A Step-by-Step Guide to Putting Up a Shelf

A Step-by-Step Guide to Putting Up a Shelf

Are you having trouble putting up a shelf? Read our simple guide to one of the toughest DIY tasks.


If you’ve just moved into a new home and need additional storage, or you urgently need to find a place for that mountain of books stacked against the wall, then it’s time to get your hands dirty and put up a shelf.


Whether you’re a DIY novice or seasoned pro, putting up a shelf is easy once you know how. In this example, we’ll talk you through putting up a single shelf with brackets.


1.     Position the shelf – You first need to decide where you want to position the shelf. To avoid embarrassment, remember to factor in features such as opening doors and windows as well as stud placement.

2.     Locate the studs – To put up a shelf on a plasterboard wall, you’ll need to find two studs to affix your brackets to otherwise the wall can collapse. The studs are the vertical wooden supports in the wall upon which plasterboard is attached. You can purchase a detector to locate the wall studs. Once you’ve done this, draw two pencil vertical lines along the studs. If your shelf is shorter than the distance between two studs, then use one stud as the centre point for your shelf.

3.     Align the brackets – Next, hold up the shelf brackets to one of the vertical pencil lines on the wall and decide on the desired height of the shelf. Mark the first bracket position with a pencil line and use a spirit level and tape measure to ensure the second bracket will be level with the first.

4.     Mark the holes for the first bracket – Once you are happy with the position of the brackets, you’ll need to mark where to drill holes into the wall. Start by marking this in pencil and then add a cross and nail dent for more accurate drilling. Double check the marks align with the vertical pencil lines indicating the position of the stud.

5.     Drill the holes for the first bracket – Use a wood drill bit one size smaller than your screws and drill the length of the screw. It’s recommend to use a screw approximately 20mm longer than the depth of the plasterboard and bracket to properly anchor the shelf to the stud. As a guide, plasterboard is typically 9-13mm in length, so choose a screw 30mmm or longer.

6.     Screw in the first bracket – Screw the first bracket into the wall.

7.     Mark the holes for the second bracket – Take the shelf and balance it on the first bracket with your spirit level on top. Hold the shelf level and mark a short line along the underside of the shelf. This line should intersect with the vertical pencil line you drew previously indicating the second stud. Make sure the spirit level is showing a flat surface and then mark with a pencil the required position of the second bracket. Then, repeat step four for the second bracket. 

8.     Attach the second bracket – Repeat step five and then screw the second bracket into the wall.

9.     Fix the shelf to the brackets – Put the shelf in place and fix it to the brackets with screws.


Are you looking for a stylish Shared Ownership home?

Southern Home Ownership is dedicated to providing stylish, high quality and modern new homes for sale on a shared ownership basis. If you're a first-time buyer and interested in owning a shared ownership property in London and the South East then click here to take a look at our latest developments.