Installing Adjustable Shelves

Storage Ideas

Installing Adjustable Shelves

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BLACK+DECKER B+D Contributor 120 Projects

Some garage stuff is simply stored best on shelving, particularly if it’s too large to fit into a cabinet but still relatively lightweight. Empty planters, gas cans, boxed supplies, and half-full cans of paint are ideal candidates for a sturdy shelving system. You could go to the effort and build your garage shelving from scratch, but going that route will require you to come up with a means of supporting shelf boards on the wall. It’s doable, of course, but you’ll have to make the standards and brackets yourself. Plus, most shop-made shelving is fixed in place, so you can’t reposition the shelves easily if your storable items change.

A more convenient option is to buy metal shelf standards that fasten to the wall studs and shelf brackets that clip into a series of slots on the standards. Home centers carry these adjustable shelving systems in several colors and they come with shelf brackets in a range of lengths to suit various shelf widths. For garage applications, it’s a good idea to buy heavy-duty standards and brackets. The components are made of thicker-gauge metal than regular-duty hardware, and the shelf brackets have two mounting lugs instead of one to reinforce the attachment points.

When you install your shelving, locate the top of the standards just high enough so you can reach the top shelf from the floor. If you plan to load your shelving with fairly heavy items, mount a standard to every wall stud in the shelf area. Use strong screws recommended by the manufacturer and fasten them to wall studs only—never to paneling, trim boards, or wallboard alone. Be sure to use sturdy shelf boards and firmly tap the brackets into mounting slots before loading up the shelves. 

How to Install Adjustable Shelves

  1. HI05691501

    The standards seen here (70" long) are centered on wall studs with the tops level. Align the top of the standard with the top level line and drive one screw through a mounting hole. Hold a level against the side of the standard and adjust it until it is plumb. Drive screws through the remaining mounting holes.

  2. HI05691502

    For fail-proof results, install the two end standards first, and then establish a level line between them so you can butt the intermediate standards against the line. Use a level against each standard to make sure it is plumb.

    Note: If you need to cut the standards for length, align all cut ends of the standards in the same locations (either at the top or bottom).

  3. HI05691503

    For excellent results, rip cut quality 3⁄4" plywood to width with a circular saw and a straightedge. Avoid particleboard or MDF shelving as it is prone to sagging and will degrade quickly if exposed to moisture.

  4. HI05691504

    Install shelf support brackets in the standards using light blows from a rubber mallet to make sure they’re fully seated. Set the shelving onto the standards, adjusting as desired.