Average Labour Cost to Put Up Shelves

To clarify the following prices it is recommended that you read the article in the INFORMATION box below the PRICES…

(These prices are based on a tradesman’s rate of £150.00 per day and a labourer if required at £100.00 per day. This includes the cost of buying and collecting any materials, dumping any waste if necessary and any incidental materials they will need. The minimum price will usually be for a half day)

How Much Does It Cost To Put Up Shelves?

cost to put up shelves

For the chap to buy the (soft) wood and fix half a dozen 200mm deep shelves into each alcove on either side of a chimney breast using dowels, leaving the painting and partial clearing of the room to you, will take a good day and should cost you around….

To hang some brackets and fit the same shelves, or fix a shelf or two you have bought as self assembly packs ( in both cases supplied by you and provided
on site). This will take him a leisurely couple of hours so he will charge you half a day…….£90.00

To build a complete
MDF shelving cabinet in a chimney breast alcove, complete with mouldings and a DVD / video cupboard beneath and perhaps a TV on top of this bottom unit, expect to pay £575.00 for labour and materials.

To paint the above unit with primer, undercoat and gloss coat, would cost……
so get those brushes out and do it yourself.

To assemble and fix one of those floating IKEA shelves (these need to be done properly!)

For your must-see guide to Tradesmen's Rates please click on the map…


A Price Guide and Information Sheet on Replacing and Fitting Shelves

Every bloke’s nightmare! It’s a documented fact that NEVER in the field of human conflict (marriage), has any bloke ever uttered the words…”Wouldn’t it be nice to have a shelf above the telly that I can put all my glass ornaments on”.

However, putting the thing up is the man of the house’s job. So ladies, give him two weeks, tops, to argue, prevaricate and procrastinate… then get a man in to do it!

Before you get him in, decide where you want them, how many you want, how far apart vertically they should be, how long they should be, how deep you want them. This of course depends on what sort of ornamental gimcrack you are intending to put on them. Do you want him to paint them when he’s finished?

We are assuming here that they will be wooden, so what kind of wood do you want? Softwood (pine, redwood), hardwood (mahogany type), MDF, laminated plywood, laminated chipboard (sometimes called “contiboard”)

I say “mahogany type” hardwood because that’s what most people think of as hardwood. Actually though, oak and elm etc. are hardwoods, but they are expensive and a waste of time if you want the shelves painted.

If you want shelves over 250mm deep then use MDF, laminated ply or laminated chipboard. Softwood is only
readily available up to 200mm wide and after that it gets very expensive. You won’t get hardwood unless you take out a mortgage. Laminated board is a bit fragile though and damages easily. If it gets wet, the laminate discolours and peels off and it looks like a pair of scuffed white high heels. Not quite the ticket for your genteel living room! Laminated ply is ok but the edges all need covering because the laminate only covers the top and bottom surfaces.

You may just go to “WickesBQ”, and buy pre made shelving. Please, don’t go near a timber yard asking to look at wood for shelves, they will
pretend to be nice but they will hate you and will be sorely tempted to wave their arm expansively at the forest of timber stacked everywhere and tell you like you were a small child that its all for shelves!

So, how to hang them on the wall? If they’re going on either side of the chimney breast it’s possibly to simply plug the opposing walls with dowels, two at each end of each shelf and possibly one mid way on the back wall, and no one will see them. This only works if the shelf is no more than about 1 metre long and at least 18mm thick though.

If the shelves are just “free standing” against the wall, then brackets or a wooden frame will be necessary.

The best brackets are comprised of two vertical metal “U”sections about 25mm wide, screwed to the wall at the same height as each other and at a distance apart which is appropriate to the shelves’ length. Other smaller brackets are then hung wherever you want on these, allowing different depth shelves (if needed) with various vertical distances between them. This can then all be changed around as often as you want.

This system is more expensive than individual angle brackets but with only six screws holding up half a dozen shelves they save a heap of money in labour, they are versatile and they don’t sag.

Wooden frames are OK for the
garage/shed but they are quite labour intensive as well and therefore expensive.

A complete shelving unit with a back and sides can be
made of course. This can then be moved as you want. Obviously these can be bought far cheaper than having one made but if you want it to look special, or you want a specific size…

One last thing, make sure the “chippie” is 100% certain there are no cables or pipes in the wall before he drills even the tiniest little hole!

A-Z of Job Pricing