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How to Install Wall-Mounted Shelves

A step-by-step guide to installing adjustable storage systems

There's no easier way to add accessible storage to a room than with wall-mounted shelving made from metal standards, adjustable brackets and ready-made shelves.

This type of easy-to-install shelving system is ideal for a kid's room, home office, laundry room, walk-in closet, pantry or virtually any room in the house, with one notable exception: If you need shelves in a formal den, dining room or wood-paneled library, it's best to hire a trim carpenter to custom-build a shelving unit to match the architectural style of the room.

In this guest bedroom, we installed a pair of 25-inch-long twin-track standards, six 9-inch-long adjustable shelf brackets and three 10-inch-wide x 36-inch-long dark-oak melamine shelves. The wood-grain melamine, which is similar to plastic laminate, is bonded to a 5/8-inch-thick particleboard core.

Step 1

Mounted Shelves Overview

Photo by Shaffer Smith Photography

In this Step-by-step, we chose twin-track standards, which take more weight than the single-track version, have brackets that screw to the shelving, and allow you to install standards 32 inches on center (every other stud, rather than every stud). However, if you can't align the shelf standards with wall studs in every case, you can use hollow-wall anchors.

Step 2

Mark the locations of the wall studs

Photo by Shaffer Smith Photography

If you have drywall, locate the studs by sliding an electronic sensor along the wall until you hear a beep or see a red line, indicating the stud's edge. mark this point in pencil.

Slide the stud finder inf rom the oposite direction to find the stud's other edge.

Move over 32 inches and repeat for the second standard.

If you have wood-lath plaster walls, use a stud sensor with a metal setting to pinpoint where the lath is nailed to the stud. If you haev metal-lath plaster, or don't have a stud sensor, punch tiny holes witha finish nail along the wall (near baseboard is easy to hide)until you kit a stud.

Step 3

Drill pilot holes

Photo by Shaffer Smith Photography

Hold one of the standards on the wall between th emarks for the stud edges. Lightly mark where the top screw hole falls on the stud.

Bore a 1/8-inch-diameter screw pilot hole at the pencil mark, as shown.

Step 4

Hang the first shelf standard

Photo by Shaffer Smith Photography

Hold the standard in place and drive a single 2 ½-inch-long screw hole into the pilot hole (as shown).

Be sure the screw is snug, but don't overtighten it; the standard should hang freely straight down.

Tip: Rub candle wax onto the screws and they'll go in faster and easier.

Step 5

Drive in the bottom screw

Photo by Shaffer Smith Photography

Hold a 4-foot level against the edge of the standard. Adjust it until the level reads plumb, vertically.

Bore a ⅛-inch-diameter screw pilot hole through the bottom screw hole in the standard.

Drive a 2½-inchlong flathead wood screw through the bottom screw hole (as shown).

Put screws in the other screw holes in the standard.

Step 6

Hang the second standard

Photo by Shaffer Smith Photography

Hook a shelf bracket into each standard, at the same level.

Hold the second standard against the wall, centered on the wall stud 32 inches away. If the shelf will be holding a heavy load, use three standards, spacing them 16 inches apart.

Lay a 4-foot level across the two brackets, then raise or lower the unsecured standard until it's level with the first. Mark the top screw hole location, as shown.

Fasten the standard to the wall following Steps 3 and 4.

Step 7

Install the shelves

Photo by Shaffer Smith Photography

Attach the remaining pairs of brackets.

Slide the shelves onto the brackets and bore a ⅛-inch-diameter hole through the front of the bracket at the small mounting hole. Drill about half-way through without going completely though.

While holding down the shlef, drive a 1 ¼-inch-long flathead wood screw up through the bracket and into the shelf, as shown.

Repeat this step to secure the remaining shelves.