5 Different Ways to Build Floating Shelves

5 Different Ways to Build Floating Shelves

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Caylin Harris
Nov 23, 2018
(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)

Let's talk about a home decor must-have that doesn't get nearly enough credit. Floating shelves don't take up any floor space and fit practically anywhere. No matter how big or small your home, there's a spot that could benefit from a little bit of added storage. Here are some ways you can DIY your own with options for every skill level. From "I feel comfortable using thumbtacks," to "Let me get my power tools," we've got a little something for everyone.

(Image credit: Charles Dundas-Shaw)

The Five-Minute Version

Skeptical? Us too. That's why we tested it out ourselves. Perfect for renters and people who want more storage without needing to purchase lumber, this floating shelf kit from Amazon comes with everything you need. The hardware has a level built in and can be installed using your thumbs (seriously). Once that initial piece of hardware is on, the shelf slips on to the brackets and you're done.

Pros: No tools, super fast
Cons: Only holds 15 pounds, limited colors/ materials

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

The Quick IKEA Classic

We bet you've either used or know someone who has used IKEA's picture rails. They're like The Beatles of home decorating accessories. Practically everyone knows what they are, and they're endlessly versatile. These minimal floating shelves are a breeze to hang up, and they're so minimal, a hammer and a level are the most complex tools you'll need. Because they're so slim, they can fit in any and every room to help hold everything from artwork to out-the-door essentials.

Pros: Inexpensive, versatile, easy to install
Cons: Some tools required, won't hold much weight

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

The 'It Only Looks Hard' Option

Want to impress the super handy person in your life? This floating shelf only looks hard once it's complete, but the secret is the sturdy hardware that can transform almost any piece of wood into a shelf. You do need some power tool experience, since you'll need to create holes to fit the hardware into using a drill bit. We recommend this hardware if you need to hang more than one shelf too; it's a very affordable option where you can get a pack of six for a little over $20.

Pros: Affordable, personalization, can choose a weight range
Cons: Some power tool skills necessary, can take an hour or two.

The Shelf Meets Open Box Look

Consider this the two for one model. Not only can you style objects on top, you can also use the inside of the shelf for storage. Plus it's not too hard to make yourself. You'll want to cut pine boards to the width you need, and essentially nail or screw them together to form a box. If you're looking to add a fancy touch to the shelf, you can cut miter the corners so the boards sit flush together. Instead of having to create a framework for the shelf to sit on, this methods involves screwing into a stud to hang. Then paint or stain with whatever color complements your home.

Pros: More storage, no framework
Cons: Some tools/ DIY knowledge required, can take some time

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

For Experienced DIY Enthusiasts

So here's the thing with these types of shelves: If you want it all you have to do the work. This version is more complicated to build, but it lasts, can hold a significant amount of weight, and it looks handcrafted. So it's worth the time and the effort that goes into it. You build a long box that only has three sides. On the wall you affix a self-made wooden framework, which the box will slide onto to form the shelf. You'll need a variety of supplies from raw materials, to wood glue, to a pocket hole jig. This isn't for a first time DIYer, but the results are fantastic.

Pros: Beautiful final version, can hold up
Cons: Time consuming, requires more experience

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