Ikea Karlby Desk Review With Hacks and Setup Ideas

This Ikea Karbly desk review and setup ideas list focuses on what can be achieved with a computer desk on a budget. While the Karbly countertop has its use of inexpensive setups as well, most of those considering it are aware of its value for money.

The Ikea Karlby is a butcher block countertop often used for computer desks. It features 2 sizes of just over 74” and 98” to create an elegant desktop that’s also sturdy. You can mount the Ikea Karlby countertop on desk legs or on desk drawer units such as the Ikea Alex drawers.

Ikea Karlby review with desk examples

Ikea countertop desks can last for life due to their impressive quality. We’ve seen a few of them on StandorSit.com before, but now it’s time to dive deeper into the Karlby desk setup and the Ikea Karlby countertop.

  • Materials

The Ikea Karbly desk setup uses a countertop made from either walnut veneer or oak veneer in a combination with particleboards. The layered Karbly desk countertop construction makes it look as if the entire desktop is made out of solid wood.

  • Sizes

An Ikea Karlby desk can have 2 sizes. Both of them work for different setups, particularly to save space or to maximize storage options.

Short Ikea Karlby desk sizes

  • Veneer thickness 1/8”
  • Length – 74”
  • Depth – 25 5/8”
  • Overall thickness – 1 1/2 “

Long Ikea Karlby desk sizes

  • Veneer thickness – 1/8”
  • Length – 98”
  • Depth – 25 5/8″
  • Overall thickness -1 ½”


  • Looks

How does an Ikea Karlby desk look? It comes it a dark walnut or a light oak finish you can juggle to create a desk that suits your needs. Most Karlby desks seen only use the walnut countertop but given it’s often out of stock, new oak setups pop-up constantly.

  • Assembly as a desk

The Karlby countertop is quite heavy and it can sit on desk legs steadily under its weight. If you’re using Alex drawers as legs, you don’t need to be doing any drilling. To avoid scratches, you will only need 4 rubber washers on each Alex unit to keep the Ikea Karlby countertop in place.

  • Warranty

An Ikea Karlby tabletop is a durable choice you can hack into a desk. This is among the most durable products you can find that don’t cost thousands of dollars. Your Karlby setup can last around 25 years as the counter is under warranty from Ikea in this period. Where else can you find such a good policy?

Karlby desk assembly

Assembling an Ikea Karlby desk isn’t complicated. Some belief this to be the easiest desk setup you can replicate at home without getting into carpentry.

The simplest idea to put into practice is to order 2 Ikea Alex drawer units. Available in black and white, these drawer units offer storage and simple setup, sufficient to prompt this desk’s popularity.

Alternatively, you can consider all types of desk metal legs to create your own Ikea Karlby setup. An Ikea Karlby alternative can come from other types of wood for desks such as rosewood or maple.

A few reasons to get the Ikea Karlby for your desk

  • A choice between 2 sizes (highly useful for short or long desks)
  • 2 white and brown wooden counter options made with real wood
  • Easy assembly (no drilling when combined with Alex drawer units)
  • 25 years warranty
  • Laminate backside for easy installation with no help
  • It ships in a box to arrive in mint condition
  • Durable profile that was initially designed for kitchen countertops
  • One of the simplest options for a DIY desk plan
  • Highly useful for fixed height Ikea desks for gaming as well as for standing desk ideas
  • One of the most affordable desk countertops that look like real wood
  • Easy to clean as long as you keep it safe from spills
  • The Ikea Karlby countertop can easily replace an old countertop to give the impression of a new desk
  • Great Ikea customer service to answer all of your questions
  • Endless setup ideas where the Karlby countertop is the main piece of a desk
  • Highly popular in minimalistic setup ideas
  • The main countertop idea on Reddit’s Battlestations

A few reasons to keep looking for an Ikea Karlby alternative

  • You need to drill it down if you want to secure it with screws
  • Ikea Karlby desks need to be stable, especially when creating a standing setup
  • ‘environmentally-friendly means only the top part of the Karlby desk is made out of hardwood

6 Ikea Karlby desk hacks

  1. You don’t need the middle leg if you’re only buying the short 74” Ikea Karlby version
  2. The Ikea Adils leg is a good choice to avoid sag on the long 98” Karlby desk (drill needed)
  3. You don’t need screws if you’re creating an Ikea Karlby Alex desk. The Alex drawers come with 4 plastic feet you can place between the unit and the Karlby desktop
  4. You need a drill to create cable holes on the back of your Ikea Alex drawer unit
  5. Up to 3 monitors can comfortably fit on the 74” Ikea Karlby desk
  6. You can use Ikea’s Signum for cable management

Ikea Karlby desk examples

There are multiple ways to build your Ikea Karlby desk at home. Options are truly endless. The following setups are a good place to start as inspiration.

Ikea Karlby with square legs


This Karlby desk is one of the simplest and most durable setups you can build at home. The square metal legs used here are also very durable. H-style legs would also work to create an equally-stable desk you can type on at speed in full comfort. You can easily use 2-3 monitors with extra room for storage on the countertop with such a desk.

Ikea Karlby Black Alex desk


White Alex drawer units from Ikea are the typical choice for a desk. However, their black version adds a stealth element you can get inspired from. This setup uses the walnut-finish Karlby with good contrast. It would be safe to assume the oak-finish Karlby would have looked even better in this setup. But since all of the accessories of the desk are black, this setup looks flawless to those interested in maximizing their setup design on a budget.

Ikea Karlby desk with Alex drawers


The white Alex Karlby desk with riser legs is equally interesting. It’s about the second most important setup you can create on your own. At the same time, it’s quite important to consider drilling in this setup as the metal legs should be secured with 4 screws each.

Oak Ikea Karlby desk setup


The bright oak Ikea Karlby is among the most potent setups you can consider as an alternative to walnut computer desks. It has a classy look and it certainly gives off the impression of solid wood.


Which Ikea Karlby desk size is right for you?

You need to know what to expect in terms of storage if you aren’t sure which length Karlby to go with. Since there are only 2 options, you need to get the one that mostly suits your needs.

  • The benefits of the short Ikea Karlby desk

The short Ikea Karlby desktop is certainly suitable for bedrooms and small spaces. It still looks great but the price difference is too small to go for it if you have sufficient space.

  • The benefits of the long Ikea Karlby desk

The long Ikea Karlby countertop is suitable for multi-monitor setups. It takes up more than 98 inches but it works for almost any computer setup that requires wide desktop space.

Is the Ikea Karlby real wood?

The Ikea Karlby countertop uses a mix of real walnut and oak. But its base is made using a particleboard section.

Does the Ikea Karlby sag?

The long 98-inch Ikea Karlby can sag if you add too many devices on top. To avoid this issue, many users add a leg in the middle of the counter, typically from Ikea. This leg needs to be screwed to stay in place.

Can I cut the Ikea Karlby countertop?

You can cut the Ikea Karlby countertop. Minimum chippings are a must in this case. The lateral veneer band can be placed on the freshly-cut side.

Are Ikea countertops good?

All Ikea countertops are superb in looks and durability. Most of them are backed by 25-years warranty which recommends them for long-term use as kitchen countertops or as desk countertops.

How heavy is the Ikea Karlby?

The short Ikea Karlby weighs 60.6lbs.