How to put up a shelf

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Shelves provide extra storage space and also have a decorative function, for example as bookshelves. You can make a shelf in different colors and sizes and from different materials. You can also be creative with the supports; you don’t always need to use the angle brackets shown in our example.

Attention points
Before drilling holes in the wall, first make sure there are no water or gas pipes or electric cables at the place where you intend to drill. Special electronic detectors are available to find the positions of any hidden pipes or cables. 

  1. Where to fit your shelf?

    First of all decide exactly where you want to fit your shelf, and what you want to put on it. The depth of a bookshelf is different from that of a shelf on which you want to keep plants. Take a shelf of the right size and hold it against the wall at the place where you want to fit it. Position the shelf horizontally with a spirit level and mark off the underside on the wall.

  2. Drilling in tiles

    If you have to drill in tiles, check first if it’s possible to fit the shelf so you only have to drill in the gaps between the tiles. That will leave the tiles undamaged, and you’ll be sure the plank is horizontal. If you can’t avoid drilling into the tiles, mark the position of the hole on a cross of masking tape. This will help to prevent the drill from slipping away. Drill the hole slightly deeper than the length of the wall plug, because it has to be recessed behind the tile. This prevents the tile from cracking when you tighten the screw.

  3. How many supports?

    The weight of your shelf will be carried by two or more supports screwed to the wall. These should be not too far apart to prevent the shelf from bending in the middle. The number of supports will depend on the length of the shelf and the weight of the objects you intend to place on it. For a shelf made of 16 mm particle board the right spacing between the supports is 40 to 60 cm. With 18 mm solid wood or MDF the spacing should be 50 to 70 cm, or with 18 mm multiplex you can increase it to 90 cm.

  4. Marking off the holes on the wall

    Place the top of the support against the pencil line that you marked earlier in step 1. After marking the first hole check that the support is vertical, and then mark the remaining holes. Mark off the holes for the other bracket(s) in the same way.

  5. Which screws and wall plugs to use for which type of wall?

    Always use the right kind of drill for the material of which the wall is made. Use 45x4 mm screws for small supports, or 45x6 mm screws for larger supports. If you have hollow walls made of plasterboard or cellular concrete, you need to use special plugs.

  6. Step tip

    To prevent the shelf from bending – for example if you put heavy books on it – fix an extra strip of wood along the front of the shelf. This gives the shelf a more solid appearance and also provides extra rigidity and support.


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How to put up a shelf

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