Nail support frames into the wall with no studs ?


I’m a beginner DIYER making these built in shelves. How do I nail 2x4 on the ceiling if there are no studs in the spot I need to drill? I need to add support to the front on the ceiling so I have something for the trim to nail into.

q nail support frames into the wall with no studs
  15 answers
  • Betsy Betsy on Oct 26, 2021

    Hi Faddu: You certainly have a wonderfully different ceiling structure:) What I would do is to secure the shelving to the back wall studs with screws. That way they won't fall over. Then, I would just get some decorative molding and either glue or use trim nails to put on the front of the shelving, even covering where the gaps are. Here is a site with molding:

    This one has fancy molding. The black picture shows how the molding looks from the side.

    If you built those shelving units, you did a nice job :)

    Hope this helped.

  • Scott Scott on Oct 26, 2021

    I can help Scott

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Oct 26, 2021

    You could secure the units you built to the studs in the back wall, screws would work well. Then build boxes for the remaining areas and anchor them the same way as the main unit where you can into the studs.

    You could trim it up when done with molding. Great job!

  • Faddu Faddu on Oct 26, 2021

    Thanks all! The bookshelves are actually IKEA. I need something for the top molding to be nailed into. That’s why I was wondering how I would do it if I can’t find studs/joists for the ceiling support frames. See pic below for where I need support for the molding.

  • on Oct 26, 2021

    You could attach a support 2X4 horizontally - screw it into the studs - and then attach your bookcases to that.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Oct 26, 2021

    I would secure them to the studs in the back wall. That's what we did in my closet with similar shelves. We used the "L" type brackets and attached where ever we had studs.

  • William William on Oct 26, 2021

    The photo you provided seems to be cut off. I assume you want to attach 2X4's to the ceiling flush with the front of the cabinets but no joists to attach to. You can use toggle bolts. The wing part goes into the ceiling and they open up. When you tighten the bolt the wings would hold the 2X4 to the ceiling. They come in different lengths and thicknesses.

  • William William on Oct 26, 2021

    Your welcome. Glad to help. Anymore assistance needed just ask.

  • Seth Seth on Oct 26, 2021


    You probably have furring strips running perpendicular to the ceiling joists every 16 inches on center. If you measure from where the wall meets the ceiling (left side of your picture) up towards the peak of the ceiling, you should be able to find them. You can attach your 2x4's to the furring strips. You may have to use a combination of screws going into the furring and the toggle bolts William suggested. You also don't necessarily need 2x4's. If you just need a nailer for the trim to attach to, a 1x4, which looks like you are already using up at the top left in the back, would be sufficient.

    • See 2 previous
    • Seth Seth on Oct 29, 2021


      Are you building the arches? I checked out the post that described how to build these. Based on your original picture, I'm not sure how you are fitting an arch into that angled corner. Is that one arch going to be lower because the bookcase is lower? The arches (assuming they are one piece each as done in the post) can be face nailed to your vertical framing. You don't even need to attach them at the ceiling at all. Any gaps along the ceiling would be covered by the trim at the top and any tiny gaps can be caulked.

  • Kmdreamer Kmdreamer on Oct 27, 2021

    Could you screw them right to the wall because then you use plugs you put those in the hole first then screw into them. And they hold into Sheetrock well.

    • Faddu Faddu on Oct 28, 2021

      this is what I am trying to do. So there needs to be wood support at the front for the arch frame to screw into

  • Janice Janice on Oct 28, 2021

    Faddu, how nice that you responded to the two suggestions that really helped you solve the issue. They often help with advice and I'm sure really enjoy being thanked for their advice. I hope you get the bookcases installed and am sure they will add much value to your home.

    • Faddu Faddu on Oct 28, 2021

      Thank you! I keep having one problem after the other with them. I can't wait to be done and enhance my skills so the next project is easier

  • Kmdreamer Kmdreamer on Oct 29, 2021

    If you build a frame then put cabinet in it then you could screw to that

  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on Oct 31, 2021

    you will for sure like to install board across that is attached to 2x4 on the back so you can screw your bookshelf

  • You might have better luck attaching 2x's to the tops of the shelf units themselves, building up the tops, and attaching the trim you want to that. You will need to secure the shelving units to the walls behind.