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How to DIY an Art Ledge

September 18, 2018  —  Written by Chris 

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This post is in partnership with MINWAX®.

Ever since we made the art ledge in our living room four years ago, we’ve loved seeing them pop up in so many of your homes. They are such a functional way to display art, but finding one that is the perfect size for that wall in your home can be tricky (and expensive). Although it’s one of the easiest DIYs out there, we realized we never put together a proper tutorial to follow…until now! Follow this beginner-level DIY project to make your own in one day with a few simple supplies.

Materials Needed

1×12 pine board2inch wood screws1 1/4in wood screws
MINWAX® Pre-Stain Wood ConditionerMINWAX® Wood StainMINWAX® Polycrylic (clear matte finish)
paper towelsvinyl gloves

Tools Used

sanding blockpaint brushesdriver
1/8inch drill bitwood clampscircular saw (optional)

Step 1: Prep the board

Believe it or not, you can make this entire ledge with one piece of pine wood. The pine board can be whatever length you like – ours is 10 feet. Out of this one 12in wide board we will create the three pieces for our shelf. Using your circular saw (or a table saw if you have one), rip the board into three separate pieces of these sizes:
– 5 1/2 inches
– 3 1/2 inches
– 3/4 inches

How to DIY an Art Ledge

If you do not have a circular saw (or a table saw), Lowe’s can rip the board for you into these pieces. There will be a small piece left over which you can save as scrap for future projects.

How to DIY an Art Ledge

Step 2. Screw the boards together

The 5 1/2in board is the base of the art ledge, the 3 1/2in board is the back and the 3/4in board is the front. Stand the back board up on top of the base, flush with the back and side edges, and clamp them together with wood clamps.

How to DIY an Art Ledge

Using the 1/8in drill bit, drill pilot holes about 12-16 inches apart through the bottom of the base into the back board, being careful not to drill out the sides of the board.

How to DIY an Art Ledge

Screw one 2in wood screw into each of the pilot holes, countersinking the heads only slightly so they are flush or just below the wood surface.

How to DIY an Art Ledge

Repeat this process for the front, 3/4in board using the 1 1/4in screws. When drilling pilot holes, only drill through the base, and not into the 3/4in piece.

How to DIY an Art Ledge

How to DIY an Art Ledge

Step 3: Prep the ledge for stain

Using a fine grit sanding block (we used a 220 grit), sand all the edges of the art ledge to remove any splinters or roughness. Clean off with a dry rag or tac cloth.

How to DIY an Art Ledge

Once sanded, apply a coat of MINWAX® Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner. Soft woods like pine tend to take on too much stain in some areas and not enough in others, making the finish look blotchy or uneven. Conditioner evens out the pores in the wood and helps it take the stain evenly.

How to DIY an Art Ledge

Apply one even coat over the wood, let sit for 10-15 minutes, then wipe away any excess using a paper towel and let sit another 5 minutes.

Step 4: Stain the ledge

Once the wood conditioner has dried on the ledge, apply your preferred color of MINWAX® Stain. We used one coat of Special Walnut that was wiped off immediately after the entire ledge had been stained. It’s helpful to use vinyl gloves for this.

How to DIY an Art Ledge

How to DIY an Art Ledge

Step 5: Seal the ledge

One fear with wood projects is adding a sealant coat that will alter the look you achieve after staining. For this reason we used 3 coats of MINWAX® Polycrylic in Clear Matte finish, with 2 hours of drying time between each coat. It seals the wood without causing it to yellow, which can happen with some sealant coats. I encourage using vinyl gloves for this as well.

How to DIY an Art Ledge

Once the Polycrylic coats have cured, simply hang the board by screwing through the back piece, directly into the wall studs, with 3in wood screws.

How to DIY an Art Ledge

How to DIY an Art Ledge

All-in-all this project took just a few hours (most of that was drying time) and only a handful of supplies. It’s a great way to display art while having the option to quickly swap pieces in and out. Hope you can use this tutorial to make the perfect one for you home!

Watch the full DIY video here:

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What do you think?

  1. Russell says:

    A perfect and unique way to hang art and family pictures on the walls. I personally prefer that ledge/shelf more than just simply hanging picture frames. Plus, you can get so creative with it. Thank you for sharing DIY tips.

  2. Jenna says:

    Any recommendations on whether or not this would work with 10′ ceilings? I’m afraid there will be too big of a space between top of pics and the ceiling. I’m stuck!!!

  3. Lori says:

    Hello! The 1×12 board link seems to be linking to a 1×6 board.

  4. shaina says:

    can’t see the page yet – getting this spamy comment page first so hoping if I fill it out I’ll see the tutorial

  5. bklatcher@gmail.com says:

    Good

  6. Jenifer says:

    Thanks for the tutorial! The tutorial was clear and to me easy to follow.

    I did it! actually I did 2. I had a wall in my office that everything I hung there was too small. I did not have all the correct tools that Chris has and looks great. thanks

  7. BrandiandBoys says:

    I know this post is old, but I have finally started this project and am ready to hang my ledge based on your DIY. Thanks for that!! One quick question, what is the measurement between the back of the couch and bottom of the ledge?? Is it about 12″?

  8. Haley says:

    Hi! I’m planning to do this for a long hallway we have, but I want to make the backboard extend below the ledge so I can add some hooks to it (for guest coats). This means that instead of the screws going vertically through the ledge into the back board, they would go horizontally through the back of the back board into the ledge. My question is whether you think this will be less structurally sound or if it would work fine?

    Thank you so much!

  9. Ali says:

    Finally going to make this after lusting after it for 5 years! If we were planning to paint it black instead of staining would you recommend different wood or what steps would you do differently? Thank you!! I’m so excited!

  10. Emily says:

    Hello! I am in the process of making this but have a quick question. The stain says to wait 24 hours before applying the Polycrylic finish. I did that but am now seeing that y’all did not. Why didn’t you wait and how long did you wait after applying the stain?

  11. Yivo says:

    Is the DIY art ledge post down for good??

  12. Danie says:

    Could I adjust the width of the shelf so that I could put plants on it instead of photos? It would need to be at least six inches wide. I think that would work. Am I missing anything?

  13. Anne-Marie B. says:

    How long did y’all wait after applying the stain to apply the first coat of the sealant? The can says 8 hours and I’m hoping we don’t really need to wait that long!

  14. Aleks says:

    Would you suggest an art ledge like this for over a bed in a masterbedroom? I love the look but am having trouble deciding between 1 large scale piece or something like this! Help!

    • Julia says:

      I love a ledge anywhere.

    • Ann says:

      Not over a bed if you are in an earthquake prone area. Anything not securely mounted to the wall will jiggle off during a quake. You’d end up with the ledge staying just fine, but pix might walk off. And if you’re in bed? Not good!

  15. Renee Vergara says:

    This is awesome. I remember seeing at some point a graphic of all your frames and their sizes on the ledge, but can’t seem to find it now…where is that?

  16. Renee Vergara says:

    Does the 5.5” piece end up leaving you with a 5” depth?

  17. I’m super visual and I’m struggling with understanding how your head doesn’t hit that ledge when it’s so close and low to the couch. And yet I love the design look of the ledge close to the couch. Can you put my fears at bay by showing us a video of someone 6’ y’all sitting on the couch? Thank you!!!

  18. Help. I LOVE this and want to do it but my family thinks we will hit our heads or thst it will be in the way when you sit. Can you speak to this? You mentioned 41.5” up. Is it still comfie to sit on couch even for 6’ male —- even w kids in the house —- or does it get in the way?

  19. Joy says:

    Hello. What’s the weight capacity for the picture ledge? Thank you.

  20. Ashley T. says:

    How do you decide how long to make the shelf? I noticed you have an overhang on either side of your couch, but in our living room the wall above the couch is only about 3 feet longer than the couch itself (due to the front door)… I have debated on if it would make more sense to hang a ledge on the opposite wall which is longer, but that’s where the TV is and I can’t decide if the TV being in front of a portion of the ledge would look too cluttered. I don’t want to switch the couch to the other wall because the room doesn’t feel as cozy with it on the other side. Any thoughts or guidance?

    • Chris says:

      I personally wouldn’t hang a TV with it. Maybe two separate picture ledges on either side would be better, but limit the art so there isn’t too much competing up there. And the Samsung Frame TV would be a great option to hang among your art.

  21. Paigelee says:

    I love this and want to copy in our living room. What sizes are our photo frames?

  22. Cassidy says:

    Thanks for the DIY for this! We are in the midst of making this and have a couple of quick questions! The directions on the polycrilic say to wait 24 hours after staining to use, and also to sand between each coat- you don’t follow either of those- did it make a difference? Also, our Lowe’s didn’t have pine in this size and didn’t offer to cut it, ugh (we’re using poplar instead). Do you think this would need any extra supports to prevent it from warping from the weight over time? Thanks so much!

    • Chris says:

      We did do a sanding between each coat, just didn’t show it. AS for poplar, you should be fine but warping is possible. Once it gets on the wall, due to the structure of it, it doesn’t usually warp.

  23. Shannon says:

    Hi C & J! JUST made and hung this art ledge in our living room!! So excited! Thank you for such an easy to follow tutorial. Wondering what the sizes are of some of your prominent art… sizing and scale is my new challenge as I fill and style the ledge. Would love some input!

  24. Kirsten says:

    YES!!!!! I have been waiting for this tutorial. Thank you. Will do it this week.

  25. Grace Douglass says:

    My question is regarding the wall color. May I have the brand and color name? It’s beautiful and makes the wood tones in the room very soft. This is a great project. Thanks.

  26. Hillary Scholl says:

    Chris mentions the lip measurement at 1 inch in the video, but the post says 3/4 inch. Does it matter which measurement is used?

  27. Anna Booth says:

    Thanks again for this tutorial. How high should you hang the ledge above the sofa?

  28. Ashley E says:

    Hi friends! Love this tutorial. Question- I want to hang this art ledge on an 8’ long wall without a couch under it… how high do you think i should hang it? Is the 41.25” safe? I will have tall frames much like the portrait white frame you have on your shelf. Thanks!

  29. I would abso-freaking-lutely love to have a picture ledge, but our cats would murder it! :(

  30. Melody says:

    Thanks so much for this tutorial! Do you have any tips on finding the right wood for a project like this? I clicked on your link, but it says it’s not available anymore. When I go to Lowe’s, I feel like there’s a million different options. I know it’s pine, but does it say something else specific? I just want to make sure I’m getting the right thing! Thanks so much!

    • Chris says:

      We just used pine. It is light enough that it doesn’t carry unnecessary bulk that could weigh down the shelf over time, and it’s also inexpensive.

  31. Nicole says:

    Quick question- Great tutorial! Is there any reason to not use a slightly wider board from the front “ridge” of the shelf and screw it to the front of the base board rather than on top? It’s a personal preference, but then you wouldn’t have a seam at eye-level. Do you think it would affect the structural integrity of the ledge in any way?

  32. Shenley says:

    The list of requirements for screws does not tie up with the instructions

  33. CJ says:

    Love this very specific, step by step tutorial! I made one modeled after your previous (lesser detailed) post and it turned out great. If I make another one I’ll definitely refer back here!

  34. Debbie says:

    This is off topic, but will you be putting together a fall candle round up again? My candles are either summery or wintry, need some good fall ones…

  35. Allison says:

    I’ve been toying with the idea of putting one of these over our living/entertainment/family area couch that’s on a wall. I’ve always hesitated though because our ceilings are vaulted and the area about the couch is pretty drastic – the area about the shelf would probably decrease over the width of the shelf from around 8 ft to 4 ft.

    What do you think of pairing this shelf with a vaulted ceiling? My first thought is to just have a couple larger/taller pieces toward the 8ft side to fill up the area some, but I’m afraid that would make the shelf feel too unbalanced. I’m going to have to photoshop it up most likely, but am wondering what your thoughts would be. Thanks!

    • Julia says:

      I generally put our larger pieces in the middle, does your vault peak in the middle or on one side?

      • Allison says:

        One side… I love the idea of being able to swap things out easily, just not sure if it would work in my case!

      • Melissa says:

        We have vaulted ceilings and I have a ledge in our dining room. It looks great! It’s been my favorite place to decorate in our open concept area. I keep the taller/larger pieces in the middle (one frame is 11×14 and the other is 8×10) I think this helps balance the vault. Then just place layer in the smaller pieces. I’d say go for it!!

  36. Karen says:

    TOO FUNNY, I just ordered a custom walnut picture ledge from an shop in Maine, c/o Etsy! And of course, all the times I googled this (image search) to make sure I’m getting the “look” I want, your living room picture was at the top. And you bet I scoured your past Picture Ledge posts to find out the dimensions of your ledge.

    I went with two ledges, each 63″ long (our sofa is 120″) which will line the length of the sofa, and I’m flanking each side with these Rejuvenation Cypress Sconces: https://www.rejuvenation.com/catalog/products/cypress-double-swing-arm-sconce-brushed-satin-brass-with-oil-rubbed-bronzes-shade/configurations/ob

    I’m also starting to work on the art I’ll display on the ledge! We’ve been in our house for 2 years now, lived through way too many renovations, so I’m excited to be working on FUN decorating stuff (finally!).

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