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How Much Weight Can Floating Shelves Hold?

Collage photo of floating shelves in different variety.

Related: How Much Weight Can Glass Shelves Hold? | How High to Hang Floating ShelvesDo Floating Shelves Need Studs | How Far Apart Should Floating Shelves Be?

Brief Answer:

Floating brackets with a diameter of 12 mm can hold a shelf that is at least 22 mm thick and loaded with 20 kg, while brackets with an 18 mm diameter can support 30 kg on a 28 mm shelf.

Introduction

The first time I heard of floating shelves had me thinking of balloons and outer space…shelves with helium balloons tied to them gently floating against the wall! Or worse still, shelves taken up into outer space by some naughty astronauts and experimentally released into space to float for eternity!

However, since the context of the conversation was Champ the Carpenter renovating my study/home office by adding more shelf space, I knew my guess that the floating shelves he was going on about must be completely off.

“Now, now, hold your horses for just a minute!”

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I stopped Champ midway through his rumblings about how much space he was going to add to the study by installing floating to get some clarity about the floating shelves he kept going on about.

1. Just what exactly are these floating shelves that you keep going on about and how do they differ from normal shelves?!

With metal shelves and a little plant, the space is plain and roomy.

Fortunately for me, Champ the Carpenter is one of those tradesmen who enjoyably live and breathe their craft. He was more than willing to tell me what floating shelves and more…

According to Champ, a shelf is generally ” a flat, typically, rectangular object-holding or storage structure mounted at an angle to a wall or other vertical surface and made of a stiff material like wood, glass, or metal”, designed to be used as wall shelving.

On the other hand, a type of shelf known as a “floating shelf” is one that has its wall fasteners concealed inside the shelf board and has no apparent support brackets. As noted by Marthe Le Van (2005), this is such that, “Free from distracting brackets, floating shelves seem to defy gravity by having no visible means of support”. 

However, while that might seem to be the case, as Joanne Kellar Bouknight (2012) explains, more often than not, the seemingly “floating shelf” is actually resting on concealed rods or on bars that are fastened to studs. For instance, a hollow-core shelf that has been attached to a cleat can create a thick floating shelf.

Apart from the above, Steve Ettlinger and Phil Schmidt (2017) writing about everything sold in hardware stores, specifically shelf pins, pilaster, and clips, also reveal that a floating shelf may also be included two or more channels that extend from the back towards the front without touching it. These channels are used to insert fasteners that are fastened to the wall, which are normally secured by screws that are driven through the shelf’s bottom.

Like most other shelves, floating shelves are typically also made from solid wood and come in various styles. They can be purchased in different sizes, heights, and shapes. In addition to serving as shelves, floating shelves can also be used as a bench, table, or countertop.

On the whole, though, a set of floating shelves that can be used to organize and store your items or objects. They are perfect for displaying your favorite decorative items, books, serving trays, and even serving utensils.

A floating shelf gives otherwise plain walls a sense of flair, charm, elegance, and, of course, good organization. These shelves are a stylish and useful option for displaying and storing ornamental goods like picture frames, vases, or books.

Floating shelves come in a variety of finishes, from rich and sleek, to warm and cozy. Some are constructed of heavy duty aluminum and have a durable powder-coated finish. The shelves are also adjustable, making it easy to create the perfect configuration for your home.

With their modern-minimalist design and a fantastic array of finishes, you can be sure that you will have a wide range of options. Whether you like to combine various colors and styles or not,  why not combine numerous floating shelves to wrap around corners or cover the entire length of your wall? Attach them one on top of the other or create a stepped appearance. Thanks to floating shelves, you can now design an appearance that is uniquely yours in a variety of ways.

I could go on and on, but all you must know is that, overall, floating shelves are an excellent addition to any home. They can provide a really attractive alternative to your home’s current wall-to-wall shelving, while also offering a more flexible storage solution for your home. To top it all, there are several different styles and options of floating shelves available.

In short, when it comes to floating shelves, there is something for everyone.

2. Interesting! And just how much weight can floating shelves hold Champ?

Wooden floating shelf with books and a picture on it is minimalist.

Well, from my experience, and according to the home décor site Regalraum, floating brackets with a diameter of 12 mm can hold a shelf that is at least 22 mm thick and loaded with 20 kg, while brackets with a 18 mm diameter can support 30 kg on a 28 mm shelf.

While the dimensions and descriptions given above only apply to one type of floating shelf support; you can hopefully use them to calculate just how much weight other floating shelves of different dimensions and thicknesses would be able to hold. However, please note, corner shelves will need whole different supports to “float.”

When it comes to how much weight floating shelves can hold, minimalists will adore the idea of using floating shelves for home office art by an interior decorator, Grace Brown (2020). In Brown’s view, due to their sleek appearance, floating shelves are ideal for lovers of minimalist decor.

By simply driving screws into the bottom of the shelf boards to give the illusion that they are hovering, minimalists can be able to both conceal any support brackets as well as display a few items on them.

In this regard, Brown advises that, given that floating shelves can only carry so much, a modern minimalist interior is an excellent fit for floating shelves.  As such, she recommends that if you’re having trouble finding room for a few not-too-weighty decorative items in your home office, to try creating room for them by installing floating shelves on your accent wall.

In that way, some floating shelves, for instance on top of a radiator, or as a console table inside a corridor can not only increase storage capacity but can also carry those prized possessions that, until now, you have been unable to show off to your visitors. The beauty of it all, of course, is that, apart from carrying quite a fair amount, such floating shelves don’t take up a lot of space and are simple to put up.

Stephanie Hendries (2021) summarizes it best when she says, “Floating shelves are a sleek and simple storage solution. Their no-fuss design means that unsightly shelf brackets and nails are hidden, which works particularly well for modern, minimalist, or contemporary schemes.”

That as it may be, however, the type of goods that can be placed on each shelf is ultimately determined by its weight and capacity. Overloading could appear to be effective in the short run, but eventually, the shelf might come loose from the wall, bringing everything on it tumbling to the ground.

3. Just then, Wifey walked in, and, for the record, I asked Champ in her hearing: “Are floating shelves right for my wife’s kitchen?” He did not disappoint.

Kitchen in Portland, Oregon that has just undergone renovation. The backsplash is white tile.

Having storage is crucial for a home. We must value it and utilize it to the fullest extent possible.

One area of the home where storage space is an extremely handy element is the kitchen. Because of this, there are numerous cabinets, cupboards, and shelves set up in this area. In the kitchen, proper storage is always extremely important.

It’s hardly surprising that as time has gone on, advancement after advancement has allowed us to utilize our spaces in ever-more-unique ways. This also applies to the development of floating shelves.

For all homeowners, floating shelves in the kitchen are a must-try. They might not, however, all be appropriate for every kind of kitchen that exists. For this reason, before trying to install such furnishings, you must first determine whether floating shelves are appropriate for your kitchen.

4. More out of my excitement about floating shelves than dissatisfaction with them, I asked Champ a few more questions….

Japanese hexagon hardwood shelf, rendered in three dimensions.

Q. Which brands of floating shelves are there out there?

A. Dunelm Oak, Habitat Jack 80cm, Mack and Milo, Umbra Showcase, Chill House Limited Rustic, Ikea Lack, Kartell Bookworm, and the Oak and Rope company personalized oak floating shelves.

Q. In your opinion, which is the best floating shelf?          

A. The ideal floating shelves will be visually appealing as well as sturdy enough to hold the objects you wish to display. Installing my personal favorite, the Shelving Solution Corner Wall Shelf, in unused corners of space enables you to turn them into lovely focal pieces.

Q. What should I consider when choosing a floating shelf?          

A.

  • Display

If your main concern is how the shelves liven up your living space, there are not many limits on what you can purchase. The design that best satisfies your need for art is the shelving system that you should get. The items you place on these shelves may range from plants to collectibles to art, so they will also add to the room’s decor.

  • Storage

If you need room for your books, toiletries, entertainment consoles, and more, your main purpose will be finding a set of floating shelves that can be used for storage. These floating shelves may focus on a more rugged, utilitarian design rather than serve as mere decor.

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