Hackers Help

Published on October 4th, 2012 | by Jules Yap


Hacker help: Pax fixing for renters

Photo: IKEA.com

Materials: Pax

Description: Dear all,

Sorry this is not a hack (yet!) but we’re in the process of buying and assembling the PAX wardrobe. AND here comes the sudden stressing question:

Will the PAX wardrobes fall on us? Any experience? And the reason why this could happen and any way to prevent it (apart from drilling)

Will the use of sliding doors be slightly better than opening doors, or the contrary?

As you may have understood, we’re renters and drilling holes in the wall is a very difficult option. (Apart from the fact we never did, so we might not do it correctly).

I could use fixing straps and nail it to the wall but wonder if this will really prevent it from falling.

So…..any help/advise/scary thoughts (not too much, we’re already worried enough!)welcome.

For the records, 2 of our friends didn’t fix the PAX and are safe for years now.

Our plan is a 2m wide wardrobe + another 1.50m one in another room.

~ Jerry, Belgium

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

41 Responses to Hacker help: Pax fixing for renters

  1. deroby says:

    Bit late to the discussion, but we’ve had PAX in our bedroom for years and even though they aren’t bolted to the wall, they’ve always stood firm. Additionally, we have something like 2-3 cm of space left on top of the unit. So even if I would try to tilt it over, it would simply get jammed between the floor and the ceiling.
    Maybe you could do something similar by adding extra height to the units.. e.g. by bolting some wooden beam(s) to the top…. (Clearly, it also depends how much extra height you’d need to add, on the type of ceiling you have and/or what the expected reaction of said ceiling will be in case of an earthquake)

  2. Anon says:

    I’m going to have to secure my pax wardrobes to the wall since my floor slopes. Problem is there’s a 3/4″ gap at the bottom. A wedge and a peice of toe molding will be needed, but the way i assembled them I set the kick board back and not flush with the legs.

  3. I’d love to know how the room divider turned out — we’re thinking of getting an 8-foot-tall pax for use as a room divider, and wondering whether it’s possible to safely anchor it to a 2×4 or similar along the ceiling or at the side, since only the side will touch the wall. Also, does anyone know if the Pax cabinets off-gas at all (I’m chemically sensitive, and some of the guests are likely to be as well).

  4. Bambi says:

    I have been looking for an answer to this question as well. I recently purchased and assembled 3 PAX wardrobes to use in our converted garage office/music studio. We are using them as a room divider and I would like to know the best way to secure at least the end unit to the wall. We live in very earthquake prone California so this is a safety necessity.

    I should mention although the unit ‘floats’ in the room the side of the end PAX touches the wall.

    Thanks for any help or suggestion in advance :)

  5. IkeaQueen says:

    We have a few PAXs (all are bolted to the walls now).

    - 35cm deep, 1m wide, 236cm high with hinged doors – tipped badly when opened, almost landed on me when we tested it.
    - 60cm deep, 1m wide, 236cm high with hinged doors – a bit unstable before being filled but ok after.
    - 60cm deep, 1.5m wide, 201cm high with sliding (plastic) doors – the most stable, no issues.

  6. Emma says:

    We have 2 Pax wardrobes that aren’t attached to the wall and we’ve never had any problems.

  7. Anonymous says:

    What can I say??? thanks to all of you : it gives a broad range of opinions!!! you’re stars!
    I didn’t mention it but:
    - we plan indeed to put heavy stuff at the bottom
    - we already scheduled to lean the wardrobe i.e. lifting a bit the front part so that the back touch the wall. Btw the PAX system already provides this option with two screws hidden at the front.
    - I also put some cut to size carpet below the Pax: it gave more stability. (we tried with and without)

    Between sending my question and the posting , there was a bit of delay so we bought and assembled one of them in the meantime.
    I totally agree with some of you: this is the last PAX I buy :-) so heavy to carry and I cannot think of moving it again when we’ll finally buy sthg. :-)

    And about drilling holes, yes, flat rental law is different from one country to another. The contracts here are quite flexible: you can do things, but simply you won’t get your guarantee back if you damage too much, and this includes holes.

    Again THANKS a lot for the answers to the poll !
    Jerry, Belgium

  8. Anonymous says:

    I live in Holland and we have a number of Pax wardrobes at home, none of them fixed to a wall and they have been standing there for 4 years now. Not one of them fell over.

    You don’t need to worry.

  9. Lessa says:

    Dear Jerry,

    I live in California, very close to an earthquake fault line. I assume that you don’t have many earthquakes in Belgium. I attach all the big pieces to the walls, renting or not. I have become quite the expert over the year of damage repair. I don’t see why you would have to attach anything unless you live in a dangerous area for trains or such things.

    Best of luck, and I agree with the shimming idea.


  10. Anonymous says:

    I have my Pax standing in the middle of the room as a room divider for a year now. I had no problems so far and it works just fine. Hidden behind the Pax (1.5m wide) is my tiny laundry room, so I walk often behind it I even moved them around just to find a good spot and it all went smoothly without falling apart or falling on me. If you want to move them around, push the bottom part to make sure it wouldnt tilt.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I had two of them, swinging doors 270cm height X 50cm wide, without problems.
    If you are still worried, try to unbalance the wardrobes making the top go against the wall (or at least a little).
    Another tip is to load the bottom shelf with very heavy stuff, thus lowering center of gravity (=more stable).
    Regarding doors, sliding ones give a no-torque solution. In the same sense, mind the cupboards, a heavy loaded one could unbalance the wardrobe (by mean of the torque wcreated when opening it)

    Summing up, sliding doors, no cupboards, thats enough.

  12. Dugleik says:

    If you’re renting you should be aware that taking it apart is a hazzle, I had two pax the last place I lived, took one of them apart, but let the other stay. There was some really ugly marks and scratches on the one I took apart and I ended up covering the entire wardrobe with wallpaper.

    If you go for it, then I would go for sliding doors, even though it’s more expensive it’s worth it with all the space you save.

  13. Mathieu says:

    Pax are like a big fridge, did your fridge ever fall on you?? You got your answer, a pax unit will never fall on anyone even with regular doors open and an bunch of drawers out the unit.

  14. Sam says:

    I’ve never used a PAX, but I have had experience with tall units which normally ‘require’ fixing to the wall. I have two pantries in my kitchen storage area that were sold to be used either as standalone or as attached to the wall. Unfortunately, when empty they tended to tip over with both doors opened. My solution was to get a sheet of 1/2 inch plywood cut to fit the base of each pantry plus a few inches past the ‘front’ of the unit. I painted the portions of the plywood that would be visible (and did a primer coat on the bottom just to make it easier on the carpet) and used wood glue to attach the bottom of the unit to the plywood. This gave the unit a sufficiently large ‘base’ that it no longer had any inclination of tipping.

    If the previous suggestions of “don’t worry about it, mine never has” or “OMG fix it to the wall” haven’t eased your mind, you might consider trying something similar for your PAX. Most big box home improvement centers will cut plywood to order for you, you just buy a sheet and ask them to cut it up for you. I think mine cost $20.

  15. metai says:

    Anonymous: Renting is a whole different story in the US. Renters there are required to ask permission for PAINTING the walls, so I can imagine they are hesitant of drilling holes. Apparantly, US renters can’t be trusted to not deliberately destroy property.

    • Anonymous says:

      A lot of the time it’s less about the renters destroying property and more about the landlords not wanting to do anything at all before getting another schmuck in there forking over money.

  16. metai says:

    +1 on fixing is unnecessary (from own experience, they really stand like a fridge, if you’re not playing Tarzan they won’t topple). And +1 on taking care that they are leveled instead. Pax only becomes wonky or wobbly if it’s skewed in any form. Also, place the back wall carefully and put enough nails into its rim, it’s really what keeps the Pax’s form sideways.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, but what’s the problem with drilling a few holes? Back in my old flat the walls were looking like cheese with holes when I moved out and took everything down from the walls. Seriously, is it not allowed in your country (I live in Germany)?

  18. Kingsizefairy says:

    I have never ever in my life fixed any wardrobe to my wall. Just make sure rigt from the beginning that the floor is plain and the feet are stable. Use a spirit level to make sure it is in balance

  19. prue says:

    I have a 3,50 PAX with regular doors and the individual units are attached to each other but not to the wall. Never had any problems.
    If you have a look at the IKEA website you can look up the weight of the wardrobes and also of the different kinds of doors. You will see that the wardrobes themselves (without the doors) are already really heavy, imagine that adding the weight of the shelves (!) and clothes. I don’t see how that much weight should topple over, especially as the wardrobes are over half a meter deep.
    In case you are still worried, you might consider that the sliding doors are actually heavier than the regular ones.

  20. Anonymous says:

    We have a large pax unit that is not only not fixed against a wall but it stands about 5 feet away to reveal a makeshift closet that lives behind it. It is incredibly sturdy, not wobbly at all. We use the sliding doors and have a his an hers side. It looks and functions great. It is only annoying when we are both getting dressed at the same time.

  21. Anonymous says:

    When we brought our bookcases home we put scraps of 1/2″ wood under the front “feet”. This tilted them back into the wall just enough to survive 20+ years of rambunctious children, playful dogs, and nearby freight trains shaking the house. It’s easy to move them (after taking out all the books!) for painting or rearranging & so far no one has notice the tilt.

  22. Anonymous says:

    If your apartment is older and the floors and walls aren’t even, spend a few dollars and go to the home improvement store to pick up a pack of shims and a level. If the units are level or tilting slightly to the back you should be fine. Unless you start using it as indoor rock climbing wall.

  23. remmus says:

    I attach some things due to children who sometimes think they are monkeys. I have always drilled in apartment walls. It is really easy. But it looks like people say you should be ok.

  24. Anonymous says:

    For me, whether I attach furniture to the wall depends on the depth of the piece, how sturdy it feels, and most importantly if there are kids in the house (especially young ones and/or the kind that insist on climbing everything ;) ).

    Personally, I never thought twice about putting some small holes in the walls of apartments because I learned how to patch them (and even touch up the paint if needed). I always got my deposits back. But if you’ve never drilled a hole and don’t know how, this may not be the best idea for you. You would need to know how to find the stud, etc. I’d be more concerned with how I would move such a massive piece when it comes time to move out. Hopefully you have that worked out already. I hope you enjoy your new Pax.

  25. Anonymous says:

    mine’s good…no supports on walls either…but will say took 3 of us to put it together!

  26. mowcius says:

    I’ve got two (one 750mm one and two 500mm ones joined together) and I’ve not had any issues whatsoever with them trying to fall over (or even moving).
    Also, due to getting the tallest ones and them only being about 10mm from the ceiling, they couldn’t fall over even if they wanted to!

  27. Hi Jerry,

    My husband just assembled ours last weekend, it looks great.
    I’m not sure if it is the best to a renter though, we assembled ours knowing that if one day we need to move, we will need to leave it with the house, it is huge and it will not pass through the door.
    We didn’t secure it to the walls and it feels very safe.
    Ours has a sliding doors like the photo one, but if we need to use at the same time, it not works well, if I have my door side open, it automaticly closes my husband side. We didn’t think about it when we bought it. I think if I could change my mind, I will buy one with opening doors.
    I’m happy with it looks though, and the space inside!
    Good luck with your decision…

    • Heidi says:

      As a renter you can disassemble it, and move it. The holes sometimes strip but you can revise them and make them strong again by chewing a wooden toothpick or 2 and jamming it in the hole before screwing in the hardware again. Since most people know what they cost (if they like Ikea) you might be able to sell it to the new tenants. ;)

  28. SK says:

    Was going to suggest that perhaps tilting them slightly with something supporting the tilt from the base would be better. This may give a “wonky” look and feel but it’s all about being creative and use of lighting.

  29. laurenb says:

    Ours was very wobbly, we did attach it to the wall. It wasn’t so much an issue of it falling forward on us, more that it leans sideways.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Agree with advice to put heavy stuff at bottom, and tilt slightly back toward the wall (or at least make sure it’s level, and not leaning forward at all) that would help if floors are a bit uneven, and springy, as can be in older, less solid dwellings. For the tilt, a strip of wood of the right thickness under the front edge should do.

    Sliding doors obviously better than swing doors if you’re really worried about weight coming forward.

  31. Anonymous says:

    I usually tilt them a bit back, so they lean abit against the wall. However some places I’ve had the wardrobe, I’ve went for the tallest option, so that they couldn’t fall even if they were to tip over. The ceiling would break the fall.

    • ALKD says:

      I agree with this — and really, as long as they aren’t tipping forward (and/or you don’t live in an area known for huge earthquakes), it should be fine.

    • Poddy says:

      Agreed, I do the same- wedge a slim piece of plywood or similar under the front part if you need to. I have the largest pax available, double width with very heavy glass sliding doors on and have never had a problem. Any danger of earthquakes in Belgium?

  32. Matthijs says:

    My Pax, with sliding doors and drawers, isn’t fixed to the wall and still standing

  33. Anonymous says:

    We have three units that are not fixed to the wall. No accidents in the past 6 years ;)

  34. Anonymous says:

    J’ai plusieurs armoires pax depuis plus de 10 ans, jamais eu de problème même sans les fixer au mur. Pareil pour celle de 35cm de profond… Les bibliothèques billy non plus. À mon avis, à moins de grimper dessus, pas de raison pour que ça tombe!

  35. Marina says:

    I would suggest that if you are not going to fix them to the wall, at least be careful about the weight distribution. heavy stuff should then be better located down rather than in the higher shelves.

    I had a 1 meter Pax in my room for 2 years without fixing it to the wall and nothing happened

  36. Rob says:

    I have 3 PAX units, haven’t fixed them to the wall in any way. Still standing (both me and the units)

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