How to Build DIY Photo Ledges

Picture ledges are the ultimate interchangeable decorating solution, and they're an easy afternoon project.

stacked white photo ledges with frames on wall
Photo: Carson Downing
Project Overview
  • Working Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 day
  • Skill Level: Kid-friendly

For a hanging solution that doesn’t involve a lot of planning, a photo ledge is the answer. Make an instant gallery wall with several photo ledges so you don’t have to hang each frame individually. This inexpensive project makes it super easy to change out photos and art when the mood strikes. Update it with seasonal decor or as kids grow. They’re perfect for displaying children’s books face out for quick access at reading time, record albums, spice jars, a collection of small toys or keepsakes, and more! Building the shelves doesn’t take long, either—the longest wait time is for painting, if you choose to do it. Here’s how to make your own wall ledges this weekend.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Saw
  • Clamps
  • Nail gun
  • Paintbrush
  • Stud finder
  • Drill
  • Level


  • Wood
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood glue
  • Primer
  • Paint, if desired
  • Screws


  1. Make Cuts

    Cut your wood to the below dimensions.

    Cut Meaurements
    Piece Dimensions Quantity
    1 x 4-inch board 30 x 4 x 1-inches (1)30 x 1-1/2 x 1-inches (2) 1
  2. Cut and Prep Wood

    Each ledge will be made up of three strips of wood, but you only need one board to make the project. Measure, mark, and cut a 1 x 4-inch piece of wood into two 30-inch long pieces. Cut one of the 30-inch boards in half so that you have two smaller pieces approximately 2 inches wide each. Sand all three pieces smoothly.

  3. Build Ledges

    Glue one of the slim 2-inch pieces flush with one edge of the wide piece. This will create a "lip" on the end of the picture rail so no frames will slide off. Clamp together to hold in place. Wait a few minutes until the glue is tacky, then nail with a nail gun to secure. To give your ledges an even surface for painting, fill in the nail holes with wood filler, then smooth them over with a putty knife and let dry. Repeat this process for the second thin piece, but glue it to the top of the 1 x 4 base to create a taller "back" (wall-facing) piece.

  4. apply primer and paint to hanging wall ledge

    Prime and Paint

    Prime and paint or stain your photo ledges in the color of your choice. If you prefer the look of natural wood, simply seal to protect them before hanging. Apply two to three coats for best coverage, allowing adequate time to dry between each.

    Editor's Tip: We recommend resting your photo ledge on pieces of scrap wood to make painting the edges a little easier.

  5. Locate Studs and Hang

    Since your picture ledge will be supporting frames and other potentially heavy items, hang it on wall studs for extra security. Locate studs and mark their corresponding locations lightly on the back panel of the ledge. Drill pilot holes at the marked spots before drilling screws into the wall. Use a level to make sure your photo ledge will be even.

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