Buying Guide for Floating Shelves
Why buy floating shelves?
Like regular shelves, floating shelves can hold and display many different items. You can use them as spice racks in the kitchen, as places to keep extra toiletries on hand in the bathroom, as makeshift bookshelves, as display places for novelty mug collections, houseplants, or framed photos—the possibilities are nearly limitless.
The nice thing about floating shelves is that they add more display and storage to your home without taking up floor space. Sure, you can buy a new cabinet or bookshelf for your home, but if you have limited available floor space, you may not have the room for more furniture. Since floating shelves are installed right onto the wall, they give you the space you need without cluttering the room’s layout. Plus, you can arrange them on the same wall, on different walls in the same room, or in several different rooms altogether.
What should you look for in floating shelves?
- Quantity: How many extra shelves do you want or need for your home? Will one single shelf be enough, or do you need more? Sets of two, three, and four floating shelves are the most common; if you need more than four shelves, you may have to invest in multiple sets. Individual shelves are harder to find, at least in the standard horizontal shelf design.
- Size: Be sure to check the length, height, and depth of the floating shelves you’re considering; they won’t do you any good if they’re too long for the stretch of wall you want to install them on or if they aren’t deep enough to hold your belongings. Don’t forget to check the max weight capacity of the floating shelves, either.
- Material: Whether real or engineered, wood is the most common material for floating shelves. It’s almost as durable as metal, not as heavy, matches more interior decor styles, and can be painted whatever color you want. Engineered wood is pretty common since it doesn’t weigh as much as natural wood. However, real hardwood is more robust and has a higher weight capacity; oak, pine, maple, and walnut are all good options. For greater durability, stability, and weight capacity, look for wooden shelves reinforced with metal.
Are there any other factors worth considering in floating shelves?
There are several other valuable features to remember when shopping for floating shelves. For instance, consider the design and shape of the shelves. While simple horizontal shelves are the standard, there are other options. For example, some floating shelves are meant to fit into corners. Honeycomb and geometric-shaped floating shelves are fairly common, too.
Another factor worth keeping in mind is the shelves’ weight capacity. Weight capacity is crucial since it helps determine how many and what kinds of objects the shelves can support. Be sure to look for a floating shelf’s maximum weight capacity in the product listing or description. And if it comes as a set, double-check if that weight capacity means that the shelves can support, say, 25 pounds each or 25 pounds as a whole, as this is a small but key difference.
Finally, you may want to keep an eye out for floating shelves with some bonus features that may come in handy around the house. For instance, some models have safety bars on the sides to prevent your items from falling off if jostled. Other bonus features you can look for are towel racks or hanging hooks along the bottom.
Our Picks for the Best Floating Shelves
Willow & Grace Floating Shelves
This pair of classic wooden floating shelves will look great with almost any home decor style.
Pros: Many floating shelves are MDF or engineered wood, but not this pair. They’re made out of 100% real, solid pinewood, which is much stronger. This allows for a weight capacity of about 40 pounds each. Yet the solid wood composition doesn’t weigh them down, as these shelves weigh just over three pounds each. They’re also equipped with a special smart bracket mounting system that ensures the shelves sit flush up against the wall. The simple rustic style will work with mid-century modern and farmhouse decor, and the shelves come in six colors. There are also two alternate size options and a three-shelf option. Note that both shelves are the same size unless you buy the trio, which means all three shelves are different sizes.
Cons: These floating shelves are a bit more expensive than most. They may not be deep enough for items like large plant pots or thick books like dictionaries unless you’re willing to pay for the longer, deeper version, which is even pricier. Some buyers also had issues with the mounting hardware, so you may end up needing to buy extra brackets or drywall anchor-style hardware for more support.
Bottom Line: These are great, functional, and sturdy shelves. Though not quite thick enough for super bulky items, they’re strong for their size and are made of durable, authentic materials. And thanks to their range of color options and rustic yet modern style, these floating shelves should look great in pretty much any room and decor style.
Melannco Floating Wall Shelves
Understated yet elegant, these contemporary floating shelves come in four different sizes.
Pros: Thanks to their simple, understated design, these floating shelves won’t go out of style. Your living space and style may change, but these shelves will still blend in. Fortunately, they’re so timeless because the shelves are both tall and deep, providing plenty of room for all sorts of different items. All the hardware, screws, anchors, and instructions you need for installation are provided with your purchase, including a level that makes it easier to hang the shelves evenly. This adds further value to a set of four shelves in four different sizes that is already quite affordable.
Cons: Handy as they are, these floating shelves are made of MDF rather than real wood, so they’re not as tough or sturdy as they could be. Be careful about testing their weight capacity. Also, note that the paint is a bit thin and may chip, so they’ll probably require occasional touch-ups.
Bottom Line: Not all home furnishings need to be detailed and intricate. Sometimes you just want something simple yet effective that gets the job done without much fuss. These floating shelves fall into that category. They’ll blend in seamlessly with pretty much any home, especially if you have crown molding inside. Just be careful not to place anything too heavy on top of them.
Greenco Corner Shelf Unit Wall Mount
This five-tier floating shelf unit makes good use of corner space and is as eye-catching as it is functional.
Pros: This five-tier corner shelf is a great decorative and space solution for any room in your home. Not only does it add an aesthetic appeal to any room, but it also provides a practical function. Made of lightweight MDF laminate material, use it to display small books or home decor items in the living room or den. It can also store spices in the kitchen, toiletries, towels in the bathroom, or just about anything you want to keep within reach or on display.
Cons: Again, with MDF material, you may have to ensure that the items you place on the shelves are not too heavy.
Bottom Line: This five-tiered corner shelf provides a great opportunity to bring attention to often ignored corners in your home. It comes in eight colors, so you can choose the hue that best complements the area. This shelf is ideal for displaying lightweight items in a way that maximizes space.
Greenco Decorative Cube Floating Shelves
These geometric floating shelves make a unique accent piece while providing plenty of shelf space.
Pros: Unlike most floating shelves, this geometric model made up of overlapping squares is available in several color options. They make for a great statement piece. It’s very easy to put them together; the squares come fully assembled, so all you have to do is place them together in the clearly marked, pre-cut slots in the back. The holes are also pre-drilled for your convenience. And if you currently live in a rental home where you aren’t allowed to drill holes in the wall, you’re in luck—this floating shelf is lightweight enough to hang with Command strips.
Cons: This is another model that is a single shelf rather than a set of individual ones. This may suit some needs just fine, but if you want to add several floating shelves to two or more different rooms in your home, you’ll have to look elsewhere. And the reason this shelf is so lightweight is because it’s made of engineered wood rather than hardwood. Thus it’s not as strong, scratches easier, and doesn’t have a listed weight capacity, so you’ll have to be careful about what you place on it.
Bottom Line: If you have a big wall space to fill, want some eye-catching shelves, or have a retro-style home, this geometric floating shelf unit will suit your needs well. Thanks to the four interlocking squares of different sizes, you can fit items large and small on them. And since it can be hung with Command strips, it’s perfect for those who don’t want to drill holes in their walls.
SRIWATANA Metal Wall Shelves
This set of three metal floating shelves features a protective ledge and a waterproof finish.
Pros: This set of three metal shelves offers a simple, modern display of your favorite items. The set includes three different-sized shelves: the large one is 17 by 5 inches, the medium is 13 by 5 inches, and the small shelf is 9 by 5 inches. A 0.6-inch ledge protects items from falling off, and the waterproof finish prevents damage in high-moisture areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. The set also includes drywall anchors and screws for easy installation.
Cons: Although the description mentions a 33-pound weight capacity, this may not be accurate. In some cases, heavier items can cause the shelves to slant.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a modest yet elegant way to keep your items on display, consider this set of three floating shelves. You can choose between matte black or white options and configure the shelves in a way that maximizes space and style.
Floating shelves can make an excellent addition to just about any home, from tiny studio apartments to large-scale mansions. Whether you’re looking for a place to display your new plants, show off souvenirs from family vacations, or simply add more storage space, floating shelves are versatile and functional home furnishing worth considering.