How To Stop A Bookcase From Tipping Over

Bookcases are a staple in most homes. However, they can be dangerous if they become unstable and topple over. Luckily, we’ve researched the best ways to stop a bookcase from tipping over and have some methods for you to try!

You can stop a bookcase from tipping over by:

  • Keeping heavy items down low
  • Using furniture straps
  • Attaching Screws
  • Adding metal brackets

We’ve given you a few options, but keep reading as we go over how to do each one to help prevent your bookcase from tipping over. We’ll also answer a few other questions about stabilizing a bookcase, how much weight they can hold, and how to stabilize a bookshelf on carpet. 

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Why Do I Need To Prevent My Bookshelf From Tipping Over?

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Young girl child climbing on modern high dresser furniture, danger of dresser dipping over concept.

Research has shown that every year thousands of children are hurt from toppling furniture. It often occurs when children or pets try to climb it, or children try to reach something on top of the furniture. If you have children in your home, you should consider securing any dressers, desks, or bookcases, and try to avoid placing any items, like toys, on them up high that might draw children’s attention.


Messy living room with damage after earthquake

You might also want to prevent your bookshelf from tipping over if you live in an earthquake-prone area. Research has shown that over 50% of the injuries sustained during the earthquake resulted from falling furniture in some earthquakes. Securing your furniture is crucial if you live in an earthquake zone, and it could save a life!

Damaged Items

If you keep breakable items, such as ornaments or photo frames, you should definitely try to prevent them from toppling on your bookshelf. It could save you from having to clean up a big mess and a broken heart if the items are sentimental. 

Ways To Prevent Tipping Over

Young girl child climbing on modern high dresser furniture, danger of dresser dipping over concept. Children home hazards.

So we’ve told you why you might need to prevent furniture from tipping over, but let’s get into the how. 

Keep Heavy Items Down Low

Furniture will sometimes tip over because it is top-heavy. Try to keep heavier items on the lower half of your bookshelf to help stabilize the bookshelf at the bottom. 

Use Furniture Straps

Furniture Straps That Are Screwed To Both The Furniture And Wall

Loaders carrying furniture in flat

Furniture straps can be found at most hardware stores. They attach to the back of your bookshelf and studs in the wall. They come in both metal, plastic, and fabric form. One positive of furniture straps is that many types are easily detachable, so you can move the furniture if you need to. When you purchase furniture straps, the packaging will tell you how much force each strap can hold. Just remember this amount includes the bookshelf and all of the items on it. 

Something else to consider with furniture straps is that some will still allow the furniture to tip to a certain degree without completely falling over. This is okay with some items, but with a bookshelf, you need to make sure that it doesn’t tip far enough that all of the items will still fall off.

Furniture straps will not be visible from the front of the furniture but might be visible from the side, so if this will bother you, try one of our other methods.

Click here to see SYOSIN Furniture Straps on Amazon.

Furniture Straps That Do Not Involve Drilling Through Furniture

red ratchet strap fixing wood boards / wooden planks / stacked tables

If you’re hesitant to drill a hole through your bookcase, you can use velcro furniture straps. They work in a similar way to other furniture straps, but instead of being secured to the bookcase with screws, they have adhesive-backed velcro that you can stick on the top or back of your bookcase. 

Click here to see Quakehold! 4164 Furniture Strap Kit on Amazon.

Attach Screws

Screwdrivers and screws on a wooden table. The concept of work.

Another option is to directly attach the bookshelf to the wall with a 2 or 3-inch wood screw. If you choose this option, you will need to make sure the bookcase is aligned with the studs in your wall. Use a stud finder or rubber mallet to tap until you find the appropriate place. Use a drill to make pilot holes through the bookshelf into the wall and then screw the wood screws into each pilot hole until they are snug. 

This is a good option for those wanting a more discrete looking method. 

Click here to see T.K.Excellent Phillips wood screws on Amazon.

Add Metal Brackets

Metal L brackets are a good option for those with backless bookshelves. Like the method above, you will need to find the stud in your wall to attach your bracket to. Once you’ve located the studs, place the L bracket underneath (or on top if you don’t mind it being more visible) the top shelf. Next, use a screwdriver to drive appropriately sized screws into place. 

Click here to see black corner L brackets on Amazon.

How Do You Stabilize A Bookshelf On Carpet?

Bookcase with armchair in modern interior of room

Bookshelves can become wobbly for various reasons, but a bookshelf is more likely to wobble on a carpet than any other surface. You can stabilize it by securing it to the wall using our methods above, or you can secure it to the floor. Securing it to the floor will require more work but can be worth it if you plan to permanently keep the bookshelf there.

Finally, for an option that doesn’t involve securing it to the wall or floor, you can add adjustable feet or furniture levelers to the bottom of your bookshelf to balance it out. This option might be more noticeable but is a less intensive option. 

Click here to see furniture levelers on Amazon.

How Do I Know If My Bookcase Is Overloaded?

Sometimes we get a little carried away cramming books into our bookcases, trying to get the most out of our storage space, but shelves can not hold an infinite amount of weight. So, how can you tell if your bookcase is overloaded? There are a couple of tell-tale signs. The first is a bowing shelf. This is when the shelf begins to sag in the middle. It could snap and spill everything it’s holding onto the floor resulting in a necessary shelf repair or a new bookcase. 

If your bookcase is secured to your wall, you should frequently take a glance and check for any damage to the wall or the bookshelf where it might be pulling away from your wall from the weight. 

How Much Weight Can A Bookshelf Hold?

The amount of weight a bookshelf can hold will depend on the quality of the bookshelf. For example, a solid wood shelf made from oak or pine will hold 200-300lbs, whereas a shelf made from plywood or MDF will hold around 100lbs on average. Make sure to check item specifications for how much weight it can hold if you plan to put heavy or many items on your shelf. 

Click here to see Ashwood Road 5-Shelf Bookcase on Amazon.

If your bookshelf can’t hold your items, maybe you’re thinking about putting them on your console table. Check out our other blog post, How Much Weight Can A Console Table Hold?

Final Thoughts

Young women unpacking in new rented apartment

We have given you four ways you can secure your bookshelf so that it won’t tip over. Hopefully, you’ve found a way that will work for you. 

If this article has got you thinking about more shelving options, check out How to Build Shelves Under Stairs [3 Easy Steps]

Creative Bookshelf Design with Armchair in living room, How To Stop A Bookcase From Tipping Over

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