How to Install Closet Shelves

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Tools Required
  • Tape measure
  • Carpenter's level
  • Pencil
  • Drill and bits
  • Screwdriver or drill/driver
  • Hacksaw
Materials Required
  • Shelving/storage
  • Hollow-wall anchors
  • Screws

Before You Begin

Before you clean out a closet and remove old shelving or rods, measure the existing shelves and the length of the closet rods. Determine how many feet of closet rods are occupied by short and long clothing. Take an inventory as you remove everything from the closet (and think about giving any items you no longer use to charity). Make a rough sketch of your closet, indicating key dimensions such as height, width and depth. Use this sketch to determine the best design plan.

Remove existing shelves, rods, brackets and cleats. If that leaves exposed holes, plan to make the necessary repairs to the drywall or plaster. (Add joint compound, a taping knife, paint and related supplies to your shopping list if repairs are planned.) If the walls need a coat of paint, take advantage of the closet being empty and give it a fresh coat of paint before installing the new shelving system.

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  • Step 1 : Lay out the job

    Lay out the job

    Starting at the floor, measure up and mark the wall about 1/2 inch above the shelf heights indicated on the design plan. Using a carpenter's level, lightly pencil a level line the full length of the shelf at each shelf position. This line will act as a guide for installing the wall-clips that hold the shelving.

  • Step 2 : Cut the shelving

    For a wall-to-wall installation, cut the shelf in 1-inch increments about 1/2 to 1 1/4 inch less than the distance from wall to wall. Use a hacksaw or a bolt cutter to cut the wire shelving. Center your cut between the wires or vertical spacers. Install the plastic end caps on the exposed ends of the shelving.

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