Can You Paint Ikea Alex Drawers? [And How To]

The Alex drawer unit from Ikea is a classic, but it comes in limited colors. Can you paint it to fit your style? We’ve researched to help you find out.

Couple shopping for home furniture with Alex drawers display in Ikea store. Affordable wooden office furniture in different colors on display in furniture store, Can You Paint Ikea Alex Drawers? [And How To]

We may include affiliate links and curated AI content to highlight top design styles.

If you have an Ikea Alex drawer unit, you can paint it. With the appropriate preparation, you can paint it any color you choose. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Know the material 
  2. Remove the drawers
  3. Clean the unit
  4. Sand the surface
  5. Prime the surface
  6. Apply paint
  7. Add a sealer

The process is easy. Follow these steps to paint effectively to make you happy with the finished product.

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about painting Ikea Alex drawers like a pro. Continue reading to learn more.

How To Paint An Ikea Alex Drawer Unit

Get our FREE 7 design style cheat sheets
Subscribe for home design tips & inspiration
Get your free gift: Downloadable design style cheat sheets
Thank you for subscribing!
 IKEA Paper bag at IKEA Store

You may want to paint your Ikea Alex drawer unit to change the color, hide some scratches, or make it look brand new.

Whatever your reason, just follow the steps below.

Tools to prepare :

  • Paintbrushes
  • Sandpaper or electric sander 
  • Screwdriver
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Cloth
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Sealer

1. Know the material 

board chipboard cut parts

Knowing your furniture’s material helps you pick the right paint. Ikea’s Alex drawer unit is usually made of particle board, which is lightweight with a smooth, white finish.

It’s made from recycled wood and sawmill waste, then laminated with real wood or plastic for durability and a nicer look.

Check out this related article: What Is Ikea Furniture Made Of? Is It Real Wood?

2. Remove the drawers

To easily paint your furniture, empty the drawers and take them out. These drawers are held by screws on both sides.

You can take them off by using the screwdriver. 

3. Clean the unit

Getting rid of the dust and debris from your furniture before everything else is essential. Doing this will make the paint stick better. 

You can use a damp cloth and mild dishwashing soap mixed with water to clean the unit. Wipe the drawers and cabinet to eliminate dirt. This will make sanding and priming much easier. 

4. Sand the surface

Sanding and preparing old doors with cracked paint for a new lick of paint, Smooth sanding or paint removal concept.

You don’t need to sand your drawers if you use a good primer, but it’s still smart to prep them properly. To sand, lightly scuff the surface with 240-grit sandpaper to remove the glossy finish so the paint sticks better.

You can use an electric sander to get the job done quickly. Wipe the surface after sanding with a damp cloth to remove the excess dust.

For dents or cracks, use wood filler. Apply it to the gaps, let it dry, and then sand it smooth.

Click here to see this wood filler on Amazon.

5. Prime the surface

You may skip sanding but not priming! Primer is essential for successful painting. Primer prepares the furniture for paint by providing a solid base for better topcoat adhesion.

If you skip primer, your paint may peel due to a lack of adhesion. The key to good priming is to ensure proper coverage.

6. Apply paint

painter with paint roller painting a wooden commode

Aside from primer, choosing the right paint is crucial. Different paints have unique benefits, so pick one that suits your project.

Apply 2 to 3 coats, letting each coat dry before adding another. If there are still visible spots, apply more coats. You should try to paint on a warm, sunny day—this will help the paint dry quickly.

To avoid paint sticking to the drawers and causing issues opening them, be careful not to let paint get between the drawers.

7. Add a sealer

A top coat of sealer is necessary to protect the painted surface from aging and damage.

Shellac, varnish, polyurethane, and wax are the final finish or sealers. These products share a common purpose, but they’re very different.

Shellac will give wood a natural-looking finish. It absorbs odors in wood and dries quickly.

Click here to see this shellac-based topcoat on Amazon.

Varnish is a general term for a top coat or finish. It provides wooden surfaces with a protective coating and a semi-gloss finish.

Polyurethane, which can be water- and oil-based, is available in a range of finishes, from smooth to glossy. It can make wood watertight, weather-resistant, and visually appealing.

A wax sealer is ideal for working with chalk paint. It has a low-durability finish and can be applied with a brush or a cloth.

Best Types of Primer for Furniture

Choosing the right primer for your Ikea Alex drawers is important. Just like paint, primers are intended for different materials. Here are some options to consider.

Shellac Primer

This primer is excellent for sealing interior surfaces. It dries quickly, is highly adhesive, and effectively prevents stains.

Shellac primer can be applied to wood, metal, plaster, and plastic surfaces. Note that this kind of primer emits powerful fumes.

Click here to see this shellac primer on Amazon.

Latex-based Primer

This primer is ideal for wood and is fast-drying. It’s also less prone to peeling, has little or no VOC content, and is very easy to clean.

Click here to see this latex primer on Amazon.

Oil-based Primer 

This type of primer is suitable for both oil and latex paint and various surfaces, both interior and exterior. 

Click here to see this oil-based primer on Amazon.

Most oil-based primers effectively keep stains and other color irregularities from penetrating a freshly painted surface.

Drying time is important when applying primer. For better coverage, apply a couple of coats, but let the first coat dry before applying another.

The drying time may vary depending on the type and brand of your primer. Be sure to check the product instructions. Allow the primer to dry for 24 hours before applying the paint.

Best Types of Paint for Furniture

Various paint options are available for painting furniture, but some are better suited than others. Read on to learn more about the different types of paint that you can use on your furniture.

Latex paint

Latex paint is widely available. You can buy a pint or gallon at a home improvement store and choose from various brands. It is also the cheapest type of paint.

Note that preparation is needed for this type of paint to adhere. It is prone to scratches, can peel off the surface easily, and takes a long time to cure. 

Click here to see this latex paint on Amazon.


Acrylic paint is a chemical-based paint similar to latex paint. Because it dries relatively fast, you can apply several coats quickly.

However, acrylic paint needs proper priming before painting and requires paint thinner to clean. 


Chalk paint is commonly used to paint furniture. It’s an excellent option because you don’t have to sand or prime the surface before painting.

Click here to see this chalk paint on Amazon.

Chalk paint also dries fast and has a smooth finish. This paint option is best for beginners. However, the paint can be expensive, typically around $42 per quart.

Wrapping Things Up

Giving your furniture a brand-new look feels refreshing! Painting is fun, but the downside is that there are many things to consider and prepare for. Plus, the process involves a lot of waiting.

We hope this article has helped you decide what paint to use on your Ikea Alex drawers. Want to learn more? Check out these related posts below!

Can You Paint the Ikea Malm Dresser?

How To Paint An Ikea Dresser

Get our FREE 7 design style cheat sheets
Subscribe for home design tips & inspiration
Get your free gift: Downloadable design style cheat sheets
Thank you for subscribing!
Share with a friend -

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *