Drywall has a lot of advantages, but it’s not the best surface on which to anchor something heavy, such as a large shelf or wall-mounted television. Even the best fasteners screws are less likely to work well without a wall stud to provide an anchor point. Unfortunately, the placement of shelves and other heavy objects sometimes requires anchoring the item to drywall. Thankfully, though, if drywall installation was done right it’s possible to use angle brackets to safely install even a heavy shelf. Here’s how to do it.
- Gather the necessary tools and equipment. To do this project well, you will need a power tool such as an electric drill, an accurate carpenter’s level, a tape measure, a pencil, a screwdriver, some masking tape, the shelf and two shelf angle brackets, and toggle bolts. It’s also always a good idea to have safety work gloves. If the shelf is very long, one or two more angle brackets may be necessary to support the middle.
- Measure everything carefully.Before you start drilling any holes, make certain of the size of the shelf and precisely where you want to put it on the wall. Measure the shelf, measure the wall, and make sure that things are going to look right in the spot where you want to put them. Use the pencil to mark your general place.
- Mark your board for the angle brackets. Lay the shelf face down somewhere perfectly flat and put one of the angle brackets on each end approximately four to six inches from the end of the shelf. The back of the bracket should line up with the rear of the shelf. Use your pencil to mark each of the holes in the bracket.
- Attach your brackets to the shelf. Using power tools, drill pilot holes into each of the marks that you have made with your pencil. Then, drive screws through the holes to attach the brackets to the shelf.
- Position the shelf and make your marks. The next step is to put the shelf against the wall where you wanted to go. Use the carpenter’s level to ensure that your shelf remains perfectly level as you have an assistant make a mark with a pencil through the bracket holes that attach to the wall. Make a mark through every available hole on the brackets so that you can attach enough toggle bolts to securely hold the weight.
- Install your toggle bolts. Put the shelf down and make a small “hammock” of masking tape beneath each pencil mark on the wall. This will catch the drywall as you drill and make for easy cleanup. Use the power tools to drill a pilot hole through all the pencil marks on the wall. These should be deep enough to allow the toggle bolt to fit snugly into the whole. The wings of the toggle bolt will pop open as it enters the open space behind the drywall. At this point, use the handheld screwdriver to tighten the screw until the wings are firmly tightened. Carefully remove the masking tape and powdered drywall that it caught.
- Install the shelf. Use the screwdriver to back out all the screws from the toggle bolts. Line up the holes in the angle brackets with the openings for the toggle bolts and use the screwdriver to secure each screw through the holes in the angle brackets and into the toggle bolts. Do not use a power screwdriver or electric screwdriver to tighten the screws in the toggle bolt because this can easily strip the metal.
If you have done this process correctly, the toggle bolts and the angle brackets should allow even a heavy shelf to sit securely along drywall. Just be sure to get toggle bolts that can support the weight of the shelf you want to install and carefully follow each step in this process.