It’s no surprise to anyone that the kitchen is the most common home renovation that people choose to do. It’s the place where everyone ends up as well as the part of the house where the food and drinks are. Here at SemBro Design & Supply, we have designed and built over 200 kitchens since 2019 and we have used various cabinet companies ranging from totally custom to off-the-shelf on these projects. As is the case with many projects, budget is usually a concern and for that reason, we use a lot of IKEA cabinets. If you are considering using them on a project, we suggest you read on. Every project we have done for Pocono Modern has used IKEA cabinets and we would say that we are fairly proficient in making IKEA products look custom. However, the question most often asked about IKEA cabinets is about the quality.
Below we have broken out my analysis into five major categories:
IKEA Kitchen Cabinet Construction
Let’s start with the construction of IKEA cabinets. The construction of an IKEA cabinet frame (AKURUM) is a particle board with a white or beech-colored plastic laminate. Overall, this is pretty low quality but to be honest, not that far off from a more expensive Kraft Maid cabinet. Most production line cabinets today have particle board substrates covered by either melamine, laminate, or wood veneer. Only custom cabinet makers will use solid plywood for the frames and that will cost you big dollars. At SemBro, we actually prefer the particle board cabinets because they are more stable (plywood can sometimes warp over time) and they make them from wood chips, which is more eco-friendly. But that being said, you hardly ever see the cabinet frame, especially if you have drawer units, so it’s not much of a priority to me personally.
The other variable is that you assemble the frames yourself using locking cams. For this reason, we can verify the soundness of the connections and even add glue to the joints if we need to. We would say though that the final quality of the unit depends a lot on the assembler so if you are careful then you will end up with a good-quality cabinet. If you are the kind of person who doesn’t use up all the nails when you install the back then IKEA may not be for you.
Door / Drawer Styles on IKEA Kitchen Cabinets
The next category we will go over is the door/drawer styles. The door (or drawer) style is the part of the cabinet that you actually see and in that area, which we believe is where IKEA brings the good stuff. Unlike the frames, many of the doors and drawers are solid with good-quality wood veneer. The painted finishes tend to vary slightly, (particularly in the Ramsjo line) but overall they have a good variety and hit many different price points from dirt-cheap laminates to better-priced Oak. They even have glass doors and lacquered-style colors.
Overall the variety and quality are impressive at this price point but you need to be very careful about discontinued lines. If you think you may want to add a cabinet in the future, be prepared for the possibility that they may stop making that line and you won’t be able to get it. This has happened to me twice. First with the Oak Tidaholm line (below) and then with the medium brown Nexus style. Tidaholm Line (discontinued)
Hardware on IKEA Kitchen Cabinets
IKEA has made great strides with its hardware in the past. And by hardware, we do not mean the knobs and pulls but the interior drawer glides, hinges, dampers, and legs. The drawer and door dampers prevent the slamming of parts and provide a nice easy glide upon shutting. The hinges are of the same or better quality than you would find in a comparable special-order cabinet. They are all pretty easy to install, except for the door dampers, which we always have trouble snapping in.
Note to IKEA: Work on easier-to-install door dampers. They have also added decorative legs so your cabinets can sit off the ground, which we like. They come in three different heights so you can even use shorter cabinets to get different effects. If you choose to go with the standard black plastic legs, they offer matching toe kicks that snap right on.
Overall, IKEA gets high marks on the internal hardware, especially when you compare it to the junk they were using a few years back. As for knobs and pulls, we find that their own line is far better priced than anything you can buy at the big box stores, especially the modern bar pulls.
Variety of Components / Accessories On IKEA Kitchen Cabinets
This is probably the single biggest flaw with the IKEA line. Looking for a flip-down sponge drawer? They don’t have it. Want a narrow spice cabinet? They don’t have it. Looking for options on a corner unit? Sorry, they just have a couple. Although their line is fairly diverse in terms of door and drawer fronts, they keep the number of components fairly limited to certain sizes and options.
We suppose this is because they make so many parts and pieces that they have to stick with what sells. We have often hoped that they would add pull-out drawer units for garbage and recycling bins, but alas, none have come along. If you want unique parts and pieces then sorry, but you’re stuck with what they have. If you can get over the limits of their running line, then you can get over, what we say, is the biggest hurdle.
Appearance Of IKEA Kitchen Cabinets
This last category is entirely up to you. We have found that when assembled correctly with the right amount of additional details (lighting, hardware, windows, etc..) an IKEA kitchen can look every bit as custom as one 3x the price. Of course, it will never compare to a custom cabinet with inset doors (as opposed to overlay doors which is all IKEA makes) but for the money, we don’t think you can find a better deal. Just be sure to get a second opinion on the planning as the standard work triangle is not the only consideration for a functional kitchen. You need to make sure you have the proper clearances for walking by, the proper support for countertops, and enough room to open doors and drawers.
In summary, IKEA cabinets can really pull off a quality look if you plan it properly and take time with the assembly. They are limited in cabinet types and accessories, but the money you save will allow you to spend more on countertops and lighting, which really adds to a kitchen.
However, if you truly desire a custom kitchen with solid wood construction and specific finishes, there is no substitute for a quality cabinet installer like SemBro Design & Supply in Cleveland. From our in-depth analysis of IKEA cabinets, you can be sure that our cabinet line that we provide has everything you are looking for, whether it be with unique hardware or a specific drawer style, our custom designed cabinets can not be compared to. The only thing to remember is that if you would like high-quality cabinets that don’t lack in any area, be prepared to spend a little extra money. But we believe it is an investment that you won’t regret.