Loose, droopy or collapsing shelves have become an epidemic – almost everyone has seen or heard a story about one, or has one themselves. The good news is that with a little preparation, the right tools and a little knowledge, hanging shelves is a snap.
The first thing you’ll need to do is pick a location, and determine what type of wall material the shelf will hang on. If your walls are covered with thick panelling, plywood or other solid wood – fastening shelf brackets in any location is as simple as putting in a screw. Attaching brackets to concrete walls will require a hammer drill and masonry bit, as well as masonry anchors.
If you have an older home, chances are you have plaster and lathe walls, in which case you’ll need to find the studs – plaster doesn’t hold wall anchors well, and your collectibles will likely end up on the floor. Plaster also makes studs invisible to a stud sensor, so you’ll need to use the ‘drill and seek’ method to find one stud, and measure for the rest hoping the studs are 16” on center. Drywall may not be the strongest material, but it has it’s advantages. Locating studs is easy if you have a stud sensor, and there are many different types of drywall anchors depending on the amount of weight you intend to support (I personally like E-Z Anchors as they are quick and easy to install, and they hold very well in drywall).
You’ll need a shelf and brackets (many styles are available), a pencil, measuring tape, 4’ level, stud sensor, a drill and anchors (many anchors come with the screws you’ll need). Once you’ve determined the location of the shelf, use a level to make a straight and level line at the bottom edge of the shelf. Locate the studs in the area – the more screws you can get into a stud, the stronger the shelf will be. Mark the location of holes by holding the brackets up to your line. If your brackets don’t line up on a stud, – install your anchors, and attach with the proper screws. Install the shelf on the brackets, being sure to fasten with ½” screws, depending on the thickness of the shelf you’ve chosen.
Now you have a safe place for all your collectible plates, painted eggs and miniature spoons!