How to Hang Shelves on Tile Backsplash

Installing shelves on a tile backsplash can add functional storage and display space to your kitchen. However, proper installation is key to ensuring the shelves are securely mounted and don’t damage the backsplash tiles. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the entire process of hanging shelves on tile, from choosing the right shelf type and mounting hardware to pre-drilling holes and safely installing on tile.

Choosing the Right Shelves for Tile Backsplash

When choosing shelves for a tile backsplash, you’ll want options designed for moisture-prone areas. The shelves also need to be sized appropriately for the space.

Shelving Material Options

  • Wood: Teak, bamboo, and some hardwoods can withstand moisture and humidity. Choose pre-finished wood that is sealed to prevent warping.
  • Metal: Stainless steel, aluminum and powder-coated metals are great choices for kitchens. Look for solid metal with no cracks for moisture protection.
  • Glass: Tempered glass shelves add a contemporary look. Select shelves with polished edges and silicone bumpers to prevent cracking.
  • Bracket: Floating tempered glass shelves on metal bracket systems are a stylish, lightweight option.

Sizing the Shelf Properly

  • Measure the area where you want to install shelves and make sure to get shelves at least 1-2 inches shorter than this width. This allows room to mount them on the brackets or walls.
  • Standard shelf depths range from 8 to 16 inches deep. Make sure the shelf size provides enough depth for items you want to display or store.
  • If mounting multiple shelves, make sure to space them far enough apart for your storage needs. 10-14 inches of separation is common.

Choosing the Right Mounting Hardware

Since tile backsplashes have limited solid structure behind them, specialized mounting hardware is required to hang shelves securely.


The best screws for mounting shelves on tile backsplashes are:

  • Screws for Hollow Walls – Use expandable toggle bolts or molly bolts that can grip firmly even where there is no structure behind tiles.
  • Screws for Solid Surfaces – Tile mounted on cementboard or greenboard can use standard lag screws. Pre-drill holes first.


Using anchor attachments provide additional support:

  • Wing, Toggle & Molly Bolts – These anchors expand when screwed into a hollow wall, spreading weight across tiles.
  • Hollow Wall Anchors – Designed for gripping into drywall or other hollow wall types.
  • Masonry Anchors – Use screw-in masonry anchors for attaching to cementboard, stone, or other solid surfaces.


Construction adhesives can provide additional bonding power:

  • Silicone Adhesives – Clear silicone caulk adhesives keep moisture out and hold strongly on non-porous surfaces like tile and glass.
  • Construction Adhesives – Look for adhesive designed for moisture resistance and durable bonds on multiple surfaces.

How to Mount Shelves on Tile Backsplash

Follow these steps for proper installation of any type of shelves, brackets, rails or rods on a tile backsplash:

Step 1: Gather Supplies

Have all necessary supplies before starting:

  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • Power drill
  • Carbide drill bits for tile/masonry
  • Selected shelf and mounting hardware
  • Safety glasses and gloves

Step 2: Find Studs

Locate studs behind the tile using a stud finder. Studs provide the most secure attachment points for heavier shelves.

Step 3: Mark Mounting Points

Use a level and pencil to mark evenly spaced insertion points for shelf brackets or mounting hardware.

Step 4: Drill Pilot Holes

  • Use carbide drill bit to drill pilot holes in marked locations. Drill through grout, not tiles.
  • Drill holes slightly wider in diameter than screws or anchors.
  • Drill slowly and steadily to avoid cracking tile.

Step 5: Prepare Shelf Brackets

If using shelf brackets, attach them to the shelf first using provided hardware, spacing according to marks.

Step 6: Insert Anchors

If using anchors, tap them gently into drilled holes using a rubber mallet until flush with tiles.

Step 7: Attach Mounting Hardware

Screw shelf brackets, standards or other mounting hardware into anchors or studs using an electric drill. Do not overtighten.

Step 8: Seal with Silicone Caulk

Run a bead of clear silicone caulk around brackets and anchors to prevent moisture getting behind tile.

Step 9: Allow Caulk to Cure

Give caulk 24 hours to fully cure before loading shelves with any items.

Tips for Proper Shelf Installation on Tile

Follow these tips to help ensure your shelves on tile backsplash are sturdy, level, and installed properly:

  • If mounting heavy shelves, try to hit studs behind tile rather than just anchors. This provides more weight support.
  • Make sure screws used are long enough to secure to studs or anchors but not puncture through the other side.
  • When drilling pilot holes, go slowly and apply firm pressure. Let the carbide bit do the work.
  • Wipe away any tile dust created from drilling before inserting anchors or screws.
  • Shelves may sag slightly in the middle over time. Installing a supporting bracket, corbel or extra anchor mid-span helps prevent sagging.
  • Use a level often during installation to be sure shelves will be straight. Shim brackets if necessary.
  • Avoid excessively loaded shelves. Distribute weight evenly and use within recommended limits.
  • Re-tighten shelf hardware periodically as tiles and anchors can settle.

FAQs About Installing Shelves on Tile Backsplashes

Still have some questions? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Should shelves be installed above or below the backsplash?

  • Mounting shelves just above the backsplash tiles provides a cleaner, more flush appearance.
  • Hanging shelves below the tile line can work but may appear more disjointed visually.

How much weight can shelves on backsplash hold?

  • Appropriately anchored shelves can hold 20-30 lbs per linear foot.
  • Heavier items like cast iron pans should go on lower open shelves or cabinets.
  • Stick to lighter items like spices, decorative bowls, or cookbooks on backsplash shelves.

What’s the best way to mount a shelf support bracket on tile?

  • Using wide bracket mounts that span two or more tiles distribute weight better than smaller single brackets.
  • Toggler or molly bolt anchors provide solid grip for L-brackets mounted on walls.
  • Construction adhesive applied to the back of brackets adds extra bonding power to tiles.

Should I use sealant around drilled holes in tile backsplash?

  • Yes, sealing around all holes and hardware helps prevent moisture from seeping behind tiles and causing damage over time.
  • Clear silicone caulk works well as it adheres to non-porous tile and metal and contains fungicide.

How do I ensure shelves are mounted level on uneven tile?

  • Use tapered shims between brackets and wall if tiles are uneven.
  • For open shelves, you can adjust brackets and use clear silicone to adhere shelf to tile for support.
  • If necessary, adjust shelf legs or supports to make the shelves themselves level.

Hanging Shelves Safely on Tile Backsplash

Because tile backsplashes have limitations, proper mounting techniques are critical for safety and preventing damage. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Mind electricity: Be aware of any electrical behind backsplash and avoid contact when drilling. Shut off circuit breakers to be safe.
  • Use eye and ear protection: Wear safety glasses when drilling to prevent debris getting in eyes. Use earplugs or muffs to protect hearing from drill noise.
  • Prevent cracks: Go slowly when drilling tile and ease bit pressure to avoid cracking tiles.
  • Check for hidden pipes: Scan wall with detector before drilling to avoid hitting hidden plumbing behind tiles.
  • Get help for heavy shelves: Have someone assist with holding shelves during mounting if they are extra heavy.
  • Assess weight: Do not exceed recommended weight limits per shelf brackets or standards. Overloading can lead to collapse.
  • Wait for curing: Allow silicone sealant full 24 hours to cure before loading shelves to ensure bonds are secure.


Installing shelves directly on your tile backsplash can maximize your kitchen’s storage potential. With the right choice of shelf, hardware, and careful installation, you can add functional display and organization space. Be sure to follow the techniques for proper drilling, anchoring, and sealing to keep your shelves securely mounted to tile without damage. Check that all shelves are completely level, anchored into studs whenever possible, and use silicone adhesive for extra holding power on tile. With these tips in mind, you can safely install shelves on your tile backsplash to take advantage of every inch of space.