DIY shelves on plasterboard

Updated February 21, 2017

Shelves can add decorative and useful elements to all the rooms in a home. The choice of brackets ranges from utilitarian to eloquent. Floating shelves appear to attach to the walls with no support. Plasterboard can support shelves with the proper anchors or if they're attached to the studs, which is recommended if the shelves must support heavy objects.

Measure the height of the objects you are planning to place on the shelf. Make light pencil marks on the plasterboard wall where you plan to install it. Check the marks for level and draw a light line on the wall for the top edge of the shelf. Apply masking tape to the line. Measure the height of the tallest object that will be on the shelf and stick a piece of masking tape to the wall to mark the top. Stand back and determine if the shelf height is satisfactory. Make any needed adjustments and remove the masking tape.

Locate the studs behind the plasterboard. Mark the location of the studs with masking tape. Plan to install the brackets into the studs if possible. Measure the thickness of your shelf. The top of the bracket installs beneath your marked line to allow for the thickness of your shelf.

Hold the bracket against the wall and mark the screw locations on the studs. Drill a pilot hole for the screws with a drill bit that is smaller than the diameter of the screws . Secure the bracket to the studs with a screwdriver or drill driver. Some brackets have holes for securing the shelf to the bracket. Drill a pilot hole into the shelf to avoid splintering the shelf material.

Secure shelf brackets that are located between the studs with expanding wall anchors. Drill a pilot hole into the drywall with the size of drill bit recommended on the anchor package. Tap the anchor into the drilled opening. Install the screws through the holes in the bracket into the wall anchors. Over-tightening the screws will cause the anchor to collapse or pull out of the plasterboard. Place lightweight objects on shelves that mount on the plasterboard and not into the studs.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Masking tape
  • Stud finder
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Screwdriver
  • Plasterboard anchors
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About the Author

Myra Smith has retired from the business world after successfully working as a manager in the accounting field over twenty years. Smith received her education in Texas (high school) and Missouri (University of Missouri) business courses offered by employer. Smith has now embarked on an exciting second career as a writer for Demand Studios. Smith writes articles in the Home and Garden section.