How to Build Laundry Room Shelves

Have a free afternoon? Learn how to outfit your laundry room with DIY shelves that are perfect for storage and display.

open shelves blue laundry room

Lisa Romerein

From detergent to dryer sheets and baskets of clean clothes, there’s no shortage of items to shuffle and store in your laundry room, which is exactly why shelving is crucial. Furthermore, DIY laundry room shelves add display space to showcase your personal style.

If your home’s builder didn’t deem laundry room shelving important enough to make the punch list, you might find yourself looking for a custom solution. Worry not; we’ve got the perfect way to add shelving to your laundry room and give it the style and function boost it deserves. 

Choosing a Laundry Room Shelf Style

Choosing the right shelf style for your laundry room comes down to the layout of the space. For instance, if your washer and dryer sit next to one another in an alcove or closet, building extra-deep floating shelves is a breeze. However, if your appliances sit against a standard wall, it can be a tad trickier, but we’ll explain a way to get around this. 

How to Build Laundry Room Shelves

What You Need

  • 2x2 x 8’ pine boards
  • 1x3 x 8’
  • 1/2" x 4’x8’ sanded plywood sheet
  • Circular saw
  • Orbital sander with 220-grit sanding pads
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • 4-level or laser level 
  • Stud-finder
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • 3-1/2” self-tapping wood screws
  • Finish nail gun or hammer and finish nails
  • Wood glue
  • Pre-stain wood conditioner (if staining)
  • Paint or stain and sealant
  • Paint or staining supplies

Step 1: Measure the Space

Measure the area for your laundry room shelf from side to side. If your shelves won’t span the full depth of the side walls, get a measurement of your ideal depth. The shelves in our tutorial will be 18 inches deep, so adjust the dimensions as needed. 

Step 2: Cut Wood

Cut two 2x2 boards to the exact side-to-side measurement, then cut several 2x2 boards measuring 14-1/4 inches. These shorter boards will act as the internal frame supports running from back to front, so cut one for each end and one for every foot of distance between the ends. 

Step 3: Build Shelf Frame

Lay a longer 2x2 down on your work surface. Place the ends of the short 2x2s against the side of the long board. Position one at each end with the remaining boards equidistant throughout the middle. Screw through the back of the long board into the end of each short board using 3-1/2-inch self-tapping wood screws. 

Step 4: Prep Wall

Use a stud-finder to locate each stud along the back wall of the alcove and each side wall. After marking each stud, use a long level or a laser level to establish a level line at the height at which you desire to mount the shelf. 

Step 5: Mount the Frame

Lift the frame to the wall with the ends of the short boards facing outward. Screw the long board through the wall using 3-1/2-inch self-tapping wood screws at each stud. Adjust the side boards until level, then secure them to the wall studs. Finally, screw the remaining long 2x2 to the exposed ends of the short boards, completing the frame.  

Step 7: Cut and Mount Plywood

Cut your 1/2-inch plywood to the exact dimensions of your shelf frame, leaving no overhang on the front. Apply a bead of wood glue to the top of each frame member, then place the plywood on top of the frame. Nail the plywood into the frame using a finish nail gun or a hammer and finish nails. Repeat this process to cover the underside of the shelf. 

Editor's Tip: To make quick and accurate cuts on plywood sheets, clamp a long straight board to the plywood and use it as a guide for your circular saw’s fence to ride against. 

Step 8: Cut and Mount Front Board

To cover the frame and the delicate edges of the plywood, you’ll need to mount a board on the front of the shelves. Cut a 1x3 to the length of the shelves, then glue and nail it using the same method used to attach the plywood. 

Step 9: Sand Boards

Sand the shelves to remove all splinters and prep the surface for your chosen finish. 

Step 10: Build Remaining Shelves

Repeat steps 1-9 to build as many DIY laundry room shelves as your space requires. 

Step 11: Finish the Shelves

Paint the shelves to match your wall color or stain them for natural contrast. When staining soft wood and plywood, always use a pre-stain wood conditioner to promote even stain absorption and prevent blotchiness. Follow up with your chosen stain and sealant, following the manufacturer’s instructions for proper application. 

How to Build Shelves on Standard Walls

While this method can technically be used in rooms without the side walls found in an alcove or closet, the lack of support on the sides will drastically decrease the shelves’ ability to support the necessary weight. For this reason, we don’t recommend it. Instead, a standard shelf board with brackets is a much sturdier solution. If you’re set on the look of floating shelves, consider purchasing prefabricated metal floating shelf hardware and decreasing the depth of the shelves. 

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