Installing floating shelves on a tile backsplash can add both form and function to your kitchen or bathroom. Floating shelves provide decorative display space while avoiding drilling holes into tile, which can easily crack or shatter. With some planning and the right materials, you can securely mount shelves on tile to hold photos, cookbooks, spices, decor items, and more.
Gather Your Materials
Before starting your project, collect these supplies:
- Floating shelves
- Stud finder
- Power drill
- Appropriate drill bits for pilot holes
- Anchors suitable for tile (e.g. masonry anchors)
- Screws for the anchors
- Silicone adhesive caulk
- Caulk gun
- Optional: Pry bar, hammer
Choose floating shelves with a metal bracket or rail mounting system. Shelves with concealed mounting hardware tend to be more secure and have a cleaner look than ledge-style systems.
Select anchors designed for use in tile or masonry. Plastic or drywall anchors will not hold securely. Masonry anchors expand when a screw is inserted, gripping the tile to provide stability.
Find the Wall Studs
Locating the wall studs is crucial, as they provide the main support for holding shelves. Use a stud finder to detect studs behind the tile. Mark their locations with a pencil.
If you cannot find studs, try tapping on the wall while listening and feeling for denser areas. Check around common stud spacing intervals (16 inches or 24 inches on-center).
Determine Shelf Placement
Decide where you want the shelves situated on the backsplash. Mark the desired spots with a pencil, making sure at least one bracket or side of the shelf aligns with a wall stud.
Be sure to leave enough room for items you plan to place on the shelves. Measure and adjust marks as needed to achieve your ideal arrangement.
Install the Anchors
With shelf locations marked, it’s time to install anchors. Be extremely careful when drilling into tile—too much force can easily crack the surface. Consider these tips:
- Use a carbide-tipped masonry drill bit for tile drilling
- Place a piece of tape over the spot to help prevent cracks from spreading
- Start with a smaller pilot hole before widening to fit anchors
- Drill slowly and carefully into the tile
Insert an anchor into each pilot hole. Gently tap anchors flush until they are seated securely.
Mount the Shelves
Now you’re ready for shelves! For each bracket or mounting plate:
- Align it with the wall anchor location
- Drill pilot holes if necessary for screws
- Attach the shelf to anchors using a drill or screwdriver
- Use silicone adhesive along the back edge for added security
Don’t overload shelves with excess weight. Stick to the load capacity recommended by the manufacturer.
Give the silicone adhesive at least 24 hours to fully cure before using the shelves. Then style and enjoy your new backsplash storage and display!
Tips for a Successful Installation
- Stagger shelves at different heights for better ergonomics and visual intrigue
- Keep heavier items on lower shelves
- Make sure screw heads are flush, not sticking out
- Clean tile thoroughly before applying silicone caulk for maximum adhesion
- Check for loose anchors or sagging periodically, and tighten screws as needed
- Consider finishing with decorative shelf brackets or edge molding for a polished look
Frequently Asked Questions
How much weight can floating shelves on tile hold?
It depends on the shelf, anchors, and tile material, but a good rule of thumb is 5-10 pounds per shelf bracket. Heavier items may require additional brackets or supports. Always check manufacturer limits.
What if there aren’t studs where I want shelves?
You can try distributing multiple anchors across two or more tiles horizontally to disperse weight. Alternatively, consider different shelf placement aligned with existing studs.
Should I use spacers beneath shelves?
Spacers can help shelves mount flush and prevent stress cracking tiles below them. Self-adhesive felt dots work well as spacers.
What tools do I need?
At minimum, a drill, drill bits, stud finder, pencil, silicone adhesive, and shelf hardware are essential. A level, pry bar, hammer, and caulk gun also come in handy.
Should I ask a professional?
Installing shelves on tile has risks, like cracking. If you are uncomfortable drilling into tile, hire a handyman. They have specialized tools and experience for a damage-free installation.
Adding floating shelves is a relatively easy upgrade that can make your backsplash both functional and beautiful. With careful planning, stud-finding, precise drilling, and high-quality anchoring hardware, you can create secure shelf storage for treasured kitchen or bath items. Mount shelves strategically, follow all safety precautions, and enjoy your handiwork for years to come.