How-To Install Built-in Shelves Under Stairs?

Last Updated on July 14, 2022 by Jude Robert Caratao

Have you ever heard the phrase “a place for everything and everything in its place”? It might seem like an outdated, old-fashioned sentiment. But as it turns out, this phrase is not only timeless but also quite true. The more organized your space is, the less time and energy you will have to spend looking for things or cleaning up clutter. One way to get your home more organized is to take advantage of all the available storage space. And one often overlooked storage spot is under the stairs.

How do you build built-in shelves under stairs? The first thing you need to do is assess the space under your staircase to determine its size. Once you are fully convinced that the space is big enough to accommodate extra storage shelves, assemble the tools and materials you need to accomplish the task. They include a screwdriver, drill, plywood, wood boards, and some sandpaper. Measure the space, cut the wood boards/plywood, assemble the frame and attach it to the wall using screwdrivers before you add shelves to the setup, and you are good to go.

So, if you are looking to build some built-in shelves under your stairs, here is a tutorial for you. Read on to learn more.

Why Should You Build Built-in Shelves Under Your Stairs?

There are many reasons why you should consider building some built-in shelves under your stairs. For starters, it is a great way to make use of otherwise wasted space. And if you have a small home or apartment, every extra bit of storage space can be helpful.

In addition, built-in shelves can give your home a more polished and elegant look. And if you are planning on selling your home, this can be a great selling point for potential buyers.

Under the stairs book shelf.
It is a great way to make use of otherwise wasted space.

Finally, building shelves under your stairs is a relatively easy and inexpensive project that you can do yourself. So, if you are looking for a weekend DIY project, this might be the perfect one for you.

What You Will Need

The supplies you will need for this project are pretty simple and inexpensive. For the shelves themselves, you will need some wood boards. The size and type of wood will depend on the look you are going for and the amount of weight you plan on storing on the shelves.

You will also need some wood screws, a drill, and a screwdriver. And finally, you will need some sandpaper, paint or stain (optional), and polyurethane (optional).

The Project: Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you know what you will need, here is a step-by-step guide to help you build your own built-in shelves under your stairs.

Step 1: Measure the Space Under Your Stairs

The first thing you need to do is measure the space under your stairs. You will want to make sure that your shelves fit nicely in this space.

Start by measuring the entire run of the stairs. This is actually the floor-length where you intend to start shelving to where you will end it. This measurement is crucial because it will help you when cutting the bottom of your shelves.

Secondly, you should also measure the rise. This is the actual floor height to the highest point under the stairs where you want your shelves to reach.

Once you have established the actual rise, proceed to measure the slope or diagonal length from where you want the shelves to begin up to where you want them to end. It is essential to determine the overall slope angle of your staircase at this point since it will help you to cut the beveled edge of the plywood at an accurate angle.

A person measuring the stairs.
First thing you need to do is measure the space under your stairs.

The beveled edge refers to the edge that isn’t perpendicular to the wood. Since the top of your frame must be at an angle, the edges of this piece and any edge attached to the piece must be cut at an appropriate angle for the two pieces to fit together without any issues. The easiest way to establish this angle is by using an appropriate angle finder tool.

Alternatively, you can also use a protractor or a bevel gauge. Once you have determined the angle, proceed to transfer this measurement to your wood boards.

Step 2: Cut the Wood Boards

After measuring and marking your wood boards, it is time to cut them. For this step, you will need a saw. If you do not have a saw, you can always ask a friend or neighbor to borrow one.

If you are using a hand saw, be extra careful when cutting the boards. It is also good to practice on some scrap wood before cutting the actual boards.

When cutting the boards, be sure to use a straightedge guide. This will help you to make straight, clean cuts.

A person cutting the wood.
If you are using a hand saw, be extra careful when cutting the boards.

If you are using a power saw, such as a circular saw, be sure to wear safety goggles and follow all safety instructions that come with the saw.

Once you have cut the boards to size, it is time to move on to the next step.

Step 3: Assemble the Frame

The next step is to assemble the frame. To do this, you will need to attach the boards together using wood screws.

Start by positioning two boards together at a 90-degree angle. Then, pre-drill some holes through both boards. These holes should be evenly spaced and about 1-2 inches from the end of the boards.

After you have pre-drilled the holes, proceed to attach the boards together using wood screws. Be sure to use a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the screws. This will ensure that the screws fit snugly into the holes and don’t strip the wood.

Repeat this process until all four sides of the frame are complete.

Step 4: Attach the Frame to the Wall

The next step is to attach the frame to the wall. To do this, you will need to use wood screws and anchors.

Start by holding the frame up against the wall in the desired location. Then, use a pencil to mark where the screws will go.

Remove the frame from the wall and pre-drill holes at the marked locations. Be sure to use a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the screws.

Next, insert the anchors into the holes. Then, screw the frame to the wall using wood screws.

Step 5: Add the Shelves

The next step is to add the shelves. To do this, you will need to cut the shelves to size and then attach them to the frame.

Start by measuring the width and depth of the frame. Then, use these measurements to cut the shelves to size.

After cutting the shelves to size, position them inside the frame and mark where the screws will go.

Under the stairs shelves.
You will need to cut the shelves to size and then attach them to the frame.

Remove the shelves from the frame and pre-drill holes at the marked locations. It is highly recommended you use a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the screws.

Next, attach the shelves to the frame using wood screws.

Step 6: Add Finishing Touches

The final step is to add any finishing touches you desire. For example, you may want to paint or stain the frame and shelves. Once you have added the finishing touches, your staircase shelf storage is complete!

If you decide to paint or stain the staircase shelf, be sure to use a paint or stain suitable for use on wood. Also, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and drying times.

Take time to inspect your work and make sure that everything is secure. Then, enjoy your new staircase shelf!

What Can You Store on a Staircase Shelf?

Now that you know how to build a staircase shelf, you may be wondering what you can store on it. The answer is: anything you want! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Shoes
  • Books
  • Toys
  • Picture frames
  • Candles
  • Plants
  • Knick-knacks

The possibilities are endless! The only thing you need to keep in mind is that the items you store on the shelves should be lightweight. This will help to ensure that the shelves are sturdy and don’t tip over.

Do not hesitate to get creative and personalize your staircase shelf to suit your needs and taste.

How Long Will a Staircase Shelf Last?

If you take proper care of your staircase shelf, it can last for many years. Be sure to inspect the shelf periodically and tighten any loose screws. Additionally, avoid placing heavy items on the shelves.

Under the stairs office and book shelf.
Be sure to inspect the shelf periodically and tighten any loose screws.

With proper care, your staircase shelf will be a beautiful and functional addition to your home for years to come!

Final Thought

A staircase shelf is a great way to add extra storage space to your home without taking up any additional floor space. You can use them to store anything from books and DVDs to holiday decorations and sporting equipment.

The project is easy enough for even beginner DIYers, and with a little bit of effort, you can have new shelves installed in no time. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your staircase shelf today!

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