Everything You Need to Know About Ikea Kitchen Cabinets

IKEA Style Kitchen Cabinets

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If you're getting ready to remodel a kitchen, your budget can mean the difference between making it happen this year, taking out a home improvement loan, or passing on it altogether. Ikea cabinets have a reputation for being well-built, low-cost, and, if in stock, you can bring them home the same day that you buy them. Known for their clean, Scandinavian aesthetic, Ikea has many styles to choose from for the cabinet facing so that you can get nearly any look with their cabinets.

But, if there's one thing that Ikea is known for, it's confusing building instructions, lots of steps, and hours upon hours spent trying to build one piece. So, while you might save money purchasing the pieces, factor in your sweat equity, and, if your DIY skills are not up to snuff, you'll need to hire someone to build and install it for you.

Ikea cabinets are solid and function well—they fit the bill if budget is your primary consideration. They have one base system: SEKTION, a frameless kitchen cabinet system (In 2015, it replaced the AKURUM discontinued line). They are medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and particleboard mixed with wood, metal, glass, and melamine foil. Also, Ikea only comes in specific sizes, so you have to make the cabinetry fit your space and not the other way around. Planning an Ikea kitchen for your area requires a lot of configuring to make it work, but they have an easy-to-use 3D planning tool online to simplify the process.

Pros
  • Affordable

  • Many styles

  • User-friendly 3D online planning program

  • 25-year warranty

Cons
  • Not solid wood; questionable quality

  • Difficult to install; long wait

  • Not custom-made

Pros of Ikea Kitchen Cabinets

Ikea kitchen cabinets are known for their clean lines and affordability, serving as a cost-conscious choice for those who have a tighter budget.

Good for the Budget-Conscious

If you're going to do a kitchen remodel and you have a smaller budget to work with, then explore the world of Ikea cabinets. You can end up paying at least 1/4 the cost of custom cabinetry. For example, a kitchen that would typically cost $25,000 in custom cabinetry can end up being about $6,000 if you had shopped at Ikea. It will be one of the more affordable ways to redo your kitchen without breaking the bank.

Many Styles to Choose From

Although there is only one base cabinet system with the frameless SEKTION, you have some 15 different styles to choose from ultra-modern and contemporary to traditional moldings and Shaker-style drawer fronts and cabinet doors. Frameless cabinets have doors that cover the entire front face of the cabinet. Frameless cabinets impart a European or modern look for a sleek appearance that emphasizes other kitchen areas such as appliances, flooring, or tilework.

The colors of the fronts, drawers, and cover panels are varied too—white, black, beige, gray, navy, green, and wood tones. The wide variety of drawer pulls, and cabinet handles enable you to personalize your kitchen to your taste.

Planning Made Easy

If you have an hour to spare, you can redesign your kitchen with all your kitchen measurements. The online planner guides you through a step-by-step process to use their online 3D mapping tool. Or, you can make arrangements to meet with an Ikea kitchen planning expert online or go to Ikea to see the pieces firsthand and design your new kitchen with a planner at the showroom. The 3D tool allows you to visualize what your new kitchen can look like with Ikea cabinetry installed.

25-Year Warranty

Knowing that the SEKTION Ikea cabinet system has a 25-year warranty might set your mind at ease. It can be reassuring to know that your investment is covered against defects in the material and workmanship. It also covers all fronts, UTRUSTA hinges, MAXIMERA full-extension drawers, legs and toe kicks, cover panels, Deco strips and molding, and most cabinet frames. The warranty does not cover any cabinetry that has been altered or normal wear and tear, cuts or scratches, or damage caused by impacts or accidents.

Cons of Ikea Kitchen Cabinets

While cost is a significant consideration, others make quality construction, workmanship, and materials their top priority. Also, planning and installation need to be effortless and hassle-free.

Not Highest Quality

Some kitchen rehabbers will not consider Ikea cabinetry based on the materials they use for their cabinets. Their cabinetry may have some wood, glass, and metal, but since the cabinets are mainly made with medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and particle board, it's a big dealbreaker for those looking for all-wood construction. The integrity of MDF and particleboard can get damaged and degrade when exposed to water or screws turning into the boards. Although Ikea's 25-year warranty can be reassuring, it does not prevent problems from occurring in the first place, and comparatively, all-wood construction stands up better.

Tip

Some Ikea kitchen DIYers have complained that the melamine-fronted doors get dinged and chipped much sooner than expected. To avoid your drawers and cabinet doors from eventually looking shabby, one DIYer suggests installing all the base cabinetry from Ikea but instead getting all-wood cabinet doors and drawer fronts from a custom cabinetry store.

Installation Woes

Ikea maintains its reputation for having complicated instructions and being a hassle to install. If you buy an entire cabinet system, it can be confusing when more than 100 boxes arrive at your home. And, you have to check that you have every single piece. The installation is not a weekend project for a DIYer.

You can hire an Ikea professional to haul in and install them, making the process easier, but it can take months for an appointment. Then another option is hiring an independent kitchen cabinet installer near you. Since Ikea furniture and cabinetry are popular, many local carpenters and subcontractors are familiar with their installation.

Not Custom-Made

Custom cabinetry is built on-site in your kitchen to fit your space, whereas Ikea furniture is made to the specifications of their instruction booklet. With an Ikea cabinet system, you can choose from various width and depth sizes for their base and wall cabinets. The sizes are standard, so they should come close to your kitchen dimensions.

You will be able to choose where to put drawers versus cabinets, plan shelving, and pick the cabinet facing, but you're locked into their depths and widths, which limits people with oddly shaped spaces or unique needs. For taller or shorter people, customized cabinets can take a person's size into account versus Ikea's one-size-fits-all approach.

Cabinet Sizes

Ikea offers several widths, depths, heights, giving kitchen planners some flexibility to design a kitchen that can suit their needs. Some custom offerings include L-shaped corner cabinets to accommodate corners in your kitchen with doors opening right or left, high cabinets that serve as a pantry or cupboard that are floor to ceiling, and cabinets that go above built-in appliances like microwaves or refrigerators. You can also order a base sink cabinet with an open-top to accommodate a drop-in sink.

Base cabinets sit on the floor and, as the name implies, act as a base for other things, such as countertops, cooktops, microwaves, and ovens. Since base cabinets occupy floor space, they effectively define the footprint of your kitchen. All base kitchen cabinets are 30 inches high. After adding the legs and toe kick, the total height becomes 34.5 inches. Adding a countertop brings the full height to 36 inches. Ikea only offers laminate and butcher block wood countertops in standard dimensions. To get marble, granite, other stone, or other surface materials, you'll have to purchase them elsewhere.

Cabinet Piece Height Width Depth
Base cabinet 30 in. 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 30, 36 in. 14.75, 24 in.
Base corner cabinet 30 in. 38, 47 in. 24, 26, 38 in.
Base sink cabinet 30 in. 24, 30, 36 in. 24 in.
Upper cabinet 15, 20, 30, 40, in. 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 30, 36 in. 14.75 in.
Upper corner cabinet 20, 30, 40 in. 26 in. 26 in.
Top cabinet 10, 15, 20 in. 24, 30, 36 in. 24 in.
High cabinet 80, 90 in. 15, 18, 24, 30 in. 14.75, 24 in.

Frame Color

The frame is the color of the cabinet box, and it comes in white. While this choice matters, it is less important than it may seem. Most ends of your cabinets will butt up to other ends or appliances, so you will never see them. You might have two exposed ends; often, you will have none. Frame color matters most on the inside. A clean white interior makes it easier to see inside, and it will be easier to notice when it's dirty and needs a wipe to keep it clean.

Doors and Drawers

IKEA's names for door and drawer front styles are not descriptive, so you have to sort them by sight alone. The 15 or so door and drawer fronts work with the SEKTION base cabinets. Always look for any notes on the product description to make sure the doors or fronts are compatible with the cabinet boxes and with specific types of hinges and other hardware.

Legs and Toe Kicks

Legs and toe kicks are sold separately. Legs are required to keep the cabinet boxes off of the floor. Toe kicks are optional and are not used with all legs.

  • Legs: The basic legs are plastic and adjust to help level the cabinets on uneven floor surfaces; the plinth strips hide these. There are also metal legs with screw-type adjustment and sturdy bases; these are more like furniture legs that you don't cover.
  • Toe Kick: A plinth by IKEA is a narrow strip of plastic that covers up the legs; these serve the same purpose as toe-kick boards found on conventional cabinets. So, when the plinth is installed, the cabinets have the outer appearance of resting directly on the floor, though the inner legs support the weight.

Tip

While IKEA cabinets offer a great appearance at an accessible price, many homeowners question if they can withstand tough usage over a long period. If you expect them to be installed in a space that undergoes significant wear and tear—such as a busy family kitchen with several kids or a high-traffic office kitchen—it is important to research thoroughly if they will hold up for you as well as cabinets from other manufacturers.