Safe & Easy: Learn How To Anchor A Bookcase Without Drilling

A bookcase is a must-have piece of furniture, and most interior designers choose to use it for home improvement projects, like dividing a shared kids room. If you style a bookcase the right way, it can upgrade your home decor and take it to another level. The main problem is how to anchor this top-heavy furniture without drilling your drywall.

A wooden bookcase filled with books on a white apartment

There are many ways to anchor one, from shims and fasteners to drywall anchors and furniture straps. But how can you anchor a bookcase or shelves without drilling even pilot holes or picture hooks? Or better, is there such a way? The answer is YES! You don’t have to drill holes on the wall. You can secure your book unit in various ways. And most importantly, it’s a DIY task. 

What’s the difference between a bookcase and a bookshelf?

Many people confuse a bookcase with a bookshelf. And that’s ok as their main purpose is the same; to hold books. However, they’re quite different in appearance. 

A bookcase is a heavy, close-sided piece of furniture that sits on the floor, whilst a bookshelf doesn’t have a close-fitting surround to hold books and is designed to hang on a wall rather than standing on the floor. The former is a more traditional and permanent solution, whilst the latter is a lighter, modern unit, perfect for temporary solutions and those who move a lot. Both can work well as storage space; the main, let’s say, the disadvantage with bookshelves is that you need bookends to keep your books upright.

How to anchor a bookcase without drilling

Whichever type you may have, you need to secure both of them. The safest way to secure furniture is to drill holes in the back of the furniture into a wall and use wood screws

However, many people don’t want to screw their drywalls and believe that just placing heavy books will keep that top-heavy item in place. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough. The good news is that there are a couple of other ways to secure a bookcase to the wall without screws. Below we have some to do it. 

A cheerful young woman choosing books from her bookcase

Method 1: Use furniture anti-tip kit

There are available in the market and online anti-tip kits that don’t require screws and nails and are perfect for proofing furniture. They come with steel cables, velcro straps or plastic ties to help you secure a bookcase or shelf. If you opt for such a kit, you better choose one with heavy-duty velcro straps as they don’t require holes in the walls. These kits also come with wall anchors to hold the straps firmly. Let’s see below what materials you need and how to use them.

Needed materials:

  • A pencil
  • A ruler
  • Velcro straps
  • A damp cloth

Steps to follow:

  1. Remove first all the books and items from the shelves and then use a pencil and a ruler to draw a horizontal line on the wall. You need to mark where you want to attach the shelving unit.
  2. Then, using a stud finder, check for any wall studs. If so, remove them and clean the area with a damp cloth.
  3. You need 4 safety straps for each shelf. Line them up vertically with the adhesive side facing the wall and hold them in place. You may ask someone to help you.
  4. Put the shelf back to place at the level of the velcros, peel their cover and press them onto the shelf. 

EXTRA TIP: Don’t reposition the straps cause they will lose their strength.

Method 2: Use Glue or adhesive tapes

Another way to avoid using L brackets, wall stud finders, screws or making holes in the wall is to use adhesive tapes. It is best, though, to use them for lightweight wooden units and floating shelves. A general rule of thumb is to use glue and tapes only for bookshelves that weigh no more than 4kg.

Colourful adhesive tapes

Needed materials:

  • Adhesive tapes
  • A clean cloth
  • Isopropyl alcohol

Steps to follow:

  1. Dab a clean cloth in isopropyl alcohol.
  2. Clean with the damp cloth the wall where you plan to mount the shelves and the mounting side of the unit.
  3. Let the areas dry for 10 minutes.
  4. After 10 minutes pass, attach a tape to all the shelves and press down each one for 20 seconds. Allow enough space between the tapes to give your unit extra hanging strength. If you have a wooden unit, you can use staples as well to stick the tapes.
  5. When you attach the tapes to the entire unit, wait 30 seconds and then remove the strip liners and position the shelves along the wall by pressing each one against the wall for a minute.

EXTRA TIP: For extra support, attach adhesive tapes to two sides of each shelf.

Method 3: Enhancing the unit

If you apply one of the above methods, but you still feel your unit is unstable and rocking, then the reason could be loose fasteners. If that’s the case, you have to add an extra back unit to the bookrest. Let’s see how to do it:

A man measuring the wooden planks for a garden bench

Needed materials:

  • A carpenter’s square
  • A tape measure
  • A circular saw
  • Hardboard or wooden plank
  • No-nail blue tack
  • 7.5cm hooks
  • Washer
  • Adjustable feet or shims
  • A damp cloth

Steps to follow:

  1. The first thing to do; Remove everything from the shelf and the unit from the wall. Now you can check it for any loose nails or worn out adhesives. If so, tighten the nails, remove the glue and wipe the residue with the damp cloth.
  2. Next, to stop the shelf unit from rocking side to side, lower it to the floor and pull the sides and the top using the carpenter’s square.
  3. Measure the shelf’s width and length with the tape measure.
  4. After measuring, cut a hardboard/ wooden plank to the measured sizes using a circular saw. If you don’t want to use nails to secure the plank on the wall, you can use no-nail blue tack.
  5. Then, drive the hooks through the shelf to the backing. Or else you can use studs and nails. Using washers, try to distribute the load evenly.
  6. Add some adjustable feet or shims to stop your unit from rocking back and forth—lower the shelf to the floor and wooden feet. Turn the feet clockwise to adjust them properly.

Voila! Your top-heavy furniture is ready to be affixed to the backing on the wall.

Why do you need to anchor furniture?

Securing furniture is something we only need to do with tall furniture and even the shorter ones like a solid wood dresser, a flat-screen TV, etc. In a home with elders, pets and curious children, proofing furniture is essential as a bookshelf may tip over, causing injuries. For example, if you live in an earthquake area, the unit may fall and cause accidents.

But terrifying shakes aren’t the only reason. Tip-overs also happen because of the misusing of the furniture. People tend to use a piece of furniture in a way that it wasn’t designed for. Think of it for a while. How many times have you stepped over a dresser or shelving unit to grab something high? Your furniture isn’t a ladder. It can be so unstable that even a little climbing can cause furniture to fall over.

A home office with a desk with a laptop and a big bookcase in the background

No more wobbly bookcases and, of course, no more holes onto the walls. Choose one of the above methods and anchor your unit without drilling. Either way, anchoring your furniture is something you need to do. Hence don’t neglect it, especially if you have curious toddlers running around and climbing everywhere.

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