Simple steps for making sure your floating shelves never fall

DIY shelving solutions are incredibly satisfying because they’re simple, quick to put together, and look great in any tailor-made space. The neat finish and generally impressive appearance of floating shelves is especially fantastic for proving your prowess regardless of whether you’re a DIY mogul or are taking your first dab.

Unfortunately, as most keen DIYers have found at some stage, elusively simple shelves also come with one pressing downside – they can soon sag or even fall if you don’t take your time to get every element right. That’s not to say that you need to overcomplicate a pleasingly simple DIY project, but it does mean that you’re going to want to consider the following essentials before you get stuck in here. 

Which wood should you use for floating shelves?

Success here largely starts with your ability to select reliable, solid wood materials that are guaranteed to stand the test of time. Obviously, there are a few options here and the right one for you will often come down to your plans for the shelf in question. That said, most heavy use shelves could benefit from woods like mahogany or koa, though the price tags on these can be pretty high-end. Solid hardwoods are also going to be heavy so they need to be secured properly to not fall off causing injury or damaging a wall. If you’re looking to save a little, alternatives like pine or even plywood could also prove effective.

Did someone say maths?

All DIY requires calculations of some kind, and never is that more the case than with floating shelves. After all, you’re effectively taking on gravity with this make, meaning that the quality of your engineering rests on your ability to do all the right sums. Notably, you need to familiarise yourself with standard shelving dimensions and what they mean for you. Make sure you’re buying the right size shelf for your project and that you have measured up – if ordering online you don’t want a dinky shelf to turn up because you haven’t read the measurements properly!

You’re also going to want to leave some room for the length of your shelves themselves when considered alongside their brackets, making sure that brackets are evenly spaced for fair weight distribution that avoids the much-dreaded sagging, or worse, a shelf that unbalances and falls within weeks of installation.

Choose your additions wisely

Whether you’re confident in your DIY prowess or not, it’s also important to choose your shelving additions wisely. After all, floating shelves aren’t generally designed to accept excessively heavy stacks of books or weighty home accessories. Instead, it’s worth limiting books to a reasonable stack instead of overloading your shelves altogether. In terms of breakable ornaments, you may find it worth either building with specific displays in mind, or making your own additions from these supplies for candles and other similar kits so that you can make sure even your shelving purposes fit within your original workings out. Either way, select shelving displays that don’t overbalance or overload are an absolute must.

Floating shelves are a great starter project or a quick between-step for individuals with existing DIY flair. The question is, will your finished shelves see you floating on air or picking up the pieces of your favourite family heirlooms?


  1. Great advice, thank you. I prefer the security of shelves with visible supports, but floating shelves do look very impressive!

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