Q & A

How Strong Are Ikea Floating Shelves – I Tested Them

Floating shelves from Ikea are commonplace in both homes and workplaces. You may wish to know their load bearing capacities if you intend to use them for more than just holding decorative items.

In general, the weight that may be placed on 8-12-inch deep Ikea floating shelves is about 33 lbs. or 5 kg (200-300mm). The weight a given set of shelves can support depends on its dimensions and mounting location.

I have installed many of these types of floating shelves throughout my thirty years in the cabinetmaking industry. Even though Ikea floating shelves are not my cup of tea, I have done my best to provide a comprehensive guide to their assembly below.

Ikea Floating Shelf Weight Limit

As was previously said, the shelf’s breadth, length, and whether or not it will butt into a corner all affect how much weight it can bear. Some professionals claim that particular shelves can support loads of up to 136 kilogrammes (almost 300 pounds). However, the material they are formed of and the supporting brackets determine their limitations. Typically, brackets with a 12mm diameter can hold a 20kg load on shelves up to 22mm in thickness.

Since floating shelves must support their own weight by exerting force on the wall, and since most walls are made of plaster or Gyprock, they have a hard time holding much. The Ikea floating shelves are attached to the wall with little metal brackets.

When a lot of weight is placed on a shelf, the brackets frequently sink into the plasterboard. The shelf will eventually sag as a result of the pressure these brackets exert on the gypsum board.

Ikea’s standard shelf widths and load capacities are listed in the table below.

Shelf Size (Length x Depth) Weight Capacity
30 x 26cm 3 kg (6.6 lbs)
110 x 26cm 10 kg (22lbs)
190 x 26cm 15 kg (33 lbs)

A tabular display of the load bearing capacities of various types of floating shelves
Shelves that don’t require wall anchoring are much

more robust when placed in a

a nook in the living room!

Award-winning businessman Andy Mac conducted an experiment to determine the true strength of these shelves. He has been in the property management and carpentry industries for many years.

He used five M5 x 52mm expanding metal drywall anchors to secure a floating shelf from Ikea to a sheet of standard 12.5mm drywall, making sure to avoid any studs and instead put pressure directly in the middle of the shelf.

The Ikea LACK shelf instructions are so inadequate that you should really read my essay I wrote about what screws to use.

The brackets were attached per IKEA’s guidelines, which called for two screws to be placed atop each pole and one in the middle of the underside. He exerted as constant a force as he could till he broke it; the final tally was 25.85 kg.

Do you know how sturdy an IKEA LACK floating shelf would be on a drywall that is hollow? Tomorrow’s a test!
Andy’s experiment showed us that the heavy weight these shelves can sustain is five times the allowed loading, which is a true testimonial to the good quality of the shelves even though placing this much weight on them is not suggested.

Metal brackets for the shelves and expanding anchors showed only little bending after the trial, but the plasterboard wall collapsed entirely. Many people have found the same thing, and the culprit is often the plasterboard.

Make sure you read the whole thing to find out if you can shorten Ikea’s floating shelves. This might come as a shock to you!

Usually, shelves sag when the bracket isn’t properly mounted on the wall. Repairing the studs and installing expanding drywall anchors with the right setup tool can take care of this problem. The company-recommended method of hole usage must also be followed. Overall, these wall-mounted racks have a solid reputation among customers. You can put a lot more on each shelf than you may think, and they look good doing it.

Find out if it’s possible to use spackling on wood joints and how to repair holes in plasterboard.

How Do You Strengthen IKEA Floating Shelves?

Floating shelves’ strength is determined by a number of elements, all of which can be altered to increase the shelves’ load bearing capacity. Let’s check out a few of them.

Shelf bracket for Ikea’s floating shelves
Floating shelf bracket from Ikea
In my piece on shortening Ikea’s floating shelves, I go into greater detail on the brackets you may use to make this a reality.

Mount Floating Shelves In The Corner Of The Room

Floating shelves are one of my most popular services, and this is the most common request I get from customers. When a floating shelf is installed into the corner of a room, the end of the shelf can be fastened to the next wall. Naturally, this helps keep the front edge of the shelf from sagging by providing more support.

Obviously, if a floating shelf can be put between two walls, the strength is substantially improved. Photos of 2 floating shelves I built to fit snugly into a room corner are included in this post.

Ensure Floating Shelf Brackets Are Screwed Into The Wall Studs

A lot of folks I’ve seen try to install floating shelves screw into the sheet material of the wall rather than the studs, which may sound obvious but is actually rather difficult.

The holes in the brackets may have been too small to accommodate a stud, which could explain the problem. Without fail, floating shelves must be fastened to the studs behind the wall. Your floating shelves should be adjusted so that they are flush with the wall studs.

Use Multiple Screws Into The Brackets

It goes without saying that you should screw into the wall studs as many times as feasible. It’s possible that you’ll need more than one screw per stud.

Use Metal Rods Drilled Into Studs Rather Than Brackets

As a skilled tradesman, this is my insider recommendation to you! This one piece of advice, gained from installing hundreds of similar shelves, can transform an otherwise mundane floating shelf into one that can support a whole row of encyclopaedias.

This technique is used by every floating shelf manufacturer when the shelf’s size exceeds a certain threshold. In fact, this technique is so effective that I would advocate its use for any floating shelf that is only supported by a single wall. Remember that technique will only work if your floating shelf has a solid centre core and is thicker than 1 inch (25mm).

This is how you attach a floating shelf to the rods in your wall:

Determine where on the wall you want to install your shelf.
Ensure that the shelf can be attached to as many studs as possible.
You can use a level to indicate the stud centres by drawing a line across the wall and placing rods at those points.
Get yourself some metal rods with a diameter of at least 10 millimetres.
Each stud in your wall needs to have a hole drilled into it measuring 10.5 mm. Try to drill at right angles to the wall, or at least straight, if possible. Clearance hole definition: a hole big enough to let air through but not to allow debris to fall in.
Fill the holes with a construction glue, such as Liquid Nails.
Meet the holes with the metal rods. You can use a hammer, if necessary, to get the rods as tight as possible.
The glue needs to dry for a full day.
Create a pair of holes that are a perfect match in the floating’s back edge.
To ensure that the shelf will fit over the metal rods, insert it.
At this stage, you will notice that the weight of the shelf causes the floating shelf to sag slightly. As expected, and to the benefit of the metal rods, this occurs.

This time, take out the shelf.
Gently bend the metal rods upward with a hammer blows.
Replace the shelf, this time making sure it’s level.
You can adjust the shelf’s placement as many times as you wish with the aforementioned methods.
When everything is how it should be, glue the holes inside the shelf and reattach it to the metal rods.

Ensure Floating Shelves Have a Strong Frame

The load capacity of a floating shelf is directly related to its construction. To avoid cracking under weight, a decent floating shelf will have a thick outer layer or a sturdy structure.

These two benefits are abundant in high quality custom ones.

Are Floating Shelves Strong Enough for Books?

Custom bookcases are not only bulky and inconvenient to store, but they also need tedious assembly and placement. Therefore, those who love books but have limited room or a strong aesthetic sensibility tend to favour floating shelves.

Most books would fall to pieces if placed on Ikea’s or similar floating shelves. Floating shelves are capable of supporting books at first, but eventually they will sag due to the static weight of books. Only floating shelves that have been specifically designed to support greater loads should be used.

After putting in hundreds of them over the past 30 years, this is my sincere perspective on the matter. Floating shelves are the only option when it comes to storing books, and they must be constructed to order. This is because of the way that they are attached to the wall.

The average weight of a hardcover book is between 0.9 kg and 3.18 kg, while a softcover book might weigh as little as 160 g. Before deciding on an appropriate floating shelf, you need determine the maximum weight it can hold.

See the table below for an estimate of how many books you can store in standard Ikea bookcases. Calculated using the standard weight of a book, which is 1.5 kilogrammes (3.3 lbs).

Shelf Size (Length x Depth) Weight Capacity No. of Books
30 x 26cm 3 kg (6.6 lbs) 2
110 x 26cm 10 kg (22lbs) 6
190 x 26cm 15 kg (33 lbs) 10

Books counted in a table Free-standing racks can store
In what ways strong are Ikea’s floating shelves
Tailored wall-less shelving
The shelves on a “floating” wall are not, in fact, floating, despite our collective wishes. Shelves are typically attached to walls by sliding them over a cleat or fastening them to the wall with screws. This makes it look like the shelf is floating without any visible support.

Most people don’t believe that floating bookcases can hold all of your books without collapsing. Most brands of floating shelves, including Ikea’s, are very sturdy considering they lack any overt structural bracing.

Tips For Floating Shelves

When it comes to the durability of a shelf, Ikea has you covered with high-quality items and easy-to-follow instructions. Even though getting a flawless installation is not very difficult, you should still have a professional do it for you. There is a typical concern about the load-bearing capabilities of solid and drywall while constructing floating book shelves.
You can put a lot of stuff on these shelves if you install them on a brick or concrete wall, but drywall is too flimsy. Floating shelves may only support a substantial load if they are fastened to a solid surface, such as wall studs or a masonry block.
When fastened to a sturdy wall throughout their whole length, you’ll be able to store a respectable quantity of books on each shelf. Place some books in the brackets to keep them from sagging and flexing in areas where they are not securely fastened, such as when there are gaps in the mounting.

Why Does My Floating Shelf Sag?

They sag and droop and pose a threat to people’s safety if not fixed in a timely manner. It’s not easy, and it’s even more challenging if you’re working with paper-thin drywall. How come these shelves don’t float flush against the wall, and what can we do to make them appear better? Let’s have a peek.

For this reason, floating shelves tend to sag since the brackets holding them to the wall have such a little footprint. Brackets like these are typically attached to drywall or Gyprock, which are rather weak building materials. The shelf’s weight eventually forces the bracket to dig into the wall’s drywall or plasterboard, causing the shelf to droop.

Wallboard can be damaged by the brackets used to install floating shelves. In light of this, I propose metal rods, which are the strongest and most versatile option. A description of metal rods can be found above.

Do Floating Shelves Sag Even When Screwed Into Studs?

Even when securely attached into studs, floating shelves eventually sag. This is because drywall, a commonly used wall covering, is quite pliable. The floating shelf is sagging because the metal brackets are compressing the walls.

I have not seen many commercially available shelves that do not eventually sag. The following are some of the most common reasons for drooping floating shelves:

Poorly built shelves
Inadequate bracketry Too much mass for the shelf to support
Bad methods of assembly

Final Thoughts

Ikea’s floating shelves are a hit with homeowners since they look great and last a long time. It is not recommended to put too much weight on a floating shelf if it is fastened to drywall or plywood since the shelf will only be as robust as the surface it is pinned against. When fastened to a solid wall made of wood or concrete, the same shelf can support significantly more weight.
If you’re looking for something better, hiring a cabinetmaker or other skilled tradesperson to create a custom floating shelf is a worthwhile investment.


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