Tuesday, May 14, 2013

IKEA GALANT Desk A-Legs and T-Legs Review

You've decided on an Ikea table, but you can't figure out which leg type to buy. They both hold the table up, they're both height adjustable, they essentially cost the same, and they both match the GALANT look pretty well, so what's the deal? Honestly, it'll probably come down to aesthetics in the end, but why not look at them in a bit more detail?

An Ikea GALANT Desk with a T-Leg and A-Legs
In my Ikea GALANT desk review, I managed to write a book about the desk, how I very much like it, and have had years of experience using one (two actually). The bummer is that I only have experience with A-legs. I'd love to go out and blow $40 on a T-leg (edit: did it, see "Related"), but I'd prefer to have a table to attach it to, and that's just not in the books right now because I have nowhere to put another desk. A lost and unloved LAIVA desk would attest to that. Due to my lack of knowledge, I've done a little bit of research instead, so hopefully you will find the info there to be somewhat helpful. See my guide at the bottom of this section.
Price: $20 per leg (both grey and chrome versions)
         $80 per rectangular table

Ikea GALANT T-Leg 

Price: $40 per leg (grey only)
         $80 per rectangular table

If I remember right, it used to cost more to use T-legs than A-legs. Not entirely sure about that, but the good news is that you no longer have to worry about that. For a simple rectangular table with two supporting ends, it'll cost you the same.

Real-estate Under the Table

A-legs sit at an angle; hence, the name. They're good in that they leave a wide open "doorway" under the desk. You could fit a really small cabinet between them, run cables through simply, and crawl through if you're building a fort.

T-legs form an upside down "T". To utilize the real-estate under a desk optimally, an A-leg is my preferred choice. The cross of the "T" is very close to the floor, but there appears to be some clearance under it, which could allow for the routing of cables through it. Without experience using them, I can't say if you would have to lift the table or not to fit the socket end of a power plug through that gap. Then again, you could always just loop the cable over the base and create a mild tripping hazard. Having a big stick go down the middle of the side of your table makes it a bit difficult to crawl through or put a smaller cabinet between.

To utilize the space under a desk optimally, I would prefer the A-legs.

Height Adjustment Mechanism

As you may recall, all GALANT legs are height adjustable. The locking mechanism in the A-leg should be a rubber "stopper" attached to the top of the lower tube. It should expand when turned within the leg and grip the interior wall of the upper tube. Check out the picture below to see what I mean: there's a narrower lower tube and a thicker upper tube. The lower tube, in the ones I've used, works like a screw in that you unscrew the bottom one from the top. Unfortunately, you may be able to unscrew too far and no matter how many times you turn to tighten it, it will no longer tighten -- I've done this. Lucky for me, I realized that I didn't blow $20 and I could actually fix it relatively easily.

If you're like me, you might start getting paranoid about a rubber grip holding up the table and all the expensive stuff on it. The good news is that I have never had a leg "fail" despite years of use -- anecdotal evidence. On Ikea's website, you will find that the A-leg has a "Max. load: 132 lb", so it should be pretty well built. Sapping the confidence away is the T-leg's rating, which is also 132 lb there. Was that a screw up, or does it mean that four A-legs can handle more load than two T-legs on the same table? Or does it mean 132 lb per table? No idea. I'll play it safe.

If the height adjustment mechanism of four A-legs or two T-legs failed in quick succession, the table may just drop down to the height of the outer/upper tube. The total height adjustment possible for both legs appears to be about 12" according to the maximum and minimum heights on the website for each leg. However, if the steel frame/legs or connections between parts failed, the entire table could collapse and hit the floor. On the other hand, if only one or a few strategic legs failed, you could have a nice slide for everything on top of the table. I'm just going to not think about it, tighten the A-leg thoroughly, keep the height down, and hope for the best.

Ikea GALANT A-Leg Adjustment Point and Height Markings
I have no first hand experience with T-legs. However, way back when, I remember going paranoid about A-legs and how they would probably fail easily. The end result was a fierce lusting for the T-legs, which I almost ended up buying, but decided to pass on because I had A-legs from an old table sitting around. So, did my paranoia have any merit? Are T-legs better designed and better supported?

Instructions were not available for T-legs on Ikea's website when I looked. There were, however, some "how to" guides on the interwebs. I found two with conflicting information. Both reference the use of an Allen key to adjust a screw. Supposedly, one would turn the screw counter-clockwise to unlock the lower tube from the upper tube. Turning it clockwise would tighten the two tubes together again at your desired height. The conflict lies in the adjustment procedure between locking and unlocking.

Unassembled GALANT T-Leg
A guide at eHow suggests that you unlock the tubes, lift the upper/lower tube to where you want it, then relock.
Another guide at InfoBarrel suggests that you unlock the tubes, then turn the lower base tube clockwise or counter-clockwise to your desired height, and lock the screw back up.

The difference is that the first guide makes it seem like the two tubes are loose, easily collapsible like the A-leg when loose, and supported by a screw. If the legs were screwed into each other like the second guide suggests, then the T-leg sounds more sturdy than the A-leg. The important lesson here: I need to buy a new GALANT table with T-legs.

 ***Edit: During a "new table coveting" session, I went to look up some L-shaped Galant desks and noticed that the table tops I looked at had instructions. Check out the official instruction manual and go to the page where it shows how to adjust the height of the legs (p.g. 40 or the last page for me). The diagrams suggest that you just use an Allen key to turn the adjustment screw and the height will change, sort of like a jacking system. Or it could be saying to turn the screw to unlock it, then manually lift/lower the leg, and relock it. Must buy one...

****Edit: Bought the T-leg, I like it more than the A-leg, and the height adjustment mechanism appears to be more secure. See "Related".

Inner Tube of GALANT T-Leg
Maximum Height
If you do need a very high table, note that the A-leg, according to the website, is rated to be adjustable between the following heights: 23 5/8" to 35 3/8". The T-leg is good between 23 5/8" to 32 1/4". Clearly, the A-leg can stand higher by about 3". If you look closely, that means both leg types have around 12" of potential height adjustment with the A-leg ahead having more room.


The T-leg appears to be stronger, but the A-leg extends higher and leaves more usable space under the table. Either way, if one leg fails, with A-legs or T-legs, the table could tip over with everything sliding off. The likelihood of that happening if the tables and legs are used "properly" and within the specified limits? Something to think about. If you're really concerned, look into a VIKA desk with non-adjustable legs.


Ikea BEKANT: Is the GALANT being replaced?
Alternatives to Ikea GALANT Desks

IKEA GALANT Office Planner Tool Impressions
IKEA Laminate Flooring Review
IKEA VIKA (Table Bar) Desk Review - Alternative modular desk system from Ikea.