How to Hang Floating Shelves on Drywall or Plasterboard (AVOID Doing This!)

How long have you been putting hanging shelves on your walls? Most people find this seemingly easy task a bit daunting. So much so that they’d rather pile their stuff on the floor rather than deal with hanging it!

Nevertheless, hanging shelves around your home doesn’t have to be scary. Anyone can do it if they have the proper tools. They also need the right steps to follow, especially if they’re hanging their shelves on drywall.


Follow this guide to learn how to hang shelves on drywall.

How to Hang Shelves on Drywall Using Studs

Drywalls have vertical pieces of thin wood or metal behind them, called studs. Studs are positioned at close regular intervals from each other to help give the wall support. These beams are also important when mounting anything on the wall, including shelves.

Here are steps to hang shelves on drywall studs.

Step 1: Locate the Studs

The first and most crucial step is to locate the studs. You can do that by knocking on the wall until you hear a solid thumb. You can also get a special electronic stud finder. We have outlined how you can do this without a stud finder here.

Once you locate them, you’ll want to mark their location with masking tape.

Step 2: Position the Shelf

Next, use a measuring tape and mark the desired height and length of the shelf with a pen. Always make sure the shelf is level.

You can always rely on your eye and measuring tape to ensure the shelf is straight, or get a friend to help you. Yet, for more accurate results, it’s better to use a spirit level.

Step 3: Drill the Wall

The prevailing tool here is your standard drill. However, there’s another option for working with drywall: a special drywall screw gun.

Drywall screw guns are usually used to drive screws and drills. Though, they can also be used to drill holes by changing the head.

Using a counter punch or a small hammer, make a small dent in the position of the pencil mark. This helps prevent the drill or screw from slipping.

You’ll also want to place a piece of tape over the pencil mark. Without the tape, the drywall might crack as you’re drilling.

Before you begin, make sure the drilled hole is a few millimeters smaller than the screws used to avoid falling out.

Step 4: Hang the Shelf

The final step is to position the shelf to line up the bracket holes with the drilled holes. Then, simply screw on the screws, and you’re done!

How to Hang Shelves on Drywall without Studs

If you don’t have studs in your drywall, you can’t locate them, or you simply wish to hang your shelves in a different location. Don’t worry. There are multiple ways to hang shelves without studs, but with the help of brackets instead.

Take a look.

Step 1: Check the Wall

You know you have drywall, but do you know what lies behind it?

There’s much going on behind your wall, from electric wires to piping. You don’t want to risk ruining any electricity or plumbing. This can result in serious problems, like damaging the pipes or even getting electrocuted!

To check your walls, ask your landlord for a blueprint. If they don’t have one, you can get an electricity digital detector. This handy device can identify any obstacle lying underneath the wall.

Step 2: Position the Brackets

Some people attach the bracket to the wall, then simply place the shelves on top. However, if you’re looking for extra support, you’ll need to first attach the support brackets to the shelf.

Turn your shelf face down, line up the back of the brackets to the rear of the shelf, then mark where you want to attach your bracket.

Drill your hole into the shelf, then use the screws to attach the brackets.

Step 3: Position the Shelf

Similar to the previous step, you’ll need to measure the length of the shelf and position it on the wall. Make sure the shelf is leveled, and simply mark where you want to put it with a pencil.

Since you’re using brackets, you’ll also need to mark the bracket holes where you’ll be drilling.

Step 4: Drill the Wall

Now, it’s time to get your electric drill or drywall screw gun and start drilling. Again, use the same precautions as those applied when working with studs.

Step 5: Attach the Shelf

When using brackets, there are multiple options of screws to attach the shelf with. You can choose the type of screws based on the weight that the shelves will carry.

Drywall anchors are an excellent option. They come in many sizes with the biggest size being able to handle up to 50 lbs.

For medium-sized shelves, go with molly bolts. The bolt has a plastic end and a metal end, you should push it through your hole with the latter end. Once the bolt is flush into the wall, the flanges open and you can then screw the brackets in place.

You can also use toggle bolts, capable of holding weights over 50 lbs. They work for both drywall and plaster.

To place the toggle bolts, you’ll need to fit the metal ends into the hole and push it all the way. There should be a plastic ring around the toggle. Push the ring towards the wall while pulling the toggle away so the flanges extend. Break off the plastic part, place the brackets, and screw them in place.

Voila! You’re done hanging your shelves without needing any studs at all.

Things to Keep in Mind

There are some precautions you need to take when working with heavy tools, including:

-Wear safety goggles to avoid drywall dust or wood splinters from getting into your eyes.

-Remove your watch and jewelry. You don’t want them getting in the way of the electricity digital detector.

Note that longer shelves might require additional brackets for maximum support.

If you’re unsure where to drill on the wall, contact a professional just to be safe.


Hanging shelves on drywall is a relatively easy task. Nevertheless, it can be a bit tricky since you need specific precautions to avoid cracking the wall or ruining pipes, cables, and plumbing.

Now that you’ve read our article on how to hang shelves on drywall, it’s time to decorate your walls to add a stylish, contemporary vibe to your home.