It seems that one of the things people can never agree on is whether or not IKEA furniture is worth the money. Some will tell you to avoid the store, and others will claim it is the best furniture you could buy. The verdict will differ from person to person.
This article looks at the good and the bad of IKEA products, and we will discuss when they are worth buying. Plus, we’ll also be covering some simple tips on how to make the furniture last longer!
IKEA compromise quality to achieve affordability, but not so that their items are useless. The low cost is partly due to smart material use, self-assembly, and low transport and storage costs. These don’t affect quality. IKEA furniture will last 4-8 years, but the price will be more than fair.
IKEA Furniture Is Cheap
IKEA started off as a mail-order catalog business. Today the brand is one of the biggest home furnishing retailers worldwide and has made a name for itself primarily thanks to its affordability and design.
IKEAs products are usually considerably cheaper than other global furniture brands. Naturally, this appeals to many people.
The brand tends to market itself toward young adults (20-34 years old) who are likely to have just moved into a new home. This is where the appeal of modern, low-cost furniture comes in—but that’s not to say that IKEA isn’t for everyone.
Many people started associating IKEA’s lower pieces with bad quality and short durability. After all, wouldn’t the product’s prices be higher if they were of better quality?
While there is a level of truth to this assumption, the reality is that there are several reasons behind the low cost of IKEA furniture. Some of these reasons have nothing to do with the quality of the products.
Reasons For Low Cost of IKEA Furniture
The Cost of Materials Is Low
The materials that IKEA uses most frequently are particleboard and medium-density fibreboard (MDF). These are easy to mass-produce and are less expensive than solid wood, which helps to make the manufacturing process more cost-efficient.
Another great quality of particleboard and MDF is that they are very lightweight, making handling and transportation cheaper and easier.
Even though particleboards and fiberboards are affordable and light, they do lack durability. These types of boards are not as sturdy and strong as solid wood is.
Over time you will notice that products made from these materials are quite susceptible to damage. They may crack or chip when accidentally hit. They may even crack or split during assembly if you apply too much pressure to them by overtightening screws or using power tools when you should not be.
Another sure way to damage your MDF furniture is to get it wet, as these materials are very sensitive to water damage. The boards could swell or, in worse cases, even disintegrate. If you want to prevent this type of damage, you can try applying a waterproof sealant (amazon link) to add protection and durability.
Boards Are Made With Honeycomb Construction
Boards for IKEA furniture that are not made from solid wood, such as particleboard and fiberboard, are made with a “honeycomb” filling.
The filling consists of strong cardboard paper that is air pressurized in a calibration unit. The pressure expands the small hexagonal pockets in the cardboard structure, thus creating a honeycomb pattern that is rather structurally sound.
Thanks to the honeycomb method, IKEA is able to reduce the amount of raw material used for the production of their furniture.
This in turn further reduces the cost of production, meaning IKEA is then able to sell the products to their customers for a considerably lower price without compromising the functionality of the furniture.
The honeycomb design also helps minimize waste and allows for a more sustainable manufacturing process. On top of that, it makes the furniture even lighter than it would have been with regular particleboard.
Furniture Is Flat-Packed
Flat-packing furniture brings many benefits to IKEA as well as its customers. Pre-assembled furniture takes up much more space and is harder to assemble and transport.
As flat-packed furniture takes up less space, more products can be transported at one time. This allows IKEA to save on transportation costs.
Additionally, this allows each store to carry more stock due to the reduced amount of space that each product takes up. This means customers can typically purchase most items on the spot without needing to wait for a restock.
Buying flat-packed furniture rather than pre-assembled furniture also makes it so that customers are often able to take furniture home in their car or even in an Uber. The boxes are also more maneuverable than assembled pieces. So, customers save on delivery and tips for drivers who need to help unload the furniture.
Customers Assemble Their Own Furniture
Buying IKEA furniture may save you some money, but you will pay for the spared expenses with your own time and work. This may not be a problem for everyone; some may even consider it to be fun or advantageous.
However, if you don’t have much time to spare or if you have no experience with a similar kind of work, building IKEA furniture could feel overwhelming.
This is especially true if you expect all IKEA assembly to be easy and purchase a complex piece without knowing what you’re getting into.
Thankfully, IKEA does provide you with both instructions and an assembly kit. IKEA furniture often requires the use of Allen wrenches, which are always included in the kit. However, you may also require tools like screwdrivers or hammers, which might not be included.
If these tools are probably already in your home toolbox you’ll be good to go, but someone without any experience may have to pay extra for additional assembly equipment.
How Long Does IKEA Furniture Last?
Because IKEA cuts cost on materials, the lower quality does show itself in a reduced lifespan but not necessarily proportionally. I.e., halving the costs of materials may only reduce the quality by 25% because the rest is saved on transport, assembly, and quantity of materials used.
Some products have been reported to last only about 2 or 3 years while others for 15. However, it seems common for pieces to last for around 8-10 years. Many of them even come with a limited 10-year warranty.
Increasing the Lifespan of IKEA Furniture
The following are steps you can take to increase the durability of IKEA furniture:
- Use wood glue during assembly. Do you want to make your furniture more sturdy? Then you can use wood glue (amazon link) as well as assembly materials provided by IKEA. Just make sure that the pieces are arranged correctly before you seal them with an adhesive. Gluing together two pieces that don’t belong together would ruin the product.
- Try not to move or rearrange the furniture. Unless absolutely necessary, avoid moving your IKEA furniture around. Of course, this doesn’t include items like chairs that are designed to be moved around. In general, however, keeping the products in one place will save them some wear and tear they could acquire in the process. In fact, many IKEA products are supposed to be securely attached to the wall for safety and stability reasons.
- Avoid getting furniture wet. Particleboard swells when soaked in water. It’s easy to avoid getting indoor furniture wet, just be with spillages and cleaning products. Use a damp or dry cloth as IKEA recommends in their user manual, and wipe off any accidental spills immediately. Outdoor furniture is often made from more durable materials, but you should still try to keep it out of the rain or snow. You can use furniture covers to protect it from the elements.
- Research furniture before you buy it. Not all IKEA pieces are created equal. Some are made from better materials and are more sturdy than others. Look at reviews or go into the store and test out display pieces to get a better idea of what to expect once you buy them.
Ultimately, the lifespan of your furniture depends mainly on its materials. That is why it is essential to know what the products are made from.
The Final Verdict
Overall, it is safe to say that IKEA products are a great option for many people. The furniture can last several years if taken care of and treated well, and the quality of the products is certainly quite decent considering the low prices.
If you have a limited budget and are looking for contemporary pieces, shopping at IKEA is ideal. Students looking for functional furniture and stylish decorations that will make their temporary homes feel cozier for a few semesters will also find IKEA products perfect for their needs.
That being said, you can’t expect IKEA products to last for decades or to become heirloom pieces that your friends admire. That is not the purpose of these items. Additionally, they do not have a perfect reputation for reliable customer service.
You also need to consider carefully the merits of buying discounted “Last Chance to Buy Items”. While these are cheaper, making them even more value for money, there is also the risk that you will not be able to obtain replacement parts should any break or be missing from the pack.
In the end, it all comes down to your priorities. IKEA furniture is designed to be modern, functional, and affordable.
So, if you are looking to furnish your home at a low price, and you are ready to build the furniture yourself (or you don’t mind paying for assembly), then yes—it is worth buying IKEA furniture.
If you are looking for signature pieces that will last you for decades or you plan to move the furniture around a lot, it might be a better option to look elsewhere.