How to Hang a Wall Shelving Unit

Updated February 21, 2017

Installing wood wall-hanging shelving units is a simple procedure that doesn't require special tools or advanced carpentry skills. Hanging a lightweight shelf unit is a one-person job that can be accomplished in an hour, but it's a good idea to enlist help if the shelf unit is heavy or cumbersome. With proper installation, your shelving unit will look as if it had been installed by a pro.

Use a stud finder to locate wall studs and faintly mark their locations on the wall just above where you want to position the top of the shelving unit.

Determine the height and lateral position for shelf-unit installation. Mark a faint vertical chalk line on the wall where the top centre of the shelving unit will be. Using a level as a straight edge, draw a faint horizontal reference line on the wall, indicating the position of the top of the shelving unit. Measure and mark the centre of the top of the shelving unit.

Position the shelving unit so its top is aligned with the horizontal reference line on the wall, and the centre of the unit is aligned with the centre mark on the wall.

Mark the positions of the wall studs on the top of the shelving unit. Take the shelving unit down.

Measure and note the distance between the lateral sides of the unit to the stud position marks. Transfer these measurements, and mark stud positions in the middle and bottom of the shelving unit.

Using a countersink bit, pre-drill pilot holes through the stud position marks.

Replace the countersink bit with a standard wood-drilling bit.

Reposition the shelving unit on the wall, levelled and aligned to the centre mark. Holding the unit in place, drill a hole through pilot hole close to one side of the shelving unit, at least one inch into the wall stud.

Use a driver bit and screw to attach the unit to the wall.

Recheck to make sure that the unit still is level.

Drill through another pilot hole into a stud on the opposite side of the shelving unit, and attach with a screw.

Drill through each of the pilot holes into the studs. Securely affix the shelving unit to the wall with screws.

Fill the holes left by the countersink bit with wood putty. Wipe off excess putty before it dries. Once the putty is dry, apply paint or stain to the putty to match the shelving unit.


Screws should be long enough to pass through the shelf backing plus two inches into the wall. A quick-change drill/driver bit makes this job go faster. If the shelf backing is made of a thin wood, do not countersink the pilot holes; instead, install cabinet washers between the screw head and the shelf backing in inconspicuous locations.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Stud finder
  • Carpenter's level
  • Chalk pencil
  • Drill with drilling and driving bits
  • Countersink bit
  • Wood putty
  • Paint or stain
  • Small paintbrush
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About the Author

Denise Nyland "Denisen" is a long term resident of Panama City, Fla. She studied radiologic sciences and education and has published articles in multiple professional journals and contributed to various educational texts.