DIY Floating Bookshelf – How To Make And Display Floating Shelves

How to DIY a floating bookshelf for any room in the house. This is a book shelf project that even a novice can conquer and lets you customize shelving to your space.

DIY Floating Shelves

Floating shelves are great for displaying art pictures or books. It’s excellent in a small home for saving floor space and use of vertical space. Floating bookshelves work as a perfect solution to use in a living room behind a sofa for a wall of art. Somewhere that you can easily change out without putting extra holes in the wall, in a nursery for books, or in a dining room to display fun and colorful platters.

What is a floating bookshelf?

As you can see, this bookshelf has no visible support. It looks like it’s floating on the wall. Most shelves are supported by brackets, or wood glue, that attach to the studs in the wall. 

What is a good depth for floating shelves?

Typically, a 10 to 12 inch depth will suffice for most shelves without sagging in the middle. However, you can use brackets for support if you want a longer shelf. 

How do you attach floating bookshelves?

Various shelf depths require different types of support. You can use wood glue for small floating wood shelves for lightweight decorations.

You’ll need rods and screws to support the weight and length for larger shelves with more depth. You’ll secure the rods into the wall. Then drill holes into the shelf that the rods will fit in.

If you get store bought floating shelves, the holes will already be in the shelf, and all you’ll need to do is assemble and secure the bracket.

How to Decorate Floating Shelves

DIY floating shelves are lovely because you don’t see the brackets that typically support the shelf. From artwork to house plants, you have many options for decorating your bookshelves. You can decorate your shelves with:

  • Color coded books
  • Book collections
  • Dishes and glasses
  • Utility supplies
  • Towels
  • Sculptures
  • Children’s toys
  • House plants

And so much more. Decorating your shelves is easy and should tie into the theme and design of the room.

Full Tutorial of How to Make a Floating Bookshelf

DIY Floating Bookshelves Materials

These are lightweight shelves you can use in small spaces like a nursey for books and decorations for your children. Shelves like this are also stylish and convenient almost anywhere in the house where you’d like a little more decoration. 

Supplies you’ll need for DIY floating shelves:

  • Wood
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • White paint
  • Paint brush
  • Wood glue
  • Drill (for hanging)
  • Screws (for hanging)
  • Level (for hanging)

How to make a floating bookshelf:

DIY Floating Bookshelves Glue

Making floating bookshelves can be quick and easy. It only requires some patience to get the measurements and cuts correct to use the wall space effectively. 

Once you have all your supplies, the best place to work is outside or in a designated place like a garage or workshop. Or you can visit your local hardware store and they can cut the wood for you. Now you can get to work.

Step 1: Measure the wall space

Start by measuring your space and having wood cut to size at your local hardware store. Here we used one piece of 1/2″ poplar cut 4″ wide, another piece of 1/2″ poplar cut 2″ wide, and another piece cut 1/2″ x 1/2″ wide. The length of the boards was custom cut to size for our space and will be dependent on your space and measurements. We made 2 shelves so we had 2 sets of wood pieces cut.

Step 2: Apply glue

Place the 4″ wide piece of wood flat on a surface. Add wood glue on the edge of your other 2 pieces (the 1/2″ wide piece and the 2″ wide piece). Then secure them flat against the 4″ wide back cover piece at the edges. This will be “L” shaped. from the wood. Let the wood glue dry.

Build the floating book shelf

Step 3: Reinforce

Reinforce the shelving by adding nails through the bottom of the shelf into the edges where you glued the wood together.

DIY painting the book shelf

Step 4: Painting process

You can have white floating shelves (or whatever color you desire). Sometimes, painting them the color of the wall seamlessly blends the shelves into the wall. It may need a few coats to help even out the brush strokes. Let dry overnight.

Step 5: Install the floating shelves

To hang the shelf, you can either add holes to the back with a router (if you have access to one), or you can place holes through the back portion of the shelf into the wall. Use a level to even out the shelves, ensure that you find the studs, and drill screws through the shelf directly into the wall.

The art, pictures, or books that you place onto the shelf will likely cover those holes. Or you can opt for routed holes in the back of the shelf (or have a professional add these for you). You can then put screws directly into the wall and hang the shelf that way.

Step 6: Decorate 

Finally, you can decorate your shelves to tie in with the theme of the area. This project was for a child’s room and the shelves are decorated with small, lightweight book storage and cute animal decorations. 

You can also use the decorations or a book cover to hide any blemishes or holes that were made when you installed the shelves. 

DIY Floating Bookshelves Modern
DIY Floating Bookshelves Modern
DIY Floating Bookshelves Modern
floating book shelf

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How do you make a sturdy floating bookshelf?

To have a super strong floating shelf, you must secure the braces for the shelf into the studs in the wall. Whether you’re using small shallow shelves or lengthy deep shelves, your support for them must be attached to the studs for maximum strength and support.

Are floating shelves strong?

Floating wood shelves are strong even though you can’t see the support, which also makes the shelves attractive. And they’re quick and easy to install. 

How much weight can a DIY floating shelf hold?

Attaching your floating shelves to studs is the key to holding more weight. Each stud can hold 50 pounds. So, the more studs you anchor to, the more weight the shelf will hold. 

Are floating shelves strong enough for books?

As long as your shelf is secured into a stud, it will hold up to 50 pounds of books per stud. 

Can you make your own floating bookshelves?

Yes! And they are easy to create, assemble and install. They do require patience as you have to measure and cut individually.


This project goes to show that floating shelves can be exactly what the room needs for the finishing touches. Seeing the brackets that support wall shelves isn’t always a bad thing. But the floating look is flawless.