Do Bookshelves Need To Be Anchored?


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Wondering if that bookshelf or bookcase should be anchored to the wall?

Yes, bookshelves need to be anchored. If they aren’t, they could fall over and cause injury to you or your family members or cause damage to your collectibles. You can solve this by anchoring the bookshelves to the wall using a strap or chain that is easily hidden from view and by using heavy-duty screw that is drilled into a wall stud.

Bookshelves are usually placed against walls but there are times when they need to be anchored.

Anchoring bookshelves to the wall is pretty common, but if you’re not sure whether you need to go to the trouble or not it’s important to know when it’s necessary. This blog post will show you how to properly anchor bookshelves.

By the way – before we get too far along here, if you want to connect with other homeowners, DIYers, and builders and get more great ideas for your home to make your space the best join my free private Facebook group, Remodel Reality here.

Unanchored bookshelf concerns for children

One of the scenarios where you definitely want to make sure your bookshelves are anchored to your wall is if you have small children in your home.

Because of the way that weight is distributed when a bookshelf is fully loaded up, it can become top-heavy and easily pulled over by a climbing child.

Unanchored bookshelf concerns for pets

If you have pets you will want to make sure that you anchor bookshelves because they could easily knock them over.

For instance, if you have cats who like to climb on your stuff, it could be easy for them to knock stuff over.

If your bookshelves aren’t anchored and you live in an earthquake zone

Do you live in a region that’s prone to earthquakes and tremors? Having spent enough time in California myself, regular tremors are a part of life in some places and even an event that is relatively mild can easily topple your bookshelves.

Anchoring your bookshelf to the wall is absolutely essential if this is your situation. Not only does it prevent it from falling over, but it also prevents your shelves from moving around unnecessarily and dumping all the contents of your shelves on the floor and causing damage to your belongings.

You should anchor your bookshelves if you are displaying expensive art work or collectibles

Another scenario where you might want to anchor your bookshelf is if you are displaying expensive art work on them.

Imagine the scenario where you’ve got something that has great sentimental value to you that’s literally irreplaceable displayed on your bookshelf, but someone bumps into it, knocks the shelf off balance and your priceless family heirloom goes crashing to the floor, shattering into a thousand pieces!

Or maybe it’s a picture frame.

Or your sports memorabilia.

Or that expensive bottle of liquor you got as a gift.

If you’d only secured that shelf the tragedy could have been avoided.

Just because it’s heavy doesn’t mean your bookshelf can’t fall

The fact that your bookcases might be extremely heavy when they’re loaded up with your favorite tomes, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t fall.

Heavy bookshelves just means that the damage it can do when it falls is a lot higher and chances of someone being seriously hurt are greater.

So, even though it’s heavy, it still needs to be anchored.

The higher center of gravity is what causes the problem here.

How do you anchor a bookshelf to a wall?

An easy mistake to make when it comes to anchoring your bookshelf to your wall is anchoring it to drywall.

This is a huge mistake because what’s going to happen is that the anchor is going to be ripped out of the wall, taking your your drywall with it, as it topples to the ground.

Even using a heavy-duty drywall anchor isn’t the right solution here because it’s still attached to the drywall that’s more than likely made of gypsum and paper board.

Anchor bookshelves to studs

The best solution is to anchor your bookshelves to the studs in your wall.

In the U.S. studs in walls are either 16 or 24 inches apart on center (from the center of one stud to the next). The wood used for studs is usually a 2×4 piece that runs from the floor all the way to the ceiling.

So there should a wall stud within reasonable reach of your bookshelf regardless of where you want to place it.

Use a stud finder

In order to get your bookshelves anchored, you need to find where the studs are in your wall.

The best way to do this is by using a stud finder.

Once you’ve located a stud to use as your anchor, and you know you’re in the center of your stud, use a drill to drill a pilot hole for the screw you’ll use to mount your anchor.

Anchor with straps

Most of the good bookshelves you can buy today will come with mounting straps, especially the taller ones.

The trick here is to make sure you get all the slack out of the strap when mounting to the stud in your drywall.

Anchor with angle brackets

Another effective way to anchor bookshelves to the wall is to use angle brackets.

These are metal 90 degree metal brackets that you can screw into the stud in the wall and screw directly into your bookshelf.

Before you get upset about the appearance of metal brackets you bought from Lowes or Home Depot, they’re easily painted and can be obscured from being seen.

The security that these brackets provide are worth the effort to do the job right, especially if you have any of the previously mentioned scenarios in your home.

How many anchors should I use for my bookshelves?

Of course it depends on how wide your bookshelf is, but you want to have at least two anchors.

Using anchors on the top corners of your bookcases will help add stability.

Here’s why it’s important to anchor tall bookshelves

If your bookshelves are tall then, no matter what, it’s a good idea to anchor them because they could potentially tip over a lot more easily than a shorter bookcase.

In our home we’ve got a lot of books – I love to read. And we’ve got both tall bookshelves (7 feet tall) and short ones (3 feet tall). The shorter bookshelves aren’t nearly as top-heavy as the tall bookshelves are.

Here’s why it’s important to anchor bookshelves on different types of flooring

If your bookcases are on a carpeted floor they’re so much easier to topple over! In this case, you most definitely need to anchor your bookshelves to the wall.

But what if you’ve got a hard-surface floor like wood, LVP, or tile?

While your bookshelves will be much more stable on a hard surface than when they’re on carpet, even then, you should still get your bookshelves anchored to the wall. This will help keep your books and other knickknacks safe from being easily displaced or knocked over.

Next Steps

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Rob Orr

Me and my family have lived through a nightmare of a remodeling project gone wrong, making countless mistakes including placing trust in the wrong hands. Despite these setbacks, we took matters into our own hands for many aspects of the remodel, ensuring quality workmanship guided by expert advice. Through my personal experiences, I've created My mission is not only to share the pitfalls we encountered but also the successes we achieved by combining our efforts with trusted professionals. By sharing both the highs and lows of our journey, I aim to help others navigate their own remodeling projects with greater confidence, ensuring they benefit from our lessons learned.

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