Quick Tip: When buying bookshelves beware of particle board shelves. They are usually decorative and not designed to hold the weight of real books. After a few months they will bow and eventually dump your books on the floor. You can sometimes glue or screw a board to the bottom of each shelf to improve its strength, but solid wood is a better option.
This isn’t universal, though. We’ve had IKEA’s “Billy” bookshelves in heavy use in our library for 12 years, with no problems. See here, for example:
(You can see there’s a space between the bookcases, but that’s because the floor isn’t level, not because the particleboard is warping.)
Mark Shead says
@Andrew – I’m guessing that those are made a bit differently than the $49 shelves from Office Depot. Are they simply thin particle board or do they have a reinforcing rod of some type?
Hi, Mark. Sorry to take a while to get back and see your reply. The particleboard is about 3/4″ thick and not reinforced.
You are right that any thinner than that might make me nervous.
I put up some particle board shelves years ago using the metal rails that you screw into the wall studs and the adjustable brackets. I bought 3/4″ x 6′ plain particle boards and they have never bowed. I use them in my den/home office. There is a good bit of weight on them and they are doing fine. I agree that I would not use the thin vinyl covered particle board shelves to try to support anything heavy though.
Arjun Muralidharan says
I like my IKEA Billy shelves. They’re classic, and basically timeless. They’re not very fashionable, but I think they get out of the way and it’s up to you to make your books look good on them and free of clutter…