Flat Pack Furniture – Explained!

Flat pack furniture is simply furniture that is flat packed, meaning you have to put it together yourself. This is often a benefit to flat pack furniture, as you do not have to worry about your dresser fitting through your front door. 

Additionally, flat pack furniture is great for dismantling if you’re moving house. In this article, we will talk about flat pack furniture and its uses, and how to make it up. 

What Is Flat Pack Furniture? 

Flat pack furniture is ready-to-assemble furniture or self-assembled furniture. It is really popular, and it is easy to find.

A lot of places will sell their furniture as flatpack, because it is cheaper to make, and it is more affordable to buyers, meaning companies can make more. 

It is made in flat parts and is assembled by the buyer without the need for special tools such as hammers and drills. Flat pack furniture usually comes with small screws and bolts, for you to do yourself without lots of equipment.

Flat pack furniture is packed and delivered in boxes, where it is typically separated into small boxes or bags, and labelled. 

It will come with the nuts and bolts for its assembly, as well as a set of instructions. Flat pack furniture sets come with all the components, and this can be up to fifty pieces to assemble and screw in.

Popular flat pack furniture stores included IKEA, Wayfair, and Hem. These stores sell mostly flat packed furniture, as well as the occasional fully-made dresser. 

What Is Flat Pack Furniture Made Of? 

Flat pack furniture is made from cheaper materials compared to fully-made wood products. Flat pack furniture is primarily made from solid wood, chipboard, or medium-density fibreboard (MDF).

MDF is made from residuals of softwood as well as hardwood. Softwood is wood, cut from mostly coniferous trees, which are typical forest trees.

These trees make up over 80% of all timber, and it usually comes in long planks. Some of the most common types of softwood include pine, fir, cedar, redwood, and larch. 

Hardwood is from dicot trees that are found in more tropical climates. Some examples of hardwood are oak, teak, maple, mahogany, and walnut.

MDF is made by combining the residual of hardwood and softwood with wax, to form a panel that is stronger than other residual woods, such as chipboard. MDF is often one of the strongest types of residual wood, and it is often more expensive than chipboard. 

Chipboard is another material that flat pack furniture is made of. Chipboard is made of wood chippings, wood shavings or particles, and sawdust.

These are merged together and formed into a board. Chipboard is pretty cheap, hence why it is popular for flat pack material. It is usually coated with a thin layer, with the paint of your chosen furniture on top. 

It is quite stable, so it is reliable for flat pack furniture. The only disadvantage to chipboard is the fact that it is more susceptible to water damage due to the fact it is made up of different kinds of woods and porous chippings. 

Solid wood is often a good choice for flat pack furniture, but it is often more expensive. Solid wood can have a tendency to crack due to the environment it is in. it is more solid, hence why it may crack under pressure. 

History Of Flat Pack Furniture

Flat pack furniture was invented in the 1950s. Before this, furniture would come already constructed, and it took weeks to receive it. Furniture was specially made, and it was made of solid wood, which was often expensive. 

Flat pack furniture was the solution to a lot of problems. It was invented by a man who actually worked at IKEA in the 1950s, and he came up with the idea that furniture can be made in parts and assembled. 

He was a Swedish man named Gillis Lundgren, and he was a furniture designer for IKEA. The idea came to him when he struggled to put a large piece of furniture into a customer’s car at work, leading him to think up the idea of flat pack furniture. 

Benefits Of Flat Pack Furniture 

Flat pack furniture is famous for being affordable, but not so easy to construct. At times, the money you are saving may feel less than the time you are spending constructing it, but you are saving a significant amount of money. 

Flat pack furniture is affordable. It is mass-produced, making it easier and cheaper to produce. It is also said that flat pack furniture is cheaper because it compensates for its low quality.

However, if you properly construct and look after your furniture, it will prove to be very durable. Flat pack furniture is easy to assemble, transport, and disassemble.

This makes it an easier option for everybody. It costs less to ship, and companies do not have to spend lots of money on shipping and transportation costs.

Additionally, it means you can receive your flat packed furniture easily, without having to get the movers in. Flat pack furniture can also be customised, something that is rare to find with a lot of furniture.

There are many places online where you can find hacks and ideas to improve the look of your flat pack furniture. You can paint it, change the style, and even completely rebuild it.

After all, you are given pieces of wood to build yourself. There’s nothing stopping you from adding more or redesigning the piece, especially if you have experience. 

Flat pack furniture is easy to disassemble and pack. This is one of the best-selling points for flat pack furniture. You can dismantle the furniture, pack it back in their boxes and transport it to a new location. This is super helpful if you are planning on moving, or you will be in the close future. 

Also, flat pack furniture is mass-produced by machines, meaning it is cost-effective for these manufacturers, and they do not have to pay labour costs to the people to actually construct the furniture. 

Disadvantages To Flat Pack Furniture

Flat pack furniture, like everything, has its downsides. Flat pack furniture tends to be quite simple, mostly due to the fact that you are required to build it yourself.

You may struggle to construct a piece of furniture with sixteen shelves and eight legs, hence why they are usually more simple.

Additionally, flat pack furniture has been known to have some super complicated instructions. It would not be unlikely for you to spend four hours constructing a simple shelving unit.

Especially if you are not experienced. The instructions for flat pack furniture are often difficult to understand and tedious. 

Flat pack furniture is also rather difficult to disassemble and assemble constantly, due to the fact that the drilled holes and screws are continuously messed with. Flat packed furniture is pretty reliable, so you won’t have these issues too often. 

How Do You Assemble Flat Pack Furniture? 

The assembly of flat pack furniture depends on what kind of piece it is. There are a few things that you will always need to assemble flat pack furniture.

It is always recommended that you build the piece of flat pack furniture in the room that you want to keep it in, otherwise you will have to carry it around the house to the right location. 

Firstly, lay all the parts of the flat pack furniture down onto the floor in front of you. Whilst you are doing this, try to use the packaging from the furniture and a piece of cardboard to protect the floors in your home. 

Next, check over the parts that you have received, and make sure you have all the correct parts that you need to have. Compare these parts to the instructions that you have already looked at. 

Grab some small bowls or plastic containers to separate the nuts, screws, and bolts. Empty your components into these containers, so you can see that you have everything that you need.

If there are major parts missing, then at least you can find out before you have started constructing your furniture. 

After you have all your equipment at the ready, read through the instructions thoroughly, and make sure you fully understand them.

If you have not read through the instructions, it will make it even more difficult to construct your furniture.Grab all your necessary tools such as your scissors, screwdriver, and hammer. 

Start constructing your flat pack furniture as per the instructions. When you are screwing in any screws or bolts, never tighten them fully. You should only tighten screws with a screwdriver when the whole piece of furniture is completed.

Otherwise, you may damage the wood, and you will find it rather difficult to build your piece of furniture. When you have loosely secured all your screws and bolts into place in the piece of furniture, tighten all of your screws with a screwdriver. 

Can You Customise Flat Pack Furniture? 

If you’re looking to customise your flat pack furniture, you can construct the piece of furniture, and build any extra parts onto it.

You should only do this if you know what you are doing and how to do it safely, otherwise, there is a risk of it becoming damaged. This allows you to get the most out of your piece of furniture as long as you know exactly what you want from it. 

Additionally, you can paint your flat pack furniture to customise it. It is up to you whether you paint the furniture before or after you assemble it, but it is probably recommended to paint it before you construct it.

It is important to note that it is significantly harder to dismantle furniture once you have put it up, so try to decide if you want to paint it before you have made it. 

Now, you may be wondering how you should paint your flat pack furniture. 

Firstly, sand down your piece of furniture as well as you can. It may feel wrong to sand down brand-new furniture, but it is a necessary step that you need to take in order to paint your furniture properly.

Different types of furniture will have a different coating, all of which may respond differently to paint. You can sound down your furniture with sandpaper, or a sanding machine. 

After you have sanded down your piece of furniture, clean the dust and small wood particles away from your wood. The surface should be as clean as possible, otherwise, it will not look very good. 

Next, apply the base primer to the furniture for the wood. If you apply it properly, it will ensure that the paint will go on easier, and it won’t crack.

You may need to add a few coats of primer, but it should help make the surface clean for you to paint. This is especially true if you are using darker coloured paint, as it will need to be as dark as it can. 

Next, apply the paint with whatever tool you deem appropriate. You can use a paint roller, a brush, or a spray. After your paint has dried, you can sand down the furniture again to remove any bumps or leftover dried paint. 

If you know what you want the end result of your piece of furniture to be, choose the type of paint that will give you this. Never rush the painting process, and always make sure that the paint is applicable to the type of furniture you have.

After the paint has dried, and you have finished painting, seal the paint with a top coat of sealer. This will give it a sleek finish, and it will mean that you have a lovely-looking piece of furniture. 

Final Thoughts

Flat pack furniture is one of the best and cheapest ways to find a new shelf or dresser. Flat pack furniture can be really tricky to construct, but you have a lot of freedom in the way that you can customise the furniture, as well as add any parts.

Flat pack furniture should not be feared, as it is a cheap and reliable alternative to expensive solid furniture.

Ida Oliveira
Latest posts by Ida Oliveira (see all)