Wire Shelving vs Wood Shelving

The Pros and Cons of Metal Wire Shelves versus Wood Shelves

By Mark J. Donovan

When installing shelves in a closet you basically have two material choices, either metal wire shelving or wood shelving. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The major criteria for deciding between wire shelving vs wood shelving really boils down to what is the expected use of the closet. A food cupboard, for example, is typically best served with wood shelving. A clothes closet, on the other hand, maybe better served with wire shelving.

When making the wood shelving vs wire shelving decision it is also important to consider the rest of the interior design of the room or home.

If wood paneling or trim is used extensively throughout the home or room, then wood shelving probably makes more sense. On the flip side, if the home has a minimalist or contemporary interior design then wire shelving maybe more appropriate for the closet.

Wire Shelving Advantages

Wire shelving is typically less expensive to install than wood shelving, both from a materials and labor installation standpoint. Prefabricated wire shelving is also widely available in different shapes and sizes and there is a whole assortment of accessories to complement the basic wire shelves. As a result, there are many ways to outfit a closet with wire shelving. In addition, metal wire shelves are easy to install. They come with fasteners and screws that can easily be attached to walls. See how to install wire shelving.

Wire shelving versus wood shelving typically only requires a hammer, screwdriver, hacksaw and a level to install. Even most novice do it yourself homeowners have these basic tools.

Wood Shelving Advantages

Wood shelving can look spectacular, depending upon the shelving design and the type of finish that is applied to the shelves, e.g. stain and polyurethane. There are finished carpenters who focus their entire livelihood on the design and installation of elaborate closet wood shelving and cabinetry. Consequently, custom closets outfitted with wood shelving can look absolutely stunning.

Wood shelving, versus wire shelving, typically is designed to be more rugged and support additional weight.

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Also, due to the fact that the wood shelves have one continuous surface area they are better for supporting all types of items, particularly small items.

Wire Shelving Disadvantages

Wire shelving can look austere and simple compared to wood shelving. Wire shelving typically is designed and installed to support less weight than wood shelving. Frequently I have found wire shelving improperly installed, where the fasteners are not screwed into wall studs. It doesn’t take much weight to cause a wire shelf to come crashing down if it is not properly fastened to wall studs.

Also, if clothes are laid directly onto wire shelves, crease lines inevitably form on the clothes due to the wires. Also, small items such stationary or pictures can’t be placed on end with wire shelves unless a flat surface material is placed over the wire shelf.

Wood Shelving Disadvantages

There are fewer prefabricated wood shelving options to choose from compared to wire shelving. In addition, wood shelving vs wire shelving typically requires more effort to install. Wood shelving is also heavier than wire shelving, and though this is typically no big deal once installed it can be an issue during the installation effort.

Installing wood shelving involves the use of power tools, such as a skill saw, miter saw, and drill. If you don’t have these tools or don’t want to buy or rent them, then installing your own wood shelving is not an option.

So before making the wire shelving versus wood shelving decision consider the shelving application, the rest of the interior design of your home or room, your access to tools, and the amount of time you want to expend on installing the shelves. Once you can answer these questions the wood shelving vs wire shelving decision becomes much easier to make.

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