How to Reinforce Utility Shelves

What You'll Need
Triangle Brackets
Flat Steel Connector Plate or reinforcement bar
Wood Screws
Pencil or Marker
Power Drill
Stud finder

Utility shelves are one of those wonderfully practical additions you can easily make to any garage or laundry room. Not only do they allow valuable storage, but they also display commonly used items while still keeping them organized. Unfortunately, these shelves often get overloaded and then become unsafe. To secure the utility shelf, you need to reinforce it with extra structural support to disburse the load. Flat steel connector plates are also referred to as flat steel repair plates. They are used to repair or connect furniture together and have multiple holes along a flat piece of steel. Any major home improvement store should carry these items in stock. If these pieces cannot be found, multiple types of reinforcement bars can be found on the Internet.

Step 1 – Identifying Problem Areas

Often you can visually see where the shelf is sagging. This sag normally occurs in the center of the shelf, but can be located off to one side or the other depending on the load. On the underside of the shelf, mark the place where the shelf is sagging and will need the support. If no sag can be found, measure the shelf and mark the center and the midpoints between the center and edges. Each marking should be reinforced to provide adequate stability.

Step 2 – Detach the Shelf

Remove all the items that are placed upon the shelf. Remove the shelf from its brackets and turn it over to locate the marking where reinforcement is needed. Line the holes of flat steel connector plate up to the markings and secure with a wood screw to the shelf. The steel plate will better disburse the weight of the heavy items on top. However, if the load is particularly heavy, place one flat plate connector above the marking and one below. Make sure the screw does not penetrate the other side of the shelf. If it does, sand the tip down so it will not be unsafe.

Step 3 – Remounting the Shelf

The triangle brackets provide greater structural support because it redirects the force back to the wall. However, this means the utility shelves must be properly mounted to the wall for structural safety. Locate the studs within the wall to mount the shelf. If mounting into a different material, be sure to have the appropriate fasteners. Switch out the previous shelf supports with the triangle brackets and remount the shelf. Be sure to check for level. Take an additional triangle bracket and secure it through one of the holes in the flat steel connector plate and up into the shelf. The sagging portion of the shelf should now have not only the steel connector plate to help disburse the weight, but also the additional triangle bracket for support. Use additional triangle brackets to secure the shelf midway between the reinforced area and each end of the shelf.