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DIY Easy Wood-Stained Custom Floating Shelves

June 20, 2019  —  Written by Chris 

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This post is sponsored by Minwax®. 

The Fullmers really wanted some open shelving in their kitchen mixed with closed upper cabinets. This is a great solution for most people who don’t necessarily want to worry about every dish looking beautiful all the time, but still want to add some decor and character to their kitchen. We DIYed these floating shelves inexpensively and they completely solved a corner problem where another cabinet wouldn’t fit perfectly and added a whole lot of warmth and beauty and we were able to stain them to tie into their wood-toned cabinets!

Minwax Simply White | Minwax Driftwood | Minwax Matte Finish Polycrylic

Here’s how we did it!

Drill Holes for Mounting Rods

Floating Shelf Tutorial: Mounting hole being drilled

Drill into the studs along the area where the shelf will be. Use a drill guide to keep the bit straight and level. If you don’t use a drill guide the rods likely won’t be even with each other and it will be difficult to get the shelves to slide on. You can wrap a piece of painter’s tape around your bit as a guide to drill about 3 inches into each stud where the shelf will sit. Use a drill bit the same size as the rods you’ve chosen. For these shelves we used 5/8 threaded rods for the edges and 1/4 threaded rods for the center. 

Install Mounting Rods Into Wall

Floating Shelf Tutorial: Mounting Rods Being Installed

Put some epoxy glue into the holes in the wall. Not so much that it squeezes out everywhere when you put the rods in, but enough so the threads are surrounded by it. Add the rods and use small pieces of wood shim to level the rods. Allow the epoxy to cure the rods in place for the recommended time on the label (24 hours is usually safe).

Cut and Drill the Shelf Boards

Floating Shelf Tutorial: Shelves being cut

For these shelves we just used one 2×12 board cut to length. Run the shelves through the table saw to shave off the curved edges, ending with squared edges and a shelf that’s 10.75in from front edge to back. 

Floating Shelf Tutorial: Drilling hole in shelf

Hold the shelves against the front of the mounted rods (after they have finished curing), level the shelf, and tap on the front of the board with the palm of your hand. This will create indents on the back of the boards where the rods are, so you know where to drill. Use the drill guide to drill into the boards about 9.5 inches. You can clamp boards on either side of the shelf to widen it for the drill guide. 

Sand and Stain the Shelf Boards

Floating Shelf Tutorial: Sanding

Using an orbital sander, sand the boards down smooth starting with 80 grit sandpaper, then moving to 120 and finishing with 160. Stain the shelf with your preferred color of Minwax® stain using a foam brush. Wipe off excess stain and allow to dry. Coat with Minwax Matte Finish Polycrylic and allow to dry. 

Floating Shelf Tutorial: Minwax Stain Testing

To get the right color, we recommend cutting spare scraps of your shelf wood, sanding it down the same way, and testing your colors. Keep in mind that when using multiple colors, the order in which you apply the stains will change the look. For these shelves we did a coat of Minwax Simply White, wiped it off, then added a coat of Minwax Driftwood and allowed it to dry for 15 minutes before wiping off.

Floating Shelf Tutorial: Applying stain

Dry Fit and Mount the Shelves

Put the shelves in place to ensure they will go on properly. Be careful not to get the shelf stuck – there’s a chance the shelf will need to be tapped into place, so dry fitting should just be a loose fit to ensure the rods match up with the holes. 

Floating Shelf Tutorial: Placing shelf

Add some of the epoxy glue into the shelf holes (again, not too much, but enough to create a firm bond) and slide the shelves in place. If tapping is necessary, place a block along the front of the shelf and tap the block with the hammer, so you don’t damage the shelf. 

If you’re more of a visual person, we put together an easy-to-follow video below!

Don’t forget to allow the shelves to cure into place overnight before loading them up. And then by all means–LOAD. THEM. UP!

Stain: Minwax Simply White | Minwax DriftwoodMinwax Polycrylic Clear Matte

Cutting Board | Colander | Lidded Canisters | Pitcher | Creamer | Painting | Terracotta Bowl

Can’t wait to see your own versions of this easy DIY!! Be sure to tag us if you try it.

What do you think?

  1. Charlotte Summers says:

    Love your work! Didn’t know lvt wasn’t meant to be under cabinets. Just used some in my own home-never thought I would use a “fake” or laminate floor. So much easier to lay, warmer, softer, easier on old legs. Clean up is ridiculously easy! Swiffer, damp mop on occasion. Ours looks like slate. Goes well in a mid century modern with huge windows and matte marble floors. Lots of compliments-especially from men. Was white carpet-is a change!

  2. Candice says:

    Wonderful tutorial! How did you cut the holes in the tiles before drilling into studs?

  3. bhavin says:

    did you use pre-stain wood conditioner for this project?

  4. Ana says:

    Beautiful shelves!! I’m curious if you used a special type of drill bit? Also, do you think this method could be used in drywall with a special anchor ? Thanks!

  5. Mel says:

    If anyone wants to know where to source the rods just read almost any other comment on this post.????

  6. Angel says:

    Hi. I was wondering what Epoxy glue you used? Also have you done this before and does it hold up well over time?

    Thanks!

  7. Nicole says:

    Perfect timing for us! We were about to do the box-type floating shelves similar to how we did our mantle, but this is so much easier and will look cleaner.

    What sort of drill bit did you use? The bit in the video doesn’t look the threaded or forstner bits we have. :P

  8. Michelle says:

    Love this! I’m wanting to put open shelves I’m my kitchen but we have a tile backsplash to the ceiling. Any ideas on how we would be able to find the studs without ruining the tile?

  9. Kaycee says:

    Any suggestions on stains for maple? I’ve tried shellac but it turns orangey. Looking for something towards walnut to blend with our butcher block inlay. Our shelves are on the island ends.

  10. Natalia says:

    Thanks for this tutorial! I’ve been researching different methods to install floating shelves in our kitchen. Any tips for how to ensure that the bottom of the shelve lines up with the bottom of the cabinet so perfectly like in your photo? My main concern is any front/back tilt of the shelf would make them not line up at the bottom. Thank you!!!

  11. Anna says:

    Thanks so much for sharing! Love these and will definitely reference this as we start our kitchen reno soon.

    How thick are these shelves? Exactly 2in? Also, what’s the distance between the shelves?

    Do you have any recommendations on when to have two vs. three? I’m debating this right now as I’m planning our kitchen, as well as whether to have them as deep as our 12 in upper cabinets, or something slightly shallower like these. Any tips would be appreciated!

    Thanks!

  12. Megan says:

    Love them. Do you think this stain would work on an old oak table after I sand it down?

  13. Val Nagle says:

    They look great! How much space do you have between the shelves? Thx.

  14. Amanda says:

    These are beautiful! And Great job on getting the colour to match.

  15. Marjorie Chavez says:

    Did you have to use kiln dried wood to avoid issues with warping newer wood?

  16. Brittany says:

    Honestly THANK YOU for this! Why are floating shelves such a mystery to me haha.

  17. Liz says:

    Wow such great timing, were tackling shelves soon. Do you think these are sturdy enough for dishes/glasses? Ours wouldn’t have cabinets on the side, just open shelving. Thanks so much for creating such great content!

  18. Michelle says:

    I love this! I want to add shelves like this in my kitchen however, there is a subway tile backsplash all the way to the ceiling. Do you have any ideas on how I can easily find the studs without ruining the tile?

  19. Jess says:

    I also like the kid’s room makeover on A Beautiful Mess – “Our Niece’s Bedroom Makeover”. The before versus after pics are very inspiring!

  20. Karissa says:

    Thanks so much for sharing! They turned out so good. Can you share what type/species of wood boards you used?

  21. Kate says:

    Love how this looks! I am moving into a new home in August and wish we had a spot to add shelves like this, but the cabinets take up the entire wall of the kitchen ;(

    Quick question! I am planning to use this gorgeous Cloe tile for our kitchen backsplash, but the area between the bottom of the cabinets and the counter is pretty small and I worry it won’t look as amazing since there won’t be a lot of it. We have a pretty good amount of space ABOVE our kitchen cabinets leading up to the ceiling. Have you ever seen someone put the subway tile both below the cabinets AND above it to fill that ceiling space? I wonder if it would look good so thought, I need to ask CLJ on this for advice! I also wonder if it would be hard to tile a backsplash that high, any thoughts?

  22. Heather says:

    How long could you make these? I have an 8 foot alcove I want to put floating shelves in.

  23. Liz says:

    Can you tell me what that tile is? I love it!

    And the shelves – so great. I’ve been thinking about putting floating shelves in our new bathroom (currently in demo mode), but nervous about drilling into tile! This makes it seem doable.

  24. Mia says:

    Waiting for this kitchen reveal is giving me heart palpitations and I don’t know how much longer I will last.

  25. Elaine says:

    Love this tutorial! We’re planning on some floating shelves in our small kitchen update and will use this guide. How to you think the Chloe tile would work with the 2000’s ever popular “cecilia” (gold with dark brown veining) granite? I was worried using this tile as a backsplash might lean to cool. Your photo here looks so warm that I think it could work! Thoughts?

    • Julia says:

      I think it depends on what grout you use. We used a warm white grout so it helped lighten and warm it up. I think it would work!

  26. Layce says:

    Thanks for the tutorial, this is on my list of projects to do soon! Can you please link the mounting rods that you used?

  27. Kate says:

    Where can we find the rods? Thanks!

  28. katy says:

    Can you link to the rods you used? I have no idea where to find anything like that. Are they specifically used for hanging floating shelves or are they typically used for another purpose? Thanks in advance!

  29. Lauren says:

    Do you have a source for the mounting rods?

  30. Lisen says:

    Love these shelves! And installation seems pretty easy :-) I was wondering if you could link ( or let me know) where you got the rods from?

  31. Karmen says:

    This is totally off subject, my 14 year old is wanting bedroom makeover. Any bloggers that you know that have done their girls bedroom.

  32. Stephanie Trombley says:

    This post is PERFECTLY timed! Where do you buy the mounting posts?

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We believe we should all love where we live.

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