18 Best Leaning Shelves (Review) In 2022
Kate is our interior design expert. Thanks to her keen eye for detail and vast knowledge surrounding design trends, she knows exactly what finishing touches all homes need. From compact rooms to large spaces, no job is too complicated for her artistic mind! Kate has built a rewarding career from her passions, working as a freelance interior designer and content creator. In terms of style inspiration, her main interests focus on 70s bohemian decor. This is clear to see through her beautifully designed home that features in many major publications.
- The Best Leaning Shelf
- 1. VASAGLE 4-Tier Industrial Ladder Shelf
- 2. C-Hopetree Leaning Ladder Bookcase
- 3. HYNAWIN Bamboo Wall Leaning Shelf
- 4. Lavish Home 5-Tier Decorative Leaning Ladder Shelf
- 5. Tangkula 5-Tier Leaning Ladder Shelf
- 6. Ameriwood Home Lawrence 4 Shelf Ladder Bookcase Bundle
- 7. Homfa Industrial 5-Tier Ladder Shelf
- 8. Rolanstar Ladder Shelf with Drawer
- 9. IWELL 4-Tier Rustic Leaning Bookshelf
- 10. Simply Superlative Rustic Wood Wall Leaning Blanket Ladder
- 11. Homfa 4-Tier Vintage Bookcase & Leaning Shelf
- 12. AmazonBasics Modern 5-Tier Leaning Ladder Bookshelf
- 13. eHome Espresso Finish 5-Tier Leaning Shelf
- 14. BON AUGURE Rustic Industrial 5-Tier Ladder Shelf
- 15. Walker Edison 4 Shelf Simple Modern Wood Ladder Bookcase
- 16. ClosetMaid 4-Tier Wooden Leaning Ladder Shelf
- 17. Poundex 5-Tier Leaning Wall Shelf
- 18. Casual Home 5-Shelf Ladder Bookcase
There are casual shelves and there are those for being able to get up to the storage space. Whether you need to get right up to the living room space or you need to reach that high storage space then a pair of steps will help. Leaning bookcase steps do help as they are always readily available.
The Unclutterer team tested eighteen of the best ladder shelves, focusing on materials, size, design, and functionality. Whether your leaning bookcase is for the living room, study, bathroom, or other space you'll want to find out a bit more before you part with your money.
The Best Leaning Shelf
Depth 13. 8”
The VASAGLE 4-Tier Industrial Ladder Shelf is our number 1. and ended up our best choice for a leaning bookcase in 2020. It is a collection of iron and wood with complimentary items available. We like that it has an industrial design yet still looks modern. It is very well built although we found that the shelves are not natural wood and are built using chipboard, hence the price of under $74. This was easy to put together on delivery and the design of the shelves is impressive – they are stained and do look like real wood. It’s a lightweight ladder shelf that looks good in any space and it is budget-friendly. It features non-slip feet so hard floors aren’t scratched.
Easy to assemble
Good alternative to real wood
Great build quality
Not real wood
Metal / MDF
The C-Hopetree Leaning Ladder Bookcase is a great simply styled bookshelf that stays in place, sturdy, and keeps books and decorative items on display. This was such a good price and is designed for smaller spaces if you need to tuck it in somewhere. It has a metal frame with laminate-covered shelves and looks quite modern whilst still being functional. It provides significant storage space where you can keep items just where you need them. This would be good in a student’s room or another space where the room is limited. The shelves are laminate-coated and easy to wipe clean of dust. The maximum weight capacity of each shelf is described as 25lbs, though we would say this the maximum load for the largest shelf at the bottom of this 4 tier unit and less for each of the other three shelves.
Poor % of positive reviews
Badly designed fittings
Difficult to assemble
Screws don’t all line up
Five fixed shelves on HYNAWIN Bamboo Wall Leaning Shelf give plenty of reason to show off accent items or use as an extra storage space for books. The maximum load (weight capacity) across all 5 shelves is 50lbs, about the average weight for a ladder shelf of this size and weight, obviously, the heavier load goes at the bottom for good weight distribution. This is a cute eco-friendly ladder shelf which is more ideal for putting light items on rather than heavy books. This leaning bookshelf looks good in any home or apartment as it fits in naturally with anything else in the room.
Easy to assemble
Low weight capacity
The Lavish Home 5-Tier Decorative Leaning Ladder Shelf comes in a lovely looking natural finish and we have chosen it as the Unclutterer teams’ budget pick and in our opinion, one of the best leaning shelves on our 2020 review list. It’s only 4.25 feet tall and the shelves themselves aren’t particularly wide. With that in mind, even though it’s a good price it seems like a miniature and sweet looking unit but as far as we see it, this is functional and does exactly what it’s supposed to and allows you to display belongings or accent items beautifully.
Easy to assemble
Can be stained/painted
Wood can splinter easily
For light items only
Poor quality plywood
Not great reviews
With the Tangkula 5-Tier Leaning Ladder Shelf, you can organize and display books and possessions neatly. Available in a black or white finish, you can buy one that fits in with room decor beautifully. We think you might like that each shelf has side and rear ledges with rounded corners, so as well as looking sturdier than it would without those, it encloses pieces displayed and holds books and accent pieces nicely. Its size means it has a small footprint so doesn’t stick out too much, and it’s just over 6 feet tall making it great as a feature piece in any room. One thing to note is that once assembled the shelves just meet tidily with the wall so they don’t appear to ‘dangle/float’.
Good storage space
Poor % of positive reviews
No ‘buds’ for covering screws
Not for heavy items
Metal / MDF
The Ameriwood Home Lawrence 4 Shelf Ladder Bookcase Bundle in grey or black is a good value at anyone’s level. With two units supplied you get double the storage space and as showcased in the descriptive images, they look fab side to side if you have the room to do so. At five feet tall with wide shelves, even if one ladder shelf is placed away from the other they look quite substantial on their own. The color-matched what was advertised but we didn’t see that the frame was metal before assembling it. This isn’t a bad point, in fact, each unit was sturdy and the particleboard/MDF shelves are laminated so they are easy to wipe clean of dust too. Not great quality as expected but they are functional and solid enough for displaying stuff.
Bundle of two
Easy to put together
Not great quality
Not for heavy/fragile pieces
Metal black/wood effect
Our best value pick was the Homfa Industrial 5-Tier Ladder Shelf which took one of us only a half hour to put together with the tool that was provided. It was easy for one of us to put together and we thought this was the best ladder shelf in its price league. Fixings were supplied too to hold this securely to the wall. We like that it is slim looking and tall making it not so imposing as a solid wood unit would be but looks slender and well balanced.
Secure wall fixings supplied
Excellent % of 5* reviews
Didn’t have non-slip pads for feet
Use experience rather than instructions to assemble!
Metal / MDF
Different to a leaning ladder unit, the Rolanstar Ladder Shelf with Drawer is a freestanding shelving unit with the frame flat to the wall. It entails a handy drawer in the lower part which helps with its center of gravity. It sits sturdily and gives it more of a stable look. Whilst it appears to be constructed with solid wood shelves they are in fact MDF but impressively treated to look like real wood. In fact, the entire unit looks pretty vintage even though it’s a modern piece. We were concerned about the fabric drawer but it is tough and sits within its wooden box so shouldn’t sag over time like we thought it might.
Secure wall fixings supplied
Good range of matching items available
Easy to assemble
Sells out quickly!
The IWELL 4-Tier Rustic Leaning Bookshelf has four shelves and is constructed using wood (MDF). We were pleased to find another 4 tier ladder shelf where the shelves all meet the wall neatly. At just under five feet tall, it is short although the wide shelves make it look like a substantial piece of furniture. With just four shelves it means that there’s ample space of around 12.7 inches between each one. The frame isn’t metal so the entire leaning bookcase is lightweight and portable if you decide to move it. The maximum weight capacity for one shelf is approximately 17.5lbs.
Be careful when assembling – delicate
The Simply Superlative Rustic Wood Wall Leaning Blanket Ladder looks like it has been salvaged from an older home and used by a decorator! There is a modern version if you prefer to shy away from the barn look. The depth we mentioned is the shelf size. This is an ultra-lightweight piece so it is only designed for hanging very light things on like linens and towels. For this reason, it does feel quite flimsy but the description does mention if you like to collect distressed wood decorations then it’s for you, they also do say about hanging blankets on it if you don’t have a blanket box. For this reason, this ladder shelf is not really a shelf to sit decorations on, it’s rather a way of draping accent soft furnishings like throws or towels to highlight colors or your favorite pieces. There’s a modern style available but we preferred the rustic style.
Good as a gift
Not a bookshelf
Metal black/wood effect
The Homfa 4 Tier Vintage Bookcase & Leaning Shelf is practically designed with a strong frame and nicely colored shelves. It’s classically designed with a criss-cross detail to the rear, it does seamlessly fit in with other dark furniture in any room. We just weren’t sure about the fixings to the center of the frame which makes it look less sleek and a bit cheap although they do make it sturdy. We do think that the 23lb weight capacity (maximum per shelf) is good as it means the bottom shelves will hold heavier books and the higher shelves can be used to display lighter accent pieces.
Good gap between floor and first shelf
Great % of positive reviews
One-person assembly took a while
The AmazonBasics Modern 5-Tier Leaning Ladder Bookshelf is the white modern version that has a straight back so is good as a freestanding shelving unit. Also available from the AmazonBasics range if you aren’t looking for plain white is a walnut or espresso colored unit in the same size and at the same affordable price.
You May Also Like: Best Pouffes
Can’t secure to wall
The eHome Espresso Finish 5 Tier Leaning Shelf is a lovely color that fits in perfectly within any room. It makes an extra additional storage space for books and other pieces. This is a high-end unit and the Unclutterer team chose this as our premium pick. The size is wonderful – it’s tall and wide – yet the footprint is small so it doesn’t stick out from the wall too much. We like that the side and rear of each shelf has a ledge which makes the unit appear more sturdy than it would without them. The ledges have curved edges too. The frame from the top shelf upwards is nice and high so it looks like a sophisticated piece without being too imposing.
Good space between shelves (>12″)
Need to add adhesive foam to bottom legs
No secure wall fittings
Metal / MDF
This solid industrial style ladder shelf is nicely made and we were more than happy to test it at the Unclutterer team digs. BON AUGURE Rustic Industrial 5 Tier Ladder Shelf has been well designed as expected for the price. Unlike some cheaper alternatives, the metal frame continues under and across the center of each shelf rather than the shelves simply being screwed so there’s peace of mind. The cross frame at the rear of the unit also helps the entire thing stay put.
Classic, sleek design
Excellent % of positive reviews
Consider frame under shelf for height between each one
The Walker Edison 4 Shelf Simple Modern Wood Ladder Bookcase comes in three painted colorways – white, grey, black and its wooden construction (MDF) is fine for holding heavy books and other items. Each shelf should hold a maximum of 50lbs which is quite impressive. We think that the design and finish will slot in nicely whether you have classic or modern design in your room.
Easy but timely to assemble
Metal / laminate
The ClosetMaid 4-Tier Wooden Leaning Ladder Shelf is of a pretty simple design but the metal frame and rear crossbar make it a little more sturdy than it looks. It comes in either grey or neutral (shelves) and the framework itself is black. The laminate on the shelves make it easy to wipe free of dust. There is ample space between the five shelves and from the floor to the first shelf. At this price, it is good value if you are looking for something stylish yet simple.
Easy to clean
Timely to put together
May not like frame joints
With shallow ledges to the rear and sides of each of the five shelves on the Poundex Leaning Wall Shelf looks pretty sturdy. It’s available in black also but we like this as the color is less imposing. We had some tiny issues trying to put it together but it still only took an hour. It is pretty lightweight and portable but we’d recommend wall fixings to ensure that it can’t be pulled down. To combat that, however, as you would expect it’s advised that heavier items go on the bottom. It was unfortunate that the vertical frames have joints and aren’t just in one piece, but otherwise, this is a good all-round ladder bookcase.
Low % positive reviews
Don’t use for valuables
No mounting screws
No extra fittings so don’t lose any!
The Casual Home 5-Shelf Ladder Bookcase in solid wood is functional as expected. We didn’t like the color – it looked a bit farmhouse 1970’s – but actually it would slot into any room decor quite nicely! It is beautifully tall at six feet and is designed with shallow lips to the side and rear of each of the five shelves. It’s pretty sturdy but would be easy to move if necessary, but we would recommend using the supplied safety wall fixings and keeping it weighed down by placing heavier items on the bottom shelf.
Color not to everybody’s taste
Visible screws when assembled
Features To Consider With Leaning Shelves
There's nothing more useful than a decent bookshelf and we love the ladder bookcase styles that are available. They are suitable for any room at home - as bathroom shelves, bedroom, study, living room, and the home office. We have looked at 3 tier leaning bookcases, those with five shelves, and different styles. There are ladder shelves that are freestanding, although we recommend fastening any tall storage unit securely to the wall. Then there are leaning ladder shelf units that double up as a bookshelf or for showing off any items you like in your home.
Whether you like a rustic leaning ladder with a solid wood construction or your preference is a ladder shelf unit with a glossy finish for a modern look, there's an option out there for you. Here are a few tips on what to look out for when choosing your next, wonderfully functional, piece of home furniture.
Both look and size are important in the design of your new bookshelf. With a ladder shelf being a handy piece of kit, it can be portable too unlike a fixed bookcase so if you change your mind when you update the room you can move it somewhere else. Leaning bookcases look good and their small footprint makes them ideal for smaller spaces. They can also be a showpiece in your room allowing you to have books to hand or put your decorations on.
As part of the design you'll want to look out for the materials that will fit in with your decor. Solid wood construction fits nicely in a natural environment and a bamboo ladder will too. Metal frames and laminate or glossy melamine style finishes offer you a modern, clean look.
Either way, make sure that it's designed to be functional. If you are placing heavy books on it then it needs to be heavy-duty enough to take their weight. Make sure that the distance between the shelves is enough for your largest piece, be it a book or a favorite accent item.
The dimensions you will see listed on any description will include the height and the tallest you will find for the home is six feet or 72 inches. The depth of the shelves will be important and should be listed. We tend to concentrate too on the distance (depth) that a tier ladder shelf extends out from the wall - no point putting it near a doorway just to be tripped on time and time again!
Oh, and before we forget it makes sense that a taller ladder bookshelf should have more tiers, five shelves on a 6' tall unit is ideal where a 4 tier is good if you need to put on taller pieces. If you opt for a shorter bookshelf ladder, they look much more substantial if ladder shelves are wide.
In simple terms, do keep the aesthetics in mind as well as the practicality of the leaning bookshelf. Simply think about what items you will put on your bookcase before buying.
Various materials will be present when you're researching ladder shelves.
- Metal - If you prefer a clean, sleek look, metal frames can be much less bulky than solid wood. It's an ideal material for ladder shelves as it can be sturdy as well as having a modern or industrial look.
- Solid Wood - You'll get a strong frame and sometimes a rustic look with solid wood construction and it should be able to accommodate more weight (providing it comes with high-quality fittings and is designed well).
- MDF - Particleboard or MDF is typically used in budget ladder shelves yet it doesn't have to look cheap. They are often given a pleasant finish so this could be that it is layered with a laminate or sprayed with a gloss, sometimes the board is given the look of wood. This gives you the chance of finding the color that you want.
Wall Fastening & Safety
Like any tall piece of furniture a leaning shelf needs to be safely attached to the wall. You should always find out if the manufacturer includes fittings when you buy a bookshelf ladder. We would have to highlight that your wall construction will also be an essential consideration, for example, if your wall usually crumbles even at the sight of a screw, you'll want to buy your own fixings as recommended by an expert at your local hardware center.
In summary here, never scrimp on implementing safety measures and don't compromise. ALWAYS fix your tier ladder bookshelf to the wall.
While a ladder bookshelf offers valuable storage space, it can be easy to make a purchasing mistake. While you might be considering how good a ladder bookcase will look in your living room or other space, it's easy to miss the vitals. The best manufacturers will have tested the weights that their best ladder product can take on each shelf, and be more than willing to share this in the description. This way you can be sure that you are buying the best ladder shelf for what you need.
We tested one that looked perfectly sturdy in the images and was made of solid wood but the fittings were so delicate that it was only good enough to hang towels or light blankets on. Although the images in the description showed this, there were plenty of reviews from people, having already bought it, who had wanted to put much heavier items on it. Largely due to looking at the style and not its design.
With this in mind, look out for where the description outlines the weight capacity. If it has three, four, or five shelves you will want to know what weight the top shelf can hold as well as the largest bottom shelf, and all those in between! And be aware that to help the center of gravity, so that your ladder shelves aren't top heavy, put heavier items - or more items - on the bottom shelves then thin items out across the height of the unit.