How to install floating shelves

Shelving is the easiest way to create more storage space in the home. Floating shelves are a great way to give your room a clean, neat shelving unit, while also holding a significant weight. The first thing to think about is the size and weight of items that will be going on the shelves.

Check the packaging of the shelves for the weight limit. Most floating shelves come with fixings for stud, hollow and brick walls.

Project Checklist


Step 1: Check Walls

Which type of wall are you fixing the shelf to? If you are dealing with a hollow wall, screwing directly into the wall studs is best. But if you need extra support between the studs, you will have to look at toggles which expand and grab inside the wall as the screw is tightened. Without these toggles, the plaster may not be able to support the weight of the shelf pulling downward, potentially leading to it coming unfixed – along with anything on it! As always when drilling into a wall, make sure you check for electrical cables, plumbing and gas pipes before you start drilling – cutting a line could have disastrous consequences.

Step 2: Mark with Pencil

Once you’ve checked your walls and your hardware sorted, it’s time to get to work. A crooked shelf isn’t any use to anyone, so use a spirit level to ensure that it’s in line with the floor, marking a line on the wall so you can easily angle the shelf correctly for the next step. After that, grab the shelf bracket and find the pre-drilled holes – using them as a guide and keeping the shelf on the line you’ve just drawn, mark where you’ll be drilling your screw holes with a pencil by pushing it through the bracket.

Step 3: Getting your wall ready

Now it’s time to drill some holes. Depending on the composition of your walls, you may be required to drill a pilot hole prior to fixing the screws, especially if you’re attaching it to studs, bricks or concrete. If this is required, find a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the screws you will be using to fix the shelf to the wall and mark the length of the screw on the bit with a bit of tape before drilling the pilot hole. Shelves being fixed directly into plasterboard will most likely require an anchor. In this case, the principle is very much the same. Using the marks on the wall as guides, drill a hole slightly smaller than the diameter of the wall plug you’ll be using, before gently tapping the anchor into place with a small hammer.

Step 4: Affixing your Bracket

With your pilot holes drilled or your wall plugs in place, now we can start assembling. Holding the bracket up to the wall, push the first screw through the pre-drilled hole and partially into the pilot hole/anchor. Then, continuing to support the bracket, slowly drill in your first screw. Don’t tighten it all the way yet – leave it slightly loose at the end to allow for adjustments on the second hole. Make sure you put your fixing screws at the top of the shelf so it doesn’t move.

Then, continue to place screws along the wall, pivoting the bracket if required to ensure it stays in alignment with your pilot holes/anchors. Once all the screws are in, tighten them all at once and your bracket is fixed to the wall!

Step 5: Shelving

Finally, the easy part. Pick up the shelving unit itself and slide it onto the bracket, ensuring it is securely attached by the guide rails, dowels or whatever fixing method is used to join the two components. Stand back and admire your handy work – you now not only have more storage and a stylish addition to your room, but have achieve it all by yourself!