The Hidden Downsides Of IKEA's Popular Billy Bookcase

If you're in a crunch for a quick and easy furniture solution, a trip to IKEA has likely crossed your mind. The retailer is known for its simple and sustainable furniture and home-living items, such as their ever-popular BILLY bookcase. This simple fixture becomes a staple in any house it occupies, but before you click "add to cart," you should know about the hidden downsides of the bookshelf — like it's potential to sag.

Beyond their variety of products and quintessential Scandinavian design, there's a reason why everyone loves IKEA's furniture: It's cheap. And while cheap is never a completely bad idea (we're all out to save a few bucks now and then), the problem with cheaper furniture is that it's made of lesser quality, hence why the BILLY bookcase may not be the most durable option. This doesn't mean that you should scratch the BILLY bookcase off your list for something more opulent — the $89 bookcase can still be a great addition to your home — but you should follow the right maintenance and precautions.

What causes the BILLY bookcase to sag?

The BILLY bookcase resembles a painted wooden bookcase, but it's not made from real, solid wood, which is one of the leading causes for its tendency to sag. Particle-board — the main material in this piece — is weaker and less durable than solid wood. It does not hold up to water or moisture well at all, which weakens the boards tremendously. A small spill is not going to cause catastrophic damage, but high-humidity levels will. If your home has consistent humidity, this bookcase might not be the best option.

One of IKEA's major selling points is its fast assembly, which these cheaper materials are able to produce. Since these boards are not all that durable to begin with, stacking the shelves with heavy books is going to cause the boards to bend and sag under the weight. This shouldn't be a major problem if most of your books are lighter, but issues could arise once you fill each shelf.

Ways to prevent sagging of your BILLY bookcase

If high-humidity levels are a main culprit for causing your bookcase to sag, altering the levels with a dehumidifier can potentially solve the issue. However, most of this bookcase's problem is the lack of support due to the cheaper materials. One homeowner decided to take matters into her own hands (literally) by replacing the bookcase's original shelves with newer ones she made from a stronger material (via Home Decor Bliss). The key is measuring to cut your new boards to the right size for a proper fit.

Not a DIYer? Simply flip over the shelves when they start to sag. This will help straighten your shelves back out and keep your bookcase functioning longer than expected. There is also the option to simply buy new shelves to replace the old ones with, though it's not likely the most cost-effective approach. These hacks add the extra strength this bookcase needs to house your books perfectly with no sagging disrupting the aesthetic or functionality.