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Build a simple wall to wall shelves

A step-by-step tutorial on how to build a simple wall to wall shelves for your home.

Sometimes the most refreshing ideas come from the strangest places! 

We’re always looking for ways to improve our home so every bit of space in our house is maximized to its full potential. 

We had a tight space in one of our kid’s rooms where the walls were close together. It was not easy to convert to a closet but it seemed like wasted space.

So we thought, why not build beautiful shelves for our kids’ toys? Because it seems like their Lego collection doubles every year!

If you have a similar problem, here is how to build simple wall-to-wall shelves for your little space.

install wall to wall shelves

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BUILD A SIMPLE WALL TO WALL SHELVES


MATERIALS:

  • 1″x2″ boards
  • 1″x10″ boards
  • 1.5″ finishing nails (16 gauge would be great for this project)
  • caulk
  • spackling paste
  • paint and primer
  • stain
  • tung oil (wood sealer)
  • #220 grit sandpaper

TOOLS:

You can print the material list and instructions below.

STEP 1: MEASURE THE SPACE

The first thing you need to do is measure the space you have to work with. 

You also need to decide on the number of shelves you would like and the spacing between each shelf. 

It’s a great idea to create a sketch of the shelves with cutting measurements.

This will help you determine the amount of wood you need to purchase.

Each shelf (1″x10″ board) is supported by a bracing (two 1″x2″ boards attached to the wall on either side). I also decided that I wanted the 1″x2″ brace 1/2″ shorter than the shelf.

SIDE NOTE: Because our walls are so close together, we decided to have deeper shelves so our shelves are two 1″x10″ boards side by side.

TIP: Make sure to measure the location of each shelf because your wall could be uneven at various points.

STEP 2: CUT, SAND, AND FINISH WOOD

Once you have your sketch and measurements, cut the 1″x2″ boards and 1″x10″ boards to the sizes you need. 

Take the 1″x10″ boards and check the fit in the desired location. I like to label where the shelf will be based on the sketch so I can keep track of the placement of each board.

pen and tape measure sitting on cut boards for shelves

After the wood is cut to the size you need, sand the wood using #220 grit sandpaper with an orbital sander.

Once the wood is smooth, wipe it clean with a cloth. Then, apply your wood finish. We chose to paint the braces (1″x2″ boards) white so we used 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of white paint.

paint bracing for wall to wall shelves

For the shelves, we wanted the wood stained. We used Provincial stain by Minwax but sealed the wood with 2 coats of tung oil, see more info about tung oil here.

Then, we let everything dry.

STEP 3: INSTALL THE BRACING

Once all the 1″x2″ boards have dried, it is time to attach them to the wall. By now, you should know how many shelves you are installing plus the spacing between each shelf.

Starting with the bottom shelf, use a tape measure to measure from the floor up to the side of the wall. Mark the location of your bottom shelf. Do this for both walls.

TIP: Remember to allow for the width of the shelf. This mark is where the top of the brace will be so adjust your measurements accordingly.

Next, take one 1″x2″ brace and place it on the wall so that the board lines up with the mark. Take a small level and make sure the board is straight. Then, nail the board into place (use at least 3 nails per board).

nail bracing to wall for shelves

Then, move to the other wall and add another brace, repeating the steps above.

TIP: I like to place the shelf before nailing the second brace to make sure that the shelf is level because sometimes the floor is unlevel. If the shelf is not level, adjust the second brace until the board is level. Mark the new brace location and now you’re ready to install it.

level shelves between walls

Continue this process until all the bracing is installed.

install bracing for shelves
bracing for wall to wall shelves

After, patch all the nail holes with spackling paste and sand it smooth when it dries. To give the bracing a seamless finish, apply caulk to the seams (where the brace hits the wall). 

SIDE NOTE: Are you wondering how to apply caulk like a pro? Visit my other article all about how to apply caulk

When everything has dried, touch up the bracing with paint.

STEP 4: INSTALL THE SHELVES BETWEEN THE WALLS

Once all the bracing is installed, place the shelves onto the bracing. Secure the shelves into place by nailing them to the bracing. Be mindful of where the other nails are in the bracing so you can avoid them.

two boards for shelves

And that’s it! After four simple steps, you have wall-to-wall shelves. This quick and easy shelving is the perfect way to add more storage to a room. And, in my case, a fantastic way to store my kids’ Legos!

build wall to wall shelves

I hope this tutorial helps you build your own wall to wall shelves!

Yield: wall to wall shelves

Build simple wall to wall shelves

build wall to wall shelves

Are you looking for a simple way to add shelves between to walls? Here the steps on how to build simple wall-to-wall shelves.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Active Time 5 hours
Additional Time 5 hours
Total Time 10 hours 10 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $$

Materials

  • 1″x2″ boards
  • 1″x10″ boards
  • 1.5″ finishing nails (16 gauge would be great for this project)
  • caulk
  • spackling paste
  • paint and primer
  • stain
  • tung oil (wood sealer)
  • #220 grit sandpaper

Tools

  • miter saw
  • air compressor w/nail gun
  • level
  • tape measure
  • orbital sander

Instructions

  1. Measure the distance between each wall.
  2. Cut, sand, and apply a finish to the boards.
  3. Install the bracing to the walls.
  4. Install the shelves between the walls.

2 Comments

  1. Your posts have very well laid out steps! I love the details steps because I am one to follow directions but need them detailed in order to get my projects to turn out :)

    1. Thank you, Mindy! I try to give as many details as I can and its great hearing you love it!

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