Last updated: August 15, 2021

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We've all seen shelves hanging on different walls full of items. And, although they look like generic accessories, the quality of the brackets varies greatly and is the difference between a reliable shelf and one that can collapse under the weight.

We know you're looking to get the best product at the best price, so read on to clear up all your doubts. In the end, you'll have all the tools you need to get the most out of your shelf brackets.




Summary

  • Shelf brackets are metal or wooden brackets that form a 90-degree angle to support the weight of the board that forms your shelf. They are designed to be screw-fastened to the board and the wall, and usually have several holes to suit your needs.
  • You will usually find shelf brackets made of metal or wood. Both work in the same way, but while the metal ones have a rougher look, the wooden ones are more aesthetically pleasing. On the other hand, metal shelf brackets can support weight better if they are made of good materials.
  • We have found some purchasing factors that are important to consider before making your buying decision. Some of them are the materials, the dimensions and the analysis of the space where you are going to place them. We will go more in depth into these purchasing criteria later on.

The Best Shelf Bracket: Our Picks

Buying Guide: What you need to know about Shelf Brackets

It would seem that all shelf brackets are identical and that they all perform the same function. But the reality is that even when it comes to shelf brackets there are very different qualities.

Good shelf brackets can carry a lot of weight. (Photo: donatas1205 / 123RF)

What is a shelf bracket and what are its advantages?

A shelf bracket is a bracket designed to support the weight of the boards that make up your shelves. They are designed as a bracket to be fixed by means of screws to both the wall and the board, usually made of wood.

The materials must be strong enough to support a good amount of weight, as well as having at least a couple of holes for the screws. They are usually made of metal, although they can also be made of wood. This gives a very aesthetic touch to the shelf, but does not necessarily support a lot of weight.

It is also important to take into account the quality of the wall where you are going to place your shelf, as it can prevent a good placement. If it is too damp or too thin, the shelf will collapse regardless of the quality of the brackets.

Advantages
  • There are various sizes
  • They form a perfect 90 degree angle
  • They are easy to install
  • They can withstand a good amount of weight
  • They save space in rooms
Disadvantages
  • They bend if they are not of good quality
  • It is difficult to know their quality before testing them
  • They do not fit well if the wall is damp or fragile
  • They are not aesthetic and are always visible

Shelf brackets made of wood or metal - what should you pay attention to?

Shelf brackets are classified into metal and wood, depending on the materials they are made of. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but only you can decide which type of material you need for your purposes.

Metal brackets

These are the most popular brackets these days and can be made of steel, aluminium or some other stainless material. Some have several holes so you can use the one that best suits the size of your board, and they usually come in silver or black.

Wooden brackets

These brackets have the advantage of being more aesthetically pleasing than the metal ones, and can add a lot of style to your walls. They are a bit more difficult to find in shops and it may be best to order them from a carpenter. The quality of these brackets will largely depend on the type of wood.

Metal Wood
Appearance Less aesthetic More aesthetic
Customisable No Yes
Weakness Can be bent if of poor quality Will not bend, but can break if cracked

Buying Criteria

Finally we bring you a list of the most important criteria we think you should consider before choosing your shelf brackets. We are sure that once you have analysed them you will be ready to make the best purchasing decision.

Materials

We've talked about wood and metal shelf brackets before, but let's delve into more specifics. Metals and woods are very varied, so here is a list of the most common ones.

  • Stainless steel: This material is not totally stainless, but is rust-proof under the right conditions. For interiors, steel 201 or 304 is more than enough. But if you are looking to place your shelves outdoors, we recommend that you check that the brackets are made of 316 steel to ensure that they do not rust.
  • Oak: This is one of the hardest and most resistant woods in the world. While it may be considered an exotic wood by some, it is worth getting brackets made from this material if you want your brackets to withstand a lot of weight. We recommend that you read the product specifications to corroborate the type of wood.
  • Pine: This wood is not considered to be a high quality material, however it is very economical and is the most common wood you will find. Pine is very easy for carpenters to work with, so you can be sure that you will get good squares from this material. We recommend that you check the specifications for this material.
  • Plastic: It is not the ideal material for your brackets, but it has the advantage that it does not rust and resists weathering. The bad thing is that they can't support a lot of weight, but if you want to spend little and you are not going to put heavy things on your shelf, we recommend you to look for brackets made of this material.

Shelf brackets help to save space in your rooms (Photo: Chatuporn Sornlampoo /123RF)

Placement

In general, all shelf brackets are installed in the same way. Simply screw one part of the bracket to the board and the other part to the wall. However, you should make sure you get a drill and screwdriver before fitting your shelf, and check that your package includes screws.

If your pack of brackets does not include screws, you will need to check the product specification for the dimensions of the holes. If you have never used tools before, we recommend seeking help from someone with experience before purchasing your shelf brackets to make sure they will fit.

Space analysis

Before you purchase your shelf brackets you should make sure that the space you want to place them in is adequate. Often the only way to check this is until you place the shelves, or at least by drilling a hole with a drill to check if the bracket fits tightly. You can also pay attention to these details:

Moisture

This can cause the walls to weaken and not hold the screws, resulting in fragile shelves with little weight. A good way to check the condition of your walls is to tap them lightly with a hammer to hear if they are hollow. We recommend you do this test to see if you will be able to install your brackets.

Wood

The advantage of a wooden wall is that you don't need a dowel to drive the screw in. However, if the wall is too thin it is very likely that your shelf will collapse under the weight. If your wall is made of thin wooden boards, we recommend reinforcing it with more wood before installing your shelf.

Dimensions

Shelf brackets come in different sizes to suit your needs. To find out which dimensions are right for you, just consider the size of your board. Most shelf brackets we see cover at least 75% of the width of the board, and many go up to 100%.

  • 50% or more: Generally shelf brackets will cover at least this percentage of your board. If they are made of wood or hardware, it is recommended that they cover at least 75% to ensure that they do not bend or break under the weight.
  • 25% or less: If they are stainless steel brackets, we can deduce that practically nothing bends them. For this reason, there are brackets that can cover less than 25% of your board and withstand a good amount of weight. If you are going to buy such small brackets, we recommend that you check the quality of their materials.

(Featured image source: Chatuporn Sornlampoo/ 123rf.com)

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