How to install floating shelves - quick & easy DIY

Tools required to complete the job:

  1. A shelf 
  2. Shelf Fixings 
  3. Level 
  4. Tape measure
  5. Pencil
  6. Screwdriver
  7. Drill

Step 1 - Determine what wall construction you are working with

The first key step to ensure you do not damage your wall and to guarantee your shelf will be sturdy for years to come. 

The first step before starting anything is to find out what type of wall contraction you are working with. Solid brick, masonry wall plasterboard or drywall. Below please find the listed correct fixings for each wall type. 

Solid brick - Screws & Wall plugs 

Masonry - Screws & Wall plugs 

Plasterboard - Drywall anchor plugs

Drywall - Drywall anchor plugs

Step 2 - Finding studs in the Wall

When installing a floating shelf locating studs in the wall if key as if available you definitely want to use these to fix to, as these provide a super strong and long-lasting fix. Of course if they are not available to use you have plenty of different alternatives to use, as listed above. 

How to locate studs in the wall, this is done by looking for dimples in the wall, dimples are a sign of where the drywall fixings have been located on the stud. Another method is to tap the wall, tap the area gently with your hand or hammer, if the sound is empty and hollow the stud is non existent, keep moving left or right until the sound changes, you then know you've hit a stud. The easiest and most reliable way to locate a stud in the wall is to use a stud finder gadget, this will eliminate all potential human error.

Step 3 - Check the wall is free of cables, pipes etc

It's key to ensure you turn off the main water valve and electric supply to the house. Keep an eye on sockets and light switches, these can give you a good general idea on what's happening with electrics. Looking at the location of radiators can also help provide a good idea. Again the most reliable way to ensure you don't have implications is to use a detector. 

Step 4 - Measure and marking out

Now we have decided what fixings to use and where to place the shelf, we need to mark out the perfect positioning for your shelf. Ensure the shelf will be level. 

Mark out the area on the wall where you’d like your shelf to be positioned. Use a level and draw a faint pencil line across the wall in the marked area, to ensure the floating shelf will sit level. 

Using a drill, pilot hole into the walls for the wall plugs. Either following the bracket holes (Mark this with a pencil prior to drilling) or in your chosen spot with floating bars. 

Then insert the wall plugs, ready for the floating fixing. 

Step 5 - Fixing the bracket to the wall

When using a wall plate bracket you will now need to line the bracket holes up with your predrilled holes with wall plugs. You can now secure the brackets with screws using a drill or screwdriver. 

It’s important to regularly check the level during and after fixing this bracket. Also ensure the bracket is tightly fastened. 

Step 6 - Drilling the holes in the shelf

No the wall is all prepared ready for the floating shelf fixing, we need to now prepare the shelf ready for the fixings. 

Marking the end of the pillars that will be holding the shelf in ink, and pushing the shelf up against this to provide you a guide to where to drill your holes on the shelf. Ensure when pushing the shelf against the ink and getting markings the shelf is positioned centrally on the bracket to ensure top strength. 

Also measure the distance between the two brackets carefully checking the markings are correct. Again ensure it’s central on the shelf. 

When you have the markings on the shelf, you then need to proceed to drill the shelf holes for the bracket. It’s important to ensure the holes are straight and level with each other. 

The best way to drill these holes is with a drill press. If a drill press is not available create a small jog to hold the wood, securing the wood from any movement when drilling.

It’s important to mark the depth of the hole and have the correct length drill bit to ensure you are not drilling too far or not enough. 

Step 6 - Slide the shelf onto the brackets 

When you have slid the shelf onto the bracket and checked the shelf is fully secure and level, most brackets will have an underside fixing to ensure the shelf doesn’t slide off. Insert screws upwards in the required areas and the installation process is now complete. 

Top Tips

  • Remember not to overload your floating shelf, check the manual on what weight the bracket is designed to take. 
  • Please don’t cut corners when installing floating shelves.
  • Pre-plan when installing floating shelves, this can help the installation process run more efficiently. 

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