Cost for six shelves: £50 vs. £150 (cheapest price we found for made to measure floating shelves online.)

Skill level required: Very little, only the ability to use a drill and a saw.

Time: 1-2 days.

Please note: The instructions below assume you will be building your floating shelves in an alcove. If you plan to do otherwise however, the process only becomes easier so these instructions would still work for you.

Step 1

Decide on how many shelves you need, what you're going to put on them and at what height. What you're planning on using your shelves to store has obvious implications for the distance between them.

TIP: Take into account the size of your drill! It will need to fit (vertically) between the shelves during the process.

Step 2

Using a pencil and spirit level, mark out the position in which you would like your floating shelves. If your shelves are going in two symmetrical alcoves, follow the line around to ensure shelves are at the same level either side.

Step 3

Measure your alcove(s) and draw a sketch of your shelves with the dimensions. The sketch should be compromised of 4 batons (one long baton the width of the back wall, two smaller batons the width of the alcove sides minus the width of shelf face timber strip, and a fourth and final baton of the same size to be screwed in the centre for strength and support). Then draw two rectangular cuts of mdf, the shelf top and bottom. These rectangles will fit the dimensions of the alcove minus the shelf face timber strip width.

Step 4

Do your maths and times the dimensions of one shelf by the number of shelves you want per alcove, this will indicate to you the quantity of materials you will need to purchase.

The dimensions you now have from multiplying one shelf by the number you would like per alcove is fine for roughly working out material quantities. However, don’t forget to measure the dimensions for the position of each individual shelf. Remember that if you're going to be off by a few mm then its better to have materials that are too big than too small. If any of your batons or mdf does turn out to be too big you can always shave it down with a wood plane or saw!

Step 5

Get your timber and mdf cut in store, or go elsewhere if the supplier doesn’t offer this as a service. Just give them your measurements and they'll cut everything up nicely to size for you. They won't charge per square foot/metre, so it's important you've browsed the dimensions of timber and mdf they offer and done you maths beforehand, to know how much you'll need.

Step 6

Fix your timber batons to the wall, not forgetting to screw in the central, support baton to the long, back wall baton before hand.

  • Select an appropriate drill-bit for the screws and drill plugs you've purchased. Remember the screw needs to be long enough to go through the baton and still have a good hold in the wall.
  • Drill a couple of holes in your batons
  • Using the sharp point of a drill-bit, hold your batons in position and mark on where you'll drill into the wall
  • Drill with the same drill-bit used for the baton holes and insert your drill plug
  • Hold your baton over the holes in the wall, and screw it into position.
  • Repeat process for the other batons.

Step 7

Screw in your mdf shelf top and bottoms. Starting with the highest shelf, rest the shelf top on the batons. Attach a very small drill bit to your drill and proceed to drill tiny holes through the mdf into the batons. Using the small, headless screws and an appropriate screw driver, fit the shelf top in place.

Repeat this process for the shelf bottom. You may need assistance in holding up the shelf bottom whilst fitting it. Repeat the process for the lower shelves.

Step 8

Fit the shelf face timber panel by screwing it into the batons. This wood should be of better quality than that used for the batons because, unlike the batons, this will be the most highly visible part of the shelf. When in place it should be plush with the sides of the alcove.

Step 9

Fill any small gaps and holes made by the screws, sand your shelves down and paint them in appropriate wood paint.

Step 10

Sit back and admire your new floating shelves!

A DIY floating shelf

How to floating shelves - see how it hovers