How To Add Shelves To A Closet

Adding shelves to a closet can significantly improve your storage capacity and organization. To begin the process of adding shelves to a closet, this guide will assess your current space and evaluate the dimensions needed for accurate shelf planning.

add shelves to a closet

We’ll begin by assessing your current closet space and evaluating the dimensions required for accurate shelf planning. We’ll then explore various shelf materials, comparing their cost-effectiveness and stability based on thickness.

Once we’ve selected our materials, we’ll prepare them for installation by cutting wooden cleats accurately using circular saws and priming & painting the shelves as needed. Next, we’ll delve into installing wooden cleats & supports with precision while adding extra reinforcements via metal brackets where necessary.

Finally, after laying the shelves atop supports and ensuring proper alignment during installation, we’ll discuss enhancing your new shelving system with organizational accessories such as fabric cubes for soft goods storage or plastic baskets for compartmentalizing smaller items.

This in-depth tutorial on how to add shelves to a closet is designed to increase your storage options and elevate the overall aesthetic of your wardrobe space – happy organizing!

Assessing Your Closet Space

Before adding shelves to your closet, measuring the space and assessing your inventory is crucial. This will help you determine the number of DIY closet shelves needed and their dimensions. Consider factors such as the height of items that need storage, accessibility requirements, and any existing shelving or hanging rods.

Measuring Closet Dimensions for Accurate Shelf Planning

To plan your new closet organization system effectively, start by measuring your available space’s width, depth, and height. Use a tape measure to record these dimensions accurately so you can choose appropriate shelf sizes later on in this process. It is also essential to locate any wall studs, as they will provide sturdy support for heavy loads.

Evaluating Current Storage Needs Based on Clothing Types

  • Hanging clothes: Determine how much hanging space is required based on clothing types like dresses or suits that need more vertical room than folded garments.
  • Folded clothes: Assess which items should be stored on open shelves versus drawers or bins; consider using a single shelf for frequently used pieces like jeans while reserving lower spaces for less-used seasonal attire.
  • Sweaters & delicate fabrics: Avoid placing heavier items atop lighter ones since doing so may cause damage over time; instead, allocate separate sections within each category accordingly.
  • Bags & accessories: Create designated areas specifically tailored towards storing handbags, belts, and other smaller add-ons, making them easy to find when needed most.

Incorporating these considerations into your closet organization plan will help you create a functional and visually appealing space that caters to your unique storage needs.

Before deciding on the type of shelf to install, it is important to assess your closet space and measure out dimensions for accurate planning. Choosing a cost-effective yet durable material to provide stability should be considered when selecting shelves for your closet.

Choosing Shelf Materials

Selecting appropriate materials is essential when building DIY closet shelves. Options include solid wood, plywood, or composite materials like medium density fiberboard (MDF) or melamine boards. For a tight budget while ensuring sturdiness and durability, opt for wood that’s at least 3/4-inch thick.

Comparing Material Options in Terms of Cost-Effectiveness

  • Solid Wood: A popular choice due to its natural beauty and strength. However, solid wood may be pricier than other alternatives.
  • Plywood: An affordable alternative to solid wood with similar strength characteristics. Choose furniture-grade plywood for the best appearance.
  • MDF: A cost-effective option made from recycled wood fibers and resin. It offers a smooth surface but may not be as strong as solid wood or plywood.
  • Melamine Boards: These are particleboards coated with a durable plastic laminate. They’re easy to clean and maintain but may require additional support due to their weight.

Understanding the Importance of Thickness in Shelf Stability

The thickness of your chosen material significantly determines the overall stability and weight capacity of your DIY closet shelves. Thinner shelves may sag under heavy loads, leading to potential damage or collapse over time. To avoid this issue, aim for shelf materials that are at least ¾-inch thick – these will provide ample support even when storing heavier items such as winter coats or large shoeboxes on your new single shelf.

Remember to consider the weight of your stored items and any additional accessories like hanging rods when choosing materials for your closet shelves. Choosing the appropriate material can help you create a reliable and long-lasting storage system.

When choosing shelf materials, it is important to consider cost-effectiveness and stability. Once the material has been selected, you can begin preparing your shelves for installation by cutting wooden cleats accurately and priming & painting them prior to mounting.

Preparing Shelves for Installation

After determining shelf dimensions and purchasing necessary materials from a local home improvement store, prepare them by cutting cleats from solid 1×2 lumber pieces to support each shelf along its back and sides. Prime and paint outside-facing portions beforehand with low-VOC paints to reduce volatile organic compounds emissions during installation.

Cutting Wooden Cleats Accurately Using Circular Saws

To cut wooden cleats accurately, use a circular saw with a sharp blade designed for woodcutting. Measure the length of your shelves and mark the corresponding measurements on the 1×2 lumber pieces. Securely clamp down the lumber before making cuts, ensuring that you follow safety precautions while using power tools.

Priming & Painting Shelves Prior to Installation

  1. Select primer: Choose a high-quality primer specifically formulated for wood surfaces. This will help seal any knots or imperfections in the material while providing an even base for painting.
  2. Sand surfaces: Lightly sand all exterior-facing parts of your shelves with fine-grit sandpaper to ensure proper adhesion between primer and paint layers later on.
  3. Apply primer: Use a brush or roller to apply an even coat of primer onto sanded areas; allow it to dry completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions before proceeding to the next step.
  4. Select paint color & type: Pick out the desired shade among various available options today. Opt for low-VOC paints that emit fewer harmful chemicals into the air during application.
  5. Paint shelves: Apply at least two coats of paint, allowing each layer to dry fully before adding the next one. Achieving a solid, enduring result that can withstand wear and tear requires the application of multiple coats with ample drying time between each.

Once your wooden cleats are cut and shelves are primed & painted, you’re ready to move on to installing them in your closet space.

Accurately and precisely prepping shelves for mounting can be done rapidly with the proper apparatus and a firm grasp. Installing wooden cleats and supports is the next step in securing your closet shelving system.

Key Takeaway: 


To add shelves to a closet, start by preparing the shelves with cleats and painting them before installation. Use a circular saw for accurate cuts on the wooden cleats and choose low-VOC paints for safety during application.

Installing Wooden Cleats & Supports

To ensure that your DIY closet shelves are sturdy and can handle the weight of your belongings, it’s essential to install wooden cleats and supports. These will provide a solid foundation for each shelf, preventing sagging or collapsing under heavy loads. Follow these steps to attach cleats and supports in your closet securely:

Securing Cleat Placements According to Marked Locations

First, use a level and pencil to mark the measurements on the walls where you’ll be installing the wooden cleats. Make sure that they’re aligned with wall studs; this is crucial for stability as it ensures that screws or nails have something solid to grip onto.

  • If you’re unsure how to locate wall studs, consider using a stud finder.
  • In case there aren’t any available studs at desired locations, opt for heavy-duty drywall anchors instead.

Adding Extra Supports via Metal Brackets and Front Edge Reinforcements

If additional reinforcement is required without sacrificing aesthetics too much, consider installing metal brackets beneath center sections instead. This adds extra support and enhances durability over time by distributing weight more evenly across the entire shelf surface area. You can find various styles and sizes at local home improvements stores such as Lowes and Home Depot, which offer plenty of options to suit individual preferences and budget constraints alike.

Once you’ve marked the cleat placements and chosen your supports, it’s time to attach them securely onto wall studs. Use nails or screws that are long enough to penetrate both the cleats and at least 1 inch into the stud behind it. This will ensure a strong connection between the shelf support structure and surrounding walls, reducing the likelihood of sagging or collapsing later down the line when heavy items are placed atop the new surfaces.

With wooden cleats and supports properly installed, you’re now ready to lay shelves atop their respective perches within the closet space. Continue reading the next section to learn how to secure and align these components to create an organized and functional area that can accommodate various belongings stored upon the newly added surfaces.

Installing wooden cleats and supports is a straightforward process that requires careful attention to detail. Ensuring that each component is correctly attached will guarantee your shelves remain stable for a long time. Now let’s move on to laying shelves atop these supports for even more stability and security.

Key Takeaway: 


To ensure sturdy DIY closet shelves, install wooden cleats and supports that are aligned with wall studs or heavy-duty drywall anchors. Additional reinforcement can be added with metal brackets beneath center sections for extra support and durability over time. Use nails or screws to securely attach the cleats and supports onto wall studs before laying shelves atop them for an organized and functional closet space.

Laying Shelves Atop Supports

With all the necessary supports securely fastened into place, it’s now just a matter of laying the cut shelving atop their respective perches within your closet space. Ensure that shelves are level and properly aligned before securing them with further nails or screws. This will create an organized and functional area ready to accommodate various items stored upon your new surfaces.

Ensuring Proper Alignment and Leveling During Installation Process

To guarantee a professional-looking result when installing your DIY closet shelves, use a bubble level to check if each shelf is horizontally straight. Additionally, measure from the floor or ceiling to ensure consistent spacing between shelves, especially for those placed one above another on the same wall. Attention to detail contributes to the overall appearance and makes accessing items on different levels more convenient.

Securing Shelves in Position with Additional Hardware If Required

  • Nails: For lighter loads, finishing nails can be used along the front edge of each shelf where it meets its corresponding support cleat. Drive these nails through both pieces at an angle so they hold firmly together.
  • Screws: When dealing with heavier objects like books or bulky clothing items, opt for wood screws instead of nails since they provide better holding power over time without loosening up under pressure.
  • Metal Brackets: In cases where extra reinforcement is desired without sacrificing aesthetics too much, consider installing metal brackets beneath center sections of longer shelves (e.g., those spanning more than three feet). These additional supports help distribute weight evenly across the entire single shelf and prevent sagging in the middle.

By following these steps, you’ll have a sturdy and organized closet space that can accommodate your belongings efficiently. Remember to keep an eye on weight distribution when placing items onto your new shelves, ensuring that heavier objects are placed closer to wall studs for maximum support. If you need to install a hanging rod, make sure it is securely fastened to wall studs as well.

Adding shelves to a closet is a great way to maximize storage space and keep your belongings organized. Whether you’re working with a small or large closet, DIY closet shelves are a cost-effective solution that can be customized to fit your specific needs. With a single shelf or multiple shelves, you can create a functional and stylish storage area that will make getting dressed in the morning a breeze.

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Once the shelves have been securely aligned and leveled atop supports, it is time to consider additional accessories that will help enhance organization within the closet.

Key Takeaway: 


To add shelves to a closet, first lay the cut shelving atop their respective perches and ensure they are level and properly aligned before securing them down with nails or screws. Use a bubble level to check if each shelf is horizontally straight, measure from the floor or ceiling for consistent spacing between shelves, and consider installing metal brackets beneath center sections of longer shelves for extra reinforcement.

Enhancing Closet Organization with Accessories

To maximize the organization capabilities of your newly-added DIY closet shelves, consider incorporating fabric cubes or inexpensive white plastic baskets in various sizes. These accessories can help separate items based on type and purpose while keeping everything easily accessible whenever required later down the line.

Utilizing Fabric Cubes for Soft Goods Storage

Fabric cubes are a versatile storage solution that can be used to store soft goods such as clothing, towels, and linens. They come in various colors and patterns, allowing you to customize your closet’s appearance while maintaining an organized space. You can find these handy organizers at stores like Target or online retailers like Amazon. To make the most out of your new single shelf, stack multiple fabric cubes vertically or horizontally depending on available space.

Implementing Plastic Baskets to Compartmentalize Smaller Items

In addition to fabric cubes, plastic baskets are another excellent accessory for organizing smaller items within your closet. These lightweight containers come in different shapes and sizes, making them perfect for compartmentalizing accessories such as shoes, belts, scarves, or seasonal decorations. Utilizing these organizational tools alongside your hanging rod system will create a more efficient layout overall without sacrificing style. Check out options from local home improvement stores like Home Depot, or browse online retailers like The Container Store for a wide variety of choices.

Remember, the key to maintaining an organized closet is installing sturdy shelves and utilizing accessories that help you keep everything in its designated place. By combining fabric cubes and plastic baskets with your new DIY closet shelves, you’ll be able to make the most out of your available space while keeping all items within easy reach when needed.

Key Takeaway: 


To enhance closet organization, incorporate fabric cubes or plastic baskets in various sizes to compartmentalize items. Fabric cubes are perfect for storing soft goods while plastic baskets can be used for smaller accessories. Utilizing these organizational tools alongside sturdy shelves will create an efficient layout and keep everything easily accessible when needed.

FAQs in Relation to How to add Shelves to a Closet

How to Add Shelves to a Closet

If you’re looking to add more storage space to your closet, adding shelves is a great solution. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Measure and Evaluate

Start by measuring the dimensions of your closet and evaluating your storage needs. Determine how many shelves you want and how far apart they should be. This will help you determine the amount of materials you’ll need.

Step 2: Choose Your Materials

Choose your shelf materials based on cost-effectiveness and stability. Common options include plywood, medium-density fiberboard (MDF), particleboard, or solid hardwoods like oak or maple. Plywood is a popular choice due to its affordability while still providing adequate strength for most applications.

Step 3: Prepare the Shelves

Prepare the shelves by cutting wooden cleats accurately, priming, and painting them. Sand the edges smooth and paint both sides of each panel. This will help protect the shelves from moisture and make them easier to clean.

Step 4: Install the Shelves

Install cleats and supports in marked locations before laying the shelves atop these supports. Ensure proper alignment and spacing before securing the shelves with additional hardware if needed. If you’re installing a single shelf, you can use a hanging rod instead of cleats and supports.

Step 5: Find Wall Studs

If you’re attaching the shelves to the wall, make sure to find the wall studs first. This will ensure that the shelves are securely anchored and can support the weight of your items.

With these steps, you can easily add shelves to your closet and create more storage space for your belongings.


In summary, adding shelves to a closet is an economical way of improving your storage capacity. By assessing your closet dimensions, choosing the right materials, preparing the space properly, cutting shelves to size, priming and painting them before installation, and securing wooden cleats and shelves in place with metal brackets or edge reinforcements, you can create a more organized and functional closet that suits your needs.

With these tips in mind for how to add shelves to a closet effectively, you can get started on transforming your cluttered or underutilized storage area into a well-organized oasis. Check out for more ideas on maximizing small spaces like closets!

Ready to transform your closet? Get started today with’s expert advice!

Jane Whitford
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