How To Brace Wall Shelves To Hold Heavy Items

Keep your household items neat and organized. Learn how to brace and support wall shelves to hod heavy home and garden supplies.

Is your laundry room a hodgepodge of laundry supplies? Do you find yourself constantly stepping over boxes of laundry detergent and juggling multiple bottles of fabric softener, color brighteners, and bleach? Are you tired of the pandemonium you call your laundry room? The following general tips will help you install a wall shelf to hold all these items and bring order to your laundry room or other rooms in your house or garage.

You don't want a shelf that bows in the middle or is in danger of pulling away from the wall because of the weight of its items. Ensure that doesn't happen by providing the support the shelves need to carry the extra load.

Wall shelf support begins with these considerations--the type of wall you have, the type of wall fasteners you use, and the type of shelf system you attach to the wall.



Will you be attaching a shelf to a solid masonry wall, such as brick or concrete? Use wall anchors designed for a solid wall. You can use a lead anchor for most loads; however, a steel expansion anchor is best for exceptionally heavy ones. Also, don't install a fastener in the mortar between masonry blocks if the fastener will carry a heavy load. The mortar may crumble, causing the fastener to pull out. In addition, put supports at least every 16 inches and keep the overhang less than 8 inches.

On a hollow wall the safest and most secure way to place a shelf is to attach the shelf to wall studs. Studs are the wooden or metal uprights that support the wall and are usually spaced 16 inches from the center on one wall stud to the center of the next. For heavy loads, use sheet metal screws (for metal studs) and wood screws or lag bolts (for wood studs) and screw directly into the stud. If you must place a shelf between studs, use hollow wall anchors or toggle bolts. Plastic anchors are not recommended. Heavy weights on plastic anchors can cause the wall to give way.

Remember, the shelf you install must carry the weight of several heavy laundry containers. A ¾ inch wide shelf will begin to sag at about 2 feet or less depending on the weight of its items. To carry that weight, one alternative is to use shelf supports mounted on the wall behind the shelving. Place a support on every wall stud based on the length of your shelf. For example, use 3 supports (one on each stud) to brace a shelf 4 feet long.

Two ways to do this are to use shelf supports and shelf standards. Shelf supports can be metal brackets or corbels. Corbels are individual wood supports in the shape of a triangle. If using metal brackets, screw them into the wall in an inverted or backwards L so that the top of the brackets are adjacent to the shelf. Both metal shelf supports and corbels are typically used for a single shelf installation or for non-adjustable multiple shelving.

Shelf standards are slotted metal channels. They come in a variety of sizes and finishes and are attached directly to the wall studs with screws or between studs with anchors. The standards have matching shelf supports that snap into the slots at the desired height. The shelves then rest on top of the supports. The length of the support should match the width of the shelving. An advantage to using shelf standards is that they are adjustable.

Another way to strengthen a shelf is to attach a 1x2 or larger wood strip along its front edge. This edge strip reinforces and strengthens the shelf as well as creating a covering for the cut edge of the shelving. For even more support, consider putting a strip under the rear edge of the shelf as well.

So get the stuff off the floor and up on the wall. Attach a wall shelf designed to hold all those heavy boxes and bottles and bring some order to your life""or at least your laundry room.

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