Home & GardenTips & Guide

Tips for assembling flat pack furniture

Consumers these days, when making home purchasing choices, are opting more and more with flat pack furniture. What is flat pack? Quite simply, they are goods that comes in a box and need assembly.

There are, quite naturally, pluses and minuses associated with making a flat pack purchase.

On the plus side, flat pack goods tend to be less expensive than pre-assembled goods (thus the name it also goes by, discount furniture), or goods specifically assembled at the point of purchase. Assembly can add onto the total cost, or tacked on later, if the customer elects to have the store assembling furniture for them. In many cases, there will be no shipping charges, as the goods can be purchased at the store, and brought home by the customer. If the buyer goes this route, then that leads to another ‘plus’- ease of transport.

Flat pack goods are packed in solid boxes, flat, and relatively easy to transport (depending, of course, on the item’s size). Shipping charges can be significant, so minimizing this expense (if shipped, avoiding next-day or express delivery) or eliminating shipping altogether (bringing the furniture home themselves) can add up to significant savings.

On the negative side, these items tend to be made of a moderately more inferior grade of wood (fiberboard or pressboard), which can be more prone to split or warp. And perhaps the really big negative- the thing that can scare, aggravate, and put fear into many shoppers minds- they have to assemble it themselves!

For people that plan on assembling items themselves, following a few helpful hints can help minimize the headache often associated with this sometimes daunting task, and may even provide the customer with a small measure of satisfaction once the job is completed.

Try following these tips, and see if you can’t make a great success of your flat pack assembly:


  • Clear out plenty of room for area to work in. If the item is to be placed in the living room, clear out plenty of space in and around the spot in the living room where the piece will go. When assembling takes place, be sure there is space enough around the piece to rotate it; likewise, be sure the piece can be flipped up, and put down again, without any obstructions. Afford yourself plenty of room around the object to move freely. Sometimes you may want a better view of the process from a different angle. It’s much easier to move yourself around the piece (and safer for the piece itself), than to move the piece around and around to see it. You don’t want to get hurt tripping over something nearby, moving around the work, with your eyes on the assembly, and not on things that could be in your way.
  • Plan on assembling the piece on something, perhaps the flattened-out box the furniture came in, especially if assembling on carpeted flooring. Small screws and nails can slip out of hands, or fall out of place in assembly. These can be difficult to retrieve, especially if they fall into the thick nap of some carpeting. Putting something beneath the piece will make any retrieval easier. And if you’re using any wood glue in the assembly, having something underneath will protect the area from nasty glue drips.


  • Read through the instructions carefully, all the way through, before starting. Give yourself a general idea of what’s in store for the upcoming job. And, in every step of the way, stick to assembly instructions, step-by-step, as they are outlined in the instructions. The order of how things should be put together are in that order for a reason- it is the easiest process, minimizing time and maximizing production, for that stage of the assembly.
  • Separate all included parts into areas specific to where they will go into the assembly, and put them with their accompanying pieces together in one area. And be sure to inventory parts and enclosed tools against the parts list enclosed in the packaging.
  • If you need to use any of your own tools (screwdrivers, hammer, etc.) have them on hand and nearby the work area.
  • Give yourself plenty of time for assembly. Trying to hurry or rush through the assembly process just creates mistakes, can cause you to do shabby work, and will almost always result in great aggravation. If you don’t have ample time to devote to the project at that time, wait to do it until there is enough time to devote to it, because…
  • If you’re getting tired or frustrated with the process, take a break. Acknowledge where your next step is going to be, then step away from it for a bit. Maybe put your mind on something else for a bit, then come back to the project. You may realize a refreshed perspective on the job, and new vigor, by just giving yourself a little time away from it.
  • When putting in screws with a power screwdriver, do not screw all the way down right away. When the screw head is just short of being flush with the wood, stop screwing, pick up your good ‘ol screwdriver, and hand tighten the screw. Only screw down until the screw head is flush with the wood and no deeper. If you ‘overscrew’, the wood can crack or split (remember, this is more than likely a fiberboard-type wood, and this can happen in overscrewing).
  • If the item has doors, do not tighten hinges completely until you check to see that the doors are on straight, and open and close nicely.

Wherever you go- whether it be people’s flats, homes, or apartments, you’re likely to see flat pack items there in one way, shape, or fashion. Racks for home appliances, cabinets, cupboards, dressers, entertainment centers, and so on; flat pack pieces can be found in any room. You can almost call them “home made”!

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