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Planning an Adjustable Shelving System

Adjustable shelving systems allow you to customize your own storage solutions. Planning an adjustable shelving system takes a bit of homework. Shelving systems come in many styles and configurations, so take the extra time to plan both the space and what you intend to store there. Planning up front can save you time and hassles down the road.

A shelving system is made up of three basic components: shelves, standards (long, vertical ,slotted strips fastened to the wall), and brackets that fit into the standards. The shelf sits on top of these brackets, allowing you to adjust the height of individual shelves into a variety of configurations.

Before you invest your hard-earned dollars in a shelving system, consider these shopping tips:

  1. Make a preliminary shopping trip.

    Pick out a shelving system and pick up a planning brochure with the system’s specifications. Pack a lunch; this trip may take a while.

  2. Make a sketch of the wall.

    Note the location of wall studs so that you can plan the design.

  3. Decide how many shelves you want and how you want to arrange them.

    Consider how much space you have and what you want to store.

  4. Determine shelf size and depth for each segment.

    Once you know what you want to store, choose deep shelves for large items and narrower ones for smaller things. Plan to space the standards about 32 inches apart and allow a maximum overhang of one-sixth of the shelf length.

  5. Determine the best fasteners for you wall.

    Remember that each different wall type requires different fasteners. If you must fasten the shelf to a hollow wall, choose mounting anchors based on their weight-bearing capacity. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help!

  6. Make a shopping list for all the items you'll need based on the planning brochure instructions.

Follow the instructions carefully, noting how many uprights and brackets and what width and length of shelves are included. Most systems have brackets for at least two widths of shelving, so make sure that you buy the correct sizes. Some systems include the mounting hardware; some don’t. Don’t leave the store without everything you need.

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