IKEA Kitchen Cabinets FAQ

Questions and answers about IKEA kitchen cabinets

IKEA makes one of the best-known ranges of RTA (ready-to-assemble) kitchen cabinets ever. Get answers to your questions about IKEA kitchens here – and if you have a question that I haven’t answered, check the Links List below for more places to find information, or ask your question on the contact page and I’ll do my best to find the answer for you.

What’s the quality of IKEA kitchen cabinets like?

IKEA cabinets are better quality than most others in their price range, but you’re not going to be getting hardwood drawers with dovetail joints. What you will get is 3/4″ thick materials, solid bolt connections, metal drawers, full-extension drawer slides with silent closing, and generally good customer service.

One good way to check the quality is to go to IKEA and look carefully at the demonstration kitchens in the showroom. Not only can you check the actual materials used, but you can see how they hold up to abuse from the thousands of visitors who go through opening and closing the drawers, banging the doors, swinging on them and otherwise treating them far worse than you would your kitchen at home!

Finally, try posting a request on one of several forums and get feedback from people who actually own IKEA kitchens. See the list below for links.

How much does installation cost?

This is a bit like asking “how long is a piece of string”, but let’s give it a try.

Installation can be done for free by you (or a handy family member or friend), or for money by an IKEA-approved installer or by someone local you hire to do it for you.

Free installation is likely to come with a cost in time rather than $$. You may be able to save time and money with a compromise solution where you assemble the cabinets yourself and then have an installer actually install them for you.

If you are going to hire someone, an IKEA-approved installer may cost you less even if the per-hour rate is higher than the local handyman, as IKEA cabinets are slightly non-standard in their installation methods and the experienced installer will be quicker to do the job.

One “rule of thumb” I’ve seen is that you should expect to pay the same amount for installation as you did for the cabinets.

How hard are they to install myself?

There are two different jobs involved in installing your IKEA cabinets: assembling the cabinets, and then installing them. Assembling is easier than installing.

If you can use simple tools and follow instructions, you can assemble the cabinets yourself. You can also expect that you’ll get better at it as you go along, so start with a nice simple wall cabinet and work up to things like pull-out pantries! However, this is not a small time commitment: if you have a fairly small kitchen with 20 or so cabinets and you average 40 minutes per cabinet, that’s over 13 hours – and you have to find somewhere to store those cabinets until they are installed, too.

Installation of the cabinets is not rocket science, but it requires attention to detail, planning ahead, and ideally some help. Again, if you are a reasonably experienced handy-person you can do it, but it may take longer than you expect. Just installing and adjusting doors and drawer fronts on 20 cabinets once you have them fixed in place is a long project.

Can I buy doors separately?

Yes, you can. IKEA customer service states that kitchen parts are sold individually, therefore you will be able to purchase the doors and drawer fronts separately.

Can I buy cabinets without doors?

Yes, the price lists in the kitchen catalog list prices for “frame only” for all the different types of cabinet. The catch here is that the frame only price, as well as excluding doors, drawer fronts and hinges, doesn’t include shelves or drawers either so you’d have to buy those separately.

As an example, in the 2008 Canadian catalog a 1 door, 1 drawer 15″ wide base cabinet costs $103 for the cheapest door type (Arlig white) but only $40 for the frame only. You’d need to add Rationell drawer(s) and shelves, or other interior fittings such as pull-out racks or shelves. Of course, you can also make your own shelves or buy interior fittings elsewhere as long as the size is correct.

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How do I re-create a specific look from the catalog?

The catalog pages often include items which are not stock items for sale. Sometimes they are made from customized stock items, sometimes completely non-IKEA, but there’s usually a way to re-create them.

As an example, consider the backsplashes shown in several catalog and IKEA home page pictures (such as the backsplash shown on the cover of the 2008 kitchen catalog and inside on page 10.) These seem to be made with fabric or wallpaper (sometimes IKEA, sometimes not) behind a clear cover. There are several possible ways to create a look like this for more or less cash:

  • Stick the wallpaper or fabric to the wall, and cover with multiple coats of polyurethane to protect it
  • Get glass cut to size at a local glass store, with the edges rounded for safety, mount the paper or fabric on the wall, and mount the glass over the top.
  • Get plastic panels cut, or buy plastic panels and cut them to size yourself, mount the paper or fabric on the wall, and mount the plastic over the top.
  • Get hold of windows or sliding glass cupboard doors (new or recycled) of an appropriate size and make your backsplash to fit them, then mount them over the wallpaper or fabric.
  • Use multiple sliding glass doors and mount the paper or fabric to the back of the doors, so you can move the doors around and have different backsplash arrangements as your mood changes, or change the paper or fabric out completely.

There’s no need to restrict yourself to IKEA products when trying to recreate a look. Often you may have to make compromises based on the money, skill or materials you have available, but you may come up with a solution that you like even better than the original catalog picture!

IKEA kitchen remodeling secrets

Downloadable eBook tells you what you need to know!

IKEA book cover

Building one IKEA cabinet is simple. Designing, ordering, assembling and installing a whole kitchen full is do-able but there are many more opportunities to make mistakes. It takes more planning – and more knowledge. Knowledge is what IKEA kitchen remodeling secrets by Brett Spotke gives you. There are LOTS of pictures, but you get words too, unlike the basic IKEA instructions that come with your cabinets. How to avoid the traps and gotchas so you save time, money and aggravation.

Here’s what Brett says:

“I’ll teach you all the tips and tricks I learned building my own kitchen – and show you how to save time, save money and give you step-by-step “plain english” instructions with over 300 detailed pictures to help you build your dream Ikea kitchen project on a shoestring budget.”

This is an ebook so you can download it and view it right away on your computer screen, no waiting for it to arrive in the mail. Check it out now!

There’s a piece missing from the cabinet I ordered! What can I do?

If you bought your cabinets at an IKEA store, you can go back to the store with your receipt and get a replacement for the missing part. Calling ahead to see if they have the part you need is a good idea, especially if you have far to go to visit the store.

If you ordered at a store and your cabinets were delivered, you still need to contact the store where you ordered the cabinets. Call them and describe exactly what’s missing (you should be able to get exact part numbers off the instructions).

If you ordered online, you need to call or email IKEA. There should be a contact number or address on your invoice to call with problems. Alternatively, you can try 1-866-866-IKEA or email them (use the form at:

http://info.ikea-usa.com/IKEAContactUs/Contact.aspx if you’re in the US).

How do I use IKEA cabinets to make an island?

Let me count the ways 🙂

There are several IKEA products which make great islands just as they are. Take a look at the free-standing kitchen units such as Varde, Bravad or Udden, the Utby island shelf unit, or even the various sizes of kitchen cart. Some of these can accept sinks or cooktops.

If you want your island to match the rest of your cabinets, you can buy several regular cabinets and attach them together. You can use base or wall cabinets to create an island of a specific size, and there are also 12″ deep base cabinets if you need a shallow depth but you want drawers.

You may need to go for a custom countertop on top of your cabinets if you need it deeper than the standard 25″. If that means it won’t match your perimeter counters, don’t worry – it’s both fashionable and functional to use more than one counter material in your kitchen.

How can I make a plan of my IKEA kitchen?

First, you can do it the old-fashioned way, by hand, using IKEA’s own paper planner (built into the back of the 2008 kitchen catalog, but also available separately in stores). This involves measuring your space, drawing it out on the supplied squared paper, and using supplied cardbaord pop-outs of cabinets and appliances to lay out alternative plans.

You can also use your computer. The most direct option for planning a specifically IKEA kitchen if you have a PC is IKEA’s own Kitchen Planning software, downloadable from the IKEA website (see the links list). If you have a Mac the IKEA software won’t work – many Mac users use Google’s free Sketchup software instead.

If you have money to spend there are a variety of kitchen planning software packages which allow to use any kind of cabinets, not just IKEA’s, but are a bit more complex to use.

Can I get discontinued doors?

IKEA keeps discontinued door styles available for 2 years after they have been discontinued as part of the after sales service.

If you’re trying to find matches for an older door style, there are several places to try: eBay, Craigslist, and the IKEAFans forums.

Can I cut down an IKEA cabinet to a different size?

Sure you can, though you’ll probably void any warranty by doing so. Easiest to modify is a plain cabinet with shelves, as drawers are more difficult to modify. You’ll also need to watch out for changes in door sizes as, depending on the style of the door, this may end up looking very odd!

For plenty of information on modifying and hacking all things IKEA, check the IKEA Hacker link in the links list.

What kind of interior fittings can I use in a corner base cabinet?

IKEA itself provides two corner base cabinets in the main Akurum range, which come with lazy susans as part of the package. These are both “blind corner” rectangular cabinets and come 37″ or 49″ long.

The freestanding ranges, Varde and Bravad, each contain a corner base cabinet which fits diagonally across the corner and contains shelves or drawers.

If your corner backs onto another room – perhaps as part of a peninsula – you can dispense with an official corner cabinet and use a standard cabinet facing away from the kitchen and accessed from the other side. This solution wastes no space at all and is very convenient if you can fit it into your plans.

Another possibility for a blind corner cabinet is a fold-out shelf fitting from Lee valley Tools: one half of this fitting attaches to the corner cabinet door and when you open the door, folds out with it, bringing along behind it another set of shelves which occupy the blind corner space. This allows you to access all the corner space without wasting as much of it as a lazy susan does.

Links to information about IKEA kitchens

IKEA guarantee
PDF document with details of the guarantee on IKEA kitchen components, construction standards, care instructions and testing.
IKEA installation
Full details of the installation services offered by IKEA. It’s a long list and gives you some idea of what you’ll need to do if you do the installation yourself.
IKEA kitchen planner tool
Free, PC-only kitchen planning software to download from IKEA.
Google Sketchup
Free 3D modeling tool which can be used for kitchen planning on Mac or PC
IKEAFans forum
Forums and information archives on everything IKEA, including plenty of kitchen information.
Kitchens forum on Gardenweb/THS
A general kitchen design and renovation forum, frequently includes IKEA kitchen discussions.
IKEA hacker
Modifications and hacks to all kinds of IKEA products, including kitchen cabinets.
Lee valley blind corner unit
Interior fold-out shelving hardware for blind corner cabinets.

IKEA cabinets are versatile, tough, and good value, and they can be used in many kitchen floor plans. One limitation if you have very tight clearances in your plan is that the range of widths available is not as fine-grained as some more expensive cabinet ranges, so you might have to use filler strips more often.

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2 Responses to IKEA Kitchen Cabinets FAQ

  1. Chris Barry says:

    I didn’t know that IKEA had so many quality features. I may write some pages on my kitchen design site about IKEA.

    Purchasing the guide may be a good idea…

  2. Karen says:

    I didn’t know too much about IKEA so yes its been valuable and interesting information on these post’s. Thanks I’m thinking of doing RTA products as well.

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