Planning & preparation

  • This leaflet explains how to fit two types of shelf: a floating shelf with hidden supports, and a traditional shelf on brackets
  • Shelves come in a range of styles, sizes and materials so take some time to select a design that is right for you and your space
  • When selecting a design, bear in mind the position and purpose of the shelf. For example, if it will be supporting heavy items, it’s best to choose a shelf on brackets
  • Once you’ve chosen a location, you’ll need to check what wall surface you have, as this will determine the fixings you’ll need. If possible, fit shelves to a masonry wall as this will provide the sturdiest fixing
  • If you are fitting a shelf on a stud wall, you’ll need to use a stud detector to locate the vertical timber studs behind the plasterboard

Do it right

  • When fitting a shelf on brackets, bear in mind that the longer arm of the bracket should be against the wall and the shorter arm against the shelf
  • If using a floating shelf kit, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. These usually also include information about the load the shelf will support
  • If fixing a shelf to a stud wall, the shelf supports should be screwed into a pair of vertical timber studs – never into the hollow gaps between studs. This may also affect the type and length of shelf you can use

Staying safe

  • Always use a pipe and cable detector to avoid hidden water pipes and electric cables
  • Never drill directly above or below light switches and power sockets
  • On a stud wall, do not screw shelf supports into the hollow gaps between studs. They will not take the weight of a laden shelf and may collapse
  • Wear safety goggles when drilling

Aftercare

  • Be careful not to overload shelves, especially a floating shelf

Preparation for either type of shelf

1

Use a pipe and cable detector to check that the area where you want the shelf to be is clear of hidden pipes and electric cables. Making sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions, move the detector slowly back and forth across the wall.

2

If fixing the shelf to a stud wall, locate a pair of the vertical studs behind the plasterboard using a stud detector. Be sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

How to Put Up a Floating Shelf

1

After checking you are clear of pipes and cables and, if necessary, locating a pair of timber studs, hold the first shelf support in position. Ensure it is the right way up, with the screw holes at the bottom.

2

Mark the top of the support on the wall. Then, mark the position of the two screw holes.

3

Measure and mark out the top position and screw positions for the second shelf support. To avoid a sloping shelf, always use a spirit level to ensure the two top marks are exactly level.

4

On a stud wall, you can now fix the two supports in place by driving the screws through the plasterboard and into the timber stud behind.

5

On a masonry wall, mark the length of the wall plugs on your masonry drill bit using masking tape.

6

Then, using the ‘hammer’ setting, drill the screw holes to the marked depth.

7

Insert the wall plugs, ensuring they do not stick out from the wall. Then screw both supports to the wall.

8

Finally, following the manufacturer’s instructions, slide the shelf into position and secure onto the supports from the underside.

How to Put Up a Bracket Shelf

1

After checking you are clear of pipes and cables and, if necessary, locating a pair of timber studs, hold the first bracket in position with the longer side against the wall. Use a spirit level to check that the top of the bracket is horizontal.

2

Mark the position of the top of the bracket on the wall. Then, mark the position of the screw holes.

3

Measure and mark the top position and screw positions for the second bracket. To avoid having a sloping shelf, use a spirit level to ensure the two top marks are exactly level.

4

On a stud wall, you can now fix the two brackets in place by driving screws through the plasterboard and into the timber stud behind.

5

For a masonry wall, mark the length of the wall plugs onto your masonry drill bit using masking tape.

6

Then, using the ‘hammer’ setting, drill the screw holes to the marked depth.

7

Insert the wall plugs, ensuring they do not stick out from the wall. Then screw both brackets to the wall. Once secure, double check they are level.

8

Rest the shelf centrally on the brackets, then mark on the underside of the shelf where the screws that will fix the shelf to the horizontal arms of the two brackets will go.

9

Remove the shelf and drill short pilot holes through the marks on the bottom of the shelf. Take care not to drill right through it.

10

Finally, place the shelf into position on the brackets and secure with screws.