How To Install Floating Shelves on Your Walls

When you’re running out of space for storage, look to the walls. Often overlooked, your room’s vertical space is a blank canvas for floating shelves — a great option for storage as well as decor. Floating shelves are also incredibly versatile. They can run the entire wall, be staggered in an artful arrangement, and can hold a myriad of objects from household cleaning products to books and plants.

Their only downside might be the perceived hassle of mounting floating shelves. When installed incorrectly, they can pose a risk of injury or damaged goods. To ensure you understand the basics of this DIY project, we’ve created a step-by-step guide to installing floating shelves.

Prepare for Drilling

To prep your shelves for success, here’s everything you need — from having the right tools to figuring out what kind of wall you’re up against.

Gather Tools Needed for Shelf Installation

Stud Finder

There are various devices that either light up or beep to indicate the location of a wall stud.

Ruler or Tape Measure

Determine which measurement tool is right for you depending on the length of your shelving units.


Pencils, chalk, or super-washable markers are the easiest to erase off the wall once you’re done measuring and drilling.


This tool is only necessary if you need to install anchors.

Drill or Screwdriver

A drill may make it easier to bore into the wall but, as long as you have the right screw, going manual with a screwdriver will work just as well.


Ensure your shelves are straight with a leveler, which come in handheld or laser options.

Shelving Hardware

Components for a typical floating shelf include wall mounts (brackets or cleats) and screws.

Determine Your Wall Type

Before hammering holes into your wall, consider what kind of wall you are working on. Different wall types have different properties and require different tools and techniques. Here are some common wall types:

Drywall or Plaster

Easier to drill into but not very strong. The safest and sturdiest option is to drill into a stud and/or use proper wall anchors that can support the shelf and weight of your possessions.

Brick or Concrete

Hard and durable, brick and concrete are difficult to drill into. You’ll need some special equipment like a masonry drill bit that’s strong enough for the task. It’s also a good idea to cover up nearby furniture or the floor as a fair amount of dust may get kicked up.
Are you considering going without a stud finder? Typically, wall studs are approximately 16 inches apart. If you don’t find a stud at the 16-inch mark, you should find a stud at 24 inches. For older homes, the distance can vary. (Note: You can locate wall studs at the corners and on either side of windows and doorways.)

Measure Twice, Drill Once

After you’ve found the ideal place for your shelves, it’s time to measure where to hammer and drill. Like any construction or design project, always double-check your measurements.
Mark out where you’ll be drilling using your marker. You can pinpoint where you’ll be drilling or draw a line across the wall where your shelf will be hung.
Align your wall mount with the marked spots.
Place your leveler on top of your wall mount to ensure your shelves are straight. Erase any errors to eliminate confusion about which marks are the final ones.
Step back to envision how the shelves will sit on your wall and reposition until the marks are to your liking.
For multiple shelving, measure how much space you’d like between each shelf. We suggest measuring the height of the shelf and not the brackets since the bottom of the shelf may sit lower once mounted.

Mount Your Floating Shelves

Follow these three steps to finally get your shelves up on the wall and decorated with books and treasures that’ll bring your room to life.

Drill and Level Brackets or Cleats

With your screwdriver or drill, insert your screws into the bracket or cleat and the stud. We recommend using your leveler to make sure the bracket or cleat is in a straight line before securing the second screw. When all hardware is screwed in, they should be flush against the wall and unmoving. This will reduce the risk of your floating shelves sagging or tilting when you start putting up decor.

Pro Tip

The screws you use should be long enough that they are secure and snug in the wall stud. Screws should not be too short where they don’t reach the stud or too long where they may penetrate something they shouldn’t (i.e., wires, pipes, ducting). General math to ensure you have the correct screw length is as follows: .25-inch bracket thickness + .50-inch sheetrock + 1.75-inch stud + anything that you have to drill through.

Secure Shelves

Now, grab your shelves and simply slide them onto the wall mounts. Secure them in place by tightening the set screws found underneath each shelf.

Decorate and Enjoy

Congratulations, you’ve officially installed your floating shelves and they’re now ready to store and display your items. Keep in mind the weight capacity of your floating shelves as you start to decorate them. Every stud can hold 45–50 pounds; each wall anchor can hold 15–20 pounds.

Style Your Walls and Home With  

Floating shelves save precious floorspace for other furnishings and act as beautiful wall accents that provide extra surface space. Discover your ideal floating shelves on, ranging from subtle accents to eye-catching designs.
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