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  • Writer's pictureBill Gagne

Ikea Kitchens: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Every year, Ikea has it’s kitchen cabinet sale and budget conscious DIY’ers everywhere debate if they should redo their kitchen. But are Ikea kitchen cabinets worth it?

We’ve all heard the critiques that Ikea kitchen cabinets are lacking when it comes to quality, style and design features. But these aren’t your mother’s Ikea kitchen cabinets. A lot has changed over the years. A quick walk through the Ikea kitchen showroom will have you asking yourself, “Are these really Ikea cabinets?”

The Good

Cheap and Cheerful: Budget friendly is the best way to describe Ikea kitchen cabinets. They are just as nice in the Ikea showroom as they are in the Ikea catalog. They have a wide variety of styles from classic to modern and they look better than you think and it’s not just the lighting in the store.

It’s really hard to beat the price of Ikea kitchen for the look, style and options available. Any talk of Ikea kitchen cabinets being not too far off in price from custom cabinets is laughable. They are worth a look if DIY kitchen renovations are in your plans.

Annual Kitchen cabinet sale: The annual Ikea Kitchen sale is a great way to maximize your kitchen budget if you’re not in a rush to get your renovation done. If you wait for the sale you can package your cabinets, countertops and appliances and get money back which only adds to the value.

You can save 10% if you only buy the cabinets, 15% if you buy 1 or 2 appliances with your cabinets or you can save 20% if you buy your cabinets and 3 appliances.

Ikea’s brand of appliances is made by Whirlpool so you’re not buying a brand you know nothing about. An easy way to bump your savings from 10% to 15% without too much effort is add a $100 range hood to your order.

If your order is $4,000 worth of cabinets you’d get $400 back in gift cards. If you add the range hood, you’d be getting $600 back. If you subtract the extra $100 for the range hood, you’re getting an additional $100 back. This was something the kitchen consultant we talked to recommended we do.

DIY friendly installation: DIY’ing your cabinet installation is another way to save money on your kitchen renovaiton. The Ikea Sektion system is pretty ingenious and, once you put together a few units, it will speed up with every cabinet you assemble.

The rail system for the cabinets is easy to understand. Another plus is that YouTube has tons of videos on Ikea hacks and solutions to help you with you installation.

Kitchen planner appointments: For about $140 CAD you can book an appointment with an Ikea kitchen planner. This is a really great feature Ikea has put in place. Instead of lining up for 3 hours on your Saturday to sit at a computer kiosk with an Ikea kitchen consultant while 20 other people do the same thing, you can now book an appointment with a kitchen planner in a separate office. We’ve done this on 2 projects and it has been a great experience.

Our local Ikea also offers a measuring service whereby a person will come out and take measurements of your kitchen to use in your kitchen appointment. It’s not free, but you need accurate drawings of your kitchen space and this can be helpful if you need it.

The Bad

Not so DIY friendly: If you are not handy, assembling and installing your own Ikea kitchen cabinets will be a big challenge. Can you do it, yes. Should you do it is the better question.

While the Ikea Sektion engineering and design is really ingenious, it isn’t perfect. The holes in the new rail system are bigger and further apart than the previous system, which means you have to be more careful in laying them out to fasten to a stud in the wall.

Keep in mind, you only renovate your kitchen every 15 to 20 years if you are lucky. If you aren’t handy you’ll be making mistakes. And for the next 15 to 20 years, you will be reminded of those mistakes every time you walk into your kitchen.

Something else to think about is that you have to live through your renovation. By renovating your kitchen you are cutting out the hub of your family and household. After 3 weeks, the novelty of doing your dishes in the bathtub and using a hot stove to cook wears off.

If you’re not handy, your kitchen renovation is more likely to drag on and be a real drag for your home life.

Cheap today, not so cheerful tomorrow: Ikea kitchen cabinets look good on their own, but they look great when you consider the price. What is concerning is their longevity because they aren’t glued or screwed together. Also, the panels they use are slightly thinner construction.

Yes, Ikea offers a 25-year warranty but it doesn’t cover everyday wear and tear. The catch is if you’re construction materials are not as robust as regular or higher end cabinets, everyday wear and tear is going to make those cabinets look worse faster. So that warranty is a bit of a mirage.

The Ugly

Enjoy the Swedish meatballs: On every Ikea kitchen project we did we had to make multiple trips back to Ikea because the delivery was either incomplete or incorrect. Ikea either delivers too many of one item, something is missing or a key piece is back ordered.

On one project, we returned $300 CAD worth of kick plates. On another project, we were short 2 drawers. On a third project a fridge cable was back ordered 6 weeks and we only found out the week it was to be shipped. We’ve done nearly a dozen Ikea kitchens and every single project had a different issue from the supplier.

The Vedict

From a simple value standpoint, Ikea kitchen cabinets are worth the money you will spend. They are nice. They have great features. They have a great price especially if you jump on their annual kitchen sale. And they offer great tools to help you plan and purchase your Ikea kitchen cabinets.

But as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. They have issues with delivery. The system is smart but not perfect and their are some serious concerns about their longevity.

Every situation is different and Ikea kitchen cabinets may or may not be right for your project. With this information, you should be able to make the right decision for your project.

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