How to Put Up a Shelf with Brackets

Hanging a shelf is one of the most basic DIY jobs and a simple one at that; HONESTLY, IT’S SO EASY EVEN WE CAN TEACH YOU how to put up a shelf with brackets.

three shelves with potted cacti

What You’ll Need:

  • Drill
  • Spirit level
  • Screws
  • Pencil
  • Shelf
  • Brackets
  • Safety glasses
  • Step ladder (depending on height of shelf)
  • Stud detector
  • Wall plugs
  • Measure

How to Put up A Shelf with Brackets:

Step 1

Firstly, you’ll need to consider how much weight your shelf will be holding, as this could determine the positioning on your wall. Anything that might be displaying moderate to heavy weight needs to be hung on a stud (the structural support of your wall). Unless, of course, if you have concrete or masonry walls, in which case you’ll just need to check for wires and pipes.

To determine this, you’ll need to use a stud detector. These will tell you where the stud is and if there’s any cables or wires behind the section that need to be accommodated.

using a stud detector
[This is a thermal detector NOT a stud detector]
Tip: studs are located 16inches apart, so after finding one you should just be able to measure along to find the one’s adjacent. You can also locate studs by simply knocking on the wall and listening for a dull thud compared to a hollow sound.

If your shelf is lightweight you can drill straight through a hollow wall and use a wall anchor. However, it’s best practice to always secure a wall bracket to a stud for three reasons:

  1. Peace of mind
  2. A more secure shelf
  3. In case you decide to change your display to a heavier item at a later date

How to Put up A Shelf with Brackets:

Step 2

Now that you’ve located the studs and are sufficiently satisfied you’re not going to drill through a cable, you need to pencil onto the wall a specific location to begin drilling.

Start by marking a spot at your desired height onto the stud, this will be the place of your first bracket. Then, using a spirit level to get a straight line, mark another spot along the wall; this will be the place of your second bracket.

Man using a spirit level

How to Put up A Shelf with Brackets:

Step 3

Before drilling, measure the length of your wall plug on your drill bit, use a piece of tape to mark the length.

Now it’s time to drill a hole into the wall where your pencil mark is. Drill to the depth of your tape mark – this way you know your wall plug will fit nicely. Insert a wall plug and use a hammer to gently tap until it fits snugly.

Next, align the top hole in your first bracket with your freshly drilled hole. Drill a screw into this hole to affix your bracket, making sure to only drill the screw 80% of the way – you’ll tighten it in a moment!

How to put up a shelf with brackets - drilling and securing a shelf bracket

Before affixing your bracket, you need to ensure that it’s straight. So, using your spirit level again, align the bracket until it is perfectly vertical. Once in place, use a pencil through the second, lower down hole on your bracket to mark the place on the wall. Gently pivot your bracket to one side (to expose the wall and your new pencil mark). Repeat the drill and wall plug procedure.

Pivot the bracket back in place and drill a screw into the wall plug – this time to secure it all the way. Once completed, tighten the top screw until it is affixed firmly to the wall.

How to put up a shelf with brackets - using a spirit level to ensure brackets are vertical

Now your first bracket is in place!

How to Put up A Shelf with Brackets:

Step 4

If your spirit level is a long one (long enough to reach your second bracket location), quickly use this to check your second pencil mark is still perfectly horizontal to your now secure bracket. If your spirit level isn’t long enough, use any straight object that is (large ruler/small plank of wood etc.) and place the spirit level above the object to check for level precision. Revise your marking as appropriate.

How to put up a shelf with brackets - using a spirit level to ensure brackets are horizontal

Now that you’ve confirmed the marking, repeat step 3 with your second bracket. Ensure to complete each point, including checking for vertical precision before drilling the second hole.

How to Put up A Shelf with Brackets:

Step 5

The last step on how to put up a shelf with brackets is to secure it in place!

Place the material on top, ensuring that it’s central. You can do this by measuring the distance from the end of your shelf inward toward the nearest bracket; repeating this on both sides. When the two sides measure the same distance, your shelf is central.

Before finishing, you need to secure the shelf in place. Your shelf brackets (the bits on which the shelf is resting) should have extra holes for securing. Simple drill some screws through these holes into the shelf.

How to put up a shelf with brackets - securing the shelf

Tip: make sure your screw of choice is shorter than the thickness of the shelf or the screw end will protrude through the top.

And voila! It’s time to load it up and test it out!

We hope A Fancy Home have answered your question of “how to put up a shelf with brackets”; for more DIY guides like this (such as how to hang a picture or how to change a plug) check out our how-to page or like us on Facebook for daily updates.