Published on July 11th, 2010 | by Jules Yap


Suspended Besta Bookshelf

Materials: Besta Shelf Unit, Besta Suspension Rail, Inreda Ladder, self-drilling heavy-duty Nylon wall anchors, multi-position extension ladder

For the longest time I’ve been meaning to make use of the over head space in the stairwell of our home. With 1100 square foot of living area, space is at a premium. We keep all our books in the home office, but we don’t have enough shelf space on our bookshelves.

I decided to suspend a bookshelf in the over head space in the stairwell. The stairwell is high enough to fit a full height bookshelf without encroaching on the head space in the stair well.

We decided on a full height Besta Shelf Unit to accommodate some of our books, paperwork and other things.

Next on the shopping list was the Besta Suspension Rail. It is made of aluminum and features 20 drill holes for securing it to a wall.

To get to the top part of the shelf unit we need a ladder. Ikea sells the Inreda Ladder which fits the Besta Shelf Unit.

The instructions for the Besta Suspension Rail only depict a height extension unit. There were no load numbers in the instructions or on the website so I estimated load bearing based on prior experience. Normally, the rail is fastened to the wall with a couple of screws. Since it is supposed to suspend a full height shelf unit I doubled that and used self-drilling heavy-duty Nylon drywall anchors to hold the rail in place.

To get to the top of the over head space I used a multi-position ladder (like the Little Giant brand) fully extended. First I took measurements according to the instructions that came with the suspension rail.
Then I fastened the rail to the wall with the self-drilling drywall anchors. Next I hung the assembled Besta Shelf Unit onto the Besta Suspension Rail. This required getting on the multi-position ladder half-extended on one side to sit on a higher step and fully extended on the other to sit on a lower step in the stairwell.

Getting the shelf unit up to the suspension rail required some heavy lifting for which I recommend at least two people. Once suspended from the suspension rail I fastened the shelf unit to the suspension rail per the instructions using the supplied screws.

Since the shelf unit is quite tall, its bottom part can still be lifted away from the wall. I used the additional plastic distancers that came with the suspension rail to fasten the bottom left and right corners to the wall using the supplied additional screws.

After a quick load test I used the Inreda ladder to get up high enough to replace the shelves inside the bookshelf and made sure I could reach all shelves all the way to the top.

Final Result
We now have an additional full height bookshelf for items we don’t need to access on a daily basis in a space in our home that wasn’t used before.

I plan on securing the Inreda ladder with a couple of simple wall hooks to the left of the bookshelf so it is out of the way yet easily accessible when needed.

~ Dierk Seeburg, Arizona

CAUTION! Unless you know what you are doing, please DO NOT attempt to mount heavy furniture on the wall. ~ Jules

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

23 Responses to Suspended Besta Bookshelf

  1. hamada says:

    This is a really cool booby-trap.

  2. Cara says:

    I think I would build floating shelves between the two walls. This appears very dangerous.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Dangerous. Also, I’ve seen them mount the Besta Bookshelves upside-down when wall mounting them high so that the feet are hidden at the top.

  4. drm removal says:

    I don’t think it’s a good idea

  5. Anonymous says:

    perhaps you have too many books…support your public library

  6. julie says:

    you could get the same effect of bookshelves on the wall but hanging kitchen cabinets instead. the suspension rail needs to be secured to studs also, but it seems alot safer

  7. that’s cool! i want to have that.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Very inventive.

    Incredibly dangerous (to echo nearly every other sentiment here).

    One thing I haven’t yet read is about the fact that normal shelves that would be placed here would each be a separate unit (per shelf) with discrete mounting brackets. By having the shelves be a single unit, once any part of the system fails, the whole system is compromised. Specifically, if one of your nylon screws is in a damaged portion of wallboard, the fact that it is a single unit will mean that the loads are transferred to the neighboring screws. These, in turn, now have to hold more than the amount you originally calculated. If they fail (which just became much more likely), the loads will be transferred again in a cascading fashion until the whole unit comes crashing down. This could happen (from start to finish) in a matter of seconds. At one moment everything seems solid, but as soon as a single screw fails, which might not happen right away… it could be years, the load transfer begins.

    I would echo the other commentators on this page and re-think the idea. Keep the shelves, but lose the carcass of the bookcase. Install each shelf separately, using the L brackets angie suggested, and make sure they are anchored into actual studs.

    Seriously, don’t risk this just to save a few bucks on supplies and a few hours on installation.

  9. Anita says:

    Nice use of empty space, in theory, sorry I agree with the sentiment of the previous posts. I too would be scared it would fall from the wall at any given moment.

    Also – is that the full height of the ladder? Would you just lean from the top floor to get the books (and things) from the higher shelves, or lean from the stairs?

    I love the idea of books and ladders together but I’m just not getting this.

    I like the idea of mounting it to a garage storage lift so you could pull the shelves down, that would be cool.

  10. Angie says:

    I don’t understand why you didn’t just build normal shelves. Why add the extra 70lbs or so of the bookcase when you can make normal shelves with much sturdier L-brackets. No excess weight, and about half (if not more!) or the cost. Especially since you obviously didn’t care about aesthetics.. This WILL fall down, its just a matter of when.

    I put shelves up that were meant to be mounted on the wall. Made sure to hit studs for every screw, and it still fell down with too much weight on it. You’ve done none of those and you dare to walk under it?

    I hate to be harsh, but its necessary.

  11. usmcoap says:

    Wow. All I can say Is I hope you never load this with anything other than a couple of nick-nacks that you don’t mind breaking when the shelves fall off the wall. As a carpenter who’s done this with two sets of shelves in our master bedroom, can I tell you how I did it with shelving that was significantly larger than the one you’ve done? The premise is the same and it might help you change your mind on the fixing so you don’t die if it falls on your head…

    1. Locate studs, more than one. I found four studs, two for each bookcase.

    2. Find the height you want the bottom to be at.

    3. Put an angle bracket into each stud and make sure they’re level. I found nice angle brackets that match the door furniture in the master bedroom. two 75mm long screws go through into the stud.

    4. Flip the bookcase upside down and place it on the brackets. This is so that the bottom (where the ugly round feet that you’re supposed to never see in your case) is at the top and you have nice clean lines at the bottom.

    5. Repeat the process for the top, brackets and all.

    This way, you secure your shelving (solid pine that I’d stained and varnished to match the doors in the house in my case) properly to something solid using something that’s fit for purpose. Ours are loaded with large hardcover books that don’t fit anywhere else and nick nacks and they haven’t moved a millimetre in 6 years because I know what I’m doing and I put them up properly.

    Nice try but if this thing doesn’t fall on your head, I’ll be very surprised.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the rest. DANGEROUS. However I applaud the effort and appreciate the post. We did much the same thing in my old basement, converting the stairwell area to shelving for luggage and the like. Securing to studs is a must and honestly instead of buying a prefab bookcase I would recommend a few shelving brackets. Hell you could do a real hack and disable the shelf and mount it in whatever fashion you choose.

    Also. The ladder for the stairwell is a great idea, but it can be rather dangerous also. Maybe if this is a permanent thing you could make a built in low profile ladder that is attached to the wall. Just please for the love of God don’t lean all of your body weight against a press board shelf suspended in the air…

  13. Anonymous says:

    Yeah bad idea. Try just using mounts anchored to studs at different height on the wall and placing a flat piece of wood across each set….no heavy lifting and you can keep the ladder.

  14. Anonymous says:

    you bought a $90, 67 lbs bookcase and mounted it above your head with nylon anchors? I’m surprised it stayed up there long enough for you to take a photo!

    If you’re going to mount a shelf on the wall do it the right way, with $7 wall mounting double track standard

  15. Anonymous says:

    How about a nice piece of art instead?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Modify this to use a garage storage lift and a set of rails so the shelf slides up and down the wall rather relying on a ladder and you’d have a much better hack

  17. Anonymous says:

    Without a) re-enforcing the bookshelf at top & bottom … possibly even including a solid back, b) a support brace underneath the shelving unit and c) most certainly fastening the brace and the cabinet to the studs … this an accident waiting to happen.

    Otherwise a very neat & clever idea, however the execution is an F. Not one floor standing bookshelf I’ve seen and assembled is suitable to be hung.

    If I were you at a minimum I’d build a custom cabinet with solid shelves etc out of 3/4 cabinet ply that fits the entire width of the space you are trying to utilize. Install a support ledge/brace on the bottom, place the cabinet on top of it, fasten at different levels through the solid back into the studs and through the solid sides into the sidewall and possibly studs there as well.


  18. keter-magick says:

    Oh, one other thing…I noticed that you are in Arizona…do you get earthquakes in your area? I would not do this at all in an area prone to earthquakes.

  19. keter-magick says:

    Your decision to use the space over the stairwell is very clever and I think you certainly should go ahead with the idea, but with a lot more attention to structural integrity. I agree with the previous commenters that this is an extremely risky installation.

    If you choose to use this shelf as-is, please place only lightweight items on it. Refer to the box that the anchors came in…they typically will tell you what their maximum safe load is. Remember that this total load capacity includes however much the shelf unit itself weighs. You might already be at or above that limit, and as “Anonymous” pointed out, you are putting too much faith in the integrity of the wallboard. Old wallboard (20-30 years ago) was much tougher than the newer stuff and was typically screwed to the studs. New home builder construction typically nails wallboard rather than screwing it on because it is cheaper. I’ve seen newer construction wallboard warp and pull out the nails that held it to the studs. Even if the nails hold, if you have ever ripped out wallboard, you know how easily wallboard breaks around a nail head, or can even be pulled loose from the nail, leaving the nail still in the stud.

    Imagine the consequences if the shelf fell on someone walking beneath it…a crush injury of only a few pounds to the head and neck can be fatal.

  20. Yes, scary. Also, not really a hack.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Books are heavy.

    It sounds like this installation depends way too much upon the integrity of the drywall.

    No number of drywall hanger attachments will make up for the fact that the drywall is fastened to the hidden 2×4 structure with only a few screws or nails, most at the corners or edges, where the drywall is weakest.

    Find some lumber behind the drywall and fasten to it.

    Study the physics of a bookcase. There is a reason that most bookcases sit directly on the floor. Most installation instructins will caution the installer to fasten the top to the wall for “stability”.

    Put a ledger strip under the bottom edge, fastening it to some lumber behind the drywall with long heavy screws. Engineer a way to fasten the top to the wall lumber to prevent pull-out.

    This present installation, as described, resembles a random action guillotine and I would not walk under it.

    Sorry to be so critical, but this appears unsafe.

  22. AJS says:

    Does this slightly terrify anyone else? The weight of a fully loaded bookshelf is substantial. It’s anchored with drywall screws and not screwed into the studs? The weight-bearing elements of a bookshelf are the two side boards. Does the suspension rail transfer the load to those sideboards, or to the back panel, which likely isn’t designed to distribute the weight from the shelves? Am I just being paranoid?

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