Beginners Tutorial for DIY Cheap and Easy Floating Wood Shelves

Andrea Runk
by Andrea Runk
5 Materials
3 Hours

This beginners tutorial will show you how to hang a wood shelf to give the illusion of an expensive floating shelf.

I love the look of floating shelves and I knew that I wanted to incorporate one in my recent bathroom renovation. I really wanted a floating shelf that would span the entire length of the wall from the vanity to the shower. I also knew that a shelf that long would cost a ton of money. So, I decided to make one myself and I am really happy with how it turned out…and I saved a lot of money too!

Here’s What You’ll Need

  • 2×6 Lumber
  • Wood Stain– I used Varathane Premium Wood Stain in Braismoke.
  • Aged Wood Accelerator
  • Stain Brush
  • Clean Cloth
  • Sand Paper80 and 120 Grit
  • “L” Brackets
  • Spray Paint

Head over to my BLOG for more in depth descriptions.

Pick the Right Tools for the Job

1)Level 2) Orbital Sander 3) Tape Measurer 4) Electric Drill 5) Circular Saw 6) Saw Horses or Workbench

I have made it really easy for you and linked this to my  LikeToKnow.It page where you can shop directly from there

Prep the Wood

The first step is to prep the wood. Before starting, measure your space, and cut your board to size. Next, sand and prep the wood for the stain. I start with an 80 grit sandpaper and then work up to a smaller grit like a 220.

Remember: The lower the grit the more coarse the sandpaper typically used for a more intense sanding. The higher the grit the finer the sandpaper typically used as a final step to smooth the wood.

It's Time to add some Stain

Using a stain brush, add an adequate amount of stain, and brush in the direction of the grain. Let it sit, the longer it sits the darker the stain. I wanted something a bit lighter so I removed the excess with a cloth right away.

Note: Use a pre-stain conditioner before you stain and a urethane the seal the wood once you are done.

To me, the Brairsmoke stain alone wasn’t 100% what I was looking for and a bit too ashy-grey. I wanted something warmer and with some brown tones. I decided to also apply an Aged-Wood Accelerator to enhance the dark brown undertones.

"L"evel Up

Using a tape measure, measure the distance that the shelf will span, and equally divide the length into four sections ( you will use more or less brackets depending on the size of your shelf). I suggest using the existing stud spacing as a guide. My shelf was a little under six feet and I decided to use four brackets for maximum stability.

Using the spacing that you measured previously, use a 2″ wood screw to secure your bracket to the stud. Making sure to stay level with each new bracket you install. You don’t want to get to the end and install a crooked shelf!

Please note that you should use drywall anchors if you are not going to be securing directly into a stud. This is especially true for larger shelves.

Secure the Shelf

Now that your brackets are installed and level it is time to add the shelf. To secure the shelf we are going to use the 1″ screws that came with the brackets and drill upwards to anchor down the shelf. The brackets come with holes pre-drilled and I suggest using both holes to anchor down the shelf.

Repeat this step on all brackets.

I Feel Like I am Floating

As you know, this tutorial is very easy, and it is meant to give the illusion of an expensive floating shelf. To give this illusion of floating I suggest you purposefully dress up the shelf and conceal the exposed brackets. Don’t worry, the brackets only stick up a few inches and are easy to hide.

I love the finish product and it adds the perfect amount of horizontal storage that this space needed! Check out my blog post on how to make this awesome  DIY Canvas Wall Art.

I have made it really easy for you and linked this to my LikeToKnow.It page where you can shop directly from there

Resources for this project:
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Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  1 question
  • Katy Gentry Katy Gentry on Nov 12, 2020

    Why not just flip the brackets the other way? That way, instead of the bracket sticking up behind the shelf, it would basically be hidden underneath it. 😊

Join the conversation
3 of 13 comments
  • Goldbeargirl Goldbeargirl on Dec 29, 2020

    Very neat and clean! I love it! Great job

  • Al Gomez Al Gomez on Nov 18, 2022

    I have made shelves similar to this and painted the part of the bracket that sticks up above the shelf the color of the wall, thus masking the bracket a bit more.