Buying Furniture Online: Fully Assembled or Unassembled? – RetroWorks

Buying Furniture Online: Fully Assembled or Unassembled?


Why it makes sense to buy fully assembled furniture on-line.

Whenever I tell people that my online business makes retro industrial furniture, the question I get asked the most is: “Is it delivered unassembled?”  What I feel like saying is “no, we’re not a Swedish big-box furniture store!” What I usually end up saying is something along the lines of “some of our pieces have over a hundred fasteners and need to be meticulously squared, levelled and painted, none of which we would expect our customers to do.” 

industrial bookcases online fully assembled

“We’re not a Swedish big-box furniture store.”


We’ve been so well trained by big-box retail to assemble furniture we order on-line that most people expect allan keys, funky fasteners and cartoonish instructions.  In terms of cost, shipping furniture fully assembled is not that much more expensive than it is to ship it unassembled. Shipping costs are based on both weight and volume.  Whether a coffee table or bookshelf is packaged fully assembled or in parts its weight is the same.

industrial bookshelf packaged for delivery

Buying furniture fully assembled is not just about saving you the time and trouble of putting it together yourself - some people even pay a handyman to assemble furniture for them – it’s about an investment in a higher grade of furniture. For one, furniture that is designed for its components to fit into as small a box as possible and as well as to be easy enough that even the most mechanically challenged of us can put it together tends to be very basic stylistically.  Fully assembled furniture, on the other hand, is unlimited in the materials, shapes and styles that it can take on. Most importantly though, there is usually a significant quality difference between unassembled and fully assembled furniture.  DIY furniture is generally of low durability, is easily damaged and typically lasts a few years whereas fully assembled furniture is designed to last a lifetime. 

So, when you’re ordering your next coffee table, bookshelf or end table on-line, remember that while it’s a fact that fully assembled furniture costs more, you get what you pay for.

Jamie Filman is the president of RetroWorks, a maker of vintage style industrial furniture in Toronto, Canada.

Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment