IKEA Cabinets – Building Process

Written by DIY, Renovation

And we’re BACK! Thank you for tuning back in as we get to our EPIC conclusion of what to do with those 219 boxes that got dropped off at our house! In my previous post, I went over our experience of the purchasing process at IKEA and will finish up with our build process here. I have to admit, the bigger post was the purchasing process. A lot more goes into planning and ordering. Once you get the darn things at your house, it’s much more straight forward. We did a mixture of the work ourselves and with our contractor. So I can’t speak to every single step of the process. I know we could totally have done it all ourselves, but it was a matter of them being perfectionists with how everything was finally installed, which was fine by me! And they could go a lot quicker than we ever could…

So here you are, looking at your pile of flat packed boxes wondering what the hell to do now. Well, remember that all important folder I mentioned before? This is your holy grail. It contains your receipt (which is your warranty), a print out of your 3D model as ordered with numbers on each cabinet, an itemized list of each part you ordered, and a master list that shows each numbered cabinet broken out and the parts number for each part that goes with that cabinet. It takes a few moments to wrap your head around, but once you dive in it all makes sense and you will be all the happier for having this much organization in your kitchen reno life.

Your next step, is taking inventory of what was delivered. We were given three business days to make sure our delivery was correct. If we were missing anything at all, and notified IKEA within the time frame, they would fix it and deliver the missing parts at no additional cost to us. If you find you are missing something after that time period, you can still get it of course… you will just have to go to the store and get it yourself or pay for shipping again. We took inventory by looking for the parts number on each box and highlighting each one we found as we went. Our order was shipped perfectly! We had no issue here and took this opportunity to start organizing the mass pile into smaller groupings that made sense for us and would make building more efficient.

Then came time to start building these puppies! It was only a matter days from when the guys started demo till they were ready to start putting in some of the cabinets. We didn’t tear out or do anything with our dining room wall, so they just got those up as soon as they could. They had excellent communication with us about their plan and their priorities, so we knew what and when to have ready to go for them.

So one evening over a weekend, Jordan and I made pop corn, grabbed some drinks (Cokes for us thanks!) popped on Lore on the TV and made a night of building the cabinet boxes in our workout area of the basement. We each had enough space to spread out and build a cabinet simultaneously. I do not suggest making this a competition since that always leads to someone rushing and missing some instructions (this may or may not have lead to a very upset Dad one time when he had to take apart a TV cabinet he had almost finished when my family decided to do a men vs women IKEA competition). With that said – these were hands down, the easiest part of everything we did! If you’ve built IKEA furniture in the past, you may understand. It’s easy when it’s just the main container. The difficulty starts to come in with doors and drawers, which we didn’t add until the cabinet boxes were installed. Once we each built one cabinet, we understood what was going on and could pretty much build them on auto pilot. Just use the master list, find your cabinet number, look at the parts list for that cabinet, go find those parts and assemble!

To keep communication somewhat organized with the guys, we wrote the cabinet number on a sticky note and stuck it on the built cabinet box. This way they would know just where it goes based on the IKEA print out we were sharing with them. We also took all the additional hardware that wasn’t used during this step and put them in numbered sandwich baggies for each cabinet so they wouldn’t get lost. If you look inside the cabinet boxes in the photo below, you’ll see our green sticky notes and the hardware baggies sitting in each cabinet.

When the guys were ready, they measured out the wall and screwed the installation rails onto the wall. There is one for the base cabinets and one for the wall cabinets. Then they reviewed the IKEA print out with me, and grabbed the numbered cabinets they needed and installed them on the rails. They also screwed them together from the sides so they don’t shift around as much. And BAM! We have a wall of cabinets! In the photo above, you can see how they added cover panels along the walls to make the cabinets look built in. They would later add slivers of cover panel to each side of the upper cabinets so the whole thing looks like one complete unit. They attached these by screwing into the side of the high cabinets and through the edge of the cover panels. Once everything is caulked, it looks seamless.

After those cabinets were in, the guys worked on finishing up all the new electrical, also cutting the backs of the high cabinets for our vacuum and microwave outlets. They threw up new drywall on the other side of the kitchen, and did the flooring. While they did that, we had our marching orders to build the remaining cabinet boxes for the island and sink wall. So Jordan and I had another “date” night while building IKEA boxes. This time we watched Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, which we have probably watched a hundred times but never get tired of. Baby Groot when he’s trying to find the pro-type fin… gets me every time!

The guys did their magic, and BAM! Another wall of cabinets was installed. Since they had the electrical all ready to go at this point, they added our hardwired cabinet lighting for us.

Shortly after that, the island was installed. We all deliberated on placement a lot because of the door to the sun room. Thankfully, we discussed this as a team well enough in advance that we realized the original cabinets we ordered were gonna be too big for this space, making everything feel too uncomfortable.

You can just see in the right hand side of this render how we originally had a skinny set of four drawers and then another set of three drawers beside it. We ended up making the right side the same width as the left side of the island, and would replace the two cabinets with one set of four drawers. So we gathered our parts for those two cabinets and headed back to IKEA to return them. This is an easy trip for us since we only live 10 minutes away from a store. We would go in the evening, return our order, get dinner, then go to the kitchen department to order our replacement parts. For the return, I would just grab our entire folder which ended up being handy in case we needed to look up a part number. We would have to sign in at the kitchen department upstairs, but always got help within a 10 minute span of time.

Ordering the new parts was always easy for us at this point because we understood the process a bit more, but also knew exactly what we wanted making it super quick. We were able to tell them the width of cabinet we wanted, how many drawers and then what front finish we needed, and that was it! You pay for your additional order right there. Of course, the Laxarby fronts we chose are not stocked in our store on a regular basis, so we would have to wait for them to ship to the store. But other parts, we were able to take home that moment. We would get a pick up order paper, go downstairs to the pick up counter and wait for them to bring out our order. Sorry! No wandering the self-serve area for kitchen cabinets! When our fronts came in, we would get a phone call and go in to pick them up at the customer service desk… after getting dinner of course… IT WAS TOO EASY OK! Especially when you don’t have a kitchen and only have weeknights to run and pick up stuff. I think the only thing I didn’t try in the dining area was the soup.

Anywho! Back to our island. We got our new cabinet box without too much fuss and built that sucker! The guys put the island together very easily just sitting the two boxes where they needed to go and attaching the cover panels to the sides and back. The cabinets were not secured to the floor in any way. Since we were getting quartz counter top for here, we wouldn’t need to secure them because that sucker is heavy enough to keep everything in place just from the weight alone. Since our stove depth is just a tiny bit deeper than the cabinets, they added some studs to the back of the cabinet boxes to attach the back cover panel. In the photo above, you can see a slight gap between the back of the cabinets and the back cover panel. (So mad at myself for not taking a photo of this!) This added the depth we needed for the stove, and enough space for our outlet receptacles to sit in without interfering with the drawers.

While the guys continued on whatever they needed to wrap up, the third party stone company came out and templated for our quartz counters. This guy was so nice and amazingly precise! He was asking me about the tiniest fractions of discrepancies and if this 13/16 of an inch would be ok for us to live with… ummm… yeah I won’t notice that, bud.

During this time, Jordan and I did our kitchen reno date night thing again and started building all the drawers for the interiors and organizing them by cabinet. Again, these were not that difficult to put together once we built one and got the process down. Once our guys got to a stopping point, we took over! During this two week period of time, we painted the walls, ceiling, and trim, built out and installed the remaining pieces of all the cabinets, installed the cabinet hardware, and prepared the butcher block counters. We did a lot in two weeks for two people that work full time, with weekend help from my parents.

Thankfully, we had all the drawers built and ready to go by this point. Which was a realllllly good thing because – THIS was the most time consuming part of the whole thing! The three wall cabinets on the sink side that just have one door and shelves took 20 minutes to finish by themselves, which was fast! But one base cabinet that has two drawers took just as much time, if not more! And no TV to entertain us. We tried to break this part up through a few evenings. Eat dinner, then come upstairs and try to put together a few cabinets at a time. We would finish our night with another coat of sealer on the butcher block counters then go straight to bed so we weren’t in the kitchen with the fresh fumes.

Again, the folder and it’s paperwork came in super handy. For each cabinet, we would just match up the cabinet number with the parts for that cabinet. We would first go around and collect each and every remaining part we would need for that cabinet. Next, we started putting in the pieces depending on the interior layout we had already chosen during the planning stage. All the drawer fronts were perfectly aligned, but the doors were another story. It was never totally horrible, but enough to be noticeable. So be sure to factor in that time for adjusting each door, which there are instructions for. Just a simple twist of a specific screw in the hinges does the trick. The hard part is figuring out just the right amount to adjust on each hinge that will give the desired results.

Slowly but surely, we got everything done! The quartz counter tops were installed beautifully and we were ready for the guys to come back and finish up. The only thing left on the cabinets our guys did for us was attach the toe kicks, which seemed like they just snap on. Just a couple days later we had a finished kitchen! You can relive the joy with me over at our kitchen reveal post.

As you can probably tell, the IKEA building process was super smooth for us outside of changing our minds on a couple of cabinets. Even that was easy to handle though and made dinner an obvious choice whenever we had to run there in the evening. You know you’re doing an IKEA kitchen renovation when you’re on a first name basis with the cafeteria staff…

Overall, I would say our IKEA experience was pretty excellent from the purchasing process all the way through building. As I said before, I will have no problem doing another IKEA kitchen or purchasing their cabinets for other uses through our home. The whole experience was mostly pain free, the help we received was excellent, and everything was organized and easy to DIY our way through it. Last but not least… we really like how it looks and functions 😉 I think I’ll keep it!

There are tons of little nuances and tricks to hack things to make them work for you and your kitchen if you have a little imagination or a good contractor. If you don’t have a contractor but want help with installation, they even have that service available through IKEA. Be sure to check out all the services they offer before starting. As always, I’m sure I skimmed over something, so feel free to leave a comment and ask if you have any questions. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll at least try to figure it out!

PS: I feel it’s only right to pay my respects here to the founder of IKEA who passed over the weekend. What a concept he created! Would you believe he started this business when he was only 17!!! That concept grew to a phenomenal business bringing affordable style to everyday people, as well as meatballs. Although it was steeped in some financial controversies, as well as some personal ones through his life. What an interesting person to read about. He was one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the 20th century and my home is filled with pieces of his legacy. May he rest in peace and his family find comfort. 

Last modified: January 30, 2018