The free diy home improvement guide with answers to your questions on a wide range of do it yourself projects.

Fitting Floating Shelves

a wooden floating shelfIf you are hoping for clean lines in your home, you may want to consider installing floating shelves to prevent ruining your look with brackets. Nothing looks nicer than the gravity defying shelf simply jutting out into the room with no discernible means of staying there. Floating shelves look as though they are growing out from the wall. But how easy are they to fit and will they be suitable for the walls in your home?

You can buy floating shelves in a range of different materials. They may come in painted or natural wood, plastic or resin and even glass – although these will have a bracket at each end. You can expect to pay anything from £10 to £30 per shelf depending on the material used.

Once you have purchased the right shelf just follow the steps below to fit them without having to call in your local handyman.

  • Use an electronic detector to make sure there are no electrical wires or metal pipes hiding inside the wall where you want to hang your shelves. You could also use a stud finder to work out the position of your shelf – but you will be lucky if one falls exactly where you need it to be.
  • Measure the position of the shelves, taking into account what you will be storing on them. Make sure the height between them will accommodate your longest book or tallest vase. You can have the shelves offset for a more interesting look.
  • Take your spirit level and mark the position of the bracket on the wall. The bracket will have small holes where the screws go. Use a pencil to mark these positions.
  • Drill holes into the wall where you have made the pencil marks. In most cases you will need to use wall plugs to help secure the screws. Choose the right plugs for your wall whether it is brick or plasterboard.
  • Screw the bracket into place, taking care to ensure it is straight and screwed tight.
  • The shelf will now simply slide onto the bracket. The shelf will have holes at the back, which will mean that the bracket will be entirely hidden from view. Check that it is level and that you are happy with the position.
  • Most shelves will come with a hole on the underside which will fix the shelf to the bracket via a small screw. Don't forget to do this step.

Floating shelves may not be as sturdy as some designs but they will usually hold a fair weight. Check what you are buying if you think you need a high weight tolerance. The weight the shelf will take will also depend on the type of wall it has been attached to. A plasterboard wall may not hold as heavy a weight as brick or block might.

Image shown: B&Q Floating Shelf Kit - Oak Effect