Our Top 5 Tips for Building your PAX

While it’s still fresh in my mind, I want to share with you the top 5 things we wish we had known before assembling our IKEA PAX wardrobe.


1. LEVEL GROUND: It’s tedious, but once you’ve built the frame, make sure each piece is level as possible. Before making any adjustments to one, find out which piece is the most level, adjust it, and then adjust the level of the others next to it.

We had some trouble with this because our floor boards in our old building are not totally even, and we got it as level as we could…but it will most definitely make your life easier later if you make sure it’s level from the beginning and you probably won’t have to adjust the doors as much once you put those on.

2.  OUTSIDE BEFORE INSIDE: We thought it might be easier to put in the shelves before putting on the doors. Wrong! Not only did we have to remove and replace drawers at several points during the door assembly process in order to screw things on, but the planning we did to carefully space out shelves went awry due to the sliding door frames and dampers! I’d wanted to put the large KASSETT boxes on the very top and now they won’t fit past the door frame. Luckily, the smaller ones still fit, but it threw a monkey wrench into my plans! So, remember: doors before drawers!


3. FOR GLASS DOORS: REMOVE STICKERS! We thought the ID stickers on some of the  glass panes would be covered up by the aluminum frames around it. Some of them were. But one stubborn sticker was placed just a little further in and you can see it on the final assembled door. Not a big enough deal to take the door apart and try again, but still kind of annoying seeing that little edge sticking out. Use rubbing alcohol to remove it more easily before putting the glass into the frame.

4. USE A POWER SCREWDRIVER: We don’t know what we’d do without our “zzzzt”, as we affectionately call our little power screwdriver. If you don’t have one, it is totally worth buying one for this project. Trust me. You won’t regret it!


5. LAUGH AT YOUR MISTAKES! This is the very most important tip I could give you. The process definitely wasn’t easy, and I will admit that I was frustrated to the point of tears at the very beginning. The reason? Because I had missed a page, causing us to end up with an entirely finished section with four wooden pegs that were supposed to go in back at step 2. Putting them in after the fact would have involved taking the entire thing apart. Luckily, it seemed sturdy enough without the pegs and we decided to just move on.

Especially because I may be a little extra hormonal these days (ahh, pregnancy!) I didn’t want to feel that frustrated with every problem we came across. So I decided that the next time something went wrong (and it did!) I would laugh at it. This is especially important for keeping the peace with your PAX assembly partner.

When we had finished, I gave Tobias a high five and joked that our relationship had survived building a seriously huge piece of IKEA furniture without any major disagreements or fights. That is totally a sign that we’re in it for the long haul. :)

In the end, you’ll probably look a little something like this:


That’s the face of someone who’s pretty exhausted from the effort, but extremely proud of what he’s accomplished. It will be awesome!

Edit September 2014: Just had to come back here and update on one more thing I wish I had known before building our PAX! If you have sliding doors with mirrors and regular glass panes…and you plan to use the mirrors to get dressed in the morning…then make sure the mirror door is on the OUTSIDE instead of the one that slides behind the other door! We liked the look and placement better with the mirrors on the right sides, but it’s totally impractical as far as actually using the mirrors! So keep that in mind!

Anyone else out there have any good tips from your PAX-building adventures?


11 thoughts on “Our Top 5 Tips for Building your PAX

  1. I always organize the screws and shelfs involved before starting to make sure everything is there. It also helps with getting to understand the instructions when you know there are two screws that look almost the same but have different length. :) I also have a small Pax with sliding doors and except for putting on the doors I build them up alone and was really proud afterwards :)

  2. After having used your units for nearly a year, how do the hanging bars hold up? Can they hold a lot of weight, some of our stuff is kind of heavy. Are the bars secure, so the screws go through the side wall of the unit. Are the bars themselves metal or plastic, I’m concerned the weight of the clothes will rip the bar down. Any info you could give will be greatly appreciated.

    • Hello Nicole! The hanging bars hold a LOT of weight…my husband has about 1,000 shirts and suits hanging up there and it seems (to me) quite heavy. They’re extremely sturdy! The bars are metal. Go ahead and hang all the things! :)

  3. I’ve done some PAX assemblies for money. Any time I’ve made a mistake, it’s always my fault ie not following the order of instructions; going too fast, forgetting something, etc. I think the instructions are pretty bang-on. In any case, first thing I would ask them to re-design are the adjustable legs. Those leg crampons, even when hammered in tight, still seem to easily become loose or even fall off with little effort. If your goal is to completely stabilize the unit, then leveling it out with the legs is step one, then anchor it to the wall using multiple points, ideally it’s flush with the wall. However, over time, those anchors will be stressed by all the daily activity of a fully loaded unit. Other anchored-things never have this problem (mirrors, pictures, tv’s) because you never touch them once they’re up. One particular anchoring I did involved L-brackets, with slots instead of holes, to loosely secure the unit to the wall. With daily forces being applied, the unit would sway a bit naturally, and the screws attaching the brackets could move within the bracket slots. Any large sway to the unit (ie toppling forward) would be stopped and to actually topple the unit forward, someone would have to tear out the wall anchors.

  4. I was just looking for some guidance on whether we need to remove the lights before installing the doors (guess we will have to) and stumbled across your blog. Funny I didn’t even have to search for my entire situation: American new mother and German husband installing IKEA Pax wardrobe with sliding doors. We should compare notes about the rest of life here sometime :)

    • That’s funny! So what did you find out? Did you have to remove the lights after all? We don’t have any lights in ours, but it would be good to know! :)

      I love hearing the stories of other people in similar situations. Let’s definitely compare and chat sometime! You’re not in Hamburg by any chance, are you?

  5. I know this is an old post, but I cannot find any help in house to get the pax sliding doors to close all the way. The left side closes at the bottom added not the to. The left door also doesn’t open fully, thanked you that little door stopper thing. Ski there is moi way to get into the drawers on the left side. 😕

    • I wish I could help you, but it’s been long enough that I have absolutely no recollection how to do it! :) I’m sure you’ll understand that it’s not something you’ll build often unless it’s part of your job. Your issue does sound annoying. Have you tried contacting IKEA for help?

  6. Just found this as I start building two double PAX wardrobes and was specifically interested in whether the doors should go on before the internal fixings. Thanks for the tips.. :)

  7. So we have two pax units and have been using them for years without doors. We’d like to put sliding doors on now. So “doors before drawers”, lol, are we going to have to take all our shelves and drawers out? Can the drawers still be in the very bottom of the unit or do they interfere with the slides?

    • Hi Jolene,

      I’m afraid I’m not sure completely, as I’ve ever only put together the one PAX unit 4 years ago, BUT from looking at it now, it seems that the bottom drawers won’t interfere, but the top sliding mechanism did interfere with the height of the boxes I had wanted to put into the top sections of my PAX.

      I wish you good luck, and feel free to update if you like on how it went for you!

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