Installing Ikea Pax Doors as Sliding Closet Doors (Ikea Hack)

Be sure to check out our follow-up post on this project, answering some FAQs!

Way back, I blogged about our 2012 kitchen renovation. In that post, I mentioned that we had gotten rid of some hideous metal bifold doors on two side-by-side closets in our kitchen.

Bifold doors in closet

We had no good follow up solution for doors. Neither did our kitchen contractor. Or some other contractors we brought in to look at them. It was like some great mystery.

The biggest issue was that we didn’t want bifold doors again. The closets were small, and any bifold door, when open, seemed to take up like two-thirds of the opening. Meaning it was difficult to reach things in the closet, even when the bifold door would be open.

Below is a super old picture that I took in the days we were moving into the house. You can see how the metal bifold door blocks an annoying amount of the closet door opening.

Bifold doors in closet

Another problem was that our closets had no overhang. The closet door opening went completely from floor to ceiling. This seems to be very unusual. There’s always some sort of drywall or framing at the top of the closet door opening. We didn’t have that, making it very difficult to find doors to fit the opening. We were also hesitant to frame in any part of that opening at the top. We loved having easy access all the way to the top of the closet.

Here’s a photo that more clearly shows how the closet opening goes from top to bottom:

Closets with no overhang

Since there was no overhang, sliding doors or barn doors were also out as an option. We brought in about two or three contractors, including a DOOR SPECIALIST, who had zero ideas for what to do, except perhaps making custom size bifold doors. (The standard 6 feet and 8 feet doors wouldn’t work. The opening should’ve fit 8 foot bifold doors … if we did decide to go the bifold doors route again.  But since we had hardwood floors installed during the kitchen renovation, that changed the height of the opening to like 7 feet 10.5 inches or so. No longer a standard size!)

So, our pantry sat open, with no doors, for like 18 months after our kitchen renovation.

This closet issue started getting on my last nerve. #FirstWorldProblems.

Thanks to the layout of the house, you can see the pantry as soon as you walk in our front door. It’s like greeting houseguests with, “Hello, welcome to our home, LOOK AT OUR PANTRY CLUTTER.”

Finally, we decided that there was no other solution than to frame in a portion of the upper closet opening. Luckily we were able to make it nice and small, still giving us decent access to the top shelves, but it is harder (er, impossible) to fit anything large up there anymore.

We opted for Ikea Pax doors, thanks to their design, sturdiness, and most of all, reasonable price tag. (Have you ever priced custom size sliding doors? Holy Hell. How about SIXTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS? The two Pax doors, and all related supplies, cost us about $400. Score.) Ikea Pax is a wardrobe closet system that Ikea offers.  Typically these doors would be attached to a wardrobe (like a piece of furniture) that you’d buy along with the doors.  But we only purchased the doors, not the wardrobe.

Using Ikea Pax Wardrobe System Doors as Sliding Closet Doors (Ikea Hack). Easy DIY project!

 

Drywall Framing for Closet Overhang

The bulk of the Ikea Pax Door installation involves a top track. Well, since our closet had no overhang, we needed a structure to mount the track on. We enlisted the help of Ken’s stepdad, who is a handyman, to do the framing, since that was well out of our comfort zone (especially if we wanted it to look nice).

I’m not entirely sure about the terminology here, so I’m just going to describe what was going on.

First, his stepdad purchased some lumber materials and built a framing “box” that was the width of each closet door opening. He then installed it at the top.

Building framing for drywall addition for closet overhang Framing for drywall in closet overhang

Here’s what it looked like from underneath:

Drywall framing

Then, he cut the drywall pieces to size and screwed them to the new framing. This also involved some metal corner/edging pieces.

Screwing drywall to new framing Attaching drywall to new framing

Next up, he put a layer of mud on it. He had to get going, so we waited for the mud to dry, and then did the second layer of mud ourselves and then sanded it and painted it. (Not pictured). I’ve gotten damn good at patching drywall holes, but wow, mudding an entire new drywall surface was difficult!  I made a mess of that second coat of mud. It was really uneven, even after sanding it down. Especially where the framing meets the ceiling.  In the future, I can definitely foresee getting that repaired professionally. It doesn’t look bad from a distance, but it’s one of those things that I KNOW IS THERE.

Before sanding and painting though, we made the drill holes for the Ikea Pax Doors top track, in case we messed up, we wouldn’t have to patch the paint again. Also, we assumed we’d be bumping into and scuffing that section as we installed the doors. Hence the unfinished paint in some of the pictures below that depict the installation

Customizing the Ikea Pax Door Top Track

First, we had to remove a “lip” from the Pax door track so that the track would sit flush against the wall.

We followed a tutorial to remove the lip that we had found on a website called Ikeafans. As I went to look up the link for this blog post, I saw that Ikeafans shut down at the end of 2014. How sad! But, I was able to pull an archived version of the page from archive.org. Check it out here (note that archive.org is sometimes slow to load).

However, the person in the tutorial mentioned they used a hacksaw to remove the lip, and that it took about 1–2 hours. We used a Dremel at first, and it still was taking forever!

We clamped the top track to a folding table (which serves as our workbench!) so it wouldn’t move.

Cutting lip of Ikea Pax door top track Cutting lip of Ikea Pax door top track Cutting lip of Ikea Pax door top track

Then we started using the dremel to remove the lip. After about 20 minutes of work, this was the only progress that had been made. (Don’t worry about the scuff marks. This side of the track faces the wall, so you don’t see the marks).

Cutting lip of Ikea Pax door top track

We decided to whip out some bigger guns. The reciprocating saw. This made the job go MUCH faster.

Using reciprocating saw to cut top track of Ikea Pax Using reciprocating saw to cut top track of Ikea Pax Using reciprocating saw to cut top track of Ikea Pax

 

Installing the Ikea Pax Doors as Sliding Closet Doors

Then, we installed the top track on the new closet framing overhang. Then we also hung just the frames for the Pax closet doors on the track to made frames slid well on the track.

Installing Ikea Pax Doors as Sliding Closet doors Installing Ikea Pax System as Sliding Closet doors Tracks and frames for Pax doors

Side note: We have purchased a LOT of stuff from Ikea over the years. I mean, like, a lot. Bed frames, dressers, shelves, desks. You name the furniture, we probably have an Ikea version of it. So, please take my word for this. These Pax doors, when assembled, where the HEAVIEST THINGS WE’VE EVER PURCHASED FROM IKEA. Maybe from anywhere. Like almost-impossible-to-maneuver-heavy.

We had actually assembled the Pax doors earlier, and went to test them out on the top track, and it was almost too heavy to move around for testing purposes. So, we removed the glass panels from the door frames and just used the frame itself to test out sliding. It worked fine! The metal frames are light and easy to pop in and out of the track.

Afterwards, we popped the empty frames off the track and then installed the class panels in the frames, using the instructions that came with the Pax Doors. Then we carefully moved the doors into the kitchen (wow, heavy!). Thanks to the heaviness, we did have some trouble getting them on the top track. It took quite a few tries (including a few periods of rest where one of us would hold the door steady while the other took a breath). This is definitely not a job for one person.

We had opted for the “Sekken” style, which was frosted glass.

But once the doors were on the top track, they slid beautifully and we were now able to cover up our pantry contents!

Ikea Pax doors as sliding closet doors Ikea Pax system as sliding closet doors

I was so happy to have this project done. It finally felt like our kitchen was complete! We had done our full kitchen renovation, followed by our DIY Ikea Banquette, then this Ikea Pax Sliding door project! It finally felt like our kitchen was a finished product!

Have you had any troublesome closet doors in your home? What solution did you come up with?

13 Comments

  1. Anni   •  

    I knew you could use these doors other places, but I could never figure out how people did it. Looks like you have a surveillance camera pointing at the pantry – is that to catch late night snackers? LOL Thanks and great job.

  2. PaxFan   •  

    Thanks for posting! Did you use a floor guide? Do the doors swing without these?

    • Melissa   •     Author

      At first, we didn’t install a bottom track. It worked pretty well, but it did bump the wall occasionally. We eventually did install a bottom track, and it glides much more nicely now. We’ll post an update explaining the bottom track!

  3. Guillaume   •  

    I’m very interested to see how you managed the bottom rack too. This is EXACTLY what I was looking for ! I’m very happy that I can choose one of those gorgeous PAX sliding door ! Gotta love the fact that my contractor pointed me to an Ikea hack instead of trying to sell me a custom made solution.

  4. Pav   •  

    Your job looks great! I wonder if you have any advice for us about our intstallation…
    We installed the large sliding doors on a closet and now they don’t slide as far as they should in either direction.
    We didn’t think of taking the lip off, probably because we were worried that we needed every bit of strength the track offered – those doors are very heavy!

    Did you install the fuzzy strip and bumper pads? We haven’t done that yet and I wonder if that will make all the difference to the sliding……..though they seem to be stopping against each other’s ‘bumpy’ bits.

    Beautiful job! Cheers

  5. Kim&Kreg   •  

    Hi There,
    Beautiful job. I am also VERY interested in your posting about the bottom track. We currently have installed our doors to our new re-positioned pantry in our kitchen remodel. We followed a few hacks and yours. Since our door opening was pretty close to the size of the 2 doors, we didn’t have to alter much.

    I just noticed we didn’t get any fuzzy strip with ours. I have to go back to Ikea to find out if they still give that because I definitely remember seeing it on the floor model. I would post a photo but don’t know how to here.

    PLEASE update the post to include the bottom track hack!

    THANKS AGAIN!

  6. Phylis   •  

    Such a great idea. I’m doing something similar in my basement finishing–using the Pax doors to enclose an office “guest” room space–so it can be closed off, but open to let light in most of the time. However, I want the doors to be able to move to the outside wall–so as to completely open up the space at times. This will require butting in another rail. Do you know the IKEA number for the rail–I couldn’t see that from the instruction manual, or if something similar exists to serve as a sliding track that can be used to allow the bypass doors to rest on the outside of the opening. Thanks for any suggestions!

  7. Lasse   •  

    Hi! What are the actual height of these PAX doors?? On the IKEA website they just state the height of closets they are meant for. On the product shots they don’t appear to be as tall as the cabinets … Thanks! 🙂

  8. Ivy Hamlin   •  

    I am in awe that you completed this project and it looks great! I stupidly ordered these doors not even realizing they were meant for a wardrobe, not a closet. I finally got up my nerve and put together the outer frame of one door to see what the challenges would be. No dice! And no way to return this purchase of over $300. So I did the next best thing– I put together the mirror door only, minus the top wheels, and I now have a very nice, very large modern mirror in my dressing room.

    One thing I want to mention though– how VERY DIFFICULT it was to put one of those doors together. Yikes. Never again! Granted I am an older lady working alone, but I’m very experienced and competent and I doubt it would have been much easier no matter HOW many helping hands there were. That is one hard IKEA item to assemble!

  9. Reagan   •  

    I see you installed the bottom rail too later. But did you install the metal side stop pieces as well to cover the side gap?

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