How to Install Shelf Brackets into a Brick Wall

A brick walled kitchen with shelves
What You'll Need
Variable speed electric drill
Mason bit
Shelf brackets
Shelf boards
Rotary saw
Measuring tape

When installing shelf brackets, you may often find that the only surface available is a hard brick wall. Mounting shelves on a brick wall may seem difficult at first, but with the right instructions, materials, and tools, it may not be as intimidating as you first thought.

Step 1 - Plan Your Brick Wall Shelf

First, do your planning. Consider the items you'll want on your shelf. For heavier items, plan to install more brackets for each shelf. The same holds true for height. If you foresee keeping tall books on your shelves, you'll need to know how far apart in height your shelves should be. Use a 4-foot level to draw a straight pencil line where each shelf will be. If you plan to install multiple shelves, you'll likely want equal space between shelves. Typically, you'll want a shelf bracket mounted every 24 inches. Mark these places. You'll be drilling holes there.

Step 2 - Drill Anchor Holes

drill and bits laying on a table

Before drilling your anchor holes, you'll need to know what type of anchors you'll be using, and how big they are. With this knowledge, you'll be able to figure out the bit size you need, and how deep to make the anchor hole. If the holes are too big in diameter, your anchors will not fit, and you'll have to make another trip to the store for new ones. If your hole is too shallow, the anchor may not fit in all the way.

Once you know what size bit to use and how deep to drill the hole, measure up on the bit from its tip to the depth you want your hole. Wrap a piece of opaque tape tightly onto your bit at this place. Insert the bit in your drill and begin drilling your hole. Using a slower speed on your drill will give you better control. When your bit is deep enough into the brick that the tape touches the brick surface, stop drilling.

Step 3 - Choose and Install Your Anchors and Brackets

A wooden mantle on a brick chimney with candles and a fall wreath

To support lighter weights on your shelves, use masonry nails. Just pound them into place with a hammer. Use anchors with a sleeve to support heavier objects. Insert the sleeve into the hole you've drilled, then screw in the sleeve screw. For more solid support, use the metal vertical brackets that are adjustable. Attach the brackets to the wall by driving screws through the brackets and into the anchors. Be sure the screw holes on each bracket are lined up with the other bracket screw holes.

Step 4 - Choose and Mount Your Shelves

You can purchase pre-cut, pre-finished shelves at your local home improvement store or hardware store. Or, if you have a bench saw and jointer, you can cut, plane, and finish your own shelves at a reduced cost. Choose or cut your shelves to fit the brackets they'll be resting on, then put them in place.