this must-have power tool instead. The result will be faster, easier and far prettier.
    • Level: If you're building a table or chair, uneven legs will bother you for years. Ensure any horizontal surfaces are perfectly level before declaring your flat-pack artwork done.
    • Utility blade: These packages can be finicky to open. A utility blade gets you started faster.
    • Assorted nails and screws: Sometimes you'll complete assembly and think to yourself, "That can't possibly be it." If something feels a little wobbly, having a few extra nails and screws on hand can tighten the frame.
    • Hammer: This essential tool is a must-have for flat-pack assembly. With so many joints joined by wooden pegs, you'll be glad for the additional... well, hammering power that a hammer provides.
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  • 06 of 08

    Forcing Something That Doesn't Fit

    Is a screw loose? Does a peg not quite fit into its assigned hole? Don't keep pushing even when you know something's wrong. Take a step back and reassess — because you're probably using the wrong piece. Often, screws look awfully similar, with only slight differences in size. Some planks will have two holes for pegs, whereas others have three. If a piece isn't fitting, take the time to reassess.

    If you're certain you're using the wrong piece, move carefully before continuing. Especially when it comes to wooden pegs or dowels, a slight error during manufacturing could make the corresponding hole a really tight squeeze. Once the peg is in, it's in — there's no turning around. Make sure you're 100% positive you're assembling the furniture correctly, otherwise you may run into trouble.

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  • 07 of 08

    Squishing into a Too-Small Space

    You may not be blessed with a large living room, but try to assemble your furniture in the most sizable space you have. Assembling a bed frame inside a teeny-tiny bedroom is a recipe for disaster.

    Make sure you have room to lay out all of the pieces individually, from the large wooden boards to the screws, pegs and wrenches. Contorting yourself like a circus performer will only make the process more laborious and difficult. Set up in a space that's too tight and you'll find yourself unable to reach the final screw or push the last set of boards together.

    This goes doubly when assembling a large amount of furniture or putting together an expansive project, like kitchen cabinetry. Allocate enough space, otherwise you might wind up with a headache.

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  • 08 of 08

    Not Delegating

    Don't force yourself to build alone unless you have to. Flat-pack projects are best done as a team. One person can handle putting together the frame; the other can assemble the drawers. Together, you'll move faster and more efficiently.

    But more importantly: you'll have someone to complain to when things get tough. Shoving that slightly too big peg into that slightly too small hole becomes much less stress-inducing when you've got a pal to share your grievances with.