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How to Build Your Own Floating Shelves

Want to spice up the design in your home? These easy floating shelves are simple to construct and add an interesting element to any room!

Image collage of easy floating shelves with text overlay

There are two main types of open shelves that everyone wants in their homes: built-in shelving and floating shelves. Since we did both DIYs in our recent modern bathroom renovation, I wanted to share the tutorials. Last week I shared the Built-In Shelving secrets, and this week I’m showing you had we built our own easy floating shelves.

Installing easy floating shelves

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If you already have a saw and a couple of clamps, it costs next to nothing to build your own shelves! You can’t always buy shelves that fit perfectly into your space either, but this is a way to ensure that your shelves are the perfect size!


2×2 wood boards
Wood Stain of Your Choice
Pine shelf board (or MDF)
Painters Tape
Drywall Anchors (if you don’t have studs)
Wood Putty


Table Saw
Mitre Saw
Nail Gun and Finish Nails

How do you Build Floating Shelves?

The first step is to determine location on wall and mark out using painters tape.

Taping for placement of floating shelves

Locate the wall studs and mark out your studs on painters tape. If you don’t have a stud intersecting with the location of the shelf on all 3 of your walls you can use drywall anchors.  Ensure that you have at least two studs or a drywall anchors on each wall for a minimum of two connection points (6 in total). If you plan to place heavy objects on the floating shelves you may consider having more connection points.

Wood frame pieces for easy floating shelves

Measure the width of the wall behind the floating shelves, take this measurement and subtract 1/4″ (this will allow 1/8″ of gap between the shelf and wall on each side). Then determine the depth of the shelf, we went with 8″. Build a 2×2 rectangular frame using these measurements.

Leveling framing for shelves

Install your 2×2 bracing at the correct height. Ensure that you have a screw connection to a stud or drywall anchor on each end of the 2x2s. Check that your brace is level prior to attaching it to the wall.

Laminated pine panels for easy floating shelves

We wanted a natural wood look so we used pine shelving boards that we could stain; however, if you plan to paint your shelves you can use MDF. Cut your three boards for the top, front, and bottom of your shelf. Cut the top and bottom boards to the width above, but add the thickness of the material you are using to your measurements. The front board will be the outside dimensions of your shelf (including thickness of the top and bottom materials).

Wood finish for staining floating shelves

For the top and bottom boards cut a 45 deg mitre at the end that meets the front board. For the front board cut a 45 deg mitre on the top of bottom (you can see the small front board, with two 45 deg mitres in the second row in the photo above).

Polycrylic for sealing wood finish on easy floating shelves

We stained our boards with my favourite natural stain, and then protected them with Polycrylic.

Applying caulk to edges of floating shelves

Install your finished boards to the 2x2s, using a nail gun and finish nails. Once the shelf is installed, use wood putty to fill the nail holes and any gaps between your mitres. Use caulking to fill any gaps between the wall and shelf.

Fill up those shelves and enjoy your new modern floating shelves!

Completely decorated easy floating shelves in a bathroom
Close up of easy floating shelves fully decorated
Close up of easy floating shelves fully decorated
Easy floating shelves in a bathroom

These shelves are exactly what I wanted! You can’t find custom-built shelves like this anywhere! I’m SO happy with how the project turned out :)

You can also learn how to easily make Built-In Shelves!

A built-in version of easy floating shelves

If you haven’t see it, be sure to check out the full Bathroom Renovation!

Renovated bathroom with wood-framed mirrors and subway tiles

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Tuesday 12th of September 2017

Wow, the finish is perfect! Great tutorial.


Tuesday 12th of September 2017

Thank you so much!! :)