How Deep Should Floating Shelves Be?

How deep should floating shelves be? It might seem straightforward selecting a depth for floating shelves. However, there are a few important things to consider. (When we say “depth” we mean how far the shelf sticks out from the wall – also often referred to as “width”.)

Firstly, you need to consider the wall type you are intending to fit the shelf to, especially if using concealed floating shelf brackets. This is because the strength of the wall type may limit what depth of floating shelf you are able to fit. The main three wall types are solid wall, plasterboard wall and dot and dab wall. If you are unsure what type of wall you have, our post here may help you identify it.

Once you have identified the wall type and any size limitations as a result, you can then choose a suitable shelf depth, taking into account the size of the items you intend to place on the shelf. This handy guide will help you make sure you buy the right floating shelf for your purpose.

100mm Deep Floating Shelves

oiled oak floating shelf solid oak shelves oak wall shelf oak shelf 120

100mm deep shelves are great for small, tight spaces. They are well suited for displaying small items such as photo frames. Fit them in a bathroom for a small toothbrush shelf or ledge underneath a mirror. This depth of shelf will be very lightweight, so you can install them with floating shelf brackets to solid walls, plasterboard walls and dot and dab walls. For this size of shelf we recommend our Multi Wall Concealed Floating Shelf Bracket in all wall types, using the short 80mm barrel. You can use these brackets in shelves as thin as 20mm.

150mm Deep Floating Shelves

150mm deep shelves offer a bit more practical shelf space, as they are large enough to accommodate small books and ornaments. They make a great floating surface for a porch or entrance hall as they won’t protrude too far into the room. As above, this shelf depth is suitable for all wall types using our multi wall floating shelf brackets. However, in this case, we recommend the long 120mm barrel.

 


200mm Deep Floating Shelves

oiled oak floating shelf shelves oak wall shelf solid oak shelfA 200mm depth is what we would consider a standard depth floating shelf. Great for plants, bigger ornaments and standard sized books, these are great size wall shelves for everyday use. However plasterboard floating shelf brackets are generally not able to support this depth, due to the leverage placed upon the plasterboard. Therefore we only recommend the solid wall and dot and dab wall variations of our floating fixings, again with the 120mm barrel.

Note – if your plasterboard wall is constructed with timber studs or battens and you are able to line up your fixing points with enough of these in the right place, then you can get around this problem by securing the shelves to the studs using the solid wall bracket variation. Metal studs are not suitable.

250mm Deep Floating Shelves

250mm deep wall shelves offer extra practical shelf space, perfect for holding more of what you love. Also great for bigger books such as cook books and for general use in kitchens, for holding jars and crockery. The same applies for fitting this shelf depth with floating shelf brackets as the 200mm depth.

 


275mm-400mm Deep Floating Shelves

Heavy duty floating shelves solid oak floating shelf for kitchen plate shelves oiled oak finish275mm deep is the point at which we upgrade the floating fixings to heavy duty ones. These Heavy Duty Floating Shelf Brackets are designed for use in floating shelf depths up to 400mm. We recommend a minimum 35mm thick shelf for these brackets due to the size of the retaining plate. They are extremely strong and very versatile. However, they are only suitable for fitting to solid walls or into solid material (e.g. timber studs). Dot and dab walls are possible, although it requires a different fitting process. This process is explained in more detail in our FAQs.

Using these heavy duty brackets with deep shelves means they are ideal for supporting large, heavy items. For example, set top boxes, games consoles, amplifiers or creating a floating bedside table. Many customers also use these heavy duty wall shelves for supporting sinks and basins in a bathroom.

 


After considering all of the above factors, you may find that floating shelf brackets are not suitable for your combination of wall type and shelf depth. In this case, you may need to consider traditional, visible shelf brackets, such as triangular shelf brackets or scaffold brackets.

We hope you found this guide helpful. If you have any questions regarding the information detailed in this guide, or have suggestions for future topics, please contact us.

What Type of Wall Do I Have?

How do you tell what kind of walls you have? There are many different types of wall and it isn’t always straight forward working out what type you have. This is always the first question to answer before trying to fix something to your wall. This guide should help you work out what type of wall you have so you are able to order the correct product and get a secure fixing into it.

We aim to design our products to be compatible with as many wall types as possible to give the customer the best possible chance of fitment in all circumstances. In order to make this possible we designed our own range of multi wall floating shelf fixings.

We categorise walls into three basic types and we offer a different fixing method for each. Below you can find an explanation of each wall type, some tips on how to identify it, its makeup and what it might also typically be called by tradespeople.

Solid Wall

Solid Wall Brick Wall Block Wall Exterior Wall Load Brearing Wall

Solid walls can be made up of many combinations of materials but they are generally considered to be bare brick or brick with a plastered finish.

Solid walls will be very hard, if you tap on the wall whilst moving your hand around it is unlikely that you will see any flex or hear any hollow areas or voids.

Typical characteristics

  • Very hard, solid feeling wall with no flexing
  • Dull sound when knocking, rarely with hollow sounding areas

Also called or often referred to as

  • Brick/block wall
  • Exterior wall
  • Load bearing wall

Common materials

  • Plastered or tiled brick including; red, stone, breeze block, thermalite
  • Concrete

Suitable floating shelf fixings

Suitable general fixings

Suitable high load fixings


Dot and Dab Wall

Dot and Dab Wall Dabbed Wall Dry Lined Wall

Dot and dab walls are being used an increasing amount in modern houses. They comprise of a solid wall with plasterboard stuck on to it using “dabs” of adhesive. This creates a small void (usually around 10-20mm) in the wall which is faced with plasterboard.

Benefits to this type of wall are an increased insulation value and ease of adding additional services (such as cabling) to the area at a later date, due to the void. They also offer an increased speed of finishing due to the fact they don’t need to be plastered. They can however present issues when it comes to fixing items to them. Dot and dab walls have the benefit of the strength of a solid wall but long fixings are needed in order to get a secure hold.

How to tell if you have a dot and dab wall? The easiest method is to tap on the wall whilst moving your hand around. You will hear that the majority of the wall sounds hollow and may even have a slight flex to it, however there will be hard, solid points dotted around. These are the areas that have adhesive “dabs” bonding the plasterboard to the solid wall behind, these would typically be placed in a grid pattern around 300-500mm apart.

Typical characteristics

  • A solid feeling wall with slight flex in certain areas
  • Generally hollow sound when knocking with solid/dull areas dotted around

Also called or often referred to as

  • Dry lined wall
  • Drywall
  • Dabbed wall

Common materials

  • Brick or stone faced with plasterboard, insulated plasterboard, tile, or moisture board

Suitable floating shelf fixings

Suitable general fixings


Plasterboard Wall

Plasterboard Wall Stud Wall Partition Wall Dry Lined Wall Sheet Rock Drywall

Plasterboard walls are typically made from some sort of board material that is supported by a framework. They are almost always internal, non load bearing walls and therefore have a limited capacity for supporting heavy items.

Plasterboard walls can have a timber or pressed steel framework. This will usually run vertically at regular intervals between 300 and 600mm with short horizontals or “noggins” between each. Plasterboard walls will almost always sound hollow when knocking on them and have some flex or movement in them.

Typical characteristics

  • A slight flex or movement to the wall when pushing on it
  • A hollow sound when knocking with slightly more solid areas in vertical lines

Also called or often referred to as

  • Stud wall
  • Drywall (note can be called similar to dot and dab)
  • Sheet rock
  • Partition wall
  • Dry lined wall (note can be called similar to dot and dab)
  • Dividing wall

Common materials

  • Timber or pressed steel for framework
  • Plasterboard, sheetrock, moisture board, plywood

Suitable floating shelf fixings

Suitable general fixings


The above information is designed to give a basic indication as to the most common wall types and their typical characteristics. There are however many variations to this and some instances when walls might appear to be one type but when drilling into them they turn out to be something different. You may often see cases where a wall is made up of a combination of the above due to modifications over the years, such as covering doorways or fireplaces.

If you are uncertain of your wall type then you should seek advice by contacting us. We will always to our best to help but sometimes it will require being on site to properly inspect the wall makeup which may require drilling to investigate. In which case we would advise that you seek the help from a professional trades person.

How to Fit a Floating Shelf

How to fit a floating shelf on a range of different wall types. Across our range of concealed floating shelf brackets you should find a solution to almost every scenario in which you may want to fit a floating shelf.

Fitting anything to the wall in houses can present a world of problems. There are many different types of wall and each presents its own issues. Here you can find some advice on how to fit a floating shelf to different types of wall, along with an explanation of our floating shelf bracket range. If you aren’t sure what wall type you might have then also see our guide What Type of Wall Do I Have?.

How to fit a floating shelf floating shelf brackets heavy duty shelf brackets plasterboard shelf brackets drywall shelf bracket wall bracket floating shelf solid wall and dot and dab wall


Multi Wall Floating Shelf Brackets

Multi wall floating shelf brackets for plasterboard drywall dot and dab and solid wall floating shelvesHow to fit a floating shelf with our multi wall floating shelf brackets. This is versatile and simple to install in any solid floating shelf. All you need to install them is a hole in the shelf and a hole in the wall. There is no need for cutting complicated pockets or cutouts in the shelf. Due to their carefully sized barrels there is also no need for a locking screw to hold the shelf in place. Their offset thread offers fine levelling adjustment to the shelf after installation.

Our multi wall floating shelf brackets have an interchangeable thread system. We offer threads and plugs for solid wall, dot and dab wall and plasterboard wall types. You can remove the threaded part and swap it for another type should your wall surface be different to what you initially thought once drilled. In the event of you having to change plans, you can purchase the individual bracket components from us and swap them out.

How to Fit a Floating Shelf Video


Multi Wall Floating Shelf Bracket Ratings

By testing all of our floating shelf brackets in house we are able to offer definitive guidance on shelf size and weight ratings for each wall type. Below are the maximum recommendations for each wall type.

Solid Wall Floating Shelf Brackets

  • Max shelf depth: 250mm
  • Max weight per bracket: 10kgs
  • Min fixing qty: 2 per/m (3 per/m for 250mm depth)

Dot and Dab Wall Floating Shelf Brackets

  • Max shelf depth: 250mm
  • Max weight per bracket: 8kgs
  • Min fixing qty: 2 per/m (3 per/m for 250mm depth)

Plasterboard Wall Floating Shelf Brackets

  • Max shelf depth: 150mm
  • Max weight per bracket: 6kgs
  • Min fixing qty: 4 per/m

Heavy Duty Floating Shelf Brackets

How to fit a floating shelf with our heavy duty floating shelf brackets. They have you covered for the highest load rating that you should ever need from a floating wall shelf. We have tested a pair of these up to 100kgs and were confident they could have taken more (if we had another bag of plaster). See our weight test video below.

These shelf brackets will hold floating sink basin shelves, media shelves for record players and amplifiers. You can use them to form floating bedside tables and a whole range of other uses along the way. If strength and reliability is what you need then these are the bracket to go for.

We only recommend that you fit these to solid walls due to the support that is needed on the main floating shelf support pin. You can fit these heavy duty shelf brackets to plasterboard walls but they will need substantial timber work in place behind the wall in order to offer the support needed. It is likely after all that the failure point will be the wall and not the bracket!

We recommend cutting a pocket in the back of the shelf to recess the retaining plate. This can be done using our Heavy Duty Shelf Bracket Routing Jig as seen in the video below. We also recommend installation using a chemical resin method for guaranteed strength, see below for our video on how to fit a heavy duty floating shelf.

How to Fit A Heavy Duty Floating Shelf Video

How to Drill a Shelf for Heavy Duty Fixings Video

Heavy Duty Floating Shelf 100kg Weight Test Video


If you are unsure of which of our floating shelf brackets might be best for your application then feel free to contact us and we should be able to offer advice on what might work best for you.

Our Brightest Tree Shelf Yet

Our newest tree shelf commission has brought with it a whole new element to the designs that we can now offer by incorporating lighting throughout its branches.

We were approached to design a tree shelf that would make an interesting and unique feature out of an existing large, blank wall space. Very often overlooked, staircase walls are difficult to access and are a large area of the house that is usually just left as is. A staircase is a fantastic space for the bespoke design of one of our tree shelf installations. Spanning the floors of a house they very often present a tall, wide, inclined canvas to work with making them an ideal space for fitting a tree shelf into.

To add a whole new element to the design we incorporated lighting into this tree. This is the first time that we had done this and the results at the end were incredible! All of the cabling was run through channels cut out in the back of each branch meaning it is completely sealed. The transformers for the LED lights were set inside the base of the trunk meaning they too were out of sight.

Upon fitting the tree we decided to add some oak diffusing pieces to go over the lights. As the tree can be seen from a wide range of angles when walking both up and down the stairs, there were a lot of places where the direct light was dazzling and detracted from the natural look of the tree. The diffusing pieces allowed us to control this by individually setting each one after installation. This also allowed us to adjust the shadow of each light against the wall, to make sure the light coverage was even throughout the tree.

The tree design itself came from our standard Windswept Tree shelf, which gave us the starting point and inspiration for the design. We then added corner features to make the most of the available space. The branch that comes around under the window has an increased depth to create a reading area for the young children. You will notice we also included a matching bark edge stool with the tree to fit in seamlessly with the design.

We are intending to offer lighting as an option across our full tree shelf range later in the year and look forward to offering this as an option on future commission work as well.

If you would like to talk to us about the possibility of a similar commission then please get in touch, we would love to hear from you!