How to Install a Floating Mantel Shelf

What You'll Need
Electrical detector
Ladder (optional)
Screws, anchors
Shelf bracket
Butterfly toggles (optional)

A floating mantel shelf is a shelf that has no visible mode of support, giving it the appearance of floating on your wall. Although it may seem as though a floating mantel shelf is less secure than traditionally supported shelves, the truth is counter-intuitive. In truth, a floating mantel shelf can be a secure, sturdy, and stylish storage or decorative solution for your home. However, in order to reap the benefits of a floating mantel shelf, you must install it correctly. Read the following article for a guide on how to properly install a floating mantel shelf.


Step 1 - Safety

Before beginning your project, be sure to don the appropriate safety gear. For this project, goggles are suggested, but you should take any other safety precautions that you feel are necessary. In addition to protective eyewear, you should use an electrical detector to make sure that there are no dangerous electrical wires in the area you'll be working in. If you drill into a wire, you could receive an intense electrical shock, so be meticulous when using your electrical detector. When you are satisfied that you can proceed safely, move on to the next step.

Step 2 - Preparation

If you are placing your mantel up high, use a ladder so that you can work without having to stretch. Place your bracket where you want it on the wall, and use your pencil to make marks under the corners. Check that your marks are straight using your level, and then mark where the screws will be. You know that your marks are level when the bubble in your level is in the center.

Step 3 - Drilling and Anchoring

Use a drill bit that is slightly narrower than your wall anchors. Line your drill up with the markings you've made on the wall, and very slowly drill into the wall. Make a hole for every screw marking that you made. If your wall is made of a weak material like plasterboard, use hollow wall anchors; for brick walls, use rawl plugs. Hold an anchor over one of your pilot holes and use a hammer to carefully rap it into the wall. Repeat for every hole that you made.

If your shelf will be supporting a lot of weight, you may want to consider using butterfly toggles. Butterfly toggles open up once they are inside of the wall, keeping your screw in place and helping to prevent the shelf from coming loose or falling.

Step 4 - Affixing the Bracket

Butterfly toggles will need to be affixed to the bracket before you install it. Hold the bracket in position and turn in the screws. Do not immediately tighten them completely. If you leave them a little it loose at first, you can make small adjustments to your bracket in order to make sure that your positioning is perfect. Once you're satisfied, you can tighten each screw.

Step 5 - Finishing Up

The last step is the easiest. You simply fit your shelf over the bracket. Depending on the shelf you purchased or built, it can attach in several different ways, but it will usually fit into place without the help of other equipment. This covers all of the screws and work that went into installing the bracket, leaving you with a clean, smooth look.