I’ll bet there’s at least one piece of flat-pack furniture in your home. Perhaps a bookcase or the TV stand? What about wardrobes or drawers or even your kitchen table?
Flat-Pack furniture is so called because it comes with all the various pieces packed flat for you to assemble yourself at home. This saves on production costs (where the company would have to build the furniture themselves) and transportation costs from the factory to the shop.
The flat-pack ‘experience’ can also mean a few hours of cursing and hunting for elusive tools before finally presenting a piece of furniture that looks like it was caught in a hurricane. Should it really lean to one side like that?
No fear – help is at hand with our 5 essential tips to putting together your flat-pack furniture purchase.
As an aside, I think a lot of the shops that sell flat-pack don’t so themselves or the product justice. On many occasions when I’ve looked, it’s obvious that the display unit has been poorly put together. The whole unit very often ‘rocks’ or has movement in the joints – no glue used! And the hinges etc are often not adjusted for that perfect lining up. Don’t be put off though. A little care using our tips below could probably get you a job on the spot. Anyway – on with the tips!
1) Choose a large flat area for the construction – with enough room to move around all sides of the finished piece. If it’s large, making it in the room or at least on the floor of your house it’s intended for will save a lot of heavy lifting. Please check it will fit through the doorway.
2) Unpack carefully and check you’ve got all the bits before you start – easily done when you’re keen but a few minutes unpacking and checking you’ve got all the bits and they’re in good condition will save hours if the worst happens. Getting to the final piece to discover it’s missing or badly scratched – I’ve got the badge to prove I was there! It’s worth mentioning that you should also identify the correct screws and fixings with the instructions. There’s nothing worse than using the wrong screw for half the construction until you run out or finding out the screw you thought was J was actually K and has gone right through and out the other side of your piece of furniture.
Try counting the fittings and screws out as there is very often different amounts of two similar fittings so you’ll have help in identifying the right one.
3) Familiarise yourself with the instructions – It’s all very well going Gung-Ho and starting where you think best. It’s only later when you discover a vital screw hole is covered by another piece you fitted out of order earlier (got the badge for that one too!). The manufacturer knows there’s a certain order to completing the furniture – that’s why you get instructions in the first place.
4) Make all joints tight – sounds silly but you’d be amazed how easy it is to forget to tighten one joint or another. Use the special fitting supplied – most work on a screw in spindle with a ‘cam’ lock on the other end you twist to tighten. Very easy. Top Tip – if the construction uses wooden dowels, use a dab of wood glue in each hole (sometimes it’s supplied) for really solid joints. Be careful if you think you might need to dismantle the furniture in the future though and wipe any excess away with a damp cloth immediately (or see glue’s instructions).
5) Check for squareness of corners – with bookcases, it’s usually the back board, fixed using panel pins, that determines the final shape so be careful and work methodically – corner to corner, half way to half way etc.
Finally, keep any special tools that came with your furniture – you may need them to periodically re-tighten joints.
And a word on safety – if it’s a tall item, many manufacturers will include a strap or bracket to fix your new furniture to the wall so it can’t topple over. It’s very important that you use these straps and fixings to secure such items so that they don’t topple over and fall on someone or something.
Once when moving house, I’d left a perfectly stable bookcase standing against a wall (temporarily of course). There was a loud crash and we discovered one of the cats had tried to climb up the bookcase causing it to topple…. through a window so yes, (sigh) I have that badge too.
If you’re thinking of a flat-pack kitchen, then think very carefully indeed. Putting the cupboard carcasses together may be easy enough – it’s only when it comes to getting the doors to all line up, including the appliances and of course, working around uneven walls, floors and those ever-present bits of beam or wall that would challenge even NASA boffins, that you begin to realise it would have been easier and cheaper to get a professional kitchen fitting company in the first place.
The best place to start is by getting a quote, which you can do online without any salesman ever calling, by using KitchenQuoter.