How to Install Floating Shelves


How to Build and Install Floating Shelves

If you just read my tutorial on Building Floating Shelves, you are ready to install.  If not, you might want to read that one.  ;-)  There are quite a few ways to secure floating shelves, I’m using one of the easiest ways which is to simply build a hollow box that slides onto a cleat that is secured to the wall.  If putting floating shelves kitchen backsplash, install the cleats before you tile.  You don’t want to have to drill THROUGH the tile to find the studs.

How to attach floating shelves


1.  Attach 2×2 cleats to the wall

  • Cut a 2×2 long enough to insert the hollow part of your floating shelves.
  • Secure cleat to wall with 3″ screws.  Make sure to level cleat before securing.
  • Make sure you hit at least 2 studs per shelf or use heavy duty anchor fasteners.
  • Leave your vent hood in place while positioning your shelf cleats to make sure your shelf placement looks good with the hood.  
  • Level the cleats all the way across the wall with a long level if you are putting shelves on both sides of your hood.

How to Build and Install Floating Shelves

2.  Electrical rough-in (if adding lights)

  • Pull electrical cable through cleats now if you are planning on adding lights to your floating shelves.  If you have to make additional holes in your drywall to get the cable to where you need it to be you need to do that before tile goes in!

How to Build and Install Floating Shelves

3.  Add another row of 2×2 to your cleats for good measure.

  • You might have noticed that my cleats look deeper than they do tall.   I secured a second 2×2 to give my shelves a little more to sit on.  I’m planning on putting breakables on my shelves and I don’t want them flimsily secured.  I want them rock solid!

4.  Tile around  cleats now if you are adding tile.

How to Build and Install Floating Shelves

5.  Center shelf over cleat and push

  • It should be a snug fit.

How to Install Floating Shelves

6.  Secure with nails or screws

  • Secure the shelves to the cleats with screws or nails in an inconspicuous area like the top if the shelf is high or bottom if it is low.

How to Install Floating Shelves

Related posts:  

How to BUILD floating shelves

How to build U shaped floating shelves


  1. Felicita says:

    Thanks for sharing this Technique that helps to Install Easily Floating Shelves

  2. May I ask, did you cut the tiles around the cleats? Or loosen them and tile ‘underneath’?

  3. Love your shelves. As always you are perfection. Can you tell me how strong are these since you only have a back cleat? Would this same type of construction work for doing a 3 sided mantle on a fireplace?

    • Having cleats on three sides of a shelf (or mantle in this case) would provide extra strength to the support however, I imagine you wouldn’t create a 2″tall mantle. With a taller shelf or mantle, I would use a French cleat.

  4. MarieRoxanne says:

    I love floating shelves, some brackets could be pretty ugly.

  5. This is very dangerous to bury electrical cables inside wooden boxes. I hope they aren’t live.

    • Eric, They are not live at the moment. My electrician is coming to hook up LED puck lights that will be recessed into the box. t’s not dangerous to have electrical cable inside a wooden box nor is it dangerous to have lights that are made for the application — to be recessed into a wooden box, cabinet, soffit, ext. It’s all good.

  6. kim massa says:

    everything looks great but how are you not just falling over exhausted with all that you do? Keep it up, what ever it is!!

  7. but where did the electrical wires go?

    • My shelves are not secured permanently yet. My electrician is going to hook up recessed LED puck lights. The cables are dead right now.

  8. Great job! Love the tile too. It is going to look fabulous!