How To: Fix A Shelf To A Plasterboard Wall

What you will need

  • Spirit level
  • Multi-purpose detector
  • Drill & steel drill bit
  • Suitable plasterboard fixings
  • Brackets
  • Pencil
  • Wood screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Shelf
  • Safety glasses


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  • 1 Knock on the wall to determine whether it is a solid or plasterboard wall. If it makes a hollow sound, the wall is plasterboard. Carry out some visual checks on the wall for sockets or switches. For extra safety, run over the area with a multi-purpose detector to make sure there are no hazards behind the wall.
  • 2 If fixing a shelf to a plasterboard wall, try and make sure at least one of the brackets is attached to a stud in the wall, otherwise the shelf won’t be able to hold much weight without the risk of sagging. Use a multi-purpose detector to find the nearest stud to where you want to place your shelf.
  • 3 Make sure the bracket is vertically level before marking the screw holes. Mark on the stud the to position of the first bracket. Fix the bracket to the wall with wood screws.
  • 4 Place a spirit level on top of the bracket and use this to find the correct level position for your second bracket.
  • 5 If there is no stud behind where the second bracket is being fixed, use specially designed plasterboard fixings to secure the bracket. As before only secure the bracket with one fixing at this stage.
  • 6 Attach the right size steel bit to your drill and drill a hole to fit the rawl plug. Tape an envelope under where you are drilling with masking tape to minimise the dust. Top Tip: Use a steel drill bit and no hammer action because plasterboard is soft material and you don’t want to disturb the backing which can sometimes happen if you are too aggressive with a masonry bit and hammer action. This will then make it difficult for your fixing to grip.
  • 7 Insert your rawl plug into the holes, making sure it is flush with the wall – gently tap with hammer to do this, if necessary.
  • 8 Secure the second bracket to the wall by inserting and tightening the screws.
  • 9 Finally, secure the shelf to the brackets using woodscrews. Be sure the woodscrews are the correct length as you don’t want to screw up through the surface of the shelf.
  • 10 Now the shelf is fixed to the plasterboard wall.