Flatpack Furniture Health and Safety

The first thing most people notice when their flatpack furniture arrives, or when they load the boxes into their car, is how heavy those boxes are.

To give you an idea, a double wardrobe, without doors, drawers or any extras, weighs about 63kg or 10 stones. A chest of drawers might easily weigh the same, depending on how many boxes it comes in, but today I’ll concentrate on wardrobes.

Your first issue, then, could be moving the boxes into the room where you want to assemble the furniture.

Of course, you must keep children away from the boxes and at a safe distance while you’re working and you should dispose of polythene carefully.

Assuming you’ve got the boxes where you want them, or the nice delivery people did it for you, the next issue is unpacking the boxes while leaving yourself enough room to work. A double wardrobe is about 2 metres high by one metre wide and about 60cm deep and you will need to assemble it on its back or side, so you need at least that much unimpeded and carpeted floor space, plus enough room to get around it and usually to turn it at least once.

Give yourself enough room to work or there is a real danger of hurting yourself or damaging the furniture or decor. An area roughly three metres by two metres (or10 feet by 6 feet) is the minimum. If the back is fitted by sliding it in before the bottom panel is added, as with some Ikea units, you may need a longer working space, up to four metres long. You can sometimes take advantage of a doorway for this step.

Otherwise, you will probably have to turn the wardrobe from its side to its front so you can pin or screw the back on. This turning process is best done by two people, or one person with enough room and strength to turn the piece without damaging it, the decor or other items of furniture. Some wardrobes are quite flimsy and easily damaged until their backs are fitted.

Once the back is fitted the wardrobe will need to be stood up and moved into position. There’s a good chance some other boxes will be in the way, so you might need to move those first. Be very careful when you stand the wardrobe up. If the bottom end is near a wall you will need to pull it towards you as you lift, to avoid scraping the wall.

Remember how heavy the wardrobe is: get properly set and bend your knees while keeping your back straight, make sure you have a firm grip with both hands so you can control the furniture and lift it without it twisting, and don’t let go when it’s ‘nearly there’. Try to lift it in one smooth movement and such that it ends up as near as possible to where it will finally stand.

Once it’s upright the wardrobe will need to be moved into its final position and levelled. Usually, levelling is done by means of screw-in feet adjusted by an Allen key through a hole in the base panel. Once level you can fit the doors, although a ‘run’ of several units might need to be levelled and bolted or screwed to each other first.

Hinges are usually pre-drilled and rebated (one half fixes to the door, one to the carcass) so will just need screwing in place then screwing or clipping together. You may need someone to hold the doors in place while you do this or you may be able to manage on your own. There’s no prize for being too proud to ask for help.

You may need to drill for handles, especially if several handle options are available. Take care with the drill and protect the door, the floor and your fingers. Watch your fingers when you attach the doors as well, and note that doors are quite heavy too.

Sliding doors come in a range of designs but they’re all pretty heavy, and you will often need a clear, carpeted floor area to put them together first. Lifting a heavy glass or mirrored panel sliding door onto its runners without damaging anything can be very tricky and time-consuming, and therefore extremely tiring.schreiber wardrobes are heavy

If everything is level you might not need to adjust the doors but be careful they don’t foul on each other or any drawers you might have fitted. You should be able to get an even gap all round.

Above all, take your time, take care and always read the instructions! They, and the advice here, should keep you safe.

Or you could just call in a professional.

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