DIY Shelf Installation

Shelves are an important feature of most homes. It could be shelving for foodstuffs in the kitchen, a bookshelf in the bedroom or a shelf in the living space for ornaments and keepsakes. If you’ve identified the need for more shelving in your home, there is a wide range of options in terms of materials and mountings. This article is all about the many types of shelf.

When you’re looking for new shelving, it’s essential to consider what the shelf is intended to store and how you want the shelving to appear when installed. The weight of any items that should be stored on the shelf should affect your choice of material, thickness and fittings.

Fixed Bracket shelving is one of the most popular types around. It is secured through individual brackets which are secured to the wall, with the shelving laid on top. Brackets are typically an L shape, and usually have arms of an uneven length. In most circumstances the short arms supports the shelf, while the longer arms is attached vertically to the wall, reducing the leverage of the bracket from the wall. The shelf should only be slightly wider than the supporting arm of the bracket to ensure it can take the load.

Individual shelving brackets can be fixed directly onto a wall using wall plugs, but some people choose to fit vertical pieces of wood to the wall first, then screwing the brackets onto the wood.

Built-in shelving is set into a wall. Usually it means an existing alcove or archway has had screws secured to its sides and a shelf fitted above. It’s one of the simplest forms of shelving, and is a great way of utilising otherwise-wasted space. If you have an available alcove or archway, perhaps next to a chimney breast, these types of shelves are some of the easiest to erect. While the shelving is limited by the width of the opening, you can use different heights of shelving to make them more versatile.

Obstacles to Success

No matter what type of shelving you go for, there are a number of plausible reasons why your DIY efforts could fail. If the shelf is over-used, and too much weight is placed on it the brackets can bend. This is why considering shelf use beforehand is so crucial. The only way you can make sure that this doesn’t occur is to buy the appropriate brackets for the load.

Another common problem is that fixing screws will fall out of the wall. This could be because the screws used were too short or that they were not installed properly. You should make the wall fixings as secure as possible. The best way to do this depends ultimately on the type of wall you are dealing with.

The other common shelf problem is that the shelf begins to sag; the brackets are secure and in place, but because they are too far apart the shelf begins to sag under a heavy load. This is all about using the right material and installing the right number of brackets. Again, it’s crucial to carefully consider the load any shelf should be able to take, and invest appropriately in shelving material and adequate brackets.

If it all sounds too difficult, then you could always consider free-standing shelving units. Low cost and lightweight shelving solutions such as chrome wire racks can save you an awful lot of time and bother.

Alan Derry writes on a number of subjects including installing chrome shelves  and using wire racks for storage.