Shelves and shelving

Summary: Learn how to fit a shelving system.

Putting up shelves is a classic DIY project that looks deceptively simple but can cause problems. Firstly, decide on the type of shelving you want. There is a wide choice of shelving available using a variety of materials and construction methods. Shelving materials can include solid wood, blockboard, plywood, chipboard, MDF (medium density fibreboard) and glass. The material you choose will depend on where the shelves are to be situated, the objects they will support and your budget.

Shelves can be fixed to a wall using support battens or shelving brackets made from cast or wrought steel or extruded alloy. The method of fixing will depend on how deep the shelves are and the weight of the object/s that they have to support. For instance, a deep shelf designed for a television set will need wall bolts to fix the brackets in place, while brackets holding shelving for lightweight use can be fixed to the wall using 50mm (2in) screws. Shelving brackets should always be long enough to support the whole depth of the shelf.

A popular variation of the bracket fixing is the adjustable shelving system that allows the shelves to be moved to different levels to accommodate objects of different sizes. In this project we look at how to fit a simple adjustable shelving system comprising of two slotted upright supports, four shelf brackets and two shelves.

Fitting the shelving system

What the wall is made of can dictate the positioning of the shelves. Shelving can be fixed almost anywhere on masonry walls, but stud partition walls are a different matter. On a timber framed wall the fixings should be fixed to the vertical timber studs, which can be located using a stud detector. Here we look at fixing a shelving system to a masonry wall.

  • Hold the first upright support against the wall and mark the position of the top screw hole.
  • Using a power drill with a masonry bit fitted, drill the first hole to the required depth. To gauge the depth of the hole, stick a small piece of tape around the drill bit the correct distance from its tip.
  • Insert a wall plug into the hole and screw the top of the upright support in position but not too firmly.
  • Place a spirit level against the upright. Move both the upright and spirit level to the left or right, and when it is vertical mark the position of the bottom screw hole.
  • Drill the bottom hole, insert a wall plug and screw the bottom of the upright to the wall and then tighten the screw at the top. If you are fitting a system with more than two shelves the uprights will be longer and will need fixing to the wall at more than two points.
  • Not all walls are perfectly true, so it is important to place the spirit level against the face of the upright. If the wall is not true this can result in sloping shelves. If the upright is not vertical on it front face, insert packing between the upright and the wall to rectify this.
  • With the first upright in position, fix the second upright to the wall. The length of the shelves dictates the position of the second upright, but remember that the ends of the shelving must overlap the brackets by approximately 1/6 of the shelf length.
  • With the position of the second upright marked on the wall, fit a bracket into the first upright. Hold the second upright in position against the wall and fit a bracket in the corresponding slot to the first upright.
  • Place a shelf across the brackets and then place a spirit level on the shelf. By carefully moving the second upright up and down you will find the exact position where the second upright has to be fixed to the wall for the shelving to be level.
  • Mark the position for the screw hole at the top of the second upright and follow the same method you used on the first upright to fix it to the wall. If you are fitting a shelving system with long shelves it is advisable to fit three upright supports to the wall - two end uprights and one in the middle.
  • With both uprights now firmly in position, slot the brackets in place and install the shelves.

Place the spirit level against the face of the upright. If the wall is not true this can result in sloping shelves.

If the upright is not vertical, insert packing between the upright and the wall to rectify this.

How to hang shelves video

How To Hang Shelves Video -