how to hang shelves

Quick Fix: How to Hang Shelves

I have lived in plenty of small places in my life. Specifically, my wife and I have dealt with limited closet space. It certainly doesn’t help when you live in a community with housing predominantly built in the 1920s. The small closet space can force you to find alternative places to put your clothes, like taking over half of your kids closet. However, there’s a lot of space in closets that goes underutilized. Adding multiple layers of shelving helps organize by maximizing your storage capacity. It’s a simple way to increase your space and organize effectively.

Before getting started, it’s important to think through a few things. First, you need to consider the weight of the things going on the shelf and then what type of shelves to hang. I personally prefer wire shelves in closets because they can hang clothes as well as hold items. Next, you want to consider the wall. If it is a cinder block or concrete wall, it will require a special drill bit and screw to attach. It’s time to get organized by learning how to hang shelves.

Tools Needed:

  • Stud finder
  • Leveler (laser or basic straight line)
  • Drill
  • Drywall anchors (Lots of types to choose from.)
  • Tape measure
  • A Pencil

Wire and Bracket Shelf Installation

  1. Consider the weight of what you will be putting on the shelf and plan out in your mind where they will go. If you are going to be storing heavy things on it then it will be important to fasten the shelf to the 2X4 studs behind the drywall. A shelf with lighter material can be attached to the drywall using drywall anchor screws. If you are hanging shelf on a cinder block or concrete wall you will need to use a special drill bit to screw a hole and then special concrete screws. Ask about them at your local home or hardware store.
  2. First find the 2X4’s using a stud sensor or you can simply knock on the wall until it no longer feels hollow. Most house frames have studs that are 16 inches apart. Use your tape measure after you find the first stud to mark (with a pencil) 16 inches over covering the length of the shelf.
  3. Using a leveler draw a straight line on the wall. If you are installing bracket shelves put your first bracket on the wall by lining up the top screw holes along the line you just drew and mark them. Then do the same with the other bracket. (If using wire shelves skip to #6.)
  4. Drill holes where you made your marks for accuracy and in case you run into a stud. If you drill and there is no stud then screw in your drywall anchors.
  5. Place the brackets on the wall and drill the screws into the anchors. Then place the board on top of the brackets.
  6. For wire shelving they will attach to the wall with plastic fasteners that look like hooks. Drill holes along the line you drew for as many fasteners you want to have. I normally do one every foot.
  7. If the fasteners have a built in anchor simply it push it into the drill holes and push in the nail. Otherwise screw in your plastic wall anchors and then attach the fastener with the metal screws.
  8. Set the shelf into the fasteners and let it hang.
  9. Take your wall support (the bar angled at 45 degrees that holds up the shelf) and put it into position. I normally put mine a couple of inches in from the end. Put your leveler on top of the shelf. When it is level mark the hole to drill on the wall.
  10. Drill a hole and screw in the wall anchor. Put the wall support back in place and drill to wall. Repeat with the second support on the other side of the shelf.
  11. If you had your wire shelf cut add coverings to the exposed, sharp ends.

Track Shelf Installation

Use the same techniques above for track shelf installation.

Closet Wood Shelf Installation

  1. Find the studs in the wall.
  2. Mark a line where you want your shelf to go using a straight level. Note that the top of the shelf will be a little higher than your line.
  3. Measure the length of the wall and cut 2×2’s to fit. They will hold up the shelf boards. Ask your home store about the best type of wood to use.
  4. Drill holes in the 2×2’s. Measure and mark the holes to where the studs will be when you attach it to the wall. You don’t want to drill directly through the wood because of potential splitting.
  5. Put the 2×2 along the drawn line and drill screws into the studs. Put in one screw, but before fully tightening place a level on top. When it is level tighten and drill in the rest of the screws. Repeat with all other 2×2’s.
  6. Measure and cut 2×2’s to go from the long 2×2 to the wall. Drill a hole(s) and screw into the wall. Add another one on the other side. This will complete a U like ledge to place a shelf board on top.
  7. Measure and cut your boards slightly smaller than the width of your wall so it is easier to fit.
  8. Place board on top of ledge and screw into the ledge to fasten in place.

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Would you like to help me with a house project?”