How to put up a fixed shelf

Don't panic, I know what you are put up a shelf? Well yes I found this very daunting when I first tackled this. But I thought why don't I just have a go, it can't be that hard can it? DIY is about having a go, if you get it wrong, just take it down and start again (or if that fails....then pay someone to do it!).

Like anything, if you follow a decent set of instructions and take it slow - you will get the hang of it and before you know it, you will have a wonderful shelf on your wall, even if it is a bit wonky!

Follow these instructions and safety tips to learn how to put up a fixed shelf with brackets....

Safety first - check your walls!

Before this DIY mission begins, you need to check the wall area for pipes, cables or studs hiding behind the wall surface. If you drill or screw into one of these you will create a fair amount of damage, which will be costly and just rubbish - so stay well clear of this!

You can easily check your walls with a handy device called a 'Mutli-purpose Digital Detector' which is about currently £13.28 from - bargain! Simply run it over the surface of the area and this helpful device will tell you where the hazards lie.

Make sure you have a strong fixing!

Now we really don't want your new gorgeous styled shelf to come crashing down, so knowing what type of wall you are hammering into is a massive factor. Your home will be made up from various wall types, which all contain different materials depending on what area of the home they are situated.

Stud partition walls - Give it a tap and it will sound hollow! A stud partition wall is a non supporting wall that has been inserted to create internal rooms within the property. These are made from a frame of timber or metal studs secured to the floor, ceiling and walls, which are then covered with plasterboard. A decorated stud wall will look like an integral part of your house, so these cheap walls are easy to put up without sacrificing style.

When attaching a shelf to a stud wall, the screws need to go directly into the timber noggings (horizontal wood) or studs (vertical wood) - see below.....

To make it simple, basically you need to screw into the wooden timber frame, not in the gaps of plasterboard, as the shelf won't stay up! You can find the frame by just tapping and listening for the not so hollow sound. Simple!

Masonry walls – These are walls made from bricks and mortar. Usually these will be the exterior walls of your home or those all important supporting walls! So for these walls you will need to get your serious DIY hat on, because you'll need a hammer-action drill with a masonry bit - it's ok don't panic I will explain....

So when drilling into brick it's pretty solid stuff, so you need a super strong drill that can cope with the resistance. Also the hammer-action drills have an extra handle at the front, meaning you have a better grip and control over the drill.

Masonry bits typically are used with a hammer drill, which hammers the bit (see pic to the right) into the material being drilled as it rotates; the hammering breaks up the brick at the drill bit tip, and the rotating flutes carry away the dust. I will be honest that this whole process gets dusty, so make sure to put down sheets where you are drilling.

Once you have drilled into the masonry wall with the hammer-action drill, you will need at least 50 millimetre (mm) screws and wall plugs to go through the plaster and into the wall behind.

Wall plugs are...."Fiber or plastic dowels (little jackets for the screws!) used to enable the attachment of a screw in material that is porous or brittle (brick) or that would otherwise not support the weight of the object attached with the screw. It is a type of fastener that for example allows screws to be fitted into masonry walls."

For heavy loads - So if your shelf is pretty weighty, it is recommended to use 38mm or 50mm screws as these have a strong fixing and don’t need wall plugs, but if unsure, I would just use wall plugs because you can't be too careful hey! But if you are a DIY rebel and want to risk it, then the screws should be the heaviest gauge (thickness) that the holes in the bracket will take. This is usually a 4mm gauge on small brackets and 5mm or 5.5mm on larger ones.