How to install a floating shelf

Putting up shelves is an achievable DIY project, but make sure you get it right first time with our easy step-by-step guide

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Looking for advice for a DIY job? Putting up a floating shelf, one of the simplest but most impactful DIY tasks you could take on, is easily achievable, even for novices. Whether you are looking to create book storage in your living room, picture display space in or bedroom or storage for your home office, follow our simple step-by-step guide to easily install your floating shelves.

But before you start, be aware that instructions may vary depending on the shelf you are installing, so always check the manufacturer's guidelines first. 

What you will need

1. Check the construction of the wall

Before starting, check the construction of your wall, this will determine what type of fixing you need to use. For a solid brick or masonry wall you will need wall plugs and for a plasterboard wall use worm-style fixings

2. Ensure the wall is free of cables and pipes

Before drilling any holes, run over the area with a digital detector to check it’s free of any pipes and cables. 

3. Mark out your fixings

Hold the shelf bracket on the wall at the height you want. Make sure it is straight using a spirit level. Then, using a pencil, mark the fixing hole positions. Again, double check your pencil markings are straight with a spirit level. Use a counterpunch and a hammer to make a small dent in the centre of each mark, this will stop your drill or screwdriver from slipping. 

Watch our step-by-step video about putting up a floating shelf:

4. Add your wall fixings

This step may differ depending on the shelf you are using and the wall material you are mounting it on to. If you are using a drill and wall plugs to mount your shelf, drill a hole in the centre of each pencil mark and then tap into your wall plugs with a hammer. If you are using  a worm-style fixing (as can be seen in our video above), cover the marks in Sellotape to stop plaster cracking and screw in your fixings.

5. Fix the bracket to the wall

With all the holes drilled into the wall you can now screw on the bracket. Hold it into position and, using either a drill or a screwdriver, insert the screws where they are required, making sure the bracket is tight to the wall. 

6. Slide the shelf onto the bracket

Once your base is fixed securely, slip the shelf onto the bracket. 

7. Secure the shelf to the bracket

On the underside of the shelf there will usually be fixings to ensure the shelf doesn’t slide off the bracket. Insert screws into these holes, screw upwards and the installation is complete. 

Top tip: Remember not to overload your shelf – floating shelves are fairly sturdy but they do have limits so read through the manual that came with your shelf to check what weight they can take. 

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