Architectural Home Designs & Decorating Ideas

Build Sturdy DIY Floating Shelves to Customize Your Kitchen

Gabriela Connell
4 minute read

Floating shelves are an easy way to add customized storage and display space to your kitchen. By mounting shelves directly to the wall without visible brackets, you can create a clean, modern look. DIY floating shelves also allow you to customize the size, shape, material and finish to perfectly match your kitchen’s style.

Building your own floating shelves isn’t difficult with some basic tools and materials. The key steps include choosing your shelf material, mounting the hidden shelf brackets, taking proper measurements, cutting the shelves to size, finishing the wood, and securely installing the shelves on the wall.

Choose the Right Material for Floating Shelves

Wood is the most common material for DIY floating shelves, but you also have options like metal, glass, reclaimed wood or other recycled materials. Consider both function and style when picking shelf materials.

how to make floating shelves for kitchen

Wood Shelf Material Options

Pine boards are affordable and stain well, but prone to warping. Poplar is straighter grained but soft. Oak is strong and resists warping, but more expensive. Think about the finish look you want to achieve when selecting wood type.

Opt for kiln-dried lumber at the home center, which has been pre-dried to prevent future warping. For a more polished look, use pre-cut shelf boards available in various painted colors.

Alternate Floating Shelf Materials

Glass or acrylic shelves add a modern vibe. They work best for display rather than heavy storage. Metal pipes or distressed reclaimed wood also create an interesting industrial aesthetic.

Use caution when mounting heavier alternate materials on the wall. Make sure to use brackets that can support the shelf weight.

Gather the Right Tools for Constructing Floating Shelves

You don’t need an elaborate workshop to build DIY floating shelves. With a few essential tools, you’ll have everything needed for measuring, cutting, securing and finishing the shelves.

Tools for Measuring and Marking

An accurate tape measure, 4-foot level, stud finder, carpenter’s square and pencil are must-haves. Use the level and stud finder to determine the locating of mounting brackets. Carefully measure and mark cuts.

Cutting and Drilling Tools

A circular saw fitted with a fine-toothed blade makes straight cuts through boards. For angled cuts, a miter saw allows you to adjust the blade angle. Use a jigsaw for curved cuts.

Pre-drill shelf boards with a power drill before screwing or nailing to prevent splitting. Sandboards smooth with medium grit sandpaper.

Safety Gear

Always use safety goggles, gloves, ear and dust protection when operating power tools. Clamp boards securely and keep hands at a safe distance from saw blades.

Install Sturdy Hidden Shelf Brackets

Floating shelves mount to the wall using special shelf brackets designed to support the shelf weight while remaining hidden from view.

Shelf Bracket Types

Look for heavy duty metal L-brackets with a low profile. Fixed brackets only allow for level installation. Adjustable options offer flexibility for angling shelves.

Check the weight rating and make sure shelves don’t exceed bracket limits. For heavier shelves, space brackets closer together.

Locating and Securing Brackets

Use a stud finder to mark locations directly into wall studs for strongest support. For drywall, use toggle bolts anchors rated for the shelf weight.

Pre-drill into studs or anchors and use long screws to securely attach brackets. Make sure brackets are perfectly level.

Measure and Cut Shelves to Size

Once you determine mounting locations based on stud spacing, take precise measurements to cut shelves to size. Account for the width of brackets when measuring.

Marking Shelf Layout on Wall

Measure between brackets and mark shelf length on wall. Use a level frequently to ensure lines are straight. Leave 1/8″ gap from wall for brackets.

Cutting Shelves with Power Tools

Clamp a straightedge guide to your circular saw, allowing the blade to cut through half the depth. Flip board to finish cut. For thin strips under 3″, use a miter saw.

Drilling Shelf Boards

Drill centered pilot holes in shelf boards before driving screws. Prevent splintering on exit by drilling through a scrap block.

Apply Finish to Wood Shelves

Unfinished wood can absorb stains, paint or clear protective coats. Use a foam brush or rag to apply finishing products.

Sanding and Staining

Lightly sand boards with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth edges. Wipe on gel stain using a rag, then wipe off excess for desired color.

Sealing and Protecting

Polyurethane or water-based finishes like polycrylic seal and protect wood from moisture. Allow proper drying between light sanding and reapplication of topcoats.

Mount Shelves Securely on Brackets

Once brackets are installed and shelves are cut to size, the final step is mounting the shelves. Take care to attach them securely and level.

Attaching Shelf Boards to Brackets

Predrill shelf boards to prevent cracking and drive screws up through bottom of boards into brackets. Position back edge flush against wall.

Place a level across each mounted shelf verify they are perfectly straight and level. Add washers between shelf and bracket to make any adjustments.

That covers the essential steps for a successful DIY floating shelf project. With some careful planning upfront and attention to detail, you can create functional yet stylish custom shelves tailored to your kitchen’s storage needs and design aesthetic.