Return to the Organizing the Home Forum | Post a Follow-Up

Wood vs PreFab shelves for basement

Posted by dian57 (My Page) on
Tue, Nov 2, 10 at 7:18

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 site.


We plan on long-term occupancy here.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Wood vs PreFab shelves for basement

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!

RE: Shelf options

Have you considered open wire shelving? I know that Home Depot and Lowes sell them.

RE: Wood vs PreFab shelves for basement

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.

RE: Wood vs PreFab shelves for basement

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.


RE: Wood vs PreFab shelves for basement

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.

RE: Wood vs PreFab shelves for basement

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

RE: Wood vs PreFab shelves for basement

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.

another thought

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

RE: Wood vs PreFab shelves for basement

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:)

RE: Wood vs PreFab shelves for basement

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!

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Organizing the Home Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here