Do Bookshelves Need To Be Anchored?

By Robert David Orr / Last updated: Nov 26, 2021

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.

Real quick: before we get too far along here, if you want to get more great ideas for your gaming room or home office and connect with other home office hackers to make your space the best join my free private Facebook group, Home Office Hacks here.

Do you have small children in your house?

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.

Do you have 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.

Do you live in an earthquake-prone area?

You should also consider anchoring your bookshelves if you live in an earthquake zone.

Anchoring your bookshelves will prevent them from falling over and causing damage to your belongings.

Are you displaying expensive art work on your bookshelves?

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.

How tall are your 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.

What kind of flooring are you using?

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.

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.

Next Steps

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

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Robert David Orr

I'm a remote working from home veteran of more than 10 years. When it comes to working life from a home office, you can bet that I've been there and done that.I've spent years figuring out what works and what doesn't when it comes to working from home - from the types of desks and chairs that are the best and most comfortable, to the types of technology, and even getting the atmosphere right with the best decorations you need to be your best when it comes to working from home. I've experimented with just about everything you can think of when it comes to getting the most out of my home office, how to work from home without going crazy, and found solutions to the numerous challenges that those of us who work from home run into in this life.

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