Floating Shelf Bracket 101: Get the Right Floating Shelf Hardware (2024)

If you are floating a shelf, the most important decision you can make is the choice of floating shelf hardware. Quite literally, everything is hanging on it.

Floating Shelf Bracket 101: Get the Right Floating Shelf Hardware (1)

Specifically, the floating shelf bracket is what gives a floating shelf its ability to perform under stress and over time. It also makes your life easier or harder when you build and install your shelf, yourself, and ultimately makes or breaks the entire installation. So, choose wisely.

At Shelfology we build high strength, super sweet floating shelves every day, and these are the characteristics of a floating shelf bracket we have found to be most useful for performance and installation ease:

1. Solid welded construction

Brackets with the highest strength have the rods recessed into the flat bar of the bracket and are welded all 360 degrees around it, on the back. It is a far superior construction method to face welding for both strength as well as ease of use. Brackets that screw or bolt together also are inferior to a solid 360 welded floating shelf brackets. In our experience using any of these versions consistently left wiggle within the finished shelf and the weight capacity was nowhere near the capacity of a welded version. Both are major deal breakers for us and we have avoided these types of floating shelf brackets at all costs from the beginning. In fact, they inspired us to design a better solution, which is why we know what we know.

Floating Shelf Bracket 101: Get the Right Floating Shelf Hardware (2)

2. Support rods are large enough diameter

Typically, a 3/4” diameter rod is more than enough to handle most real life situations like say, 12” deep shelves with dishes or books on them. Typical shelf depths are 12” for kitchen, 10” for living room/bookshelves. A 3/4” diameter rod will handle both with ease. Using smaller rods like 5/8" or 1/2" means you wont be able to go as deep, or hold as much. Using larger diameter rods means you can go deeper. You get the picture.

3. Proper number of rods for your shelf length

It doesn’t make sense to have a bracket with two rods supporting a shelf 70” long. More rods equals more strength and 70” is a lot of length to squeeze more rods(strength) into the shelf. Look for brackets that have multiple rods added as the bracket gets longer. Ideally no more that ~20” apart. If we use the same example, there should be 4 to 5 rods within a 70” long shelf to adequately support all the weight that could be place on that long of a shelf.

4. Bracket is constructed of thicker gauges of steel

Thinner steel bends, thicker steel withstands stress and higher loads. In this case beefier is usually better. Look for back bars at least 1/4” thick, and as wide as fits inside your shelf thickness. This helps eliminate twist or torsional flex. Torsional flex is bad in a floating shelf bracket, it means the shelf will sag sooner under load.

5. Appropriately sized bracket

Use a bracket that is sized appropriately to your shelf. The name of the game is to have as much steel behind your shelf without it showing. Think about sizing two ways: length and width. First consider length, which is the long dimension of any given floating shelf bracket. Ideally your bracket should be 2”-4” shorter than your shelf length, as a rule. This means it will cross as many anchor points as possible on the wall. More places to anchor to the wall, equals more strength. Use them all. Next, width. I am talking about the width of the flat back that sits against the wall. This dimension is critical and is a major part of what gives a floating shelf bracket its strength. You want as much width as possible without being wider than the thickness of your shelf. The whole point is to hide it, yet still be super strong. The best rule to follow is this, keep the floating shelf bracket back bar 1/2" thinner than your shelf is thick. For example, if you are floating a 2” thick shelf, the ideal shelf bracket should have a flat back bar that is 1-1/2” wide.


Of course, at Shelfology, we sell stock brackets in four different back bar widths, with fifteen lengths in each width. We literally have a bracket in stock that will fit just about any shelf dimension. If it isn't in stock, we also customize back bars to any width you can imagine. Don't worry, we don't freak out if you don't buy them from us, but it's your choice to make your life harder if you want.

Regardless of where you get your brackets, we are always here to help. If you have any further questions, feel free to give us a call, chat or email any time. We would love to geek out on this with you. All that contact jazz is on our website www.shelfology.com.

Xo Kevin Chief shelf nerd, Shelfology

Floating Shelf Bracket 101: Get the Right Floating Shelf Hardware (3)

Floating Shelf Bracket 101: Get the Right Floating Shelf Hardware (4)

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Floating Shelf Bracket 101:  Get the Right Floating Shelf Hardware (2024)

FAQs

What is the rule for shelf brackets? ›

For light to medium loads, shelving brackets should be spaced no more than 24 inches apart. For longer wire shelving, attach a bracket at least every 48 inches. For heavier loads, increase the size of your brackets and decrease the space between them.

How to choose the right shelf bracket? ›

Compatibility is a crucial factor when choosing the right shelf bracket for your needs. The type of shelf you're installing will greatly influence your choice of shelf brackets. For instance, heavy-duty shelves require robust brackets—often made of sturdy metal—to ensure they can withstand the weight.

What is the rule for floating shelves? ›

Three shelves in a perfect row will create a sense of order but offset them and you could have something more inventive. The rule of thumb for spacing is 12 inches between each shelf but bump that up to 15 or 18 inches and you enhance that sense of exposure and accessibility.

What size floating shelf bracket do I need? ›

Typically it's a good idea to use brackets that are 1 inch shorter than the depth of the shelves. For example, if you want shelves that are 8 inches deep, use 7 inch brackets. Where Should Shelf Brackets Be Placed? Shelf brackets should always be installed on drywall.

Which direction should shelf brackets go? ›

You should fit shelf brackets with the longer arm against the wall and the shorter one under the shelf.

How many brackets for a 72 inch shelf? ›

A: We recommend 4 brackets for a 72 inch shelf. 2 large brackets hold a 36 inch shelf that is 10 inches deep very well, and you will be happy with how 4 can hold a shelf this size.

How far should a shelf overhang a bracket? ›

Ensure shelves are properly sized to the brackets used — the front edges of shelves should not overhang the lips on the end of the bracket and the ends of shelves should not overhang end brackets by more than eight inches.

Do shelf brackets need to be the same length as the shelf? ›

The size of the shelf will determine the length of the bracket necessary to support it. The bracket should be at least 2/3 the length of the shelf to support it. For example, if your shelf is 36 inches long, then a 24-inch bracket will be sufficient.

How long should a bracket be for a 12 inch shelf? ›

Ideally your bracket should be 2”-4” shorter than your shelf length, as a rule. This means it will cross as many anchor points as possible on the wall.

Do floating shelves sag over time? ›

Potential Instability: Incorrectly installed floating shelves may sag over time, especially if not anchored to studs or wall anchors. Maintenance and occasional tightening of mounting hardware may be necessary to ensure stability.

Do floating shelves need brackets? ›

In a garage, floating shelves strong enough to hold stacks of wood can be supported by short lengths of pipe drilled into studs at a slight angle, so nothing tips off. Inside a home, most shelves that float are supported by brackets that have rods welded on.

What is the best position for floating shelves? ›

Floating shelves look best when they're at eye level, so they become a natural focal point of the room. Positioning shelves at eye level immediately draws attention to the items on display. The ideal number of floating shelves depends on the size of the room and the scale of the shelf.

Why do my floating shelves lean forward? ›

If your floating shelf is tilting—that is, if the front of the shelf appears lower than the back of the shelf, that points to a lack of strong supports. You could be using incorrect brackets, or the shelf might not have been installed properly.

What bracket to use for shelves? ›

J Brackets:

J brackets are an excellent option to create sturdy shelves and still achieve the minimal, floating effect.

How do you level floating shelf brackets? ›

You can use a “shim.” You may need to try several applications before you find something that gets your shelf level. Folded gift cards, cardboard, and thin pieces of scrap wood all will work well for this. Tape or screw your shim into your shelf and try re-hanging the shelf.

How far apart should brackets be on a shelf? ›

Studs are typically spaced 16 to 24 inches apart on center. Depending on how wide your shelf is you will want to get at least 2 brackets on two wall studs. It is recommended to space your brackets out evenly and mount each one to a wall stud.

What is the rule of three for shelves? ›

Shelving. Styling shelves can sometimes be a challenge, but using the rule of three makes it much easier. Begin by placing three items on each shelf, then stand back and decide what, if anything, needs adjusted. Layering or stacking two items melds them together, and they become one item.

How far should shelf span between brackets? ›

The longest recommended span is 36 inches between wall supports. Lumber. The longest recommended span between walls supports for 1×10 lumber is 24 inches. If the lumber is 1×12 then it is 28 inches.

How much overhang can you have on a shelf bracket? ›

Ensure shelves are properly sized to the brackets used — the front edges of shelves should not overhang the lips on the end of the bracket and the ends of shelves should not overhang end brackets by more than eight inches.

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