Remodeling our kitchen and SWMBO wants open shelving on one wall versus piecing together 10' of upper cabinets. The lower cabinets on this wall will actually have a big 33" sink and lots of countertop space on each side. The shelves would hold all our dishes, cups, some pots, some pans, and decorative things. I really like floating shelves so am hoping to build the frames out of 2x4's that screw directly in to the wall studs. Something like these (only finished completly): enter image description here

My question is if two of my shelves cover the entire 10' width of the wall from end to end, is this shelving system strong enough by itself without any additional support brackets? Here is more or less the layout we are going for: enter image description here

UPDATE: Pic of wall I'm dealing with:

enter image description here

  • Im thinking about something similar myself, but my plan was to just have a three lengths (for three shelves) of 2" thick attractive Hardwood attached to the wall via series of shield anchors (such as rawlbolt), so these are firmly inserted into the wall and then I drill a hole for each one in the back of the 2" shelve that the thread sits in. Mind you in my case I would be attaching the shelves to an internal solid brick wall rather than wall studs. Apr 25, 2016 at 10:22

3 Answers 3


My take is that the sheer thickness of the shelves that you propose will look heavy and chunky to the point of being unattractive.

I would also have concerns about the overall sturdiness of a shelf that is cantilevered off a single 2x4 screwed to the wall. If it were me I would go for a thinner style of assembly and use vertical end sides on the shelves.

  • You make a good point, but wife is going for the "farmhouse" look I guess as far as aesthetics goes. I do like @Ben Welborn's idea about beefing up support since wall is unfinished. Any further thoughts? Apr 26, 2016 at 15:26

I would have no concern building this with the right fasteners. There are plenty of really nice, self-tapping, nearly indestructible construction screws to be had (random example). The key joints are at the back of the shelf, where the vast majority of the torsional stress occurs. Use whatever decorative fasteners you like at the front.

Put two 4" construction screws into each of your joists, properly piloted about 3/4" from the top and bottom, and do the same to mount the shelf to the wall. It will not come down, despite what some here would say. Your drywall will deform before the screws will let go. I've done just this for eyebrow soffits in snow country.

Most kitchen cabinets are held on the wall by 4-6 cheap 3" drywall screws. Folks load them to the hilt with dishes, and they don't come down. Here the situation is a little different, but we're talking about one shelf, not the three that most upper cabinets contain. I'm sure you won't do anything silly like stacking plates two feet high over the entire length, right?

  • In total agreement! Besides, this approach would allow me to finish the wall with drywall/beadboard before mounting shelves. Apr 26, 2016 at 16:58

Decking/framing screws have breaking point that I wouldn't trust for this, and if that is drywall behind the shelf, then it can crush.

If you could cut through the drywall (if it is drywall) then you could mount directly to the wall studs. 1/4" lag screws should be sturdy enough for a person to stand on it (or maybe not, but it will be strong). You should also consider flat (steel) T and L shaped corner braces alon the top of the shelf structure (tops of the 2x4s, under the shelf-top surface). This would require notching the 2x4s so that the top sits flush with the frame. This will protect the weakest area of the shelf (supposing it was lag screwed directly to the studs).

Also, I would recommend washers with the lag screws.

enter image description here

EDIT: Since the wall is unfinished, then you can add a rigid steel structure in the wall... or at least a couple more studs.

  • Wall is exposed for now until electrical and plumbing rough in is done, so I have that going for me I guess! Apr 25, 2016 at 19:20
  • @JakeSchmitz Then you don't really need a back plate; you could mount the horizontal pieces directly to the studs, and add "hidden" structural support. I'm thinking like a double fireblock sandwich. Apr 25, 2016 at 19:33
  • Ben, you are absolutely right! Sometimes the solution is sitting right in front of you, haha! Only drawback would be taking them down in the future I guess... Apr 26, 2016 at 15:30
  • @JakeSchmitz I just realized that I misread... you are not hanging a sink from lower shelf. That's why I was over-engineering this! Apr 26, 2016 at 17:14

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