Home Improvement--General/book cases

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Question
I just rented an office with very high ceilings (20 ft)  and want to put book cases along two sides. The walls are 2 x 4's covered with sheet rock and look pretty solid. How high could I go with built in book cases.  I'm thinking  abut 12 ft would be enough. Is that a good idea, or would the weight of the books finally pull the wall over?

Answer
Richard,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.  If the walls are actual wood 2x4s, and the top of the walls are secured (i.e. firmly attached or braced to prevent any tip-over) then the bookcases should be OK.  

If you are installing furniture-type bookcases, which rest on the floor, then the primary function of the wall is to prevent movement, or in  extreme cases, tip-over of the bookcases.  Be sure to attach the cases to studs, near the top of the units.

If you are using shelf brackets with cantilever-type brackets, then the wall is doing all of the load bearing duty (as opposed to the floor, as described above).  In this case, the stability of the wall is more important, so you need to really verify that the wall is firmly attached or braced at the top.  If, however, the wall is held in place mainly by a grid (suspended) ceiling, then you need to install additional bracing above the ceiling to positively prevent tip-over.

Best of luck and let me know if you have additional questions.

Thank you, Steve Major

Home Improvement--General

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Steve Major (Owner - Major Design Group)

Expertise

I can answer any questions regarding the design and execution of home improvement and remodeling. This includes trade-specific questions (how-to) in all major building trades: framing, foundations, site prep, electrical, HVAC, plumbing, water treatment, interior finishing, trim & cabinetwork, exterior finishing, roofing, siding. PLEASE indicate your state or region, so I can provide the best possible answer. PLEASE provide photos whenever possible.

Experience

30 years experience in home improvement design and construction, all hands-on, including the construction of dozens of single-family homes and hundreds of remodeling projects in the northeastern US.

Publications
Author: "Architectural Woodwork - Details for Construction" published by Van Nostrand Reinhold (now Wiley).

Education/Credentials
BS -- Cornell University

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