Our Ikea Kitchen: Assembly and Installation

In my last kitchen post, I recapped the process of designing and buying our kitchen, in all its many boxes! Once we had unloaded and organized the boxes, it was time to start assembly.   If you’ve ever assembled Ikea furniture, the instructions are very similar. I feel like they are easier to process because of the lack of words and simple drawings, but I know others who hate the way Ikea instructions are written. Each box cabinet (both base and wall) goes together the same way, so we didn’t even need instructions after the first couple of our seventeen cabinets. Here are a few tips to get started with:

  • Start by assembling the wall cabinets so that you can hang them and get the out of the way
  • Invest $20 in a small, electric screwdriver – it was easier to handle in tight places than our big drill
  • Pick up extra pegs and screws while you are at Ikea – they don’t provide extras in the box!
  • Label the cabinet with its blueprint number after assembly so you don’t get mixed up when hanging them
  • Put the door and hanging hardware in a ziploc and label it with the cabinet number from your blueprint. This will help you stay organized!
  • Don’t even think about the shelves, drawers, and doors yet! These go on last

Our assembly process took a couple of days, but was a lot simpler than I thought it would be. Once we assembled all of the wall cabinets, we were ready to hang the suspension rail that supports the cabinets. This is a technique that seems pretty unique to Ikea, as none of my contractors had ever heard of such a thing! You will need a long (4+ feet) level and two people for this part of the project. The instructions are detailed enough about the actual installation of the rail, but are pretty vague about what to use to attach it you your wall. After some research, we chose some heavy duty cabinet screws from Lowes. The biggest caveat is to use a screw without a beveled head – you don’t want to sink the screw into the drywall. Ours looked like this:
cabinet screws

We had to use the impact driver to secure them to the studs – some of our studs are original to the house and they are rock hard! Clint loved the excuse to buy a new tool for this job.

After the suspension rail has been installed, its as simple as sliding on a few screws and nuts and adjusting the alignment of the cabinets. They will be nearly level because the rail is level when it is hung. Ours went up in about in hour!

Assembling the base cabinets is almost as easy, with the addition of attaching the adjustable legs. The legs are similar to those that allow you to level out your washing machine, and they make an unlevel floor a non-issue. You will have to cut holes in the back panel of some base cabinets to make room for plumbing to come through under the sink. This is kind of tricky, but the panels are thin and easily cut. A question that I researched a lot was how to attach the base cabinets to the wall. Posters at Ikea Fans suggest using a butterfly toggle bolt, which I had no idea even existed. It basically pops out against your drywall after you screw it into the predrilled hole. These worked great.

butterfly bolt

Here’s our shell of a kitchen after a few hours of installation:

kitchen assembly

Looking good, Ikea!

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