The Top 10 Questions Asked About Floating Shelves and Floating Mantels

The Top 10 Questions Asked About Floating Shelves and Floating Mantels


We have had many of you reach out with great questions about our products. Here are the top ten questions asked about floating shelves and floating mantels:

1. How much weight will the bracket hold?

Knowing how much weight our brackets hold is key to designing a high performing, good looking, appropriately sized floating shelf for your situation. To fully understand the different weight capacities, it helps to know the parts of the bracket and how they influence overall weight capacity.

Almost every floating bracket we make is composed of two parts, a mounting plate and support rods. For shelves and mantels we call the mounting plate a "back bar"

Backbar - This is the long strip of metal that holds the rods for supporting the shelf and is what we drive the screws through to mount onto a wall. The metal back bar is the foundation of the floating shelf. Quite literally, everything is hanging on it. The thickness and height of the backbar add strength and prevent lengthwise sag. Taller/thicker back bars = stronger.

Horizontal support rods - The rods act as internal support for the shelf itself. They prevent the shelf from tipping downward or sagging front to back. The weight capacity of the rods and ultimately the entire shelf, depend on the rod diameter and the number of rods on the bracket. Larger diameter rods or more of them = stronger bracket = stronger floating shelf or floating mantel.

The proper explanation of how the strength of each bracket is determined is overly complicated, so we have distilled it into basically one metric--Pounds of capacity per rod. So, to get the weight capacity of any bracket, simply count rods and multiply by individual rod capacity. Don't worry we do this for you everywhere on our website, but you can still use this concept to customize more capacity into a stock bracket or to play with different bracket sizes to achieve your desired floating shelf specs. Its quite helpful.

(Our friend, Eric G is going to replace the lame list below very soon, with a sweet chart that is way more informative)

The following is a summary of our bracket range and weight capacities:

LD (Light Duty) We use ½” Solid rods & ¼” Backbar (~ 35 Lbs / Rod) Thin Shelves

MD (Medium Duty) ⅝” Solid rods & ¼” Backbar (~ 45 Lbs / Rod) Thin Shelves

HD (Heavy Duty) ¾” Hollow Rods & ¼” Backbar (~45 Lbs / Rod) 2” thick shelves

XD (Extra Duty) ¾” Solid Rods & ⅜” Backbar (~55 Lbs / Rod)(For reduced torsional flex)

For more info, we've got a whole article on this here.

2. How long should the bracket be in comparison to my shelf?

To answer this question you need to strike a balance between two factors. The bracket needs to be 1. long enough to get maximum contact points into the wall, yet 2. short enough to fit beautifully inside your shelf. Our recommendation is making the shelf 2"-4” longer than the bracket you need, or vice versa, select a bracket that is at least 2"-4” shorter than your shelf is long. This balances out for 95% of floating shelf or floating mantel situations. For the other 5% you can go as short at 1" shorter than your shelf or mantel--but it makes fitting the bracket really tight, less room for error--or we can make you something custom.

3. How does the bracket hide behind the shelf?

What strange magic is this? How can we hide the hardware? This is a very important feature of a floating shelf! We wish we could just tell you it is wizardry and leave it at that, but to be honest it is much cooler than wizardry--it’s woodworking!

It is all about how the shelf is milled (How the space for the bracket is carved out of the back of the wood slab to hide the bracket). Imagine the shelf as a glove and the bracket as a hand. The glove slides snuggly over the fingers and covers everything. In the same way the shelf covers the bracket and rods leaving just the back side of the bracket exposed.

When you are ready to install your shelf, you install the bracket first, then slide the shelf over the bracket. Once they are together the bracket disappears from sight and presto! Now you have a magically "floating" shelf.

(Our friend Steve D is going to put in a sweet image here that illustrates the above point very soon)

4. What size of screws do I use to mount the bracket to the wall?

Having the right size screw for installing your brackets is crucial. There are many on the market, but a lot of weight is depending on this decision, literally! We recommend a strong #10 - 2 ½” torque screw like the GRK R4 Multi-Purpose Screw. These screws are freaking amazing! They have proven to be one of the most reliable and compatible screws to get the job done right, the first time. In testing, the wood will break long before the screw will. Boom. Thats all we needed to know to use these on every installation (you're welcome).

You can check out some of our other recommended hardware here.

5. What size drill bit do I use to drill the holes for the rods to go into, in a solid wood shelf--assuming I am making my own?

First, use the right drill bit. Use a forschner bit with a 6” extension. Size it 1/16” larger than the diameter of the rod on the bracket. We have six different floating shelf and floating mantel bracket weight classes, which all correspond to different rod diameters. So, short answer: there are several drill bit sizes to choose from. Check out this handy chart for details:

(Our friend Eric G is going to add another sweet chart about sizing drill bits, right here very soon. It will be so sweet you will forget you read this)

6. How do I secure the shelf to the bracket?

There is more to floating shelves than simply sliding the shelf onto the bracket. Somehow it needs to be secured to the dang thing. There are a couple ways to do this.

Silicone: If screws aren’t your thing and you need an absolutely clean look on the top of the shelf, silicone is an ideal option to lock the shelf onto the bracket. Just a few dabs on the rods and a gloop into each hole before sliding the shelf on will secure the shelf. We recommend DAP Silicone Clear - Window Door & Siding. Apply silicone, don’t mess with the shelf until it sets--a few hours. In 24 hours, the silicone will be fully cured and your shelf will be locked down for life.

(Our friend Steve D is going to add an amazing drawing of silicone glooping into rod holes here, very soon. Get ready to live.)

Set Screws:If you don’t mind a little elbow grease and a couple of screws on the top of your shelf (Which can easily be covered by placing things on the shelf--which you are going to do anyway) then this is definitely for you. This is also a great solution if you want to take your shelves with you when you move. We recommend that you use a #8 x 1” fine thread wood screw. Drill a pilot hole with a 5/32” bit and countersink with a ⅜” countersink bit. Option B is use a #10 x 1” fine thread wood screw and pilot with a 3/16” drill bit and countersink with the same ⅜” countersink. Two screws per shelf is more than enough. We recommend you only drill the outside rods of the bracket.

(Our friend Steve D is going to be busy, because he is also going to put a drawing of set screws here for your information and enjoyment)

Step by step details HERE if you go the set screw route (this is a forthcoming blog so stay tuned).

7. Can I install the bracket over drywall?

Yes! This is the easiest and most common type of installation! It has been done by thousands of extremely talented, good looking people like you. The key is to locate the studs behind the wall. Use a stud finder, nail, or thin drill bit (spinning of course) to find every stud behind your shelf. Mount into each stud and use drywall anchors in every other available hole. Check out our how-to videos here.

8. Do the brackets need to be installed into wall studs?

Let me answer that with a question of my own. Does a shelf geek geek out on shelves? Yep. Yes. Definitely. Studs are 100% critical to floating anything, especially a shelf, mantel or desk. If you just put a floating shelf up without hitting any studs you will end up with a lot of drywall holes and a damaged shelf on the floor. Drywall anchors have nowhere near the strength you need to support a shelf. So screw into at least two studs, then install drywall anchors into every other available hole. If the holes in the bracket do not line up with the studs in the walls (because of the unique construction of the wall) it is absolutely ok to drill a hole through the bracket back bar so you can hit a stud. In fact we recommend that you attach into every stud your bracket crosses. If you use every secure attachment opportunity you get the best, strongest results.

Do you know what is even stronger? Blocking. Blocking is horizontal wood pieces spanning between studs. If you have blocking behind your shelf, you can put a screw into solid wood, through EVERY. HOLE. IN. THE. BRACKET. No, Im not yelling, but this method is BY FAR, the strongest way to install a floating shelf or floating mantel. Indulge your eyeballs on these images below for further clarity:

Our friend Steve D is going to repurpose two existing images about studs and blocking here

9. Do you sell the wood shelf or do I have to make my own?

Short answer: heck yes, Napoleon. Long answer/sales pitch: as Devo says, “Use your freedom of choice!” We agree and we have given you that freedom (in terms of shelves). You can make your own shelf if you must, but if you want to save yourself time and effort, we will be happy to make you a turnkey, ready-to-hang , heirloom quality set of floating shelves or a floating mantel, customized to your specific tastes. We also do it dang fast. Check these out. Or these . Whether you are building shelves or mantels yourself and need hardware and advice or just need a finished shelf product, our excellent team has you covered. You choose.

10. When will my order ship?

Speaking of our excellent team, you may be wondering how long it takes to get what you have ordered. Our lead times for hardware are generally same day to 1 day to ship. Customized floating hardware is usually 1-2 days to ship. And made-to-measure solid hardwood floating shelf kits, modern ultra thin steel floating shelf kits, or floating mantel kits are 1-2 weeks to ship. We hate waiting as much as you and have designed our entire operation to move fast.

We also hate not knowing where our orders are in the production process. So we have glued cool robot looking stuff onto our top customer service agent, Kutler, and turned him into an order information cyborg. KTLR 1.0! He will tell you exactly where your shelves are as they get built. Look for his updates after you order.

If you don't want to wait for us to reach out, you can always reach out to us. Our shelf geeks are at the ready!

Summary

1. How much weight our brackets hold? Revisit the chart above.,

2. Length ratio of brackets vs the shelves? Shelves 2"-4” longer than brackets or vice versa.

3. Hiding a bracket behind the shelf? Yep, milled like a glove.

4. Size of screw for mounting bracket to the wall? #10 x 2-½ GRK R4.

5. Drill bit size for drilling the rod holes? 1/16” larger than the rod diameter.

6. How to secure a shelf and a bracket together? Silicone, or set screws.

7. Can shelves be installed over drywall? Yes! See this video.

8. Do brackets need to be installed in wall studs? Yes! at least 2.

9. Do you sell wood shelves? Yes! See these.

10. When will my order ship? Depends, but very fast! Build updates from KTLR 1.0.