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

Low
$800
Average Cost
$3,000
High
$5,000
(5 linear feet of solid wood bookshelves, installed)

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

Low
$800
Average Cost
$3,000
High
$5,000
(5 linear feet of solid wood bookshelves, installed)

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Built-in bookshelves are a wonderful way to add storage solutions to your rooms without taking up much floor space. These shelves and cabinets store books, decorative items, and gadgets and are found in a wide range of materials, sizes, and styles. The average cost for built-in bookshelves is between $1,500 to $4,000, with most homeowners paying around $3,000 for 5 linear feet of solid wood bookshelves, professionally installed.

Cost to Install Built-in Shelving

Built-in Shelving Costs
National average cost$3,000
Average range$1,500-$4,000
Minimum cost$800
Maximum cost​$5,000


Updated: What's new?

Built-in Shelving Cost by Project Range

Low
$800
2 linear feet of MDF bookshelves, installed
Average Cost
$3,000
5 linear feet of solid wood bookshelves, installed
High
$5,000
8 linear feet of solid wood bookshelves with glass doors and lighting, installed

Custom Bookcase Cost per Linear Foot

Custom bookcase makers have various ways of pricing for their services. Some charge per linear foot, meaning larger bookcases have higher prices. The price per linear foot usually includes both labor and materials, but it is always worth checking with your contractor. In general, the cost of a custom bookcase per linear foot is anywhere between $300 and $1,200. The exact price depends on the work needed and the materials used.


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Custom Bookshelf Cost by Material

One of the most important factors in determining the overall cost of your custom bookcase is the material you choose to have it made from. There are some affordable options like MDF and more expensive alternatives, such as elegant solid woods and metal/wood combinations. The table below shows some common bookshelf materials and their average price per linear foot:


Built-in Shelving Cost

Built-in Shelving Cost


MaterialPrice per Linear Foot
MDF$300 - $400
Hardwood Plywood$400 - $550
Metal$450 - $800
Metal and Wood$450 - $1,000
Solid Wood$500 - $1,000
Glass$750 - $1,200


MDF Bookshelves Cost

MDF is the best option for custom bookcase projects on a budget but is also useful for those who want to customize the shelves with their own paints and finishes because it is simple to paint. MDF is made from many layers of dried and pressed wood fibers and resists temperature changes well with little risk of warping. The average cost for MDF bookshelves is between $300 and $400 per linear foot.

Hardwood Plywood Bookshelves Cost

Plywood is similar to MDF in that it is relatively affordable and made from layers of pressed wood fibers in sheets. You may choose from a few plywood hardwood styles, including maple and pine. These bookshelves are reasonably sturdy and dependable, costing between $400 and $550 per linear foot on average.

Metal Bookshelves Cost

Metal is one of the strongest materials for bookshelves. Bookshelves in commercial locations like offices, book shops, and libraries tend to be made of metal due to the resistance and strength of this material. Metal shelves support weight without buckling and handle moisture well, but they are not as glamorous and elegant as wooden shelves. They cost between $450 and $800 per linear foot, on average.

Metal and Wood Bookshelves Cost

Offering the best of both wood and metal bookshelves, these combination units feature a mixture of metal frames and wooden shelves, or vice versa. Blending the aesthetic qualities of wood with the sturdiness of metal, their prices range from $450 to $1,000 per linear foot.

Solid Wood Bookshelves Cost

A solid wood bookcase refers to one made with nothing but natural woods like oak, ash, pine, walnut, and birch. You may opt for a wide range of solid woods when ordering a custom bookshelves, and some woods are better at withstanding weight than others. Hardwoods like balsa and cherry are regarded as great choices for resisting scratches and maintaining their shape over time, but they tend to be more expensive than softer woods. The average price for solid wood custom bookshelves is between $500 and $1,000 per linear foot.

Glass Bookshelves Cost

Glass bookshelves are among the most delicate and sophisticated and take a lot of labor to produce for custom jobs. Therefore, they have a higher price. They usually have a metal or wooden frame to keep the tempered glass sheets in place and are highly prized for their appearance and contemporary charm. But they are very heavy, difficult to move, and easily broken. The cost for a glass bookcase ranges from $750 to $1,200 per linear foot.


Modern reading place with white built-in bookcase


Bookshelves Sizes

The bookshelf size has a large influence on the total project price. Some custom bookshelves are designed to be small, fitting snugly in little alcoves around windows or doors, while others are much larger units that take up entire walls or vast spaces in a bedroom, study, or living room.

The larger your bookcase, the higher the final costs. However, this varies depending on certain key factors. For example, units taller than 8’-10’ may be charged a premium price by some companies because they are complicated to make and fit into your home. Similarly, complicated corner units may also be more expensive due to the unique requirements of installing the shelves in hard-to-reach spaces.

The bookshelf depth also has an impact on the final price. If you plan to store standard-sized books, they need to be about 10”-12” deep. Smaller depths of around 6”-7” may be chosen for smaller paperback books, or larger depths of 14”+ may be selected to store large coffee table books.

Custom bookcases have many different sizes to fit into homes, so measure the space you want the shelves installed. Using this information and the materials and designs you want, a carpenter or cabinetry company can provide a price quote. Smaller bookshelves of 2 to 3 linear feet are fitted for $700 to $1,500, whereas larger ones of 7 or 8 linear feet cost $3,000 or more.

Cost to Install Built-in Bookshelves

The labor required to install custom built-in bookshelves varies widely, depending on the project size and scale. Installing tall units or shelves around pre-existing structures like fireplaces are more difficult than fitting shelves into an alcove. So, the exact labor price varies from one carpenter to the next. In general, carpenters and cabinetry companies charge between $50 to $150 per hour. The installation process includes planning and measuring the installation space, removing any trim or molding if necessary, fitting the unit, and cleaning up. This takes anywhere from 4-5 hours for a small unit to 20+ hours for larger jobs.


White reading area with built-in bookcases and a window reading nook


Cost of Built-in Bookshelves Around a Fireplace

Many homeowners like to install bookshelves around a fireplace, providing more storage for many items and making the fireplace even more of a highlighted feature in a living room or dining room. Bookshelves are a great way to frame a fireplace, fitted on either side or above it. The costs of this project vary widely, depending on the materials used and shelving size. In general, costs range from $500 to $5,000 or more.


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Built-in Bookshelves as a Headboard

Many people read in bedrooms, so it is common to also install bookshelves in the bedroom. One unique, space-saving way to store books in your bedroom and add a new feature to the space is to install bookshelves that serve as a headboard for the bed. These extend out around the sides of the bed to allow you to frame it with books and decorative items. The costs for this project varies depending on the materials used and the project scale, ranging from $1,000 to $8,000.

Doorway Bookcases

Another popular option for custom bookshelves is to fit them around doorways, including on both sides of the door and just above it. These shelves serve as a frame to the door, making use of the floor and wall space that is rarely used and drawing attention to the opening of the room. The cost for these doorways varies and may increase if they reach up to the ceiling, ranging from $800 to $3,000 on average.


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Enhancement and Improvement Costs

Glass Doors

Glass doors are installed on your custom bookcases to prevent books and items inside from getting dusty, while also enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the shelves. The cost for glass doors depends on the size needed but are usually made and fitted for about $100 to $200 per panel.

Lighting

Many modern bookcases and shelves are fitted with strips of LED lights illuminating the space with a gentle glow. They come in various colors, from whites to blues, and a set of lights costs around $20 to $30. You may need multiple sets, depending on the shelving unit size.

Bookshelf Painting

You may also wish to have your bookcase painted to blend in with the surrounding room or stand out more prominently. Some materials, such as MDF, are much easier to paint than others. The bookshelf painting costs vary depending on the size but generally range from around $300 to $1,000.

Drawers

There are many ways to customize your bookcase or shelving unit, and one option is to add drawers, allowing you to store items away safely and enjoy more storage solutions. Drawers are inserted into your custom bookcase design at a cost of around $100 to $250.

Crown Molding

Crown molding serves as a nice final touch to your bookcase design. It is an elegant trim placed on top of the cabinets. Sometimes, it directly connects the top of the bookcase to the ceiling, while at other times, it simply gives it a more decorative look. Crown molding costs range from $75 to $400, depending on the project scope.

Additional Costs and Considerations

  • If you plan to install a custom bookcase in a space with molding or flooring elements that might get in the way, they may need to be removed. This adds time and cost to your project.
  • Custom bookshelves are found in a wide range of styles to suit every home, from industrial-style shelves and contemporary offerings to more rustic and country-themed options.
  • If you plan a custom bookshelf project in an apartment, it may take longer than in a home because many apartment buildings have strict rules regarding when work may be done. This may mean that a job that normally takes a day in a house takes two or three days in an apartment.
  • As more modern homes are constructed with open floor layouts, the concept of a hallway is starting to fade away. Bookshelves are used as a makeshift hallway to separate a large, open-plan space into smaller sections. They are used to define different areas or even offer privacy.​

FAQ

  • How much does it cost to build built-in bookshelves?

The cost of built-in bookshelves varies enormously depending on what materials you use, where you plan to install the bookshelves, and how big they are. Costs range from $500 to $5,000 or more.

  • How deep should a built-in bookcase be?

This depends on what you plan to store in it. If you only use little paperback books, a depth of 7” should be enough, but you need 10-12” for regular-sized hardbacks or up to 16” for larger artbooks.

  • Do built-in bookshelves increase home value?

When built and installed to a professional standard, built-in bookshelves certainly increase the value of a home and may become an interesting selling point to attract potential buyers.

  • What type of wood is used for built-in cabinets?

Various types of wood are used for built-in cabinets, including pine, cherry, maple, birch, walnut, oak, and plywood.

Cost to install built-in shelving varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Updated:
The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.
Modern reading place area with built-in shelving and reading nook
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Cost to install built-in shelving varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.