When you go into your local home center such as City Mill you'll find many kinds of hardware which have been designed for hanging or supporting shelves and shelf units. Besides nails and screws, there are many types of brackets, clips and fasteners that attach to walls or sides of bookcases and cabinets to provide support.

Here are some examples:

Standards and brackets

Standards and brackets are very popular, easy to install, and commonly available in heavy-duty ratings. Standards are channel-shaped metal strips that are attached vertically to the wall. Brackets have hooks that lock into vertical slots on the standards. The shelves are placed on two brackets and may be easily adjusted up or down simply by moving the brackets.

Standards and brackets come in many different finishes. They are available in regular and heavy duty and can accept shelves from 8" to 12" wide. Shelves on these hangers may be used to support books, stereo equipment, and other heavy objects, as long as the standards are anchored solidly to the wall.

Steps to installing standards and brackets to a wall:

  1. Measure the height above the floor where the bottom of all the standards will be placed. Using a level, make a very light pencil line to indicate this height.
  2. Locate the wall studs using a stud finder. Wall studs are usually 16" on center.
  3. Depending on the length of your shelves, attach a standard to the studs every 32 to 48 inches. Standards have holes for receiving screws, usually spaced 6 to 12 inches apart. Make sure each standard is perpendicular to the floor (straight up and down) and the bottom flush with the pencil line.
  4. After screwing the standard to the wall, hook the brackets in place at the proper shelf

Bolts and Anchors

Molly bolts, toggle bolts and wall anchors are fastening devices that may be used to fasten brackets to drywall surfaces. These products are readily available, inexpensive and made in various lengths and gauges. Although they can hold brackets firmly to a wall, their holding strength is limited. Use them only when you cannot attach shelf units directly to studs.

An expansion shield is a lead or fiber anchor used in concrete walls. You drill a hole in the masonry wall, insert the anchor, then drive a screw or lag bolt through the bracket into the anchor. The shield expands and anchors the screw tightly to the wall.