Installing shelves on drywall might seem like a pretty straightforward chore but if you go about it without the proper tools and knowledge then everything might come crashing down, literally. To help make sure that your stainless steel shelf brackets stay put, here are some things that you need to consider.
Finding the Wall Studs
You cannot just drill anywhere on the drywall. You need to find the wall studs so the screws actually have something to hold onto. If you screw your shelf brackets on just the drywall alone, it will pull out the screws from the wall once you place any kind of load on the shelf. Finding the wall studs is actually easy if you have a stud finder but if you are not a professional contractor then you might not have one lying around the house. However, it is actually easy to find the studs the old-fashioned way.
To do this, you will need a flashlight, a tape measure, a small nail and a hammer, and a wire hanger (yes, this will come handy later). First, turn off the lights in the room, and then shine the flashlight at a sharp angle against the wall that you want to locate the studs of. Look for a column of tiny bumps that arise from the surface. These bumps are from the nails that were used to prop up the drywall. Along this column of bumps is the wall stud.
To make sure that you located the stud, you can knock on the part of the wall that you think has it. If it sounds solid then you hit your target. If it sounds hollow then that is just the drywall. To be sure, you can drive a small nail into the wall. If the nail hits a solid piece of wood, you will definitely feel it. However, if it goes straight on through at just the first hit then it is drywall. Now, if you did hit just drywall, grab your wire hanger, insert it into the hole and give it a twist. If you are just off by an inch or less, then the hanger will hit the wall stud. If not then you need to measure again.
Once you find one stud, measure 16 inches from its center to approximately find the next wall stud. To make sure that you hit the right spot, knock on the wall again. If the stud is not 16 inches from the first one, then repeat your measurement, this time using 24 inches. Sixteen inches and twenty-four inches are the standard distance between wall studs according to the building code.
Installing the Shelf Brackets
Okay, now that you located the wall studs, you are ready to start installing the shelf. Here are the steps:
- Draw two vertical lines using a pencil along the wall studs.
- Grab one of the stainless steel shelf brackets and hold it against one of the vertical guidelines. Use a spirit level to make sure that the shelf bracket is perfectly vertical. Grab your pencil and make marks inside the holes onto the wall. To make it easier to drill the holes later, make a cross mark and dent the center of each mark using a nail and a hammer.
- Take your hand drill and install a wood bit that is one size smaller than the screws to be used to mount the stainless steel shelf brackets. We recommend #7 x 1 1/4 flat head screws for the wall. Set the drill depth to roughly the same length of the screw minus the thickness of the bracket. Once the drill is properly set up, continue drilling into the marks that you previously made.
- Screw the first bracket into the wall.
- Grab your shelf and place it on top of the first bracket and place the spirit level on top of the shelf. Holding the shelf as straight and as level as you can, make a horizontal mark intersecting the vertical line of the stud (you are using the underside of the shelf like a ruler to make a straight line). You now have the correct location for the top of the second shelf bracket.
- Align the top of the second bracket below the mark you just made, and then use your pencil to mark where you need to drill holes for the screws. Once you have finished placing your marks, just repeat steps 3 and 4.
- Once you have the second bracket in place, you can finally install the shelf. Depending on the design of the shelf, it can either just balance on top of the brackets or they need to be screwed into place.
That’s it! You just hung your first wall shelf. If you managed to follow the instructions correctly, you can place a ball on top of the shelf and it will not roll off. On the off chance that the ball does roll off, use your level to check which of the two brackets are a bit lower and adjust accordingly.