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'I saved £4k with the IKEA PAX wardrobe hack and you could too'

You could save big by DIY-ing your own wardrobes with this IKEA PAX hack

DIY wardrobes
Rachel Avery
Homes Editor
May 11, 2023
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Buying a house is expensive and renovating a house doesn't come cheap either so you may be looking for every way you can save which means turning your hand to a spot of DIY. I was a complete novice before I bought a property, and now I'm not too bad (even if I do say so myself).

When decorating our master bedroom, I knew right away I wanted fitted wardrobes, but knowing that they cost a bomb, DIY was the only route considered. 

IKEA wardrobe PAX hack

We didn't get a quote for bespoke fitted wardrobes at the time, as we always knew that would be out of the question but looking at Checkatrade, the price is an average of £4,800 for a six-door wide wardrobe. To be honest, with the cost of tradesmen increasing, I think you could even get quoted more. 

Here's how we completed our wardrobes for under £800 and how you could too… 

IKEA PAX hack wardrobes step-by-steps

Measure up 

If you've heard the saying measure once, cut twice, remember it – it's a wise one! Measuring your space is so important so make sure you're really accurate with the tape measure. Also, it's worth noting that no walls or ceilings are ever perfectly straight so your measurements can vary along the space.

Buy the interior carcases

IKEA wardrobe PAX hack

Once we measured up, we used the interactive tool on IKEA's website to help us decide which interiors to buy and which shelves, drawers and rails we would like. Of course, you could make this part yourself but as IKEA is so affordable it really does make sense just to buy it and brave the flatpack. 

Build out the area

Once your interiors are up and secured to the wall, it is time to build a framework around your wardrobes as this will be what you stick your top and bottom plinths to. You can build a base for under your carcases if you want, if you wanted to add a tall piece of skirting at the bottom, for example, but we just placed ours straight onto the carpet. You can get quite cheap timber from B&Q to make stilt type pieces to fix between the top of the wardrobe and the ceiling. I also used MDF panels to extend the sides of the wardrobes, so it looked as though they seamlessly continued to the ceiling. 

IKEA wardrobe PAX hack

Buy your doors

If you're looking for a floor-to-ceiling finish, chances are standard doors won't be tall enough, so it means making your own. While it sounds scary, it really isn't too bad. Measure out the height and width (leaving a 2-5mm gap for clearance on each measurement) and you can get B&Q to do the hard work for you as they do five free cuts before you have to pay. Even then, it's only 50p a time so totally worth it for perfectly straight pieces. We chose 18mm thickness MDF for our doors which gives them a heavy, more luxurious feel. 

Add your hinges 

I'll be honest, you've made it to the hardest part, but after this, it is smooth sailing. We purchased ScrewFix hinges that are countersunk which means they actually get embedded into the surface of the wood. You'll need a wood drill to create a circle in order for the hinge to sit into. Calculating where to drill the hole is the hardest part. I'd recommend using a scrap piece of wood and applying one hinge then using that as a template for the rest once you get it right. 

IKEA wardrobe PAX hack

Hang the doors

Once your hinges are screwed on, you can screw in the plate to the side of the carcase. We needed to drill holes for ours as the ones in the IKEA interior didn't work with our measurements, but you could be lucky. This part is definitely a two wo(man) job as one will need to hold the door and the other will need to clip on the hinges. Don't be alarmed if the door looks wonky and out of line as the hinges are fully adjustable in multiple ways so you can get the perfect fit. 

IKEA wardrobe PAX hack

Perfect your panelling 

I found the panelling quite straightforward. I bought decorative strips from B&Q, used a plastic mitre box and hand saw to cut them at angles and stuck them on with No More Nails glue. Caulk up any small gaps you have at this stage. 

IKEA wardrobe PAX hack

Add your handles

One of the easier jobs. Measure up, drill a small hole, use a spirit level before you drill the next one and then screw in your handle. Stand back and admire the beauty! 

IKEA wardrobe PAX hack

Top and bottom plinths 

To cover the top and bottom sections of your wardrobe, you have multiple options. This can be done with a wooden panel or even coving. We chose MDF in 12mm as it was nice and light to be stuck on with glue. As our ceiling wasn't straight (the joys) I needed to jigsaw the top piece, so it was bigger at one end. My cutting wasn't at all straight but a line of caulk across the top and it looks great. 

IKEA wardrobe PAX hack

WARNING: DIY house projects that could lose you money

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Paint job

Depending on how much you love or loathe painting, this bit will either be fun or hell. We used the new Dulux Simply Refresh Multi Surface Paint as it didn't require any primer. We needed four coats for the perfect finish as the paint does sink into the MDF but I'm so happy with the results. Top tip – if you accidentally get any paint on the metal fixtures on the wardrobes, use nail varnish to remove it - it gets it off easily. 

IKEA wardrobe PAX hack

Price list

IKEA wardrobe carcases £495
MDF for doors £37 x2 = £74
MDF for plinths £31
Frame wood £4
Wood for panelling £7.47 x 8 = £59.76
Hinges £32.99 x 2 = £65.98
Handles £4.99 x 6 = £29.94
Paint £22.99 x 2 = £45.98 (gifted)
Caulk £1.34 (already had)
Sandpaper £5.30 (already had)
Wood glue £2.20 (already had)
Gloss roller sleeves £3.99 (already had)
Paintbrushes £5.99 (already had)
Mitre box £7.40 (already had)
 Wood drill bit £10.40 (lent from a friend)

Total cost: £759.68 

Your shopping list 

IKEA PAX carcases and internal drawers, rails etc 

Wood for doors MDF 18mm 

Wood for plinths MDF 12mm 

Timber for frame

Decorative wooden strip



The Amazon ones I bought are now out of stock but here are similar ones





No More Nails 

Gloss roller sleeves



Mitre box

Wood drill bit

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