Ikea Kitchen Part 2: Extract and Install

Last year I installed an Ikea Kitchen. I posted about the joy of the Ikea ordering process, installed the kitchen, and forgot to post the installation process. Well, here it is. If you’ve ever wondered how to install your own kitchen, wonder no more. I’ll walk you through installing an Ikea kitchen.

Part 1 is available here

As you may have gathered, ordering an Ikea kitchen is about as much fun as a DIY lobotomy. On the plus side, installing it is far more fun.


Here’s my original kitchen, a true master piece of the 80’s:

Old kitchen


Here’s my new kitchen (mostly complete, except for a splashback and some paint):

New Kitchen

Kitchen Building 101

Before we start building, note that this is an Australian Ikea kitchen from the FAKTUM range. The entire range is going to be updated in late 2015. If you need a kitchen before then, the current range is great - and straight forward for the average DIY warrior.

Step 1. Prepare the area

Our first task is to ensure we have our kitchen area prepared. Make sure the following things are true:

  1. You have flat, mostly-level ground to sit the cabinets on (they have adjustable legs, which is great on wonky floors).
  2. You have repaired any drywall that you damaged when removing the old kitchen.
  3. You know where the wall studs are. Check the walls with a stud finder, and put a pencil line where each stud is. Both the wall and the floor cabinets are screwed into the studs, so best to find them before you start installing.

kitchen start

Step 2. Assemble the cabinets

The hardest part here is understanding Ikea’s inane instructions. Some genius thought it was a good idea to have pictures only, and no descriptive text. That would be great if the pictures made sense, but they don’t.

Installation Posters

If you didn't pick up the kitchen installation posters while you were at Ikea, google them, download them, and read them. Make sure you have them handy while you are installing the kitchen.

You will need these tools:

  • hammer
  • power screw driver OR impact driver

Assembling the cabinets is not hard, but it is time consuming. The cabinets are made from MDF with a thin sheet of ply for the back. The ply seems like an obvious cost saving measure - but the assembled cabinets are strong enough to withstand years of abuse - so there is no need to worry.

This is how you assemble the cabinets:

  1. Attach the base to 2 of the sides
  2. Attach the top rail (that the doors close against)
  3. Attach the 3rd side to the base
  4. Nail the plywood backing to the back.

Sea of cabinets

Tip: Why do my Ikea screws keep stripping?

Those screws they supply are not phillips head screws. They are Pozidriv screws. If you have the correct screw driver or drill bit, they are great - self centering, and less likely to strip. Sadly, Ikea hate their customers and don't mention Pozidriv. The result is lots of head scratching and stripped screw heads.

Step 3. Attach the guide rail

You should have received some cabinet “wall strips”. They may be in the same packaging as your plinth boards (kick boards). The wall strips are long MDF strips used for supporting the cabinets. These strips are screwed into the wall (into the studs), and must be level.

There are two ways you can ensure these strips are level:

The hard way - rest a spirit level on top of the strips as you screw them in, and carefully adjust the strips while keeping an eye on the spirit level.

The easy way - buy a laser level, such as the awesome Bosch Quigo. I bought one for about AU$100, and it is great. It projects a set of level laser lines onto the wall - then you just line up the strips. It auto levels and can be attached to a tripod or can be clamped to furniture.

Laser Levelling

Guide rail attached

Step 4. Install base cabinets

Remember how I mentioned marking the studs? This is why. The back of each cabinet has 2 upper anchor points. Some of these anchor points will be close to a stud, some won’t. On the upside, each base cabinet is screwed into the cabinets either side - so as long as some of your cabinets are securely anchored, the entire row will be secure.

If you have a corner cabinet, start with that:

  1. Lift the cabinet into place, with the back resting on the wall strip you secured earlier.
  2. Raise the legs on the back of the cabinet (by twisting them), so the back is enirely supported by the wall strip.
  3. Place a spirit level across the top of the cabinet.
  4. Adjust the front legs until the cabinet is level.
  5. Hopefully the anchor points on the upper back will match up with at least one wall stud (although you may need to drill at some very interesting angles). Note that Ikea do not supply the wall mount screws, so use something appropriate to secure the rear of the cabinet to the stud. For the remaining anchor points, use a drywall anchor (such as the EZ Anchor). The legs and wall strip take virtually all the weight. The back anchors are mainly just to keep things from wobbling around.
  6. Repeat for the other base cabinets, working your way outwards and securing each cabinet to the cabinets either side.

Corner cabinet

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  • The cabinet for the sink is going to need holes at the back and possibly the base for the pipes and drain. Rest the cabinet as closely as you can to the wall, then mark and cut the pipe positions before securing the cabinet.
  • Clamp cabinets to each other before you screw them together. It ensures they stay lined up while you tighten the screws
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Step 5. Install wall cabinets

If you’re Australian, wall cabinets install the same way as base cabinets - but you have to be far more careful about screwing the cabinets into the studs, as there are no legs to support the cabinet.

Corner cabinet

For some odd reason, presumably because Ikea hate Australians, we missed out on the great rail system that North Americans get. On the flip-side, Americans measure their kitchens in bizarre obscure imperial units like “fathoms” and “perches”, while we have a system where everything is divisible by 10 and the world is a happy place.

The reason the American rail system is great is because the cabinet mount points don’t have to line up with the studs. They install a long metal rail along the wall, fixing it to the studs as they need to - and then hang the cabinets off that. Great system!

Step 6. Install drawers

Here is how you install the drawers:

  1. If you bought drawer dampeners, click them into the drawer rails.
  2. Look at the instructions, and count the number of holes from the top or bottom that you need to secure the rails to. I mention this because I had to remove and reinstall a few rails after miscounting holes.
  3. Seat the drawer. To do this, you need to slide the runners all the way out. There are some lines on top of the runner. Sit the back of the drawer on them, then wiggle the drawer so the entire drawer is seated on the runners.
  4. Slam the drawer. I’m not joking. You need to do this to seat the drawer correctly.
  5. Stick the little rubber bumpers on the cabinet frame.

That wasn’t too bad right? unless the drawer didn’t seat properly. If that happened, keep trying. Once you have one drawer sorted, the rest are easy.

Step 7. Handles

To install the handles, you need to buy the drill guide (buy 2, they break easy). Work out where you want to position the handles, and mark the drill guide with a sharpie. I didn’t mark it with a sharpie, and this happened:

Derpy drawer holes

Yes, those holes do not match up to the handle. Whoops.

Step 8. Benchtops

For benchtops, don’t get the cheap laminate. If you do, it will look cheap, and all your friends will judge you. Go for a stone benchtop. You can have ikea supply the stone benchtop - but they will just outsource it to a local company and slap a $500 markup on it.

I rang a few local stone suppliers and finished up with a price of $2100. Most of the other local companies were quoting $3000+, so that is quite a saving. The product I used is Samsung Quantum Quartz. It is reconstituted quartz (a mix of crushed quartz, fillter, and glue), and is much the same as other name brands (such as Silestone or Caesar Stone).


You can have a go at installing a stone benchtop yourself, but when you crack it - there isn’t going to be any form of warranty. This is one task best left to the professionals.

Step 9. Splashbacks / Backsplashes

I could write several pages on Splashbacks (Americans call them Backsplashes, no idea why). There are a lot of options:

  • subway tiles
  • tempered glass
  • stone
  • acrylic

Which one you go with is going to come down to looks and cost. Expect tempered glass to be $1000+, with tiles being the cheapest (if you DIY).

The Ikea splashbacks seem like cheap rubbish. My local Ikea is so embarrassed by them, that they don’t even put them on display - all their display kitchens have subway tiles.

One Last Tip

The best tip I can offer, is get a friend to help. My good friend Jared assembled many cabinets, as well as providing a second set of hands to hold things level while they were screwed into place. You can do it alone, but like most things, DIY is more fun with friends. Especially if they are friends with beer and power tools.


Ordering an Ikea Kitchen is as much fun as riding a cheese grater

Look at your tired old kitchen. Do you need to replace it? Look at all those happy people with new Ikea kitchens on the Internet.


I think those people are all either lying, or they have Stockholm syndrome. I can’t think of any other reason they look so happy. Could be the Swedish meatballs I guess.

Let me walk you through designing and ordering an Ikea kitchen…

Step 1. Design your new kitchen

You can use the Ikea Home Planner to design your home kitchen in glorious 3d. Simply load the page on your average basic PC (suggested minimum: Quantum computer, 2Tb RAM, triple next gen video cards running in SLI configuration). Once your browser has installed the plugin, you’re going to encounter these issues:

  1. The Kitchen Planner is very slow. It doesn’t seem to matter how fast your pc is.
  2. Placing furniture is frustrating, eventually you discover that if you keep the button down until the box turns green, you can place the item without it snapping onto the wrong wall/cabinet.
  3. Sometimes door handles and rangehoods are placed half inside cupboards. You cannot do anything about it.
  4. You may run into authentication issues if your session expires…. try to log into Home Planner, then you get redirected to the main site, then get an error message, hit refresh and go to the Ikea family login screen, reload, try again… bam, you’re in.

Handle is half hanging off the cabinet. Who knows why
Pictured: note the high degree of accuracy provided by the designer

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Design Tips

  • Cover panels. You need cover panels. You’ll need them for the end of your benches. Calculate how many you need before going to Ikea, then have the staff double check your numbers and sizes. A word of warning, they will not cut them to size. They will give you bigger panels than you need, then wish you luck.
  • If you want soft close doors, you need hinge dampeners.
  • Ikea hinges come in two varieties 125 and 153 degree. 153 allow you to open doors wider - but you can’t use soft close dampers (at least not the Ikea dampers). Also, the 153 degree hinges may cause the door to hit the item next to it (in my case, my fridge).
  • Decide if you want “push to open” doors and drawers. Push to Open sounds cool, but in reality, those shiny new door/drawer fronts may not look as great with finger prints all over them. Push to Open looks better, but handles are far more practical.
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Step 2. Head In-Store and Order your kitchen

I took the morning off work, thinking I would have my order sorted within 2 hours. No. It ended up taking nearly 7 hours.

I’m not kidding. 7 hours. Here is where the time went:

  • 45 minutes navigating through the Ikea maze to get to the kitchen counter (to be honest I did spend a bit of time checking out the kitchen displays)
  • 2 hours with first staff member, prepping the order
  • 30 minutes waiting for “on the spot” finance approval
  • 2.5 hours for a second staff member, who was fixing up all the first staff members mistakes
  • 30 minutes getting odds and ends that do not go out for delivery (handles, drill templates, etc)

Any time left was spent waiting at registers. I hate to think of how long it would take if I hadn’t already finished my design. I’d probably still be there.

At one point, I had to jog to the cafeteria and grab a snack and drink, then jog back to the kitchen counter. My wife and I were stuck there for hours - and there is nowhere to get food and drink (no vending machines, taps, nothing). Make sure you take a water bottle with you.

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Ordering Tips

  • Cover panels. Don’t forget to have a staff member verify what you need.
  • Have you design as close to complete as possible before you go in, and double check your measurements.
  • Get the door handle drill template. You’ll need it.
  • If you buy a sink, get the sink tap hole punch. No one else seems to sell them, and drilling through a sink with a holesaw is not much fun.
  • Take a bottle of water and a snack. You will probably be there a while.
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Step 3. Receive your Kitchen

24 hours later, 83 boxes of kitchen were delivered. Now the real fun begins.

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Things to buy/sort before you start assembling

  • Buy a cheap laser level. Bosch do a good one called the Quingo, you can get one for about $50
  • Buy clamps. Irwin quick change clamps are great. Use them to hold cabinets together before attaching them to each other.
  • If you need to replace any plasterboard, or have any power points run - do it now. It is much much easier to do these thngs before installing your kitchen (under .au law, you need a licenced Electrician to do this).
  • Be prepared for unpleasant surprises. I removed the old cabinets, and found a ton of water damaged plaster board (very old water damage). I had to spend some time resheeting the walls.
  • Don’t forget plumbing! Do you need to to buy new pipework? Probably, unless you already have the sink in the right spot, and braided lines.
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(to be continued in part 2…)