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5 Secrets to Assembling IKEA Furniture Like a Pro

IKEA Furniture Customization
Courtesy of Norse Interiors

Few things better test a relationship than assembling IKEA furniture. Between navigating the seemingly endless store aisles and trying to assemble your flat-packed item so that it resembles the chic dresser you saw in the catalog, there's a reason the Swedish giant jokingly refers to certain products as "husband killers." Don't even get us started on hacks—they're often Pinterest fails waiting to happen if you can't even get the assembly part right.

To save your relationship (and sanity) without compromising your IKEA essentials, we've rounded up some of our top tips for assembling IKEA furniture. And for some professional advice, The Wall Street Journal's resident "fixer," Michael Hsu, shared his secrets to streamline the process and minimize mistakes. Save yourself the drama. Here's what you need to know to assemble IKEA flat packs like a pro.

Start With Space

It's obvious, but it needs to be said. Give yourself the room that you'll need to lay out all the parts and move around with ease.

Take Inventory

Before you begin, note which parts, screws, and tools you need, and which you actually have. That way, you'll save yourself the inevitable mid-project freak out when you're missing a tiny part and aren't sure if you lost it, or it wasn't included in the packaging by mistake.

Actually Read The Instructions

"I'll figure it out as I go" should not be the mentality when you're assembling IKEA furniture. It might seem straightforward at the beginning, but you'll inevitably run into confusion, so knowing exactly what you're supposed to do and when you're supposed to do it will save you some time, and hopefully prevent having to un-do and re-do steps in the process.

You Need a Power Tool

IKEA products might come with the tool needed to assemble each item, but Hsu says it'll be much faster and easier if you arm yourself with a power tool. He recommends the Worx SD Driver With Screw Holder ($38), a rechargeable electric screwdriver that allows you to switch between six different bits. The Milwaukee Torx 7-Piece Bit Set ($8) is also compatible with most IKEA hex screws, according to Hsu.

Get A Level

Appease your inner perfectionist and avoid uneven furniture by using a level. Don't have one handy? You may not even need to make a trip to the hardware store—Hsu points out that your iPhone has one built-in. "The 'Compass' app on every iPhone has a hidden level feature. Swipe left in the app to find it," he says. Otherwise, download Bubble Level, a free app for Android. "These will come in handy as you adjust the legs of your new, perfectly assembled furniture," Hsu notes.

Keep Organized

IKEA furniture often comes with an array of minuscule screws and fixtures, which can be easily lost mid-build. Our tip to ensure you never misplace a vital piece is to keep a serving tray on hand to organize small parts.

What's your secret to building IKEA furniture like a pro?