TAP Article: DIY Plastic Floating Shelves

Though many DIY enthusiasts and handy homeowners turn to wood or glass when they want to build floating shelves, plastic presents a special opportunity to save money and help your levitating knick-knacks blend in with surroundings. Plastic is a preferred choice for many commercial and residential projects, especially as an alternative to glass. Plastics are lightweight and incredibly strong, so you can rest assured that your mementos and souvenirs will be safe. We are always on the hunt for fun and functional home improvement projects that employ plastic. These DIY plastic floating shelves are all easy to build, no matter the skill level.

[[image1,left/right]]DIY Acrylic Floating Shelves
Floating glass-like shelves look great in any room, but they can effortlessly breathe life back into any room with boring windows. Acrylic is much lighter than traditional glass yet it is 17 times as strong, making it a suitable choice for any shelving project. Acrylic shelves are perfect for windows where you might like to add a bit of greenery. Best of all, acrylic is naturally transparent, allowing all your plants to soak up as much sunlight as they need to thrive.

You will need acrylic sheets, cut to your desired length and width, acrylic square rod brackets, a 9/64 drill bit, a ruler, a pencil, a level, 6 x 1 ¼ sheet metal screws, tape, and a measuring tape. Measure the width and depth of your window using a measuring tape. If you want the shelves to fit flush into the window, make the acrylic sheet measurements just shy of the full window width. Use tape to mark each shelf location so you can plan the layout of your shelves. Don’t forget to leave a little headroom for your plants to grow. Drill two holes in your acrylic support brackets. To save some time, you can tape the bracket pieces side by side on a piece of scrap wood. When working with acrylic, you should drill very slowly, pulling the drill bit out every few seconds to avoid generating too much heat. Mark where your brackets will be installed on each side of the windowsill using a ruler and a level to ensure they are straight. Start from the bottom and measure from there using your taped window guide as a trusty reference point. Remember to level each shelf as you go! Attach the brackets to the wall by drilling in the screws. Repeat for all of the brackets and then drop in the custom-cut shelves so they rest right on the brackets.

[[image2,left/right]]DIY Wood and Plexiglass Shelves
In the market for a chic and modern solution to display books and framed photos? Nothing speaks to the modern industrial style more than salvaged materials. Using wood, plexiglass, and some other supplies, you can achieve a vintage-inspired look that will spruce up any space while providing a safe place for your treasured belongings.

You will need (4) 2 x 4 wood boards, cut to your desired length and width, plexiglass sheets, cut to the same length and width, deck screws, hex bolts, 5 shelf braces per shelf, wall anchors, a measuring tape, a pencil, a drill, a nail gun, a level, and a stud-finding tool. First, decide how many floating shelves you would like to build. Use a measuring tape and a pencil to mark where each floating shelf will hang on the wall in order to get a feel for the layout. Ideally, you want your shelves to evenly distribute weight, so you should avoid making them too deep. Attach the 2 x 4 boards with deck screws and a drill to construct a rectangular box. You can use hex bolts to attach the front of the shelves for even more of an industrial aesthetic. Add the braces to each shelf using a nail gun. Place one brace on each end of the floating shelf and attach the remaining three at equal distances. Visit one of our store locations to get cut-to-size plexiglass sheeting or email us to make a special fabrication request. Your plexiglass shelving inserts should be cut to size so that they rest on the shelf braces. Locate and mark all the studs along the wall with tape. Attach the shelves with deck screws at every stud point. If there aren’t enough studs, you can use wall anchors to support the shelf. Place the cut plexiglass on every floating shelf and decorate to your heart’s content!

DIY Plastic Peg Shelves
Though the most attractive feature of floating shelves is that the hardware is hidden, some peg shelves are just too cute to resist. You can use plastic rods or tubes to support the shelf from beneath. If you desire more of an industrial look, you can use all-iron pipes or copper pipes to create the pegs which will hold your floating shelf in place. We recommend using copper pipes or another lightweight material if you can’t seem to locate the studs or there aren’t any in the wall you’ve picked out for your shelving unit.

You will need 2 – 3 cut-to-size shelves made of acrylic, polycarbonate, or another plastic material, 1/2" pipes or plastic tubing that can support the weight of the shelves, 2 flanges per shelf, 2 tube caps per shelf, 8 screws per shelf, a male adapter if using copper, a cutting tool, and a drill. Cut your pipes to size using a pipe cutting tool or order cut-to-size plastic supports from one of our store locations. Cut 2 pieces for every shelf so that they match the shelf width exactly. On the wall, measure where you want to install your shelves. Mark the wall about 6 inches from either side of the plastic shelf to designate where the pipe will go. Use a drill to screw in the flanges on those marks. If using metal pipes, screw in the male adapter to each flange. Place one end of the pipe in the male adapter, repeat for all shelves, and add tube caps to achieve more of a finished look. Place your plastic shelf on top of the two supports and decorate!

Hopefully this list of DIY plastic floating shelves provides inspiration for your own shelving project. With extra storage space and a hardware-free display, you can finally showcase all those collectibles and keepsakes you hold dear to your heart. If you have any questions about this article or would like to learn more about our custom fabrication services, please contact TAP Plastics today to speak with one of our knowledgeable plastic experts.