How to Build Your Own Floating Shelves

Learn how to build your own floating shelves with this easy to follow tutorial.

There are two main type of open shelves that everyone wants in their homes: built-in shelving and floating shelves. Since we did both DIYs in our recent modern bathroom renovation, I wanted to share the tutorials. Last week I shared the Built-In Shelving secrets, and this week I’m showing you had we built our own floating shelves.

These DIY floating shelves come together quick and require few materials.

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If you already have a saw and a couple of clamps, it costs next to nothing to build your own shelves! You can’t always buy shelves that fit perfectly into your space either, but this is a way to ensure that your shelves are the perfect size!


2×2 wood boards
Wood Stain of Your Choice
Pine shelf board (or MDF)
Painters Tape
Drywall Anchors (if you don’t have studs)
Wood Putty


Table Saw
Mitre Saw
Nail Gun and Finish Nails

How do you Build Floating Shelves?

The first step is to determine location on wall and mark out using painters tape.

Start building your floating shelves by choosing a location on the wall and marking it with painters tape.

Locate the wall studs and mark out your studs on painters tape. If you don’t have a stud intersecting with the location of the shelf on all 3 of your walls you can use drywall anchors.  Ensure that you have at least two studs or a drywall anchors on each wall for a minimum of two connection points (6 in total). If you plan to place heavy objects on the floating shelves you may consider having more connection points.

Take your measurements and figure out the depth of your shelves using a frame.

Measure the width of the wall behind the floating shelves, take this measurement and subtract 1/4″ (this will allow 1/8″ of gap between the shelf and wall on each side). Then determine the depth of the shelf, we went with 8″. Build a 2×2 rectangular frame using these measurements.

Install your brace to the wall ensuring it is level first.

Install your 2×2 bracing at the correct height. Ensure that you have a screw connection to a stud or drywall anchor on each end of the 2x2s. Check that your brace is level prior to attaching it to the wall.

This natural, pine wood is great for floating shelves and can be stained.

We wanted a natural wood look so we used pine shelving boards that we could stain; however, if you plan to paint your shelves you can use MDF. Cut your three boards for the top, front, and bottom of your shelf. Cut the top and bottom boards to the width above, but add the thickness of the material you are using to your measurements. The front board will be the outside dimensions of your shelf (including thickness of the top and bottom materials).

Pick a wood finish of your choosing to stain your materials before installing the floating shelves.

For the top and bottom boards cut a 45 deg mitre at the end that meets the front board. For the front board cut a 45 deg mitre on the top of bottom (you can see the small front board, with two 45 deg mitres in the second row in the photo above).

Polycrylic is great for protecting wood after staining.

We stained our boards with my favourite natural stain, and then protected them with Polycrylic.

Use wood putty to fill the nail holes and any gaps between your mitres.

Install your finished boards to the 2x2s, using a nail gun and finish nails. Once the shelf is installed, use wood putty to fill the nail holes and any gaps between your mitres. Use caulking to fill any gaps between the wall and shelf.

Fill up those shelves and enjoy your new modern floating shelves!

Fill your finished floating shelves with fresh plants and storage. These floating shelves are great for extra bathroom storage. Candles and other decor pieces look great on the floating shelves. The natural look of these wooden floating shelves compliments the minimalist bathroom.

These shelves are exactly what I wanted! You can’t find custom built shelves like this anywhere! I’m SO happy with how the project turned out :)

You can also learn how to easily make Built-In Shelves!

These DIY wooden shelves add a farmhouse element to this modern bathroom.

If you haven’t see it, be sure to check out the full Bathroom Renovation!

The DIY wooden shelves pair well with the wooden borders of the bathroom mirrors.

11 thoughts on “How to Build Your Own Floating Shelves

  1. They are so gorgeous in your bathroom! Love the tutorial, and hopefully I’ll have a reason to use it in the near future! Thanks for sharing it with us on The Creative Circle Link Party!

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