How Much Does It Cost To Install Built-in Shelving?

National Average Range:
$400 - $5,000

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Updated: January 25, 2024

Reviewed by Carol J Alexander remodeling expert. Written by

To provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date cost figures, we gather information from a variety of pricing databases, licensed contractors, and industry experts.

Avid readers require one thing: a place to store their books. But even non-readers value built-in shelving. From books to collections to souvenirs from faraway places, built-ins provide the space to showcase everything you hold dear and boost the value of your home. 

Adding built-in bookshelves to your home ranges from $400 to $5,000, with the average homeowner paying around $2,700 for solid wood shelving. On the low end, you will spend $200 to DIY a painted pine bookshelf. On the higher end, a custom-built hardwood wall unit could cost as much as $42,000.

Cost to install built-in bookshelves

National average cost


Average range

$400 to $5,000





The factors that influence the cost of built-in shelving

The cost of adding bookshelves to your home depends on several factors. To help you navigate the expense, we’ve listed those factors so you can opt for the best features to enhance your home.


Since built-in shelving is a custom job, you can have bookshelves of any size and shape. Typically, built-ins surround a focal point, like the fireplace or television. Sometimes, they fill a nook that would otherwise be hard to navigate. Because of the increased amount of materials needed to fill larger spaces, size will impact the project's overall cost.


Shelving is made of various materials to complement your home best. Some materials are more costly than others. For instance, you’ll pay more for solid maple or glass shelving than painted pine or plywood. When choosing hardwoods, some are more costly than others. Following is a list of the most common materials you’ll find used for bookshelves.

  • Painted pine
  • Hardwood
  • Plywood
  • Laminated MDF
  • Glass

Types of shelving

When choosing a space for your favorite reads, you have two options: built-in or freestanding bookshelves. Many homeowners choose prefabricated, freestanding bookshelves because they can sit anywhere. Compared to custom-made built-ins, they’re inexpensive. However, they’re often made of laminated MDF or plywood and of lower quality. To purchase a prefabricated bookshelf, expect to pay from $65 for a narrow particleboard unit on Amazon to $37,000 and more for a solid cherry designer piece from Perigold.

Built-in shelving units, however, are permanent. You cannot move them when you rearrange the furniture. But, often made of natural hardwood or solid wood painted to match the decor, built-ins are durable, add a luxury feel, and improve the home’s value. 


A finish carpenter or cabinet maker typically charges $66 to $121 per hour, depending on your location and the complexity of the work.

If you’re a skilled woodworker, you may plan to build your own bookcases for your home. However, most homeowners don’t have the necessary skill or tools to take on this level of project. If you need to hire a professional, expect to pay at least $173 for labor alone. Of course, this depends on the materials and the scope of work. Adding door panels, hardware, and crown molding are a few extras that will increase the cost of labor.

The average cost to install built-in bookshelves

With multiple options to choose from, building bookshelves in your home can fit into any budget. From an economy-grade prefabricated model to an eye-popping design created by a local artisan, your ideas fall into one of the three categories described below.

Built-in bookshelves on a budget

Budget-friendly bookshelves cost from $65 to $400.

Cash-strapped homeowners need a place to keep their library while they save more money. But a low budget doesn’t have to mean cheap. Here are a few ideas for bookshelves that fall into this pricing tier.

  • Prefabricated shelf unit from a major retailer like Wayfair.
  • DIY shelving using pre-cut shelf boards of laminated MDF or clear pine, stained or painted, hung on the wall using brackets.

Mid-range built-in bookshelves

A middle-of-the-road budget for built-in bookshelves is $400 to $5,000.

With more money in your purse, you can hire a professional woodworker to build your shelving for you. By using less costly materials, you can add a stunning built-in unit for not much more than a DIY installation. Consider using poplar painted to match your home’s decor for this pricing category. Here’s a breakdown of options in this budget range.

  • Professionally built-in using less-costly wood like pine or poplar.
  • DIY built-in using glass or hardwood like maple or walnut.
  • Purchase a second-hand freestanding unit made of hardwood.

Luxury built-in bookshelves

Luxury built-in bookshelves cost $5,000 to $42,000, depending on the scope of work.

To elevate the style of your luxury home, you can afford custom-made built-ins with shelving, cabinets, and more. Here are a few options you can look forward to including in your home library.

  • Base cabinets to hide electronics or office equipment.
  • Hardwoods like maple, cherry, or mahogany.
  • Crown molding and ornate trim work.
  • Installed lighting.
  • Glass door fronts or shelves.
  • Designer hardware.

Pros and cons of built-in bookshelves


  • Elevate the style of the home.
  • Improve the home value.
  • Provide storage for books, collections, and more.


  • It cannot be moved when rearranging the furniture.
  • Quality built-ins are costly to build.
  • Not a complement to every home style.

Can I DIY built-in bookshelves?

If you have woodworking skills and the necessary tools, you can build your own library shelves in your home. To DIY this level of project, you’ll need experience using the following tools.

  • Circular saw
  • Stud finder
  • Jigsaw
  • Nailset
  • Scribing tool
  • Level
  • Cordless drill/driver

How to pay for built-in bookshelves

For many homeowners, installing built-in bookshelves could be a cash job, especially if you fall into the budget-friendly category. But, if you’re dreaming of a custom luxury library unit made of hardwood and added features, you may consider tapping into your home equity line of credit (HELOC). If you don’t have a HELOC in place, talk to a lender today to get the ball rolling.

How to save money on bookshelves

Sometimes, even a budget-friendly home improvement project sounds impossible. If that’s your circumstance, here are a few ideas to help you save money and get your books out of boxes and on display.

  • Include your built-in shelving with a larger job. Not many trade professionals have the time to accept small jobs like one bookcase. But if you include your unit in with a larger project or install built-ins in several rooms, you’re more likely to entice them to take your job and maybe even pay less for labor. 
  • Choose builder-grade materials over hardwood or glass.
  • Buy a freestanding unit to buy time while you save more money.
  • DIY what you’re able. 

Reading nook, anyone?

Whether you want built-in shelves around your television or a reading nook with a window seat, built-ins done right give any home an air of elegance it didn’t have before. Because these costs are approximate based on national averages, you want to consult with a professional carpenter in your area. Let us help you find a local pro from our trusted partners to estimate your project cost.