I am trying to build wall shelves in this little nook here. The space is 52 inches long.


I'm using these wooden brackets from Ikea: enter image description here

But I am unsure whether to use 2 brackets, or 3. (2 would be ideal, visually)

I believe the wall might be concrete or brick. It's definitely not dry wall.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  • How much weight is each shelf going to carry? How thick are the shelves, and/or do they have front pieces which help stiffen them? Are you sure that isn't plaster-over-lath? (How old is the building?) ....
    – keshlam
    Sep 5, 2015 at 20:04
  • They will be for books so there will be a good amount of weight on them. The shelves are 1 inch thick, and there are no front pieces. The building is very old, a brownstone built in 1899. I actually have no idea what kind of wall it is
    – Claire
    Sep 5, 2015 at 20:16
  • Find out for sure what's behind wall first, use the smallest drill but you have and drill out hole, slowly remove bit and inspect for wood or concrete. In any case you want to use a toggle bolt if it's concrete block, or wood screws if there studs. I would not use dry wall anchors for book shelves,
    – rhill45
    Sep 6, 2015 at 23:10

2 Answers 2


I have "student" bookcases I built years ago, which have 4'-long 1x12 (nominal) shelves supported only be a pair of shelf clips at each end, carrying two solid rows of paperbacks each. (One upright, one tilted back in front of them.) These sag just a bit in the middle, but have no trouble handling the distributed weight.

You've got a shorter span, so you don't need the stiffness of my 1x12s. And if you're using shelf brackets at the 1/4 and 3/4 locations, the weight "outboard" of the brackets will tend to balance the weight between them, so sag would be less significant (and better distributed so less visible).

So I think the real question here is only how well you can affix the brackets to that wall.


Go for the three brackets - you can't guarantee that some little child won't ever be underneath that shelf when the weight of piles of books on it is too much for the shelf or one of the brackets. You don't want to be responsible for that child's head/neck injury.

  • 1
    Especially if the child tries to grab the shelf! That could add a lot to weight of the books that need to be supported by the shelf and the brackets, and make it more likely for the whole thing to fall down.
    – Jasper
    Oct 8, 2015 at 16:52

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