After my recent post featuring my Laundry Room Makeover, I had several people inquire as to how I made the shelves. The laundry room has strange angles yet conventional cupboards would still fit. I preferred keeping an open and airy feel to the space because the room is quite small, so we chose to build floating shelves instead. Let me show you how we did it!
How to Build Floating Shelves
you will need:
3/4” MDF board
1 x 2” pine boards
decorative trim molding
wood glue & liquid nails adhesive,
paintable caulk, primer, and satin paint
Nail gun & compressor
1” & 2” nails
Table saw & miter saw
Build Shelf Base- Decide how deep and wide you would like your shelves to be. Mine are 12” deep and 18” wide. We purchased a 2 x 4’ sheet of 3/4” MDF board and cut the board into four 12 x 18” rectangles with our table saw. Because the corners of our laundry room are not perfect 90 degree angles, we had to make some extra cuts to accommodate the actual angle of our corners. You will most likely have to do this also, unless your home was built by a perfectionist. Mine was not.
Attach Trim- Cut 2 pieces of decorative trim for each MDF rectangle, mitering the corner where they join. Lay the trim against the board to check for fit and then run bead of wood glue along the MDF edge and trim joint. Nail to the MDF board with the 1” finishing nails.
Allow the glue to dry. Fill any gaps with paintable caulk.
Caulk, Prime & Paint- For an open bottomed shelf, you will want to caulk the interior joints and allow to dry. Then prime the top and underside of the shelf. Allow to dry and finish with a coat of white satin or semi gloss paint. A white painted underside is not only more aesthetically pleasing, but it also helps reflect light underneath your surfaces.
Cut your cleats- Now it’s time to make wall cleats. These are what will support your shelf. Cut two, 1 x 2” strip the same length and depth of your shelf minus one inch. For example, if my MDF rectangles I cut earlier measured 12 x 18” then I would cut one cleat strip 17” and the other 11”. Choose the height of where you want your shelf and then find and mark where your wall studs are located with a stud finder. I chose a height that would accommodate the new washer and dryers that sit on pedestals. I don’t have that type, but I wanted to be sure anyone moving in would be able to easily fit their washer and dryer under the floating shelves.
Nail Cleats to Wall – This is where you will need the 2 inch nails to secure your 1 x 2” cleat to the wall. Try to drive your nails into the studs. They give you the most strength and support. If you desire, you can also put liquid nails behind the cleat for extra adhesion.
Glue & Nail Shelf to Wall Cleat- Run a bead of liquid nails along the top of the wall cleat and rest your shelf on top of the cleat. Have your nail gun close within reach and ready to go with 1” nails.
Nail through the top of your shelf along the wood cleat every 4-6 inches. (I love using my nail gun and get pretty trigger happy with it, so my shelves probably have twice as many nails than they need!) Voila! You just made a floating shelf! Allow the liquid nails to set up over night before putting any weight on the shelf.
Extra Options- Now if you want to get really fancy, you can cover the bottom of your shelves with very thin (1/4”) fiberboard cut to size. I only covered the bottoms of the upper shelves, but not the lower ones. I primed and painted the fiberboard first then ran a bead of paintable caulk along the edge of the fiberboard and pressed it against the bottom of the shelf. A few pieces of painters tape held it in place until the caulk dried. For a finished look, caulk all the edges of your shelves, fill the nail holes, and touch up with paint.
Your shelves will hold a significant amount of weight but always test it out with lighter objects to start off with. My laundry detergents and fabric softeners are stored in decorative glass bottles. Not only are they pretty but they are also convenient and easy to use! I love how they give the laundry room a little touch of a “spa feel”. Click HERE to see the the before and after pictures of the laundry room.
I hope you now feel a little more confident on how to build floating shelves!
Be sure to PIN this tutorial for future reference!
For more DIY projects be sure to check out the DIY Project Gallery tab up top!
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