Saturday, April 06, 2013

IKEA VIKA (Table Bar) Desk Review

They've changed the name. No longer will you purchase a VIKA table. Now, you will stand before the Table Bar and order yourself a table top and some legs. It's moo-licious.

Customization and modular products are Ikea's signature. Being able to plan, pick, and choose what you want is a very nice feeling: I made that. Putting it together and not failing is just icing on the cake. The VIKA, I mean Table Bar, is the ultimate ego pleaser. The variety of table tops and legs are huge. Different sizes, different designs, different materials, and mucho mucho pre-drilled holes that are hard to screw up -- some don't even need screws!

However, what really attracted me to the VIKA system, when it was still called that, was the low price. I have owned two VIKA tables -- three actually, but I pawned one shortly after buying it -- for relatively long periods of time and I got my first because I was too cheap to upgrade my GALANT. Outside of home, I have worked at a small business that was furnished by Ikea and my desk was a VIKA. It was actually a pretty good working surface: stable, lots of surface area, and a good height.

Let's go back to the system for a minute though. Now known as the table bar, Ikea has been adding more and more components over the past years. You can now get glass table tops, multi-coloured trestles, adjustable legs, cabinets and shelves, and fancy legs. There is also a stainless steel design, which I thought of getting once. I ended up getting one U-leg because I thought they would be more stable. Unfortunately, I didn't pay attention to the width of the legs and my table was too narrow, so it ended up going back.

My first VIKA table was a cheapo fiberboard table with a black-brown top and the cheapest unadjustable legs available. Think it came out to $50. For the second one, I went fancy schmancy using real wood -- and the cheapest legs I could find. I pawned the first one on Craigslist, so now I only have the wood table, which will be what this review focuses on!


1 VIKA FURUSKOG ($59.00)
4 ADILS Legs ($16.00)
Current Cost = $75.00


Four legs and a table with pre-drilled holes. This was a very easy to put together table with only one major "hub". The legs screwed into the mounting plates, and the plates were screwed onto the table. There were four screws per leg and I only needed a single Philips screwdriver for that. Flipped the table on its back, put the legs on, flipped the table over, and I was set. The table flipping part was done with two people to avoid the risk of breaking something.

Below is a view of the underside of the table. Don't freak out about that metal strip: I didn't do anything with it. Hope I didn't miss anything. I'm guessing it's for support or for something else I know nothing about.

Ikea VIKA Underside

You get what you pay for. If you have an uneven floor, the VIKA system might not be your friend. Both tables I owned (and the third I pawned) were terrible. I couldn't and still can't write on them without making them dance. Actually, I think I switched back over to GALANT because my latest VIKA table was dancing a storm up just from typing. I even tried typing and writing as gently as possible. This was all after leveling the legs with cardboard, which usually works.

If you do have level floors, then this might be a great table. Otherwise, getting a more stable leg system for a modest premium would probably solve the problem too. However, I noticed that the trestle and shelf/drawer units do not appear to have mounting screws. The online instructions seem to suggest that the table top is held on by rubber tabs sitting on top of them. Display models at the store seem to confirm that suspicion. Doesn't seem really safe, but maybe I'm missing something.

Expandability / Customizability

The Table Bar system is the king of customizability and expandability. With customizability, you can swap out legs to trestles or shelves with actual storage space when you need to, or switch from shelves to legs when you need room under your table. The same is true for table tops if you get tired of looking at the same colour all day, or the one you're using gets damaged. Cable management racks can also be screwed on below.

When you outgrow your table, you can expand quite easily. The system has interchangeable parts and what appears to be leg/support systems that may not even use screws. Swap your table top with a larger one very easily and pretty cheaply too. Go from wood to glass or even steel if you want.

Everyday Use

It stays up, but with my uneven floors, the configuration I chose with four separate legs just doesn't work. I was never really happy with my first VIKA, which I used to support my computer. The table vibrated a lot and I hated it. My second table was the same, so I went with a GALANT that is stiff as a corpse. The second table now holds up my receiver and random items, but I never would I dare use it as a desk for productive tasks. It's been relegated to being an elevated surface.

The good thing is that my second VIKA is wood, so dust doesn't really show up against the light surface. Unfortunately, being wood and not smooth laminate/paint, Swiffer pads get caught on the wood and do not slide across it smoothly. A duster or tissue/paper towel would probably work fine though.

But like I said, you get what you pay for and the stability problems can be fixed for a small premium. Just be aware of the potential problem. It's a great system, just possibly on the more disposable side.


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