How To Put Up A Shelf The DIY Way

by Editor on April 30, 2013


Picture this: children’s toys are scattered everywhere, DVD’s can be found in any corner of the house and home fixtures can’t seem to be kept out of children’s reach. What do you get? A messy, uncomfortable living space that you wish you never lived. So even before these scenarios get worse, be proactive now by putting up a shelf or two. You will be relieved to know that it’s a task which most competent DIYers can perform efficiently in reasonable time so long as you engage a little accuracy and common sense. Not only will you have the advantage of a safe place to neatly store your possessions but you’ll enjoy that rush of excitement which says, “I did that!”

There are numerous varieties of shelving available, some of which you can purchase complete with fixings. Take care to note the advice given on the packaging if you select a complete shelving system as it will inform you how much weight the shelf can support. If in doubt, consult an expert opinion in your local DIY or hardware store.

Tools you will need:
Electric drill with masonry/plasterboard attachment
Tape measure
Hammer and nail
Screws and wall plugs (the exact type depends on the type of wall to which you are fixing the shelf)
Spirit level

1. Position the first bracket
If you are fixing the shelf to a plasterboard wall, the most secure way is to screw the brackets directly into the wooden studs which are concealed behind the plasterboard. A stud detector can be useful in helping you to locate these. Alternatively you can attach the shelf to the plasterboard using spring toggles.
Place the first bracket at the required height and check it is level with a spirit level. Draw a pencil cross in each of the screw positions then remove the bracket. Use a nail and hammer to dent the surface of the plasterboard in the exact centre of
each cross: this will facilitate accurate drilling.
For a masonry wall you should commence by positioning the bracket and pencil-marking the screw holes. Remember to check the wall for hidden cables first using a live cable detector. This relatively inexpensive device could save you considerable time – and a hospital visit – in the event there are cables which you cannot see.

2. Drill the wall
If you are attaching your brackets to wooden studs, drill each hole using a wood drill bit a size smaller than the screw. Drill to the depth of the screw, less the width of the bracket.
For plasterboard walls a masonry drill bit will suffice but check what size is recommended for the spring toggles that you intend to you.
Similarly, for masonry walls ensure that the drill bit size matches the size of the wall plug and drill to the depth of the plug. Remember to use the hammer option on your drill and keep the drill still while exerting pressure from behind.

3. Attach the bracket
Insert the wall plugs or spring toggles if you are using them, ensuring there is no side-to-side movement. Screw the bracket to the wall firmly without overtightening.


4. Position the second bracket
Position other bracket in the desired position and rest the shelf on top of the brackets. Use the spirit level to check that the shelf in straight and once you have achieved the optimum position, pencil mark the screw holes for the second bracket, taking care not to let the bracket move position.
Repeat steps 1-3.

5. Attach the shelf
Place the shelf on top of the brackets, ensuring that it is pushed flush against the wall.
Check again that the shelf is level.
With the shelf positioned carefully, screw it onto the brackets tightly and check that it is stable.

6. Final check
Ensure that all the screws are tight.
By following these simple steps and taking care to achieve an accurate finish, you can be confident that your newly-mounted shelf will not only last for years but also make you proud to have completed the task!

About the Author

Author Colin McD. We’ve all done it, made mistakes while trying to complete what should be the simplest of DIY tasks.  However after buying some stainless steel shelving for my business, I was determined not to mess it up or have to call the chaps from to do it for me. So I used some help guides and decided to write my own  based on what I think the key points are.

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