Help! I need ideas for MALM dresser face rails?

malm missing dresser face rail

I recently bought a second hand MALM chest of drawers and the dresser face rails (see photo) are missing!  

missing dresser face rails

I was wondering if it’s possible to ask the IKEA Hackers community for some advice on how to solve the problem?  

Right now, you can see into the unit.  

IKEA MALM missing dresser face rails

I emailed IKEA but the parts are not available to purchase, and I’m not a carpenter, so I’m looking for some creative solutions.

Any ideas?

~ by Jacqui


Hi Jacqui,

I have a broken spar on my MALM dresser so I too have been thinking of how to fix it. Here are 3 ideas I’ve been toying with.

#1 Make new dresser face rails

Making your own rails is not hard. Go to a hardware shop that will cut wood for you. Get them to cut the rails, according to the size taken from your dresser (length and height). You won’t need a very thick piece of wood – a 3/4″ will do.

Once you have them, sand them down and then fasten them to the spots where the original rails go. The easiest way is to use angle brackets to secure them in place, like how it’s done on the bottom rail. Make pilot holes first before screwing them in. You won’t need all the original hardware for this part.

fix dresser face rails

To make it prettier, you can paint the wood to match the black brown. Or go a complete different route like how Nadia did with this vintage style white and gold dresser. You’ll need to do this step — wrap the rails or paint before fixing them on the dresser frame.

vintage gold MALM dresser
#2 Add a backer board

This is probably the easiest method. How long this solution stays up will depend on the material used.

I took a mousepad I had on hand to demonstrate what I mean. The backer board will need to be secured to the back of the drawer front.

backer board for dresser face rails

View from inside drawer

The photo is for illustration purposes. Obviously, the backer will need to go the entire length of the gap.

And voilà! It closes the gap.

backer board

View from the front of dresser

The key is to make sure the backer is not fixed too high up where it hits the drawer above. So, measure and measure before fixing.

You can use a soft but rigid material like this mousepad rubber thing as long as it can stand upright. Or harder material such as a thin piece of plywood.

Even a hard cardboard or corrugated plastic sheet will work. Glue on fabric or self-adhesive vinyls to ramp up the style. There’s definitely a lot of creative options for this.

#3 Make new drawer fronts

This is the reverse of method #2. Instead of fixing a backer to the drawer, you can choose to add a new (taller) drawer front to it.

new drawer front

Add a new drawer face

I’ll probably only go for this method if I want to revamp the style of the dresser completely. For instance, transforming it into a Shaker style cabinet.

You’ll need to cut the new drawer face to cover the MALM drawer front and the gap. Finish it however you like, with paint or stain. You don’t have to remove the old drawer front. Secure it to the current front like so.

new drawer front


However, with this method, you’ll still be able to see the rail gaps when the dresser is viewed from the side. The only way to solve this is to totally replace the existing drawer fronts with the new ones. But that will take a lot more work to get right.

And you’ll need to add new knobs as there will no longer be a gap for your fingers to pull the drawer out.

So, alright, these are my thoughts on how to replace the missing MALM face rails.

I hope you’re inspired to fix it. Do share how you finally fixed it.

Happy hacking,


Jules Yap