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DIY: Installing standard shelving

DIY: Installing standard shelving

When it comes to maximizing space in your store, enough can't be said about the value and versatility of shelves. Both the classic wall-hanging display fixtures and standing alternatives offer the opportunity to give function to every plane in your space. Although standing options are simple to install, a bit more attention is required to ensure wall-hanging features are safe and secure. Fortunately, home improvement experts like Bob Vila of PBS's "This Old House" have shared some foolproof tips for a quick and seamless setup:

Check and prepare your space
According to Vila, the first step and most crucial step of putting up standard shelving is to check the wall space behind it, as this directly contributes to the amount of support that your shelf will be able to provide. Vila recommends looking for a wall stud – any of the vertical posts that make up the space's frame. To locate a stud, you can use a digital device called a stud finder. For a quick assessment of the strength of the wall, try knocking on it lightly with a fist, like you would on a door. A hollow sound indicates a thin wall that is probably not ideal for supporting anything but light shelving units with minimal additional weight. If the knock sounds deeper, however, it can most likely serve heavier items.

Determine where the wall studs are located, and use a pencil to lightly mark where you plan to attach the pair of standards. The standards are the long metal posts that attach directly to the wall and have perforations into which the brackets attach. The flat shelf surface then rests atop the brackets. Because the standards serve as the base of your shelving unit's support system, you'll want to be sure that both standards are perfectly vertical and attached at the same height. This will create a level support for the shelf and prevent a lopsided end result.

Drill in the standards
Once you have planned the location of your standards, it's time to start drilling. Using your pencil mark as a guideline, hold the standard up to the wall and drill in the top screw so that it is secure, but not snug. This is called the "pilot hole" and should leave your standard able to swing slightly from side to side, pivoting at the top where the screw is attached. Use a level to ensure that the standard hangs straight, then drill in the other screws, starting at the bottom and working up to the pilot screw, which you can then finish tightening. Follow the same process with the second standard, ensuring that the two vertical pieces are spaced far enough apart to accommodate the length of the shelf.

Add the brackets
As mentioned before, the brackets are the small horizontal attachments that fit into the standards and directly support the shelf's flat surface. Once your standards are installed, fitting the brackets into the notches should be a snap. Just make sure that the standards are attached at the same height, and double-check by placing the level across them. You can prevent any mishaps by testing out the height of the second standard before you drill it into place, and moving it up or down along the wall until the level reads that it's even with the first standard you installed.

Secure the shelving
Once your standards are secured and brackets are attached, all you have to do is place the shelf on top of the brackets and solidify its location with a single screw that drives upward vertically through the bottom of the bracket and about halfway into the thickness of the shelf. Complete this on both sides, and your standard shelving is ready for use.