How to Attach Shelves to Metal Wall Studs

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Metal studs are an environmentally friendly building material due to their ability to be recycled. The thin-gauge metal studs, however, pose problems for homeowners who are used to hanging shelves and decorations from wood studs. Unlike wood studs, the thickness of the metal stud does not provide enough material to hold threads and support significant weight. Therefore, you must use another kind of fastener that plays on the strength of the entire stud, not the thickness of the metal.

Things You'll Need

  • Stud finder
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Electric drill
  • 3/16th-inch drill bit
  • 1/2-inch drill bit
  • 1/4-inch-diameter by 2 1/2-inch-long toggle bolts
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Level
  • Using a stud finder, locate the studs in the wall where you want to hang the shelf

  • Slide the stud finder along the wall until it signals a metal stud.

  • Place a pencil mark on the wall for the first stud location.

  • Measure over 16 inches from the stud location to mark another stud, slide the stud finder over the location you marked to ensure that a stud is located at the mark. If you find another stud, the metal studs are on 16-inch centers.

  • Locate the wall shelf, placing one mounting bracket on the stud. If the other wall bracket is not on a stud, you will still use the same style anchor.

  • Mark the hole locations for the wall shelf bracket on the wall.

  • Put on your safety glasses.

  • Secure the 3/16th-inch drill bit in the drill.

  • Drill a 3/16th-inch hole at each location that you marked for the wall shelf brackets.

  • Exchange the 3/16th-inch drill bit for the 1/2-inch drill bit. Enlarge each 3/16th-inch pilot hole with the 1/2-inch drill bit. Take care not to let the drill bit "walk" while you are drilling. Walking is a term used to describe when a drill bit moves away from the intended drilling location.

  • Hold the toggle bolt with the toggle facing from floor to ceiling. Lay the toggle bolt toward you and insert it into the hole.

  • Pull the toggle tight to the wall and push the holding plate against the drywall. Insert all the toggle bolts into the 1/2-inch holes.

  • Align the wall shelf mounting holes with the toggle bolts now installed in the wall.

  • Insert a 1/4-inch bolt supplied with the toggle bolts through the shelf-mounting bracket and into the toggle bolt. Perform this step at each mounting location.

  • Tighten one toggle bolt with the Phillips screwdriver.

  • Place the level across the shelf. Adjust the shelf as necessary to make it level.

  • Tighten all the toggle bolts to secure the shelf to the wall.

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