How Much Do Built-In Bookshelves Cost?

Lauren David
Written by Lauren David
Reviewed by Andy Kilborn
Updated March 4, 2022
Home library with built - in bookshelves
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The typical cost to install built-in bookshelves ranges from $1,270 to $4,100

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If you love to read, you’re probably of the firm belief that you shouldn’t only keep 30 books. And with a built-in bookshelf, you can put them all on display while making the most of your wall space. 

The cost to install built-in bookshelves can range from $1,270 to $4,100. The final cost depends on their style, the type of material you choose, and whether you install them yourself or hire a professional.

“Whether completing a DIY kit install or hiring for a custom bookshelf build, focus on sturdiness,” says Andy Kilborn, Angi Expert Review Board member and owner of Andy’s Handyman. “The weight that the shelves will hold will need to be well secured.”

How Much Does It Cost to Install Built-In Bookshelves per Unit

When installing bookshelves, the first decision you have to make is whether you want a custom job or a pre-made unit.

Home library with built - in bookshelves
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Pre-Made Bookshelves

Pre-made built-in bookshelf units can be purchased at your local home improvement store and prices typically start at $150 per linear foot. If you’re looking to reduce some expenses, buying pre-made shelves can be a great option. And you don’t have to DIY the installation—you can hire a local carpenter or a handyperson near you to ensure the installation is done correctly.

Custom Bookshelves

If you prefer custom built-in shelves, expect to pay more. Bookshelves built especially for your space can range in price from $150 to $1,200 per linear foot. Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves typically cost $5,000 to $14,000 total.

How Much Do Built-In Bookshelves Cost by Type?

There are different types of materials to choose from when selecting a built-in bookshelf, which influences the cost and look.

MDF Bookshelves

Medium-density fiberboard, or MDF, is made from layers of pressed and dried wood fibers, giving it a smooth finish. They’re also sturdy, meaning they easily hold up your entire Harry Potter collection. 

If you’re on a budget or want to add your own personal touch by painting the shelf, MDF is a great option. But if you’re considering applying a varnish, the fiberboard will absorb the stain, making it hard to reach the desired effect. The average cost for an MDF bookshelf is $40 to $150 per linear foot, not including installation.

Hardwood Plywood Bookshelves

Plywood is another budget-friendly option made from various layers of wood fibers that are pressed together. Plywood may not be as visually appealing as a walnut or pine shelf, but a layer of varnish will spruce it up—you can also paint it to match your room decor! The average cost for a plywood bookshelf is comparable to MDF shelves, at $40 to $150 per linear foot.

Metal and Wood Bookshelves

Combining metal frames and wooden shelves creates a beautiful yet functional aesthetic. If you’re looking for something more modern, a metal and wood built-in bookshelf costs from $450 to $1,000 per linear foot.

Wood Bookshelves

Wooden bookshelves provide a natural touch to any room. Each type of wood has its own unique coloring, patterns, and texture that add depth. Choose from an array of hardwood options from birch, cherry, maple, oak, pine, or walnut. The average cost for a solid wood custom bookcase ranges between $150 and $400 per linear foot.

The Cost Breakdown of Built-In Bookshelves

From materials to installation, this is what a built-in bookshelf may costs.

Materials

Pre-made bookshelves units typically start at $150 per linear foot, while custom built bookshelves can range in price from $150 to $1,200 per linear foot or more, depending on the design and materials.

Installation Costs

Hiring a carpenter can range from $30 to $130 per hour. The amount of time to build and install a bookshelf will depend on the design, features, size, and materials. When calculating costs, plan for installation to take anywhere from five to 20 hours. The typical cost for a professional to install a custom built-in bookshelf is anywhere from $1,250 to $4,100.

How Much Does It Cost to Install Built-In Bookshelves Yourself?

You can install a built-in bookshelf over a weekend, and it can save you a pretty penny in installation costs. But it might not be as easy as you think—in addition to the shelves, you need to consider the costs of tools and hardware, which can add up quickly. And, without proper materials, cutting square and clean (without unsightly chips or slipntering) will be difficult and make your bookshelf look less than its best.

It may be worth it to hire a carpenter or handyperson to ensure your bookshelves are placed along the wall correctly and are 100 percent secure. Trust us, you don’t want them tipping over.

FAQs

Should I install built-in bookshelves?

Walls are often considered dead space, but built-in bookshelves can be an opportunity to turn it into something useful. Plus, they can even add value to your home!

What should you consider when deciding on built-in bookshelves?

It’s important to have a clear idea on how you’ll fill up your built-in bookshelf, such as whether you’ll use them to display books, board games, decorative items, or all three. Having a clear idea of how it will be used will be helpful in determining the desired size and overall function of the shelves.

What projects should I do at the same time?

While you’re imagining your new space, you shouldn’t forget about a comfortable reading nook. Now is the perfect time to install a window seat where you can curl up. The cost to install a window seat is about $2,500 on average.

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