How Much Do Built-In Bookshelves Cost?

Typical Range:

$1,425 - $4,650

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 655 HomeAdvisor members. Embed this data

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  • Homeowners use HomeAdvisor to find pros for home projects.
  • When their projects are done, they fill out a short cost survey.
  • We compile the data and report costs back to you.

Updated July 26, 2022

Reviewed by Robert Tschudi, Expert Home Building and Remodeling Contributor.

Written by HomeAdvisor.

The cost of professional installation typically ranges from $1,425 and $4,650, but the average homeowner spends $2,868. It can cost as little as $400 for a DIY job or more than $8,000 for floor-to-ceiling built-ins. When budgeted as, say, part of the costs of a home office renovation, built-in bookshelves can help reduce clutter and add a customized feeling to any room.

Average cost for built-in bookshelf $2,800, ranging from $400 to $8,000

Average Cost of Built-In Bookshelves

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National Average $2,868
Typical Range $1,425 - $4,650
Low End - High End $450 - $8,000

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 655 HomeAdvisor members.

Custom Bookshelves Cost Per Linear Foot

As with most custom pieces, tailored built-in bookshelves cost more than prefabricated options. A fully customized built-in bookshelf will cost anywhere from $300 to $1,200 per linear foot, while premade built-in units start at $150 per linear foot. Either type can provide a custom look, but you’ll pay more for larger pieces. The longer a bookshelf takes to create and install, the higher the price. 

The costs per linear foot listed above are much higher than the material prices you might find online. This is because labor to build and install these pieces accounts for about 80% of the project budget (more on this later).

Custom Built-In Bookshelves Cost by Material

You can save money on the cost of built-in bookshelves by using budget-friendly materials. MDF and plywood tend to be the most affordable, while shelving made from metal and solid wood are at the higher end. Here’s what you can expect to pay per linear foot for a custom built-in.

Material Price per Linear Foot, Installed
MDF $150 – $400
Plywood $150 – $500
Metal $450 – $800
Metal and Wood $450 – $1,000
Hard Wood $500 – $1,000
Glass $750 – $1,200
Marble $800 – $1,300

MDF

Custom MDF bookshelves typically cost $150 to $500 per linear foot, including installation. MDF, or medium-density fiberboard, is made from wood fibers pressed into layers. This is a budget-friendly option, but it tends to sag under the weight of heavy books. 

Plywood

Generally, a contractor will charge $150 to $500 per linear foot to install custom plywood shelving. Hardwood plywood, which has a hardwood veneer on the face and back, will cost more. Plywood, similar to MDF, is popular for custom shelving because it’s affordable and durable. 

Metal

Metal, one of the strongest bookshelf materials, costs between $450 and $800 per linear foot installed. This is a popular option for custom shelving in commercial settings like offices and libraries. Metal can also complement an industrial vibe in your home.

Metal and Wood

Most contractors will charge between $450 and $1,000 per linear foot to install custom built-in shelving made from metal and wood. With custom metal and built-in wood bookshelves, you’ll get the strength of metal with the look of hardwood. Often, you’ll see a metal frame supporting wooden shelving, but you can customize these materials to suit any decor style. 

Wood

Custom solid wood bookshelves typically cost between $400 and $1,000 per linear foot. A classic for a reason, this material is durable and comes in many varieties, such as cherry, oak, maple, or walnut. Some woods are stronger and more scratch-resistant than others.

Glass

Installing a custom glass shelf will typically cost $750 to $1,200 per linear foot. Glass bookshelves are typically made from tempered glass sheets and supported by a wood or metal frame. These are notoriously heavy and fragile, but many homeowners like their opulent look. 

Marble

Custom built-in bookshelves made from marble will cost anywhere from $800 to $1,300, including installation. Marble is a high-end material with an opulent look, but unlike glass, it’s also shatter-resistant and flame-resistant, making it a great choice for surrounding a fireplace.

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Cost of Built-In Bookshelves by Location

 Where you put your bookshelves can impact the price. Your design choices and shelf location may require add-ons like cabinetry, a built-in desk, or flame-retardant material. A custom furniture maker near you can help you plan your project.

Location Typical Custom Project Cost
Home Office $1,000 – $11,000
Entertainment Center $1,500 – $20,000
Kitchen or Pantry $1,000 – $26,000
Around a Window $2,000 – $8,000
Around a Fireplace $500 – $5,000

Home Office

Built-in bookshelves are a great way to organize your office and transform your space into a de facto library. This can cost anywhere between $1,000 to more than $11,000 once you add cabinetry, lighting, and custom built-in furniture like a desk.

Entertainment Center

Most homeowners spend between $4,400 and $9,000 on a built-in entertainment center. It can cost as little as $1,500—custom builds notwithstanding. In fact, it’s not uncommon to spend between $15,000 to $20,000 for custom-built entertainment centers, especially floor-to-ceiling focal points. 

Kitchen or Pantry

Built-in kitchen and pantry shelving costs from $1,000 to $26,000. Pantry shelving may have a bare-bones design and fall towards the lower end of the spectrum. Kitchens usually require cabinetry, and custom cabinetry costs anywhere from $500 to $1,200 per linear foot. The more ornate the design, the higher the cost. 

Around a Window

Homeowners often put built-in bookshelves around windows to create a cozy reading nook. This project typically costs $2,000 to more than $8,000 for about five linear feet of shelving, though you may have more or less space depending on your home.

Around a Fireplace

Part of the total cost to build a fireplace includes the surround. This costs anywhere from $500 for a small bookshelf to more than $5,000. Built-in shelving is a popular option—especially in Victorian homes, where it can frame a vintage mantle.

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Built-In Bookshelf Cost Factors

How much do bookshelves cost? It depends on the type of shelving and the work required. Here are a few factors that will impact the total price of a built-in bookshelf installation.

Labor

Labor accounts for 70% to 80% of the cost of built-in bookshelves.  A handyperson will charge anywhere between $30 to $130 an hour. The longer it takes to create and install a piece, the higher the labor costs, so custom pieces are typically so expensive.

Materials

A two-by-four-foot sheet of MDF can cost less than $20 compared to a similar piece of oak, which can cost more than $35. Using high-end materials like marble, glass, and hardwood will increase your total project cost. Build bookshelves on a budget using affordable materials like MDF and plywood. 

Construction

There are three types of shelving and cabinet constructions: premade, semi-custom, and custom. The cost of custom furniture is always more than prefabricated furniture. Semi-custom furniture can still provide a custom look at a fraction of the price.

Design and Fit

Shelving comes in various sizes and designs. Larger, deeper shelves cost more than smaller shelves. Designs with cabinetry, doors, and custom carpentry accents will come with a higher cost than bare-bones open shelving.

Accessories and Add-Ons

Personalize your built-in bookshelves with different accessories, such as a sliding library ladder to access tall bookshelves or glass doors. If you paint your shelving or install a built-in desk or fold-down table, you’ll need to account for additional material and labor costs.

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Install Built-In Bookshelves Yourself vs. Hiring a Pro

Labor accounts for 70% to 80% of the cost of built-in bookshelves; DIYing the job is an affordable option for homeowners with some carpentry skills. Depending on the size of the unit and additional tools like hardware and paint or stain, you’ll end up spending anywhere from $100 to $3,500+ to install built-in shelving by yourself.

Most homeowners who go the DIY route choose prefabricated shelving, which you can purchase at your local hardware store. This generally costs anywhere from $25 to $3,000 per unit. Some DIYers even purchase flat-pack bookshelves from big-box retailers to incorporate into their designs. Unfortunately, prefabricated units don’t always come in high-quality materials that fit perfectly into your space. A true custom built is usually a job best left for a professional.

Who Builds Custom Bookshelves?

If you have already purchased the materials or are using a premade unit, a local handyperson should be able to install your built-in shelving. If you want a custom bookshelf built from scratch, you’ll probably need to hire:

When choosing a contractor, it’s important to ask questions to gauge their experience. One carpenter may specialize in trim or roofing, while another prefers shelving and cabinetry work. Contact three to four professionals to explore contract options and always ask for references. Low estimates are usually too good to be true.

FAQs

Do built-in bookshelves increase home value?

Built-in bookshelves can increase home value, but the number is suggestive. Some buyers love character, while others appreciate functional spaces. The key to making custom furniture worthwhile is to ensure the design and installation is well-planned and thoughtfully designed.

If you used high-end materials like marble or tile work, provide your home appraiser with contract receipts to help them account for your updates. 

Which type of wood is best for built-in bookshelves?

Always choose high-quality furniture-grade wood. Softer woods, including pine and particle boards like MDF, can sag under the weight of heavy books. The ideal shelf can hold 20 to 40 pounds per foot, so reach for scratch-resistant hardwood plywood or solid wood. Popular options include:

  • Mahogany 

  • Cherry

  • Koa

  • Maple

  • Oak

  • Walnut

  • Birch

  • Cedar and Red Cedar

How big should I make my built-in bookshelves?

Built-in bookshelves should seamlessly mesh into your space. Often, this means floor-to-ceiling units ending at a natural cutoff point like a door. You can also create a custom corner unit or suspended units hung at eye level. If you want to install a prefabricated unit, you’ll run into some common sizing:

  • Bookcase widths: 24–48 inches

  • Bookshelf depths: 10–12 inches deep

  • Height between shelves: 9–15 inches

  • Wall height shelves: 5–6 feet tall

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