8 Different Types of Shelving Projects to Work On

free standing shelving

There are many reasons why you should consider creating your own DIY shelving projects. Not only does it save money, it allows you to put your own personal stamp on any space.

You have many options for hanging shelves using simple tools and affordable materials. It's a fairly quick DIY project that doesn't take a lot of time and effort.

Types of Shelving

All you have to do to find out that there are tons of different types of shelving to go shelf shopping. The vast selection and size differences in the types of shelves you can add to your home are absolutely overwhelming.

Take some of the questions out of your next shelving project by starting first with the size and type of shelving you want. How the shelf attaches to the wall is, really, the biggest decision you will have to make when it comes to adding this type of storage to any wall of your home.

Once you know the size of the shelf project, decide on how it will look by choosing which type of shelving you'd like to have in your home.

Built-In Shelves

Unless you are already working on a pretty extensive renovation project or building a new home, built-in shelves may not be an option. These shelves are literally built into the wall as the wall is being constructed, with shelves built between studs in the wall and then covered with drywall and paint like any wall of the home.

These shelves are recessed into the wall, so they do not take up any space in the home, which creates a nicely streamlined look.

Fixed Bracket Shelves

bracket shelves in kitchen

One of the easiest types of shelving to install, fixed bracket shelves are characterized by two or more brackets or supports, that secures directly to the wall. The shelf sits on top of the brackets.

Floating Shelves

Floating shelves are secured to the wall with no visible means of support whatsoever. This is why they are "floating," though they are quite firmly affixed to the wall and will not move (or should not move) once installed.

This "invisible hardware" look is achieved with thick shelves that have hollow insides, meaning they are actually rectangular or square boxes. These shelves fit over support hardware that is secured to the wall and the shelves are also affixed to the hardware that provides support.

Freestanding Shelves

Shelves don't have to be attached to the wall or the ceiling. Freestanding shelves can also be used.

Think of a bookcase with no back and this is a freestanding shelf unit.

Hanging Shelves

Hanging shelves are unusual because they are suspended from and supported by the ceiling. Rope, cables, or chains are connected to the corners of the shelves, then brought together to a point and joined with a ring or a hook which is then secured to the ceiling so that the shelf hangs down.

The supports can be threaded through eye bolts that are drilled right into the shelves.

hanging shelf

DIY Types of Shelving Projects to Work On

Add extra storage to your home anywhere in your home with DIY shelving projects that are simple enough to do alone with basic tools and materials. You don't have to spend a ton of money on a shelving unit when you can put your own DIY skills to use and create amazing shelving for half the price or less.

Adjustable Slotted Shelves

Adjustable slotted shelves are a popular shelf choice for laundry rooms, garages, and more work-heavy areas of the home. These are also a very easy DIY project.

Adjustable slotted shelves begin with two or more vertical slotted rails. Shelves that have built-in hooks snap into any of the slots, so the placement of the shelves can be varied and changed as desired.

Repurposed Material Shelves

Fixed bracket shelves are incredibly easy as a DIY project. Add a touch of industrial and rustic warmth to your home with a repurposed shelf DIY project.

Old pieces of steel or copper pipe make amazing shelf brackets when you use elbows to make the bends and flange fittings to secure the pipe to the wall and the bottom of the shelf. Place a reclaimed piece of wood across the bracket.

Crate Shelves

crate shelves

Turn old crates into shelves in a snap by drilling holes in the back corners of the crates and securing them to the wall through these points. Paint or stain the crates to give them a fresh look and then hang them right on the wall.

You can do the same thing with old drawers, turning them into shelves. Add wooden dividers to the inside of drawers or crates, secured with brackets that are drilled into holes through the drawer or create into the wall, to create extra shelves inside.

Ledge Shelf

Have some extra wood laying around? If you have a long plank of wood, create a long ledge shelf high up against a wall. This can be a great addition to an interior space, providing a place to put plants, books, and photos.

Create a simple fixed bracket shelf using little triangles. You can make small triangles out of wood scraps fairly easily and secure them to the studs in the wall to provide perfect support.

Nautical Shelves

If you have a couple of interesting pieces of wood, put them to use as a DIY nautical-themed shelf. Drill two-inch holes near the end of each piece of wood.

The shelf holes should not be within one inch of any wood edge. Thread rope through these holes and tie big knots in the rope to support the shelves.

The rope can be hung from anchor bracket on the wall or ceiling to create a hanging shelf.

Peg Board

One time-tested DIY technique is to secure peg board to any wall and use this to support small metal brackets and wire shelves. Simple metal pegs can be inserted into holes and small wire shelves or baskets can be placed on the pegs to create a storage area.

You can also use wood to create more upscale pegboard shelves. Use wooden dowels to support small wooden shelves and create a beautiful display area for plants, photos, figurines, and special items.

Rain Gutter Shelves

A truly space-saving DIY shelving project is rain gutter shelves. Ideal for a children's room, gutters can be sliced in half, lengthwise and then cut vertically to get the right shelf length.

Gutters can be cut with a jigsaw and all edges can be sanded down with ordinary sandpaper so they are smooth and safe.

The gutters can be spray painted any color and then screwed directly into the wall using the existing screw holes. These shallow shelves are just perfect for holding thin children's books.

Under the Stair Shelves

If you're really feeling ready for a change and a DIY project, put on your safety glasses and your face mask and pry the baseboard off the wall under your staircase. Remove the drywall panels and prepare for the real work to begin.

You may need to add studs or replace the old studs. Before you remove any support structure anywhere, put new supports in place first.

Now, frame out the space for the shelves using 2x4s and plywood panels to build the shelves. Cut and add drywall around the shelves and prime and paint the drywall and shelves to finish your under-the-stair shelves.

shelves under stairs

How to Hang a Shelf

No matter which type of DIY shelving project you choose, the basics of hanging a shelf on the wall or from the ceiling vary little. Once you know the basics of how to hang a shelf in a few different situations, you can hang shelves for any of the DIY projects on this list.

Find the Studs

You need to always locate the studs in the wall because, when at all possible, you want to secure your shelves to studs so they have plenty of support. Use an electronic stud finder, which will beep when you run it over a stud in the wall, or knock on the wall with your fist to listen for the stud.

Once you have located the studs, make a small mark on the wall with a pencil or painter's tape to indicate where they are. Remember that studs always run vertically from floor to ceiling, unless some special architecture is in place.

Mark Your Shelf

Using a level, figure out exactly where you will place your shelf or shelves, and use tape to indicate exactly where the shelves will hang. The level will ensure that you are hanging shelves along a straight line.

Drill Holes

Use a power drill and a drywall bit to pre-drill all the screw holes. Drill directly into the studs.

Holes will be drilled either near the ends of where shelves will hang, in the case of bracket and adjustable shelves, or holes will be drilled at intervals along the line where the shelves will hang in the case of floating shelves.

Install the Hardware

With your drill holes serving as a guide, install the hardware that will support the shelves. This could be pipes or brackets or dowels, in the case of fixed bracket shelves, or it could be long horizontal brackets, in the case of floating shelves.

If needed, install drywall anchors dist. These will be placed anywhere there is no stud to support the shelf.

Drywall anchors are inserted into the wall and then twisted in order to release toggles that spread out on the other side of the wall to provide extra support. Screws are then drilled right into these anchors.

After any needed anchors are installed, place the support hardware on the wall and drill through it into the wall behind it using screws. Secure the hardware tightly but do not over-screw.

Hang the Shelves

Next, hang the shelves by either placing them over the brackets or placing them right on top of the brackets.

Different Types of Shelving Projects

Try out different types of shelving projects to work on using your DIY skills and some basic tools and materials. The more you play around with DIY shelving projects, the more creative ideas you're going to get.

Shelves are a great storage solution but buying the pre-made stuff can be costly. Use your own skill instead and spend a lot less by choosing the DIY option.

Shelving Projects FAQ

kitchen shelving

Is it more difficult to hang a floating shelf?

When it comes to different shelving options, is it harder to hang a floating shelf? No, not really.

For the most part, installing a floating shelf is just as easy as placing any other type of shelf on your wall. Mark the spot, drill the holes, drill screws into the wall through the hardware that supports the shelf, place the shelf!

Is it less expensive to install DIY shelving or to buy shelving?

You can purchase shelves and shelving units that come with all hardware and screws you need to hang them on the wall, with detailed instructions for how to do so besides. However, it is usually much more affordable to DIY this project and buy the items you need on your own.

You can save even more money on your shelving projects by re-purposing items and getting creative with your shelving, rather than buying all the components for your shelves. Shelves and even support hardware can come from repurposed and recycled items.

Where can shelving be installed?

You can hang shelves just about anywhere you want, though they may not always be supportive enough to hold a lot of weight. It's common to hang shelves in corners, below cabinets, above furniture and doorways, and pretty much anywhere else that won't get in the way where extra storage could be used.

Further Reading

8 Bathroom Storage Shelf Ideas

8 Surprising Projects You Can Do in a Day (With Just Your Drill)

Build a Window Sill Shelf

Crown Molding Shelf Ideas

How to Attach a Shelf to a Concrete Wall

How to Install Pull-out Shelves

How to Install Shelf Brackets into a Brick Wall

Make Your Own Homemade Food Storage Shelf

Placing a Mantel Shelf Over a Fireplace