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Installing wire shelf storage systems

MATERIALS: Wire shelving, hanging hardware, screws

TOOLS: Tape measure, level, drill with bits, stud finder, hammer, phillips screwdriver

No one has ever been known to have enough closet space. Short of renting a mini storage for your out-of-season clothes, wire shelf organizers are one solution that won’t cost a fortune, and which vastly improves your chances of finding your shoes. Wire organizers are made by various companies and in a variety of styles. They are all basically systems of wire shelves, baskets, drawers, and supports that quickly screw together to increase available storage. They’re not just for closets, either: you can buy soda-pop can holders for the kitchen; rake, shovel, and long-handled tool holders for the garage; and adjustable-height shelves for any room in the house.

Most manufacturers sell prepackaged organizers for specific needs, like the guestroom closet or kitchen pantry. They also sell individual shelving and drawer items that you can mix and match to create your own organizer. Check out their websites. Some manufacturers provide a design-it-yourself website, or may even have their designers design a storage system to meet your needs.

MASONRY WALLS - If the wall is concrete or brick, you'll have to install plastic anchors to hold the screws. Get anchors made for the recommended-size screws, and read the package to find out how big a hole they require. Drill the hole with a carbide-tipped bit and tap the anchor in place with a hammer. Drive the screws through the track and into the anchor to hold the track in place.

Cutting wire shelves - If your closet is somewhere between two standard shelf lengths, you have two choices. You can install a shelf that doesn't reach all the way across the closet, or you can buy a longer shelf and cut it to size. Cut the shelf with either bolt cutters or a hacksaw, rounding the desired length down to the next lower full inch. Make the cut so that the cut wires extend far enough from the crosspiece to hold a plastic shelf end cap which will avoid cuts and snags.

1 MARK THE LOCATION OF THE STUDS ON THE WALL. You can do this with a stud finder or by knocking on the wall with your knuckles and listening for the spots where the wall no longer sounds hollow. Once you find the first stud, measure to find the others—the center of one stud will be either 16 or 24 inches from the center of the neighboring studs.

2 IN THIS SYSTEM, SHELF STANDARDS ARE ATTACHED TO A PIECE CALLED A HANG TRACK, which runs parallel to the ceiling and screws in place. You can hang it at any height, as long as you screw it into the studs. For the strongest installation, run the hang track across the top of the wall. Screw it into the top plate, a piece of framing that runs the length of the wall and extends about 1 1/2 inches below the ceiling. Screw into the plate through the middle of the track with a #12 pan-head screw, or as directed by the manufacturer.

3 LEVEL THE HANG TRACK BEFORE DRIVING THE REST OF THE SCREWS. If the ceiling is out of level, it may interfere with leveling the track. If so, drop the entire track 1/2 inch and reinstall.

4 HANG THE SHELF STANDARDS FROM THE TRACK. Generally speaking, the standards should be no more than 24 inches apart, though manufacturer's recommendations may vary. Wherever possible, put each directly over a stud so that you can screw directly into it. Before screwing a standard in place, verify that it is plumb and draw a line along it. Screw it in place along the line, using the screws the manufacturer recommends.

IF YOU’RE DRIVING SCREWS INTO A SPOT IN DRYWALL OR PLASTER WITHOUT FRAMING BEHIND IT, BUY THE APPROPRIATE-SIZE TOGGLE BOLTS. The nut, which comes with the bolt, has wings that fold flat. Drill a hole that the folded nut will just fit through. Put the nut and bolt on the standard. Fold the wings and slip the nut through the hole. When you let go, the wings will pop open so that the nut can't come back out of the hole. Pull gently on the bolt as you tighten to keep the nut from spinning.

5 ONCE THE STANDARDS ARE IN PUCE, INSTALL THE HANGER BARS. These go in the same way adjustable shelf hangers do. Put small arms on the back of the hanger into the slots in the standard. Push down until they snap in place. If your closet will include baskets that hang from the shelves, make sure you've allowed enough space for them.

6 PUT THE SHELVES ON THE HANGER BARS, MAKING SURE THEY ARE FIRMLY IN PLACE. Put end caps on the exposed ends of each shelf.

7 IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A CLOTHING BAR IN THE CLOSET, HANG A BAR SUPPORT FROM THE SHELF. The design varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. The ones in this closet slip through the space between the wires and then lock in place.

8 YOU CAN ALSO INSTALL HANGING BASKETS FROM THE SHELVES. Clip them to the wire shelf and, if desired, hang additional ones below.

9 FLOOR-BASED BASKET UNITS SLIDE IN AND OUT LIKE DRAWERS and usually hang on a wire frame that snaps together. Tap the frame together and then slide the baskets into the runners.

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