DIY Aged Chippy Paint Technique | Pretty Handy Girl
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How to Install Shelves (using Corbels) on a Tile Wall

How to Install Shelves on a Tile Wall (using Corbels) | Pretty Handy Girl

After painstakingly tiling my backsplash, I was more than a bit hesitant to drill holes into the tiles to hang the corbels and open shelving. But, I convinced myself to stop being a wussy procrastinating and just do it.

I’m so pleased with how they turned out and I didn’t chip or crack a single tile. In hindsight I really didn’t need to stress this project. It was less nerve-wracking than I had anticipated.

Here’s the full tutorial so you can install your own open shelving on a tile wall!


  • Diamond drill bit (the same diameter as the screws you are using)
  • Wood screws to attach anchor board (must be long enough to go through board, tile, drywall and at least an inch into a stud)
  • Drill
  • Spray bottle filled with water
  • Level (long and a small one if you have one)
  • Pencil
  • 2 regular drill bits (1 the same diameter as the screw + 1 large enough to create a countersink for the screw head)
  • Shelf brackets (I used corbels and a 1″x6″ pine board as an anchor)
  • Kreg jig
  • Pocket hole screws (long enough to attach corbel to anchor board without going through the board)
  • Joint compound or wood putty


Start by determining the height you want your shelves to hang.


I actually pre-determined this when I had my walls open and put in blocking so I could located a stud easier.


If you don’t know where your studs are, it’s not a big deal. But, make sure you purchase very strong wall anchors and screws to use if you drill into a hollow spot.

Triple Anchor Grips

Mark the top of your anchor/corbel bracket and draw a pencil line horizontally using a level.


Drill holes into your anchor board. Create a countersink hole so the screw head will sit below the surface. (I determined it was best to attach my corbels to an anchor board. The board is just 1″ x 6″ pine plank that I painted using the same distressing technique I used on the corbels.)


Hold the anchor board up on the wall, lining it up with the pencil line. For double accuracy, set a small level on top of the board.


Begin drilling through the holes in the board with a diamond bit blade. Only drill long enough to make a mark on the tile.


Remove the anchor board and continue drilling through the marble in the same spot.


Spray water onto the bit to keep it cool. Remove the bit from the tile periodically to clear the tile dust.


Once the hole has gone through the tile, you should be able to determine if you have hollow space beyond the drywall (the bit goes through to nothing) or a stud (you feel resistance after going through the drywall.) For a stud, use a wood screw. Hollow space will require using an anchor.  Set the screw into the hole, but don’t secure yet.


Making sure the anchor board is level, drill through the second hole until you’ve made a mark on the tile.


Remove the anchor board and continue drilling the second hole.


Now you can drive the two screws into the stud (and or wall anchors) and secure it to the wall.


Use a Kreg Jig to drill pocket holes into the top of your corbel. You can review my Kreg Jig tutorial if you haven’t used one in a while (or ever.)


Set the corbel flush with the top of the anchor board. Set the level on top to make sure things are still level. Drive pocket hole screws through the top of the corbels and into the anchor board (the screw shouldn’t touch the tile wall.)


Pre-drill a hole into the bottom of the corbel and drive a screw through the corbel and into the anchor board.


Congrats! You just hung one corbel shelf bracket. From here, you want to hang the second corbel bracket the same way. Be sure to level it with the first support.


If you are installing a second shelf, be sure to mark a plumb line with the lower brackets to keep everything lined up.


In no time you’ll have your shelf brackets secured to the wall.


To complete your shelf, lay the shelf on top of the bracket. Pre-drill a hole through the corbel and into the bottom of the shelf. Secure the shelf with a wood screw.


Fill the exposed screw holes with joint compound or wood putty. When dry, sand lightly and touch up the paint or stain.


Enjoy your new open shelves on a tile wall!

DIY Aged Chippy Paint Technique | Pretty Handy Girl

How to Install Shelves on a Tile Wall (using Corbels) | Pretty Handy Girl



Corbels are from Southern Accents Architectural Antiques

Reclaimed wood shelf from The Reuse Warehouse in Durham, NC

Marble subway tiles from

Sharing with Home Stories of A to Z’s Tutorials and Tips.

11 replies
  1. Tina Gleisner
    Tina Gleisner says:

    Great tutorial & loved that you showed the blocking which few people know about.

    I’d add a word of caution to tell readers to check that the horizontal things below and above these (or similar) shelving are also level. In old houses that’s rarely the case and we find that with crown molding we have to adjust it’s height to make the ceiling appear level. It’s all about getting creative about what looks level versus what really is.

  2. Colleen Taylor
    Colleen Taylor says:

    I saw your tutorial the other day about these shelves. I didn’t have time to leave a comment that day but I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love these! They look so incredibly high end as well as have that aged “old world” look. I must take the time one day to figure this all out. The paint & the aging technique on this is beyond fabulous!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] If you asked me what is my favorite element in my kitchen, it would be my reclaimed lumber open shelves. These babies are my pride and joy. I found the lumber at a local reclaimed lumber shop and painted the corbels myself to make them look old. Then I carefully drilled through the tile to hang the shelves. […]

  2. […] for a 6 year old. He patiently waited over a year as I finished the kitchen. But, after that last shelf was hung, he began his pressure again. Frankly after 13 months of hard core renovation, I wanted to just […]

  3. […] is timeless and appealing, and the material is actually easier to drill into than glass tile. See Pretty Handy girls’ tutorial for that here + cleaning tips here – marble is totally doable on a backsplash and virtually low maintenance […]

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