Newest Review: ... or a thin seven shelf one. You can have a case with a glass front, or one built to go around corners. If, like our family, you have a boo... more
The ubiquitous Billy
Ikea Billy Bookcases
Member Name: shopping_jem
Ikea Billy Bookcases
Advantages: Cheap, cheerful, easy to put together, typical Ikea stuff
Disadvantages: The shelves bowed on my 80cm wide tall one under the weight of a normal load of books
Arguably Ikea's most famous piece of furniture, the Billy bookcases come in a wide range of sizes and styles, with or without various doors. This review is for the tall 2-door one (80cm wide) and the tall skinny (40cm wide) one.
The bookcases are easy to put together if you can handle standard flat-packs, but if you move them after assembly the backs tend to fall off as they are just thin nailed-on chipboard.
The tall 2-door Billy in white, which I own with the glass doors, looks fab in my living room as it fits perfectly into the chimney breast alcove. It has 5 shelves, and you can place them at different heights so it is very versatile. We mainly use them for books, and this has been a bit of a problem as it can't really cope with the weight of a shelf full of books without bowing irreparably. After a year or two, one or two shelves actually collapsed, and we had to reinforce the shelf with a metal bracket. In the end, we decided to buy a new identical Billy, and reuse the glass doors off the old one, as this was our cheapest option. Had it come down to buying the whole thing again, I don't think I would. On re-examining the bookcases on display in the Ikea showroom, you can actually see some bowing even under the weight of fake books. I wish I had noticed it the first time!
The Billy glass doors we have had for 7 years and they are still very strong with a good finish. The only thing that lets them down is that the little wooden handles look cheap, but you can always change those.
The tall, skinny Billy is much stronger that the 80cm wide one, because of the design and the fact that there is less length of shelf that can bow under the weight of books. We have it in my daughters' room , filled with books, and there is no bowing or weakening at all. My conclusion - if you want durable, longer lasting bookshelves then you are better to go for the tall skinny Billy rather than the 2-door version as it is stronger, and you can screw several side-by side if you want (as my in-laws have done to create a strong wall of bookcases.
Summary: Good value but if putting heavy books on the shelves will probably buckle on the 80cm wide Billy
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