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What Is a Ladder Bookcase?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

A ladder bookcase is a piece of furniture designed to store books and other items. This particular style of bookcase often looks like a ladder, since the bottom shelves tend to be larger than the upper shelves, and the supports allow the shelves to be situated like ladder rungs. Two general types of ladder bookcase exist: freestanding and leaning bookcases. Leaning bookcases rely on a wall or other solid structure to help support the bookcase, while a freestanding bookcase can support its own weight.

The advantages of a ladder bookcase include portability and light weight, attractive designs, and versatility. The bookcase can be placed in tighter spaces, depending on its size, and the design is often eye-catching and attractive. The do-it-yourselfer can make a ladder bookcase fairly easily, as they are not especially difficult to construct, and they require few materials, thereby keeping the cost down. These lightweight bookcases can be moved easily from one room to another should the homeowner want to redecorate, and can usually store a fair number of books or other items. Some ladder bookcases feature a backing to prevent books from falling out the back of the shelf, though many designs lack this backing for aesthetics.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

A leaning ladder bookcase must be leaned against a wall or solid structure in order to stay up. The top of the bookcase is usually designed to rest squarely against the wall, and the feet of the bookcase will often feature some sort of rubber footing or other material to prevent the legs from sliding. If positioned properly, the leaning bookshelf should not move, and the weight of the items stored on the shelf will contribute to the stability of the unit. These bookcases are best used in out of the way places in a room, rather than in walkways or areas in which someone could easily bump into them.

Freestanding ladder bookcase models will have vertical supports that allow it to stand up without leaning against the wall, and the structure will often be triangular-shaped for stability. This design will have four feet instead of two, further adding to the stability of the unit. It is not necessary to put this bookcase flush with a wall, though it certainly will look attractive in that position. This freestanding bookcase is more stable, and it is therefore a better choice for storing heavier books or objects.

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      Woman holding a book