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On assembling an Ikea PAX wardrobe

We recently decided to install a pair of Ikea Pax wardrobes in our bedroom.

Reasons for the decision: well, they fitted into the niches on either side of the bathroom door remarkably closely, and we could get mirrored doors, just like the ones in our last house.  So we ordered on-line the set of parts we thought we needed (and accidentally twice as many shelves as we wanted, it was easy to miss that they came in pairs).  That was two 201cm x 100cm x 60cm PAX plus four doors, with four sets of hinges.  All good so far.

While we were waiting for the delivery, we found and watched a good video on YouTube about the assembly.  It was amusing, looked easy, and the video gave some good tips.

So here’s what we found that annoyed me (I can be easily annoyed).  First – the supplied diagram didn’t point out important alignment issues (and in some cases, neither did the video).  It also showed different configurations than we had ordered, which made checking the alignment of parts harder than it needed to be.

The video did make it clear that the initial assembly, consisting of two sides plus top and bottom and the two bottom boards, had almost no structural integrity; the Ikea instructions didn’t make that clear enough.  What gives the little rigidity that the structure possesses comes 90% from nailing in the backboard.  When the box flexes, as it will because it can’t stand upright unsupported, the dowels fixing the bottom boards will pull out and/or break.  I would suggest using some PVA glue to help hold it together, although we didn’t try that ourselves (too little, too late!).  At that point things may go south rather rapidly.

Don’t place any lateral pressure on the frame until the back is nailed in place; it must stay very close to a right-angle at all four corners all the time.  Fail to do that and dowels will snap, fittings will pull out and even fibreboard will break.

Another untried suggestion from me would be to add a few (four per wardrobe) right-angle braces to the middle of each corner.

Next point belongs to the door hinges.  First, the big half of the hinge attaches to the door, and the small half to the frame, as the video makes clear.  We managed to get the lesser half (on the frame) the wrong way around at first: the answer is that it has a small chevron pressed into the middle of the hinge part, and that chevron should point towards the door.  If the parts are correctly aligned, and you match up the door side of the hinge before the read side, the hinge will snap together with very little pressure.  If this isn’t clear, try to assemble a hinge before attaching it to the door.  There is a small lever at the back of the hinge (facing towards the rear of the wardrobe when in place) that will let you disassemble it easily.

 

{ 27 } Comments

  1. Mike Gerrard | June 12, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Hi – found this through Google as we’ve just done the same, but have a problem in that the doors don’t align properly. I can see how to move the doors in and out and left and right – but we need to move one door up or down a little. The instructions don’t make it at all clear how to do this, with their funny little diagrams. Did you have this problem? I got to the end of your blog and wanted you to carry on!

  2. paul | June 12, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks! I don’t think there is much adjustment for the doors; I believe that you can fiddle with the hinges to move the doors in or out, but the wide spacing of the pre-drilled holes in the side pieces makes up/down adjustments tricky.

    Our doors were adequately aligned after assembly, hence the lack of specific comments – although we had trouble getting the door handles placed so that each side met up accurately.

    If the doors are crooked, then is it possible that the frame isn’t properly square? I can see that could easily end up crooked.

  3. Mike Gerrard | June 12, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Paul. And we haven’t yet tackled the handles…

  4. May Atkins | August 16, 2011 at 4:16 am | Permalink

    So our pax came crashing down on us. You are absolutely right there is not structural integrity at all. I am quite pissed. Our pax completely fell over and the dowels broke and the pressboard is completely ruined. $90 bucks down the drain.
    I’m going to go to Ikea in the morning and see if they can help us find parts or perhaps return it. The instructions were not clear at all.
    Wish me luck.

  5. paul | August 16, 2011 at 4:19 am | Permalink

    I’m sorry to hear that. Good luck.

  6. Daniel J | May 6, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    I found couple of Pax related videos on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYMYrWV2FDI&feature=youtube_gdata_player,
    hope you will find usefull.
    Good luck.

    DJ

  7. Amber | May 22, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    Just bought the PAX on Sunday and tried assembling today. As we were trying to lift it, the entire structure gave out and is destroyed. Should have read more before attempting this…

  8. Jeff | May 30, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Same thing happened to me last night. The big 93 incher PAX fell down on top of me and is completely ruined as the particle board crumbled at each peg position. Nothing in the instructions to warn me of this although it does become quite obvious when the pieces are piled on top of you that this needs to be handled very carefully. Thought about getting another Pax frame for $100 but think I will just return all of the other pieces I bought to go with it and figure out something else with less particle board and poor engineering.

  9. Lynn | July 14, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Me too! I actually blamed myself but I see I am not the only one to find this confusing. The alternate instructions (for low and high ceilings) were confusing and while I assembled the first one correctly the second one broke. I went to Ikea to try to get help and they recommended I buy a second one. I opted to pony up for their services in assembling it. They are here now but their work order didn’t include either attaching it to the first wardrobe nor anchoring it to the wall (which is NECESSARY) nor (as I had asked) installing the sliding doors which I requested and (from these posts) looks to be very tricky. This stuff is just too heavy. The guys doing the installation are huge. I’m going to have to have someone come back to help me with the doors. I called Ikea to complain and the customer service person said “she agreed that anchoring the wardrobe to the wall should be included in assembly” but the guys told me that they did it for another customer, and got in trouble for it.

  10. Emily | July 16, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Nothing challenges a relationship more than assembling Ikea cabinets! It has been over three years since we bought our house and assembled all of our Ikea kitchen cabinets, so we had forgotten how much fun it can be. After much swearing, we finally got the Pax wardrobe frame put together… We added the doors and they stuck out an inch from the frame. After convincing ourselves they gave us the wrong hinges, I found your blog and figured out that we had also put the hinges on backwards. It looks great now! Thank you!!

  11. nicky | August 7, 2012 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    Thank .

  12. Sue | August 25, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Why not get it installed by the professionals instead of trying to take notice of any tv show or diagrams. It is not the item it is a lot of times the idiot that cannot put it together properly but pretends he knows everything.

  13. paul | August 25, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Sue, Ikea furniture is intended and designed to be assembled by us poor folks :-). It should be idiot proof, and as you can tell from the comments (and the initial post), there are some stages that could be improved by either better documentation, or stronger components.

  14. Monarca | October 7, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    I bought a Pax for my son and I HATE IT! We cannot stabilize it on a carpeted floor, cannot align the doors no matter what/how we tr y (yes, the hinges are on correctly). Worst of all, we don’t have a stud to attach it to within the allowable space we have. Even with all the shelves in it is so unstable that I am afraid to let my teen use it. I’m willing to pay another $90 just to get it out of my house.

  15. johnson | June 23, 2013 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    PAX and Ikea stuff is crap. while assembling my PAX wardrobe, i got to the point where you hammer in the star nut for the leveling legs. it was flush and when i screwed in the leveling leg, the star nut was already wobbling. i pulled on it and it came right out. i put the board back down and hammered again and completely crushed the particle board. the corner then just came off in my hand. I cannot believe that this design has ever been successful. there is no way a star nut is going to stay put in particle board. what a piece of crap. i’m returning all of the other pieces i purchased. i think i’ll just stay away from ikea. any extra cost for good furniture will be well worth my quality of life.

  16. Sparkes | February 25, 2014 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    I am looking to order the PAX wardrobe with one door but it doesnt make it clear if the door hinges are included for online delivery. Their number is constantly engaged and my email hasnt been responded to. It says the hinges are included in the price but need to be ‘picked up seperately’ this isnt very clear for an online purchase!

  17. Daniel | December 18, 2014 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    The hinges are $10 the door is $25 the total is $35. I went to the store and they had to help me find all the separate parts.

    I plan to also include right-angle braces inside to stabilize.

  18. Rich | December 21, 2014 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    One tip, if you have hinged doors:

    The printed instructions don’t show this but would have saved me time, is to find the hinge placements before you stand the unit up. Lay the door next to your Pax, alight the hinge locations, screw in the locations in the Pax unit, stand the unit up, and then later you can mount the door.

  19. Kate Brown | December 10, 2015 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    Check for the placement of hinges BEFORE installing drawers, etc. We thought it would be easier to install the drawers and shelves without the doors in the way – we ended up having to move 4 out of 8 to install the hinges. Pretty poor that there is no recommendation on this prior to install –

  20. Rewind | August 18, 2016 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Pax ,yes if you think the old system was crap buy the new version and cut into it.Each side wall is a strip of particle board about 2 inches wide made to hold the the screws and pins for interior shelving,the inside is basically corrugated cardboard with the thin laminate holding it all together.They call this sustainable enviromentally friendly, green by using recycled paper and sawdust.It is way lighter and more fragile but it does work.Engineered for sure.As far as lasting?Not with kids around.Looks pretty and they certainly make interesting add-ons.

  21. john | October 2, 2016 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    I went to the store with my truck to buy everything I needed but they said they do not stock the cabinets and It cost $80.00 to deliver. Also you may want to read the fine print about delivery. I should have left the store and choose my other option, but I bought it. $580.00 it cost me. I did not know that it is just fiber board. The cabinet weighs about 30#. The 2 doors (with mirrors) weigh about 60# each. I do not know how well this is going to work. The instructions are the worst ever. I should have spent a couple hundred more and had a custom cabinet made that would last a lifetime, this will probable not last a year. I will say to everyone, do not buy these pax systems. But if you do not heed my warning then you better make sure you anchor it to the wall very securely. Worst money I ever spent!

  22. Lesa | February 3, 2017 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    I did an entire 11’x11′ room room into a custom closet/dressing room all with IKEA PAX built entirely by myself and my 20 year old daughter. It took us the better part of two days, but that included six large cabinets with loads of custom interiors. The only parts I find difficult are attaching the ridiculous door hinges. The rest is very simply detailed in the instructions. This was back in 2014 and I just sold the house last month with this room being a huge selling feature! I am in the process of doing it all again in my new house. If properly built and secured (both to the wall and each unit to others if side by side) the system is quite stable and can last years.

  23. Alline Cone | March 11, 2017 at 1:27 am | Permalink

    Hi Lesa! My dad and I are doing a pax wardrobe wall in my master bedroom this weekend and we are trying to figure out the best way to flush mount them to the wall and to each other… I don’t have belaseboards so the units can push all the way up to the wall but we want to make sure they are stable and secure!! How did y’all do it? Or do you have any suggestions?

  24. Mel | December 1, 2017 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Well we must be the lucky ones. We’ve just assembled four Pax wardrobes to cover a complete wall in our bedroom. They went together without any problems, and we anchored them to the wall, as in the instructions, and then used the small bolts (supplied!) to join them at the front. No gaps no twisting and the doors fit perfect with help of the adjusting screws on each hinge. Read the instructions first before you charge ahead thinking it can be done five minutes.

  25. Kim Griffin | December 18, 2017 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Do you need to leave clearance on either side of the PAX closet for a hinged door to open? Or can it be flush up against the wall on both sides?

  26. paul | December 18, 2017 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    I have about 4 inches on either side of my Pax, but the hinges don’t take up any extra space as you open the doors, so you should be ok with no gap. Of course, you would have better access to the inside if you can open the doors wider, but it isn’t required.

  27. Sandy | July 7, 2018 at 3:13 am | Permalink

    Hope I’m not late to the pax party. Just assembled 3 236 cm monsters. I totally agree withyou paul regarding thestability of the boards. DH and I assembled it and connected the 3 together and took the help of a hadwoodinstaller who was installing hardwood stairs in my place , to drill the wardrobes to the wall. He used a power drill which i found out too late that we should not be using to tigten the nail. So thecenter 2 boards have a small V at the top. The top boards did give way and i had to tigten them again. I guess the installermust have shook the rightangle position of the board and nai)ed it in the wrong angle.
    Shoot, why cant ikea give the right angle brackets like you say to hold the sdeboads in place. It would make things so much easier. The installation pictures for vikedal door frame is so dumb. I guess they should start adding youtube videos by their personnel for the educated instead of pics.
    The wardrobe seems prettyfirm and doesnot budge. I hope t does not slack out and fall over us as we have the bed just beside it.
    Well now im stck withthe sliding door install which is so confusing. Tryng to find the hokksund door install videos.

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