Are IKEA Bookshelves Good? {Explained}

Interior bookshelves in IKEA store.

Once again, IKEA has tapped into a low-budget market by offering stylish bookshelves at a low price point. But their cheap bookshelf pricing has been regarded by many book lovers as a red flag considering how expensive bookshelves from other brands are. 

This has forced the most commonly asked question among book lovers: are IKEA bookshelves good?

The quality of IKEA bookshelves is generally good. There have been several recalls over the years but if you assemble the pieces of the shelves correctly, they can last as long as other brands in a higher price range. Besides, IKEA bookshelves have a seamless customization option that makes them great additions to rooms of any size.

However, if you are looking for a heavy-duty bookshelf for commercial use in your book stores or offices, the IKEA bookshelf is not the right choice. But for your next home renovation such as updating your home library shelves, many people have found it the way to save cash but still get what you are looking for.

What are Some of the Reasons to Buy IKEA Bookshelves Over Other Brands?

Great Price Point

As we mentioned before, IKEA bookshelves are so easy on the wallet. The iconic BILLY bookshelves, for example, are below $200, with some as cheap as $20. They may not be of the best quality, but at that price range, they are worth purchasing.

Other bookshelves from IKEA such as HEMNES, KALLAX, LAIVA, HAUGA can all be found at a price range similar to that of BILLY.

Easy to Assemble

One of the reasons IKEA is able to keep the cost of their bookshelves low is because it is up to customers to assemble their furniture. You will have to put together every single screw, support beam, bolt-together on your own.

The good news, assembling IKEA parts is very easy and you don’t need an expert to do it. Their bookshelves pieces are simple and you may not even require a helping hand friend. 

Highly Customizable

If you ask any IKEA bookshelves lovers why they fancy this brand, the first reason is always their customizability. The ability to be customized for a given space configuration is no doubt their number one quality.

They can be customized in many ways, including size, shape, color, height, door, and more. For instance, the BILLY bookshelf that I own has height and width extenders. I added the height extenders with glass doors because we have high ceilings.

Besides, it has lots of door options. I managed to add solid doors on a couple of bottom Units, left others open, and added glass doors to the uppers. 

Continuously Available

The problem with other bookshelves brands is that when you want to do the replacement, you may not find a similar product to what you bought. 

IKEA bookshelves are continuously available if you need change. You can go tomorrow and find the exact shelf that you own. This makes replacement easier.

Slim Profile/Baseboard Cutout

This gives it a great in-built feel. They easily fit your wall and go around the corners. Their slim nature also makes them easy to screw. 

Do IKEA Bookshelves Sag? 

Though IKEA has a lot of reputation, one major complaint from customers is that their shelves sometimes sag. That is true. However, IKEA is constantly improving its bookshelf stability.

IKEA bookshelves sag because they are made out of particleboard. These materials are not durable as pure wood or other shelf materials. 

However, not all IKEA shelves will sag equally. The amount of sags is influenced by the weight of the books on the shelf, shelf dimension, and exposure to moisture.

That said, IKEA bookshelves are moderately sturdy and should not be used for commercial purposes or retail settings. For heavy-duty commercial bookshelves that may not sag, you may check with other brands.

For your home library, however, I am confident IKEA bookshelves can handle the book weights.  

How Do You Make IKEA Bookshelves Look Expensive?

We all dream of something fancy when thinking about how to best display our books at home. No book lover will want to install cheaper bookshelves and use them that way.  

Well, you can make your IKEA bookshelf look like the library from Beauty and the Beast. Here is how to go about it. 

Add front edge support

you can attach stronger material to the bookshelf front edge to stop it from sagging. You can also do this to fix minor sagging. 

You can use glue or nail to attach a nice lip to the edge of yourself. This lip will not only support the self but make it look beautiful too. The link below will lead to a video that demonstrates how you do it. 

Add back edge support

Unlike front edge support that is meant to strengthen a floating shelf, back edge support is meant to strengthen the back edge. You can accomplish this with wood or metal u-channels. The video below illustrates how you can accomplish it with the beadboard.

You can add midline support

You need to cut another board to fit between the shelf from the bottom to the top. However, this strategy may reduce shelving space so I don’t always recommend it so much.

The two first strategies are just enough for support, and that is why the midline support isn’t included in the video.

Add crown molding

This is part of the finishing steps. You should start by filling any hole you have on yourself, and then cover visible screws. Molding makes the self look more beautiful, finished, and expensive.

Caulk and paint

When all is done, you will have to paint your shelf with the color that you love. But you should caulk it first. Caulking will add more beauty to your shelf and make it look expensive

Which IKEA Shelves are Strongest?

The strongest IKEA bookshelves are the metallic BROR shelves. These shelves can withstand a lot of weight with the widest and deepest holding up to 285lbs while the smallest can hold up to 154lbs. 

Interestingly, they are as easy to assemble, cheap, and customizable as other IKEA bookshelves. 


It is true that in-built bookshelves are very expensive and someone on a budget cannot afford them. However, IKEA offers a great alternative. You can have them at a very generous price and still customize them to a great finish.

However, they are not great for commercial bookkeeping. For your office or store bookshelves, you may look elsewhere. For your home library, get an IKEA bookshelf now and you won’t regret it.