DIY Network

How to Build and Install a Shelf Frame

Organize a cluttered garage by adding shelving. With these step-by-step directions, learning how to add shelving is a breeze.

More in Remodeling

suspended ceiling storage creates new space
  • Time


  • Price Range

    $100 - $250

  • Difficulty

    Easy to Moderate


Step 1: Build the Shelf Frame

Note: These measurements create a hanging shelf 16 feet long and 2 feet deep. Adjust the dimensions as needed to fit your space.

Lay out two 16-foot pieces of 2” x 4” lumber for the sides of the storage shelf. Measure and mark each piece every 24 inches.

Cut nine pieces of 2” x 4” lumber to 24 inches long.

Arrange the long sides and the 24” supports with a support at each end and one at each mark.

With all pieces lined up, use a nail gun to secure the 24” crosspieces to the 16-foot sides.

For a stronger, better-looking shelf, use a hammer to make sure the nail heads are flush with the surface.

Cut a piece of 3/4" plywood the same size as the completed frame.

Prime and paint the frame and plywood shelf before installing. Use a tinted primer to match the paint.

building a hanging shelf

Step 2: Measure for Installation

To allow plenty of room for storage on top and clearance for the lockers below, measure and mark a point 2 feet, 4 inches from the ceiling.

Tip: Why measure from the ceiling? Garage floors are built with a slope for better drainage. The ceiling gives a more level reference point.

Using a level and string line, snap a horizontal chalk line at the mark. Karl and Jill made this job easier by using a laser level to generate a horizontal line of light to guide their chalk line.

Use a stud finder to locate the wall studs and ceiling joists where the shelf will attach. Mark these with a pencil.

snap horizontal chalk line at mark

Step 3: Create Temporary Supports

Determine where the ends of the shelf will line up on the wall.

Stand a long piece of scrap wood near one end of the shelf area. Align it flush with the wall and mark the height of the chalk line on the wood.

Cut the wood at the mark.

Line up the wood at the same spot on the wall, making sure it comes up flush with the chalk line. Use a single screw to attach the wood to the wall.

Use the same process to create a temporary support where the other end of the shelf will attach to the wall.

creating temporary supports

Step 4: Mount the Shelf

Cut three pieces of 2” x 4” lumber to 2 feet, 4 inches long.

Set the shelf frame in place, resting it on the temporary supports.

Stand a long 2” x 4” on the garage floor by the long, unsupported side of the frame. Nail this piece of wood to the frame to give additional support.

Drive screws through the wall side of the frame into the wall studs.

Attach the 3/4" plywood shelf to the top of the frame with nails or screws.

Locate the ceiling joists over the corners of the shelf not attached to the wall. Use screws to attach galvanized 2” x 4” end brackets to the ceiling joists. Make sure the screws go into the joists. Also attach a bracket to a joist over the middle of the 16-foot side not attached to the wall.

Slip one end of one of the 2-foot, 4” 2” x 4”s into an end bracket and attach it with screws. Repeat for the other brackets.

Make sure the entire structure is plumb and level before screwing the 2” x 4” supports to the shelf frame.

After all the ceiling supports are attached, remove the temporary supports.

mounting the shelf