5 Things to Consider When Selecting Your Floating Shelf, Floating Mantel, or Floating Desk Hardware

5 Things to Consider When Selecting Your Floating Shelf, Floating Mantel, or Floating Desk Hardware


Need help getting the right floating hardware? Here are five things to consider before you order:

1. Location - Where am I mounting the shelf?

Consider the structure you are mounting the shelf to. Is it on a finished surface? If so, what is going on behind the drywall? This is a good time to investigate with a stud finder. Knowing where your wall supports are will better inform your decisions when it comes to length and placement. A key point here is that floating anything requires mounting into studs if it is to carry real weight. You can get away with not fastening into studs only when your floating shelves are VERY light and carrying nominal loads. If in doubt about any of that, fasten into a stud.

Another location consideration is if it will be mounted on an unfinished surface? Am I installing tile around the shelf? Planning ahead before doing the finish work will make the whole project run more smoothly. Typically installing brackets and shelves before tile makes the installation stronger, is generally easier--and of course this is an opinion--but we think it looks cleaner, and much better.

2. Capacity - How much weight does my shelf need to hold?

What am I putting on my shelves? Take an inventory of how much weight you feel each object may need for support. Knowing how much weight you will be placing on the shelf will help you plan for the worst case scenario. Always plan to err on the side of more capacity.

Keep in mind the dimensions of your items. If you had some bookend speakers, you would need to plan for the depth of the speaker along with the wires from the back. There are many considerations for what goes on the shelf. Again, planning for the use of the shelf in terms of capacity, will help inform your hardware purchase.

For some more info on shelf capacity, see "How much weight can a floating shelf hold?"

3. Dimensions - What is my shelf thickness, length and depth, and which bracket will fit?

Now that you have an idea of what the shelf is mounting to and what it’s holding, it’s time to nail down the shelf dimensions and the bracket dimensions. Start with your shelves first. I don't have tons of info for you here, since I don't live with you. My best advice is to 1. leave enough "white space" around them (which is open for interpretation) and 2. gets lots of inspiration. For good floating shelf ideas, check out our Instagram account. 3. With inspiration in mind, take your time and draw it out or use blue painters tape to "draw" directly on your walls to figure out dimensions. 4. Talk to friends and vet your ideas until you are stoked with the plan. Once your shelves have dimensions you are ready to select the right brackets.

When selecting dimensions for a floating shelf bracket, our recommended rule of thumb is to select a bracket that is at least 4” shorter than your overall shelf length and 1/2" thinner than your shelf is thick. This keeps the bracket fully hidden inside the shelf and incidentally, gives you enough room to install the bracket without going crazy.

Next, keep in mind that the longer your floating shelf bracket is, the more support rods will be on it, which means the more support the bracket will give. For example, a 22” heavy duty floating shelf bracket will have 2 rods that support 45 lbs each, for 90 lbs of support. A 78” heavy duty floating shelf bracket, on the other hand, will have 5 rods on it at 45 lbs each, for 225lbs of support. This spec sheet may help visually clarify how this works. The gist of this is that adding rods to any bracket will make it stronger and, most importantly, this is the central idea behind selecting an appropriate floating bracket for your project. I realize that saying the following is a sales pitch, but we can also quickly customize any bracket to meet your specific needs: add/move rods, add mounting holes, change any dimension, (hey, its what we do).

Finally, keeping the shelf depth as shallow as possible will also add to the overall strength. General rule: go only as deep as you need, otherwise you are wasting capacity. We have a lot more posted here: "How much weight can a floating shelf hold? " The great news is, we’ve got a bracket to match your shelf thickness and length. Check these out if you want.

4. Bracket Construction & Precision - What am I buying?

Brackets that are straight, square and welded correctly are the strongest and easiest to use. Beware of brackets welded in a garage by your favorite insta-maker. They will neither be accurate, square nor strong consistently. You get what you pay for 100% in the world of floating shelves, mantels and desks. Quality and consistency come by by using hyper-accurate laser cut parts and professionally engineered welding processes. Every Shelfology floating shelf bracket, floating mantel bracket, floating desk bracket or any other bracket we sell has been thoroughly engineered and tested for strength and stress, precision cut to .002", and quality checked three times before leaving our shops.

Furthermore, the processes we use are THE standard in our industry. We guarantee accuracy and strength every time. I realize this just turned into another sales pitch, but we quite literally are writing the book on floating shelf brackets and floating anything. We started this whole high strength floating shelf bracket game almost seven years ago and we are proud to be very knowledgeable in this area. We would hate for you to waste your time and money trying to use inferior products. Use high quality brackets and you get high quality results. OK, sales pitch over. For more detailed info on our bracket construction please check out this post - "Floating Shelf Bracket 101" It goes more in depth about our solid welded construction, support rods, number of rods, bracket thickness, and bracket lengths.

5. Easy Installation - How will I seamlessly install my shelves?

With our precision bracket construction you can install your shelves like a pro. Here are some helpful links for installing your brackets and shelves:

Check out lots of video tutorials about installing & building floating shelves here

Aksel Floating Shelf Bracket Install Guide [PDF]

Aksel Floating Shelf System Install Guide [PDF]

Glenn Floating Mantel Bracket Install Guide [PDF]

If you have installation or product questions, our incredibly knowledgeable shelf geeks are available to discuss your project or answer any questions at any time. Reach out here. We also have a small library of install guides for all of our shelf, hook, and bracket products. See each product page for downloads

Quick Recap! - Am I ready to order my floating shelf hardware?

These five things will help inform your purchase:

1. Location (Where am I mounting the shelf?)

2. Capacity (How much weight does my shelf need to hold?)

3. Dimensions (What is my shelf thickness, length and depth, and which bracket will fit?)

4. Bracket Construction & Precision (What am I buying?)

5. Easy installation (How will I seamlessly install my shelves?)

I should also say, that if you hate the idea of building shelves from scratch and putting our brackets into them--which is what the article was written for--you can also just purchase ready-to-hang fully finished floating shelf or mantel kits. Just sayin.