This DIY wallpapered bookshelf would look great in just about any room, but we think a baby’s nursery would be a particularly good spot. You can customize this bookshelf based on your decor, of course. It’s also versatile enough to grow with Baby as you update his or her room, or be incorporated into another room in your home.
To build your own DIY wallpapered bookshelf, follow the step-by-step instructions below.
How to Build the Wallpapered Bookcase
- Table saw
- Miter saw
- Milwaukee circular saw (optional)
- Milwaukee 18v drill
- Rubber mallet (optional)
- Household iron
- Tape measure
- 4 – 90-Degree corner clamp
- 2 – 36 in. Large bar clamp
- Utility knife
- Safety glasses
- Dust mask
- 1 – ¾ in. Melamine 4 x 8 ft. sheet
- 1 – ⅛ in. Hardboard 4 x 8 ft. sheet
- 6 ft. – WM 49 9/16 in. x 3-5/8 in. x 96 in. Primed Finger-Jointed Crown Moulding
- 1 – ½ in. x 2¾ in. x 8 ft. PVC composite white base casing
- 1 – ¾ in. x 25 ft. White iron on edge tape
- 2 – 1¾ in. Melamine screw and cap (10 pack)
- 1 – #16 ½ x 1 in. White Steel Panel Board Nails (6 oz. pack)
- Wood glue
- Wallpaper paste
- Wallpaper tool kit
- Furniture Secure and stabilizer straps
To complete this project, you will need two types of wood as listed above: a sheet of melamine for the main structure and shelves, and a sheet of hardboard for the bookshelf backing.
Required cuts for the melamine, pictured above
- 2 – 12” x 39½” Sides
- 2 – 11¾” x 34½” Shelves
- 1 – 12” x 34½” Bottom Shelf
- 2 – 2” x 34½” Footer
- 1 – 14¼” x 40½” Top Panel
- 1 – 3” x 34½” Header
Cut for the hardboard
- 39½ in. x 36 in. Backer board
Working measurements* for the moulding and base casing
- 12 in. Sides
- 36 in. Front
- Base Casing
- 12 in. Sides
- 36 in. Front
*Note: These measurements are approximate and will need to be adjusted once the bookshelf is fully constructed. Do not cut these pieces at the beginning of the project.
Step 1: Measure, Mark, Label
Measure out and mark all of your cut sections on the melamine and hardboard. Be sure to double and triple check these measurements for accuracy. To learn how to make accurate measurements, watch our how to use a tape measure guide.
Step 2: Cutting the Melamine
Make the cuts as listed in the supplied cut sheet using the table saw and circular saw (if you choose) for the melamine. If you don’t have a table saw, take the supplied cut list with you to your local Home Depot store and a lumber associate will be happy to assist with the cuts.
The moulding will be cut using the miter saw. Again, hold off cutting the moulding for now. We’ll discuss the bevel and angles required further along in the project.
Step 3: Applying Edge Banding
Next apply the edge banding to the shelf edges that will be exposed to view. This is much easier and will result a higher quality bookshelf than painting the edges white.
Apply the edge banding with a household iron preheated to the cotton setting. Use a piece of aluminum foil as a buffer between the iron and edge banding to avoid scorching.
Set the banding into place applying heat with the iron as you move along.
Step 4: Prepare Wallpaper
At this point you can prepare the wallpaper and backer so it can dry while you construct the rest of the bookcase. Use the utility knife to score and cut the hardboard. When using a patterned wall paper make sure to test fit first to make sure the patterns align at any seams.
Cut the wallpaper slightly larger than the backer.
Apply the wallpaper paste using a brush to evenly distribute the glue.
Next, carefully lay the wallpaper out, and use the roller or brush to help distribute the paper over the glue. Smooth air bubbles with a sponge or large brush.
Once it’s dry, trim the excess paper.
Step 5: Create Guidelines
The bookcase will be constructed using melamine screws.
Start by measuring and marking lines to denote shelf locations. Measuring from the bottom-up, create marks at 2 in. for the first shelf, 14¾ in. for the second shelf and 27½ in. for the third shelf.
Create guide lines across the panels using the pencil and square.
Measure another ¾ in. up from each of the previous marks before repeating for the opposite side panel.
The lines created are a guide for placing the shelves.
Step 6: Begin Assembly
Place the sides on end, making sure your work surface is flat.
Place the bottom shelf between the two side panels and hold with one of the large 36 in. clamps.
Position the next shelf and secure with two of the corner clamps.
The upper shelf is held by another 36 in. clamp. Both the middle shelves are flush with the rear of the bookshelf and will leave a small inset on the front.
Use a rubber mallet or hammer and wood block to lightly tap and position the shelves correctly inside the guide lines.
Step 7: Pre-Drill for the Shelves
With the shelves properly positioned, pre-drill the holes for the screws.
With the shelf guides traced along the outside side panel face, making sure the screws are in the proper location is much easier.
The pilot hole should fall between the two guidelines. Drill the holes at 2 inches in from the edge of the sides.
Do this for each shelf through both sides.
Step 8: Finishing Construction
With the holes pre-drilled, evenly run in the screws.
After all the screws have been run in you can either pop in the screw covers or touch up the screw heads with white paint.
The footer is tapped into place under the bottom shelf and sits flush with the shelf front. Use the rubber mallet to hammer the footer into place and secure with nails.
Don’t worry about the nails being visible as they will be concealed by the base moulding.
Step 9: Placing the Top Panel
The top is placed with an overhang of 2¼ in. to the sides and front. Stand the bookshelf up and pre-drill the pilot holes just above the side panels.
The front holes are set back 4 in. from the front edge and the back holes are 2 inches in from the rear edge.
Use the square to help line up the holes. Keep in mind that this is the top panel sizing for the crown moulding selected for this project, adjust your dimensions as needed.
Step 10: Cutting Moulding (Base)
The base moulding is cut using a simple 45-degree miter angle for the corners. In the case of the sides for example you would measure the side panel width of 12 in. and mark the back edge of the moulding accordingly.
Next set the miter to a 45-degree miter angle, and cut with the angle traveling away from the mark.
Repeat these steps for the front and remaining side of the base moulding. Many miter saws come marked and set with detents for 45-degree angles and bevels.
Step 11: Cutting Moulding (Crown)
The crown moulding can seem daunting. In this instance we will be making multiple outside corner cuts. To make things easier here are a couple of tips:
- Decide which side will be the top, and mark it as such down the entire length of the moulding
- Moulding should be cut flat and face side up
- Outside cuts result in the right side of the cut off the saw as the usable section
- Compound miter saws often have miters and bevels for crown moulding pre-marked on the saw
- Measurements are taken from the shelf and applied along the bottom edge of the moulding
Start with the left side section of crown. The first step is to set the bevel. In the case of our miter saw, the bevel angle is set to 33.9 degrees and the miter angle to 31.6 degrees left. Place the bottom of the moulding against the fence of the saw and make the cut. This is an outside left cut.
The back edge of the moulding piece is a straight 90-degree cut made flush with the back of the bookshelf.
For the right side section of crown, again make sure the bevel angle is set to 33.9 degrees and the miter angle to 31.6 degrees right. Place the top of the moulding against the fence of the saw and make the cut. The back edge of the moulding piece is a straight 90-degree cut made flush with the back of the bookshelf.
The front section of crown moulding has both an outside right and outside left cut. Measure the width of the bookshelf and copy that length along the bottom edge of the crown moulding.
Next using the width marks as points of reference, follow the steps to create an outside left corner, making sure to have the moulding you intend to keep to the right of the blade.
Use the opposite mark to create the outside right corner.
Step 12: Applying Moulding
Since a finish nailer is not being used we chose nails with a small head to make hammering by hand easier. Start with the base moulding along the bottom as it is the easiest application.
With the cuts made test fit the moulding into place on the book shelf.
When fitting the crown moulding, mark where it makes contact with the front of the book shelf.
This will indicate the header location.
Use the rubber mallet to hammer the header into place and secure with nails.
Apply glue to the shelf and attach moulding.
Use nails to secure the moulding to the bookshelf stopping just shy of hammering them flush.
Step 13: Finishing Moulding
Once all the moulding is in place, use a nail set or another nail to hammer all the nails flush. This will prevent hammer damage to the moulding.
Fill any small seams and nail holes with paintable caulk and sand smooth.
For larger gaps use wood filler and sand even.
If needed, apply white touch-up paint to any scuffed areas.
Step 14: Attach Wallpapered Backing
Line the hardboard up so that the wallpapered side is facing through the shelves and all sides are flush with the back of the bookshelf.
Nail the backing into place with the white steel panel board nails.
Check the edges for any gaps between backing and bookshelf. You’d rather use too many than too few.
Step 15: Safety Matters | Secure the Bookshelf to the Wall
Because the shelf will be in a child’s room, safety is a priority.
- Melamine is used instead of painting the shelf white.
- Use fixed shelves instead of adjustable shelves to make sure they are not accidentally pulled out of the book shelf.
- To prevent possible tip over, use safety straps such as the EarthQuake straps pictured below.
- The screw caps should be glued into place to make sure they don’t fall off, or omitted completely and the heads touched up with a little bit of nontoxic white paint.
- Keep heavier toys and books to the lower shelves.
Step 16: Decorate Your Wallpapered Bookshelf
Now that your gorgeous wallpapered bookshelf is complete, positioned in your nursery, and anchored to the wall, it’s time for the best part—decorating it! Use a combination of books, toys, photos and mementos for a personalized look.
This bright and cheery bookcase would make a great addition to baby’s first room, make a statement by choosing your favorite wallpaper whether it’s feminine and floral, bold and nautical or somewhere in between. And be sure to order your coordinating birth announcements for when the big day arrives!