How to Make Floating Shelves From Reclaimed Barnwood

See how we added inexpensive and stylish storage in a bathroom by upcycling old wood into new shelves.

How to Create Open Bathroom Shelving

How to Create Open Bathroom Shelving

Floating shelves made from old barnwood provide stylish storage.

Photo by: Clara MacLellan

Clara MacLellan

Our reclaimed wood is black walnut which is a great species for bathroom shelves because of its durable and moisture-resistant characteristics, plus we love the natural dark-rich tone and beautiful woodgrain. We used standard shelf brackets that are readily available at many big retailers.

Open Bathroom Shelving 01:34

Tools and Materials

  • old barnwood
  • shelf brackets
  • miter saw
  • safety glasses, face mask and gloves
  • orbital sander
  • fine-grit sandpaper
  • polyurethane
  • stud finder
  • measuring tape
  • level
  • screws
  • drill and various-sized bits
  • screwdriver
  • pencil

Cut Wood to Size

Photo by: Jacquelyn_McGilvray


Determine the size of your shelves and use a miter saw (or circular saw) to cut the wood. Make sure to wear proper protective gear while doing this.

Sand the Wood

Use a sander to smooth the edges of the wood and slightly round them over. Then use fine-grit sandpaper to remove any sanding marks and rough spots.

Apply Sealer

Photo by: Jacquelyn_McGilvray


Apply three to four thin coats of polyurethane over the entire surface of the wood. Spray in a constant, even motion for the best results.

Attach Brackets to Wall

Photo by: Sarah Busby

Sarah Busby

Use a stud finder to locate the studs in the wall and mark them with a pencil. Position the brackets on the wall and mark the screw placement of each bracket. Use a level to make sure they are even. Pre-drill the holes in the wall using a drill bit that coordinates with the size of the screws. Then screw the brackets to the wall.

Predrill Bracket Holes on Shelves

Photo by: Sarah Busby

Sarah Busby

Lay the shelves on top of the brackets, and from the underside of the shelves, mark the placement of the screw holes. Remove the shelves then pre-drill for those screw holes. Pro Tip: Wrap the drill bit with tape at the proper depth so you don’t accidentally drill all the way through the wood.

Attach Shelves to Brackets

Place the shelf on the brackets and use a screwdriver to tighten the screws into place. Make sure everything is tight and even throughout this process.

Add Decor

How to Create Open Bathroom Shelving

How to Create Open Bathroom Shelving

Floating shelves made from old barnwood provide stylish storage.

Photo by: Clara MacLellan

Clara MacLellan

When all the pieces are on the wall and screwed together, you are ready to decorate.

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