Replacing old furniture is one of the best parts of redecorating. Assembling that furniture…well, maybe not so much. Although flat pack furniture items have their perks, the price being just one of them, they’re definitely not the easiest to put together. Ikea is commonly associated with assemble-it-yourself furniture, but it’s not the only store that sells it. In fact, high-end retailers sell flat-pack items too, so even if you have a high budget, chances are you’ll still have to do some DIY. Truth be told, assembling your own furniture isn’t entirely bad.

Researchers at Harvard have even written a paper about it, arguing that when we assemble our own furniture, we have a higher sense of pride, and we tend to hang on longer to it. And yet, no one really enjoys the process, and the bigger the furniture is, the more it feels like a painstakingly long and intricate puzzle. And if mustering the patience to make sense out of the instructions wasn’t hard enough, there’s also the matter of safety, which is sadly often overlooked.

Things can go very wrong if you don’t pay attention to safety instructions while assembling flat-packed furniture, so here’s what you need to do to make sure the result looks great and doesn’t become a hazard in your home:

Consider the complexity of the assembly BEFORE buying the furniture.

Most of the time, people tend to get carried away when shopping for furniture and only look at the assembled product in the store. But is that finished product something that you can realistically achieve by yourself? Because if it’s not, it makes more sense to buy something else, or pay someone else to assemble it for you.

Design experts explain that to save yourself the trouble and frustration, you should think before you buy and always consider your skin level. For example, almost anyone can assemble a small basic nightstand or coffee table, but when it comes to big dressers and drawer cabinets, you need to either be a DIY wiz or have someone to help you. For example, one of the bigger drawers from Ikea have up to 300 parts and assembling is no walk in the park, not even for an experienced user.

So, what can you do if you need a big furniture item but don’t have the skills to assemble it? First, you should look at the packaging and see if you can find similar items that come in fewer pieces. For example, some items already come with the legs and drawers pre-assembled, and you only need to screw them together. Second, read online reviews for the item you’re about to buy. If other buyers say that it’s difficult to assemble, consider other options. Even if they’re a bit more expensive, it’s not worth hurting yourself or ruining the furniture.

Be careful where you assemble the furniture.

One of the biggest mistakes when assembling flat-packed furniture is doing it in the same room where the item will be placed. While this is perfectly fine for small furniture pieces, it doesn’t work so well for larger ones, such as dressers and bookcases. On the one hand, you need plenty of movement space to put together big furniture pieces, and doing it in a small room means there’s a higher risk of bumping into things.

Plus, you could easily scratch wooden floors or break electronics. On the other hand, if you have pets or small children, the assembly site can become dangerous. Spare wooden pieces, loose screws and other small pieces should never be left lying around, so it’s safer to assemble the furniture in a garage or another spacious room that’s not so circulated. In the end, make sure you don’t leave small parts on the floor. If you have a carpet, remove it in advance because screws can get lost in there.

Did you read the instructions carefully?

According to data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, some of the most common home accidents involve furniture, but it isn’t always the seller’s fault. You’ve probably seen many cases in the media of parents who decided to sue the manufacturer because their children got hurt or the furniture broke sooner than expected, but before you get there first, you must read the instructions carefully.

Sometimes, the manufacturer really is liable for accidents and in those cases you have resources such as to walk you through the legal process, but it’s important to keep in mind that you only have a successful case if the product is faulty or if the instructions left out important information. With that in mind, never start assembling any furniture without looking at the manufacturer’s guide and checking the following:

  • The number of people required to assemble the furniture
  • The time it takes to assemble it.
  • Tools needed for the assembly (are they included in the package or will you need additional tools?)
  • The complexity level

A few tips to avoid accidents

New furniture is supposed to bring you joy, not become a safety hazard. As excited as you might be to get it over with and enjoy your new and improved home design, make sure safety comes first:

  • Always anchor heavy furniture items to the wall, no matter what the instructions say. It takes a few more minutes, but it’s absolutely essential if you have small children. Even if the anchor kit wasn’t included in the packing, you can find them in hardware stores at affordable prices and they can literally save your child’s life. Plus, in case of an earthquake, you won’t have to worry about the dresser falling over and doing extra damage.
  • Don’t be a hero. If the instructions say that it takes two people to assemble an item, don’t try to do it all by yourself. It will take much longer, and you might hurt yourself.

If you can’t buy pre-assembled furniture but you can’t assemble flat-pack furniture either, there’s always the option of paying a company to put it together for you. It might not feel as satisfying as doing it yourself, but at least you get the peace of mind that everything’s safe and secured.

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