In areas where extra storage space is a must, but there is not enough room to accommodate additional cabinets and racks, wall shelves are ideal. Shelves give you the ability to use free wall space in your kitchen, dining room, entryway or workroom without having to make floor space available. As a result, you can mount your shelf above other pieces of furniture to provide a maximum amount of storage in a small space and to keep items handy.
The strength and durability of stainless steel makes it ideal for use in shelving. The material is strong enough to support heavy objects without buckling or bending, but lightweight enough to hang securely on walls. In humid areas, the metal does not trap moisture below its surface, preventing mold and mildew from forming. The metal also has an attractive finish that adds a clean, polished look to any room.
Since stainless steel is the perfect material for shelving, numerous manufacturers produce shelving options in it. As a result, you'll have an abundance of choices available when you begin your shopping. While this means you'll be able to find just the right shelf for your space, you may find it difficult to know where to get started and how to compare the models available on the market today.
We developed our Buyers' Guide to Stainless Steel Shelves to guide you through the process of selecting the perfect new shelf for your home. Use the guide as a starting point and then keep it handy as you browse to refer back to when questions arise.Style
Manufacturers produce a number of standard styles of stainless steel shelves, all of which are ideal for certain uses. Before you begin shopping for a model for your home, you must know what style is best for you. Making determinations about style at the start of your shopping quickly eliminates a number of shelves and narrows your focus to just those pieces that are suited to your needs.
The following are the primary styles for metal shelving:
- Overshelves are mounted on the wall by triangular brackets located underneath the shelf on each end. The shelves extend over their brackets and are resting on them. This design gives overshelves extra support to hold heavy objects. The open sides on overshelves give them a sleek appearance, but offer no protection to keep objects from falling off the sides. As a result, some people do not like to use overshelves for precious, fragile items.
- Work table shelves are similar in construction to overshelves, but are much wider and longer than a standard shelf. In addition to serving as storage surfaces, worktable shelves double as workspace and counter space. For worktable shelves to be useful, they must be mounted lower on the wall, typically around 36 inches above the floor. This requires open floor space as well as wall space, making work table shelves impractical for some congested spaces.
- Slant shelves also have triangular brackets that attach to the wall; however, in this style, the brackets sit on top of the shelf and double as sides. Some people prefer this style as it protects objects on the shelves from falling off of the edges. Since the brackets on slant shelves are not supporting the shelf, all of the force of the weight of the unit is on the hardware that attaches to the wall, making slant shelves less strong than overshelf models. If you want to store heavy items, you may not be able to opt for slant shelf models.
- Book shelves are mounted with flat steel brackets or arms that travel from the wall to the front of the shelves. The sides remain open, which can pose a risk for items slipping over the edge. Because the arms on book shelves support the front of the shelf, the style is stronger than slant shelves, but usually not as strong as overshelves. Manufacturers also produce double book shelf models that feature two storage surfaces stacked one above the other with vertical stainless steel brackets connecting them.
Once you've narrowed your focus to your preferred style of shelves, it's time to consider sizes. Begin by measuring the space in the area that is the destination for your new shelf to determine the maximum length that the space can accommodate.
Next, consider the items that you will be storing on your shelves. If possible, gather them together, line them up and measure their total length as well as the width of the broadest item. Take the measurements of your items and add an extra two inches to each one and let these be the minimum lengths and widths that you consider as you shop.
When interpreting dimensions for products, keep in mind that the first unit will be the length (the distance across the front and back of the shelf) and the second unit will be the width (the distance across the sides of the shelf). These are often labeled as "L" and "W", respectively, and are usually given in inches. If you are shopping on a European manufacturer's website, dimensions may be given in the metric system.
If you are considering double book shelf models, pay attention to the height between the first and second shelves. While you can put taller items on the top shelf, you'll need to make sure that there is adequate space between the shelf surfaces to accommodate all of your items.
Most wall shelf product descriptions also provide the weight of the fixture, given in pounds. Remember that the heavier the shelf, the more securely it must be fastened to the wall and the more risk there is of it coming loose if not properly mounted.Surfaces
As you browse the shelf selections in the right style and size for your space, you'll have two choices regarding the surface of the shelf:
- Grate shelves have surfaces that consist of strips of stainless steel. The strips may run only vertically, only horizontally or in both directions, forming a checkerboard appearance. Many people prefer grate shelves because they can hang hooks from the strips, giving them additional versatility for storage. The major drawback of grate shelves is that depending on the space in between the strips, smaller items can slip through the grate and fall on the floor. When shopping for grate shelves, always keep in mind the dimensions of the smallest items that you will store on the surface to ensure that the spaces between the grates do not exceed their measurements.
- Solid shelves consist of one flat piece of the metal and provide an even, sturdy surface. With solid shelves, you don't have to worry about items falling through the shelf surface onto the floor, but the use of hooks is limited to whatever is pre-mounted on the shelf unit.
After choosing the appropriate surface type for your stainless steel wall shelf, you can choose from a variety of additional features that enhance the utility of shelving units. Some manufacturers make these features available as custom add-ons, while others include some features on some models and not on others. If a particular feature is a must-have for you, read the product descriptions carefully to ensure that your wall shelf includes it.
- Backsplashes are vertical metal lips that extend at the back of the shelf and then return to the wall with a short, slanted metal surface. The purpose of backsplashes is to protect the wall area from damage, making them incredibly beneficial for work table shelf styles.
- Turned-up backs are similar to backsplashes as they are vertical metal lips, but rather than having a slanted return to the wall, the metal piece rests flush against the wall's surface. Like backsplashes, turned-up backs are meant to protect the wall.
- Galley rails are thin metal bars or wires that travel along the perimeter of the shelf and are supported by thin metal pillars that are a few inches tall in height. The bars serve as a protective railing to keep items from slipping off of your shelf.
- Marine edges are slightly raised at the corners and the outer edges of shelves. This creates a slight step down on the surface of the shelf. The purpose of marine edges is to keep liquids from dripping onto the floor by containing them within the slightly depressed center area of the shelf.
- Hemmed or rolled edges are an important safety feature for shelves. The term refers to stainless steel that is rounded on the edges and corners, eliminating sharp surfaces. This ensures that when you reach for an item on the shelf, you won't accidentally get cut by the metal.
- Hooks are small metal pieces that are added to shelves for the purpose of hanging items from them. Hooks on metal shelves may be pre-mounted, meaning that they are a part of the construction of the shelf and cannot be moved or removed. Alternatively, the hooks may be separate pieces, allowing you to place them wherever you like and to add and remove hooks as you see fit.
Hooks are available in a variety of shapes, including:
- Double hooks have two curved ends, allowing you to hang two items on each one and maximize your storage space.
- S hooks are shaped like the letter "S" with the top portion of the hook attaching to the shelf and the bottom portion attaching to the item being hung.
- J hooks are shaped like the letter "J" with a very small lip that attaches to the shelf and a much larger curve to hold bigger items on the other end.
- Eye hooks have very round, nearly circular curves on their hanging ends. They can be more difficult to slip items onto, but this makes it also harder for items to accidentally slip off.