I am working on installing wall-mounted shelves in my garage. To keep the shelves high enough that I don’t bang my head on them, I am finding I have to anchor the mounting plate up high on the wall, near the ceiling.

After installing one, I realized I am anchoring the top lag screw into the wall top plate.

The bottom lag screw in each mounting is low enough to be secured into a wall stud.

My head is screaming at me that it’s not OK to mount into the top plate but wanted to post to find out for certain. This is an exterior wall so I’d imagine load bearing?

Additional info that may be helpful: This appears to be a double 2x4 top plate (see pic, the bottom 2x4 is seen in its entirety, with the 1.5” side facing the camera). There are engineered joists above, running perpendicular to the top plate into which the shelf mounting plates are secured. I’ve added a picture of the loading limit from the installation instructions. Circled in purple is the configuration I intend to use.


shelf mounting plate I cut back the drywall to see the top plate

the shelf, head-on

shelf load limit from installation instructions

  • Nice job for your first question! Amazing how many people don't think to include pictures... I can't fathom why mounting it into the top plate would cause any more issue than mounting it into a stud, load-bearing wall or not, but I'll let one of the engineering types give an actual answer. Nice shelving system, BTW - is that something commercial or are you making that up on your own?
    – FreeMan
    Aug 1, 2020 at 20:29
  • Thanks for the compliment FreeMan! The shelves are made by a company called NewAge. They come in a few different sizes and seem well engineered and made. Their packaging alone is impressive, they do a great job fitting all of the pieces together for shipping! I installed one shelf earlier this year in my shed and found the installation straightforward. I can’t speak to longevity because I’ve only had it up for about six months but I like it enough to put up more in the garage (or at least try to!).
    – Dave
    Aug 1, 2020 at 20:56
  • Does the mfgr give a loading limit? Aug 1, 2020 at 21:17
  • The manufacturer does give a loading limit in the installation instructions. I’ve added a picture of the loading limit to my original question.
    – Dave
    Aug 1, 2020 at 21:37

2 Answers 2


By mounting the wires into studs the back of the shelf is guaranteed to press evely on two studs

if you mount the wires into the top plates the back of the shelf may press against only ones stud and one corner of the shelf may burst through the drywall.

Remember that the the wire holds up the front of the shelf by converting the downwards force into a pull towards the wall.

This force is multiplied by the slope of the wire, so a fully loaded shelf could be pressing against the wall with 600 punds force at each corner.

So long as your wires (and shelf corners) are in line with the studs this will not be a problem asd the coners will then be pressing on the studs.

The top plate is if anything stronger than the studs. so anchoring to that does not make the shelf weaker.


Your top plate will be stronger than the edge of a stud. As long as the shelf’s are bridging 2 or more studs as your diagram shows the strap split between the top plate and the stud it will be ok. Exterior walls are normally doubled as you have interior walls are more often singles. I mention this as in your question I am not sure if you knew this is normal with splices being at different locations that’s how we can say it is stronger.

  • Aside from removing the drywall, is there any way to know where the splices are on the top plate? The wall is about 22’ long so maybe every 8 feet? I just want to avoid drilling into one of the splices.
    – Dave
    Aug 2, 2020 at 13:20
  • No there is no way we normally used longer 2x for both. the top I don’t remember the requirement in inches but we always separated our splices by 2 stud bays so it was less than 32” The plate could be spliced at a stud or in between on a wall that size we would have done it in 2 pieces for most jobs as there were just 2 of us working together. If you have access above you may be able to see it if not insulated or see the difference in grain to the wood if it is covered by a rafter or truss.
    – Ed Beal
    Aug 2, 2020 at 15:43

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