How Much Weight Can A Bookshelf Hold?

Knowing the safe load capacity of a bookshelf is extremely important for the safety of your household, especially if you have small children or pets around. A standard hardcover book weighs around 2 to 7 pounds, while a 300-page paperback usually weighs around a pound or two. Now, imagine having dozens of books on one bookshelf. Even if your bookshelf looks strong, it is important to know if it can actually support the number of books you have on each shelf.

So, in this article, we will answer the question: how much weight can a bookshelf hold? Then, we will go over the average weight capacity of different types of bookshelves. This will help you calculate how much weight is safe to place on the specific type of shelf that you have.

Let’s get started.

Why Does It Matter How Much Weight A Bookshelf Can Hold? 

So, why do we need to ask the question: how much weight can a bookshelf hold?

Every bookshelf has a weight limit. If you have a standalone bookshelf, overloading it with objects can cause the individual shelves to crack under the weight. But when it comes to mounted or floating bookshelves, there are more serious safety issues that come into play.

Placing too much weight on a floating or hanging bookshelf increases the risk that it falls off the wall. At the very least, this can lead to repair work and a broken shelf. But in worst-case scenarios, the shelf and its contents could end up hurting someone if they happen to be near the shelf when it rips from the wall. All this considered, it is really important that you pay close attention to the weight capacity of your bookshelf.

So, How Much Weight Can A Bookshelf Hold?

The safe load capacity (the amount of weight that a bookshelf can hold) varies from bookshelf to bookshelf. Some bookshelves are stronger than others because they are made from stronger materials. Meanwhile, other bookshelves can hold more weight because they are supported by high-quality brackets.

With that in mind, let’s talk about the safe loads of different types of bookshelves. Then, we’ll explain how you can increase safety when it comes to the loads you place on your bookshelf.

Weight Capacity Varies By Bookshelf Type

A standard bookshelf can hold between 40 to 300 pounds depending on its material. This is obviously a huge range - where does your bookshelf fall on this spectrum? It depends on the materials used. For example, a high-quality wooden shelf made from strong, dependable wood will hold more weight than, say, a lower-quality, porous wooden shelf. 

The next question is: how much weight can a floating bookshelf hold?

The shelf load capacity of floating shelves will depend on the number of wall studs you use to support them. As a general rule, one wall stud can support up to 50 pounds. This means that if you have a three-foot shelf with 2 wall studs, the entire shelf can hold up to 100 pounds. The same goes if you have a longer shelf but with only 2 studs; the safe load capacity will depend on the number of studs regardless of shelf length, material, or depth.

Mount Your Bookshelf Into A Stud - Not Drywall

In a standard home, wall studs are placed 16 inches apart (although in older homes, they may be placed 24 inches apart). Finding wall studs is easy if you have a blueprint of your home. But if you don’t, you can start at the corner of the room and measure 16 inches into the wall. Alternatively, you can start measuring from light switches or outlets because these are usually where wall studs are. Of course, the best advice is to use a stud finder. Not everyone has one of these, though.

When all else fails, do the “knock” test to find where your wall studs are. Put your ear against the wall and knock until you hear a solid “thunk”. When there is only drywall, you will hear an echo behind the wall; so, when you hit something solid, you are knocking against a wall stud.

Once you find your wall studs, mark them with a pencil or painter’s tape. Then, you can go ahead and install the bracket systems for your shelves.

If you can’t find your wall studs or can’t find any on where you want to put your shelf, the alternative is to use drywall anchors. But how much weight can a bookshelf hold in drywall?

A shelf supported on drywall anchors can only hold up to 20 pounds, maybe even less. If you put more weight than that, you run the risk of damaging both your wall and your floating shelves.

Floating Shelf Depth Also Matters

A deeper floating shelf is usually more stable. This is because there is more space to distribute the weight of the objects on your shelf. 

Similarly, deeper or bigger brackets can provide more support to the shelves themselves. Additional supports can also help, especially if your shelves are deeper than 12 inches. Do take note that you may need power tools and a bit more elbow grease to install all this hardware.

What Are The Strongest Bookshelves Online?

If you want a shelf that is affordable, stylish, and strong, look no further than Nathan James’ contemporary bookshelves. These bookshelves can hold up to a whopping 50 pounds per shelf, so you can rest assured that your decor will stay safe even if they are a bit on the heavier side.

What’s more, these shelves are ultra-chic–so much so that having one is one of the best modern living room design ideas you can have. Plus, if you’re looking for modern office design ideas for small spaces, Nathan James also has a space-saving shelf solution for you. 

How Much Weight Can A Bookshelf Hold? Closing Thoughts

A standard 2 x 4 bookshelf can hold around 40 to 300 pounds, depending on the quality of the shelf. For floating shelves, it all boils down to how many wall studs the shelf is attached to; every wall stud can support up to 50 pounds, so the more wall studs, the better.

When in doubt, the best advice we can give you is to consult the manufacturer’s website directly for the information. If it’s not readily available, you can reach out. However, any shelf manufacturer that doesn’t display this information is probably not proud of their weight ratings - they are likely weaker shelves.

Now, whether it’s standalone shelves or floating shelves that you are shopping for, Nathan James has it all–and for the best price possible. We also have contemporary storage cabinets, contemporary entertainment centers, rolling bar carts, and other types of furniture–all with superb quality and the best modern designs that money can buy!

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