How to Hang Shelves on Plaster Walls – 7 Step Guide

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Tired of looking at a bare wall? Are you looking for a do-it-yourself project that you can take on? If so, install a few shelves on your wall! However, you should first learn how to hang shelves on plaster walls the right way.

Hanging shelves on plaster walls is a popular DIY project, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. You need to make sure that you do it properly because there’s a risk that your shelves will come crashing down. That might end up with a few uninvited problems.

In this guide, you’ll find out how to correctly hang shelves on your plaster wall and what problems you might run into. Keep reading to learn more about this beginner DIY project.

How to Hang Shelves on Plaster Walls

How to Hang Shelves on Plaster Walls

Things You’ll Need

Most of us have only one or two shelves on the walls that are not used to their full storage potential. With the right shelving in place, your walls can become useful places to organize various items.

Here are the tools and materials you will need for this DIY project:

How to Hang Shelves on Plaster Walls with Available Studs

Have you recently purchased new shelves but don’t know how to attach them to your plaster walls? You’re in luck! Follow these steps to easily attach shelving to walls.

Step 1: Choose the Appropriate Shelving

Select the shelves type based on what you will use it for. You’ll want to pick a thicker shelf for heavier items. Make sure it’s strong enough to withstand heavy weights – a lot of books, larger metal items, and the like.

Buy a longer one if you want to get the most out of your storage space. Also, the shelves should be wide enough to let you anchor either side on your wall studs.

Step 2: Locate the Vertical Studs

Once you’ve chosen the right type and dimensions of shelving, you will need to inspect your wall to pinpoint the studs. This will play a role in determining where the shelves should be installed. So, how do you find the studs in plaster walls?

There are a variety of stud finders on the market. It’s best to use an electronic stud sensor for this job. Slide it over the surface and locate all the studs quickly.

Focus on the places where you’re going to attach the shelves and try to find all the hidden wall studs in that area. After locating them, mark their side edges with a pencil.

Step 3: Choose the Location of Your Shelves

Now you need to decide on where your shelves will be positioned on the plaster wall. They need to be placed in such a way that the support shelf brackets go over the middle of each stud for enhanced security.

It is also important to determine the right width and height. Pick the wider shelves because there should be at least 2 anchoring places. The general rule of thumb is that wall studs have to be 16 inches apart. Stick to it if possible.

You need to determine the height of the shelves, too. Use the laser level for the best results. Hold or mount it to make a line where your 1st shelf will go. It will also help you in lining up the shelf brackets.

Step 4: Mark Bracket Holes

All the brackets should be placed over the studs and against the plaster wall. You will probably have to adjust their positions to ensure that they are perfectly vertical. This involves using a level – either a laser or a carpenter’s one.

Make sure the top of the brackets lines up with the carpenter’s level or laser line, depending on what you use. Take your pencil and mark the holes for the mounting brackets. This is where they will be drilled on the wall.

Step 5: Drill Holes

At all the marked locations on the wall, you need to drill tiny pilot holes (pre-drilled holes) into the studs. Line them with the mounting brackets before making the larger holes and screwing them into place.

There could be two situations: the holes may go into the studs or they will go through the plaster as well as the hollow area behind them. In the first case, everything you need is a small pilot hole. Otherwise, you will have to drill bigger holes for toggle or molly bolts.


Fill a bowl with water and place the end of the drill into the water from time to time to prevent it from overheating.

Check the instructions to make sure the holes match the bolts.

Use a drill bit that’s a bit smaller than the mounting screws.

Wearing eye protection is necessary when working with an electric drill.

Step 6: Screw the Brackets into Place

Grab the first bracket. After placing it on the plaster wall, you will have to attach it to the wall stud using a long screw. Then position the next bracket in the same way. This process should be repeated for all shelf brackets.

While every single bracket should be fastened securely, make sure they aren’t tightened excessively. If they come with screw slot fixings, mount them about 0.2 inches away from your wall to ensure that there will be enough room for each screw head.

Also, you will need to be sure that the brackets are plumb before placing the shelves. Adjust them till all the shelves are level.

Step 7: Mount and Secure the Shelves

Take the shelves and mount them on the installed brackets. You can do it by sliding each shelf (one by one) through the tubes of the brackets. While installing the shelving, ask somebody to help you by holding it in place.

It is a good idea to secure the shelves, especially if you will use them for heavy items. Purchase ones that have holes on the bottom.

Use wood screws to tighten and secure them to the brackets. To avoid screwing through the wall, the screws shouldn’t be thicker than the shelves.

Did you complete this do-it-yourself project? Now you can finally start to store your items and admire your work!

FAQ About How to Hang Shelves on Plaster Walls

How to Attach Shelves to Plaster Walls?

Shelves can be attached to plaster walls using screws thanks to little lath boards that run behind. This will ensure that the attached studs are strong and capable of holding bookshelves securely. Drill holes into the wall where the studs are located, place the shelf on the wall, secure it in place, and it’s ready for use!

Can I Install a Floating Shelf on My Plaster Wall?

Yes, you can. Start by calculating how many holes you need to drill into your wall and taking measurements. Make sure there are roughly 2 inches (about 5 cm) between the studs to avoid hitting them when you’re installing floating shelves.


Installing shelves on a wall might seem like an easy job but it’s not. When it comes to plaster walls, it can be a daunting challenge. That’s why you need to know how to hang shelves on plaster walls before taking on this do-it-yourself project.

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