Handy Hints – Shelving

We all need it, that helpful place to pit/store/display everyday items. The humble shelf has been with us since time immemorial. It’s not without good reason that it’s the butt of many ‘husband’ jokes where the newly out up shelf ends up on the floor. Here we look at some issues to be aware of.

All shelving needs to take into consideration the weight to be placed on it and in turn how the shelf fixings will take that weight and the leverage that will be placed on the fixings. Choose the material and thickness carefully and always use a suitable number of supports –  a long piece of melamine board with too few supports and a pronounced sag remains a frequent occurrence.

There are three types of shelving where the fixings are at right angles to the pressure from the weight of the shelf, so relatively easy to make secure.

The simplest form of shelving is built in, usually between two walls, often in an alcove.

Here simple supports can be screwed to each wall and the rear under each shelf.

Adjustable, usually slotted, shelving systems are popular, particularly for less visibly sensitive areas. These systems use two or more vertical rails fixed to the walls with brackets slotted into the rails and the shelving sat on the brackets. Remember to attach the shelves to the brackets and if the shelves overhang the brackets, distribute the load. If using a shelving material which will bend over time ensure a low level of spacing between the supporting brackets to prevent sag. 

Individual brackets, often used for single shelves, are a robust shelving methodology. Ensure the brackets extend far enough outwards under the shelf, fix the shelf to the brackets.

‘Floating’ shelves are increasingly popular. The shelf fixings are invisible, typically with two or more fixings extending from inside the shelf into the wall. They look good and securely fixed do a great job but the weight on the shelf is acting to pull the fixings out of the wall.  This means the shelf and fixings are typically weight restricted and they need to be really secure, which means there are issues with many modern houses where the walls are made of plasterboard (dry lining). To fix a floating shelf to plasterboard use fixings which either go into a solid wall behind the plasterboard or use special  fixings which expand inside the wall – a variety are available so choose ones suitable for the pressure being applied.

Rawl plugs are the typically plastic inserts which sit in a wall into which the screws holding the shelf brackets are fixed. They expand within the wall material when the screw is driven into them and prevent the screw coming out of brittle (e.g.brick) or soft (e.g. plasterboard) walls. The drilled hole, rawl plug and screw must be of sizes designed to work together.  

Many shelving kits come with recommended fixings but remember most are only suitable for masonry walls,  different fixings will be needed for plasterboard or wood.

Need help – call The 50plus. Full contact details are available here.