How to Install Shelves in Any Wall in 3 Easy Steps

You probably have been putting off hanging those shelves for awhile now. Weekend after weekend passes, and they are still sealed up in the box. Hanging shelves doesn’t have to be a daunting task. In fact, it’s quite easy when you have the right tools and a good set of directions on hand. 

This guide will walk you through the steps you must take to hang a shelf or shelving system on any type of wall, including hanging shelves on drywall, and the proper tools you’ll need to get the job done. 

Step 1: Locate the studs

You can find a stud behind the wall using an electronic stud finder, or just gently knocking on the wall with your knuckles and listening for a solid support. If your shelves are heavy or you plan on using them to hold a heavy object, installing the shelving into studs will provide optimal holding power.

Of course, a stud is not necessary for all shelving systems. Depending on the product, you can support from 50 to 350 pounds without anchoring directly into a support beam. 

Next, using chalk or a pencil, make directional marks on the wall where you’ll want to screw in the shelves. If you’re using studs, try and make the marks in the center of each stud. Use a measuring tape and a level to ensure the holes you’ll be making will allow the shelf to be straight and level. 

Step 2: Install the right wall anchor 

Using a wall anchor can protect your wall, your shelves, and everything on those shelves. They allow you to hang items without the use of a stud in hollow materials like drywall, and give much more support when used in solid material. So which anchor should you use?

If you are installing into a stud or solid wall, you can’t go wrong with ALLIGATOR® All-Purpose Wall Anchors. This plastic wall anchor provides a stronger hold than most metal anchors, and the ALLIGATOR anchor is weather-resistant and rust proof. It can hold up to 171 pounds in ½” thick walls. Install by drilling a hole the same diameter of the anchor diameter, then push the anchor in and tap flush to wall. Place item over anchor and insert screw. 

If you are mounting shelves on drywall, TOGGLER® has quite a few options for hollow materials that don’t skimp on strength. 

SNAPTOGGLE® Heavy-Duty Toggle Bolts hold up to 356 pounds in ⅝” drywall and 238 pounds in 1⁄2” drywall. Installing this heavy duty drywall anchor is a simple and quick one-person job, and the only tool you’ll need is a drill to create the initial hole. This anchor is perfect for those heavy hardwood shelves, or if the shelf will be holding a heavier object like a printer. 

If you don’t need as heavy duty of a solution, TOGGLER® Plastic Wall Anchors hold up to 159 pounds in ⅝” drywall and 143 pounds in 1⁄2” drywall. When installed in drywall, the supportive wings will anchor behind the wall. This product can also be used in thicker base materials or in a wooden stud, but will act as a wedge anchor in that case. 

If you don’t have a drill, SnapSkru® Self-Drilling Drywall Anchor does just what the name implies, installs without the need of a drill. When activated with a screw, the SnapSkru anchor “pops” into place and will not vibrate, damage the drywall, or loosen and fall out of place over time. This anchor can hold up to 135 lbs in ⅝” drywall. 

Step 3: Hang the shelf

For many of these anchors, you have to insert the screw to ensure the anchor is properly placed. If you have not attached your object with a screw yet, do that following the installation instructions of the bracket you’re using. From there, all you need to do is attach the shelving unit to the bracket. 

When utilizing your new, sturdy shelves, be wary of the TOGGLER product that you used. While all of these high performance anchors are made to last and provide a strong hold, they all have their weight limitations. These can be found on each individual product package, as well as on the TOGGLER website.