How to Install Bookcases
For some people, their personal library is the cornerstone of their home. Fortunately, putting one together can be as simple or complex as you want it to be; it largely depends on whether you want to buy a bookshelf or create one yourself from scratch. However, there’s more to installing a bookcase than simply putting it together — even after finding the right spot for it, it is recommended to find some way of securing it to the wall for safety’s sake.
Putting a Bookcase Together
Step 1: Plan your bookcase. Any bookcase project should begin with planning and foresight. Although this line of thinking usually applies to DIY projects, even ready-to-assemble kits will offer some level of choice when it comes to the adjustable height of the shelves. If you do build one from scratch, you should also consider the type of material you’re using for the project; medium-density fiberboard tends to be a good go-to material for bookshelves.
If you’re still unsure which one to buy, IKEA’s famous Billy bookshelf is both simple and wonderfully versatile.
Step 2: Screw together the bookcase frame. When you purchase a bookcase from a store, it should come with a comprehensive how-to guide on how to put it together.
Of course, if you’re building one yourself, you’ll need to make pilot holes with a drill first before screwing the parts together. For some extra stability, you may want to nail in the pieces once you screw them in together.
Step 3: Nail in the backframe. Many bookcases come with a backframe. The backframe of a bookcase should be a lighter, thinner material than the rest, and it is generally meant to keep things from falling out through the back of the shelf.
Despite often being the most cumbersome individual piece, a backframe is relatively easy to install. Once you have the basic frame of the bookcase set, you can simply align the backframe with the other shelf parts and nail it in.
Step 4: Add the shelves. Although many ready-to-assemble kits use wooden pegs to support the individual shelves, it is best to nail them into the frame body through the sides and back.
Chances are the wooden pegs are designed to take a lot less weight than you’ll want to use the shelf for; nonetheless, the pegs are good to include as a basic support, as they also keep the shelves on an even level when you nail them in.
Step 5: Attach the baseboard. After you have verified that the other parts of the shelf body have been put together properly, nail or glue the baseboard at the bottom into place. Glue is actually preferable for the baseboard, as nails will be visible and it wont need a lot to stay in place.
Step 6: Paint the bookcase. Giving a bookcase a fresh coat of paint can help it blend in with the surrounding aesthetic of the room. Matte paints are generally recommended for painting shelves. Alternatively, you may also choose to stain the bookcase instead of painting it.
Securing the Bookcase
Step 1: Find a suitable wall or corner. Finding a suitable wall to place your bookcase up against is almost as important as the bookcase assemblage. Nestling your bookcase against a corner is recommended, as this will maximize its stability.
On the other hand, there are areas of the house that are less suited for placement. For instance, placing a bookcase right beside a doorway can cause undue inconvenience if it partially obstructs a pathway or view.
Step 2: Secure the top of the bookcase with a wall bracket. While an unsecured shelf can fall and crash, a secured bookcase with a fixed wall bracket will stay steady.
Climb up with a stepladder and make pencil marks to show where you’ll want to screw in a wall bracket. Drill in some pilot holes and put the screws through the bracket, including a washer between the two. Fortunately, many taller bookshelves come with these additional parts to secure it. Although many bookcases come with more than one bracket, one should usually be more than enough to keep it stable.
Step 3: Check the shelf restraints regularly. Checking the tightness of your bookcase’s restraints shouldn’t take more than a few seconds. Pull up a ladder or chair to stand on and re-tighten the screws holding the shelf in place.
There shouldn’t be much risk of an issue if you tightened the restraints sufficiently in the first place, but popping up to look every six months or so will ensure that it’s always well secured.
Step 4: Place the heaviest books at the bottom. If assembled correctly, a good bookcase should be able to shoulder a hefty burden. However, you’re not going to want to test those limits. By putting the heavy books on the bottom, you are ensuring proper weight distribution.
It’s good to have your tallest shelf at the bottom in order to fit bigger books and binders. Keeping heavy items at the bottom is also recommended for your own safety in case they start falling off in an earthquake.
In any case, even if you have taken every possible opportunity to secure your bookcase, try not to overstock it. Even the sturdiest bookcase has its limits, after all. If it’s treated reasonably well, however, it could conceivably last for a lifetime.