How to Mount a Shelf when there’s No Stud

How to Mount a Shelf When There's No Stud

You know how it is, right? You want something mounted on the wall that’s heavy and going to need proper stud support,

but the stud isn’t in the exact spot you need it.

And why would it be, really… studs are basically every 16″ inside the wall so the odds will not be in your favor to have one exactly where you need it. Ah, but there is a solution… probably a couple of solutions, but here’s what I did myself for this problem…

This very charming antique coffee grinder is what started it all:

How to Mount a Shelf When There's No Stud

I found it for sale on my favorite place to shop for local treasures for only $10… OK, so it does look a little rough and dirty and you may be thinking you’d pay someone $10 just to get rid of it… But I could see a bit of charm in it and wanted to add it to my little coffee collection in the kitchen, and you’ll see in a later post, once it’s cleaned up, it is kind of charming after all.

But alas, there wasn’t room…

I needed to move some things around on the wall.

In doing so, I decided the best thing would be to move the coffee maker up to the level of the outlet and off the antique stove. (click here to see the restoration of this antique stove… it looked pretty rough in the before)

By moving the coffee maker up off the stove, it’d free up the stovetop a bit, keeping toddler fingers from pushing the very fun looking buttons, and it would also cover up the outlet that is kind of high on the wall and an unwanted focal point!

How to Mount a Shelf When There's No Stud

I’ve had these antique iron shelf brackets for years… like over 20 or 25 years! There’s something about the simple shape of them and that old chippy white and gray finish with bits of green showing up that I just love.

(HERE’S a great place to find your own vintage shelf brackets!)

After a quick text to my carpenter to construct a shelf to sit on the brackets…

How to Mount a Shelf When There's No Stud

I cleared everything off the wall, except the vintage dutch mill coffee grinder, that I knew, was going to stay right there. Next to it I planned to add the grinder I found. Then to the left of the growing group of grinders, and covering that outlet, I wanted to add the coffee maker sitting on a shelf that I needed to mount on the wall.

That was my plan…

If you don’t have a stud finder, HERE’S ONE. you can order. I keep mine in my toolbox.

Unfortunately, this time, there wasn’t a stud even remotely close to where I wanted to mount the brackets on the wall to support the shelf. Dang-it! What to do???

I actually had to think a bit about this… I didn’t feel that any type of hollow wall support I knew of would be strong enough to hold the heavy coffee maker and shelf.

I wasn’t willing to compromise on shelf placement… I needed the water filler part of the coffee maker accessible.

Then it dawned on me, I can do this… You see, of course, there are studs holding up the wall, they’re just not in the exact place where I needed them for the bracket placement.

So, here’s what I did:

How to Mount a Shelf When There's No Stud

After I determined the exact height where I wanted the shelf and shelf brackets, I penciled on the wall where the mounting holes in the brackets would be on the wall.

(HERE IS a small torpedo level to order too. Again, good to have it handy in your toolbox)

I then dry-fitted one board, marking the wall for level.

How to Mount a Shelf When There's No Stud

Then with screws long enough to go through this board, the sheetrock and firmly into the studs, I screwed the boards to the wall.

(I’ve had my Bosch cordless drill for over 10 years. I love it! and use it all the time. HERE IS one to order, and it comes with an extra battery… nice!)

I decided that it would look the best for these mounting boards to span all the way from the doorway trim on the left across to the sink cabinet on the other side. That way I found 3 studs to secure them to as well.


How to Mount a Shelf When There's No Stud

I primed the boards with this primer.

Followed by 2 coats of wall paint.

How to Mount a Shelf When There's No Stud

I just wanted them to blend in.

Once everything was dry, you can see below how the boards line up just where I need them for the brackets:

How to Mount a Shelf When There's No Stud

The brackets both have to proper support they need for the weight of the shelf now, and I get the shelf mounted exactly where I wanted it!

Next, after my carpenter got the shelf done, it was time to mount that to the brackets.

How to Mount a Shelf When There's No Stud

I didn’t want to just set the shelf on the brackets with nothing holding it to them… I was a little concerned it could too easily flip off.

So ever so carefully, I drilled a pilot hole in the pencil marked spot where the bracket has a hole. Ever so careful so that the drill bit didn’t come through the top of the shelf. (I’ve done that more times than I care to admit!) I actually learned from an old carpenter one way to control the drill from grabbing too much is to reverse the turning on the drill. Even though it’s going backwards, you can still get it to drill in a little bit.

And one last little trick up my sleeve:

How to Mount a Shelf When There's No Stud

The screw head was just a wee bit too small for the large hole in the brackets under the shelf, so I added a fender washer.


How to Mount a Shelf When There's No Stud

There’s room for everything and the stud location didn’t hamper my design goal for this shelf.

My tip for you to take away from this? (Besides the obvious solution to creating support with horizontal boards) is this:

Sometimes when you have a design goal, but it doesn’t seem possible to bring it about… give yourself a little time and thought. There is almost always a way to accomplish it, just maybe not the traditional way, but a way, none the less! ๐Ÿ™‚

Did you know I now offer e-decorating? I can help you with your decorating needs via email, without having to step foot in your home. If you’re interested in more information, visit my e-decorating site: Frame and Frills. I’d love to help you with your project!

Here are more carpentry tips and ideas:

Thanks so much for stopping by! Please feel free to follow and share this blog with your friends, as well as on Facebook, Pinterest, Flipboard, Bloglovin, YouTube and now Instagram!  I appreciate you reading along.

This post was shared at: Between Naps on the Porch

Reader Interactions


    • Liz says

      Zeba, I’m so glad it helped! That’s exactly what I write this blog for, hoping it will help someone out. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for stopping by!

  1. Barbara says

    I’m so proud of you. . . you figured out a way to get exactly what you wanted. The horizontal supports just add another layer of design to your walls and like you said, they blend right in. I agree – often just stepping away and thinking of your situation can bring resolution!

Share Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *