Advice on remodeling with Ikea kitchens?
June 2, 2016 4:45 PM   Subscribe

Do you have an Ikea kitchen? We're planning a kitchen remodel, and the pricing is very attractive. Is it worth it? Would you do it again? Any tips for how you went about doing it, particularly if you're not a DIY sort?

We're interested in potentially all components other than the counter top (we would like a local marble countertop) and the dishwasher (we're picky). We'd really like feedback on durability, how happy you are with it, and the cost vs a more "conventional" kitchen remodel. Existing kitchen is from the 1950s and needs everything. This will be our first remodelling project, and we know we picked the most expensive one. We assume it will cost at least 20k and know the sky's the limit, though we're not sure how to realistically estimate price for a remodel. Please assume we're novices and don't know anything about remodeling other than we need to bring our checkbooks. We live about 2 hours from our nearest Ikea in the western U.S. and would be interested in someone else doing the work for us.

Also - if you considered Ikea and went with a different option, please fill us in! Thanks for your advice.
posted by stewiethegreat to Home & Garden (26 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
The people who renovated our kitchen around seven years ago used IKEA. Usually I would be in favour, but they also installed expensive granite countertops. The countertops would hold up forever, but the cabinets are starting to need replacing (the doors all do -they had those shiny fronts and it's delaminated, and the inside cabinets are damaged in two places where they got wet due to leaking pipes).

So I don't know exactly what we are going to do. The countertop might be able to be removed and put onto new cabinets but it might not and it adds a lot to the cost even if it can be.

I wish they had used components that matched more in longevity. IKEA cabinets with a cheaper countertop that we wouldn't feel obliged to try to save. Or solid wood cabinets with the granite.
posted by lollusc at 5:08 PM on June 2, 2016

The House*Tweaking blog has an entire series dedicated to people who have done their own Ikea kitchen remodels and includes answers to "what would you do differently" and "how are things holding up".
posted by Flamingo at 5:14 PM on June 2, 2016 [5 favorites]

I love love love my Ikea kitchen. We separately sourced the flooring material, fridge, range and dishwasher. Everything else is Ikea. I did the design. We have Ikea for all of the cabinets, pulls, lighting, microwave, sink and faucets. We used Ikea's third party quartz countertops and the installer contracted through Ikea did a fantastic job. I assembled the cabinets and then we had a contractor install them, along with installing the flooring, electrical and plumbing.

After 7-8 years everything is holding up very well. There is some minor separation of the laminate at the toe kick and end pieces at the floor where it gets hit with a mop or broom. The pull-out trash thingy is a little damaged but we really abused it by cramming in trash so the next person has to take it out. We also had to replace the faucet recently and went with Moen.

I think the whole thing - a complete gut and redesign - cost about $14K. It's a pretty small home, though.
posted by rekrap at 5:19 PM on June 2, 2016

I've always liked IKEA kitchens, but now I have one and a toddler who likes to "wash" dishes and the particleboard under the sink and in certain other spots is expanding and flaking off quite dramatically due to the water (and I wipe it up, it's not like standing water on it). Just keep that in mind - maybe you have neater kitchen occupants who know how to keep water in the sink.
posted by valeries at 5:20 PM on June 2, 2016

I have an ikea kitchen in my current house, and I remodeled the kitchen in my previous house to use ikea cabinets. Yes, I think they are great, and would heartily recommend them. I do not recommend you buy countertops or appliances from ikea, but use the money you saved on cabinets to get nicer appliances.

I am not a handy sort at all, so I did none of the work. Ikea usually has business cards in the kitchen dept for 3rd party contractors who specialise in ikea cabinet construction. They know the cabinet system inside out, and will put it together very fast, and often have design suggestions on simple mods too (mine did). I hired a contractor to do the rest of the remodel, and he was happy to let the 3rd party ikea guys do the cabinet work. Some contractors are very set against ikea cabinets, for various reasons, but don't let this put you off.

Know that ikea cabs are a modular system, which means there are compromises you have to make about your layout - you may lose a few inches of cabinet space here and there, as you are limited to the sizes and shapes of cabs you can put into your kitchen, which will not match nicely to the ikea cabinet size. For example I had a few inches of dead space we couldn't use at the end of one of the rows of upper cabinets.

Try and use drawers for your lower cabinets. The ergonomics are fantastic on them (they can handle a lot of weight, I store all my pots and pans in them), and the soft close mechanism is a top quality German one.
posted by Joh at 5:21 PM on June 2, 2016 [4 favorites]

I don't have an IKEA kitchen, but did a complete reno a few years ago. Just wanted to second the drawers on the bottom. I love my kitchen drawers, so much better than shelves.
posted by raisingsand at 5:28 PM on June 2, 2016 [6 favorites]

I put in an IKEA kitchen (well, just cabinets) and found almost all of it within my capabilities as a person who is no woodworker but knows how to read directions. The only thing I needed help with was a long circular saw cut on a trim panel. Totally would do again. I loved the smooth operation of the drawers and the soft close feature. We didn't live very long in that house so I can't say how the cabinets held up. I thought their software for modeling the kitchen layout worked great.
posted by lakeroon at 5:41 PM on June 2, 2016

We did ours, it's nearly five years later and we are very happy. The warranty is very good, expect a few parts to be missing on delivery, the appliances are just rebadged whirlpool. Finishings etc cover the whole range and i would avoid the cheapest ones.

The key thing is an old kitchen won't be square, so get an installer who is experienced to put it together for you so they can compensate accordingly.

Very happy with ours, would do it again.
posted by smoke at 5:49 PM on June 2, 2016

I just moved out of a rental that had an Ikea kitchen. It must've been on the cheap end, with melamine cabinet doors. We lived there for 4 1/2 years and by year two the cabinet doors were sagging and the vinyl counter top was peeling around the dishwasher. I found the melamine finish a little easier to take care of than painted cabinets. I did like the soft close drawers and they seemed to hold up better than the cabinet doors.
My general impression of Ikea is that you can find some good deals if you shop wisely and avoid chipboard. I don't think my landlord did a good job in that regard.
posted by arrmatie at 5:57 PM on June 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ours is more than a decade old, and I still love it passionately. It's holding up great. We got granite counters (with the money we saved on ikea cabinets), and they are also fine. We hired third party contractors to put it together for us, and one bonus of IKEA is that because it's so easy and fast to put together, your labor costs are MUCH lower, and build time is a couple of days instead of months. A plus would do again.
posted by instamatic at 6:04 PM on June 2, 2016

We did this three years ago. I would try to find a contractor who is fine with using IKEA, ours agreed to do it but really didn't do a great job. But our kitchen is holding up great, we need to replace a couple of cabinet doors that got scratched, but it's fine. I love it, we got all our cabinets for under$5k compared to the $17k we were quoted for the contractor's preferred brand. There are contractors who specialize in IKEA kitchens and I wish we had done more research. We spent some of the savings on a custom granite counter too, I love it and it really makes the kitchen look awesome.
posted by yogalemon at 7:15 PM on June 2, 2016

Ours has held up really well after 8 years. We paid for the more expensive solid oak ikea cupboard doors, and they were definitely worth it. We did drawers on most of the bottom cupboard space, and also installed a deep pantry cabinet with slide out shelves, which we absolutely love.
posted by fimbulvetr at 7:44 PM on June 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

We installed Ikea kitchen cabinets 3 or 4 years ago. We sourced the counter top and appliances locally.

You can completely plan and price out your kitchen using Ikea's 3D planning tool . Do that.

Our order wasn't missing any pieces but we had a couple parts from somebody else's order

We're happy with the way ours turned out.

There are many sources of kitchen cabinets online that will build to order equivalent quality cabinets to Ikea and ship them to you. My sister did this and her kitchen turned out great. My point is Ikea isn't the only source of non-junk cabinets if you're doing a self install or don't want to go thru a big box store. Shop around.

We replaced the kitchen (including new flooring) that was original to the 1958 house. The worst part was tearing out the old stuff. We went from an old kitchen to a newly installed and functioning kitchen in two weeks. It was a brutal.
posted by LoveHam at 8:08 PM on June 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

We did a fully DIY kitchen remodel almost 9 years ago using IKEA cabinets and I've been very happy with how everything's held up since then. We used IKEA cabinet boxes and went with custom doors/drawer fronts that were comparable in price to about the middle of the price range for IKEA doors; they just didn't really have anything I was excited about at the time. From my understanding, they've made some design changes that have added subtle improvements in the intervening years. I think the quality of the cabinets is very good for the price point. We did a medium-sized kitchen with a LOT of cabinets (something like 20 linear feet of lowers) and if memory serves me it was around $6,000 for the cabinets and doors/drawer fronts.

If I would give anyone a piece of advice about IKEA kitchens or kitchens in general, it's Get All the Drawers. We have almost nothing but drawer units in various configurations in those 20' of lower cabinets and it is heavenly. Big pots and pans go in big 36" wide base cabinet drawer stacks; baking trays go in a pull-out unit with small drawers for spices up top. Trash and recycling in pull out units. A big pull-out pantry. Even IKEA-hacker-inspired hack of drawers in the over-the-fridge cabinet that turned it from the Place Where Food Goes to Die into a handy and easy to access storage space. The ikeafans forums used to be a great place to get ideas and tips, but sadly it succumbed to litigation from The Mothership a couple years ago.
posted by drlith at 10:49 PM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

My parents had an IKEA kitchen installed when their house was built in 1990. When they remodelled last year, I got several pieces of furniture to put in my kitchen. They're still sturdy and in very good shape, though a little scuffed.

In my experience, IKEA furniture lasts decades as long as you don't need to move it.
posted by snakeling at 1:32 AM on June 3, 2016

Do get the soft close mechanisms on the cupboard doors as well as the drawers. Stops them banging & prolongs their life, as well as saving you time.
posted by pharm at 2:46 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ours is good after about 8 years. The IKEA flooring is starting to suffer from water moisture but that's partly our fault and partly just the climate. Cabinets counters etc are all good. The IKEA approved contractors were really pretty good. That's one of the main reasons we went with IKEA. Getting an independent contractor was risky or expensive.
posted by Gotanda at 3:31 AM on June 3, 2016

My cabinets are from ikea. I wanted shaker style doors and the contractor bought those and had them re-stained to the colour I wanted. It's only 4 years old, but holding up fine...except I had a spill in one cabinet and didn't notice, so the shelf had standing liquid. One night I heard a crash and later found out that the shelf inside the cabinet had collapsed. Nothing breakable was in there, fortunately, just the shelf itself.

Anyway, I have since put a rubber tray in my oils/vinegars etc. cabinet so we don't have a repeat of this and I lined the bottom of my under-sink cabinet with a big puppy pad, in case there's every some drippage or spill I don't notice.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:01 AM on June 3, 2016

The previous owners of our house installed Ikea cabinets. I'm not sure whether or not the countertop came from there as well; the appliances were bought elsewhere. The cabinets and drawers seem to be holding up well, with no damage and no issues that I have noticed, and I would look closely at Ikea if I needed to redo the kitchen based on how these are lasting.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:04 AM on June 3, 2016

Marble countertops are very heavy and I would worry about putting them on IKEA cabinets. Perhaps there are some alternatives that would not put so much stress on the cabinets themselves.
posted by soelo at 7:50 AM on June 3, 2016

I have a granite countertop on ikea cabinets with no issue.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:59 AM on June 3, 2016

We did exactly this (own appliances, own countertops, IKEA everything else).

If you can get The Kitchen Couple to help if you're in NY/NJ/CT, I recommend them highly. Ex-ikea installers that set their own business up and do design and installation to MUCH higher standards than either IKEA, or likely, you.

They can semi-customize stuff - for example, make shims to ft nonstandard areas, make special cabinets for sawkward spaces etc.

Perhaps they can recommend someone if you don't live nearby.
posted by lalochezia at 9:04 AM on June 3, 2016

we had a local cabinet guy make the top. love Ikea we are in our 7th year & happy with it still!
posted by patnok at 7:19 PM on June 3, 2016

Ripped out our 1981 kitchen and replaced it with an Ikea kitchen. After several years it's all doing fine.

We assembled the cabinets, but paid somebody (a flat pack installation specialist!) to rip out the old kitchen and install the new one, making sure everything joined up and was level. This person also sorted out the electrician, gas technician and plumber. We got a different local firm to do the bench top (not marble or granite, just laminate) and splash backs - the flat pack installer guy put these in for us too, as well as the range hood.

We'd do it again in a heartbeat. We especially love having lots of deep drawers, shallow drawers in the running boards for bits and pieces, and the wire drawer system for the pantry.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:41 PM on June 3, 2016

Previous comments regarding having as many drawers as you can afford in base cabinets is good advice.

Particle board is not necessarily a dealbreaker. There are different grades & compressions of particle board, just like there are different types of plywood or even framing lumber.

Ikea's new kitchen cabinet system (SEKTION) that was rolled out in 2015 in the US is definitely a reduction in quality from its previous system (AKURUM).

I have an Ikea kitchen that is the older Akurum system with quartz tops. Overall it has held up ok. We had one soft closer mechanism fail, and our Ikea dishwasher died after less than 5 years. I did it DIY, but that is because I'm a kitchen designer & have experience doing over 80 Ikea kitchens. So I knew it like the back of my hand and could do it very quickly.

If I had the choice of doing it again with the new Ikea system I wouldn't do it. Not in a house where I wanted it to be a long term, durable installation. Sektion is flimsy, still skips dimensions unexplainably (no 27" or 33" width options) and overall feels less substantial than the old system.

It will be interesting to hear how Sektion fares after the 5 year mark.

Feel free to PM me with questions.
posted by yoga at 3:30 PM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Know lots of people with IKEA kitchens in Sweden, and some general themes:
- like other things at IKEA, particle board lasts less well than solid wood. For areas that get wet, do not use particle board (when the wood particles swell, they don't always reset in the same position, leaving to bubbles). Laminated particleboard does not do well if it gets scratched/damaged. If you can, take a look at how the part is built up.
- correctly installing things makes a big difference. If you find other IKEA furniture difficult to assemble, then definitely don't do the kitchen yourself.
- a good carpenter can help customize some elements to your kitchen's needs.
posted by troytroy at 3:19 AM on June 6, 2016

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