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

The Alex drawer unit from Ikea is considered a classic piece of furniture. However, Ikea does not offer a wide range of color options for its furniture. Can you paint the Alex drawers to match your aesthetic? We've done our research to help you with this question.

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. Be sure you follow these steps to paint effectively, so that you're happy with the finished product. We'll go over everything you need to know about painting Ikea Alex drawers like a pro in this article. Continue reading to learn more.

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]

How To Paint An Ikea Alex Drawer Unit

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 IKEA Paper bag at IKEA Store

You may want to paint your Ikea Alex drawer unit because you want to change the color or hide some scratches and make it look brand new. Whatever your reason is, 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 will allow you to choose the right paint. Ikea furniture, such as the Alex drawer unit, is commonly made of particle board with a smooth, white appearance.

This heavily compacted wood produces more lightweight furniture than solid wood. Particle board is made from recycled wood and waste from sawmills. Ikea laminates particle board with real wood or plastic to give furniture more durability and a better appearance.

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

2. Remove the drawers

 To paint your furniture with ease, 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. 

To clean the unit, you can use a damp cloth and mild dishwashing soap mixed with water. 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.

Sanding your drawers isn't necessary if you use a good primer. However, it's a good idea to prepare your furniture properly. To sand your the unit, scuff the surface area of the cabinet and drawers using 240-grit sandpaper. 

Remember to sand gently. You want to remove the glossy finish from the surface so that the paint can adhere better. You may use an electric sander to get the job done quickly. Wipe the surface after sanding with a damp cloth to remove the excess dust. 

If you find dents in your furniture that need a quick remedy, you may use a wood filler. Wood fillers can fill in small cracks and holes. Just apply the right amount, fill the gap, let it dry, and sand it afterward.

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 to ensure 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 type of paint is essential. Each type of paint has its own set of benefits, and some will be better suited to your projects than others. You can apply the paint of your choice. Drying time will vary depending on the brand of your paint.

When applying paint, 2 to 3 coats may suffice. Allow each coat to dry before adding another. If there are still visible bleeds on the furniture, coat it again. You should try to paint on a warm, sunny day—this will help the paint dry quickly.

You should try to prevent the paint from sticking to the drawers. If paint gets in between the drawers, you may have difficulty opening them. 

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 known as 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 frequently used as 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 both 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 if you're working with chalk paint. It has a low-durability finish. You can apply it with a brush or a cloth.

Best Types of Primer for Furniture

It is important to choose a suitable primer for your furniture, including your Ikea Alex drawers. Similar to paint, different types of primers are dedicated to various kinds of materials. The market provides a wide range of options, including the ones below.

Shellac Primer

This primer is excellent for sealing interior surfaces. It dries quickly, is highly adhesive and effective at preventing 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. Additionally, it is less prone to peeling. It also 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 works with both oil paint and latex paint. It works well on various surfaces, both interior and exterior. 

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

Most oil-based primers are effective at keeping stains and other color irregularities from penetrating a freshly painted surface.

When applying primer, drying time is important. Apply a couple of coats for better coverage, 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 for the task 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 get a pint or gallon from a home improvement store and pick from various brands. It is also the cheapest type of paint out there.

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 that is similar to latex paint. Because acrylic paint dries relatively fast, you can apply several coats quickly. However, acrylic paint needs proper priming before painting. It also requires paint thinner to clean. 


Chalk paint is commonly used when it comes to painting furniture. It is 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!

How To Paint Ikea Furniture Without Sanding It

How To Paint An Ikea Dresser

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