How to Install Shelves on a Brick or Concrete Wall

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You can hang a shelf on a concrete wall.

When looking for extra storage space in a garage, basement or out building wall shelving can often be your best option. When the walls are made of masonry or concrete it may appear to be more difficult to install shelving, but through the following steps you can hang shelves directly onto the concrete or masonry wall just as easily as on a wood framed wall.


Step 1

Measure out the rough height at which you plan to install each shelf. Place a pencil mark where each shelf will start, and use a 4-foot level to mark a pencil line across the length of the wall at each height. Unless you plan to store very heavy objects on your shelves you will need to install a bracket at both ends and around every two feet along the length of the shelf. Measure from one end of the proposed shelf line and mark each 24 inches with a pencil line. If the line comes into contact with a seam in the concrete or a mortar line in the brick, move your mark a few inches over. Hold a mounting bracket against the wall so that the top is even with the shelf line at the point you marked for a bracket. Look at where the mounting holes in the bracket line up. If they are near a mortar line or seam in the concrete, move the bracket slightly. If not, place a small pencil mark at the spot the mounting hole meets the wall. Continue until all mounting holes are marked.


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Step 2

Use a hammer drill with a 1/4 inch mason bit, or an electric drill with the same bit to drill out the holes. The hammer drill will greatly simplify the work but is expensive. Consider renting one from your nearest home improvement store or a rental company. Measure the length of the casing on the fasteners that you have purchased. Mark a line on your drill bit a 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch longer than the length of the fastener to avoid drilling too deep into your wall. Holding your drill level, drill a hole into each spot you marked for mounting your shelves to the depth of the mark on your bit.


Step 3

Begin installing the mounting brackets once the holes have been drilled. There are a variety of brackets that can be purchased from hardware stores. To get the best strength for your money use reinforced support steel brackets that can be found at hardware stores or home improvement stores. Hold the first bracket up to the wall so that the top is even with your shelf line and the mounting holes line up with the holes you drilled. Place your fastener through the mounting hole and into the wall until it is snug. If you are using expanding nails, hammer the nail until it is flush with the casing and tight to the wall. If you are using expanding screws, do the same thing but with a screwdriver. If your masonry wall is multiple layers thick with a air pocket between each layer you can drill through the first run of brick and use toggle bolts to attach through to the back of the brick. Follow the same instructions to mount all brackets to the wall. Use your 4 foot level to make sure each bracket is level with the next before firmly installing.


Step 4

Prepare your shelving once the brackets are in place. You can purchase pre-cut shelf boards at most hardware stores that are already covered with a laminate surface. You can also make your own shelves from plywood, planking or sheathing. In most cases you will need to cut your shelf board at least for length if not also for width. To do so, measure the length of the shelf area with your measuring tape. Then measure the desired width. Avoid installing a shelf that has a width that extends more than 1/3 of the total width further than the bracket. Using your measuring tape and a pencil mark your length and width on the wood you are using for the shelving. You can use your 4 foot level to make a straight edge line. Using a table saw or a circular saw with a guide and cut your shelf section to length and width. If your shelves are of varying length or widths, measure each individually. If you are making several shelves of the same size you can save time by using the first cut shelf as a template for the rest. Once the cuts are made use a low grit sandpaper (150 grit or less) to remove splinters and jagged edges.


Step 5

Install your shelving. Place a shelf board across the brackets so that it is flush to the wall and even to your edge lines on both sides. Check the length of the shelf for being level and add shims if necessary. Once you are satisfied with the layout of the shelf, use an electric screwdriver to drill mounting screws (be sure that the length of the screw is less than the depth of the shelf board) through the underside of the top of the brackets into the bottom of the shelf board. Continue this process with each bracket and on each shelf. When finished you can begin reorganizing your storage area immediately.



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