How to Hang a Shelf Safely

Shelves are a great way to organize your home and save some space. With the right setup, you can even keep clutter off your floors and furniture, and display some of your favourite decorations and items on your wall. However, you want to ensure that you properly hang up your shelves! I am going to share how to hang a shelf safely!

Any hanging shelf you install should be level and secure. This way your shelf doesn’t come crashing down. If you are looking for a way to correctly hang up shelves, you have come to the right place. I’ll show you exactly how to hang a shelf throughout the rest of this post. 

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How to hang a shelf safely

How to Hang a Shelf Correctly?

There are a few different ways you can hang up your shelf. But, in this section of the post, I will give you some general guidelines which will help you hang up most shelves.

Step 1. Get Your Tools Ready Ahead of Time

To start hanging up your shelf, you should gather any necessary tools and materials. You don’t want to be searching for anything while you are installing your shelf. So, prepare ahead of time to speed up the process. 

You will need:

A pencil (preferable a carpenters pencil)

A measuring tape

A standard level

Drywall anchors

A stud finder


A screwdriver

– A hammer

A drill

– Some shelf brackets

– Your shelf

Step 2. Figure Out Where You Want to Place Your Shelf

Once you have everything you need, start thinking about where you want to place your shelf. This step is more important than you think. So, carefully contemplate the best area and location for your hanging shelf. 

When finding an ideal location, you also want to consider the weight of the shelf and what kinds of items you will place on them. Depending on the weight, you will need to use either drywall anchors or wall studs. You can use a stud finder to locate the wall studs, this will help you secure your shelf in the best possible location.

Step 3. Mark The Desired Placement of Your Shelf

After you have found the best location for your shelf, get your pencil out and mark the installation area. You can get some help at this stage, and have someone hold up your shelf against the wall. This way you know the exact height and location. 

While the shelf is held up, check to make sure it is level with your standard level tool. Then, take your pencil and gently mark the area. During this time, you can also place the brackets under the shelf. This way you know where they will go. Mark this area with your pencil, as well. 

Lastly, mark the area where the screws will go. The holes in your bracket are where the pencil marks should be placed. You can give your marks a check over to see that they are exactly where you want them. I recommend labelling the marks as well. Doing this will help you put everything in the right place. 

How to measure a shelf

Step 4. Drill Holes

Next, you’ll want to get out your drill and begin drilling in holes in your wall. This is where your screws will go. You can use a screwdriver or a drill for this step. Lightly twist in the screws, but don’t put them all the way into your wall yet!

Drilling holes to hang a shelf

Step 5. Put in Your Anchor and Bracket

Once you know that your screws fit, take them out and prepare to put them in your anchor and bracket. If you are not using wall studs, you will be using a drywall anchor. This needs to go in before your screws do. 

Otherwise, align your shelf bracket with the marks you made earlier and put your screws into the holes in your bracket. After this, you can begin fully screwing them into the wall. Be careful, and don’t tighten up your screws too much.

Step 6. Finish Hanging Your Shelf and Check Over Your Work

Finally, once the brackets are secured, you can put your shelf on top of them. Make sure everything looks nice and even. Some shelves have screws that need to go into the top of the bracket. So, check your shelf and bracket and see if you need to further secure your shelf with more screws.

Can You Hang Shelves Without Studs?

Wall studs cab be found within the interior of your wall. Studs help to hold up the drywall and structure of your wall. And, when you drill into them, you can help hang up your shelf more securely and safely. But do you need to hang shelves with a stud?

To answer this question quickly, 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. I’ll talk about anchors more in the next section. 

How Do You Hang a Heavy Shelf on Drywall?

A lot of homes use drywall. Of course, it’s fine to hang light items like picture frames and paintings on this material. But something heavier, like shelves, will require some extra support. I talked about both wall studs and drywall anchors at the beginning of this post. Both these items will help you hang up a heavy shelf. 

However, drywall anchors in particular can be useful if you can’t find any wall studs, or if you want to avoid using wall studs altogether. To use this tool, and hang your heavy shelf, simply pick out a location for your shelf. Use a level, and mark in the location of your screws, bracket, and shelf. 

Drill your holes into the wall. Before you put in the screws, you place your drywall anchors into the holes then drill the screws in. After this, follow the rest of the steps I outlined above to finish hanging your shelf!

How to Hang Floating Shelves?

Floating shelves create a nice minimalistic look in your home. Really, not everyone wants to have clunky shelf brackets hanging off their wall. So, this is a great option for people who want a different kind of shelf setup!

There are a few different ways you can hang up floating shelves, but I’ll talk about the easiest and most popular method in this section of the post. In truth, it isn’t much different hanging up your floating shelf from a normal shelf. You just use a different type of shelf bracket, that is hidden from view.  

Floating shelf brackets are placed directly into your wall studs. They help covertly hang up floating shelves. In short, follow the steps outlined in the first section. Just use your floating shelf bracket instead of a regular wall bracket. 

Drill a bigger hole in your wall to fit the bracket in properly, too. Once the bracket is in, you drill holes into your shelf. They should be level and match up with the bracket. The bracket will stick out of the wall a little, and you line the holes in your shelf up to the bracket. Then, simply slide the shelf into the brackets.

Hanging a floating shelf.

How to Check for Cables Before Hanging a Shelf?

You don’t just want to drill into your wall indiscriminately. There can be cables and wires that are hiding behind your walls. So, you need to check this before you hang your shelf. Using a stud finder is one of the easiest ways to avoid cables and other wires. This device will help you find safe places to drill. 

But, if you don’t have one of these devices, look at where light switches and outlets are placed. Usually, wires will run horizontally or vertically from your outlet or light switch. So, avoid going near these areas. Also, drill lightly. You don’t want to drill deeper than you need to. This will increase your chances of hitting a wire.

Stud finder

How to Safely Hang a Wall Shelf?

Safety is important when you do any kind of home modification or decoration projects. Hanging up your wall shelf might not seem dangerous, but you do want to keep a few safety tips in mind before you start.

Safety Tips For Hanging up a Wall Shelf:

1. Be Careful With Your Drill And Check For Electrical Cables

I mentioned this a couple of times, but you want to be careful with your drill. Make sure you don’t drill too far into the wall or hit cables, as this could cause you to hit something or cause an electrical accident. Power tools are helpful, but they can be dangerous, make sure you know how to use your drill.

2. Make Sure You Have Studs or Drywall Anchors

Again, you can’t just hang up your shelf without some support. Most walls can’t handle the weight of a hanging shelf. So, make sure to use the studs within your wall, or anchors! This will ensure that your shelf stays put!

3. Get Quality Materials

When you hang a shelf up, you want to get quality tools and materials. Flimsy brackets and anchors will wear down and break. So, don’t buy cheap products that won’t last. Cheap materials could be a danger down the line and cost you more in the long run. 

4. Make Sure to Tighten up Your Screws

Finally, always check that your screws are tight and secure. Your shelf won’t stay secure if you have loose screws. You don’t want to over-tighten anything, but everything should be firmly in place.

How to safely hang a shelf.

Like all DIY projects, take your time. Pull together your tools and lay them out. Measure twice and drill once. Once you hang one shelf correctly, you will be a pro in no time! 

Bookmark this post for when you need it in the future, and please share! Thanks for reading, Catherine. 


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