Step-by-Step Guide to Hang Floating Shelves

I love the look of floating shelves – you know the ones: they look like they’re magically protruding out of the walls:

Floating Shelves with Candles and Decor


But have you ever hung one up yourself? Have you? I did (kind of). I cried and got so frustrated. I drilled a hole just 1/8″ off, and the shelf wouldn’t hook on to the screws and hang properly.

Thank goodness my handy husband came to the rescue to give me a few pointers and console me in this low time.

I’m writing this post to save you from going down the road I traveled down. Here is how to actually hang these floating shelves with NO TEARS, and lots of accomplishment and pride.

-Power Drill
-Floating Shelf and its Hardware

Let’s do this.

Step 1: Measure the Holes

Hold the shelf up where you want to hang it. You may need to center it on the wall using a tape measure.

Now, flip it up so the shelf surface is against the wall, as such:

Flip the Shelf Up to Accurately Mark Holes

Place a level on top and level the shelf.

place a level on top of the shelf and even out

Since the shelf is flipped up, you can see where the screws need to be drilled. Mark this spot with a pencil. Make your mark right against the board so your marks stay level.

mark holes with a pencil

Step 2: Drill the Holes

You’ll need to select the right size drill bit for your pilot hole. Here’s a handy diagram I found that will help you choose the right size drill bit for your pilot hole. If you’re putting in an anchor first, match the drill bit to the anchor. Otherwise, match it to the screw.

how to find the right drill bit for your pilot hole

Once you have the right drill bit in hand, drill the holes on your penciled marks!

drill the hole on your pencil mark with a power drill

Step 3: Hammer the anchors into the wall and screw in the screws. Make sure to leave the screw head protruding out a bit so the shelf can catch it.

leave the screw head out so the shelf can catch it

Step 4: Hang the shelf.

Checking the screws are in the right place…

make sure your holes align with the screws

Line up the screws with the hardware on the back of the shelf and slide it into place.

shelf properly hung on wall

Voila! You’ve now drilled the holes correctly the first time and prevented an immense amount of frustration. And tears.  😉 

shelves with decor

I know, you’re probably thinking, “Hayley… that looked really easy. How did you get so frustrated?” Long story short, it’s more complicated to use a tape measure to level the shelf and to space the holes. 🙄  Stick with the steps above and you’ll be golden!  🙂

Now, hop to it and hang those shelves!

8 thoughts on “Step-by-Step Guide to Hang Floating Shelves”

  1. Does this prevent the shelf from tipping down once it’s hung? I’m contemplating what hardware to buy to ensure a secure floating shelf. I have the exact same white ones in your photos.

    1. The shelf usually comes with the hardware you need! You just need to make sure you screw directly into a stud, and if there’s no stud then you need to use a wall anchor. If you install it correctly, it shouldn’t sag. Unless the stuff you put on it is over the recommended weight limit for the shelf 🙂

  2. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I never thought of flipping the shelf up!! Wish you’d posted this a couple weeks ago ?


      I love the floating shelves in your bedroom! Now you’ll have inspiration to hang up even more. 😉

  3. Thank you! I hate hanging those things!! Someone told me once about a “tape trick”–you put masking tape on the back of the shelf, mark the holes, then take the tape off and put it on the wall. Seems like it SHOULD work, right? Well it never quite works out–my tape always stretches and it’s hard to level a piece of tape, lol. This is my favorite post so far! And I love your little candles and decor on them! 😀 Keep it up gf!

    1. Oh gaaaaawwwwwwwwwddd….. That tape trick sounds horrible! I saw another tutorial where they put the tape up on the wall, but I think that would require two sets of hands. Next time should be a breeze!! 😀

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