How to Install a Metal Shelf Bracket into Drywall

shelf on wall with metal brackets and orange light
  • 1-3 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 50-100
What You'll Need
Metal Brackets
Drywall Anchors
Stud Detector

A metal shelf bracket is a great way to get some extra use out of your home's wall space. Despite their simple design, metal brackets can be used very effectively to turn a bland wall into a useful storage space. While making holes in drywall to install them is a little bit tricky, it is nothing you can't do if you're armed with the right knowledge and equipment. What follows should give you everything you need to know to start installing metal shelf brackets and using them to make new shelves.

Step 1 - Planning the Bracket Placement

Unfortunately, drywall is not the strongest building material. Because of this, it is not usually strong enough to support a shelf. However, there are tools and strategies you can use to get around the inherent weakness of drywall.

A very simple strategy you can use to strengthen your wall brackets is attaching them to a stud instead of drywall. Use a stud detector to locate one that is conveniently placed. A simple one will do, so don't go overboard trying to buy the most complicated model, assuming you don't have one already.

Step 2 - Taking Measurements

Once you have found all of the studs in the area where you're going to install the shelf, you can begin planning your specifics. Use your level to draw a line parallel to the ground on the wall, lightly in pencil. Align one of the brackets with this line and mark the spots where you plan to put brackets. Line these spots up with wall studs if it's convenient. If you can't, or you didn't even find any wall studs, this is fine, but it is ideal.

Step 3 - Attaching the Brackets

When attaching brackets, start off with the ones you couldn't place on top of a wall stud. For these brackets, you will have to use drywall anchors in addition to ordinary screws. Set up one bracket as if you were going to use a screwdriver to attach it. However, instead of a screwdriver and a screw, the best thing to use here is a drill (either electric or hand powered) and a screwdriver head.

Fasten the bracket to the wall with the drywall anchors. Tighten them relatively far, but not all the way. It is important that you are able to fix any small errors after installing brackets.

Repeat the process for every bracket that is installed on drywall.

Step 4 - Adjusting the Brackets

Check each bracket carefully against the measurements and marks you have made. You may want to get out your level again for this step to be thorough. If your metal shelf brackets all pass inspection, proceed, but if any of them are not perfectly aligned, fix them. Small errors can make your shelf unusable.

Step 5 - Securing the Brackets

Once you're sure your brackets are placed correctly, use a screwdriver and screws to attach the remaining brackets to the wall studs, and the drywall anchors to the wall.