You probably have already realized that IKEA cabinets are affordable—they’re consistently lauded as some of the best out there for the price—but there are lots more to keep in mind if you’re considering them for your own kitchen. Most of the following features qualify as plusses, but as with most fixtures with lower-than-usual price tags, there are certain sacrifices you’ll have to make if you decide to install them. Read on for everything you need to know.
1. They pack in more storage than you might expect.
Traditional cabinets are framed, which means they have a lip around the edge of the cabinet box, kind of like a picture frame. IKEA’s don’t have this lip, which means any drawers and pullouts can take up the entire cabinet box, rather than being limited to the size of the opening. As a result, you can maximize your storage and have easier access to everything inside the cabinet. Frameless cabinets also look slightly different from framed ones: You’ll only see the doors and drawer fronts and none of the cabinet box behind them. The biggest benefit of this is that your options for door styles are nearly limitless, and they don’t even have to come from IKEA: We love Semihandmade, which makes gorgeous paintable doors and drawer fronts designed to fit IKEA cabinets.
2. They’re super customizable (considering they’re not custom).
IKEA loves to emphasize that its cabinets are modular. What does this mean exactly? Well, you can buy them in dozens of configurations that can be adapted to any style kitchen. They can basically be arranged any way you can imagine, and you can customize the combination of drawers and doors. If you’re working with a tight schedule (and budget), take a look at IKEA’s KNOXHULT cabinets, which can be set up any number of ways but come complete with doors, drawers, and shelves.
3. The drawers have high-quality hardware.
If anything is going to fail with your cabinets, it’s probably going to be the drawers, which is why it’s so important to choose ones with solid metal slides and hinges. All of IKEA’s drawers, no matter the line, already boast hardware made by Blum, who also supplies high-end kitchen companies—plus they have dampers for soft-closing, so you never have to hear a drawer slam again.
4. They go on sale more often than you think.
You might not expect big-ticket items like cabinets to go on sale, but at IKEA they do, three or four times a year. One of the biggest sales is in the summer, but in general you can expect to save up to 20 percent off as long as you spend a certain amount (often $2,000 or more). In fact, there’s a sale going on right now through November 11 on all SEKTION cabinets—it’s 10 percent off for IKEA Family Members, but you don’t have to spend a minimum amount. And that can make a huge difference in your budget.
5. The ordering process is intense.
Before you even come to the store to place your order, you need to choose all your cabinet boxes, filler pieces, drawers, and doors using IKEA’s planning software. Do this at home—the program is notoriously tricky to get a hang of, and the last thing you want to do is spend several hours at a computer in a store swarming with customers. Once you have your plan in hand, expect to spend a few more hours in the store, going through your order piece-by-piece with an IKEA employee.
6. They’re super easy to install yourself… or super hard, depending on who you ask.
Apparently, whether or not you need a pro to install IKEA cabinets is a very polarizing topic. We’ve had readers weigh in in the past, and it seems that some people were able to DIY the installation without a hitch, while others complained about issues with leveling or gaps between pieces. Bottom line: If you assemble IKEA furniture often and aren’t intimidated by the store’s often mysterious, wordless instructions, go for it! But if you have any doubts—any at all—hire someone.