Buying flat pack furniture is an affordable and stylish way to furnish your home. But is it right for you? What are the environmental impacts?
We summarize the advantages, disadvantages, and sustainability features. There is also a special sale for our readers below!
1. Affordable and Easy to Transport
- Flat pack furniture is affordable. Traditional furniture requires costly labor and carpentry skills.
- In contrast, off-the-shelf furniture is mass-produced by machines from inexpensive materials.
- Additionally, it is cheaper and easier to transport for the end-user because it is pre-packaged in a box.
2. Available in a Variety of Colors and Styles
- Flat pack furniture comes in a lot of designs, colors, and sizes. You are bound to find something that matches your style and taste.
- Furthermore, most manufacturers offer entire sets to help you furnish a room and keep a consistent look.
3. Lightweight and DIY Friendly
- Flat pack furniture, sometimes referred to as Medium Density Fibreboard ("MDF") furniture, is made of lightweight engineered wood.
- As a result, it is easier to shift around if you are redecorating and take with you if you move to a new location.
- Furthermore, it is easy to dismantle if you need to take it apart.
- Most importantly, the assembly doesn’t require any specialized knowledge. You can put it together yourself or pay someone to do it.
1. Lack of Distinction and Limited Customization
- Flat pack furniture is far from unique. You may find that your friend has the same bedroom set as you.
- Your choices come with limitations. You must purchase what is available in the store without having a say about the design or the size.
- As a result, it is harder to find a piece that fits an unusually-shaped space or that matches your specific preferences.
2. Lack of Durability
- Flat pack furniture is not durable. The wood is often cheap and lower-quality.
- As a result, off the shelf furniture doesn’t last as long as traditional furniture.
- Usually, the drawers cannot hold excess weight and the furniture tends to gets damaged easily. Similarly, the engineered wood is not water resistant and can swell or break if a liquid spill on it.
3. Quality Control Headaches
- Sometimes tools or parts from the kit are missing or damaged, causing headaches and extra time and effort.
Flat Pack Furniture Sustainability
1. Lack of Durability Leads to Quicker Replacement and Limits Secondhand Use
As mentioned earlier, MDF furniture is not durable. You will probably have to replace it every few years, requiring more energy and resources.
Moreover, it is harder to prevent wear and tear on flat pack furniture. It is hard to use again after it breaks.
2. Materials Can Be Eco-friendly, But it Depends on the Manufacturer
Off the shelf furniture contains medium density fibreboard, that is comprised of inferior wood and off cuts from sawmills.
Some eco-friendly manufacturers use waste wood to create medium density fibreboard.
However, other manufacturers use formaldehyde-based glue to bond the wood fibres. Formaldehyde-based glue is toxic and can harm the environment.
“The final product is not that eco-friendly because a formaldehyde-based glue is often used to bond the wood fibres together. On the good side, efforts are made to produce SDF, which is made by using a less toxic type of glue, called MDI.” - Thomas / Flat Pack Mates
3. Large Factories Usually Have a Bigger Carbon Footprint
Although manufacturers try to use eco-friendly materials, their factories usually have higher emission levels than a small carpentry studio would. Nonetheless, they are improving.
For instance, IKEA is taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint.
4. Transport Distance
The manufacturer transports the products in bulk to the end-user. who might be located far away. As a result, the furniture is less sustainable than locally produced hand-made furniture.
Flat-pack furniture is low-cost and easily accessible, but it has some disadvantages. Its mass production process hurts the environment. However, manufacturers are trying to use non-toxic adhesives to create more eco-friendly MDF materials from recycled wood.
We hope that manufacturers will keep making improvements and flat pack furniture sustainability will become the norm!
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