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Shelfbar

Floating shelves, Q & A

  1. Why choose a shelfbar kit installation?
  2. What makes shelfbar shelves so different?
  3. How strong are the shelves?
  4. How good do the walls need to be?
  5. Where can they be put up?
  6. I have just redecorated, can I still put up the shelves without damaging the surrounding decorations?
  7. It all looks pretty easy, do I need to follow the instructions?
  8. Are you sure I do not need to use glue?
  9. What if I make a mistake and need to take a shelf down?
  10. Do I need to paint the shelves?
  11. What’s the best way to paint the shelves?
  12. What's the best way to measure the alcove width?
  13. Can you help me with assessing the best cutting width?
  14. How does your Alcove Service Work?
  15. How accurate do I need to be with measuring for alcove shelves, my 1500mm alcove is difficult to measure with my tape measure, how will I know the shelf you supply will fit?
  16. What gap between shelves can I have in the bookcase and corner bookcase configurations?
  17. Am I correct in thinking that MDF is inferior to natural wood?
  18. Suitable for solid and plasterboard walls, but how about dryline walls?
  19. What if the wall turns out to be more irregular than I thought, the shelfbar® support begins to bend to wall profile when installed/tightened?

 

1. Why choose a shelfbar kit installation?

  • To create a bracketless fitted finish look which is strong to carry any reasonable book weight and elegant for precious item display.
  • Whether choosing single, bookcase, corner, corner bookcase or alcove shelves, once installed each shelfbar kit is designed to be painted to blend with the chosen colour scheme to achieve a truly professional finish - create a wall with shelves, not just shelves on a wall!

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2. What makes shelfbar shelves so different?

  • New look and new fixing system allows you to create your own high performance floating shelves
  • Strong fixing system with no visible brackets; no bend, no wobble, no sag
  • Precision engineered MDF ready for installation and painting to match or blend with your colour scheme for professional result
  • For bookcase kits, new integrated super strong combined wire bookend/support system, you decide precise distance between shelves (max 45cms)
  • Alcove shelves are supplied cut-to-size to fit your alcoves’ unique angles and dimensions
  • Alcove and corner shelves have additional side-wall fixings (also concealed from view) making shelves super strong
  • Minimal wall penetration, suitable for solid and plasterboard/stud walls
  • Practical to install with full userview accredited step by step instructions, fixing pack with screws and universal wall plugs included

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3. How strong are the shelves?
This question can be answered a number of ways, but we think “can they take my books?” is the load measure most people want to know.

All shelfbar® designs have been tested on a range of solid wall and plasterboard surfaces and we are confident that they can easily support as many books as can reasonably be fitted on them.

We have put the bookcase shelves (integrated wire supports which double up as bookends) through some extreme tests - take a look at this photo, but please do not test the shelves like this yourself, we just wanted to test beyond the bookcase shelves’ reasonable limits!

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4. How good do the walls need to be?
The wall needs to be able to provide a strong fixing and the shelves are best fitted to a flat and regular surface.
The wallplugs supplied will work in most solid wall types and also plasterboard (see www.fischer.co.uk for more information/specification) These wallplugs have been tested by us on a range of solid wall and plasterboard (min 12.5mm thickness) wall surfaces. We can also supply special fixings tested by us for dryline/dot&dab and also sound insulating plasterboard, please email for quote.
Few wall surfaces are perfect and once the shelves are fixed in position use decorators flexible filler to fill any gaps, provide a good seal and thereby enhance the shelf’s strength as well as looks.

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5. Where can they be put up?
If you suspect that the walls may contain wiring or pipes, use a pipe & cable detector to check before starting work. If you are thinking about putting them in a bathroom or any area prone to moisture, as with any MDF product you need to ensure once installed the shelves are properly and entirely sealed/painted before they are exposed to any moisture.

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Single shelves
Practically no further planning is necessary for a single shelf, the answer is anywhere there is enough good wall.

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Bookcase Kits
For the bookcase kits, only a little more planning is required - because installation always starts with the bottom shelf, it’s useful to think ahead where the top shelf is going to end up. So before starting, assess the overall approximate desired position of shelving on the wall. From an ease of installation point of view, there is no need to be very precise about it because the bookend wire supports are designed to self-adjust then cut to fit precisely once each shelfbar support is finally firmly fixed. Take account of the gaps you want between the shelves (max 40-45cm) and remember to allow sufficient space above the envisaged top shelf for coving/ceiling etc, and below the envisaged bottom shelf for any furniture (chair/bed etc).

When planning how much gap to allow between the shelves – suggest a min 20cms for small paperbacks and a max 45cms for larger books/display items. Remember to allow for the thickness (22mm) of the shelf itself.

As a general rule it looks better to reduce (rather than increase) the gap between each shelf as you progress up the wall. Or you may decide to keep the gaps exactly the same.

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6. I have just redecorated, can I still put up the shelves without damaging the surrounding decorations?
Because all fixings (including the holes in the wall) will be concealed/covered by the shelf itself once it is fixed in position, there is no reason why the surrounding area should be damaged during installation providing you take care during drilling/fixing. Then once installed use masking tape (low-tack masking tape is best) to protect the surrounding decorations during painting. Warning: if planning to install onto a wallpapered surface, first check that even the low-tack masking tape will not damage the wallpaper when it is pealed off.

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7. It all looks pretty easy, do I need to follow the instructions?
Yes. Although it is all intended to be straightforward we do recommend at least a quick read through before you start because you can get into difficulties if, for example, you skip certain stages in the instructions etc. Always check your measurements and do not be tempted to skip stages on the measuring, marking and drilling order

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8. Are you sure I do not need to use glue?
We recommend you do not use glue, it should not be necessary for all our standard sizes and if applied unevenly it may even reduce the shelf’s strength. However, for some special sizes and unusual applications including some of our very small shelves (for example small shelf required to support large audio speaker) careful application of wood glue can benefit, please email for advice.

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9. What if I make a mistake and need to take a shelf down?
This won’t be too difficult providing you’ve followed the instructions by only inserting all the dowels at the final stage, ie once you’ve firmly and finally fixed each shelfbar support in its desired position. Either way, the best remedy while also protecting the wall surface is this: do not try to pull the shelf directly off its shelfbar support, but instead carefully slide a strong blade (eg set square/steel ruler) between shelf and shelfbar support and, working your way along the shelf length, gently prise the shelf away from the shelfbar support.

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10. Do I need to paint the shelves?
We recommend they do need to be sealed and, to achieve the beautiful fitted professional interior finish, painting is worth the effort. All aspects of finishing, including using Decorators Flexible Filler and painting the shelves will add the shelves’ strength and fitted look.
But if they are for the studio or workshop, you may decide to leave them as they are...

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11. What’s the best way to paint the shelves?
To achieve the best ‘fitted look’ professional result: once installed and after decorator's flexible filler has been applied filling all gaps/joins and has been allowed to dry, first use masking tape where necessary. For bookcase kits this includes protecting the wires during painting - please see photo, click to enlarge.

Then paint with one or two coats of combined primer/undercoat. Quick smooth the shelf edges using the sanding pad supplied between coats (ie not before application of first coat). For final coat, choose a satinwood or gloss paint. For long shelves, you may find using a mini roller useful, brushing off as you proceed if required.


(Tip for pro installers: A convenient time to apply masking tape to walls during the installation process is just after each shelfbar support is secured, ie just after step 5 of instructions - see photo, click to enlarge).

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12. What's the best way to measure the alcove width?
The shelfbar® design allows for the fact all alcove angles/dimensions are irregular. For most installations, providing you measure with reasonable care, no cutting/trimming/scribing onsite is needed. If cutting onsite does prove necessary, up to approx 5mm each end (more towards the shelf rear) can be removed without damaging the concealed side-wall fixings.

Take width measurements at various points, to assess the narrowest and widest points, as shown in the drawing contained in the Measuring Cutting Width Form (see below Q13)

When assessing the best cutting width, in order to allow for alcove angles, remember to allow for a gap between shelf ends and the adjoining alcove wall. The minimum gap recommended at each end of shelf is 2mm, even if your alcove angles are pretty nearly perfect. This gap will vary (for example approx +/- 5mm) at each edge according to the alcove wall angles. If required , gaps of up to approx 10mm at each edge can be filled successfully with decorators caulk/flexible filler – but usually gaps of this size can be avoided, for best advice please use our Alcove Advice Service.

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13. Can you help me with assessing the best cutting width?
If you would like help with assessing the best cutting width to fit your alcove

  • Click here to download Measuring Cutting Width Form Adobe Acrobat Version

or

  • Click here to download Measuring Cutting Width Form Microsoft Word Version

Please email the completed form back to alcovewidth@shelfbar.co.uk.

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14. How does your Alcove Advice Service work?
This is a bespoke product - all alcove angles/dimensions are irregular – we will supply the shelves to fit your alcoves’ unique angles. Fill in the actual measurements, (eg including alcove front and back), as requested on the Alcove Measuring Form downloadable from Alcove sections on our website and email this form to us. We will assess your alcove angles and email back to you our suggestion for best cutting widths, this email will also include our full quote based on website prices + quick checkout link.

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15. How accurate do I need to be with measuring for alcove shelves, my 1500mm alcove is difficult to measure with my tape measure, how will I know the shelf you supply will fit?
We know most of our customers use a metal tape measure, (very few use lazor measures!). Taking care to be as accurate as you can is important, but measurements do not need to be 100% accurate, the shelfbar installation system is very ‘forgiving’. Take advantage of our alcove advice service (included in the price – please see answer above). Most customers install without the need for trimming/cutting to fit onsite – but if required you have the comfort of knowing that up to 5mm from each edge can be cut onsite without damaging the side-wall fixings (also concealed)

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16. What gap between shelves can I have in the bookcase and corner bookcase configurations?
The size of gap between shelves is entirely up to you, subject to a maximum of 40-45cms. The precise gap need only be decided during installation and any excess bookend/support wire is cut off, wire cutters are included for this purpose. So the gap between shelves can be as you wish, for example the same between each shelf or some customers elect for larger gap on lower shelves, reducing as proceed up higher shelves etc.

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17. Am I correct in thinking that MDF is inferior to natural wood?
Not always correct. In fact the opposite is more likely because good quality mdf can outperfom natural wood in many ways. All our shelves are supplied in solid top quality grade high density mdf (sometimes known as hdf). When used with our fixing system the shelves are very strong and once installed and painted will prove resistant to temperature/moisture changes.

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18. Suitable for solid and plasterboard walls, but how about dryline/dot&dab walls or thick sound insulating plasterboard walls?
We have tested specialist wallplugs for these wall types and the results are excellent. Please email for a quote

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19. What if the wall turns out to be more irregular than I thought, the shelfbar® support begins to bend to wall profile when installed/tightened?
Walls are rarely perfect and often it is only when installation starts that the extent of any irregularity or ‘bend’ becomes apparent, especially for longer shelves.

Wall bend will result in gaps - gaps may be located between the wall and the shelfbar® support and/or, once the shelf is fully installed, between the shelfbar® support and its matching shelf.

The best remedy depends on degree of bend

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For Minimal Bend/Gaps
Small gaps (1mm-2mm up to approx 3mm maximum over 1510mm width shelf) are fine.

Remedy: as per instructions, once fully installed fill all gaps fully with flexible filler/decorators caulk.

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For Larger Bend/Gaps
It should become apparent during early installation stages if the bend and resulting gap is likely to be larger than the above.

In this situation any area of larger gap is best packed out between wall and shelfbar® support, in order to remove or evenly distribute gap.

Remedy: to pack out, when tightening, insert a correctly-sized packing piece. This can be a small wood piece/waste/scrap/ie old matches (always with vertical dimension less than 22mm in order to remain concealed from view). Position the packing piece adjacent to the nearest screw fixing point, tighten carefully. This will ensure shelfbar® support is kept as straight as possible.

Whatever the remedy, make sure the shelfbar® support achieves a secure fixing onto the rear wall.

As per instructions, once fully installed, fill all gaps (including packed areas) fully with flexible filler/decorators caulk.

If gaps are large a second application of flexible filler may be required. This type of filler tends to shrink as it dries, so it is difficult to overfill. If required and in order to completely remove trace/achieve razor profile, a final small application of traditional sandable type filler can be applied.

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