By Saundra Latham for Cheapism©
Anyone who’s bought furniture at Ikea knows that making your way through the maze-like store without overspending is just half the battle. Once you get home, you face the daunting task of assembling your finds, with only the wordless, cartoony directions to assist you. Want to save yourself some frustration? We talked to experts to find out which of Ikea’s most popular products are the ones that might have you learning how to curse in Swedish — and what Ikea newbies can do to set themselves up for success.
Why you should think twice: “This is what I’m hired to build the most, and I think it’s because the closets are so large and intimidating,” says Roger Chong, owner of Ikea Installers in Los Angeles. “There’s a lot of elements that go into properly installing these units. You’ll have to properly build the frame, make sure it’s square, know how to safely attach it to the wall, build all the interior components, and start putting them in one by one. The hardest element of the job is that they’re just super heavy and really bulky.”
Hemnes 8-Drawer Dresser
Why you should think twice: Assembling the Hemnes is “like the 4,000-piece Lego Death Star,” says Adam Tate, owner of New Jersey-based All Assembled. “There are a lot of pieces and it will take some time. This dresser will take you a weekend or month to build depending on your tolerance, skill level, and the tools that you own to get the job done. Pine is Ikea’s wood of choice for this unit, but pine is soft! Pine gets marked up easy. If you are into the Bohemian look, okay — this is for you, because it will weather and dent and can come damaged due to particles left over in the packaging.”
Nordli Bed With Headboard and Storage
Why you should think twice: “With most other furniture assemblies, you reach an ah-ha moment where you see how it all comes together,” Chong says. “This one, you probably won’t get that moment until the very end. Because of the nature of the design, it’s a very low-profile bed, so you’ll find yourself laying down on your stomach or back a lot, just to attach all the pieces. This bed also has the most drawers of any bed frame at Ikea, so you’ll spend half the build time assembling drawers and adjusting them so the alignment is correct — this is a nightmare for someone with plush carpet. … I wouldn’t recommend this as a solo job if you’re a novice.”
Why you should think twice: “Ikea markets these dresser units in images of two to 16 drawer units, which makes it a very versatile, desirable storage solution,” Tate says. “However, Ikea does not supply instructions on how to fabricate the many configurations. Instead, there is a manual in every box that only shows configurations for that particular section. It’s up to the user to figure out how to get it all together to make the various configurations. Again, another modular product that leaves it to the consumer that has relatively little knowledge or skill to complete or create these complex assemblies. The product comes in many different boxes, and you don’t know what box to open first.”
Friheten Sleeper Sofa
Why you should think twice: “These are tough because of the mechanical components involved,” Chong says. “There are brackets with springs and wheels and pulleys. This assembly requires you to be aware of exactly what goes where and when. The spring-loaded sofas also hold a lot of tension, so you have to be cautious for the sake of safety. And then you’ll find yourself reaching into hard-to-reach spots to attach and tighten other parts. In the end, there’s not really any leeway for error. If you messed something up, the mechanics won’t operate the way you expect them to.”
Besta Entertainment Center
Why you should think twice: “Every cabinet, door, drawer, and drawer front is boxed individually and has individual instructions for building the component in the box, but not what you saw hanging in the showroom,” Tate warns. “The frames and cabinets assemble easily, but trying to figure out how this all goes together is a lot more complex, including getting it on the wall securely. If you have defects in the wall, like bulges or bows, it gets more difficult to mount. Hanging rails or cleats to mount to units are available for an added fee and don’t come with the system; you need to ask for them, and you need to buy the correct amount. Ikea uses the metric system, and the bracket holes will not match up to wall-stud spacing. You will need to use a combination of screws into studs or drywall anchors, mollies, and toggle bolts. And if all that is a foreign language, you need to find someone to do this for you.”
To see more Ikea nightmares, click below.