Diy Floating Shelves

8 Materials
2 Hours

This floating shelf method is so easy, cheap and sturdy you won't believe it!

I first installed these floating shelves in my kitchen 10 years ago right after we bought this house. And boy Oh boy have we put them to the test. I have to admit, when I first installed the shelves I wasn't confident they would hold all the weight I wanted to load on them. But over the years we've really put these things to the test, and they have proven doggedly sturdy. So sturdy, that when I attempted to take them down during this most recent kitchen refresh, I had to cut the shelf off the wall with my reciprocating saw.

1. The first step to this method is cut a 2x4 into a 1x2. I used my jigsaw for this because I didn't have a circular saw at the time. So it obviously doesn't need to be perfect, but it does need to be a true 1 inch by 2 inch board. You CANNOT buy a 1x2 off the shelf at Home Depot because those are actually 3/4 inch by 1 1/2 inch. That won't fit snugly inside the hollow core door.

2. Locate and mark your MUST secure this 1x2 cleat to the studs. Then transfer the markings from the wall to your 1x2 and drill holes big enough to accommodate your lag screws.

3. Fasten the 1x2 to the wall with the lag screws using your electric drill with a nut driver attachment. You could also use a wrench for this part it'll just take a lot longer and require more elbow grease. I think this is the way I did it the first I own a few more tools...thank God.

4. Next cut your door to your desired depth. Originally my shelves were 9" deep, but this time they're just under 8" deep because I used the same shelves I had to cut off the walls. VERY IMPORTANT...floating shelves installed using this method CANNOT be deeper than 9". Any deeper than 9" will not be properly supported. So check to make sure the items you want to place on the shelves will fit on a 9" or smaller shelf.

After you cut the door, push the cardboard deeper into the door so the 1x2 will fit inside the door. Then dry fit the door onto the 1x2 cleat to make sure everything fits(this is all much more clear in the video).


5. The next step might be the most important...wood glue. I used gorilla glue on mine and it works like nothing else. Make sure to spread the glue on BOTH the top AND the bottom of the 1x2 cleat. Put your shelf back onto the cleat and snug it up flush with the wall.

6. Last...install finish nails all the way down the top and bottom of the shelf about every 6 inches or so through the door and into the 1x2 cleat. Allow the wood glue to dry for about 24 hours, caulk and paint your shelf. Then style it to your hearts content. 

This floating shelf method is super easy and cheap. I got my doors for free, but you can buy an 18" bifold door at Habitat for Humanity for $5 and if you cut it in half you can have two 8' long floating shelves for displaying art or glasses in your kitchen.

This video tutorial shows more detail to the process of installing floating shelves the easy way.

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Mimzy lombardo

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Lynn
    on Nov 24, 2019

    What is the color of your cabinets?

    • Victoria
      on Nov 30, 2019

      I love your counters and backsplash too ,what is it? Marble?

  • Louise Friday
    on Nov 24, 2019

    How many cleats? what size? I don't see them listed in suggested materials list, thank you

    • Lisa West
      on Dec 1, 2019

      She wrote it in the write up when she explained how she did it. It's so awesome to.a

Join the conversation

4 of 23 comments
  • Becky
    on Dec 2, 2019

    The instructions must skip a step or two: all of a sudden it mentions pushing cardboard inside the door. 😳????

  • Nora Miller
    on Dec 20, 2019

    This is exactly what I want to do with doors I took of our closets! Thank you for sharing

    • Mimzy lombardo
      on Dec 21, 2019

      Yay! So glad! I’ve been meaning to post a tutorial for years cuz it such a genius way to make floating shelves. I wish I thought of it.

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