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Shelf - Furniture

How To DIY Floating Shelves Easy

Cupboards and cabinets aren’t the only way to store your possessions. A wall shelf or open shelving as some call it – is a simple DIY for a tight-fit area where upper cabinets might not make sense. This easy step-by-step tutorial is a good idea for building your own DIY floating shelves and can help you make use of that underutilized vertical space while providing an opportunity to flaunt some of your most precious styling possessions and home decor. 

The best part? These shelves are made from sturdy wooden pieces with a support frame that can be installed onto a blank wall, or deep shelf in your home to help maximize your space with a modern look in a single day. You don’t even need mounting plates. It’s a great project for making actual floating shelves (small) that don’t require metal brackets. The name derives from the fact that these shelves seem to be floating in the air without any visible support. However, you can use white oak, but I love poplar too. To me, this is a great design choice – I love a streamlined look.

About DIY Floating Shelves

These shelves are made from sturdy wooden pieces with a support frame that can be installed onto a blank wall, or deep shelf in your home to help maximize your space with a modern look in a single day. You don’t even need mounting plates. It’s a great project for making actual floating shelves (small) that don’t require metal brackets. The name derives from the fact that these shelves seem to be floating in the air without any visible support. White oak is an option, but I love poplar too. To me, this is a great design choice – I love a streamlined look.

Check out the entire process in my Instagram Stories here. But, if ya want to get going ASAP like I did read on for the step-by-step instructions.

Sconces / Faucet / Medicine Cabinet / Door Hardware / Pendant Light / Aesop Soap / Rug / Hutch
Sconces / Faucet / Medicine Cabinet / Door Hardware / Pendant Light / Aesop Soap / Rug / Hutch

They can look complicated, but they are actually really easy to build on your own and can be completed with just a few tools quickly. But, before we learn about how to DIY your own float shelf let’s discuss why these can be a great solution for creating extra storage space, and opening up your floor space to leverage your wall to do more day-to-day.

THEY ADD PERSONALITY

These shelves add character to your home and brighten up any wall or corner. Floating shelves also look a lot more stylish than bulky cabinets, shelves with brackets, or dated cupboards lending an air of sophistication.

THEY’RE ESPECIALLY GREAT IN SMALL SPACES

When you have a small apartment or space, floating shelves can help maximize the space available by bringing the eye (and items) up and off the floor. The free space available around a floating shelf also creates the illusion of a taller and thus larger room. That’s why you see lots of small apartments using vertical space – a floating shelf is perfect for this.

THEY CAN BE INSTALLED IN ANY ROOM

 Floating shelves are also great because they can be added to almost any room – they aren’t just meant for a kitchen, etc. Living rooms or even bathrooms (like mine) can be enhanced by displaying your favorite books, and oddities. Bedroom interior design can be enhanced by placing artwork, artificial flowers, or contemporary décor. Kitchens benefit from a floating shelf by displaying prized cutlery jars of dry goods and even plants. If ya need some extra storage in a bathroom an added float shelf is a natural home for scented candlesextra towelsor even a box of tissuesNo matter which room you need to style, a floating shelf will come in handy – I promise.

While it is possible to get pre-made shelves from stores like Home Depot and IKEA, you don’t have to. Also, if space is not a standard size making one yourself might be the best route. You will be able to customize your shelf to the final dimensions and color of your choice if you’re up for a DIY.

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Convinced? Great! Here is a quick how-to guide to this easy DIY you can do on your own:

SUPPLIES

 

CUT TO SIZE

Okay for the first step, get an idea of the space available in the area where you want to install your float shelf. I love to cut pieces down and dry fit to make sure we are in the right ballpark. Measure the wall or alcove so that you don’t end up with a board that is too big or too small. You will want a support board flush to the back of the wall and depending on the length of the shelf two to three support pieces that will be placed perpendicular to that back shelf support piece of wood. It will go on the back of the wall or alcove making the back side of the shelf.

You will want to measure the length and decide on the depth of the shelf. Makes sure it’s not too shallow or long – especially if the shelf is in a pass-thru space. 8” inches is a good standard shelf depth.

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Once you have the right measurements and have figured out what size float shelf you want, use a saw to rip it into the desired size. If using a power tool saw is too intimidating. Don’t worry, use a miter box and saw, or grab your lumber at Home Depot and ask them to cut to size.

You can use three support pieces or boards for the back to support the top shelf. Mine were one inch thick and 19 inches wide. Two more poplar pieces measuring ten and a half inches in length can complement the back-support piece. This will serve as strong support for your shelf. The top and bottom pieces will need to go on after the support pieces. A finishing front piece will complete it. See below and adjust to suit your specific goals.

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SAND AND STAIN

To get rid of any rough edges, and ensure that the stain adheres give the entire shelf a light 220 grit sand. I like to vacuum up the dust as I go with a dustbuster. Don’t press too hard, just enough to open up the wood and smooth out any splinters or imperfections. After that get to staining your wood shelves. I insist on Dark Walnut. Be sure to ventilate the room properly, and apply the stain with a rag. Don’t use a paintbrush or the color will apply too dark. I did two coats, and let the stain dry overnight each time.

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You can achieve a high-end customized look for your shelf by picking the paint or stain of your choice. Using dark colors will help you create a moody interior design but you can also create a more minimalist interior design by making use of light colors. That’s something a store-bought shelf won’t allow you to do! You can also do this step after installing the shelf but I highly suggest staining the wood first. Just make sure to rip the wood to size first and make sure it all dry fits. It makes it easier this way rather than painting once it’s installed I found.

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INSTALL SHELF

Simply wait for your paint or stain to dry. Once dry you can begin assembling and hanging your float shelf. Map out the region where you will be installing your shelf using a level as your guide. You need to make it straight. You can also use frog tape to help visualize the scale and proportions. I love to do this just to confirm. If you are feeling good about the placement and scale simply nail the support pieces of wood in place and make sure they are evenly spaced. I use three nails per board. If you can nail into a stud all the better.

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Depending on the size and weight you want this shelf to support it may be required to do this into a stud. But these wooden shelves are a perfect fit for a lot of weight. Mine was small so it didn’t matter. For anything over 12” I would suggest locating at least one stud.

Secure the back support first, then move to the sides if in an alcove or simply the edge pieces if an exposed float. Since this is an alcove you won’t need side pieces. You can also hold the wood in place more firmly after nailing by using wood glue. Don’t forget to caulk the edges with paintable caulk and smooth them out with a wet finger.

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 Once the caulk dries, you can attach the front piece with nails or wood glue. Just be sure to use wood putty to cover up any nail holes and make sure it covers the top piece. Then, sand down the nails and re-apply any stain needed. After that, all you have to do is apply a clear topcoat if desire to protect the finish and the rest of the shelf.

That’s all there is to it. Not so hard right? I am over the moon at how this DIY turned out. It was easy enough to do – and they look really took my entire space up a notch. Will you give it a try? I have more DIYs here. Check them out.

Bathroom Shelf2

Commonly asked questions about floating shelves

How much weight can a floating shelf carry? 

A floating shelf can hold around 45-50 pounds for every wall stud that your floating shelf bracket is attached to. For instance, a 3′ shelf that’s attached to two wall studs can safely support ~100 pounds. Likewise, a 2′ shelf bracket attached to two wall studs can easily support the same ~100 pounds. if you make mine I would stick to around 40 pounds.

What’s the best wood for a floating shelf?

The best wood types for floating shelves are solid, sustainable hardwoods that will resist warping or bowing.  Alder, Walnut, Cherry, and White Oak are popular options for modern decor. For a more classic look, try Maple or Mahogany. It’s an affordable mix of both, consider poplar.

How thick should I make floating shelves?

Ideally, you want a floating shelf to be around two inches thick. Like depth, the thickness of a shelf can affect its ability to hold your precious items.

Do floating shelves have to go into studs?

You don’t necessarily need to use a stud. Wall studs are the most sturdy way to hang up heavy shelves. But, you can also use drywall anchors to install your shelf correctly.

Do floating shelves sag?

Floating shelves are great shelving options to add extra storage space to your vertical space. Using support brackets, these are perfect for showing off or highlighting your prized possessions. Still, depending on the type of floating shelf you use, your floating shelves could eventually sag or deform.

Is it safe to hang a shelf on drywall?

Drywall — especially the commonly used 1/2-inch-thick size — supports heavy weights when the shelving is properly installed. You can install heavy shelves with confidence that they will remain stable and secure, by using brackets.

In Conclusion

Remember, that home takes time – and the details matter. This little detail makes all the difference, and I know that a floating shelf in your home can make the difference too. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. What are you waiting for? Give it a go and good luck. Til next time. Love ya. xoxo

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