Wire shelving is a great way to increase the available storage area in a closet. It is available at the large home improvement stores, like Home Depot and Lowes. It is light weight and easy for the average homeowner to work with, and won’t warp or sag like wooden shelving. This particular project is the simplest installation, where the shelves span from one wall of the closest to the other, and have only at the rear of the closet and the front of the shelf at each end.
I use the Rubbermaid and ClosetMaid products interchangeably, based on convenience and best price. I chose 16” deep shelving for maximum storage, with 1” wire spacing. On this project, I used ClosetMaid shelving and rear hangers (ClosetMaid calls these Shelf Clips), and Rubbermaid front hangers (Rubbermaid calls these Wall End Brackets), only because that’s what I got the best deal on. Be sure to do the math on bulk packages. Years ago, I needed to buy 10 front hangers to install 5 shelves. The bulk pack of 25 hangers actually cost less than buying 10 individual hangers, and now I have almost a lifetime supply. I am curious why they chose to bulk pack an odd number of an item that is typically used in pairs. Likewise on the rear hangers: a bulk pack of 48 clips can save money if you plan on installing more than a few shelves eventually.
Bolt cutters or hacksaw, drill and drillbits, level, screwdriver, hammer, studfinder (optional)
1. Cut the Shelf to Size
First, measure the inside width of the closet from wall to wall. Then subtract 0.5 to 1.0 inches to allow for the width of the front hangers. If you do precise measurements before buying materials, the home improvement store will cut the shelves to length for you. If you are cutting them yourself, mark the shelf as close to your desired length as you can, so the cut is between the wires. The best tool for cutting shelving to length is a pair of bolt cutters. However, a hacksaw also works fine, costs less, and is more useful for other tasks
2. Mark the Shelf Location
I use a level to draw a pencil line on the wall where I want the top of the shelf to end up.
3. Find the Studs in the Wall
This is optional; there have been plenty of shelves mounted without screwing into studs, using only drywall anchors. But given the choice, I prefer to screw into the studs if I can. I use an electronic stud finder for this.
4. Mark the Location of the Rear Clips
Once you’ve found the studs, place the shelf at the desired height and mark the hole locations for the rear clips. I prefer to use the metal clips that screw in both above and below the shelf, and completely capture the rod. I have seen heavily loaded shelves pop out of the rear clips that only support the shelf from underneath. Adding the metal 2-hole style rear hangers, in studs, to these shelves solved the problem immediately. If there aren’t studs in convenient places, use drywall anchors. I put a clip near each end, a few inches in from the wall, and another clip about every 16 inches per width of shelf. Since this shelf was 40 inches wide, I only needed 3 rear clips. ClosetMaid recommends adding an angled support bracket below the shelf if your shelf is 4 feet long or longer. Since these shelves were just over 3 feet, I didn’t bother with extra supports. In this case the 2 left clip are in studs, and the one on the right end uses drywall anchors.
5. Install the Rear Clips
I drill a pilot hole the size of the shank of the screw. If I’m not screwing into a stud, I drill a quarter-inch hole in the drywall for the drywall anchor. Next, begin screwing in the upper screw of each clip, but do not fully tighten it. Then place the rear bar of the wire shelf into the clips, and start the other screws. Finally, tighten both screws of each rear clip.
6. Install the Wall End Brackets
With the shelf attached at the back, use a level or tape measure to put the shelf in its final position. Mark the location to the front wires on the wall. Using this mark, next mark where the screws of the brackets will go. Since I was installing multiple shelves, I took the time to mark to location on a piece of paper, and used this to quickly transfer the hole locations to the wall. Be sure to raise the shelf up while installing the front brackets, or you won’t be able to get the shelf into the hangers. Drill quarter-inch holes for the anchors, and push the bracket into place. You may need a hammer to persuade the bracket to co-operate. Install the screws into the drywall anchors. With the brackets installed, lower the shelf so the vertical face sits inside the bracket.
You’re done! Give yourself a high-five, and move on to the next shelf. You are well on your way to maximizing your closet storage space.