Cheap IKEA Drawers (And The Quick Fix) | merrypad

Cheap IKEA Drawers (And The Quick Fix)

February 04, 2011   //  Posted in: Bedrooms, Decor, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  65 responses
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We IKEA-lovers encounter problems like this from time to time. Those wonderfully designed (and affordable) materials just aren’t intended to outlast us, but with a little regular TLC we can damn well try.

My biggest issue has always been with the drawers, particularly with the dresser units they sell. Put too much of something (socks), or anything too heavy in them (dense wool sweaters), and over time the bottom board warps just enough to slip out of it’s groove. And if you’re like me, that sag ends up catching on the clothing in the drawer beneath it and dragging the clothing around.

Oh, the little things that pain me.

What's a broken, saggy IKEA shelf look like? This. Keep reading to see my easy and effective fix.

Quick fix (that I’ve done many-a-time over the years [decades]): Glue it. Not Elmer’s elementary-style, but spend $5 and invest in some radically strong glue. Gorilla glue is always good (if you can keep the expansion qualities under control), and basic wood glue works in some cases, but usually not when it gets as severe as what you see above.

I prefer my E-6000. I’ve used tubes (yes, multiple) of this all around the house; quick fix for everything from fabric to shoes that shouldn’t have broken to IKEA drawers. You can find it at most crafty stores (the JoAnn’s, Michael’s of the world) and you can also score a nice 40%-50% discount if you wait for the regularly distributed store coupon. Application is a cinch, mostly because the effected drawers already have the perfect glue-holding groove in them.

Apply E-6000 (good for wood, fabric, home improvement, decor, basically anything).

Once applied, I reposition the shelf into the groove, make sure it’s good and locked into place, and then unload most of my bookshelf on to it to put pressure on the connection until it dries (and I usually wait 12-24 hours because I want to be 100% sure it worked).

Books are perfect to stack on the shelf to ensure connectivity between the drawer material and the glue.

And I’ve never had to do it twice to the same drawer, despite how many socks I try and cram into that once broken drawer.

(P.S. This particular drawer is part of the much-loved set that’s in my master bedroom. I unveiled that room here if you want to peek around. Take off your shoes, I don’t want dirt in my Pebble Rug.)

Friendly Update: This particular dresser is from the MALM collection at IKEA. I own two sets; one with 4 drawers, and one with 5 (where the top level is actually two smaller drawers).

Comments
  • ginnie
    4 years ago - Reply

    I love Ikea as well. It’s cheap and you can always find something in your style. The downside? It’s cheap. I have a CD/DVD tower that’s more like the leaning tower..

    Great idea for the drawer fix. From the photos that almost looks like Koppang–I have that. :) I haven’t had any issues though and it’s even survived a move all in one piece which was great. I think that model is one of the more sturdy drawer sets.

    • Emily
      4 years ago -

      This particular dresser is from the MALM collection, and I’ve had to repair 3 drawers (of my 9 total). I’m sure it’s just natural wear and tear, and only made worse by the number of clothing items I try and store in each drawer.

      Bummer about the CD/DVD tower though – but you know what HAS continued to impress me? My EXPEDIT items – they seem to be manufactured to be stronger/hold more than other collections.

      Thanks for commenting, Ginnie!

  • Cait @ Hernando House
    4 years ago - Reply

    Although I haven’t actually put anything in the drawer of our guest room’s Malm nightstand, I’ll definitely have to keep this in mind for when it most likely sags out.

    I used E-6000 to make the Starbucks giftcard paintings that are leaned up in our dining room. They seem to be holding up pretty well.

    Also, I agree that the Expedits seem to be sturdier!

  • john smithy
    4 years ago - Reply

    never surprises me the information i can find on the internet. Had a drawer bottom pop out and was trying to figure out a way to fix it and low and behold, i find this webpage.

    Thanks for taking the time to post it!

    john

    • Emily
      4 years ago -

      Thanks John! Glad you found it helpful!

  • Mary
    4 years ago - Reply

    Thank you! This is the exact solution I have been looking for!

    • Emily
      4 years ago -

      You’re welcome Mary! Glad you found it useful.

  • annie
    4 years ago - Reply

    thanks for the tip! i had all but given up on my aneboda dresser but the glue is working great!

    • Emily
      4 years ago -

      Good to hear! It continues to hold up really well for me too – no additional fixing needed :)

  • Arun
    3 years ago - Reply

    Thanks for the useful tip. However had a question. I can’t seem to figure out how to get the drawer out so that I can put the glue and fix it. The sagging is on the far side of the drawer and I just can’t get to it.

    • Emily
      3 years ago -

      The base of the drawer in my case was still glued adequately to both the left and right walls, only disconnected and bowing on the further-most back wall. What kind of dresser are you repairing? On mine, I was able to easily I removed the drawer by pulling it all the way out until it stopped, and then lifting it up to unhook it from the tracking. It’s definitely easiest to work with the drawer once it’s completely removed from the dresser. I hope this helps!

  • Arun
    3 years ago - Reply

    Thanks for such a prompt response! It is a MALM 6-drawer. After more Internet searching, I finally figured out that there were two screws on the side that was holding the glider on to the drawer which needed to be removed. Now I have to apply your quick fix! Thanks again.

    • Emily
      3 years ago -

      Awesome! I didn’t have those screws when I uninstalled mine… I wonder if that means I missed them on the original construction! Thanks for the tip and good luck!

  • rian
    3 years ago - Reply

    Thank you!!! I bought a super cheap malm ikea dresser on craigslist with this problem and I knew I could fix it. Can’t wait to get started now that I have such detailed instructions. This is exactly what I needed!!

    • Emily
      3 years ago -

      Great! Good luck!

  • Brad
    3 years ago - Reply

    I have the same IKEA Malm dresser, and the drawer sagged in the exact same spot as in your pictures – SO glad I came across your post :-) I have my E-6000 drying right now… thanks so much for this post!

    • Emily
      3 years ago -

      So glad it was helpful! Mine has still been holding up really well; no additional repairs needed to the drawer since I wrote the post!

  • Jenna
    3 years ago - Reply

    My Hemnes drawers are doing the same thing. I swear the newer ones with the yellow-striped interiors are better made than my old gray ones. Anyway, I will try the E-6000 glue. If that doesn’t do it, I’ll add some lathe.

    • Emily
      3 years ago -

      Good luck! My e-6000 is still holding up really well. A thin line of gorilla glue would work too, so long as you managed the expansion of it carefully and made sure it was well weighted so nothing warped.

  • Quintina
    3 years ago - Reply

    Thanks Emily, I purchased my seven and four year old daughters a cheaply made but expensive five drawer chester from Fingerhut because we live in a remote area and we don’t have very many furniture stores and non of them carry the color white which goes well with thier all princess room decor. Because of your advice you saved me from having to purchase a new dresser for them. Thank you so much you are a life saver.

    • Emily
      3 years ago -

      I’m so glad that my post helped you! Thank you for the nice note!

  • Sonia
    3 years ago - Reply

    I just tried this on two of my drawers and it seems to be holding up great! Thanks!

    • Emily
      3 years ago -

      So glad! It’s held strong for me without additional repair for over a year now!

  • Bridgette Davis {BDphotography}
    2 years ago - Reply

    thanks for your help! we were gifted a busted up malm and you wouldn’t believe the makeover we did once we fixed it, thanks to you! check it out here. thank you emily!! i linked back to you from my blog post http://www.iwantbdphotography.com/archives/2661

    • Emily
      2 years ago -

      Thanks Bridgette! Glad it was of help to you!! Yours looks SO COOL with that image on it. Beautiful upgrade!

  • Awesome Guy
    2 years ago - Reply

    Thanks for the tip! You’re an awesome person for sharing idea to make our lives easier. =)

  • Deepti
    2 years ago - Reply

    I’ve a MALM dresser with the same problem, will be trying your fix soon. Thanks for the post!

  • Susan
    2 years ago - Reply

    I have the same drawer with the same problem and I have been trying to figure out the best glue to use . I am on my way out to buy to buy some E-6000 . Thank you so much!!!

    • Emily
      2 years ago -

      Glad I could help, Susan!

  • Dwight Okita
    2 years ago - Reply

    I have an IKEA dress. It’s got translucent plastic fronts to the drawers. What I’m trying to figure out is how to RELEASE the drawer from the dresser. I’m not sure the exact brand name. Can anyone help with drawer releasing? Thanks.

    • Emily
      2 years ago -

      My best guess would be to pull it all the way out and then lift upwards gently; it should unhook. If not (and my IKEA bathroom vanity is like this), you’d have to unscrew the track. Good luck!

  • Christine
    2 years ago - Reply

    Score! this is going to be my project for the weekend! thank you so much!!!!
    E-6000 here i come!

  • Natasha
    2 years ago - Reply

    Great fix for the Malm dresser. I will definitely use it. I have another problem with my Malm that perhaps you or a reader has a fix for: the fronts for the drawers keep coming unscrewed and I keep retightening them, but this doesn’t last for long. Any suggestions on how to solve this pain?

    Thanks!

  • sharon
    2 years ago - Reply

    I have an Ikea office sotrage unit with 4 drawers and the drawer keeps coming off the rails. It does not like the box is separating .
    Help

    • Emily
      2 years ago -

      Any chance you can disassemble the entire box, glue it with e-6000 or some wood glue (depending on material) and then clamp it to reassemble? Let me know the product and maybe I can do a little more research!

  • Rae
    2 years ago - Reply

    Do you recommend gluing when you first assemble them? I have 3 Hemnes drawers to fix. I’m wondering if I should do the other 9 drawers as a preventative measure. I really love the look of my IKEA shelves and dressers. I have 2 babies and I know my furniture will go through a beating in the next few years. With their prices, I don’t mind the problems.

    • Emily
      2 years ago -

      It would be a GREAT idea to glue for reinforcement when you’re assembling them initially. Since gluing them several years ago, I have had no further issues with the products (and I load in way more socks and shirts than they should really accomodate). Good luck!

  • Genni
    2 years ago - Reply

    I have the hemnes 3 drawer dresser and the middle drawer is extremely sagged unfortunately. So with it bowed almost permanently what do you suggest?! I’m upset I love this set and it’s barely 6 months old

    • Emily
      2 years ago -

      Yikes! Does the Hemnes drawer bottom fit into tracks the same way that the MALM does? If it seems permanently warped, I’d suggest emptying it, laying the whole drawer upside down, and setting a book or two on the bridging sag to try and let it gradually settle back into a flat position. Don’t force it, I wouldn’t want it to snap, but I bet if it bent one way over time it will bend back. And when it’s bent back, get some glue in those tracks and hopefully it’ll hold well. Good luck!

  • Haitchpeasauce
    2 years ago - Reply

    Just fixed the drawers of my Malm chest of 4 drawers yesterday with excellent results.

    Here’s what I did:

    1. Get 4 pieces of 6mm MDF board (or 3mm masonite would work) cut to the INNER DIMENSIONS of the drawer. This will form the shelf reinforcing.
    2. Removed the drawer front to remove the sagging shelf.
    3. Flip shelf over, so that the laminated side is down and the MDF side is up. The shelf will now be bowing upwards.
    4. Mark on the shelf where the lip is – this is to line up the new shelf reinforcing.
    5. Apply PVA glue to the 6mm board, covering the whole surface, then align with the drawer shelf.
    6. Weigh board down (with books or whatever) so that it flattens the sagging shelf and compresses it against the 6mm board.
    7. Wait about 1 hour before removing weights.
    8. Reassemble drawer with perfectly flat shelf.

    It is recommended to wait 12 hours before loading the drawer again.

    Note that this will reduce the depth of the drawer by 6mm. But the drawer should never sag again.

    Note that MDF board and water do not mix. The MDF should be sealed if you expect it to come into contact with water. Though I don’t know why anyone would put water in their drawers anyway.

    • Emily
      2 years ago -

      Nicely done! Thanks for sharing your tutorial here!

  • BOBBY DHILLON
    1 year ago - Reply

    EXCELLENT SOLUTION

  • vero brow
    1 year ago - Reply

    E6000 should pay you! I just went out and bought 2 tubes and I don’t have a drawer to fix. I had an ikea dresser that needed to be fixed because of the sagging. I saw your article. Since then ( a month ago) I threw away the dresser but the e6000 stuck in my head and i went out tonight and bought some.
    Excited to use it soon.

  • Susan Belgard
    1 year ago - Reply

    DIFFERENT SOLUTION: I opted for a solution similar to placing small metal pieces under bookshelves for support. I bought HM brand corrugated fasteners # 5. They measure 1/2″ x 1 1/8″. Starting from the ends of each drawer where the least sag had occurred, I slid the corrugated fasteners into the slot the drawer bottom had come out of. The drawer bottom rested on the part that stuck out from the slot.  I positioned the fastener so that the 1 1/8″ side was in the slot, giving maximum area of support. I did have to wiggle my arm around a bit to get started and did drop a few in the beginning!!  The drawer is now back to its almost too-full capacity. 

  • Sharon Sprague
    1 year ago - Reply

    THANK YOU! So glad I came across this. I was about to repurpose this piece or just get rid of it. But if you say this works, I’m going to give it a go! So grateful for your tip!

    • Emily
      1 year ago -

      Years later, still holding up well! Good luck, Sharon!

  • Antonia
    1 year ago - Reply

    Thanks for this. I’m glad I found it. I’ve got both sets as well (the 4 drawers and the 5 with the top two smaller) and I’ll try this today. I didn’t like the solution that you need to put a hole in the drawer.
    Thanks again! :)

  • Vivi
    1 year ago - Reply

    I have the ikea malm dressing table and would like to know how I can make the drawer come all the way out instead of halfway ?

    • Emily
      1 year ago -

      Yikes, I wish I knew the answer to this, Vivi! I don’t see any way to adjust how far the drawers pull on my sets, but hopefully if someone else sees this comment they will have a solution for you! Best of luck, E

    • Simon
      8 months ago -

      Hi Vivi,
      I had a problem where a couple of drawers in a 4 drawer dresser would only slide halfway out. Because the others opened all the way, I could tell something was not right.

      For the normal drawers, they would stop with a sudden, hard resistance. The half-opening drawers would stop with a sort of softness, but then would not open further.

      As I knew there was something wrong, I felt safe applying some force to the drawer. I put a hand on the dresser and gripped the drawer and pulled the drawer out against the resistance. I moved it about an inch and then switched to the other side, then returned to the first side and repeated. This way I was able to open it fully.

      After working it this way, it was freed up, but I think I later added some lubricant to the runners. This was a thirty year old dresser.

      Please use caution if trying this. It seems unlikely a table drawer could have anything underneath stopping it, but do look under the table at the underside of the drawer. Also if the drawer does have a layer underneath, like a shelf, it is possible that something fell out of the back of the drawer, behind and then under it. Then as the drawer opened, the object could be trapped between the projecting back of the drawer and the front where the drawer opening it (if there is a lip for the opening). To get at the object, you may have to detach the drawer from its runners.

      Good luck.
      Simon

  • Joe
    1 year ago - Reply

    Me too :) took a chance, googled “IKEA drawer fix” & here you are!
    Thank you for posting this (3 MALM dressers & they are all popping)

  • Susan Belgard
    1 year ago - Reply

    Re-posting a different technique No need to take apart the drawer or use glue:DIFFERENT SOLUTION: I opted for a solution similar to placing small metal pieces under bookshelves for support. I bought HM brand corrugated fasteners # 5. They measure 1/2″ x 1 1/8″. Starting from the ends of each drawer where the least sag had occurred, I lifted the sagging drawer up and slid the corrugated fasteners into the slot the drawer bottom had come out of. The drawer bottom rested on the part that stuck out from the slot. I positioned the fastener so that the 1 1/8″ side was in the slot, giving maximum area of support. I did have to wiggle my arm around a bit to get started and did drop a few in the beginning!! The drawer is now back to its almost too-full capacity.

  • Cass
    12 months ago - Reply

    Just a quick question–our malm (6 drawer) only has a single groove at the rear of the drawer. We’ve glued it as we assembled it but the whole thing seems a bit weak since the bottom doesn’t have a groove all the way ’round to fit in. Did yours?

    Thanks for the post–still getting a lot of love! :-)

    • Emily
      12 months ago -

      Hmmm.. newer model, you think? How does the back of the drawer not have a full groove for the base of each drawer to sit in? Is it the corners that are weakened?

    • Simon
      11 months ago -

      Hi Cass,
      Your drawer should be strong. I just looked at the IKEA MALM assembly video and at my Hemnes kitchen display cabinet and there is a grove in the front and the back, but the shelf piece is held under the sides, by the metal wheel bar. That bar folds under the sides and supports the shelf.

      Please check and make sure that the bar holds the shelf in place and the shelf is not lower than the bar and so unsupported at the side.

  • betty
    11 months ago - Reply

    Thanks. i just purchased the malm dressing table at less than half of the price but the drawer looks exactly as yours did above before you fixed it. Defintely picking up some E6000 glue and giving it a try!

  • Simon
    11 months ago - Reply

    Hi Emily,
    Thank you.

    I have been having this problem with my IKEA HEMNES kitchen cabinet with drawer.

    I tried putting thin card along the gap in the front and back to wedge the shelf in place but although it seemed secure, it did not last. I had a few other ideas, but have decided to glue the shelf in the back where it was coming out.

    One problem I found with my drawer was that the back piece was not held firmly to the sides, and it could tilt away from the bottom piece and let it drop. The plastic covers over the original screws were so tight I could not get at them to fix it. So I put in two new screws to hold the back piece in place. I did need to drill a hole for the screw as it started to split the side piece. So if you need to add screws, I recommend making a hole first and watching the wood as you screw the screw into place. If it starts to split, back out the screw and make the hole larger.

    However, gluing the shelf may be more than enough to fix the problem. I had thought about taking the unit apart for a move, but I don’t have the packing and it is more likely to be damaged disassembled! The glue will hold the shelf and the front and back together so it is a good approach.

    Interestingly, in the IKEA MALM assembly video, they show a new brace being screwed to the front, running under the center of the shelf to support it and being screwed to the back to hold it all together. This is a good sign that they are fixing the issue with newer units. I do not know if IKEA Support would supply it to those of us having the problem, but I am happy with my glued drawer which I fixed yesterday using your idea and Elmer’s wood glue.

  • MIchelle
    9 months ago - Reply

    Thank heaven for creative problem-solvers like you! I was trying to think of how to fix the bowed drawers in our dressers (we have 3 of the MALM 6-drawer ones!!!), but couldn’t think of anything that easy… I thought of an L-bracket or some cross beams on the bottom, but this solution looks much much simpler (and therefore much more likely to get tackled and finished!). Seemed such a waste to get rid of good storage- no knicks on the outside and everything else is fine. Thanks for saving our drawers and saving us a lot of money. We got our glue at Joanne’s and got the 40% coupon online too. I’ve never heard of this brand of glue, but hopefully it’ll come in use for fixing other stuff around the house. What else have you used E-6000 for?

  • Jacqueline
    8 months ago - Reply

    thanks!! i am going to do this over the weekend. you just saved me from purchasing new bedroom furniture!!!

  • SW
    7 months ago - Reply

    I’m trying to furnish a nursery on the cheap and have been reluctant to repurchase any of the Hemnes products because of similar problems with sagging drawer bottoms.

    Has anyone tried using the glue during the original installation of the drawers to prevent the problem in the first place???

    Thanks.

  • M. Smythe
    1 month ago - Reply

    Too late to glue drawers as bottom of drawer now broken and must be replaced. Also back of same drawer is broker (corner) exposing the plastic screw that attaches back to sides. Pls advs the width of boards used and best material to use?

    • Emily
      1 month ago -

      Hi there, I wish I could advise but I’m not sure of measurements specific to your product. I would recommend a thin piece of plywood from a home improvement store (if you go in with the specs, they could cut it to size right in front of you).

  • Debbie
    4 weeks ago - Reply

    Hi Emily,

    Thanks for this helpful tip! I am having the same problem with my drawers and was thinking about getting new furniture altogether when I came across your article.

    I was wondering, do you only put glue on one edge of the shelf/board or do you glue both the front and the back edge? It seems you only do it to one edge but I was thinking that it may be more secure if you glue to both the front and back? Maybe even sides? What do you think?

    Thanks,
    Debbie

    • Emily
      3 weeks ago -

      All sides, as accessible! The more sides that are re-glued, the better the result. Good luck with your fix!

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