Custom Closet Shelving

Custom organizer inside a closet
  • 2-40 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 50-800

One of the least expensive shelving materials is plywood. There are several different grades available. For the purpose of interior shelving units, we recommend that you use a BC graded plywood. This type of sheeting has one side that is sanded smooth and has minimal knots, while the other side is rough. Obviously, the smooth side would form the top of your shelves and inside walls of any cubicle-type shelves that you construct.

If you have a larger budget and want an even nicer appearance, you can use cabinet-grade plywood that has a veneered top layer. This is available finished on both sides in a variety of hardwood species. Oak and maple are probably the most common. If you are hoping to stain your shelves, then this is probably the way to go. These cabinet-grade pieces of stock take stain very well and will provide you with a beautiful and professional finished appearance.

Another option that is available for those who wish to create their own system is laminated shelving. This is made of a composite fiberboard that is then covered with a laminate veneer. Some veneers are just a plain solid color—white is the most common—and others are veneered with an imitation wood grain. These laminated shelves are available in a variety of depths and lengths and are very easy to use if you have a circular saw to cut them to the correct length.

Another nice feature of these products is that they are often manufactured to fit perfectly into the pre-made shelf supports that many retailers sell. Other than adjusting the length, you should not have to make any other cuts. The shelves should just drop into place and fit perfectly. The laminated material also does not need to be sealed. No painting or staining is necessary, so you save yourself some money and time.

Installing Wooden Shelving

linens on a closet shelf

When you have selected the boards that you want to use for your shelving and have them cut to the correct size, it is time to begin hanging the channels and installing the supports.

Using the pencil marks that you made earlier to identify your studs, begin hanging the channels on the wall. Using the 2" drywall screws, mount the channels firmly against the wall. Use the level to make sure that they are perfectly vertical.

Once the channels are secure, you will find that the supports are quite easy to fit into the channels. Arrange the supports so that you can lay out the shelves according to your plan. The nice thing about using this system is that you can change it as your storage needs change. All you have to do is rearrange the supports and you can completely re-design your space in a very short amount of time.

It is a good idea to paint or stain your shelving before you set it into place. This allows it to dry better, as well as allowing you to do a better job. By laying it out flat in your garage or outside, you also prevent the unenviable task of having to paint corners while squished into the already tight space of your closet. If you do scratch the surface or get some marks on the shelves while you are installing them, it is very simple to go back and make little touch-ups. It's certainly easier to do that than to try to paint the whole thing while it is in place.

The last step will be to hang the pole you will use to hang your clothes on. This is a system made up of two brackets mounted at opposite ends of the pole. You will find that one of them is a closed circle and the other is open. Mount the brackets using the hardware provided or you can use your extra 2" drywall screws. If you can't find a stud, again, use anchors. Clothes are heavier than you might think.

Install the closed bracket first and place the pole inside the circle. Slide the open bracket under the opposite end and make sure that the pole is short enough to allow the bracket to fit underneath it, but still long enough to rest in the support part of the open bracket. Once you are confident it is the right size, grab a friend to hold the level on the pole while you mark the correct place for the bracket.

Put the pole down and hang the remaining open bracket. When that is done, you should be able to put the pole first into the closed bracket and then place the other end in the cradle that is created by the second.

At this point, you can stand back and take a proud look because you have just created a much better closet shelving system than what you had before. You now have the ability to organize your closet and even categorize your belongings.