DIY Wall Shelves: How to Build Homemade Wall Shelves with Minimal Effort

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As you may already know, I've always been a fan of homemade DIY projects. My next project and probably my favorite things to build are shelves, especially wall shelves.

Not only they are a practical storage solution, but they can also add a decorative touch to your room. Whether you're looking for a place to display your favorite books, or you need a spot to store your knick-knacks, DIY wall shelves are a great way to add some personality to your room.

There are hundreds of DIY wall shelves to choose from, which makes them a creative and fun project, since they can be highly customized depending on your needs.

From floating to corner shelves, there's a design out there for every style and preference. Plus, making them by yourself, allow you to customize them to fit your exact preferences.

Whether you want to go for a minimalist look or something more modern, you can create a shelf that's perfect for your space.

Required Tools and Materials



When it comes to building DIY wall shelves, you'll need some basic tools. Here are the tools I recommend:

Power drillFor drilling pilot holes and driving screws
Circular saw or jigsawFor cutting boards to size
LevelFor ensuring shelves are straight
Stud finderTo locate studs in the wall for secure mounting
Measuring tapeFor taking accurate measurements
PencilFor marking where to drill and cut
Safety gogglesTo protect your eyes from sawdust

Required Materials

The materials you'll need for building DIY wall shelves will depend on the project you choose to go for. Here are some common materials you may need:

  • Wood Boards: Choose boards that are sturdy enough to hold the weight of the items you plan to store on the shelves. Common choices include pine, oak, and plywood.
  • Screws: Use screws that are long enough to go through the shelf and into the wall studs for secure mounting.
  • Wall Anchors: If you can't mount your shelves directly into wall studs, you'll need wall anchors to ensure the shelves stay securely in place.
  • Wood Glue: Use wood glue to reinforce the joints between boards for added stability.
  • Sandpaper: Sand down any rough edges or surfaces on the wood for a smooth finish.
  • Paint or Stain: If you want to add some color or protect the wood, consider painting or staining your shelves.

Planning Your DIY Wall Shelves

When it comes to creating your own DIY wall shelves, planning is key. Before you start cutting and assembling, it's important to consider the design, measurements, and markings that will ensure your shelves are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Design Considerations

When it comes to designing, think before about the purpose you will use them and the space they will need.

Consider the weight of the items you will place on them and the size of the objects. This will help you determine the type of material and the size of the shelves you will need.

You should also consider the style of your shelves. Do you want them to blend in with the existing decor or stand out from the other objects? Will they be floating shelves or attached to brackets? These design choices will affect the overall look of your shelves and should be considered before you start building.

Measuring and Marking

Once you have a clear idea of the design, it's time to start measuring and marking. Measure the space where your shelves will be installed and determine the height, width, and depth of your shelves. Use a level tool to make sure that your shelves will be straight.

When marking your shelves, be precise. Use a ruler or measuring tape to ensure that your markings are accurate. If you are using brackets, mark where the brackets will be installed and ensure that they are level. Double-check your measurements and markings before you start cutting and drilling.

In summary, careful planning is essential when creating your own DIY wall shelves. Consider the design and style of your shelves, as well as the weight and size of the items they will hold. Be precise when measuring and marking to ensure that your shelves are functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Building Your Homemade DIY Wall Shelves

In this section, I'll walk you through the process of building the wall shelves, from cutting the boards to attaching them to the wall.

Cutting the Boards

To start, you'll need to measure and cut your shelves to the desired length. You can use a saw or a circular saw for this task, depending on the material you're using. Make sure to wear safety goggles and gloves to protect yourself while cutting.

Once you have your shelves cut to size, you can sand the edges to smooth them out. This will prevent any splinters or rough edges from damaging your walls.

Assembling the Shelves

Next, you'll need to assemble your shelves. This will involve attaching the brackets or supports to the shelves. You can use screws, nails, or brackets, depending on the design of your shelves.

If you're using brackets, make sure to attach them securely. You can use a level to ensure that your shelves are even and straight.

Attaching the Shelves to the Wall


Finally, it's time to attach your shelves to the wall. You'll need to locate the studs in your wall and mark their position. Use screws or brackets to attach your shelves to the wall, making sure to attach them to the studs for maximum support.

If you're not able to locate studs, you can use drywall anchors to secure them to the wall. Make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for installing the anchors.

Finishing the Wall Shelves

Once you have finished building your DIY wall shelves, it's time to decorate them and give the final touches.

Giving the shelves a final protection step, will not only make them look better but also protect them from wear and tear.

Two essential steps to finish are the sanding, smoothing and staining/painting your shelves.

Sanding and Smoothing


Before applying any finish touches to your shelves, you need to sand and smooth them. Sanding will remove any rough spots and create a smooth surface for the finish to adhere to. Here are the steps to sand and smooth your shelves: 

  1. Start with a coarse grit sandpaper (80 or 100 grit) to remove any rough spots or bumps.
  2. Move on to a finer grit sandpaper (150 or 180 grit) to smooth out the surface.
  3. Finish with an even finer grit sandpaper (220 grit) to create a smooth surface.

After sanding, wipe them with a clean cloth to remove any dust or debris.

Staining or Painting Your Shelves

Once you have finished sanding and smoothing, it's time to apply a finish layer. You can either stain or paint your shelves, depending on the look you want to achieve.

Staining Your Shelves

  1. Choose a stain color that complements your decor.
  2. Apply the stain with a brush or cloth, following the manufacturer's instructions.
  3. Wipe off any excess stain with a clean cloth.
  4. Allow the stain to dry completely before applying a second coat (if desired).
  5. Apply a clear coat of polyurethane to protect the shelves from wear and tear.

Painting Your Shelves

  1. Choose a paint color that complements your decor.
  2. Apply a coat of primer to the shelves, following the manufacturer's instructions.
  3. Once the primer is dry, apply a coat of paint, following the manufacturer's instructions.
  4. Allow the paint to dry completely before applying a second coat (if desired).
  5. Apply a clear coat of polyurethane to protect the shelves from wear and tear.

Giving your homemade shelves a finishing layer is an essential step in the building process. Sanding and smoothing your shelves will create a smooth surface for the finish to adhere to, while staining or painting your shelves will protect them from wear and tear and give them a nice, finished look.

Decorating the Homemade DIY Wall Shelves


Once you have finished built your DIY wall shelves, you might be wondering how to decorate them. In this section, I will share some tips and ideas on how to decorate your shelves and make them look beautiful and functional.

Best Tips to Arrange the Shelves

Before you start decorating your shelves, it's important to think about how you want to arrange them. Here are some tips:

  • Group items together: Grouping items together can create a cohesive look and make your shelves look more organized. For example, you could group books together, or group decorative items together.
  • Vary the heights: Varying the heights of your items can create visual interest. For example, you could place a tall vase next to a short stack of books.
  • Use odd numbers: Using odd numbers of items can create a more visually pleasing arrangement. For example, you could place three items on one shelf, and five items on another.

Adding Decorative Items

Once you have arranged your shelves, you can start adding decorative touches. Here are some ideas:

  • Plants: Adding plants can add a pop of color and make your shelves feel more alive. You could use potted plants or hang plants in macrame hangers.
  • Artwork: Hanging artwork on your shelves can make them feel more like a gallery wall. You could hang a mix of prints and photographs, or create a theme with your artwork.
  • Decorative objects: Adding decorative objects to your shelves can add personality and interest. You could use items like vases, candles, or figurines.
  • Books: Books can be both functional and decorative. You could use them to add color or texture to your shelves, or use them to display your favorite titles.

In conclusion, decorating your DIY wall shelves can be a fun and creative process. By arranging thoughtfully and adding decorative touches, you can create a beautiful and functional display.

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