How to Install Wire Shelves
Time Required: Over 1 day
If your closet shelves are buckling, or you are simply looking for an organized makeover, this guide will teach you how to install wire shelves. Wire storage shelves are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace, and their installation is the perfect project for a DIY beginner.
They are also a fairly low maintenance closet shelving option. With less surface area to collect dust, keeping wall-mounted wire shelves clean can be done with a periodic swipe of a microfiber cloth. Many people prefer to install wire shelving for the versatility as most wire shelving sets accommodate baskets and drawers to expand the storage possibilities of the system.
This guide will help you install wire shelving and get your closet under control once and for all.
Tip: If you need to shorten the length of your wire shelves, cut the ends with either a bolt cutter or a hacksaw, rounding the desired length down to the next lower full inch. Make certain the cut wires extend far enough from the crosspiece to hold a plastic shelf end cap to avoid cuts and snags.
In addition to the listed tools and materials, you will also need:
- For precision, use a stud finder to locate the studs in the wall where you want to hang your shelving. Mark the position lightly with a pencil.
- Once you’ve located the first stud, measure to find the rest — the center of one stud will be 16 or 24 inches from the center of the neighboring studs.
- If you are using a system with a hang track, install that first.
- Hang tracks run parallel to the ceiling and screw into the studs. While the hang track can be hung at any height, running it across the top of the wall is recommended.
- Screw it into the top plate (a piece of framing that runs the length of the wall, extending about 1 1/2 inches below the ceiling) through the middle of the track with a #12 pan-head screw, or as directed by the manufacturer.
- Make certain the hang track is level before driving the rest of the screws.
- If the ceiling is uneven, it may interfere with leveling the track. If so, drop the entire track 1/2 inch and reinstall.
- Hang the shelf standards from the track. Generally speaking, the standards should be no more than 24 inches apart, though manufacturer’s recommendations may vary.
- Wherever possible, put each standard directly over a stud so you can drive screws directly into it.
- Verify that the standard is plumb and draw a line along it before screwing it in place.
- Screw the standard into place along the line, using the screws the manufacturer recommends.
Tip: If you're driving screws into a spot without a stud behind it, make sure you use the appropriate size toggle bolt.
- If you want to add a clothing bar, hang bar supports from the shelf. The design varies by maker and style.
- The bar supports in the system pictured slip through the space between the wires and lock in place.
Tip: Baskets are a good option for expanding storage space. You can clip hanging baskets to the wire shelf, or use floor-based baskets that slide like drawers and usually hang on a wire frame that snaps together. Snap the frame together and slide the baskets into the runners.
Although there are many styles and brands of closet storage systems, nearly all of them are comprised of wire shelves and supports that can be screwed together quickly and easily.
If you’re looking to clean up the clutter at home, browse our other guides on home organization and maintenance including ideas for garage organization, closet shelving ideas, and how to build a closet organizer.