Closet and Pantry shelving


JohnG
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While most our house was very well thought out and quality construction, our house is full of those awful wire mesh shelves that you see at the big box stores- 

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Even more unfortunately, our walls are full of broken plastic clips that are supposed to support said awful shelves. 

For speed and ease, I’ve considered going with some “closet system,” but they seem more expensive than they are worth and I worry that I’ll be disappointed by their quality. 

I’m hoping that you all can provide some inspiration from something you have made or experience with premade shelving solutions that aren’t awful. It’s in all of our closets, laundry area, and kitchen pantry, so this is a generalized question rather than specific layout detail.

(no disrespect meant to anyone that does like those wire shelves)

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What have you been replacing them with? I feel that even just a sheet of melamine and some L brackets would be a significant improvement. Solid wood wouldn’t be much more work though, other than finishing/painting depending on what my wife wants.

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Personally, I like a solid wood shelf on L brackets with a stout wooden closet pole, whether single or double hung.  Basic, but functional.  But my view is that a closet is primarily for hanging space (and floor space).  Installing shelves and drawers just defeats that purpose.  But then we have plenty of dresser space in our bedroom.  

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The first picture in the linked thread below shows what was in our house. It was L brackets in the middle and boards nailed to the walls on the ends. If the span is small you could use the boards to support shelves, like coops post above. To get some extra stability a board for a ledge against the long wall will add a lot of stiffness to the shelf.

If you are going closet rod I suggest getting brackets like this (https://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-8-in-x-12-4-in-x-1-05-in-Brushed-Nickel-Heavy-Duty-Shelf-and-Rod-Bracket-EH-WSTHDUS-326/300262692) They allow hangers to pass all the way through. Once you've experienced this you'll never want your clsoets any other way. In my thread I show how i home made some to go under an organizer.

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We had those in our closet at the old house. Whoever installed them only put enough hooks and brace rods on them to keep them from falling off the walls. Of course my wife had them loaded to the ceiling with boxes of shoes and the hanging clothes were pretty much maxed out. 
Then one day we heard a loud noise from the closet and look to find the door blocked with the entire shelf ripped from the wall and everything on the floor. Took several hours of picking to get into the closet to evaluate the damage. The installer wasnt too picky about placement of the support hooks and basically was all expansion plugs in the sheetrock. We all know how strong those arent.

When repairing it I put in a second tier of shelving and made sure to put the support hooks and braces into the studs in the wall. Problem solved. I think the biggest reason home builders use these is the extreme ease in installing the shelves.  

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While I love wooden shelves, and think they are correct in a closet, there are very good reasons to use the wire shelving in pantries.  Correct installation is a must (no plastic clips), but where foodstuffs are concerned, go wire.

Heck, don't take my word for it.  Ask your county health department.

 

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I'm not speaking about closets, but I can see those wire shelves being useful in pantries and laundry rooms. When we moved in there's a storage closet in our basement with some of that wire shelfing from the Container Store and it is SOLID. Must be an 8' run all attached to a bar at the top and I've had it packed with so much stuff. If you think you'll be moving shelves or reorganizing I can see going with.

That being said, just got some closetmaid shelves for my shop (free) and I'm not impressed at all by the quality.

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Interesting.   I'm actually a fan of the wire shelving.   Before wire shelving what we had was wood supports like that This Old House video, with a piece of plywood or particle board shelving placed on top.   That's what I grew up with and I really hated it.   The shelves sagged, and would get old and dusty/musty smelling over time.   Wire is far superior to that.

In our bedroom closet, we have this style, which is made by Rubbermaid.  It's called FreeSlide. The rod extends all the way down, making it easy to push clothes around.   I'm not a fan of the Closetmaid solution for this, which involves plastic clips and a rod bar that isn't as solid.   I used this same stuff in our previous house, and love it.

Rubbermaid FreeSlide 12 in x 4 ft White Wire Wardrobe Shelf

In pantries you want the tight mesh variety.   It holds more weight, and things don't tip over between the bars.   I'll even put plastic shelf liner down, as it makes it easier to push cans around and such.

I've long preferred the Rubbermaid shelving.   Closetmaid is good for pantries, just don't like their bedroom closet solution.  Otherwise the brackets and clips are pretty universal.   Menards used to sell Rubbermaid, but now I have to go to Fleet Farm.  The brand Containerstore sells is Elfa which is very high quality. 

The Elfa stuff... as far as DIY closet systems is really good.   It is more expensive.   The Containerstore will help you design what you need, etc.   If I was going to do that, and not build it myself like what Chestnut did, that's probably where I'd look.

 

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I painted the bracket supports the wall color of the closet and I used 3/4 solid wood for the top.  I think it's pine. I use the shelf to store tools (in their storage boxes) and it worked out great for that.  When I sell the house the kid who lives down there will use it for a clothes closet.  What you plan to store in your closet should be taken into consideration.   

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Of course, not all wire shelving is created equal. The stuff I have (and hate) is secured to the walls with flimsy plastic clips that are bad to begin with & after 5 - 10 years get so brittle that a wayward cat, or a good bump will send the entire wall 'o shelves crashing earthward. Another thing is that the clothes hanger shelves for closets are braces every 12", which impedes sliding of hangers back & forth. Not having a solid shelf surface, small stuff literally falls through the cracks. 

I don't like them for pantries either. Too hard to slide boxes & cans, and if there is any spillage, cleaning wire shelves is a chore. They are strong and resist sagging well, but so are well built plywood or MDF shelves that have added thickness on the front edge. If painted with a quality finish they are scrubbable & much easier to wash than wire shelving.

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1 hour ago, drzaius said:

Of course, not all wire shelving is created equal. The stuff I have (and hate) is secured to the walls with flimsy plastic clips that are bad to begin with & after 5 - 10 years get so brittle that a wayward cat, or a good bump will send the entire wall 'o shelves crashing earthward. Another thing is that the clothes hanger shelves for closets are braces every 12", which impedes sliding of hangers back & forth. Not having a solid shelf surface, small stuff literally falls through the cracks. 

I don't like them for pantries either. Too hard to slide boxes & cans, and if there is any spillage, cleaning wire shelves is a chore. They are strong and resist sagging well, but so are well built plywood or MDF shelves that have added thickness on the front edge. If painted with a quality finish they are scrubbable & much easier to wash than wire shelving.

I have a walk-in closet with wire shelving and I feel your pain.  In this case I like Coop's closet system.  I'm not fortunate to have space in my current house for a pantry but all of my other closets have the wire shelving that will be converting to solid shelving.  My linen closet is full of small items that are stored in several different boxes because of the wire shelving.  I got used to pulling the boxes out and searching for what I needed instead of buying small trays which could have helped.

The added thickness on the front edge is a great tip.  I also like how the shelve(s) can easily be removed temporarily if needed.

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16 hours ago, Minnesota Steve said:

The shelves sagged, and would get old and dusty/musty smelling over time. 

I wonder if your opinion would be different if it was painted solid wood? I agree the builder particle board sucks, it has no resistance to sag. in a shelf setting solid wood is far better than it or even plywood.

I don't have much opinion one way or another. Wire is ok, I'm not a fan of it for things that fall through the wires like shirts and cloths. I grew up with heavily poly'd solid pine shelves. They held up well and never saged.

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12 hours ago, sjeff70 said:

I have a walk-in closet with wire shelving and I feel your pain.  In this case I like Coop's closet system.  I'm not fortunate to have space in my current house for a pantry but all of my other closets have the wire shelving that will be converting to solid shelving.  My linen closet is full of small items that are stored in several different boxes because of the wire shelving.  I got used to pulling the boxes out and searching for what I needed instead of buying small trays which could have helped.

The added thickness on the front edge is a great tip.  I also like how the shelve(s) can easily be removed temporarily if needed.

We have wire shelving in a couple of linen closets in our home.  I like the airflow the wire allows - we don't have to worry if some towels or bed linens go onto the shelf with some residual moisture from the laundry.  But as you note, storing small items on these shelves was a pain.  My solution was to cut some Masonite pegboard to fit and put that on top of the wire shelves, slick side up (shelves where we store only towels or bed linens were left as-is).  Small items can stand up on it, and won't slip through the shelf like they did with wire-only.  Not entirely elegant, but it works pretty well.

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On 2/17/2021 at 9:20 AM, G Ragatz said:

We have wire shelving in a couple of linen closets in our home.  I like the airflow the wire allows - we don't have to worry if some towels or bed linens go onto the shelf with some residual moisture from the laundry.  But as you note, storing small items on these shelves was a pain.  My solution was to cut some Masonite pegboard to fit and put that on top of the wire shelves, slick side up (shelves where we store only towels or bed linens were left as-is).  Small items can stand up on it, and won't slip through the shelf like they did with wire-only.  Not entirely elegant, but it works pretty well.

I can see that, the damp towels and whatnot.  There are benefits to both.  With everything I've done to this house I'm just over the builders grade crap in general.  A friend of mine just moved into an upscale neighborhood (Lake St. Louis, MO for those familiar), ordered a brand new house through McBride (again for those familiar) and paid over $325,000 for the house.  It has no trim around the windows or walkouts... And the wire shelving is just a constant reminder of that.  

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2 hours ago, sjeff70 said:

 It has no trim around the windows or walkouts... And the wire shelving is just a constant reminder of that.  

I digress here, but I was in a show home in Florida about 20 years ago, & the spindles for the stair railing was, I kid you not, painted 2x2 construction lumber. This was in a 2 story house, probably 2500 sq ft & priced at several hundred thousand dollars. The rest of the finishing was almost as bad. From 20' away it looked pretty good though.

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On 2/17/2021 at 3:20 PM, G Ragatz said:

We have wire shelving in a couple of linen closets in our home.  I like the airflow the wire allows - we don't have to worry if some towels or bed linens go onto the shelf with some residual moisture from the laundry.

If the towels/sheets are still damp we put them back in the dryer...

On 2/15/2021 at 5:51 PM, Don Z. said:

While I love wooden shelves, and think they are correct in a closet, there are very good reasons to use the wire shelving in pantries.  Correct installation is a must (no plastic clips), but where foodstuffs are concerned, go wire.

Heck, don't take my word for it.  Ask your county health department.

Sorry, not interested in what the county health department thinks of my pantry. We have decent turnover in the pantry and it is not used for many perishable foods.

On 2/15/2021 at 1:52 AM, G Ragatz said:

We ended up buying customized organizers through Home Depot, from an outfit called SimplyNeu .  

These look nice but using their system designer tool I just couldn't end up with a good setup. It kept wanting to leave strange gaps or leave entire walls empty. I guess our closets are odd dimensions.

On 2/15/2021 at 1:53 PM, Mark J said:

Personally, I like a solid wood shelf on L brackets with a stout wooden closet pole, whether single or double hung.  Basic, but functional.  But my view is that a closet is primarily for hanging space (and floor space).  Installing shelves and drawers just defeats that purpose.  But then we have plenty of dresser space in our bedroom.  

Mostly the shelves in our closets are a single high shelf just above the pole for hangers. One section of the closet in the primary bedroom has two levels of closet rods, which we may keep that way, and then at the narrow end there's a lot of shelves to serve as a shoe rack.

On 2/17/2021 at 12:26 AM, drzaius said:

I don't like them for pantries either. Too hard to slide boxes & cans, and if there is any spillage, cleaning wire shelves is a chore

Yes, at our last place we had a visiting family member stick something perishable in our pantry that we didn't realize was there. When we discovered it, it took forever to clean up the wire shelf it was on and the wire shelf below it, as well as the other items below it. If it had been a solid shelf it would have been quick and easy.

On 2/19/2021 at 11:00 PM, drzaius said:

I digress here, but I was in a show home in Florida about 20 years ago, & the spindles for the stair railing was, I kid you not, painted 2x2 construction lumber. This was in a 2 story house, probably 2500 sq ft & priced at several hundred thousand dollars. The rest of the finishing was almost as bad. From 20' away it looked pretty good though.

Like the last house we rented where the stair rail was cut short and there was about a 3/8"-1/2" gap between the end of the rail and the wall. You could see that they fired about 10 nails into it, presumably hoping they would close up the gap :lol:

 

My wife has approved some solid wood shelving, most likely painted white (quality paint) in most of the locations. I'll attach a ledger strip where possible and then will use additional supports on the longer runs. I have a fair amount of poplar on hand so I will probably use that for the majority of the shelves. I'll probably work an airless sprayer into the job since I've got more jobs on the list where it would be helpful.

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