How to Install an Off-the-Shelf Pantry System

Make meal prep a little easier with an organized pantry. We'll show you how to install an off-the-shelf storage system in a few hours.

It's easy to dream of a perfectly organized pantry. And now its as easy to turn that dream into a reality. Gone are the days when you needed a custom-built organizational system. With a few tricks, an off-the-rack system works as well.

We'll show you how to customize your pantry system to fit your family's needs. After that, installing the system is simple. Attach horizontal tracks and vertical supports to wall studs, cut shelves to size, and snap into place.

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What You Need

  • Stud finder
  • Tape measure
  • Pantry system and related hardware (we used the Rubbermaid FastTrack system)
  • Level
  • Drill
  • Power screwdriver
  • Bolt cutter

Step 1: Measure and Plan

Before you install anything, come up with an organizational plan for your pantry. Measure the space—including total length, total width, current distance between shelves, etc. Then determine what kind of storage your family needs. Once you have a plan in mind, remove all food, kitchen items, and shelves from the pantry. Also remove doors so you have more space to work.

Editor's Tip: What kind of storage you needs depends on what you plan to store in your pantry and what type of food items you buy. For reference, bulk items, like paper towels and warehouse buys, require 16-18 inches of storage space. General items, such as cereal boxes and canisters, need between 12-14 inches of space. And canned or bottled goods require 6-8 inches.

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Step 2: Install Horizontal Tracks

Use a stud finder to locate wall studs. Install the horizontal tracks in your studs with a drill and the mounting hardware that came with your storage system. Use a level to make sure you're installing the system straight. If no studs are available, drill holes and install wall anchors, instead. A power screwdriver speeds the installation process. 

Step 3: Install Vertical Supports

Once the horizontal tracks are in place, hang vertical supports, no more than 32 inches apart. Install the supports as you did the horizontal tracks, either drilling directly into the stud or installing with wall anchors. 

Step 4: Cut and Install Shelves

Use a bolt cutter to cut shelves to desired length. Be careful as you work, the edges will be sharp. Install shelf brackets into vertical supports. The desired height of each shelf will coincide with the plan you made in the first step. Place shelves onto brackets and snap into place.

Editor's Tip: You can also have your hardware store cut shelves to size. Go in with the measurements you need, and the store can cut them at the same time you buy the closet system. 

Step 5: Add Finishing Touches

Finish shelves with end cap pieces to cover any sharp edges. If desired, add custom add-ons like drawers, pull-out shelves, and baskets.

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