In this post, we’re sharing everything we learned building the Ikea PAX closet system, including:
- helpful tips for assembly
- ways we hacked the PAX for a custom size
- how to cover Ikea PAX holes
- alternative rod options
- must-have accessories to purchase
- overall impressions
Also, check out our blog post about how we came up with our closet design including total cost and tips for designing a narrow closet.
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For reference, we ordered the 13” depth option since our walk-in closet is pretty narrow and the 93” height to maximize vertical space.
Our closet had the basic builder grade wire shelves that were not functional at all and had tons of wasted space. The first thing we did was take these down and patch all the holes.
HELPFUL TIPS FOR ASSEMBLY
- We assembled all the DRAWERS FIRST (because we had a lot) and had to wait for drywall patches to dry anyway, BUT it was very satisfying to install the drawers right after we finished building the frames!
- RATCHETING SCREWDRIVERS are a lifesaver!
- We found these highly rated ones on Amazon and it’s been a game changer! These save time and effort for any project in general!
- One Philips and one flathead would be even better, then you don’t have to switch between the heads since you need both per drawer.
- The wall anchors that come with the PAX units DON’T come with screws so you’ll need to get your own based on what material your wall is. We had many drywall anchors left over from our other mounting projects, so we already had them on hand.
- Use PAINTER’S TAPE to mark out which holes the drawers, accessories, and shelves will be going in.
- I did this while Timmy worked on installing other parts.
- On the Ikea PAX planner online, it will include a summary of the hole numbers based on your design. I printed it out to reference during the build.
We appreciated that Ikea includes screws to line up adjacent frames so that there was no gap between each frame. Ikea recommends using a BAR CLAMP to hold the frames together while you drill and screw them together.
Helpful Tools For Assembly
CUSTOM LENGTH HACK
Can you really cut the Ikea PAX frame? The answer is YES YOU CAN!
In our closet, we have a little nook in the corner that was half an inch less than the 29″ frame. We were a little unsure if it would actually work to CUT the frame in order to fit but it actually turned out really well!
CUSTOM FITTING THE PAX FRAME:
Cut the top and bottom portions to size (we left around 0.5 – 1 inch of extra space just in case)
- TIP – use painter’s tape for a cleaner cut (shown below)
- Use at least 5 screws to secure the pieces into place both at the top and bottom. The frame still felt very sturdy.
- The more time-consuming part was cutting the backboard to size after (couldn’t really figure out a great way to do this but used a box cutter to get it done)
TOOLS YOU’LL NEED:
- Measuring tape if that’s not obvious 🙂
- DRILL & DRIVER to drill pilot holes and drive in screws for the custom-cut side
- SPEED SQUARE for marking out perpendicular cuts
- We don’t have a table saw (too big and too expensive), so we use a CIRCULAR SAW and a TRACK to cut wood, and we’ve had good results using this method! It’s not exactly the best way to do it, but it gets the job done.
TOOLS FOR CUSTOM FITTING
How To Cover The Holes
The product to cover the unused Ikea PAX holes is called VARIERA COVER PLATE and is found in the kitchen department near kitchen accessories. It’s only $1.29 per pack of 100 covers!
Tips for Covering Ikea PAX Wardrobe Holes:
- I bought extra bags just in case. You honestly don’t NEED to cover every single hole, but we ended up doing just that because it wasn’t that much more work. Just make sure your shelves and everything are in their final position.
- It saves so much time to line it up along the hole and use anything that has a soft backing to punch in the cover (we used the back of pliers). This way, it detaches from the chain while getting pushed into the hole at the same time.
- At first, we broke off the cover and THEN pushed it into the hole with our thumbs, which we don’t recommend because your thumbs will get sore very quickly!
BEFORE COVERING HOLES:
AFTER COVERING HOLES:
You don’t have to use the Ikea rods!
We bought these CHROME OVAL RODS from Amazon and cut them to size. At the time, they were selling a set of three 48″ rods for $29, so for around $10 each it was equivalent to the price of IKEA WHITE RODS also priced at $10 each. For a little extra work, you can achieve a much higher-end look.
We placed the closet rod a little farther back than where the pax holes are so that our clothes wouldn’t protrude out too far. Basically, you can just measure where your hangers would go and decide how far back you want it. You’ll have to drill new holes for the rod if you do it this way, but it’s worth it to gain some extra space, especially if you have a tight closet like us. For us, our rod is placed 3 inches from the front of the unit.
CUTTING THE RODS TO SIZE:
- For the 39″ width frame, we measured and cut the rod to 37 5/8″
- For the 29″ width frame, we measured and cut the rod to 27 11/16″
These are listed for reference, but be sure to measure it out yourself too!
The rods don’t come with screws either. We used 3/4″ tapered screws to make sure the screws wouldn’t come out the other end of the frame.
CHROME RODS FROM AMAZON
must-have PAX accessories
PULLOUT PANTS HANGER
I had read some reviews that said the pants fall off easily, but I did not find that to be true unless you’re truly slamming it back in, which I don’t know why you would be!
for jewelry, wallets, and other flat or smaller items. I also used pullout trays for multiple levels of shoe storage as well!
A LOT OF DRAWERS
To achieve a clean look (aka to hide your messes better) utilize as many solid drawers as possible! The more drawers you can use the better. We have 17 total drawers in our closet, with the top row being glass drawers.
I’m including the height measurements here because this would have been SO helpful for me to know while deciding how many drawers to choose prior to ordering! This measurement includes the shelf that would go above the drawers too.
- Height of 4 stacked drawers – 35 1/2”
- Height of 5 stacked drawers – 43”
- I thought they were a little pricey for what they are, but I felt they were pretty worth it since they fit nicely in the drawers.
- FYI there will be a little gap at the back of the drawer, which can be viewed as wasted space but I was okay with it since I did like the overall look and functionality.
- HOW TO BEST ASSEMBLE:
If you’re not using enough organizers to fit the whole span of the drawer, the organizers will tend to get a little loose. These felt organizers come flat and you fold it to set it up, so I found that by pressing down hard on each fold FIRST before building it helped to maintain its shape without getting loose.
So, How Long Did It Take?
- The first frame took a lot longer to complete, but it definitely became faster the more familiar we got with the process, and by the 5th frame we built it in 30 minutes!
- 1.5 hours to assemble all 17 drawers
- Definitely set aside a whole weekend to get it done, including all the prep if you have to remove existing shelves/rods and patch holes
Our Finished Closet
- It is a lot of work to set up and assemble, but these kinds of projects are a good bonding activity haha. We had fun figuring out how to work efficiently as a team!
- Some of the pull-out trays and drawers tended to stick a little when pulling out and had a lot of resistance at first, but the more you use it the smoother it gets. Within a week, they all felt very smooth.
- Our favorite part about the PAX are the soft-close drawers! They all come with this feature for no extra charge.
- We actually ended up really liking the PAX system! It’s a great value for the amount of customizable parts that you can get and is very cost-effective for achieving a “built-in” looking wardrobe. We would definitely use the PAX for future closets!
SUMMARY OF TOOLS MENTIONED:
If you want to read more about how we came up with our closet design including total COST and tips for designing a narrow closet, CLICK HERE!
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