How Wide Are Bookshelves?


Spread The Word

In any office space, storage is important. Whether you’re using bookshelves for book collection, filing, or knick-knacks, you need to know the right bookshelf width to fit into your home office.

Standard bookshelf width is 31 inches and roughly 12 inches deep. However, it’s not uncommon for bookshelves to be built 36 inches wide. Keep in mind bookshelves come in many different shapes and sizes. Bookshelves can be tall and narrow or short and wide. Your spatial and storage needs will determine your ideal bookshelf width. 

Many bookshelves today have adjustable shelves that give users the freedom to add or remove shelving to suit their design preferences. Read on to learn about different bookshelf options and their dimensions.

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.

How Wide Should Bookshelves Be?

There are all kinds of bookshelves on the market. However, most people purchase bookshelves that are relatively the same size and shape, no matter where they come from.

Bookshelf Style Standard Width Standard Height Standard Depth
Two-Shelf Bookcase 31 inches 32 inches 12-13 inches
Three-Shelf Bookcase 30-36 inches 41-48 inches 12-13 inches
Four-Shelf Bookcase 24-45 inches 54 inches 12-15 inches
Five-Shelf Bookcase 31-37 inches 72-77 inches 12-13 inches

The truth is, though, that there are all kinds of bookshelves that don’t fit into one of the five aforementioned bookshelf dimensions.

For example, if you work in a cramped space and don’t have an entire wall to dedicate to a tall bookcase, you can stack multiple small bookcases on top of one another.

Additionally, you might have large binders or filing boxes that don’t fit between the shelves of a typical bookshelf. In this case, you’ll need to find bookcases with deeper shelves or more distance between shelves.

Fortunately, there is a wide range of bookshelves to choose from.

Standard Dimensions for Built-In Home Office Bookshelf

Those who work out of a dedicated home office usually can take advantage of a built-in bookcase or two for their storage needs. The standard dimensions for an ever-useful built-in bookcase are as follows:

  • Width: Depends on available wall space
  • Height: 84 inches or lower for ease of access
  • Depth: 10 to 12 inches deep
  • Shelf-Spacing: 8 to 12 inches between shelves

When designing built-in home office bookcases and shelving, you should keep in mind your specific storage needs. For example, if you have several large binders that you know you will store, ensure you leave enough space between each shelf to accommodate the height of the binders.

Different Uses for Bookshelves

Bookshelves have many different uses. The name “bookshelf” indicates their main purpose: storing and holding books. However, any bibliophile knows that books can come in all shapes and sizes.

For a bookshelf to act as a proper display space for books, it needs to be able to bear the heavy load of heavy books, larger books, and all the small books in between.

However, a bookshelf isn’t just about books. As a piece of furniture, a bookshelf is very useful for storing and displaying all kinds of things from decorative objects to bulky board games.

A bookshelf with the right dimensions can solve all kinds of organizational needs, especially those of the home office variety.

How to Strengthen a Bookshelf

If you keep filling your bookcase with books and files, eventually it can weigh hundreds or even thousands of pounds. If your bookshelf is solid wood, it’s going to be even heavier. If you have tall items in your home office that weigh this much, you need to reinforce their strength to ensure you avoid dangerous situations.

The dimensions of a bookshelf have a great deal to do with how strong it is. Additionally, you can take steps to strengthen your bookshelf to take on extra storage and bear heavier loads.

How to Avoid Bookshelf Sagging

Sagging bookshelves are a common issue. Once you pack too many items onto a shelf, eventually the shelf will begin to dip in the middle due to the weight.

You have a few options for reinforcing sagging shelves. First, remove everything from the shelves so they are empty.

  • You can insert vertical supports underneath the center of each shelf.
  • You can screw an additional strip of solid wood underneath each shelf.
  • Remove the insides of unwanted books and insert wood panels into them vertically that will support the shelf above like Family Handyman does here.

Anchoring a Bookshelf to a Wall

When using a tall bookshelf, you should always anchor it to the wall. Do this whether your bookshelf is solid wood or cheap plastic.

A falling bookshelf can be extremely dangerous, especially if it is full of heavy books and materials. An earthquake or any number of random incidents can send a tall bookcase toppling over.

  • Flexible nylon straps are safer than ridge L brackets
  • These furniture straps are the strongest most versatile straps available todayA bookshelf does not have outside edges. Bookshelves are designed to hang on walls, but modern bookshelves also sit on floors as bookcases do. See an example of a bookshelf:
  • Climb on a ladder to draw a pencil line where the bookshelf meets the wall.
  • Pull the empty bookshelf away from the wall.
  • Locate the wall studs on the wall behind your bookcase and mark the locations with a pencil
  • Vertically align velcro anchor straps and drill each end into the stud.
  • You can also use metal brackets for a stronger hold. When using brackets, use the same area where your wall stud is.

Next Steps

Want to join others who are creating the most amazing home redesigns & renovations and get more tips, tricks and hacks on how to make your home the best it can be?

Join my brand new free private Facebook group, Remodel Reality to connect with other people like you to make your space the best!

Trending Articles

Dive into more home improvement stories below. One of these trending articles might just be the right solution for your problem or inspire your next project's breakthrough.

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.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *