Whether you’re just getting started with DIY and looking for an easy project, or you need to add some more function and storage to your home, DIY shelves are a great weekend project.
The great thing about DIY is that you can customize your projects to fit your space exactly–both in terms of size and style. But is it cost-effective?
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Is it cheaper to build your own shelves?
Yes. 9 times out of 10, it’ll be cheaper to build your own shelves than to buy them. For example, you can get this shelf at World Market for $80 for just the shelf–it doesn’t come with the hardware to actually hang the shelf.
Or you can buy a 2x10x8 board from Lowe’s for $16 and make not one, but 2 shelves. Even if you add in $20 for stain and sealer, you can make 2 shelves for about half the cost of a pre-made single shelf.
Throughout this post, we’ll have links to specific tutorials for 40+ different shelf ideas, but you can build a simple wood shelf in just a few hours.
What you’ll do is buy lumber and cut it down to the length that you want your shelves to be. Sand it down with 120, 180, and 220 grit sandpaper, and then stain and seal it to get your desired look.
Once it’s dry, you have your shelves made! Simple as that. To hang them up, you can use some brackets that screw into your wall and into your shelf.
How thick should wood be for shelves?
When selecting wood for shelves, you’ll want to get wood that is at least 3/4″ thick (aka 1x lumber). If you prefer a thicker-looking shelf, you can opt for 1.5″ lumber (aka 2x boards).
If you want a chunkier-looking shelf than a 2x board provides, you can also build a shelf from 2x4s and then frame it out using 1/2″ plywood.
How much weight the shelves will support will depend on things like how long the shelf is and what brackets are used to hang the shelves, but if you build with 1x or 2x boards, you should have a functional shelf.
If you’re curious how far a shelf can span without support, check out this sag calculator. Just enter a few details about your shelves and it’ll let you know how much it might sag. If it sags more than 1/32″ of an inch, you might want to add another support and run the calculator again.
Alright, now that we’ve talked a little bit about DIY shelves, let’s dive into all of the shelf ideas and tutorials!
There are so many different types of DIY shelves that you can add to your home: from wall shelves to built-ins in closets and specific things like plant shelves. We'll start with basic wall shelves and then dive into the other types.
DIY Wall Shelves
These wall shelves are simple to build and great for displaying decor in any room of your house. Find your favorite style and then click over to the full tutorial to start building.
These DIY shelves have a unique look because of the finish. They are standard 2x10s cut down to be 30" long. They were torched to bring out the wood grain and then sealed with Spar Urethane. They were hung up with brackets from Amazon. Finally, we added a DIY wine glass rack to the bottom shelf.
This floating ladder shelf is as functional as it is pretty. Not only is there plenty of shelf space, but the bottom rung of the ladder is perfect for hanging towels (or maybe a blanket if you had this in a living room instead).
These shelves started as a mission to find a way to store a roll of toilet paper in our powder room. Make 1 or 50 hexagons to create a unique design. The only tool you need to build them is a miter saw!
Completely out of room in your house? What if you built shelving INTO the wall? It doesn't require removing a wall or space for the shelves to stick out into your room. Remove some drywall and make yourself some unique storage!
Are you a crafter or DIY? I'd hope so if you're checking out DIY shelf ideas! These DIY paint storage shelves be a great project to add to your list. There's nothing better than organized project supplies!