How to Remove a Floating Shelf

Floating shelves are a popular choice for adding stylish and functional storage to any room. However, there may come a time when you need to remove a floating shelf, whether it’s to rearrange your space, update your decor, or make repairs.

How to Remove a Floating Shelf

Removing a floating shelf may seem daunting, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be a straightforward process. 

In this guide, we will provide step-by-step instructions on how to remove a floating shelf safely and efficiently. We will cover the essential tools you’ll need, as well as important tips to keep in mind to avoid damaging your walls or the shelf itself. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a beginner, this guide will help you confidently tackle the task of removing a floating shelf and achieving a successful outcome.

Are Floating Shelves Strong?

Floating shelves are known for their minimalist and modern aesthetic. However, many people worry that they are not strong enough to hold heavy books or other items. Fortunately, floating shelves can be surprisingly strong when mounted properly.

The strength of a floating shelf depends on the wall material, how it was installed, and the weight capacity of the shelf. It is important to use the correct anchors and screws for your wall material, ensuring that it is secure and sturdy. Taking this into consideration, a floating shelf should be able to hold an average weight of 15-20 lbs, depending on the materials used.

It is always best practice to err on the side of caution when mounting a floating shelf; if you are unsure whether or not a shelf will work in your space, opt for a heavier-duty model or consult with a professional.

Add Additional Supports

Additionally, you may want to add additional supports, such as angle braces or L-brackets to help distribute weight along the entire length of the shelf. This can help make sure that nothing falls off once it’s been hung up!

No matter what, always remember to check the instructions that come with your floating shelf for specific weight limits and recommendations!  This way, you can rest assured knowing

10 Methods on How to Remove a Floating Shelf

1. Gather the Right Tools

Before you begin, make sure you have the necessary tools on hand to safely and efficiently remove a floating shelf. You will need a few basic tools, including a screwdriver (either flathead or Phillips, depending on the type of screws used), a drill with a screwdriver bit, a level, a stud finder, a pry bar or putty knife, a hammer, and a small container to hold screws and other hardware. Having the right tools at your disposal will help you avoid unnecessary delays and frustration during the removal process.

2. Locate and Remove Screws

Floating shelves are typically secured to the wall with screws that are hidden from view. Use a screwdriver or drill with a screwdriver bit to locate and remove the screws that are holding the shelf in place.

Carefully unscrew the screws, being mindful not to strip them or damage the wall. Once all the screws are removed, the shelf should come loose from the wall.

3. Check for Studs

If your floating shelf is particularly heavy or large, it may be secured to wall studs for added support. Use a stud finder to locate the position of the studs behind the shelf. Studs are typically spaced 16 or 24 inches apart, so be sure to check along the entire length of the shelf.

Use a Stud Finder

If the shelf is attached to studs, you will need to remove any screws or brackets that are securing it to the studs before attempting to remove the shelf from the wall.

4. Pry the Shelf Away from the Wall

Once all screws or brackets have been removed, use a pry bar or putty knife to gently pry the shelf away from the wall. Insert the tool between the shelf and the wall, and apply gentle pressure to create a gap.

Be careful not to use excessive force or you may risk damaging the wall or the shelf itself. Slowly work your way along the entire length of the shelf, continuing to pry it away from the wall until it is fully detached.

5. Use a Rubber Mallet

If the floating shelf is stuck to the wall and difficult to pry away, you can also use a rubber mallet to gently tap the shelf from underneath. Place a piece of scrap wood on the shelf to protect it from damage, and then tap the wood with the rubber mallet to create a gap between the shelf and the wall. Once the gap is large enough, you can use a pry bar or putty knife to further loosen the shelf and remove it from the wall.

6. Remove Adhesive or Caulk

Some floating shelves are attached to the wall with adhesive or caulk instead of screws. If this is the case, you will need to carefully remove the adhesive or caulk before attempting to remove the shelf.

Use a scraper or putty knife to gently scrape away the adhesive or caulk, being careful not to damage the wall or the shelf. Once the adhesive or caulk has been removed, you can proceed with the methods mentioned above to remove the shelf from the wall.

7. Clean the Wall

After the floating shelf has been removed, you may notice residue or marks on the wall. Use a mild cleaning solution and a soft cloth to clean the wall and remove any dirt, adhesive, or caulk residue. If the wall was damaged during the removal process, you might need to patch and repaint the area to restore it to its original condition.

Be sure to check the wall for any additional signs of damage and address those as needed. To finish off, you can use a lint-free cloth to clean the wall and remove any dust or debris.

Use a Lint-free Cloth

8. Save Hardware for Future Use

As you remove the floating shelf, be sure to keep all screws, brackets, or other hardware in a small container for safekeeping. This will ensure that you have all the necessary hardware if you decide to reinstall the shelf in the same location or use it for another project in the future.

Be sure to label the container, indicating what type of hardware is inside and where it was used. This will make it easier to identify the items when the time comes to use them again.

9. Repair Wall Damage (if any)

During the removal process, it’s possible that the wall may sustain some damage, such as small holes or scratches. If this is the case, you’ll need to repair the damage before proceeding. 

Use spackling compound or wall filler to fill in any holes or cracks, and then sand the patched areas until smooth. If the wall is painted, you may also need to touch up the paint to blend the repaired areas with the rest of the wall. Allow the patch and paint to dry fully before moving on to the next step.

10. Store or Dispose of the Shelf

Once the floating shelf has been successfully removed and the wall is repaired, you’ll need to decide what to do with the shelf. If you plan to reuse it in another location or for another purpose, carefully store it in a safe place to prevent any damage.

Make sure to keep any hardware associated with the shelf as well. If you no longer have a use for the shelf, you can consider donating it or properly disposing of it, depending on the material it’s made of. Be sure to follow local regulations and guidelines for disposing of furniture or other household items.

Some Common Mistakes When Removing a Floating Shelf

1. Not Preparing the Walls:

Before attempting to remove a floating shelf, make sure you have properly prepared the walls behind it. Depending on the type of wall you have, this may involve patching any holes or removing any screws that were used to install the shelf.

2. Using Excessive Force:

When attempting to remove a floating shelf, it’s important not to use too much force. Doing so can cause structural damage to the shelves as well as the walls around them.

3. Forgetting Your Tools:

Make sure you have all of the proper tools needed to safely remove a floating shelf. This includes screwdrivers, wrenches, and other tools that may be necessary depending on the type of shelving unit you have.

Have All of the Proper Tools


Being able to remove your floating shelf is a must-have skill if you are looking to make changes in the way your room looks. Even though it may seem a bit intimidating at first, with patience and the right supplies, removing a floating shelf can be done quickly and safely.

After gathering the materials needed, such as a screwdriver, jigsaw, and safety glasses, be sure to carefully read instructions for further detailed instructions on how to actually remove the shelf from its mount. Thanks for reading, and we hope this has given you some inspiration on how to remove a floating shelf!

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian is a woodworking hobbyist and has loved Woodworking since he was 10 years old. Back then in childhood, his father used to have a furniture shop. He used to help his dad and learned a lot from him about how to fix woodworking furniture, basic carpentry knowledge and also about how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others.

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