Ikea makes a wide selection of modern furniture. Their catalog is easy to peruse online and in their mega-stores. However, before you make any purchases, you might wonder what materials Ikea uses for their furniture, and whether Ikea uses real wood. In this post, we have flipped through that Ikea catalog ourselves to give you a full rundown of common Ikea furniture construction materials.
As such a prolific furniture manufacture, Ikea makes their furniture out of various possible materials. However, Ikea uses a wood look-alike known as particleboard very frequently. Ikea also commonly uses sturdier furniture materials such as solid wood, metal, and glass.
Keep reading this post to get a rundown on the pluses and minuses of particleboard, how to identify different furniture materials, and a few solid wood Ikea pieces. In addition, we include the answers to several related questions.
Ikea Furniture Materials
Particleboard consists of compressed sawdust, woodchips, other wood scraps, and a glue-like resin to hold it all together. This means that large sheets of particle board do not require large continuous sheets of wood. This makes an equal-sized piece of particle board much cheaper than one of wood. Often, Ikea takes particle board and laminates it with real wood or plastic to give the furniture more strength and a sleeker look.
The above Billy Bookcase from Ikea is one of the classic Ikea particle board models. Read this article to learn how to paint your Billy Bookcase a new color, "How To Paint An Ikea Billy Bookcase." In the following subsections, we will explore the pros and cons of particle board as a furniture material.
Low durability is the main drawback to particleboard. That is to say, particleboard does not stand up to rough use well. The treatment given by roughhousing children or even overtightening screws can crack and damage particleboard. Further, the glue holding the lamination on particleboard eventually begins to fail, and chunks and sheets of the exterior material can fall off. This photo shows the water damage particle board can sustain from a long life under a bathroom sink.
Particleboard is also weak to consistent moisture. This does not mean that a little water here and there, or even a big spill that is quickly cleaned, will ruin the furniture. Instead, if you have a particle board piece of furniture in a routinely wet area, it may begin to swell and lose its shape. This outcome is because particle board is much more porous than solid wood and acts to sponge up water.
The low price to good looks ratio is the main pro of particleboard. By avoiding the need to pay for large sheets of wood, particleboard furniture can be sold for a fraction of the price of solid wood furniture. Further, if handled and assembled properly and treated with moderate care, particleboard will last a very long time.
Other Furniture Materials
Other common furniture materials are metal, wood, and glass. These are generally more expensive and more durable than particleboard. If you want furniture that will last a lifetime, buy furniture metal, solid wood, and glass pieces.
That being said, still, inspect the material before purchase. Look at the joints of metal and the condition of the wood, make sure the glass is in good shape without cracks. All furniture of these nicer materials is not automatically worth the price tag. Shop around before making any major purchases from Ikea or elsewhere.
How to tell Wood and Particle Board Apart
While Ikea does a very good job of listing the materials used in their furniture, telling wood from particleboard is a handy and simple skill. The easiest way to tell is to locate an unpainted area. Particleboard will look like sawdust that is glued together, while wood has a much more complex ordered grain.
This cabinet is constructed with a mix of wood and particleboard. Click here for an Ikea Havsta cabinet from Amazon.
Another way to tell particle board from wood is by touch. Particleboard will either feel smooth and untextured if uncovered and plasticky if laminated. Even very finely finished wood usually retains the feel of the grain. Practice on furniture you know the material of the get the hang of this technique. Take note that many furniture pieces are made partially of solid wood and partially of particleboard.
Given that both of these techniques require actually handling the furniture, be wary of online furniture purchases. It is easy to disguise one material from another through misleading descriptors and poor pictures. Even though a practiced eye can tell particleboard from real wood from across the room, online retailers can be clever. Shop from reputable sources or in-person to avoid this pitfall.
Wood Ikea Furniture
In this section, we will review a few solid wood furniture options offered by Ikea. This section just scratches the surface since Ikea offers a very wide selection of solid wood products. To search for these easily, just search by material on the Ikea website.
Click here for this Ikea Ingo dining table from Amazon. This solid pine table is paintable or stainable and can make a great addition to a kitchen or dining room. This table is shipped in pieces, so must be assembled on site.
Click here for this Ikea Ivar chair from Amazon. This solid pine chair is the partner of the above Ingo table. It can also be painted or stained to match your decor and sensibilities. Further, this chair is easy to assemble at home and has a classic construction that might never go out of style.
Click here for this Ikea Trofast shelving frame from Amazon. This frame is also paintable and stainable and can be converted to multiple different organization patterns depending on your storage needs.
Click here for this solid oak Ikea Listerby table from Amazon. Ikea uses several wood types, including pine, oak, and more, to make their wood furniture.
Why Is Ikea Furniture So Cheap?
Ikea keeps its prices low through several techniques. These include bulk manufacturing, flat packaging, which saves on shipping, cost-cutting materials such as particleboard, and more. A big secret is that Ikea first chooses the price they want to sell for. Then a design and materials team secures the needed components at that price.
Ikea also saves money by asking the customer to perform the assembly of their furniture at home. In fact, you can read this article to learn more about what it takes to assemble Ikea furniture "Does IKEA Furniture Come With Tools?"
Is Ikea Furniture Formaldehyde-Free?
No, Ikea furniture is not formaldehyde-free. Formaldehyde occurs naturally in wood and most wood finishes. Further, research shows formaldehyde causes health issues, especially at high concentrations. That being said, sensitivity to formaldehyde differs from person to person, so what may be no problem for one person can be an issue for another.
Generally speaking, the amount of formaldehyde in furniture is not overly dangerous. However, Ikea constantly attempts to reduce the formaldehyde content of their products. Ikea also ensures that all their furniture meets or exceeds local formaldehyde requirements. Visit this link for the official Ikea reading material on formaldehyde.
Is Ikea Furniture Good Quality?
Generally speaking, and for the price, Ikea does make good quality furniture. While most of their pieces will not end up in a museum, that does not mean they are not functional and nice. Just like any manufacture, the more expensive Ikea pieces are of better quality than the cheaper ones.
This Bekvam stepstool from Ikea is a no-nonsense, solid example of good quality furniture. Click here to see this item on Amazon.
To really understand whether Ikea furniture matches your desired quality, you need to see and test it in person. To accomplish this, you can test out the Ikea furniture owned by friends or family or visit a rather entertaining Ikea furniture warehouse.
How Long Does Ikea Furniture Last?
Some Ikea furniture will last a lifetime, while others will only last a few years. The longevity of your Ikea furniture depends on its treatment and construction material. Generally speaking, the more expensive Ikea items last much longer than cheaper items. Purchase Ikea furniture made of metal, wood, and/or glass if long-lasting is your goal. Particleboard furniture lasts a much shorter time.
This article has provided an introduction to Ikea furniture material. Further, you now know the pros and cons of particleboard and how to identify this wood look-alike. With this article under your belt, you should be much more prepared to head out furniture shopping. Good luck!