Installing shelves

UK Home Improvement

Installing Shelves

Location, Location, Location

The first thing to think about, before assembling any materials or drilling any holes, is placement.  Before you do any drilling, you always have to check for studs in the wall. 

You’ll want any load-bearing screws drilled directly into the studs, to ensure the shelf will be able to hold whatever you place on it.  To find studs, use a stud finder, a simple tool you can pick up at any home improvement store.  Also, make sure you find a place you like, as the shelves are liable to be there a long time!


The next step is to gather your materials.  The good thing is that you can hire equipment or tools you don’t have at home, easily on the Internet. For each shelf you’ll want two shelf brackets with 90 degree angles. 

The size of the brackets will depend on the size of the shelf board, but the portion under the board should reach, at minimum, halfway to the end of the board width-wise.  So, if your shelf is 20cm deep, for example, you’ll want the bracket to stretch at least 10cm.  Buy accordingly.

For the boards, the easiest thing to do is use pre-finished boards, also available at any home improvement store.  This will save a lot of trouble in the whole process.  If you do want to finish the boards yourself, or already have some raw boards lying around, the process is a bit more involved:

First, coat the boards in a wood sealant.  Don’t worry about springing for a big name brand as wood sealants are pretty much all the same. Next, you paint.  Pick a colour that complements the walls, furniture and other decorations in the room.  Pastels are in, but of course it depends on your current design. Finally, you’ll want to do one thing but thorough coating of paint sealant. 

This will ensure that the paint is not easily damaged by whatever rests on the shelf, and also protect the boards against moisture and water damage, which, if the shelves are going in the bathroom or kitchen, is an especially good idea.

 Fixing It To The Wall

So, now you’ve got your materials all ready, it’s almost time to start building… almost!

Before making any holes in the wall, you should make sure that

  • You’ve clearly marked the location of the two studs where you’ll be placing the brackets
  • You’ve used a spirit level to verify that your two markings are of equal height.  Nothing ruins a shelf more than finishing, stepping back to admire it, and realizing it’s slanted!

So, now it’s actually time to get building.  Get your power drill.  If you don’t have one, you can hire a drill for a few quid, else buy one.  Make sure to hold the drill completely level, pull the trigger, and push the screw all the way in.  Repeat on both sides of the shelf.  Now you simply need to place your board on top, and drill the last two screws in.

Now, step back, enjoy, and avoid cluttering up your new shelf!


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