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How do I put shelves up on plasterboard walls.

(12 Posts)
HDee Tue 01-Jan-13 08:11:10

I need simple, easy to understand instructions on how to do this. Every time I google, I just seem to be being told to use a detecter thingy and drill into the wooden whatsits behind the plasterboard. This would be fine if they were in the right place, but our rooms are oddly shaped.

So, assuming I buy a floating shelf kit from a shop (you know, the type without brackets to 'sit') the shelf on, what do I then need to do to make this shelf stay on my plasterboard walls?

The closest I seem to have been able to find, is using Molly bolts (?). Is this right?

As you can see we are total DIY novices. Would a chap in B&Q be able to tell me the right equipment and what I need to do. We do own a drill somewhere which is a start....

RubyGates Tue 01-Jan-13 08:17:10

You need something like this:;jsessionid=dn19QvbKmWdJpR4zqh17zSXTR4G7YxkT0sp5bRbbkdLThDpnvF4T!-1089312817

They come in different sizes depending on the weight of the thing you are hanging.

HDee Tue 01-Jan-13 08:20:23

Thank you smile so assuming I buy some of them, which part of the shelf kit do they take the place of? Are they instead of the normal screws?

I'm an idiot. I appreciate this is going to seem obvious to some people.

GreatGardenstuff Tue 01-Jan-13 08:25:38

Yes, hollow wall fixings would replace the normal screws. They are best used with a special tool to fix them (also on screwfix), otherwise they can fail.

If you are complete novices, and you want to load your shelves with anything remotely weighty, I would consider getting someone in to do it for you ... <voice of experience>

HDee Tue 01-Jan-13 08:39:28

The shelves are just for the children's bedrooms. Won't be anything too heavy on them, but don't want to end up with huge holes in our walls.

I am tempted by the getting someone in idea. But who? I worry that by asking someone who is a general handyman-type that they won't do any better a job then us.

PigletJohn Tue 01-Jan-13 09:32:02

before deciding what you need, we need to know what you've got. What is behind the plasterboard? Is it wooden studs, or is it an air gap then lightweight concrete blocks? Or is it a house with partition walls made of rigid plastic foam laminated with plasterboard? How thick is the wall (measure it at the door opening)?

The construction is likely to be different on internal walls and external walls, unless you have a timber-framed house.

The floating shelf fittings are fundamentally weak so will need a very sound fixing into something solid.

PigletJohn Tue 01-Jan-13 09:33:32


shelves in childrens' rooms

the heaviest thing they will hold is children climbimg on them.

HDee Tue 01-Jan-13 09:35:17

Bloody hell Piglet, it's going to take me all day to decipher your post ;)

They are all internal walls, and sound hollow if that helps? It's a modern Taylor-Wimpey house, seven years old.

Would I be better off using shelves with brackets? I don't mind if its safer/easier, I just don't find they look so nice. We haven't actually bought any shelves yet, such is our total ignorance on what we need.

nocake Tue 01-Jan-13 09:59:51

Unless you can screw them into a stud or something solid behind the plasterboard don't bother trying to put a floating shelf on a plasterboard wall. It won't take even the lightest load.

You'd be better off using brackets that can be adjusted so each bracket can be screwed into a stud. Or a free standing shelving unit screwed to the wall to stop it falling over.

PigletJohn Tue 01-Jan-13 10:01:00

tap the wall all over with your knuckles. If the hollow sound changes, there is something behind the plasterboard. If it is wooden studs, the solid noise will run vertically as the studs will run from floor to ceiling about 600mm apart, and there may be horizontal noggins at about waist and head height. You might even be able to see or feel, if the wall is not papered, little dimples where the nail heads are. You can put chalk-marks on the wall to help you see the pattern. If there are wooden studs, you can drill and screw ordinary wood screws into them through the plasterboard. At least 35mm long.

However, if the solid bits are just independent spots, with no pattern like a piece of wood behind them, it is probably dot and dab which is going to be harder but can be done.

Never drill directly vertically above, or below, an electrical socket or switch, as this is the usual route of cables. Do not drill or screw horizontally either, especially if there are several sockets or switches at the same level.

If you really can't work out what your wall is made of, drill a hole in the plasterboard and look through with a torch, or poke a pencil through.

PigletJohn Tue 01-Jan-13 10:02:56


you could buy a stud detector. They are sold at DIY sheds and i believe also by Lovehoney.

HDee Tue 01-Jan-13 10:23:43

Thanks everyone.

Stud detector will be or first purchase.

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