How to install floating shelves – a quick DIY to hang yours easily

Installing DIY floating shelves is an easy job. Use our step-by-step guide and video tutorial on how to hang a floating shelf, yourself.

Putting the shelf on the bracket to finish off the floating shelves DIY
(Image credit: Future)

When you know how to hang a floating shelf, you'll understand what all the fuss is about. Not only are floating shelves practical but they can add interest to your interior design scheme and by installing floating shelves yourself, you'll save a little cash along the way too. 

You don't need tons of tools, just a little know-how, and whether you're working with drywall, masonry or plasterboard, you'll be able to recreate your favorite shelving ideas in no time at all.

James Kalim, founder and CEO at Only Silent (opens in new tab) says, 'When installing a floating shelf you can use mount brackets for support. This will make your shelf sturdy to support items that you will be placing in it. Another tip is to make use of the stud finder to easily locate the studs in your wall. These studs will help you have a well-built shelf.'

You will need:

DIY floating shelves with house plants and other decor

(Image credit: Future)

1. Check the construction of the wall

Before starting, as when hanging a shelf with brackets, 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 plasterboard or drywall, use worm-style fixings/drywall anchor plugs (opens in new tab)

DIY floating shelf check the wall type

(Image credit: Future)

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. 

Checking for cables before installing a floating shelf

(Image credit: Future)

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. 

How to install a floating shelf yourself by marking out the fixtures

(Image credit: Future)

4. Attach 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 drywall anchor plugs (the 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.

screwing in drywall anchor plug to hang floating shelf

(Image credit: Future)

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. 

Fixing bracket to the wall ready for DIY floating shelf

(Image credit: Future)

6. Slide the shelf onto the bracket

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

Putting the shelf on the bracket to finish off the floating shelves DIY

(Image credit: Future)

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. 

Securing DIY floating shelf with screws

(Image credit: Future)

Top tip: Remember not to overload your shelf – DIY 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. And, make sure you keep your house looking beautiful with similar DIY projects you can do in a day.

And for another shelfie!

Hebe joined the Real Homes team in early 2018 as Staff Writer before moving to the Livingetc team in 2021 where she took on a role as Digital Editor. She loves boho and 70's style and is a big fan of Instagram as a source of interiors inspiration. When she isn't writing about interiors, she is renovating her own spaces – be it wallpapering a hallway, painting kitchen cupboards or converting a van.