Tips for Moving IKEA Furniture

Who doesn’t love IKEA? Stylish, affordable, addicting. But how easy is IKEA furniture to move? Look no further, here’s your answer.

Due to its contemporary design, affordability, and availability both online and at stores across the country, IKEA furniture is becoming more and more prevalent.

Unlike more traditional furniture, however, it usually requires time-consuming assembly that some customers find frustrating.

Thankfully, when buying from an IKEA store directly, it’s possible to pay a little extra and have trained assemblers come to your home and take care of it for you.

But for those moving from one home or apartment to another, IKEA furniture presents a number of challenges that need to be addressed.

Before taking a look at them, we have an important public service announcement –

If you already have or are considering buying IKEA furniture, save the instructions and packaging for future use – you’ll be glad you did.

The Pros and Cons of IKEA Furniture

Mothers are famous for saying –

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

So in honor of moms everywhere, we’ll start with the…

PROS –

  • It’s affordable
  • It has really cool names
  • It’s lighter than solid-wood furniture
  • It’s portable when moving (if you’re willing to disassemble it)
  • It features modern European and Scandinavian designs

Now for the CONS…

  • It’s not particularly durable
  • Tedious assembly is often required
  • Most is made of particleboard, not solid wood
  • It’ll almost never have any sentimental value
  • It often has laminate coverings that tend to peel and tear
  • During the moving process it’s much more likely to get damaged

Is IKEA Furniture Worth Moving?

In most cases, yes.

Unless you’re lucky enough to find someone willing to buy it for top dollar, chances are you’ll want to move it along with the rest of your household goods.

But first, you’ll need to do the following:

1. Make Sure It’ll Fit in Your New Home

Moving furniture from one home to another only to discover that it doesn’t fit is a huge waste of resources.

To avoid this common pitfall, measure the walls in your new home and your IKEA pieces to determine whether they’re a good fit for one another.

If not, cutting your losses and downsizing may be your best bet.

Also, consider whether your furniture’s style and design will match or complement that of your new residence.

Unless you’re a millennial tech billionaire, an unfinished pine futon may look hopelessly out of place in a swank New York apartment.

2. Assess the Risk of Damage

Consider this:

If you don’t have the time, skills, or inclination (and who can blame you) to disassemble your IKEA furniture before moving it, chances are it’ll get damaged.

Here we’re specifically talking about large items like bookshelves, dressers and wardrobes, though smaller ones like nightstands, shoe racks, and kid’s chairs probably don’t need disassembly.

When moved up and down stairs, around corners, and into and out of trucks, the joints, wood, dows and hardware holding large IKEA pieces together often flex and bend excessively, which can lead to floppy, unstable furniture that leans to one side or the other.

But there’s good news –

When disassembled and secured properly in its original packaging, individual pieces are unlikely to get damaged.

Insider’s Tip:

Not big on disassembly?

Consider donating your IKEA furniture to a local charity thrift shop – they may pick it up for free, and it’s tax-deductible.

3. Compare the Cost of Moving Old Furniture vs Buying New

Though most of us can’t afford it, there’s something special about upgrading to new furniture when changing homes.

Sadly, if you’re just moving around the corner it’s usually cheaper to move your old stuff, but in some instances (like on long-distance relocations), moving costs can exceed what it’d cost to buy new.

This is especially true for IKEA furniture because it’s relatively light and affordable.

Insider’s Tip:

Though individual policies vary, most movers will not disassemble and reassemble IKEA furniture, and some even require their customers to sign waivers against damage.

See our list of the best movers in the country.

Preparing IKEA Furniture for Moving

There are two camps when it comes to moving IKEA furniture.

First, the wing-it and “hope for the best crowd” who shun disassembly.

Next, the conscientious do-it-yourselfers who’ve got the time and ability to take everything apart.

Do you need to disassemble IKEA furniture when moving?

Let’s find out

Below, we’ll take a look at both.

Moving IKEA Furniture without Disassembly

This is by far the easiest and least time-consuming method for moving IKEA furniture.

On the downside, it is more likely to result in damage, but it’s not a foregone conclusion if you take the following precautions:

  1. Tighten hardware
  2. Remove bookcase shelves and the tabs that hold them in place
  3. Remove contents from dressers, chests of drawers, and wardrobes
  4. Remove handles, knobs, feet, and casters
  5. Completely wrap each piece with moving pads
  6. Secure pads in place with stretch wrap, tape, or mover’s bands
  7. Move each item with a box or appliance dolly – it’ll minimize twisting and flexing
  8. Never push, pull or drag particleboard items across a floor
  9. Make sure each item is secured in the truck against a flat rigid surface like a wall

Just remember, putting tape directly onto a finished surface often causes permanent damage when it’s removed.

Disassembling and Moving IKEA Furniture

Prepare yourself, because depending on how many pieces you have and how big they are, disassembling your IKEA furniture could take hours.

So clear your schedule, gather your tools, and consider the following steps…

Step 1 – Prepare Your Work Area

Finding (or making) a clutter-free work area is a great way to start the disassembly process.

If there’s no space inside, consider carefully carrying items to the garage or basement and working there.

You’ll also need at least some of the following items and tools:

  • Regular and Phillips screwdrivers
  • Allen wrenches
  • Rubber mallet or hammer
  • Pliers
  • A small pry bar for items with backing held in place by finishing nails
  • Sharpie or dark marker
  • Heavy-duty zip-top bags for parts like screws, dows and twist-locks

Also, keep in mind that some IKEA furniture comes with its own tools, so check that junk drawer before getting started.

Step 2 – Take Pictures and Label Parts

Before starting:

  • Place an unfolded moving pad on the floor
  • Remove shelves, drawers, knobs, handles, and casters
  • Lay the first item flat on its back

Then using your phone, take pictures from multiple angles, both inside and out, focusing on joints and hardware.

Next, use a pen or marker to label each piece (especially where two come together) with numbers or arrows.

Alternatively, you could use colored stickers but be warned, they rarely stay in place.

Just remember to only write on and apply stickers to unfinished interior surfaces.

These steps won’t take much time, and they’ll significantly speed things up when you’re ready for reassembly at your new home.

Step 3 – Disassembly

If you still have them, take a few moments to look at the directions that came with the item before getting to work

Fear not if they’re long gone, you may be able to find them here.

Then, starting with one of the top corners and moving down as you go, work your way around the piece in a circular motion placing each component in a parts bag.

As screws, dows, and twist locks are removed the item may become unstable, so using bands, book boxes, or the hands of a helper for support may be necessary.

Lay individual pieces against a wall or on the floor out of the way as they become free.

Step 4 – Pad and Protect your IKEA Furniture

When moving disassembled IKEA furniture it’s wise to place it back into its original packaging.

However, original packing has a tendency to disappear mysteriously, so wrapping individual pieces in moving pads and bundling them together in groups of 2 or 3 is the next best thing.

Again, secure each with tape, bands, or shrinkwrap.

Bundling allows pieces to support one another without flexing and cracking, just make sure they’re not too heavy to carry.

When loading the truck, always place bundles standing upright (vertically).

Laying them flat (horizontally) is much more likely to cause damage as the truck bumps along the road.

Insider’s Tip:

It’s OK to have one parts box for all your furniture, just remember to use a separate, clearly labeled bag for each individual item.

Step 5 – Reassembly

A wise IKEA furniture guru (who shall remain nameless) once said –

“Essentially, reassembly is just disassembly in reverse.”

Once you wrap your mind around those wise words, you’ll realize they’re true.

Just keep the following in mind…

If possible, assemble each item in the room you want it in
  • Make sure you’re working in an open and uncluttered area
  • Lay out the parts as if you’ll put the piece together on its back (which you will)
  • Find the correct hardware bag and collect the necessary tools
  • Consult your pictures and directions
  • Start at the bottom and work your way up in a circular motion
  • Replace handles, knobs, drawers, and casters
  • Stand the piece up and lift it (don’t drag) into place
  • More Useful Tips

    1. Don’t rush – Disassembly and reassembly can be time-consuming and frustrating, but rushing often leads to stupid mistakes, and in some cases permanent damage
    2. Don’t apply too much force – Twisting a screw into particle board or cranking a twist-lock with excessive torque can lead to broken hardware, cracked particleboard, and unusable furniture
    3. Don’t move too frequently – Unlike its solid wood counterparts, most IKEA furniture gets noticeably weaker each time it’s moved

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