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We all know IKEA is known for affordable, stylish, and easy-to-assemble home goods. I've furnished my apartment with several products but was recently questioning if I should continue to purchase to maintain quality furniture. I've been aiming more towards quality furniture (trying to get away from cheaper MDF with vinyl coatings) and always thought of IKEA as cheaper but realized some of their stuff is decent. Problem is, I don't know how decent. I usually judge by heft of the product for build quality, material density, strength, and durability. I have some of the HEMNES series and they seem pretty solid (granted I've had the oldest piece for <6 months). My coffee table was on the cheaper end (I forget the series). I certainly feel I'll have to replace that within several years even if decently maintained (due to surface damage and wear and tear).

I also heard IKEA is doing a buyback/trade-in service which they'll give credit for items and recondition them (if profitable) for resale, which given how some people treat furniture as disposable items, this seems like a good incentive. I also appreciate their minimalist and 100% recyclable packaging.

Should I keep using IKEA for furniture? Should I only use their higher quality furniture sets? Or should I go for even higher-quality builds like hardwood pieces from a furniture store? Anyone have furniture pieces that have lasted years in good condition?

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    I feel that the questions you ask at the bottom are rather subjective and make your question broad. Can you please specify what exactly your criteria are here? Are you looking for furniture with a very low overall environmental impact, or are you more concerned with climate-change and deforestation for example? – THelper Nov 21 '18 at 14:33
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    Mainly quality and durability, so ultimately lifespan. What I'm getting at is, I'm used to seeing cheap Ikea products made of cheap MDF, and practically treated as disposable furniture. But I've been shown that some is actually decently rigid and made of more robust yet unspecified materials like hardwood. So despite the percieved build quality, is Ikea a good long-term furniture company? Will even the pricier options break in a few years? Am I better off buying something else? – Greg Nov 24 '18 at 8:09
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The overall environmental impact of furniture is largely determined by three factors:

  • Material source;
  • Transport distance from source to consumer;
  • Product lifespan.

A sustainable furniture product is therefore made from sustainable materials (certified wood), locally produced and long-lasting. If you have any businesses in your area that make high-quality products from locally (and sustainably) sourced wood, that would be my first pick.

IKEA is by far the world's largest consumer of wood for furniture production (making it highly efficient), and sources its wood from sustainable forestry (FSC certified). Depending on your location the transport distance can be considerable, as most of IKEA's wood comes from Eastern Europe, China and Russia. The lifespan of IKEA products is indeed dependent on its quality, but a big plus is that most products can be disassembled, allowing for multiple service lives. Higher quality IKEA products that can be disassembled would therefore be a good second choice.

  • Thanks. That's pretty much what I'm looking for. Are you aware of people with long lasting IKEA products? For whatever reason, everyone I know either gets rid of theirs or simply hasn't had theirs for long. – Greg Nov 24 '18 at 8:10
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    you need to know older people. My IKEA stuff is all about 30 years old and can't be told from brand new, except some of the pine has that "aged pine" colour. – Kate Gregory Nov 25 '18 at 14:49
  • I've got an old "Ivar"-shelf (which I painted twice when I got it 18 years ago) and it still is in good condition. I also have a couch table from full wood for about 14 years now, it received the same treatment and probably will last another 14 years - at least. – Erik Nov 27 '18 at 14:18

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