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How to Hang Shelves in an Apartment

Today I’m sharing all about how to hang shelves in an apartment, including the best way to hang floating shelves without damaging the wall too much.

How to hang shelves in an apartment

Today I am sharing a review of a really fun product that would have come in handy a few years ago when we lived in an apartment: High & Mighty floating shelves! I’m installing them with my brother’s girlfriend in their apartment. High & Mighty provided the shelving for this project, and this article contains affiliate links.

As many apartment dwellers know, holes in apartment rental walls are often frowned upon. It’s one of the things that can make personalizing a rental so difficult. Nail holes are usually fine, but larger holes like screws and drywall anchors are often no-gos. 

When I learned about High & Mighty’s floating shelf options, I immediately thought of my brother’s girlfriend. They just moved in to an amazing rental apartment, and she loves to decorate. I thought these shelves would be super helpful for them.

high & mighty floating shelves mounted in an apartment

How do High & Mighty floating shelves work?

One of the great things about all the High & Mighty products is that they are designed to be used on drywall–specifically ½” or thicker drywall. (They can be used with thinner drywall, but the weight capacity might be reduced.) This helps you avoid the issue of having to drill large holes for drywall anchors and screws.

The flat floating shelves have a weight limit of 15–25 lbs depending on the length you choose. We’re working with a 36” flat floating shelf, so 25 lb gives us a lot of room to add things. You might be wondering how the tiny pins can hold so much weight—it’s because they have a curved shape that helps distribute the weight. They are also hardened, unlike a lot of decorative nails and picture hangers. 

I was skeptical about how these shelves could hold so much, and I spoke to the company about it. They said that they are 100% confident in the weight ratings they’ve provided because their shelves have gone through extensive testing. Actually, their shelves meet or exceed the weight ratings of most competitor floating shelves that require anchors or stud mounting.

The shelves are also made of a wood-plastic composite, which makes them more resistant to water damage than traditional MDF shelves. This makes them great for plants. (I have an MDF drawer unit that I love, but I’ve already had some bubbling on the top of it from drips while watering plants.)

These shelves are a true DIYers dream. They require no tools, though you can use a hammer to gently tap the pins into the wall if you have trouble pushing them through. This is especially great for renters who don’t want to accumulate too many tools with more frequent moves. Each shelf also comes with its own sticky level to ensure everything looks straight when you’re finished. 

high & mighty floating shelves mounted in an apartment

Easy steps to hanging shelves in your apartment

Step 1: Peel the backing off the level

Peel the backing off of the level. Measure and mark where you’d like to put the shelving, then stick the level to the wall where you want your shelf to be. Ensure it is level using the built-in level.

This sticky level isn’t just part of making sure the shelves are level, though—it also shows you exactly where to hang your steel pins. Super helpful.

removing the sticky backing
level on an adhesive strip
measuring where to mount the shelves
mounting the level

Step 2: Add the steel pins

After the level is up, push the steel pins into the drywall. You can use a hammer to tap them in if you need to. I did need to use a hammer—wasn’t strong enough to get them in on my own 🙂

adding the shelf supports

Step 3: Attach the shelf and decorate

Line up your shelf and slide it down onto the wall mounts. This can take a few tries, especially if you can’t really see down behind the shelf while you are attaching it. You’ll know when it snaps into place, though.

mounting the shelf
high & mighty floating shelves mounted in an apartment

Looking for ideas on how to decorate these? Check out the 15 chic pieces I’ve spray painted, my tiny teacup planter, and my upcycled tea tin planter!

Removing the floating shelves with minimal damage

Many shelving options require the use of drywall anchors. At the very least, you’ll need to use wood screws if you’re screwing directly into studs. Drywall anchors leave BIG holes in the wall, while screws leave smaller but still noticeable holes.

The steel pins that support the floating shelves leave holes barely bigger than a pin. This makes the damage very minimal and very easy to repair. Just grab one of those little nail hole repair kits from Home Depot or Lowes and fill the holes.

To remove these shelves from your wall, simply remove the shelf piece. Then use a flathead screwdriver to gently pry the hanger pins out. Easy as that.

removing the shelf with minimal damage

More renter-friendly hanging solutions

High & Mighty also has a bunch of other low-damage, sturdy, renter-friendly hanging solutions to check out. Their wall hangers can hold anywhere from 20–125 lbs (yes I said 125!), and their decorative hooks range from 15–25 lbs.

They have hooks in a variety of styles, including both traditional and modern. I’ve used the hooks in my home, and they look very nice. Hook rails and key rails are also options. The different styles range from 5–50 lbs.

Pin my tips about how to hang shelves in an apartment! 

living room with shelving and text that says how to hang shelves in your apartment

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