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Making IKEA Cabinets Look Expensive (Hint: Use DIY Ikea PAX Filler Panels)

by - Tuesday, July 24, 2012

With HandyMan on vacation this week, much progress has been made on renovating the laundry room. We're using Ikea for the cabinetry but, as with most of the Ikea we've used in our home, we like it to look built-in rather than freestanding. "Built-in" implies custom and this detail will make IKEA cabinets look expensive instead of a budget buy.

So how do you make IKEA cabinets look built in? 


You install a filler panel between or around your IKEA cabinets. IKEA sells what they call coverpanels and decostrips but you can also make your own IKEA PAX filler panels or IKEA SEKTION filler panels to suit your cabinets. IKEA filler panels will take your cabinetry from looking off the shelf to looking custom made for your space.

IKEA Pax filler panel, IKEA filler panel, IKEA SEKTION filler panel, make ikea PAX look built in


How to Make IKEA PAX Look Built In

Filler panels are typically used with kitchen cabinetry. You most commonly see filler panels used at the ends of cabinetry, to hide gaps between the cabinet and the wall, or at the tops of cabinets to hide gaps to the ceiling. Yet, you can use IKEA filler panels anywhere to give IKEA freestanding cabinets a more custom look. I'll explain how to install filler strips between IKEA cabinets and the wall. This simple IKEA PAX hack can make IKEA look like an expensive solution, like we did with the IKEA PAX cabinets in our nursery

IKEA Pax filler panel, IKEA filler panel, IKEA SEKTION filler panel, make ikea PAX look built in

We added DIY Ikea Pax filler panels beside and along the tops of the cabinets and painted them the wall colour. You can install filler strips between IKEA cabinets, or between IKEA cabinets and the wall, the process is still the same. It's a small detail but one which creates a much more finished and professional look. You can see what the nursery looked like before here.

We needed a similar solution for our laundry room where we were installing IKEA SEKTION cabinets. Creating IKEA SEKTION filler panels would be just the same.

How do you install IKEA filler panels around cabinets?

Installing a filler panel is not difficult and can be done by even a novice DIYer. You can use this method to create filler panels for IKEA SEKTION cabinets as well as for IKEA PAX. It doesn't have to be for IKEA either - this DIY filler panel solution works for any project where you have a gap between or around your cabinets. 

1. Find your materials to make the filler. Measure and cut your filler. 

IKEA sells various sizes of filler panels but sometimes you need to DIY your panel. The IKEA As Is section is a good place to look if you can't find a ready-made filler panel. You can make a filler out of things like toe kicks, cover panels, or flat doors. But really you can use most any material, not just IKEA, for your filler panel. We usually just dig into our MDF scraps to make our fillers. We planned to have this particular panel painted the same colour as the wall so the texture and colour didn't matter. But if you prefer your filler be visible and match the cabinet, then definitely use some thing from your same IKEA system to make the filler piece.

2. Make the cleats. 

A cleat is the supporting strip of wood that sits behind the filler panel. It provides stability and something for the filler to adhere to. You need two cleats: one attached to the side of the cabinet, and one attached to the wall. For our cleats, we used 1/2" thick pieces of wood. Measure the depth of your filler panel (we used 1/2" MDF) and set the cleats that distance back from the face of the cabinet. We used carpenter's glue to attach the cleat to the wall and held it in place with painter's tape while the glue dried. You'll also notice we have one cleat running horizontally. Since the underside of this cabinet is visible, we put a filler piece to hide the underside of this gap as well.


IKEA Pax filler panel, IKEA filler panel, IKEA SEKTION filler panel, make ikea PAX look built in

3. Attach the filler panel to the cleat. 

Again, we used carpenter's glue to adhere the filler to the cleat. The filler likely won't be touched much so glue is strong enough for this application. Nailing in the cleat is not necessary.

IKEA Pax filler panel, IKEA filler panel, IKEA SEKTION filler panel, make ikea PAX look built in

4. Fill in any gaps with paintable silicone

Oh, DAP, you hide so many secrets :) You don't need to be perfect in cutting your filler piece. As well, if your wall isn't straight, don't struggle with getting the cut just right. Instead, just rely on silicone to hide the seams.

IKEA Pax filler panel, IKEA filler panel, IKEA SEKTION filler panel, make ikea PAX look built in

And there you go - the cabinets look much nicer, don't you think? If you notice, we also have a filler panel running along the tops of the cabinets, to hide the gap to the ceiling. Without the filler panels, these IKEA cabinets would seem like they're 'floating' but now they feel more substantial and built in. It's amazing how such a small detail can enhance the look and feel of a room.

IKEA Pax filler panel, IKEA filler panel, IKEA SEKTION filler panel, make ikea PAX look built in

***

Update: Click on over to see how the finished laundry room turned out!

IKEA Pax filler panel, IKEA filler panel, IKEA SEKTION filler panel, make ikea PAX look built in

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2 comments

  1. lipstikevents1:03 PM

    I love the look of built-ins. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Filler panels are my best friends! We used them on our billy bookcases here http://www.kristensams.com/from-billy-to-built-ins/

    ReplyDelete

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