I’ve hung my share of paintings on walls in my home, and I can tell you you don’t need a stud to hang floating shelves. Did you know that ordinary drywall will hold up to 20 pounds without a stud?
It isn’t due to what’s fastening something to the wall. It’s about gravity. The weight of something on drywall is equivalent to a small ceiling fan, or between 15 and 20 pounds. Most paintings, even gigantic ones, weigh only about ten pounds (and that’s the frame.) Grab a coffee and let’s examine why you don’t need studs to hold floating shelves.
I’m Putting Floating Shelves In My Living Room To Hold Pictures And Miscellaneous Decor Items. Do I Need A Stud?
No. Small planters with succulent plants weigh no more than a pound at the most. Picture frames, small vases, porcelain figurines, and small stuffed animals all weigh no more than a few ounces. This won’t pull shelves off a wall.
As long as you’re using thin shelving such as hexagonal-shaped shelves, then you’re good. They aren’t heavy, nor can you put anything heavy on them. It’s when you get to shelves of some size that the problem arises.
I Understand. How About Installing Kitchen Shelves Minus Studs?
You’ll notice that Amazon and Etsy sell floating shelves that are up to four inches thick. Add to that weight what you put on the shelves, and you have a need for support. Towels and bottles of shampoo in the bathroom don’t weigh much, but kitchens stock heavier items:
• Weightier items. Most people keep pots and pans and small appliances like the stand mixer in the lower cabinets. Stacks of dishes in the upper cabinets can be heavy as well. The rest of the kitchen accessories fit nicely on the counters (my coffee pot takes pride of place on my kitchen counter.)
• Canister sets can be heavy (especially if you have more than a few.) Most cooks don’t have just one set of canisters. There are too many things that need storage in them for just one small set of basics like flour, sugar, coffee, and rice. Cooks need different sizes as well as more canisters to hold things we don’t usually have room for, such as different types or sizes of pasta, various species of dried beans, crackers, cereals, oatmeal, bread crumbs, and jelly beans. All that weight dictates the need for support.
• Remember to adjust the need for the material. I wouldn’t use thin IKEA plastic kitchen shelves for the special coffee mugs received for birthdays and Christmases. I’d use solid wood shelves to hold ceramic crockery like earthenware onion soup mugs. Trivets often clutter up and jam kitchen drawers, so a floating shelf would make a nice showcase for them.
What Kind Of Anchors Are Available To Hold Up Floating Shelves?
Before we get to anchors, it’s necessary to understand why a stud might not be where you need it to be. New homes are being framed using 2 x 4s and 2 x 6s spaced 24 inches apart to save money and materials. This can place studs in inconvenient places if you want to install shelving.
Another reason you’d have trouble locating a stud is if the stud is metal. Metal framing is mostly used in commercial buildings, but some residences use it. There are a lot of advantages to using metal framing, but one of the disadvantages is that you won’t be able to hang your floating shelves without special equipment.
Those are the basics, so now let’s move to specifics. You can support up to 50 pounds of weight using drywall anchors of various descriptions. Since floating shelves won’t hold that much weight, you’re good to go. A few tips first, though:
• Do. Not. Use. conical expansion anchors. They don’t provide a good enough grip for the screws. The weight of the shelf and what’s on it will pull the screw right out of the wall.
• Most drywall is ½ inch thick. Most plaster is 7/8 inch thick. Know what material will be holding your floating shelves. You need to match the shelf material to the wall material to avoid heavy shelves falling off and ripping holes in the walls. The Property Brothers tell us to err on the heavier side.
• Types of anchor. They also tell us that toggle and molly bolts are best for both plaster and drywall. Read the packaging for weight restrictions and what drill bit to use for the pilot hole. Avoid cheap plastic anchors for obvious reasons.
These are the types of anchors available:
• Hollow wall anchors. Also known as molly bolts. They’re steel and expand once screwed into a wall. They hold perhaps two pounds of weight, so if your shelf is solid wood, you’ll need a few more of the 50 that typically come in a package. Best for medium-weight applications.
• Threaded drywall anchor. Made of nylon or zinc, the large threads are designed to hold tight once inserted in a wall. They can be inserted using a screwdriver, but experts say it’s best to drill a hole first to make sure it’s straight inside the wall. Best for medium-weight applications.
• Toggle bolts. These are long bolts with an expansion piece that’s screwed into the wall. The thicker the wall, the longer the bolt. These are used for anchoring sinks to walls or anchoring a heavy piece of furniture to a wall. Wall-mounted TVs use toggle bolts. Best for heavy applications.
I Rent A Room In A House. I Can’t Damage The Walls, But I Need The Storage Provided By Floating Shelves. How Can I Anchor Them To The Walls?
For people with “no damage” clauses in their leases, there are adhesive solutions. You have a choice between glues attaching a shelf to the wall and adhesive strips like the ones used by George To The Rescue. Let’s examine them.
Glue Sounds Messy And Difficult To Remove From A Wall. How Does It Work?
You’re not going to put 50 pounds worth of items on your floating shelves. Thus, you’re not going to be using heavy wood, but probably thinner, hollow shelves. You’ll be using urethane glue such as Gorilla Glue.
Urethane glue is used to affix hardwood planks to the subfloor and new windows to their frames. It’s one of the strongest glues out there. Now, when you move, you’ll need to remove the glue from the wall without damaging the wall. You can rub a warm iron over the area and then just peel off the glue. You can also dissolve it with acetone.
I Like The Sound Of Adhesive Strips. How Does It Work?
3M’s Command Strips’ large size will hold no more than 16 pounds of weight. Read the package for weight restrictions and use thin or hollow shelves. Only place light items on the shelves, such as picture frames or small vases. When you move, the strips come off the wall without damaging the wall.
Do Floating Shelves Need Studs FAQs
Can I Mount Floating Shelves Without Studs?
Yes. If the shelf isn’t heavy or the items resting on it, then all you’ll need are plastic drywall anchors. If the shelf is heavy wood as well as what you’ll put on it, then you’ll require molly bolts or toggle bolts.
Can I Install Floating Shelves On Drywall?
Half-inch drywall will hold up to two pounds without support. If the shelf and what will be on it are heavier than two pounds, you’ll need support bolts or brackets.
Can Floating Shelves Fall Off The Wall?
If the weight on the shelf causes it to sag, then you’ve got problems. Yes, shelves can fall off the wall if their support mechanisms like bolts fail.
How Much Weight Will Floating Shelves Support With No Studs?
Assuming the shelves are properly anchored, then a floating shelf can hold between 25 pounds to over 100 pounds.
How Do You Install Floating Shelves On Old-Fashioned Plaster Walls Without Studs?
Old-fashioned plaster walls are typically applied over lath which is thin strips of wood nailed to the studs. When you drill your pilot hole into the plaster, chances are good you’ll hit the lath and not a stud. Go ahead and use molly or toggle bolts to secure your floating shelves to plaster walls.
If I Apply Multiple Drywall Anchors, Will They Support My Floating Shelves?
No. Anchors are designed to support up to 50 pounds of weight. Placing two or more a few inches from each other adds no more support and might even decrease it.
If I Made My Own Floating Shelves Out Of Plywood, How Much Weight Would They Hold?
One-half-inch plywood will hold 35 pounds per square foot. Adding an extra half-inch to make it one inch would support 165 pounds per square foot. The extra thickness redistributes the weight so the shelves won’t sag in the middle.
More commonly used is ¾ inch fir plywood, which holds up to 50 pounds. Also available is one-inch fir plywood for more heavy-duty applications.