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How To Make IKEA Kitchen Cabinets Look Built In (and 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 more built-in rather than freestanding. How do you do that? You install a filler panel between or around your IKEA cabinets. IKEA does sell filler panels but you can also make your own filler panels to suit your Ikea PAX or Ikea Akurum cabinets.

IKEA Pax filler panel, IKEA Akurum filler panel

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 filler panels anywhere to give IKEA freestanding cabinets a more custom look. We did just that with the IKEA PAX cabinets in our nursery


We added DIY Ikea Pax filler panels beside and along the tops of the cabinets and painted them the wall colour. Itss a small detail but one which creates a much more finished look. You can see what the nursery looked like before here.

How do you install filler strips for IKEA cabinets?

Installing a filler panel is not difficult and can be done by even a novice DIYer. You can use this method for your IKEA kitchen cabinets or 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 for your filler panel - it doesn't need to be IKEA! 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, but if you prefer your filler to match the cabinet, then definitely use some thing from IKEA 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.



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.


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.


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.

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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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