Hemnes Daybed
Ikea

Ikea Products That Are Almost Impossible to Assemble

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Hemnes Daybed
Ikea

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Anyone who's bought furniture at Ikea knows that making your way through the mazelike store without overspending is just half the battle. Once you get home, you face the daunting task of assembling your finds, with only the wordless, cartoony directions to assist you. Want to save yourself some frustration? We talked to experts to find out which of Ikea's most popular products are the ones that might have you learning how to curse in Swedish — and what Ikea newbies can do to set themselves up for success.  


Related: Ikea Unveils New Layout, Now With 100% Fewer Mazes

Pax wardrobe
Ikea

Pax Wardrobe

Starting at $180
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Why you'll want it: The endlessly customizable Pax system can help you organize the closet space you have, or create closet space where there is none. And compared with the steep cost of custom closets, Pax is a bargain, with several complete wardrobes available for under $500. 


Related: 25 Ikea Products to Buy — and 25 to Skip

Pax Wardrobe
Ikea

Pax Wardrobe

Why you should think twice: "This is what I'm hired to build the most, and I think it's because the closets are so large and intimidating," says Roger Chong, founder of Ikea Installers in Los Angeles. "There's a lot of elements that go into properly installing these units. You'll have to properly build the frame, make sure it’s square, know how to safely attach it to the wall, build all the interior components, and start putting them in one by one. The hardest element of the job is that they're just super heavy and really bulky."


Related: 25 Best Finds at Ikea for $10 or Less

Hemmes Dresser
Ikea

Hemnes 8-Drawer Dresser

$279
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Why you'll want it: Hemnes has a classic, traditional look that may please buyers turned off by many of Ikea's more modern designs. It comes in several colors and sizes, but the popular eight-drawer version is particularly beloved because it offers so much space for everything from T-shirts to jeans to bulky sweaters.


Related: Vintage Ikea Furniture Pieces That Resell for Serious Money

Hemnes 8-Drawer Dresser: What the Experts Say
Ikea

Hemnes 8-Drawer Dresser

Why you should think twice: Assembling the Hemnes is "like the 4,000-piece Lego Death Star," says Adam Tate, owner of New Jersey-based All Assembled. "There are a lot of pieces and it will take some time. This dresser will take you a weekend or month to build depending on your tolerance, skill level, and the tools that you own to get the job done. Pine is Ikea’s wood of choice for this unit, but pine is soft! Pine gets marked up easy. If you are into the Bohemian look, okay — this is for you, because it will weather and dent and can come damaged due to particles left over in the packaging."


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Nordli Bed With Headboard and Storage:
Ikea

Nordli Bed With Headboard and Storage

$549
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Why you'll want it: We all love furniture that fulfills more than one purpose, and the Nordli is like a dresser, bed, and two nightstands all in one. It's an especially practical piece in a bedroom that's short on space, and it costs less than what you'd pay for a basic bed frame and headboard at most other places, even once you add a mattress.


Related: The Best Ikea Mattresses

Nordli Bed With Headboard and Storage:

Nordli Bed With Headboard and Storage

Why you should think twice: "With most other furniture assemblies, you reach an ah-ha moment where you see how it all comes together," Chong says. "This one, you probably won't get that moment until the very end. Because of the nature of the design, it's a very low-profile bed, so you'll find yourself laying down on your stomach or back a lot, just to attach all the pieces. This bed also has the most drawers of any bed frame at Ikea, so you'll spend half the build time assembling drawers and adjusting them so the alignment is correct — this is a nightmare for someone with plush carpet. … I wouldn't recommend this as a solo job if you're a novice."

Nordli Dresser
Ikea

Nordli Dresser

Starting at $219
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Why you'll want it: Ikea's Nordli line of dressers is customizable right up to building a behemoth with a dozen drawers. You can go horizontal or vertical, build your dresser to look like stairsteps, or even attach a clothing rod for garments you'd rather not fold.

Nordli Dresser
Ikea

Nordli Dresser

Why you should think twice: "Ikea markets these dresser units [up] to 16 drawer units, which makes it a very versatile, desirable storage solution," Tate says. "However, Ikea does not supply instructions on how to fabricate the many configurations. Instead, there is a manual in every box that only shows configurations for that particular section. It's up to the user to figure out how to get it all together to make the various configurations. Again, another modular product that leaves it to the consumer that has relatively little knowledge or skill to complete or create these complex assemblies. The product comes in many different boxes, and you don't know what box to open first."

Friheten Sleeper Sofa
Ikea

Friheten Sleeper Sofa

$499
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Why you'll want it: The Friheten has one of those sleek-but-not-too-modern designs that can blend into any home, whether traditional, contemporary, or somewhere in between. Owners say it's easier to convert into a bed than a typical sleeper sofa, and it has storage under the seat. If a traditional sofa isn't roomy enough, a sectional is also available.

Friheten Sleeper Sofa
Ikea

Friheten Sleeper Sofa

Why you should think twice: "These are tough because of the mechanical components involved," Chong says. "There are brackets with springs and wheels and pulleys. This assembly requires you to be aware of exactly what goes where and when. The spring-loaded sofas also hold a lot of tension, so you have to be cautious for the sake of safety. And then you'll find yourself reaching into hard-to-reach spots to attach and tighten other parts. In the end, there's not really any leeway for error. If you messed something up, the mechanics won't operate the way you expect them to."


Related: I Shopped at Ikea for the First Time and Here's What Happened

Besta Entertainment Center
Ikea

Besta Entertainment Center

Starting at $109
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Why you'll want it: Like many of Ikea's greatest hits, Besta isn't a single product but a line of compatible storage units that can be customized for your needs. You can opt for a simple TV cabinet or an elaborate wall-mounted system with floating shelves and plenty of room for every electronic component you might have, and it sure looks a lot sleeker than most traditional entertainment units. 

Besta Entertainment Center
Ikea

Besta Entertainment Center

Why you should think twice: "Every cabinet, door, drawer, and drawer front is boxed individually and has individual instructions for building the component in the box, but not what you saw hanging in the showroom," Tate warns. "The frames and cabinets assemble easily, but trying to figure out how this all goes together is a lot more complex, including getting it on the wall securely. If you have defects in the wall, like bulges or bows, it gets more difficult to mount. Hanging rails or cleats to mount to units are available for an added fee and don't come with the system; you need to ask for them, and you need to buy the correct amount. Ikea uses the metric system, and the bracket holes will not match up to wall-stud spacing. You will need to use a combination of screws into studs or drywall anchors, mollies, and toggle bolts. And if all that is a foreign language, you need to find someone to do this for you."


Related: 21 People Who Shouldn't Shop at Ikea

Tuffing Bunk Bed
Ikea

Tuffing Bunk Bed

$119
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Why you'll want it: Say what? A bunk bed for just a hair over $100? The Tuffing is the least expensive of Ikea's bunk beds, but as Ikea notes, it's still held to the same safety standards of its pricier siblings. Because it's more compact and lower to the ground, it's an obvious pick for smaller kids or equally small rooms.  

Tuffing Bunk Bed
Ikea

Tuffing Bunk Bed

Why you should think twice: "I hate these the most," Chong says. "This is another unit where a lot of the pieces look really similar, but aren't the same. So you'll probably assemble it backward or upside down on the first try. Because of the way this unit is constructed, you can't fully tighten anything until the end. You should only hand-tighten the screws to start because some of the rods will need to be slipped in at certain angles. So the whole frame is wobbly for pretty much the entire assembly. The real issue is when it comes to the mattress base slats. It's basically a net with a bunch of metal bars that go through it. Sounds simple on paper, but it's the most tedious process that takes as long to put together as the rest of the frame."

Brimnes Storage Bed
Ikea

Brimnes Storage Bed

$379
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Why you'll want it: Like the Nordli bed, the Brimnes offers the tantalizing promise of storage for anyone who has limited square footage. Not only are there drawers underneath, but there are cubby holes built into the side of the headboard for books and other small items, plus a ledge on top spacious enough for lights, photos, or maybe even a house plant or two.  

Brimnes Storage Bed
Ikea

Brimnes Storage Bed

Why you should think twice: "This is actually one of my favorites for storage and versatility," Tate says. "But it's often chosen to fit into a small room where the bed can't fit properly and one side of drawers is abandoned because they can't be extended enough to fit things into the cavernous drawers the unit comes with. I have built these in Manhattan apartments and college dorms and always, without fail, I have just enough room to build the bed but can't get the drawers in. … The bed takes twice the size of the bed frame itself to be utilized for the storage that was incorporated into it."

Hemnes Daybed
Ikea

Hemnes Daybed

$299
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Why you'll want it: What's not to love about a daybed? It's a couch, it's a bed, and in this case, it even goes from a single to double, thanks to a hidden trundle. But wait, there's more: Three roomy drawers for clothes, bedding, or anything else you need to squirrel away. 

Hemnes Daybed
Ikea

Hemnes Daybed

Why you should think twice: "Most trundle beds are difficult to begin with," Chong says. "This model elevates the difficulty because there is the addition of drawers, plus there's a lot of parts to it. You'll also find the pieces are just heavy to deal with. You'll need a lot of patience to get through this build because the assembly process won't make much sense until the end. Highly recommend using a drill with this one. There are just so many screws. If you're doing it manually, your wrists are going to hate you."


Related: The 35 Best Finds at Ikea

Kallax Shelving
Ikea

Kallax Shelving

Starting at $35
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Why you'll want it: Kallax is one of Ikea's most beloved items for good reason. This sturdy modern shelving is available in tons of sizes, and the larger units can be used as room dividers. Inserts such as drawers and baskets make it possible to keep smaller items out of sight and out of mind. 

Kallax Shelving
Ikea

Kallax Shelving

Why you should think twice: "Once you get it, you can build this all day, but people are probably buying one, and only one," Tate says. "The biggest units are the most difficult. It needs to be built on a clean, level floor or you will run into issues. The exterior is hollow core, but the interiors are [medium-density fiberboard] and add a lot of weight to the unit, making it difficult to hoist vertically. The top, bottom, and sides look similar and can easily be confused and placed in the wrong spot. The thin wooden dowels can break if you're not careful, or chip the vertical dividers."

Kivik U-Shaped Sectional
Ikea

Kivik U-Shaped Sectional

$1,499
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Why you'll want it: Sectionals are great for large families that need the extra space, but sometimes these massive couches overwhelm the entire room. The Kivik's low back and armrests make it less of a visual space hog, but there's still plenty of room to kick back. And if you don't need as much space, the Kivik is available as a traditional sofa.


Related: 21 Priciest Ikea Products

Kivik U-Shaped Sectional
Ikea

Kivik U-Shaped Sectional

Why you should think twice: "One of the key features of some Ikea products is how modular they can be," Chong says. "The Kivik line of sofas is probably the prime example. You can design your own sofa to be as small as a loveseat or as large as a U-shaped sectional with a sofa bed. But just be aware that the larger the sofa, the more parts there are going to be, and the more confusing it'll feel as you start to unwrap everything. The real time suck with this is all the slipcovers. You'll have to cover everything. So if you have a massive sofa arraignment, you're going to spend half the assembly stuffing overly large cushions into small pillow cases. Your fingers are going to burn from all the pulling, pushing, and fluffing."

Helmer Drawer Unit
Ikea

Helmer Drawer Unit

$40
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Why you'll want it: For only $40, how can you go wrong? This sleek little set of steel drawers is on casters, so it can go anywhere you need a little extra storage space for small items such as chargers, office supplies, crafts, or small toys. Each drawer has a slot for a label, too.


Related: How to Create a Home Office From Ikea Under $200

Helmer Drawer Unit
Ikea

Helmer Drawer Unit

Why you should think twice: "People are shocked when I charge the same price to assemble these as the purchase cost," Tate says. "They are bad. Basically, the only tool you need is a Phillips screwdriver. You have to fold corrugated metal panels into drawers and screw the drawer fronts in. The drawer rails click in and the casters screw in, as do the handles. Novices will be confused trying to figure out what end of the frame is up or down, and how to install the drawer rails. They are tedious and confusing to build if you only build one. Usually, offices order dozens of these, and it is hours to build them."

assemble furniture
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Bonus: Tips From the Ikea Assembly Pros

  • Above all else, stay organized. "Unbox everything first and lay out all the pieces," Chong recommends. 
  • Review the instructions before beginning. "Read the instructions from back to front to get an overall idea of the final assembly, then go back through the manual for assembly," Tate says. "A lot of pages could be skipped during the assembly as they are redundant, but there is always some little detail that might get overlooked."
  • Use your own tools. "Purchase a folding hex key set," Chong advises. "Most screws for Ikea will take a 4mm hex head. It'll be much more efficient than using the tiny hex tool they give you for free." Tate also recommends keeping a hammer handy, along with a 12-volt cordless screwdriver. "Four volts is too weak, and 18 is too aggressive," he says.
  • If it's lost or damaged, don't despair. "If you break a piece during assembly, Ikea will do a straight swap for free," Chong says. "They'll also give you any missing or lost hardware if you just tell them which one." All parts are listed in the instructions, making it easy to double-check that you have everything before getting started. 

Related: Delicious Foods Worth Buying at Ikea — and Some to Skip