Wood vs PreFab shelves for basement

dian57November 2, 2010

We have an old-fashioned cool, dark basement in a 1949 cape cod. It does take on a small amount of water during heavy storms, but is generally dry.

I want to organize Christmas decorations, sporting goods, seasonal clothing, and other accumulation in totes on 2 foot deep shelves that will span two walls (10' and 16' in an L configuration).

Since aesthetics is not an issue, do you think constructing permanent wooden shelving units is better or less desirable than prefab metal shelving available in the big box stores? I've also checked into the system on the binwarehouse.com site.


We plan on long-term occupancy here.

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I don't honestly know. Just make sure nothing sits on the floor. I occasionally get water in my basement, where my washer, dryer and gas furnace are located. All of them are raised up a couple of inches, so that when it floods, no water touches them. We partially remedied our flooding problem by adding topsoil and grass seed to that area outside of our house. Wishing you good luck!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 10:23AM
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Have you considered open wire shelving? I know that Home Depot and Lowes sell them.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 10:34AM
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Ditto the open wire. I got some at Target when on sale, but of course you can shop around for styles and price. The ones I got are able to handle a fair amount of weight, though not perhaps bricks on all shelves. Even have a mini-frig on one shelf. They are about 18" deep so it depends on what size tote you aim to use, but the tote can of course be a bit longer than 18" and still work.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 10:47AM
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We have the prefab metal shelving which we bought from Lowe's. It is expensive and looks sturdy, but we regret big time.

1) The shelves are made of particle board. It cannot carry heavy weight boxes. The middle will sink in.

2) Our basement humidity was high and we forgot to turn on the dehumidifier. This summer all our shelves was all moldy. Not exactly on the top of the shelves but the bottom of the shelves. Not those black mold u see in the toilet window but white growing mold. It was beyond imagination.

3) If given a choice, choose those open wire shelving which some of the users here suggest. All your boxes need ventilation when store in basement, so particle board is a bad choice. Also I notice the steel rack rust at some areas.

Just my experience.


    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 1:14PM
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This is exactly the kind of feedback I was looking for. And exactly the reason I read GardenWeb daily.
Thank you all so much!

Wire shelving it is.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2010 at 4:49AM
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Dunno if you have an IKEA available, but I love IKEA's Gorm products. Wooden slat shelf units that are tough, freestanding and infinitely configurable.

Here is a link that might be useful: IKEA GORM

    Bookmark   November 3, 2010 at 10:52AM
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A note: every set of prefab metal shelves I've ever seen -- whether expensive or inexpensive -- has at least one too few shelves. There's always a ton of wasted space above items--which suckers me into setting stuff *on top of* the bins, etc., and then it's a pain to get them out, bcs I have to get the junk out of the way before I can pull the box out.

Some shelving units will let you purchase extra shelves, and if there are lots of holes, you can make a shelf if you'd like out of wood, and then install bolts through the holes as shelf supports.
So that's my input.

You can end up with that "seductive gap" problem if you use wall-mounted shelves with angled shelf supports: you can't slide the box all the way back through the shelf support, so you have to mount it a little higher.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 5:00PM
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I once saw a rack make of PVC pipe that was intended to hold plastic storage bins.


Here is a link that might be useful: from eHow--how to make storage rack for plastic totes

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 5:07PM
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We had dribbles of water in our old house basement fairly regularly during rain storms. And then on the night of 7/23 we had 8" of sewage back up which covered the floor and destroyed alot.

Prior to the sewage, we had real wood shelving that was built into real wood framing (and in some cases the walls had been drywalled). We removed all of it as we chose to avoid mold!

Now we have numerous sets of adjustable metal shelves. When putting them together, we adjusted the shelf height to accomodate what was going to go on the shelf. We bought ours at Costco - great prices in August (cheaper than Target and the other big box stores).

We will never have wood or pre-fab wood again. And, yes, we have spent a fortune on new plumbing:)

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 10:57AM
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Another vote for not doing wood or MDF board.

I consider my basement dry and cool except when the water table rises in spring for a month...2 at the most...and I get a few dribbles on the floor due to hydrostatic pressure. It's hardly any water, but the small scrap pile of untreated wood and raw edges of MDF board...stored off the floor and not near the water trails...have visible mold growth in less than 2 years.

There is no visible growth on concrete block walls or smooth floors...but I clean those regularly.

Wood and cellulose are wonderful food sources for microbial growth.

I'm an environmental consultant & one of my specialties is mold & indoor environmental quality. I screwed up with storing my wood down there, and I know better.

No wood!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 6:58PM
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