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DIY Project: Install a Wire Closet System

Making over your closet -- buying the right components, hanging shelves, and choosing new storage solutions -- can seem daunting. But with proper tools, installing a wire closet system can take as little as an afternoon.


    Everything in this slideshow

    • Step-by-Step Closet Installation

      For the closet shown, we used the online planning tool for the Elfa shelving system from The Container Store. However, rubber-coated wire shelving is available from a variety of other retailers and manufacturers. Regardless of where you purchase your system, keep these tips in mind:

      Keep it safe. Before installing shelves, check with a professional electrician and plumber to be sure you won't be drilling into electrical wires, ductwork, or plumbing components.

      Cover up. If your closet has tile or wood floors, you might wish to cover them with a drop cloth to prevent damage.

      Find a friend. For safety reasons, it's best to have a partner present to help install long shelves and hold your step stool when working up high.

      Buy extra pieces. If plans change, you'll have parts on hand. If not, you can easily return them.

      Assess your needs. Most closet systems use closet-gauge wire shelving, but heavier-duty garage systems are also available. Unless you're storing sports equipment or other particularly heavy items, a closet-gauge system will generally fill the bill.

      Check in. If your local hardware store won't cut your shelving to size for a nominal fee, consider investing in a bolt cutter for safe, clean cuts.

      Cut it short. When trimming shelves, cut a half-inch shorter than the space they'll occupy. This prevents scratched walls and makes it easier to fit shelves into wall brackets.

    • Measure Your Space

      To start, measure your closet. Write down all relevant dimensions, including depth, width, door swing, and light placement.

    • Determine a Layout

      Next, use an online design tool to create a closet layout. Print the layout, then purchase items from the corresponding list. Before you begin installing, hang the layout on your closet door frame for reference.

    • Get Organized

      Unwrap all materials, then organize them by the wall where they'll reside.

    • Make Your Mark

      Using a level, place the top track or rack and mark holes with a pencil.

    • Use a Drill

      Drill holes, then insert anchors into holes that don’t line up with studs. Tap into the wall with a rubber mallet. With a drill, hang the track or rack, leaving screws a bit loose. Manually tighten screws with a screwdriver to prevent damaging the track.

    • Hang Standards

      Next, hang standards from top bracket. Some systems will require hardware; this one does not.

    • Insert Shelf Brackets

      Group standards together. Insert shelf brackets into the standards.

    • Position Standards

      Once brackets are inserted, slide standards to their approximate position on the track, using provided spacers if needed.

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      Install Shelves

      Install smaller shelves first, then longer and deeper ones. Ventilated shelves have a top and bottom; the middle support wires are connected to the bottom of the shelf. To install, press shelves down and back into brackets. You should hear shelves lock into place.

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      Adjust Shelves

      To adjust shelves, start from the bottom, repositioning them for adequate clearance as you go up. Smaller shelves can be lifted up and out of standards by the brackets, while larger shelves will need to be removed from brackets before repositioning. Refer to your printed layout for optimal storage space.

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      Cover Shelves

      To prevent wire marks on clothing and to prevent small items from falling through slats, cover shelves with plastic shelf liners.

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      Add Drawers

      To add drawers, affix the lowest glide mechanism first, then follow manufacturer instructions to add brackets. For drawers that share a center bracket, be sure to use a center bracket cover.

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      Insert Baskets

      Drop baskets into drawer frames.

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      Cap and Cover

      For a finished look, cap shelves and cover exposed brackets with protective end pieces.

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      Install Clothing Rods

      Follow manufacturer instructions for installing clothing rods, adding support for rods that span longer than 36 inches.

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      Enlist Add-Ons

      Add finishing touches such as belt, tie, and shoe racks according to instructions. Once these add-ons have been installed, organize clothes, shoes, and accessories in their new home.

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      Next Slideshow Clever Closets Around the House

      Clever Closets Around the House

      See your closets in a new light and maximize their storage potential. The closets around your house can organize your family's accessories, hobbies, and more. Browse these closet organization ideas to help you tackle your closets and keep them orderly and clutter free, no matter what they need to store.
      Begin Slideshow »



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