I want to replace my kitchen cabinets (shoddy DIY stuff, very rough) with some nice floating shelves.

I tried to find information on how to mount heavy stuff to wooden studs but all I found were information for what fasteners to use when mounting heavy stuff into drywall.

What kind of fasteners do I need to use if I want to mount something that will be bearing heavy loads into a wooden stud?

2 Answers 2


The hardware needed will likely be dictated to some degree by the manner in which the shelves are supported and how much weight the shelves are being asked to support. A true floating shelf will often use a french cleat as Keshlam suggested, often in this situation an aluminum version called called a Z-clip. Z-clip This shows the short, clip style but it's available in 8' lengths too that you would cut to the length you need.

These are easy to install and can hold some pretty extreme weights (the exact load maximums will be listed on the package or the website tech sheet) but the shelf has to be thick enough to encapsulate the thickness of the brackets plus the distance required to engage the two halves, plus some room for a lip top and bottom. Like so: z clip

The good news is these are available in many sizes and can be found in most home centers or online for a reasonable price. The (possibly) bad news is you'll almost certainly have to make or at least modify a shelf to suit your needs. As far as hardware is concerned in general: use a good quality wood screw that gets at least 2" of bite into the shelf and on every stud that you can catch (you may have to enlarge the countersink to accept a larger screw head or drill some new holes to suit the spacing of your walls substructure) into both the shelf and the stud side. Unless your trying to support an unreasonable amount of weight you should be okay.

Of course you can always just pick up a store bought floating shelf. Most come with a lightweight keyhole style hanger (seen here) keyhole but will still hold a fair amount (not much though). As for screws, they're often included with the kit but the same rules apply as previously discussed so if you buy a shelf package from Ikea or wherever and it comes with inch long screws or those plastic drywall anchors, do yourself a favor and go buy some real screws to mount it.

  • "at least 2" of bite into the shelf and on every stud" I'm not sure what you mean by this.
    – anon
    Sep 22, 2014 at 14:56
  • Sorry for the idiom. What I mean is 2" of screw penetrating into the wood. Which is to say "the screw should be 2" long, plus the thickness of your bracket plus the thickness of the drywall plus any other obstructions between the head of screw and the stud/shelf." I guess I should specify that the studs are probably 16" apart and I would space the screws into your shelf about the same.
    – user23534
    Sep 22, 2014 at 22:34
  • so if i have an inch of drywall, and half an inch of cleat, i would need a 3.5" screw right?
    – anon
    Sep 23, 2014 at 2:46
  • Where can I purchase a z-clip rail? I can find 2" z-clips that would work great for the back of my shelf. But I need a rail that can span two wall studs (about 18") but I can't find any for consumers. I've found a bunch of manufacturers (eagle-aluminum.com/eagle-z-clip) but they they seem to only sell to professionals because I see "request a quote" instead of "purchase" on their website.
    – lax4mike
    Nov 21, 2016 at 23:54

Your existing cabinets are probably mounded with screws long enough to reach through the cabinet back and the drywall, then go deep enough into the studs to support the weight.

The right way to mount cabinets is probably with a French Cleat. Those can be as simple as a pair of bevel-cut boards, or can be metal brackets manufactured for the purpose.

  • I wish, I see nails driven at 45 degree angles below and inside the cabinets everywhere. Also, I'm not asking how to remount new cabinets, I'm asking about options for mounting heavy stuff to wooden studs, one of which would be floating shelves, which I'm assuming have different fastening requirements.
    – anon
    Sep 22, 2014 at 1:55
  • those french cleats are cool, however, I still need to secure the cleat to the studs, and the article does not describe what kind of fastener I need to use to do this.
    – anon
    Sep 22, 2014 at 1:57
  • In that case, (a) determine what you need to mount, and (b) drive screws through whatever it uses as a mounting bracket, through paneling/wallboard, and into stud. Size and number of screws will depend on how much weight they have to carry. There are tables for this; I don't happen to have one at hand right now.
    – keshlam
    Sep 22, 2014 at 1:58
  • If you could edit your answer with this information and add an easy to understand chart, I'd appreciate it. I tried looking at one site, it looks like it was written by an engineer for an engineer, which I'm not.
    – anon
    Sep 22, 2014 at 2:16

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