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Do I Install Floating Shelves Before Or After Backsplash?

When decorating your home, you need to think about the finishing touches such as floating shelves and picture frames. And when you involve screws, it could end up ruining your walls or backsplash if it isn’t done correctly. 

This begs the question: do you install floating shelves before or after the backsplash?

Do I Install Floating Shelves Before Or After Backsplash?

In short, you should install floating shelves after the backsplash. This avoids complications and makes for easy cleanup afterward.

You can install floating shelves before the backsplash but may result in damage to the backsplash. Make sure to use pilot holes and locate wall studs before drilling. 

Ultimately you can install the floating shelves either before or after the backsplash, but it will be a lot easier and create a lot less mess if you do it afterward.

But we’ll go more in-depth into this process. 

When To Install Floating Shelves 

Knowing when to install your floating shelves can be confusing.

Installing floating shelves before the backsplash would mean having to build the backsplash around the shelves which can lead to some extreme math and problem-solving. 

However, installing them after could mean ruining your entire backsplash when you begin drilling holes. So, what should you do first?

You should always consider installing your floating shelves after you have installed your backsplash.

Ensure the wall has plenty of support and you use wall studs, your backsplash should come out unharmed with stable and professional looking shelves. 

DIY Floating Shelves 

While it may seem like a rather large task, installing floating shelves is actually a rather simple job. Many people opt to install floating shelves themselves over hiring a professional and once you’ve completed the job you’ll know why! 

Below are the steps to installing floating shelves on your own. 

What You Need

  • Stud finder
  • Level
  • Wall shelves
  • Floating shelf bracket 
  • Drill and drill bit 
  • Painters tape
  • Wall Anchor


  1. Using your painter’s tape, begin marking the height of the shelves on the desired backsplash. When positioning your shelves, use the tap to mark the spot.  
  2. Use your stud finder to go along the lines of the painter’s tape to find any studs underneath the tile. 
  3. Mark the location of the studs with painter’s tape and transfer to the opposite side; markings should be level and equal on both sides. Use your level to ensure everything is even.
  4. Using the shelving bracket, mark where you are going to drill. 
  5. Using the markings from the shelving bracket, begin drilling into the tile to make a pilot hole. Keep your pressure light to avoid breaking the tile. 
  6. Once you have drilled the holes, lightly hammer your wall anchors into the drilled holes. 
  7. Screw the shelf brackets into the walls. 
  8. Drill 2 holes into the back of the shelves that are slightly larger than the brackets for wiggle room; ensure the holes line up with the brackets on the wall.
  9. Begin placing the shelf onto the bracket; use a rubber mallet to gently knock the shelf into the brackets until it is snug against the wall.

This is a way to install your floating shelves into a tiled backsplash without causing too much damage to the material behind them.

Do I Install Floating Shelves Before Or After Backsplash?

Tips For Installing Floating Shelves 

While floating shelves can be difficult there are still various ways it could go wrong.

We have compiled a short list of tips and tricks to ensure that you get an incredible result every time. Even if you make some mistakes along the way!

1. Reinforce The Wall And/Or Studs 

Even if you are mounting your floating shelves on wall studs, strengthening your wall or the wall studs themselves will provide you additional peace of mind.

The structure of the wall may affect how well it can support your floating shelf. It’s critical to understand the composition of your walls and whether they are hollow.

For example, your wall was most likely fitted with metal studs. These are less than ideal due to their flexibility. You may find it valuable to open the drywall and reinstall wooden wall studs for extra support and stability. 

2. Mark Your Studs 

Even though it should go without saying, you should drill into as many studs as you can. Your shelf can support a greater amount of weight the more studs you hit.

The distance between studs is 16″ on center. Once you’ve located one, you can determine where the remaining studs are along the wall.

It is extremely beneficial to mark your studs as you are installing your backsplash. But, a Stud Finder comes in handy if you have no record of where the remaining studs are if the blackspash was there before you were.

3. Make Pilot Holes

Pilot holes make drilling holes into hard surfaces such as concrete, tile, and wood a lot easier. 

Make a small hole into the location you have marked on your painter’s tape. Make sure not to go all the way through and you may even find it helpful to make the hole smaller than needed. 

Once you have everything else in position, use the correct drill bit and drill into your holes properly.

Drilling pilot holes you reduce the risk of your wood cleat splitting.

This ensures your final screws are in properly. You also want to check your cleat is still level and hasn’t moved an inch.

4. Level Your Shelves

When the shelf is in place, you must correctly support and level it while the glue cures . Make sure the two floating shelves are level from back to front before placing them next to one another. Clamps can be used for this.

You can also seal the seam with wood filler to make it appear as though there is just one long shelf.

Bottom Line 

To conclude,  it is completely up to you on whether you install your floating shelves before or after your backsplash. However, you are going to have a lot fewer problems and mess if you do it after. 

Installing floating shelves is the perfect DIY project and with the tips and tricks above, you’ll be a master in no time. 

So, grab your shelves, drill, and stud finder and get to installing!

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