While traditional shelves definitely have a place in homes (hello, bookshelves!), floating shelves are perfect for displaying collections and holding dishware—without adding the bulk of brackets. If you want to quickly install shelving that holds a significant amount of weight, invisible brackets are the way to go.
These handy-dandy invisible shelf brackets are readily available online and range in weight capacities from 25 pounds to 100 pounds in single brackets, and 150-pound welded sets. Some reviews make installation seem like a cakewalk, but they're a little more difficult if you don't have access to one tool in particular: a drill press. If you don't, you can still successfully hang a floating shelf, but you need to be very, very precise in your measurements and drilling in order to have a perfectly level finished product.
What You Need
- 1" thick wood (or thicker), depending on the diameter of your brackets
- Floating shelf brackets
- Power drill
- Drill bit
- Carpenter's Square or Triangle
- Wall Anchors
- Chisel (optional)
- Drill press (optional)
Tip: If you want your floating shelf to truly look like it's floating and sits flat against the wall, consider chiseling about a half inch out of the back of your shelf where it lines up with the brackets. The adjustable brackets (like the ones we used) are much thicker, but you can find brackets that are about 1/8 inch in thickness.
Use a stud finder to locate the studs in your wall, then position your shelf on the wall where you want it to hang. Using a level, draw a line marking the top placement of the shelf.
Using the drawn pencil line as a guide, position the brackets on the wall, and mark the area to drill holes for the anchors. (We upgraded to these instead of using the flimsy anchors that came with the brackets. I recommend you do the same.) You'll want to space the brackets evenly across the wall to properly distribute the shelf's weight.
Hang the mounting brackets according to the directions on the package. I kept a small level on top of my brackets during the install, and had my husband hold the shelf underneath to keep everything as level as we possibly could.
Next, position the shelf under the mounting brackets. Find the center point of each bracket and make a pencil mark on the top of the shelf.
Draw a line from that mark straight back towards the wall and down the back of the shelf.
Find the halfway point on the back side of your shelf (on a 1-inch thick board, it will be .5 inch) and draw an intersecting line through the center point. Place your drill bit on the "x" where the lines meet, and begin to slowly drill down. It's important to try to drill as straight of a hole as possible, so use something like a drill guide, level, or angle iron to keep your drill bit straight up and down. Be sure to drill down according to the directions your brackets came with. Ours said we needed to drill at least 4.5 inches in depth. If you have access to a drill press, use that to ensure a perfectly straight drilled hole.
Carefully place the shelf onto the brackets and adjust the mounting until they're level.
Here's a view from the top to give you an idea of the distance gap if you choose not to chisel out the area where the brackets connect to the wall. It's not a huge deal if you don't do it, but it is somewhat visible close up.
Now get to decorating those shelves, and enjoy all your hard work!