Library Ladder on IKEA BILLY Bookshelves Hack: Four Different Methods

ikea bookshelves with ladder

I recently purchased a lovely old Cotterman library ladder with a long track. The track feels heavy.


I’d like to attach the ladder to my extensive tall (extended) IKEA BILLY bookshelves, but I’m concerned the particleboard won’t hold up. Has anyone done this or any advice?

~ Melissa


Hi Melissa

It’s definitely possible to attach a library ladder to IKEA BILLY bookshelves — So classic!

The hacks I’ve seen don’t bolt the ladder to the BILLY bookshelf. Instead, the ladder is fastened to pieces of solid wood fixed to a frame.  As you suspected, particleboard BILLY is too flimsy to hold up a heavy track.

The BILLY bookshelves themselves should be secured to the wall. The backboard is not sturdy enough, so you’ll need a combination of L and corner brackets to secure the units to wall studs (if you have a drywall).

1. IKEA Billy Bookshelf With Insert and Rolling Ladder

Using a solid insert is one of the best ways to attach a rolling ladder. In the photo below, Doug stacked short BILLY bookshelves on top of the tall ones. Then, he also added solid wood between the units. Not only does it add a classic feel, but it’s also where he fastened the rail. See the details here.

IKEA bookshelves with rolling ladder

You don’t need to have a wall-to-wall library. East Coast DIY was able to create a wall bookshelf using two BILLY bookcases between a window. Then, she made a bridge of cabinets and melamine boards to secure the ladder. See the stunning results here.

2. Built-in IKEA BILLY Bookshelf With Ladder

The Makerista also has lovely built-in IKEA BILLY bookshelves with a library ladder.

IKEA bookshelves with ladder

Credit: The Makerista

In her version, the track goes on the wood frame above the bookcases.

built in frame

Credit: The Makerista

I’ve already hacked the IKEA HAVSTA into a spectacular built-in, but this hack is also pretty amazing, especially by adding a ladder.

To make your built-in bookshelf more cohesive, I’d recommend removing the baseboards, installing the frame and the bookshelf, and then reattaching the baseboard trims.

These extra steps might take a lot more time and effort, but the end product will be so worth it! 

If you’d rather not hack your BILLY bookcases into a built-in, you’ll need to find other methods to incorporate the ladder. For example, A stand-alone wood frame might do the trick.

3. IKEA BILLY Bookshelf With Sliding Track Ladder

Alternatively, like Kelly, you can mount the ladder onto a sliding track on the ceiling. This may not work with your Cotterman ladder mechanism, but it’s still a lovely idea for others who prefer a rolling ladder.

IKEA bookshelves with ladder

Credit: The Lily Pad Cottage

4. IKEA BILLY Bookcase With Ladder and Rail

Fixing your ladder to a rail is an optimal solution for your problem. For starters, the rail will perfectly support the ladder. It’ll also leave your IKEA BILLY Bookshelf untouched!

Installing the rail is easier than it sounds. All you need to do is measure the rail pipe to the length of the bookshelf, adding a couple of inches. Then, drill and fix the pipe onto the wall. Voilà! You’ll have the library ladder of your dreams.

Keep in mind that you must choose the right type of rail. It must be sturdy enough to hold your weight as well as a couple of books.

If permanent changes aren’t for you. Then a simple step-ladder will still do the trick. There are a couple of elegant options on the market that’ll still add a classic touch to your library.

I hope your project goes well. Don’t forget to let us know what you end up with finally!

Happy hacking,


Hacking may compromise the structural integrity of the item, so please be aware of the risks involved before modifying or altering any IKEA product. Alterations and modifications will also void any warranties or return policies you may have received from IKEA. is not liable for any product failure, injury or damage resulting from the application of suggestions, ideas and hacks featured on this site.