How To Make Fake Floating Shelves

August 1, 2019

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Can we all agree that floating shelves are amazing? They are beautiful, farmhouse-y, very in style, aaaand they add function, which is kind of my thing. But sadly, building floating shelves is not easy.

As much I loooove Pinterest, let’s just admit that it can lie to us. Like the ones that say:

“DIY tutorial for EASY floating shelves!”
“DIY floating shelves for 14 cents!”
“How to make floating shelves in the next 4 seconds!”

…And then they tell you to buy $40 worth of wood, use your table saw, circular saw, wood glue, clamps, a kreg jig, a nail gun, a sander, and 14 other tools.

I don’t know about you, but if need a garage full of woodworking tools to complete a project, it shouldn’t be described as easy.

I currently live in a rental and do all of my DIYing on my glass dining room table. It’s not ideal–when we buy another house, I really hope to have my own shop area and build up to all those tools listed above.

However, I strongly believe that you don’t need to have a room full of professional tools to DIY your home and make it perfect for you.

Related: Want another way to make your home reflect YOU–for insanely cheap prices? Check out my printable wall art on Etsy in the Black Door Shop. You can even get 20% off your order with the code 20OFF. šŸ™‚

Digital wall prints for decor in Black Door Shop on Etsy
Printable wall art in Black Door Shop

The Best Way To Make Floating Shelves Without A Mess Of Tools

How to make fake floating shelves!
My sad, sad wall that needs SHELVES.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you probably already gathered that I have an obsession with shelves (That’s the reason I made my rope shelves.). That obsession really started with floating shelves, but I didn’t have a way to actually create those in my home.


I finally stumbled on a tutorial for “faux floating shelves” from Mommy Suite on Pinterest, and I didn’t even read through the entire post. I immediately knew exactly how this girl did it, believed she was a genius (why hadn’t I ever thought of that?!), and I decided to do it that day.

And well… if you know me, you’re probably not surprised to hear that I did not get my fake floating shelves done that day. Not even close. BUT, it only took a quick trip to Home Depot and an hour or two total.

So this really is the best way to get the look of floating shelves… and it’s actually easy. Not faux easy. šŸ˜‰


  • Wood: Measure the size you want for each shelf. You don’t need any special kind of wood for this, you can go as cheap or as fancy as your heart desires.
  • Corner Braces: You need two for each shelf, and make sure they are right size for the wood you choose. I used 1×4 wood, so my braces couldn’t be longer than 4 inches. I used this kind.
  • Stud Finder: This is worth $7. I promise.
  • Wood Screws: Make sure they are long enough to reach into your wall studs, and they match the screw # on your corner braces.
  • Drill: I use a Dewalt drill and it’s my BFF.
  • Paint or Wood Stain: I used wood stain and white washed with acrylic paint to get my look.
How to make fake floating shelves--easy, cheap, and you only need a drill!

Step 1: Cut Your Wood

First of all, you need to measure your space and decide how wide and deep you want each shelf to be. I decided to make mine 24 inches long, and then I decided on the wood when I was at the store.

If you don’t have a table or circular saw either, you can just get your wood cut at Home Depot or Lowe’s. It’s always quick and easy.

So I got an 8 foot 1×4 board, which gave me four pieces. And look at that, only $4.47!

How to make fake floating shelves--easy, cheap, and you only need a drill!

Step 2: Paint, Stain, or Paint and Stain

This is when you decide how you want your shelves to look. If you love the popular floating wood shelves with the dark stain, here’s a quick tip: Don’t trust the picture on the can of stain. IT LIES.

I was pumped to find “Espresso” stain on sale when I was doing this project. But it turned out to be approximately a billion and half shades darker than what I wanted. Turns out you need to actually research what each stain actually looks like before buying it. Duuuuuhhhhh.

I ended up finding out that the stain that you see everywhere is actually Minwax Dark Walnut. Honestly, the can makes it look really light, but it comes out beautifully. Another good one is Weathered Oak. Just… do some quick Google searches, okay?

However, the good news is that I ended up LOVING the way my wood turned out. Since the stain was a thousand levels too dark, I whitewashed over it… and the result was freaking Heaven.

How to make fake floating shelves--easy, cheap, and you only need a drill!

Step 3: Attach Your Corner Brackets To The Shelf

Okay, so now the wood is all ready to go on your wall! Before attaching your brackets to your wood, make sure you know where your studs are.

Oh, another hot tip from a scatterbrain: USE A DANG STUD FINDER.

I’ve been doing DIY projects for years. I always told myself, “I don’t need no dang stud finder. I am woman, hear me roar!”

But then I attached my first shelf riiiiiiiiiiiiight outside of a stud, and it was very wobbly. And THEN I realized that I could get a stud finder for less than $7.


Sooooo. Anyway. Don’t be like me & Jim Carrey–just get yourself a stud finder, and mark where the brackets will go on your wood before you attach them.

How to make fake floating shelves--easy, cheap, and you only need a drill!

Drill those pilot holes and then use the screws that come with your brackets to secure them.

Step 4: Attach To The Wall

Okay, so if you measured right, this part should be super easy. Mark your holes with a pencil, then make pilot holes in your wall.

The important part of this step is that you will not be using the screws that come with the corner braces for your wall.

You could use wall anchors for this instead of wood screws, but you really only need to do that if you are installing VERY heavy wood and plan to put bricks on top. Otherwise, using wood screws in your studs will work just fine.

How to make fake floating shelves--easy, cheap, and you only need a drill!

This is what you’ll see when you’re done! You’re almost done!

Step 5: Make Your Fake Floating Shelves Look Real

Now, all that’s left is to make these shelves look awesome by hiding the brackets.

Pssssst: It’s not that hard. Just sit things in front of the brackets.

How to make fake floating shelves--easy, cheap, and you only need a drill!

I promise that I don’t use toilet paper to decorate the rest of my house, but my fake floating shelves are in my bathroom, and I actually think it’s cute. It also reeeeeally comes in handy sometimes.

What do you think? Do you love the floating shelf look?

More Easy Floating Shelf Options

A lot of people like the look of shelves with hardware (including me). And if you want to add something else, like a rod to hang things, then here’s a different and awesome option. These are 3-tier floating wall shelves with copper hangers AND a towel bar.

The wood is resistant to scratches and warping, and it actually comes with hangers. I could totally see that holding coffee mugs in the kitchen or holding hats and jackets by an entryway (because y’all know that I’m anti-hangers).

They come in three different sizes: 17 x 5, 13 x 5, and 9 x 5. There are a lot more details here. You could put them in different rooms, too, to make your whole home cohesive.

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More related posts:

Build fake floating shelves--cheaper, quicker, and MUCH easier.
How to make super cheap and easy fake floating shelves
DIY fake floating shelves!


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Hi! Iā€™m Kaylee–a mom of 2, business owner, DIY addict, and so much more. You’ll find some fun DIY tutorials, totally honest reviews, and lots of tips for making your home fit YOU. Welcome to Mama and More!


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