March 13, 2012

Reclaimed Floating Wall Display: The DIY Details

How To Create Your Own 'Floating' Display Wall
Now, this is *our* kind of 12-Step Program... Inspired By This Photo!

You're looking at our detailed, DIY instructions post on how to build this 'floating display wall'.  If you don't care for the details, and just want to see some more images of the finished product and decor, link over to our other post of the project, HERE. For the rest of you... following are all the dirty deets.  : )

Here is a list of what you'll need:
  • Tape Measure
  • Painters Tape for wall template
  • Level
  • Stud Finder
  • Table Saw (fit with standard wood blade)
  • Chop Saw (fit with standard wood blade)
  • Drill & Bits
  • Sawzall (with metal blade) or Metal Hack Saw
  • T-Square
  • Wood of Choice (we used reclaimed Mahogany from an old deck)
  • Metal Pipe of Choice (we used 1"x1" square aluminum tube)
  • Sandpaper
  • Timber Screws (Determine the length needed by adding vertical stringer depth + shelf depth + desired 'float' amount + extra length to get you through your drywall and well into your stud).  We used 10". 

First, we want to be sure to give credit where credit is due... here is a link to our inspiration (photo found on Poppytalk, originally from Ladies And Gentlemen).  Pictured is our INSPIRATION (left) and our finished product (Right).  And what follows are all the (geeky) details on how we turned this 'PIN-Spired' idea into DIY reality!

Step-by Step Instructions:
We are DIY enthusiasts, not experts.  Please be sure to use proper safety precautions when following these steps.  

Step 1:  Use painters tape to make a template of your floating unit on the wall, taking into consideration where the studs are located (using a stud finder).  We had lots of fun playing with this part... adjusting the size and height of the overall unit until we felt it was the proper size and scale for our wall (and hit the studs where needed)!

Step 2: Once size/scale is determined, take basic measurements for your vertical 'stringer' lengths, shelf width and spacing.  Here are the basic dimensions we used:

-Vertical 'stringers':  we used a 1x1 board, and a vertical length of 5'6".

-Shelves: we used old deck planks, which measured 5 1/2" deep and 1" high.  We varied the length of the shelves to fit the overall 'staggered' look we decided on.  Our planks of wood were already the desired depth of 5 1/2", but you'll have to cut down the width of your boards as well if you are starting with pieces larger than your desired shelf depth.

Step 3: Using a chop saw, cut each of your wooden boards into the desired lengths for vertical stringers and shelves.  Measure twice, cut once (as the Mr. would say).  : )

Step 4:  Using a table saw, rip your vertical stringers to the desired width (we used a 1x1 vertical stringer in a 5'6" length).  We chose the 1" width to match the 1" width of our shelves so everything would be cohesive.

Step 5: Using the wall template, determine the number of support posts ('floating' pipe sections) you will need for mounting and make note of the count.  Ours used 13 (see photo below for locations of each, marked with orange circles).

Take additional measurements for the vertical spacing of your shelves (remember to account for the shelf widths and any overhang you want!) and make a note of the spacing on each vertical stringer (number them to help keep things straight if you need to).  Spacing should be measured for each individual stringer, and from center of support post location to center of support post location vertically (shown by black arrows).

Step 6: Once the spacing and measurements are determined (based on your template - this will vary according to your design), mark the location of each support post on each vertical stringer, and drill pilot holes for your timber screws.  Make sure that the holes are precisely measured (on center) so that they line up from one stringer to the next (which will be the key to ensuring that your shelves are level!)

Step 7: Using the metal hack saw, cut pipe to desired length, being sure to add in the desired 'float' depth. We had a 5 1/2" shelf, so we cut our metal pipe to 6 1/2" sections, allowing for a 1" float.  (Note: measure and cut each piece individually as you go.  Do not mark all the measurements first and cut them all at once, or you will not account for the loss of material caused by the blade and you'll inadvertently end up with slightly different sized pieces.)

Step 8: (Optional) If desired, use sandpaper to 'scuff' the metal surface for a distressed look.

Now it's time to mount! 

Step 9: Hold the first vertical stringer in the desired location on the wall, and mark the first pilot hole location with a pencil (start in the middle of the stringer).  Next, use a level to straighten the stringer vertically before marking the remaining pilot holes.  Continue on to the next vertical stringer and mark the pilot holes he same way, but also ensuring that the holes line up horizontally between stringers (are horizontally level).


Step 10: Feed a timber screw through one pilot hole on your first stringer (beginning in the middle of the stringer rather than on the top or bottom).  Feed one section of pipe over the back side of the timber screw.  Align the pipe with the stringer, and the timber screw with pilot hole location that you marked on the wall before tightening with a drill.  Note:  Drill the timber screw in far enough to get it into the stud, but don't tighten all the way to the wall yet).

Step 11: Align the stringer with your next pilot hole and double check the level line.  Continue with the next timber screw on your vertical stringer and the next pipe section, and repeat for each additional mount location on your stringer. Once all mount locations are drilled, tighten them one by one, holding each pipe spacer in desired location as you go (helpful to have two people for this step).   Repeat for additional vertical stringers, double checking horizontal level lines as you move from stringer to stringer.

Step 12: If your horizontal level lines were accurate, all that's left is to do is install your shelves!  Once in place, you can secure them with a line of clear silicon adhesive along each pipe section.  Here is a shot of what ours looked like with just the vertical stringers mounted:

And now, some in-progress shots of the shelves going in:

And of course there had to be SOME goofing around...

Some close-ups...

And now, the FUN part... making it your own!!

See more about the finished product (our original post on the project) HERE!

Hope this inspires some others to take on a floating display wall... it's a fun project, and can really add a lot to a space (big or small).  Just promise you'll share your results... because we want to see!!

Like This Project?  Well, we have *LOTS* more cookin'!! 
Throw us a 'LIKE' on Facebook & we promise to share photos and links to future DIY-goodness! 

 I’m linking up to a Pinterest Challenge today... hosted by:  Young House Love, Bower Power, Hi Sugarplum, and The Great Indoors.

DIY Club
Pin It!


  1. WOW this is AWESOME...You did a fantastic job!

  2. Thanks! Glad you like it : ) It made a big impact in the room, which is always fun.

  3. This is super gorgeous! I love that it's a little rustic and that it takes up so much wall. Great idea! :)

  4. Wow. Thanks for the tutorial. I pinned the same project months ago. Maybe I'll finally build one!

  5. gorgeous, gorgeous! I'm absolutely loving the reclaimed wood! You should totally enter this project in Craftbaby's 'Upcycle It Challenge!' :-)

    1. Thanks Candie! We'll give it a whirl... thanks for sending the link! :)

  6. This is beyond cool. I want to do this in my sons room tomorrow (if I can find the time) - amazing!

    1. Aww, thanks Holly! If you do... will you send a photo? I'd love to see how it turns out! :)

  7. LOVE it! We saw something similar and pinned it. Good work from the Mr! I like that this one is "shallow" so it doesn't require alot of floor space and can be used behind and around furniture...again VERY nice!!!!

  8. Such a cool project! The part that amazes me the getting those super-long screws in straight through those narrow pieces of board!

  9. Wow your shelves look awesome! I love the floating look. Great Job!

  10. Fantastic! Absolutely fantastic! Thought,I just have one question, is it stable enough so as to support more weight? Assuming the the shelves are packed with books..


Holler at us! We would love to hear from you...

Link Within

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...