How to assemble, disassemble, and move IKEA furniture

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Shopping for furniture is great fun (well for some), but when it comes to furniture assembly people can generally fall into four categories:

1. People that hate anything that comes in a flat pack.
2. People who enjoy trying to use the information-lacking instructions to successfully put furniture together.
3. People that know it has to be done sooner or later and dig in.
4. People who know better than to waste their time and outsource furniture assembly on Airtasker.

8 Essential tips for a successful IKEA furniture assembly

Whether you're tackling an IKEA Billy bookcase or IKEA Frichten sofa bed, here are 8 tips for a successful furniture assembly:

1. Prepare

Ever heard of the saying, "preparation is the key to success"? Well, it’s absolutely true. Here’s how to prepare for assembling furniture:

  • Make sure you have enough space in the room and clear away things that can be easily knocked over. 
  • If you’re working on a floor that might get damaged, put a towel or old bedsheets down to protect it.
  • Get something to put all the screws, bolts, dowel rods etc into. 
  • Layout all of the pieces according to size and shape.

2. Follow the instructions

Many people would actually say to read the instructions rather than follow the instructions, but most people don’t read the instructions from beginning to end before they start and that’s perfectly ok!

What is important though when following the steps is to not jump ahead nor take shortcuts, you will be kicking yourself later if you need to take it all apart and start again.

3. Use the right tools

There are two types of tool that you will need – specialist tools that are supplied with the furniture (e.g. allen keys), and your own standard tools such as screwdrivers and hammers. With that being said, it’s important to remember:

  • Don’t lose the specialist tools as they often can’t be replaced unless you go back to the supplier
  • Make sure you use proper standard tools, i.e. a bread knife is not a substitute for a screwdriver.

4. Leave enough time

When estimating how long it will take you to build a piece of flatpack furniture, the golden rule is to remember that it will always take you longer than you think. Even for small items, you should be realistic about how long it will take you. If you are building something large, leave yourself for several hours.

5. Tighten correctly

The key to successful furniture assembly often comes down to tightening. To make sure you’ve done it correctly, make sure you:

  • Put all of the screws in place before fully tightening
  • Do not overtighten. Flatpack furniture does not rely on the strength in your arms to give it stability. In fact, you can often damage the boards if you over tighten too much.

6. Teamwork or solo?

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you do or don’t have people to help you out. As the saying goes ‘many hands make light work’ but there’s also the other one whereby ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’.

If you go solo:
1. It will take you longer
2. Less likely to make mistakes
3. Less arguments

If you get some help:
1. Bigger pieces can be put together easier
2. Less physical input demanded
3. Safer

Solo or not solo, choose what's right depending on your availability and requirements.

7. One at a time

The first rule of furniture assembly is to never start a new piece of flatpack furniture until you fully completed the first piece you already started.

Why? Because more likely than not, you’ll mix up the pieces and parts will get lost if you try to do more than one at a time.

8. Revisit

The final IKEA furniture assembly tip is to go back to the item after three or four days of use to check all of the screws and fittings. Tighten any that are loose and make sure everything is working properly. If you do this you will have a solid item of furniture that will last.

What about furniture disassembly?

We talked about how to assemble furniture. But when you moving homes, what do you do with your IKEA furniture? Keen, toss or is there another way?

You need to ask yourself:

1. Do you take the IKEA furniture apart (disassemble)?
2. Do you move it as is?
3. Do you just leave it behind?

How to disassemble and move IKEA furniture

Option 1: Take apart

If you decide to take it apart it will fit into your truck a lot easier and you won’t have to manoeuvre around tight corners trying not to scratch the walls.

That was the positive, now for the negatives… You will need to find those instructions that you probably threw out as a sign of IKEA victory because you’ll need to work backwards. 

Also, do you remember the pain of putting it together and the fights had with your partner or mate about who could put it together faster? Well, you’re about to go through that again. Twice.

If you do take it apart here are two important tips:

  • Label the pieces and the screws if possible.
  • Don’t tighten the screws – remember you may need to take it apart again.

Option 2: Don’t disassemble, just move it

You will save time, perhaps energy but maybe not money depending on your agreement with removalists.

It is the easiest way to move the furniture if the layout of the old and new house allows it, however it could take up a bit of space in the truck which means possibly more trips back and forth.

You might want to also check if you have the same flimsy tools that you were given originally because we’ve heard that you will need that unique tool to fit those specific screws.

Option 3: Leave it behind

This is by far the easiest option if you decide to leave it, throw it out or even better donate it to a friend or charity.

Just remember IKEA furniture is available in many locations. You can also buy them online and have them delivered. Just think of it as a fresh start. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what option you go with, just pick the best option for you and make it work.

Need help with your IKEA furniture?

Whilst it's fulfilling to do things on your own (if you're that type of person!), sometimes all you need to do is to call for help. Find a Tasker for all your IKEA furniture needs:

Find ikea assembly experts, fast

Find an IKEA assembly expert

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