How to Paint an IKEA Billy Bookcase in 5 Easy Steps

Written by

Rosanne Jones

Writer, Designer


Steven D. Carrico


how to paint an ikea billy bookcase

Bookcases can be useful in many ways, not just in saving space and neatly storing books – they can also add to the overall look of a room. So, having a bookcase like an IKEA billy bookcase, you might find it too simple due to the design and monotone color.

Mixing things up and adding some colors might be a good idea, but just that is not enough to execute the task. Read on to know how to paint an IKEA billy bookcase.

Tips Before You Paint an IKEA Billy Bookcase

Painting IKEA Billy Bookcase

The IKEA Billy Bookcase is known for its simplicity and stylish design that gives a minimalist vibe. With its given features, mixing and matching with other furniture and customizing the bookcase are rather easy.

Before proceeding to the steps, here are some tips and things to know and prepare.

  • Clean the bookcase before painting
  • Be patient in every process, especially between coatings
  • Keep the room in high temperature for quick paint drying
  • Don’t use only one type of sandpaper
  • Don’t use a paintbrush

What to Prepare for Painting

  • Paint (based on your preferences)
  • Damp Cloth
  • Gloves
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Sanding Papers
  • Primer (Optional – depends on your choice of paint)
  • Paint Tray
  • Paint Roller or Spray
  • Sealer

Choose Your Billy Bookcase Paint Color


Choosing the right paint color for your IKEA Billy bookcase may depend on what look and theme you’re achieving. The simple bookcase can naturally blend with any kind and swatch of colors you have in mind.

Among all those colors, there are still a few that are considered the best colors paired with white just like; yellow, beige, grey, gold, green, black, shades of blue, brown or wood, orange, pink, red, and purple. Which are almost primary and secondary colors.

Here are some color suggestions that may help you decide.


  • Gray: if you are going for a simple but sophisticated style, this color is for you.
  • Black: to emphasize books and other things in your bookcase
  • Bright Blue: a fun and bright color to lighten the atmosphere
  • Dark Green: for an earthy and adventurous vibe
  • Grey-Blue: gives off a soothing kind of feeling

You can use latex paint, spray paint and chalk paint for painting bookcases. You can also consider using an IKEA Billy paint. It may be in the form of paint or spray paint to match IKEA white billy bookcase.

But bookcases with chalk paint are quite a popular pick for others since they have a matte finish and are very convenient. It doesn’t require a primer, but it is not suitable for laminated and metal surfaces. You also need to cover it with wax for the finishing touches.

Step-to-step Guide to Paint an IKEA Billy Bookcase


After choosing the right paint color to match the IKEA white billy bookcase, you can come up with many ideas.

So, as I promised, here’s a guide to painting an IKEA Billy Bookcase.

Step 1: Disassemble

You need to do this to inspect, clean, and paint all the parts of the bookcase thoroughly. You don’t want to miss a spot, don’t you? It is easier to paint this way rather than an assembled one.

Step 2: Sanding

Although you can still apply paint without sanding, it is important to make sure all the surfaces and corners are perfect and easy for paint application.

Step 3: Adding Primer

Most paints require this for a better result before applying paint to stay, stick and apply well, but if you’re using chalk paint, you don’t need to do this step.

Step 4: Apply Your Preferred Type of Paint

After drying the primer, apply the paint evenly using a paint roller or spray paint. You can do 1 layer or 2 layers of paint.

Step 5: Top off with a Sealer

You need to wait for the paint to dry before applying the sealer. This last step is recommended since it ensures that your paint lasts longer.

When it comes to painting IKEA Bookshelves, it is almost the same with bookcases and only one step doesn’t apply which is step 1 (disassemble). Since it is mounted, it would be inconvenient to do so.

This step may also apply to bookcases or bookshelves with glass doors. This kind of furniture is also a popular choice for its excellent design and also stores your books and other stuff on your shelf safe since it isn’t bare and open.

How to Upcycle a Billy Bookcase


This process may also be considered one of many ways to upcycle your Billy bookcase if you’re painting a piece of old furniture. Here are some other methods to consider:

  • Paint the back wall of the bookcase
  • Put Stencil on the back wall
  • Paint pattern on the back wall
  • Put wallpaper
  • Customizing and replacing the back wall
  • Make it antique with an aged finish
  • Customize and add a storage top
  • Add doors to become a cabinet

Frequently Asked Questions


What paint can you use to paint Ikea furniture?

You can use latex paint, spray paint, chalk paint, colored stain, acrylic paint or enamel-based paint. This may also vary depending on what material your bookcase is made of and if it has a history of previous paintings.

If you want a fast drying and curing time, you can use water-based paint. But if you want a durable type of paint, choose oil-based. But oil-based is commonly used for furniture so it is more recommendable than water-based.

Which is better? Hemnes or IKEA Billy Bookcase?

Hemnes bookcase, despite being overshadowed by Billy bookcase’s popularity some people find it much better than Billy (sorry, Billy!). In terms of quality and longevity, that is where Hemnes excels.

Despite some flaws with a bit of a grainy surface and some hidden book corner moments, others prefer Hemnes rather than Billy. But some still prefer Billy in terms of budget and how easy it is to customize it.

Is a green bookcase IKEA a good one?

Well, it is also a great idea if you found the perfect shade of green that you are looking for and what suits your style and theme you’re achieving.


After knowing all that, do you still think painting is an easy job? Well, it’s up to you to decide. But for me, even with all those things to prepare and learn just to paint I still find it a fun activity to do.

So, I hope you have fun learning how to paint an IKEA Billy bookcase and eventually, decorate and paint your own with these steps and tips to your heart’s content.

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