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How To Trim Out IKEA Cabinets

May 26, 2015  —  Written by Julia Marcum 

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Last time we showed you the laundry room, it looked something like this:

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We had just installed our new Ikea cabinets and hardware, as well as lighting, too. (I could not find a pulled back photo of the cabinets with hardware before we trimmed it out–hence the lack of pretty gold pulls in the photo above.) While the room was/is definitely taking shape, floating cabinets isn’t a great look in such a tight space. It creates a lot of dark shadows and just feels unfinished. Fortunately, Ikea sells cover panels to fill in the gaps. It really is just a big sheet of, what looks like, a completely flat cabinet door that matches the finish of the cabinets. It’s up to you (err…us) to cut it and install it. And this weekend, we did just that.

We started with a few spare 2x3s we had in the garage. The filler piece was 1/2″ thick, so we measure from the front of the cabinet boxes (not doors) back 1/2″ so when we attached the filler it would be flush with the cabinet boxes. We secured the 2x3s into a stud on each side of the cabinets, making sure the boards went all the way to the ceiling so we could  attach our crown molding, too–we’ll get there in just a minute.

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There are a couple different ways that you could attach the trim pieces to the stud in place, but to avoid having to patch any holes (while we have an identical color, the paint sheen is really hard to match on these cabinets and trim pieces!) we opted to use heavy duty construction adhesive. And it worked like a charm.

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I applied the adhesive (you can find it next to the caulk) all down the stud and pressed the trim piece, that Chris cut to size using a table saw, into place. Because the trim pieces are relatively light, it stuck with no real effort on our part and since it won’t be holding any weight, we feel pretty good about it staying put.

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Once the side pieces were in place, we added an additional board in the top center of the cabinets for the crown molding. The main difference here is this board was flush with the cabinet boxes to line up with the, now, flush trim pieces the crown molding would adhere to. We added that board using our finish nailer right through the inside top of the center cabinets.

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We also used the finish nailer to put the crown in place once we had it positioned just where we wanted it. So at this point, all the trim pieces were in place and it was looking a lot better, but a little rough still, too.

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If you look closer, you can see how disjointed everything looks. Cracks and holes and a couple different colors thanks to the unpainted crown molding.

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I’m not sure when it started, but this finish work is kind of my favorite part. Caulking lines away is so instantly gratifying! I caulked above and below the crown molding, and on either side of the new trim pieces using a thin line of caulk:

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Followed by finger dipped in warm water to smooth everything out.

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Once the caulk dried, I painted the crown the same color as the cabinets (Valspar’s  Soft Wool in semi-gloss) and put back on the cabinet doors. What a difference, right?

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Here’s the before and after trim, one more time:

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Obviously we are using Ikea cabinets here, but this same method would work for any kind of cabinet, I imagine, and makes everything feel so much more finished. Speaking of, we’re getting close in here. The washer and dryer arrived over the weekend–can’t wait to show you that, tomorrow! We’re just waiting for the sink so we can work on the countertops and wrap this room up.

What do you think?

  1. Madison Miller says:

    What cover panel did you use from Ikea? Did you have to paint it to match too?

  2. Jack Pine says:

    Very nice job of trimming the gaps.

    It is actually easier to install the lumber to support the filler panel by attaching it to the side of the cabinet rather than the wall. Simply attach the filler panel you will use the supporting lumber and screw through the existing cabinet shelf pin holes. You can use the same method to attach a gap filler on the underside of the side gaps.

    You will want to install the bottom filler panel before the vertical filler panel, so that the front of the vertical filler covers the edge of the bottom filler panel.

  3. Becca says:

    I’ve loved my Ikea cabinets in my kitchen, but have been worried I couldn’t do crown moulding with just 2″ of space left. I’m so happy you showed me how. What size crown moulding did you use?

  4. Benjamin says:

    Hello love your white cabinets with the accent of gold cabinet handles…. it is an awesome match…. ! Do y’all have the name type and place of purchase of your beautiful gold cabinet handles? Thank you

  5. Chelsea says:

    I love what you guys have done with this laundry! Just one question – did you put anything on the underside of the cabinets? We are about to do a similar project and I think we will need a sheet underneath the cabinets to hide all the extra space and screws etc!
    Love your blog & podcast! (Only just started listening!)

  6. Whitney says:

    Hi! Looks great! We are getting ready to add crown to our Ikea cabinets. Did you caulk the little gap between the cabinet and crown or just leave that since it’s covered by the door?

  7. Shelly says:

    Hi. I see you used the color “soft wool” for your trim. Are your cabinets painted that color or is that the best color match to the ikea cabinets you could find? Thanks!

  8. Happy Amein says:

    I was wondering about the gap from the back of the 2×3 to the wall in back. Do you notice it by looking up from under the cabinets? If so does that often happen? I’m at my kitchen table and see under my cabinets … but I don’t often think about it.

    Thank you for your beautiful example and the very clear directions with excellent photos. Much appreciated.

  9. Liz says:

    Do you remember the kind of caulk you used? Thanks!

  10. TootsNYC says:

    If you know you want to do this, you might find it easier to install the supports for the trim pieces (vertical cleats, sort of) before installing the cabinets. I know I would.

  11. Meagan says:

    Looks amazing! Do you happen to know/remember how much of a gap there was between the top of the cabinet and the ceiling? We’re doing our laundry room and I want to install a cabinet above the stacked washer/dryer, but it will only leave us with a 2″ gap if I go with the taller cabinet. Not sure that’s enough space?!

  12. Kathy says:

    thank you so much for this. i am sitting here among boxes and unfinished cabinets and just starting at this filler piece thinking it can’t be right. you’re photos and explanation talked me down off the ledge!

  13. Ashlee says:

    We are installing our IKEA cabinets now – did you use the IKEA crown molding or buy different?

    • Julia says:

      We just bought Crown Molding from Lowe’s and painted it to match the Bodbyn cabinets. We found Valspar’s Soft Wool to be a near perfect match.

  14. Thanks so much fr your answer!! You’v’e done all the leg work for me!!

  15. This article was just in time – I wanted to ask you how you like the Ikea off-white cabinetry. I really wanted white, Shaker style kitchen cabinets – but they don’t sell white Shaker at Ikea any more. So, I’m curious how off white are your cabinets – obviously off white? only off white when they are next to a white wall? or a white ceiling? Am I garbled in my question?

  16. Meagan Briggs says:

    So polished! Good job!

  17. It looks awesome! Really finishes the whole space off! I had no idea about the filler pieces so thank you for that amazing tip!

  18. So nice that Ikea has actual filler pieces you can use to match the cabinets! Who knew? Everything looks really beautiful and finished now – lovely job!

  19. Evelina says:

    Such a little detail makes the world of a difference! Thanks for going over these little things with us too. For some this trim is a piece of cake but I wouldn’t know where to start!

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