DIY: $15 Floating Shelf


Posted by Alicia Sell

Floating Shelf_pinOne of my favorite projects that we completed in the bathroom renovation was the shelf above the toilet. We get a lot of compliments on it.  It was really inexpensive and easy to make – only $15!  Today I will share with you the easy steps for making the shelf.   But before I get to the instructions, I want to address one of the most frequent questions I get about the shelf.

Has anyone hit their head on it?

Uhmkay.  I will be completely honest and let you know Randall shared your concern.  It took some demonstrations on my part to prove to him that it is physically impossible to hit your head on the shelf, short of doing a back flip off the toilet which is not recommended. Completely safe, folks.  Completely safe.

So now, without further ado, here are the simple instructions for installing the shelf!


These instructions are based on a shelf that is 29 inches wide because that is how wide the wall is behind our toilet.  Depending on how wide you want your shelf to be, you will need more wood to make additional braces.  These shelves, while sturdy, are not meant to hold extremely heavy items (over 50 pounds).  Randall said you won’t be able to jump off them or hang from them, which, again, is typically not recommended anyway but he insisted that I clarify that here for our readers.  Can you tell he is a school teacher?


1 – 8 ft. furring strip (these are 1×2 boards)
1 – 8 ft. 1×10 pine board
1 – 6 ft. 1×6 pine board
Stud Finder
Brad Nailer
Wood Screws
Wood stain

There are really two parts to making this shelf: the outside boards and the internal frame. Here are the instructions broken down by these two parts.

Outside boards

The 8 foot –  1×10 pine board was cut into 2 – 29″ long pieces.  The 6 foot –  1×6 board was also cut to 29″ long, but we ripped the board so that it was 4″ wide instead of 6″ wide.  Lowe’s can cut the boards for you to the correct lengths but they won’t rip the boards.

The boards were already sanded, so we just stained these boards and added a polyurethane coat.  Allow the boards to dry for 24 hours.

Internal Frame

The furring strips will act as your internal frame or support for the floating shelf. Cut one furring board to the width of the wall, which for us was 29″ wide.  This is the back support.  Next, we cut 4 furring strips to act as the internal supports for the shelf. These were cut to 8 3/4″ long.

internal frame_3

Next assemble the internal frame before attaching it to the wall.  Attach a furring strip to each end of the back support using a brad nailer.  Before installing the two central furring strips to the back support, use a stud finder and mark exactly where the studs will be located on the wall. Attached the two central furring strips away from where the studs would be located.  This allows you to screw the internal brace into the studs when you attach it to the wall.

This is how the internal frame should look before attaching it to the wall.

Internal Frame_1

Shelf Installation

Go to the wall where you will installing the shelf.  Hold the internal frame up to the wall. Before securing the internal frame, use a leveler to make sure that the frame is perfectly level. Once it is level, screw the internal frame into the wall studs.


If possible, screw the side supports into studs on the side walls to give extra support.

Wall support

Now that the internal structure is assembled and attached to the wall, it is time to attach the outside boards.  Attach one 1×10 to the top of the shelf using a brad nailer to secure the shelf to each internal frame.  You can also use screws, but if you do this make sure you pre-drill the holes.

Attach the second 1×10 board to the bottom of the shelf using the same method.

assembled shelf

Finally, attach the 1×4 to the face of the shelf using the brad nailer to secure the board to the internal frame.

Final Shelf

Voila!  Decorate with all of the fancy finds you would like, but remember, no back flips or kids climbing on the shelves.

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