Before I dive into the theatrical performance that is installing your IKEA SEKTION kitchen, I wanted to dedicate this post to all of you who have survived putting together a piece of IKEA furniture.
Hell this post is dedicated to those of you brave enough to go to to IKEA on a weekend and if you went to the kitchen section to actually plan your kitchen, how are you even reading this post? You should be at a bar. If you took your kids, you already know you need a vacation.
Want to test your marriage? Go to IKEA together.
Because truly, IKEA on a weekend is like a testing ground for whether or not a couples marriage will end in divorce by the time they leave the store. It’s like weekends at Costco, minus the giant grocery carts.
Except you trade those in for flat bed carts and a choreographed routine to ensure your car is in a furniture delivery parking spot by the time one of you pays for the ‘ready to be assembled’ products of your home decor dreams.
Then, just when you think the store trip is over, you realize it’s just the beginning. Because what awaits you at home is the fresh hell that I like to call IKEA assembly instructions.
INSTALLING YOUR IKEA SEKTION KITCHEN
Forget your allen (hex) key for this one. IKEA’s Kitchen Installation Guide comes complete with a cartoon character blob person, that reminds me of a cartoon I used to watch as a child called La Linea.
This friendly guy below.
He looks super happy to be installing his IKEA kitchen doesn’t he?
But they also have real life drawings of actual people too. In the drawing below, you’re the happy couple, enjoying a coffee break in the kitchen that has yet to be installed.
The children that are crying in the background because they came home with the stomach flu the first day you demolished your kitchen, they’re not in there. Neither is the photo of your living room where everything else is placed while your kitchen is being finished.
PS – For the full IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Installation guide, click here.
IKEA’S SUSPENSION RAIL SYSTEM
Now before you think I am about to tear into their updated railing system, I will say it is actually a very good thing that they’ve done. The rail system makes it a lot easier to perfectly place your cabinets exactly where you want them to be.
For example, if you make a mistake or change your mind (like we did) about whether or not to use a side panel around the refrigerator, you won’t have to physically unscrew your cabinets from the wall and move them over. You can just gently slide them over an inch. Win/Win!
The problem lies with the holes in the railings. It is assumed that the holes and where you want to place your cabinets in your kitchen will magically line up with your wall studs and you’ll be able to drill them securely into the stud through one of the holes.
That’s not always the case. Exhibit A below.
We had to drill through the railing itself to line up where the screw had to go into the stud. If you’re wondering why we couldn’t just move it over, it’s because the cabinets needed to be exactly in those spots in the kitchen, based on our measurements and placements of where everything had to go. Including our appliances.
So the railing had to go where it had to go.
The cabinets are then hung onto the railings using brackets that you attach to the inside of the cabinet, as seen in the photos below.
Left side, top view.
Right side, top view.
You can attach the brackets to the railing first and then drill the cabinets to them if you prefer. Whatever works for you.
But the “best part” of the railing system, is the little metal fastener bracket thing that goes into between the railing and your screw. It’s right here on the bar that we had to drill through. I can’t even remember what they’re for at this point (everything becomes a blur).
NOTE: Again, your screw will most likely be going into one of those empty holes in the rail. I explained above why we had to ours like this.
If look at IKEA’s first instruction drawing again (below) in the Set your Suspension Rail, it shows one hand drilling in the railing, easy as pie.
This is a two person job that involves a level and your patience.
What we wound up doing, is screwing holes into the wall first, with screws strong enough to loosely hang the railing off of. Then we gently hung the railing over the screws. (I reiterate, the screws are not fully screwed into the wall at this point).
Afterwards we put the metal fastener bracket thing IKEA included over the screws and checked to make sure the railings were level. Finally, we screwed them into tight to attached the railing to the wall.
Could you do this by yourself?
While your situation may not be this difficult (maybe your railing length will be smaller for your cabinet, your walls will be flatter or you’re just savvier), in our circumstances it was two person job.
Maybe. But I wanted to write about this just in you case you’re struggling and are losing your marbles, get a friend to help ahead of time.
ONE MORE TIME – For the full IKEA Suspension Rail Assembly Instructions, click here
The IKEA cartoon man that appears one more time with the “?” bubble above his head and that may or may not resemble your behavior during this process.
Suddenly I miss allen keys.
Once you get the railing sorted out, the rest is actually pretty simple. It’s put together your cabinets and attach them to your railing. Or so says the person that did not put together the cabinets (*waves*).
This will take you well into the night and then some.
In the following days came the Butcher Block Countertop installation
We had to return one of the original pieces of it that we purchased because it was warped. I strongly suggest before you leave IKEA, to check inside the box and make sure the wood on your soon to be butcher block counter top is flat. It will save you gas, time and shipping costs. Yes shipping costs.
A TIP ABOUT BUTCHER BLOCK AND SHIPPING
Turns out it took us having to return it to realize one long panel of IKEA Butcher Block countertops, can indeed fit into the back of our truck.
My BIL (that’s Brother In Law for those of you who aren’t into abbreviations online) notched out some holes in what was to be the underside of the counter tops and this is how they were fastened together under.
Before you send me hate mail or ask what happened with the notches in the wood, there were some issues with the notches being cut out due to a variety of reasons. So please don’t be like, I could do that in my sleep.
This was the underside and no one sees this part.
I am showing it to you because you know what? Sometimes DIY’ing in real life, crap happens. You make the best of what you can and get on with it. We very much appreciated his help for this entire renovation and will always be grateful.
CUTTING THE UNDERMOUNT SINK AREA IN THE BUTCHER BLOCK COUNTERTOPS
We used the IKEA BREDSKÄR Single Bowl Sink. I need to write a post called “In Defense of One Bowl Sinks.” I am never ever, ever, ever, ever going back to a dual bowl sink. This has changed how I use and see sinks.
And here is a big hint on how to make a template to cut out your hole for your sink be it in Butcher Block or the countertops of your choice.
I alas do not have any photos of this as we threw out the package in the process, but what my BIL did was, he used the actual cardboard box that the sink came in, because the cardboard is cut out to match the exact measurements/shape of the top of the sink.
Therefore it makes the perfect stencil. Brilliant!
All you have to do is trace that onto the wood. My BIL did a test template with it in some plywood first to make sure it was indeed the right fit and it worked perfectly.
So save the cardboard box the sink comes in!!!
And bit by bit, it came together. We survived installing an IKEA SEKTION kitchen! Yaaay!
Then we had to wait to about 3 months for back ordered drawer fronts from IKEA. But I’ll save that for a Lessons in Renovating your Kitchen wrap up post. It’ll be a good one because there were so many lessons we learned.
Want to read about the whole process and see the Before and After?
1 – The Kitchen Reno story: The Beginning
2 – The Kitchen Reno story: You just read it!
3 – The Kitchen Reno story: Adventures in Staining Butcher Block
4 – The Kitchen Reno story: Before and After