12 Tips on Ordering and Installing IKEA Cabinets – Part 1
IKEA cabinets are modestly priced, smartly designed, reasonably durable and machined so exactly that the average Joe or Jane can put them together. In general, the customer service is good and there’s a wide range of support materials to help people assemble and install cabinets. I’d advise homeowners to have a pro do the installation, however, especially if there are corner cabinets or if the kitchen has a lot of irregularities. (Some of the pivoting hardware in corner units is quite tricky.) Homeowners can still save by assembling the units.
Ordering and installing even DIY-friendly cabinets is complicated, so I have culled 12 tips from my installation, which I will cover in two blogs. This week’s installment covers prelims and checking a shipment. Next week’s blog will chronicle a professional builder’s installation of owner-assembled cabinets and will include a 12-photo sequence.
1. IKEA’s kitchen design service is a good deal. For roughly $150 they will come to your house, measure the kitchen, recommend different cabinet configurations and work up a materials list and estimate. Some of that $150 fee will applied towards the purchase, if you decide to buy. The service also generates a set of detailed floor plans and elevations of the kitchen, which are invaluable if, say, you buy the countertop separately or hire a contractor to install the cabinets.
2. Speaking of which, IKEA will for a fee install the cabinets–but only if they assemble them, too. In other words, you can’t save money by building the cabinets and having IKEA install them.
3. If there is an IKEA outlet reasonably close, pick up the cabinets yourself. Shipping is expensive: A friend in Maine paid $127 for an Akurum cabinet…and an additional $124 to have it shipped. If you do pick up the cabinets, get a friend or two to help: Unassembled cabinets are heavy and their boxes, unwieldy.
4. Don’t order cabinets till you’re almost ready to install them. Even unassembled, cabinets take up a lot of room. Thoroughly vacuum the site before the shipment arrives, especially if you’ve been renovating and generating a lot of dust and debris. IKEA cabinets’ melamine surface can be scratched or chipped by grit, stray nails and the like.
Checking the Shipment
5. When the IKEA shipment arrives, scrutinize the master shipping list to be sure everything’s there. Because boxes are large and heavy, this is another two-person job. Contact IKEA immediately if anything’s missing.
6. Open each box and check its contents against parts list enclosed–usually part of an unstapled set of instruction sheets with installation pictographs. In my delivery, everything was there. By the way, the customer service areas of IKEA stores typically have bins of miscellaneous assembly hardware, free for the taking, if you’re short a part.
Lastly, assembling the cabinets goes much quicker if you invite friends and make a party of it. Invariably, one person will have an intuitive feel for (or a lot of experience with) the IKEA system. With four people, it took a long day to assemble the cabinet shells, drawers, slides, shelves, pulls and so on: Thanks to Catherine, Stu, and Jeannie.
This blog is adapted from Renovation 4th Edition, which contains thousands of field-tested tips and techniques. Brand new from Taunton Press, Renovation 4th Edition‘s 614 pages include 250+ technical drawings and 1,000 photos selected from the 40,000 that I have taken over the years. I hope you find it useful. -Mike
© Michael Litchfield 2013
These days, adventurous homeowners can assemble good-looking kitchen cabinets. Having a pro install them may be money well spent. Design: Catherine Moncrieff, Jean Revere Tilework: Bowman's Gate
Before installing cabinets--indeed, before ordering them--survey the room carefully. In addition to measuring room dimensions, survey walls and floors. Note out-of-level floor sections, out-of-plumb wall areas, whether corners are square, and low spots that may need to be shimmed.
Renovation 4th Edition contains lifetimes of experience: thousands of field-tested tips and techniques that master builders across North America shared with Mike Litchfield, a founding editor of Fine Homebuilding.
If your shipment is short a part, customer service areas of IKEA stores typically have bins of miscellaneous assembly hardware, free for the taking.