Flatpack Nightmares: The Five Most Common Assembly Mistakes Customers Make

It’s tough out there. A home and garden war zone. According to research by Oak Furniture the UK would appear to be a casualty-strewn flatpack battlefield.

East Anglian citizens tend to be the most cautious – or lucky? – with only 6% sustaining an injury during the construction of a furniture piece”, they tell us. With “West Midlanders the most accident prone”, nearly 18% getting a bump on the head.

The Scots and Yorkshire folk aren’t too far behind with 15% on the receiving end of something unpleasant.

And it’s not just skin and bone that ends up damaged. Relationships suffer too with, “Heated arguments between friends and couple leading to the abandonment of nearly 18% of UK flat-pack projects.” Particularly in Northern Ireland where 33% of residents admit to having a bust-up over the assembly (or non-assembly of a product).

The report continues, “Others admitted to ‘needing help from someone with a better understanding (of flat-pack assembly) to help’, struggling with ‘Foreign instructions’ and ‘realising they were totally cack-handed’. 55% of people have abandoned flat-pack furniture products due to them being too difficult to complete”.


Hardly surprising madness though as according to research only half of 18-24 year olds even read the instructions. Of those over 55, a more credible 77% do the right thing.

Common Mistakes

So what are the five most common assembly mistakes that customers make?

  1. First and foremost has got to be the one just mentioned. Failing to read instructions. Maybe home assemblers can’t be bothered to start with, maybe they lose them, maybe they simply fail to understand them or the instructions are unintelligible. Whatever the reason the results are invariably less than ideal. A long, slow, frustrating and sometimes painful flatpack fail.

Advice: Read the instructions. Pay attention. Follow. Or find someone who knows what they’re doing.

  1. You know the old adage - ‘A bad workman blames his tools’? They do. But if the tools aren’t right for the job in the first place the project is surely doomed to fail. Rather than just steaming into an assembly take a little time to gather the right tools for the job. The right sized screwdrivers, a hammer perhaps, a pencil, a spirit level. Chances are you’ll get some sort of allen key with the pack but is an allen key all you’ll need to get that wardrobe or chest of drawers up and running? Probably not.

Said Abraham Lincoln, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” The guy had a point. Preparation, preparation, preparation.

Advice: Prepare. Sharpen that metaphorical axe.

  1. And your preparation should also extend to location, location, location - making sure that when you’re ready to assemble that you’re doing it with sufficient room to man- (or woman-) handle pieces of wood, swing a hammer and generally get your creativity on. If you’re constantly having to shift other furniture around or find yourself working at weird and wonderful angles, constantly struggling to find the elbow room to get the job done, then you’re likely to get frustrated. What might have been difficult project in the first place can end up impossible.

Advice: Clear some suitable working space.

  1. ‘If it don’t fit don’t force it” sang Kellee Patterson a long time ago. Wise words Kellee, wise words. Wise words that too many flatpack assemblers are only too quick to not take heed of. Shoving, pushing, whacking and smashing furniture together into ways it really isn’t designed to be shoved, pushed, whacked and smashed. If it feels wrong, it probably is. And anyone who doesn’t think that a piece of flatpack furniture hasn’t been meticulously designed, fabricated, tried and tested should think again. It has. That’s why if you follow the instructions properly it fits together properly. It’s a natural law - whatever our frustration might tell us on occasions.

Advice: Sometime you can try too hard. You don’t have to. Just try right. Go with the flow and trust the fact that many, many people will have properly assembled the exact same piece before - you can too - just believe.

  1. The fifth piece of advice? Time. Make sure you have sufficient time put aside to your assembly and don’t end up trying to hammer through it. The last thing any piece of furniture needs is to be rushed. You’ll quickly end up in forcing it territory. And remember, if this is your first foray into flatpack or if it’s something that doesn’t come naturally, or if you despise it and are only doing it because there’s nobody to do it for you then you’ll need more time that someone experienced or with a passion for assembly.

Advice: Delegate to save time and sanity.

Because yes -  as odd as it sounds, people who can help do exist. Experienced, passionate, professional  flatpack furniture assemblers, ready and waiting to leap to the assistance of anyone lacking the time, tools, space, confidence or simply the will to do it themselves.

As luck would have it. We have a team of them. Country-wide and primed to solve your flatpack frustrations. What they don’t know about flatpack assembly, the intricacies, the pitfalls, the preparation really isn’t worth knowing. What they can achieve for you quickly, cost effectively, politely and professionally certainly is.

Advice: Drop us a message or call.

All the money saving, design benefits of flatpack with none of the hassle. Simple.