20 Things to Know Before Buying an IKEA Couch

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Are you going to buy an IKEA couch? We bought one four years ago. Actually, I’ve bought two in my life plus lots other other IKEA stuff. Here’s my important list of 20 things to know about buying a sofa at IKEA, whether you buy online or in a store.

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IKEA couch in an IKEA store showroom

My wife and I own an IKEA Ektorp couch.  It’s white.  We like it.  We have the matching ottoman for the sofa and the armchair.

Come to think of it, other than our two antique refinished wingback chairs, our living room is all IKEA furniture.

We’ve owned the sofa for almost 4 years.  We use it daily so it’s lasted a reasonably long time despite having two young boys who love to jump on it and crash into it daily.  That alone is impressive.  While overall we’re happy with it, I do have some complaints.

However, this article is not solely about my IKEA couch complaints.  Instead, this my list of what you should look for, consider and test before buying your IKEA couch.

1. It may be a wood frame, but it’s not the toughest sofa

We also own a Sears sectional sofa.  While it has its own problems, you can tell just by sitting in it and feeling the frame that it has a tougher frame.

Generally, IKEA couch frames aren’t the strongest.  Yes, ours has served us well for 4 years and it’s still going strong, but it’s not indestructible.

When looking, lift them up.  If it seems absurdly light compared to other options, you know the frame is not very sturdy.

Is a weak frame a deal breaker?

Not for me.  It’s just something you need to keep in mind.  Aside from our young kids being pretty tough on furniture, we aren’t and it’s still fine.  Whether it’ll survive our kids when they’re 12, that’s anyone’s guess.

2. Hire local IKEA assemblers

True story here.   I know someone who bought their daughter enough IKEA furniture to furnish an entire apartment.  He not only bought it, but spent roughly 24 hours straight assembling it with an allen key (it hurts just thinking about doing that).

When we heard that, my wife asked him “were there no IKEA assembly contractors or services available?”

He responded “there are such services?  I never checked.”

Turns out there were all kinds of services that assemble IKEA furniture where he was.  Needless to say, he wasn’t happy he didn’t know that.

Moral of the story is if you’re buying a lot of IKEA furniture, look into hiring a pro to assemble it.  We hired assemblers through our local IKEA stores and they did a fabulous job.

When you watch a professional IKEA assembly guy, you’ll never do it yourself again.  They have the right tools and can put this stuff together by memory.  They can do in 15 minutes what it takes us mere mortals 2 hours to assemble.

These days, TaskRabbit has people offering IKEA assembly help (in certain parts in Canada; I’m not sure about in the USA).

How much does it cost to hire someone to assemble an IKEA couch?

TaskRabbit assembly options range from $40 to $64 CAD, which in my view is worth every nickel.

3. Can you remove the upholstery fabric to clean it and/or buy another one?

With the Ektorp, we can remove the outer fabric to wash it or in theory buy a new one.  This is handier than you think.  It comes off pretty easily and washes very nicely.  It’s a bit of a hassle putting it back on though because it’s a tight fit.

While this shouldn’t be a dealbreaker feature, it’s something to consider.  Not all of IKEA’s sofas have removable upholstery fabric.

4. Is there a matching IKEA ottoman you can get?

I’m so glad we also bought the matching white ottoman for the Ektorp.  It too has a removable outer fabric layer for washing.  Actually, the ottoman is a very solid piece of furniture.  Ours is a storage ottoman and it’s heavy and solid.

It’s a perfect height in relation to the sofa.  It matches appearance-wise.  While it added a few bucks to the purchase, it makes sitting in the couch way more comfortable especially since the sofa’s depth isn’t as deep as I’d like it.  The ottoman gives me a lot more solid sitting space.

5. Double check the depth dimension (and compare)

IKEA sofas are well known for not having a deep enough seat.  It’s fine if you’re not tall, but I’m tall and really find it the worst aspect of the sofa.

Some of the more modern designs have a deeper seat so if you like deep seats, get that.  We opted for the Ektorp because we didn’t want to spend piles of money on what we thought was a somewhat temporary living arrangement.  So much for that; 4 years later and we’re still in the same place with the same old IKEA furniture.

If at all possible, visit an IKEA store and try out different sofas.

6. Who will deliver it?

Most IKEA stores (if not all) offer delivery.  However, it’s not cheap.  If you’re only buying a sofa, you might be able to get into your vehicle.

If not, this is your chance to order more stuff.  If you’re paying for delivery, you might as well get as much delivered as possible.

That’s how we bought IKEA furniture in the past.  We bought it in batches with all kinds of other furniture at the same time.  Yeah, we have more IKEA stuff than we should.  But we bought it because we believed our living arrangement was going to be temporary.  It wasn’t.

7. Cushions are spongy

The interesting thing about IKEA sofas is some of them have way too soft and spongy cushions and others are too hard.  It seems they can’t get the cushion firmness spot on.

Ours (Ektorp) is way too soft.  The deform and are like big soft sponges, especially the back cushions.  Actually, the seat cushions are decent.  It’s the back cushions that are not very good.

On the flip side, I’ve sat in other models where the seat and back cushions are too hard.

At the end of the day, in my experience, IKEA couches (regular and sectionals) are not the most comfortable.  They simply aren’t and it’s too bad. They look great.  They look comfortable.  They’re pretty comfortable when you sit in them for 5 minutes in the store. But once you get them home and sit in them for 2 hours, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

I’m not saying they’re terrible.  I’m just saying compared to plusher, more expensive brands, they aren’t the most comfortable.

8. It’s not heavy

This might be a big bonus for you.  Our Ektorp sofa is not heavy at all.  It has a light frame.  This could be good or bad, depending whether heavy furniture is a problem for you.

9. No complaints about the fabric quality

Our white Ektorp and matching armchair look great still.  The fabric is still bright and maintained its texture.  It’s amazing actually.  I’m impressed with the quality of the fabric used for this line of sofas.

I can’t comment on IKEA leather couches though since I’ve never had one.  I’ve sat in some, but never owned one.  That may just be the only piece of IKEA furniture I haven’t owned.

10. Consider an IKEA couch where the cushions are attached to the sofa

Some models have the back cushions attached.  Others don’t.  Ours aren’t attached and it’s a total nuisance except it’s pretty easy to watch the covering.  What I dislike about detached back cushions is they end up all over the house and end up askew when they manage to stay on the couch.

They shift and twist which means adjusting them every time I sit down.

That said, while our cushions are detached, they are soft (too soft).  I’d rather too soft than too hard.  They are kind of plush where I sink into them assuming they aren’t askew.

11. If your closest IKEA doesn’t have your preferred couch, check online

The IKEA website is good.  Easy to use.  Easy to order.  Lots of options.

In fact, for some of the couch models, you can use their sofa planner to come up with the exact configuration, color, etc. that you want.

While these nifty online tools are cool, there’s no substitute for sitting in them first.  I’m all about shopping online, but when it comes to buying any type of seating, I need to actually sit in it.

12. Visit a store and sit in many sofas

Our kids love going to IKEA which makes it an easy outing for us.  We almost always get breakfast or lunch there.  The food is super good and cheap.  I suspect a lot of people go to IKEA for meals only.

After our bellies are full, we enter the famous IKEA maze and check out everything.  I don’t think we’ve ever left empty-handed.

When buying our current sofa, we sat in pretty much every sofa in the store looking for the perfect option for us.  At the time it was the Ektorp.  I’m a big sectional sofa fan, but not my wife.  Since we already had a sectional, this needed to be a regular couch.

13. IKEA does offer a delivery service

If you can fit your purchases in your vehicle, that’s great.  While IKEA offers delivery, it’s not cheap.

Since when we buy IKEA furniture we’ve usually bought truckloads, we’ve used the delivery service a couple of times.   It sure was nice not having to cart out mountains of stuff to our car.

That said, whenever our purchases will fit in our vehicle, we take it ourselves.

The point here is to not worry how you’ll get something big like a sofa home; IKEA does have delivery options.

I’ll say this though – arranging the delivery is a hassle.  You do it after you’ve paid for it.  You then cart it to some customer service portal in the store and arrange for delivery.  It would be nice if you just gave them a list of products and they retrieved it from the warehouse.

14. Lots of options

I was going to make the point that IKEA doesn’t have a lot of options but that was 4 years ago.  Since then they’ve added many new models and designs while retaining older models.  Here’s a list of current IKEA sofa models:

  • FRIHETEN
  • BRÅTHULT
  • VIMLE
  • EKTORP
  • HOLMSUND
  • KNOPPARP
  • KNISLINGE
  • KIVIK
  • KARLSTAD
  • FÄRLÖV
  • SANDBACKEN
  • GRÖNLID
  • SÖDERHAMN
  • VALLENTUNA
  • LANDSKRONA
  • KLIPPAN
  • FLOTTEBO
  • VÄNNÄS
  • STOCKSUND
  • UTTRAN
  • YPPERLIG
  • DELAKTIG
  • DELAKTIG
  • NOCKEBY
  • LIDHULT

15. Err on the side of comfort

Seriously, while IKEA has some cool designs, they aren’t comfortable.  When it comes to a sofa that you actually plan to sit in and nap, err on the side of comfortable.  There are a good number of both stylish and comfortable couch options there.  That was a selling feature of the EKTORP for us – it’s comfortable (for an IKEA couch).

16. If getting an IKEA sectional sofa, ensure all sections securely join together

I like the big u-shaped IKEA sectionals.  They’re pretty comfortable.  They look good.  However, we don’t own one but I can tell you from experience of buying other sectionals that you must ensure the section secure together well.  I have a sectional from Sears and for the life of me I can’t figure out why didn’t come with hardware to fasten the three sections together.  Drove us nuts, although now it’s fine because the kids love moving them around so it’s part toy, part sofa.

17. Schedule time for an IKEA meal

Ha ha ha, I love the food at IKEA.  Whether breakfast, lunch or dinner, for the money, it’s a great deal.  I’ve been known to get two dishes.  They aren’t the most amount of food, but it’s cheap so even two dishes is less than one dish elsewhere.

Their in-store restaurants are cafeteria style.  Try avoid busy times like weekends because the lines can be outrageously long (as well as no available seating).  We go at off-times so we can zip through the food line, eat and rip through the IKEA maze.

18. Check Craigslist

If you’re buying a sofa at IKEA as a temporary furniture solution, it might be worth checking Craigslist for used sofa, IKEA or otherwise.  Sometimes you can find really great finds for very little money.  Even if you have to rent a truck or pay for delivery, it can be worth it.  It doesn’t cost much to rent a U-haul for a few hours, so consider this a viable option.

19. Check IKEA’s discount room

We pop into IKEA’s discount room on every visit.  I think it’s where they sell returned items.  Some of may be slightly damaged from delivery.  The point is the stuff in this room is super, super cheap.  The inventory varies all the time, but you never know when you might see something you want or need and it’s there costing way less than it would otherwise.

20. Don’t expect it to last a lifetime – be realistic

IKEA is as successful as it because it offers value.  By value I mean you get what you pay for and then some.  In IKEA’s case, you get stylish home furnishings for not much money.  You even get somewhat okay quality for some of their product lines.

What you don’t get is furniture that will last a lifetime.  But then you don’t pay for that either.  You really need to be realistic about what you’re getting.  Yes, some of their furniture is sturdier and will last longer than other items, but for the most part, don’t expect that your IKEA couch will be the last couch you ever buy.

We’ve already had our Ektorp for 4 years and I’m happy about that.  If it falls apart in the next month, I’m content I got my money’s worth.  Of course, Ektorp sofas are one of the cheapest options at IKEA so I really can’t expect much.  But even if I spent $1,000, if it lasted me 10 years, I’d be really happy with that.



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