General Home Design

How To Paint An Ikea Billy Bookcase

The Billy Bookcase is a product of Ikea which until now is famous for its versatile style. However, even though it is a popular item, there are still some setbacks regarding its quality. Many people want to paint their Billy Bookcase but fail to try because they find it difficult to do so. Now, if you are finding an answer on how to paint the Billy Bookcase, we have the answer just for you!

The only preparation you’ll need to paint an Ikea Billy Bookcase is primer! Due to the laminate finish of Ikea’s Billy Bookcase, it is really difficult to just paint it immediately since it has a textured surface. Painting it will not be easy-peasy, so apply your primer first. After that, you are good to go to apply that color you want for your Billy Bookcase. 

The Billy Bookcase is a very all-around type of furniture. Now, you only need paint and a bit of creativity when designing your Billy Bookcase. To get more ideas about painting your Ikea Billy Bookcase, read until the end!

A tall metal and wooden combined bookcase, How To Paint An Ikea Billy Bookcase

Primer Is The Key

Some people like their bookcases in a minimalist style. Some want it to be re-designed. Ikea produced Billy Bookcase with a texture that is hard to paint in case you want to do some DIYs.

Worker applying green paint to the cabinet

This is because a laminate exterior creates this surface on the furniture that when you paint, it will just adhere on some portions. But then again, primer is your quick fix!

While laminates are available in different colors, Ikea only offers four colors for Billy Bookcase, namely white, birch veneer, veneer, and black-brown. Of course, there is this urge to re-paint it to match the color of your walls. What you have to do is to apply a primer to the furniture before applying your desired paint color.

Ideal Primers for Billy Bookcase

When painting poor surfaces, it is recommended to use a bonding primer. It bonds to a difficult surface and stays pretty well on the furniture. Below are the primers that are great to use for your Billy Bookcase.

Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Base Primer

This is a “silver bullet” primer that conceals the part of your furniture that you do not like or in this circumstance, the bookcase itself. This primer is known for sticking in the surface even without sanding included and can block odors.

Check this primer on Amazon.

Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch 2X Ultra Cover Paint + Primer

This primer is rated as a top-quality primer because it gives great coverage and a smooth finish. It also provides twice the coverage with fast application only. 2X Ultra Cover is available in various colors.

Check this primer on Amazon.

INSL-X STIX Waterborne Bonding Primer

A superior primer due to its exceptional adhesion even to the toughest surfaces of your furniture. This primer can dry quickly and can cure at a temperature as low as 35°F. It can be coated on top with any paint you want.

Check this primer on Amazon.

KILZ Adhesion High-Bonding Interior/Exterior Latex Primer

This water-based and premium-quality primer is fast drying and can provide excellent adhesion. It has a thick high hiding formula that can cover the flaws of your furniture’s surface to make it better before painting.

Check this primer on Amazon.

Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 PLUS Primer

This primer is known for its advanced performance. It is a water-based and zero-VOC primer with low odor and can block all stains on your furniture. It dries fast for about 35 minutes only and is ready to be coated after an hour.

Check this primer on Amazon.

Painting a Billy Bookcase

Given that you already chose your primer, it is important to know more tips about painting your Billy Bookcase. It doesn’t end on the primer. It is just one of the significant things you need to prepare.

No Sanding of Bookcase

Carpet sanding his DIY bookcase

If you are familiar with the process of painting wooden furniture, its first step is to sand the rough surface to be able to paint them with no problem. However, the Billy Bookcase is made of laminate veneer. A texture like this is not for sanding.

Lay Out the Components

Carpenter using a portable drill for his DIY bookcase

It is quite challenging to paint with the bookcase still intact. It is better to disassemble the parts of the Billy Bookcase first before painting with a primer. This will also help in covering the pieces properly with paint.

Time to Prime

Painter apply white paint to the cabinets panel

Before painting, make sure that you have already applied a primer. This will serve as the base coat of the Billy Bookcase. Without this, the paint to be used will not stick to the surface of the bookcase. It may adhere but only to selected parts. Follow the application instructions and drying times for your primer.

Choose the Brushes and Rollers to be Used

A paint roller used for painting a green wall

After picking the perfect color of paint for your Billy Bookcase, it is necessary to choose your paintbrushes and rollers. It is recommended to use small rollers to paint the entire part of each piece. For the corners and sections that the roller cannot cover, use a paintbrush.

Take your time to paint by applying at least two coats. Wait for the paint to be dry and let it adhere to have an incredible outcome.

How Much Weight Can A Billy Bookcase Shelf Hold?

The shelves are made to hold most likely 66 pounds (30 kilograms). However, the Billy Bookcase has various designs with different dimensions each. Therefore, the capacity of a Billy Bookcase will depend on its variation.

To know the dimensions of the designs, read here.

How Do You Customize A Billy Bookcase?

Ikea gave lots of design options to choose from. With these, you can maximize your artistic side by doing your own Billy Bookcase hacks! Looking for one or more? We got you!

Kitchen Island

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Isn’t it cool to transform your Billy Bookcase into something helpful in your kitchen? Make use of your bookcase as a kitchen island to place some of your kitchen needs! Also, this is good to utilize the space in your home. 

Check out: “What Color Cabinets with Black Granite Countertops.”


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One of the many dreams of a house owner is having their pantry. Wouldn’t it be nice to store all your important stuff like food, beverage, or other dry items, in an organized manner? Well then, if you own a Billy Bookcase, this is your sign to turn it into a pantry!


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Not enough room for your new clothes? Instead of buying a new drawer, you can always look for an alternative solution. Now is the chance to design your Billy Bookcase as a drawer!

Walk-In Closet

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If you are not satisfied with only a drawer, go and upgrade your Billy Bookcase as a walk-in closet! This is the best way to keep your clothes and shoes clean and well-organized.

In a hurry for a meeting? No need to rush and throw away clothes from your drawer. Just run into your closet and choose what to wear!

Is Ikea Billy Bookcase Durable?

Yes, Billy Bookcase is heavy-duty and well-built! Even so, it is not designed for commercial set-up. Billy Bookcase is made for a home setting. Its materials are stable to hold things at your house but not recommended for public stores.

If you wish to use it for business use, do not stack a lot per shelf. Make sure that it can still breathe and will not sag due to too much weight.

How Long Does A Billy Bookcase Last?

Of course, with proper and consistent treatment, a Billy Bookcase can last long. Its expected life is 20 years. Imagine how sturdy it is. Although, this is when you do not put too much on each shelf and do not let it get wet. You will have a better experience with Billy Bookcase if you take care of it well.

In Closing

A tall metal and wooden combined bookcase

Ikea’s Billy Bookcase has been popular ever since. Up to now, it is one of the most recommended pieces of furniture you should own. Aside from making your life easier when it comes to storing, the features of Billy Bookcase make your home aesthetically pleasing.

When it comes to upgrading the Billy Bookcase to your taste, do not forget the tips mentioned above. Primer is always a must! To get an amazing result, do not skip anything in the process and do not rush! The more you put effort and time into it, the better.

Looking for more painting tips? Check out: “How to Choose White Paint for the Living Room.”