Painting IKEA Pax and Other Furniture

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If you love getting a high-end look for less, painting IKEA furniture is a great option to achieve that. This allows you to get a custom look on a smaller budget, especially if you can purchase the furniture second-hand! Learn how to paint your IKEA Pax wardrobe, Hemnes dresser, and other items with a long-lasting finish.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Learn how to paint your IKEA pax wardrobe for long time durability. Don't worry about scratches and chips.
Shop this space: Antique-look mirror, Art, Vase, Greenery, Crock, Curtains, Muslin blanket, Rug, Lantern Chandelier (similar), Fireplace is original, Wingback chair is vintage.

Top tip for Painting IKEA Furniture

One of the most important things that you can do when painting IKEA furniture is picking the right primer. Primer is the key to ensuring that you don’t end up with scratches on your Pax wardrobe or Hemnes dresser from day to day use.

The tried and true primer that you should consider when painting your IKEA furniture is the BIN Zinsser primer. This is my go-to primer for painting furniture and cabinets because it holds up well and it hides stains, seals knots, and is a synthetic shellac.

Upgrading your IKEA furniture with paint and new hardware is the best way to get a high end look on a budget.
Beadboard wallpaper, stool (similar), Art, Basket, latch (similar/preferred brand)

Painting IKEA Pax Wardrobe

An easy way for you to get a high-end look for less is by painting your IKEA pax wardrobe. It doesn’t matter what IKEA Pax doors your pick you need to prime with BIN Zinsser Primer. Using primer is the first step that is critical to your project! It is not necessary to sand the wardrobe prior to painting it but you should ensure that it is clean and dry.

You’ve picked a paint colour but you don’t know what paint sheen you should use? Learn all about paint sheens and which one you should use for your project here.

This primer is the key to a long lasting finish when painting furniture.

You should use a foam roller to apply the primer to the IKEA Pax wardrobe to ensure you get a smooth finish. This primer is a little messy so be prepared to throw away the roller that you apply it with. Paint in a well-ventilated space and read the instructions for more application details.

Once you have primed your wardrobe, you should pick a paint colour. There are two paint sheens that you should consider using for painting your IKEA Pax wardrobe: Pearl or Semi-gloss. Learn more about the perfect sheen for your project here.

IKEA pax hack with mouldings and baseboard. Hidden wardrobe inspired pax hack.

Thinking about adding moulding to your pax wardrobe but want to keep it white? I would recommend that you paint the moulding only. Have the pax wardrobe colour-matched and pick a pearl or semi-gloss finish. For the FORSAND Pax doors, Benjamin Moore’s White Dove is a great match. This means you get to keep the IKEA factory finish but still have a high-end look that the moulding gives.

Want to learn more about upgrading your IKEA pax wardrobe? Learn more here.

How to get the perfect finish when repainting your furniture.

Painting IKEA Hemnes dresser

Another way to upgrade your IKEA furniture is by painting your Hemnes dresser. IKEA furniture acts as a great building block for any project. Painting your IKEA Hemnes dresser is another easy upgrade and is similar to painting a Pax wardrobe.

If you have not built your IKEA Hemnes dresser, I would recommend painting it first. If it is already assembled, remove the drawers first before you paint it.

Start with BIN Zinsser Primer to ensure that your finish does not scratch and chip. Apply the primer with a foam roller to ensure your finish is smooth. Then pick a Pearl or Semi-gloss finish for your hemnes dresser. This will make it easier for you to clean and maintain a smooth finish over time.

Looking to repaint your IKEA hemnes dresser? Sharing the tips to ensure you get a perfect finish and not chipping.

PRO TIP: For a higher end look, add moulding to your IKEA pax wardrobe or Hemnes dresser before painting! Then, swap out the hardware.

Adding moulding to your ikea hemnes dresser and paint it to give it a higher end look.


Can you paint IKEA Pax wardrobes?

YES! With the right primer, you can achieve a high-end-looking wardrobe on an IKEA budget.

What primer does IKEA Pax use?

The perfect primer is key to painting your IKEA pax wardrobe, I would recommend a shellac base primer like BIN Zinsser.

Can IKEA units be painted?

Yes, IKEA units can be painted. To ensure your furniture doesn’t scratch, use a good primer before painting.

What white paint matches IKEA Pax?

There are many different whites used on IKEA products. The Pax units are a great match for Benjamin Moore Simply White in pearl finish. The Pax door “FORSAND” matches well with Benjamin Moore’s White Dove.

Do you need to sand before painting with BIN Zinsser?

Refer to the instructions on the can of primer. If the piece of furniture has a very high gloss to it, it would be a good idea to give it a light sand before painting. Ensure the furniture is smooth before priming so that the primer and paint go on smoothly.

Bedroom with IKEA pax wardrobe built-in with mouldings, beside a fireplace with a frame tv.

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  1. Do you need to sand the ikea hemnes dresser first if it has a shiny finish? I have an old one from 15 years ago which has a glossy finish. Can the bin primer work on that? Thanks for your help. Love your work 🥰

  2. I don’t think it’s necessary, but I’d just do it a bit to dull the finish. Give it a light sand but nothing too intense. Just to be safe!

  3. Can you use your wall paint to paint over the primer or does it have to be a specific paint? Want the colour to match the walls so wondering if I can use the same one?

  4. It probably wouldn’t be the best choice because likely the paint sheen on your walls is something around eggshell and for a wardrobe or other furniture you would want Pearl. I am not sure the brand of paint you are using, but I usually ask the paint department when they are mixing the colour for me. I just tell them what I am trying to paint and they recommend a paint line that would work best!

  5. For the FORSAND Pax doors, you noted that Benjamin Moore’s White Dove is a great match if you just want to paint moulding. what sheen did you use?

  6. I’m not sure it’s a perfect match but I found it matched really well considering I already had some on hand! I would do a Pearl finish!

  7. Hi Emma, great website. I wondered if you have come across Lakeland paints. They are completely VOC free and they do more than paints. As I am passionate about protecting the environment and peoples health and i have used Lakeland for many years they used to be called ECOS paints. On a recent renovation I introduced the painter and decorator to them and she is raving about their stuff, she says the paint is amazing. Everything is solvent free, so doing a job like painting or varnishing a floor or putting knotting solution on pine is no longer a health hazard.

  8. Hi Anya, Thank you so much! I have not heard of it, but upon a quick search, it looks like a UK-based company, so that might be why! I’m not sure I can get it in Canada. Looks like it might be a great solution if you can get it though!

  9. Hi Emma, can you stain IKEA furniture instead of painting it, to give it a wood look?

  10. Sabrina, Some IKEA furniture such as the hemnes line is solid wood, so you can sand and stain it. I have a post about this! If it isn’t solid wood, then its a little more difficult. I recently came across a product called Retique It Liquid Wood which might give the wood look you’re after. I don’t have any experience using this though!

  11. For the FORSAND Pax doors, I found Sherwin Williams Pure White to be a better match.

  12. Hi Emma,

    Love the article! Can I ask would you paint the wardrobes before they are assembled or after ?

  13. I think it might be easier to paint before assembly but you’d have to be careful putting it together once it was painted which might make me hesitate!

  14. Can I ask what doors you have on your wardrobe? I can’t seem to find the ones that look like yours and they are exactly what I want!

  15. Hi Emma. Would this method (with sanding included) work on the high gloss finish pax doors? Slightly worried as the foil has been wrapped on the front so not sure if sanding and priming would work the same. Many thanks

  16. Yes! I have high high gloss bathroom vanity cabinets and I used this a year and a half ago and I haven’t had any chips, scratches, or issues at all! It’s used daily and in a room with humidity, so I think your pax would be fine! I also think one of my Pax hacks was high gloss, but I don’t use it daily so I think the bathroom cabinet is a better comparison.

  17. I have pax sliding door wardrobe. The sliding doors are Hasvik. Can I use the same method as described above (using Bin Zansser Primer etc) on these doors?

  18. Joe, Yes this primer should work for this! Just ensure that the doors don’t hit when they slide past each other.

  19. Thank you for this article! As for the Ikea Bergsbo doors can they still be painted if they are white-stained oak effect rather than just white?

  20. Hi Emma – I am attempting to paint my first piece of Ikea furniture (Havsta) and was curious what line of paint you used? I see that you have BM Regal Select in your pics (they seem to be more used for walls but we got a can of that as well from the store). Love love your blog and Instagram!

  21. Hey Anne, I usually just ask the store what they recommend and go with that, I’m more focussed on having the right primer and picking the correct sheen! I have used BM Regal Select but BM Advance is also a great recommendation for cabinets (my local store didn’t have it).