Budget-friendly and easy to install, DIY floating shelves are an amazing addition for any wall in your home. A project that doesn’t take long to complete, floating shelves offer attractive, practical storage for books storage, art, show case piece for your treasures or art and more for you to admire and add a nice design touch around the home.

DIY for Added Functionality
There are a couple of different types of floating shelves, what we will talk about here is the single shelf type that range in size from 600mm, 900mm, 1200mm and 1800mm. These types have the typical design that has a metal bracket with rods that attach to the wall typically and insert in the shelf from the back to give it the floating look.

DIY floating shelves gives you more freedom to place shelfs on the wall, that does not rely on where the wall internal studs are, though this helps you maximize both storage and style. How a person might arrange shelves on a wall will vary and really is up to you. Add a single shelf, multiple shelves, vertically or diagonally align shelves. With DIY floating shelves, the only limit is your creativity and handyman capabilities!

Step 1. Choose the floating shelf

Where to buy.
Your local hardware store, online or Ikea are a good place to buy floating shelves. Floating shelves come in a variety of colors and sizes. Choose a color that will match you existing walls and decor usually white is a classic, however they come in a few other colors as well.

Step 2. Preplan to avoid the second trip to the store.


First determine how many shelves you’d like for each room and choose where they should go on the wall and their arrangement.


Second check your wall type to see what anchors you need for securing your shelf to the wall.


Masonry: If your wall is made of masonry, then you may need masonry wall plugs (they may come with your shelf, read the shelf packaging) or if they do not you need to buy at the local hardware.

Plaster wall:  If you have a drywall / plaster wall, then you will need the correct anchor for the weight you want to put on it. How much a shelf is able to bare will vary, however as long as items are evenly distributed and depending on wall type expect up to 5kg for drywall / plaster wall, and up to 10kg for masonry, always read instructions. To determine how many brackets and the number of holes for screws, for the number of screws you will need that many anchors as well.  The back of the packing is a good place to look for this information.

Step 3 Gather equipment and materials.

  • Floating shelves
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Level
  • Appropriate wall anchors for wall type
  • Drill
  • Metal drill bit 1 – 8mm / Masonry drill bit (check size on box 6 -8mm)
  • Screwdriver
  • Screws (7g or 8g 30 to 50mm)

Step 4. Determine the right anchor for the job. 

Internal Wall Studs: If you have a drywall / plaster wall, to get the maximum load capacity for your shelf you can look for a timber or metal stud in behind the wall. Studs can be found in the wall several different ways.  One way is a stud-finder, these are an electronic device and are inexpensive from $16 and can be purchased from Bunnings. Or my favorite is using the old tap method, you tap along the wall you will hear a hollow sound when there is nothing behind, just keep tapping in a horizontal line and you will find that the sound changes to a dense sound (stud territory) These will be your best option to secure shelving – but not your only one. If you think you’ve found a stud you may be able to use a drill with a small bit say 1mm to test drill and check. If the drill goes right through, you’re still in drywall. If it meets resistance, you’ve hit a stud. If studs aren’t conveniently located to where you’d like to add your shelves, you will need to use an anchor.

When Purchasing wall anchors? For drywall, you’ll need butterfly anchors. For plaster, hollow wall anchors. Always choose an anchor rated to hold MORE than the weight of the shelf and the items you plan to put on it.

Step 5. Installing your floating shelves.

  1. Remove all packaging and remove metal piece that sits in the back for shelf, this is the bracket. Then grab a level and your pencil, place metal bracket on the place where you would like to install the shelf on the wall and check that it is level. Lightly mark the holes on the brackets with a pencil. These will be where your screws and anchors will go.
  2. Now its time to drill the pilot holes with your drill, keeping the drill square. Be mindful of some choosing the right size bit. Too small and you’ll struggle with insertion. Too large your anchor/screw could pop out follow steps 3 and 4 for the wall type.
  3. Gyprock / plaster wall with or without studs; Now that the marks have been made, grab your drill and if your wall is plaster board drill a pilot hole 5mm, if you meet resistance then all you need to do is screw in the bracket, no need for wall anchor. If you find no stud, then grab your plaster wall anchor and your screw driver and screw your wall anchors in clockwise (rightly tightly / lefty loosie is a saying that helps)
  4. Masonry Wall, Brick;  As mentioned before, now that the marks have been made, If your wall is a masonry wall grab your drill and switch it over to hammer drill mode if you do not have this mode you will need a drill with this mode.  You can ask your friends and family, or the local hire place to find one). Make sure to choose the correct masonry drill bit 8mm plug requires 8mm masonry bit, too large your anchor/screw could pop out.
  5. Insert anchors following package instructions.
  6. Line-up shelf brackets with anchors, installing the brackets with a screwdriver into the anchors you placed in the holes.
  7. Repeat for each shelf you plan to install.
  8. Slide your floating shelves onto the brackets and check with the level again. There should be a securing screw on the side to secure bracket screws these in and you done.
  9. Decorate/stock your shelves and enjoy your handy work!

If run into trouble, or if you have a larger job than your prepared to do and need a helping hand? Give your Handyman Canberra  a call.