5 Tips for Putting up Wood Shelf Brackets

metal L-shaped brackets

Wood shelf brackets can help you make quick work of simple shelving projects around the house. Whether you are using L-brackets or installing slots and brackets, the following tips can help make working with wooden shelves much easier.

1. Use Heavy Duty Anchors in Drywall

screwing a screw into a wall

If you will be installing shelf brackets in drywall, consider using heavy-duty anchors rather than the cheap plastic ones. Heavy-duty anchors are usually made of steel or aluminum and provide much better support for shelving brackets than do the thin plastic anchors that are commonly sold at home improvement centers. Heavy-duty drywall anchors fully expand behind the surface of the drywall and can provide much stronger support for the bracket and shelf.

2. Use a Level and Measuring Tape

When installing wood shelf brackets, you should not only carefully measure the distance between the brackets with a tape measure, you should also ensure that they're level. By using your level in conjunction with a tape measure and straight edge, you can ensure that your shelf brackets are perfectly straight and true. This will not only create a stronger base for your shelf, it will also make your shelves look like they were professionally installed.

3. Pre-Drill Screw Holes

Whether you are installing drywall anchors or using wood screws to screw into a stud behind the wall, you should always pre-drill screw holes. Pre-drilling the holes will make inserting your screws much easier, and also help you to avoid damaging wall surfaces. This will result in a lot less time being spent on repairing walls with drywall or wood putty. Pre-drilling the holes will also help you to insert the screws evenly and straight, and also require a lot less elbow grease when turning the screws with a screwdriver.

4. Avoid Sagging Shelves

plant sitting on a white shelf

A very simple shelf can be made with a piece of plywood and a few L-brackets. However, when making this kind of shelf, you should always use the thickest piece of plywood available to you, and make sure that your L-brackets are properly spaced. When installing L-brackets on a simple shelf, you should make sure that the brackets are no more than about 16 to 20 inches apart. Generally speaking, you should try to install the brackets wherever a stud is present behind the drywall. This will result in a much stronger shelf and prevent sagging in the middle. Sagging shelves are dangerous if used to store heavy items.

5. Install L-Bracket Before Hanging Shelf

If you'll be using L-brackets to support a wooden shelf, you may find it easier to attach the L-brackets to the shelf piece before hanging it on the wall. However, before hanging the shelf, you should always make sure that your screw holes are pre-drilled, and if you are using drywall anchors, that they are installed. It is much easier to attach the shelf board on the bracket while you have it on a desk or table, rather than trying to attach the shelf while standing on a ladder.