Are You Putting Too Much Weight On Your Shelving Units? Here's How To Know

Shelving units are both a décor and functional item that can be added to just about any room, allowing you to take better advantage of the vertical space in your home. Using them makes sense, but recognize that they tend to have limits. Unlike bookcases and dressers, which have their foundation on the floor and gravity working to support that, shelving units put their way on the brackets, holding them into the wall. The amount of weight you can put on shelving units depends on factors such as the size of the brackets and shelves and how it's anchored.

Harkraft offers some basic guidelines for shelf load capacities. For example, if you have a shelf that's about 2 feet in length, it can typically hold about 130 pounds if anchored properly to the wall. That weight limit increases if the shelf is mounted to a wall (as in a corner) or spans wall-to-wall.

The biggest factor in how much is too much weight has to do with the bracket strength, which varies from material and style to positioning on the wall. In most situations, brackets will have a rating that provides insight into how much weight you can place on the shelf, as long as it's anchored into studs on the wall (not just in drywall). There are multiple unique ways to use shelving for space, though each has its limits on weight.

Weight limits vary based on the style of the shelf

A floating shelf is a single board placed on a wall, providing a nice way to display a few décor pieces or the kid's favorite toys. Typically, these shelves can support 40 to 50 pounds per wall stud they are anchored into. This includes all material types, like wood, metal, and plastic.

If you have a metal shelving unit mounted to the garage wall could be perfect for shoes and sports gear, but they have their own limitations on weight. Read the packaging provided by the manufacturer for specific information on the strength of the unit. You can expect a 4-foot-long metal shelf to hold as much as 400 pounds. Most will have a max load on the description. Some may be labeled as heavy duty, which implies they can hold more weight, often because they are less deep or have added brackets for stability. It's still a good idea to go by the actual weight limits listed on the product.

Note that plastic shelving units that sit on the floor have very different weight limits because they have that foundation to help support them. Some of these will have multiple shelves that can hold over 600 pounds each when the weight is distributed equally.

How to reduce the weight on your shelving units

If you're worried that a stack of books may be too heavy on your shelf, it's time to remedy the situation. Reducing some of the weight is the first and easiest step. Then, consider moving the placement of the shelf. Position it into the corner of the wall, giving it another wall to help support the edge. You should move it if it's not anchored into studs in the wall, as that will weaken its support the most.

Next, consider changing out the brackets. Brackets that are longer on top, supporting more of the shelf base, are likely to be stronger. You can also add additional wall brackets to add more support. Be sure you are using drywall anchors to hold those brackets in place. These plastic anchors help minimize the risk of the screw simply falling out of the drywall.

Also, be careful with shelf depth. When choosing wall shelving units for your space, recognize that shorter, less deep versions tend to be stronger, while the more outward space on the actual shelf, the weaker it could be. Placing something heavy on the outer edge of the shelving unit that's mounted by brackets makes it more likely to topple over, but placing it against the wall in the center makes that less likely to do so. If your shelving unit just isn't working, it may be time to take them down, patch the drywall, and try something new.