Floating shelves are a relatively simple and inexpensive way to add more storage or display space to a room, corridor, or hallway. But before loading yours up with books, glass storage containers, or potted plants, it’s a good idea to determine roughly how much weight each of your shelves can actually hold. It’s often not as much as you think.
Here’s how to figure out how much weight your floating shelves can support without collapsing.
How much weight can floating shelves hold?
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While some floating shelves are only capable of displaying a few lightweight items, others are sturdy enough to hold more than 100 pounds.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a surefire one-size-fits-all formula for figuring out how much weight any type of floating shelf can support, because there are several different variables involved. These include:
- The length and depth of the shelves
- Where the shelves are installed
- How the shelves are installed
- Whether the wall is made of drywall or plaster
- What the shelves are made out of (e.g. particle board, solid wood, plastic, metal, glass, etc)
Most floating shelves are designed to be attached to wall studs, so whether your walls are made of drywall or plaster, you’re going to start by locating them.
If you’re unable to find the studs, you can usually get away with installing floating shelves using anchors like toggle or molly bolts, though they won’t be able to support as much weight (probably no more than 20 pounds).
When installed correctly, floating shelves are typically able to support between 40 and 50 pounds for every wall stud they’re attached to. In most homes, studs are 16 inches apart, so many people opt for floating shelves that are roughly 3 feet long, and can easily attach to two wall studs.