Updating Your Home: Install Floating Shelves

These stylish shelves also add practical storage space.

Materials and Tools:


table saw
air compressor
pneumatic drill
measuring tape
stud finder
one gallon paint, Stainmaster Barely There
2x4s (the number will depend on how many shelves you need and how long each will be)
3/4-inch birch plywood
construction adhesive


We put four shelves on each side of the recessed living room wall; determine how many shelves will look best in your space.


1. Use measuring tape to determine the size of the floating shelves and mark on the walls using a carpenter's pencil.


2. Using the level and a tape measure, measure four equidistant shelves, allowing space for books on each shelf. Our shelves were 7 inches deep.

3. Cut the 2x4s to the length of your shelves. They will act as ledgers for the floating shelves.

4. Use a stud finder to plan where the 2x4s will be attached to the wall.

5. Apply a bead of construction adhesive along the back of the ledger.

6. Adhere the 2x4 ledger to the wall. Use a pneumatic nail gun to put a nail in the center of the board. Then, using level and hammer, make sure the ledger is level.


7. Use the drill and bit to affix the ledger into place.

8. With the table saw, cut the plywood for the front, top and bottom for shelves. Miter the corners at 45 degrees.


9. Attach the top piece to the ledger with construction adhesive. Nail it to the wall.


10. Use a T-square to make sure the corners are at a 90-degree angle. Cut a block to fit between the ledger and the top piece of the shelf, and attach with adhesive and nail gun.

11. Attach the front portion of the shelf with construction adhesive and nails.


12. Attach the bottom portion of the shelf to the ledger and the front with adhesive on the top of the back portion of the wood. Nail in place.


13. Once the three pieces are attached to the ledger, securely nail the pieces in place.

14. Prime and paint the shelves and the walls behind them.

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