Building a set of floor to ceiling bookshelves along a wall in the living room. Using 2 7/8 wide, 3/8 thick hard maple wainscot for the backing of the shelves. Pricier but looks so much better than plywood or particle board backing. I plan to use 1 1/4” wood or construction screws to attach a board to the wall studs every 16”. Question… should I affix the boards to the drywall so it doesn’t span 16” before being screwed to the wall? If so, what screws (drywall?) would you use? I want to be able to remove the entire unit if we move, hence the desire to use screws and not brads, epoxies, etc. TIA

1 Answer 1


Attaching to the studs should be sufficient.

I would have a screw at the top and middle of each stud. I would also recommend using some longer screws. With ⅝" drywall you're only getting ¼" of penetration. With ½" drywall you'll get ⅜". I'd go with a 1⅝" screw, it'll secure things much better.

As far as screw type, I'd use a stainless fine thread. Fine thread screws have a higher tensile strength making them the stronger option.

  • The other idea I had was to run 1x2 or 1x3 furring boards horizontally and then screwing every other panel board into the furring strip. I plan on having rear support for the shelves screw into the wainscot, so using longer screws and going into the furring strip too might be a good idea for shelf support. Overkill??
    – user173624
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 2:23
  • I have several 7'x3' bookshelves and have them fastened directly to the studs and they're solid. My youngest boy is a wild one, climbs on everything and I don't worry about the shelves coming loose. With the thickness of your backing I would be perfectly fine securing them directly to the wall
    – matt.
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 2:57
  • @matt but it sounds like the OP plans to fasten the shelves to the wainscot, not to the studs.
    – Huesmann
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 13:52
  • @Huesmann My understanding is that he is building floor to ceiling bookshelves using a 3/8 maple for the backer board of the entire unit. Unless I misunderstood his question my answer remains the same. Screw through the units backer board (3/8 maple) directly to the studs. This will sufficiently secure the unit.
    – matt.
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 14:14
  • Yeah...not clear if he's using the wainscot for backing the shelves, like attached to the shelves, or basically using it as wall paneling and building shelves with an open back.
    – Huesmann
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 14:29

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