If you find yourself needing a little extra organization, or you come down with the urge to decorate a bare wall, knowing how to hang a shelf so that it looks its best and is sturdy will be of great help! While shelf hanging is simple enough, using the right technique will make the process go more smoothly, and give you more confidence in your shelfʼs durability.
Before you hang anything, you have to know precisely where to hang it. The anchors needs to be set into a stud in the wall, or you risk tearing out sheet rock with the weight of the shelf as it tumbles to the ground. Painterʼs tape can come in handy for this, and save you from making unneeded marks on your wall. Using a stud finder, locate a stud and mark it with a small piece of tape. Locate a second one near the other end of the shelf. While there are exceptions, particularly in older houses, studs are standardly located 16” apart. If it is a particularly long shelf, continue marking each stud for the remainder of the length. Once you have all studs marked, using a level, bridge the space between them. Rather than drawing a line across the wall, you can use painterʼs tape to create a straight line that will let you see exactly where the shelf will hang.
When it comes to hanging, you have many options depending on the shelf. If you purchased a new shelf, it should have come with its own brackets. In this case, hanging is simple and will only take a few minutes. Using the marks on the tape, drill a hole in the center of each stud right above the tape and, using a hammer if necessary, lightly push the anchor into the wall. Remove tape from that side, place the bracket over the anchor, and screw it in! Repeat this for each bracket and your shelf is ready to hang!
If you built a custom shelf, or are hanging an older or used shelf that did not come with brackets, you have a few options. Toggle bolts are conventional options, that are sturdy and will support a lot of weight. The downside is that they are more difficult to install, and intended to be permanent. If you need to take the shelf down for any reason, you will need to rehang the shelf from scratch with a new pair of toggles. One liked alternative to these is Snaptoggle anchors. Designed to be moveable, you can purchase these with their own installation instructions, and, once in the wall, screw the shelf directly into the toggle. Another option is to build your own hanging rail. This is a more attractive option for those already building their own shelves. Hanging rails can be drilled directly into the wall, allowing you to place the shelf on top of it, and gives you the freedom to attach it to the rail instead of the wall itself. A similar option to hanging rails, which is convenient for hanging the more heavier shelves, is cleats. With cleats, one will be attached to the wall, and the other will be attached to the shelf. They lock into one another like puzzle pieces, and allow you to install both while the shelf is still on the ground. Then, simply place the shelf on top of the wall cleat once ready. Bulkier shelves and cabinets are good projects to consider using cleats with.
When preparing for a project, even as small as hanging shelves, having your process planned will save you hassle. Decide ahead of time which shelf youʼre using, and which hanging method you should use. Know where you want to place it, and make sure the wall youʼre attaching it to is complete. Itʼs a good idea to paint or wallpaper your wall before hanging a shelf on it. If you have any doubts about the hanging method you should use, you can either contact your shelfʼs manufacturer, or if you donʼt know who that was or are building your own shelf, you can take it into a hardware store and ask for recommendations. Happy hanging!