Are Plastic Shelving Units Strong Enough for a Shed?


Plastic storage unit

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Sheds are mainly used for storage, and the longer you own your shed, the more things will find their way into the shed. Your shed floor can quickly fill up with many smaller items. The obvious solution is shelving. It will soon fill up with all sorts of things, including paint and yard chemical containers, spray cans, jars, or cans of screws, and you name it.

Plastic shelving units are great for sheds, offering light weight, portable and a great inexpensive storage solution. They come in an assortment of sizes making fast storage shelving when you need it.

If you aren’t comfortable installing shelving around your shed, or you don’t have the convenience of wooden wall studs to fasten them to, a shelving unit may well be a good solution.

These units can be purchased pre-assembled, but of course, you’ll save money if you put them together yourself. This also enables you to purchase them locally, as the box will fit into your pickup truck or SUV when it comes unassembled.

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Some shed owners are looking at plastic shelving units. There are many advantages to these versus the traditional metal ones. They are impervious to rust, and you don’t have to worry that an unseen drip or two of a lawn chemical onto a shelf will cause any corrosion.

Assembly is much simpler, not requiring the nuts, bolts and tools that metal shelving requires. Plastic units are usually less expensive as well. Plastic units weigh less than metal ones, enabling you to move them around much more easily, especially if they are outfitted with casters.

While this may not seem to be needed, the upgrade to a larger lawn tractor or the addition of a motorcycle in the future may lead you to reconfigure your shed layout. If you’re good at fixing things, a shelf unit on casters can serve as a movable tool rack.

Plastic shelving units don’t often equal metal ones in weight-holding capacity, however. Plastic units cover a wide array of capabilities, ranging from 150 lbs. per shelf to 600 lbs. for industrial-type units.

Metal units can hold 1,000 lbs. per shelf with some models. That being said, there are some plastic shelving units that can equal the capacity of metal ones, as improvements are being made all the time. Plastic units have already entered the industrial and restaurant markets.

The other drawback is that most models don’t feature adjustable shelves, so if you need a unit with variable shelf heights, you may have to do some looking around. If your new to shed building, especially shelves, check out my article 6 Shed Shelving Ideas for Beginners.

How Can I Strengthen My Plastic Shelves?

Often, just adding a layer of support on top of the shelves makes a big difference. A piece of plywood can help a great deal. There is one thing you can do while assembling the unit itself. Get a good bonding agent made for plastic and use it when assembling all the joints and support posts.

To strengthen the weight-holding capacity of the shelves themselves and prevent or fix sagging shelves, if your shelves have enclosed spaces that run the length of the shelves, as many do, you can insert wooden strips into those tubes or even such things as pieces of wood or metal broomsticks cut to length. This is an especially good, instant fix for sagging shelves.

To increase the capacity in general, you can get some hardware made for leveling furniture. It features a screw-type mechanism that lets you adjust the height. Put a 1 x 4 on the floor for a base under the center of your shelves with a leveler attached to support your bottom shelf.

For the rest of your shelves, use 1 x 1s as long as the distance between your shelves as support posts. Attach them to horizontal 1 x 1 shelf supports via the leveling hardware. Insert these supports so that the vertical posts line up with each other. This will provide extra support in the center of the shelves and increase the weight they can hold. Have you considered building you own shelves? Check out my article Is it Cheaper to Build or Buy Storage Shed Shelving?

How Do You Secure a Plastic Shelving Unit to the Wall?

The vertical supports of your plastic shelving unit probably won’t line up perfectly with your shed studs, but these units often have deep sides to the shelves. These can be drilled so that you can use screws to attach the unit to your wall studs. Small angle brackets can also be used on the shelves. If this is not feasible for some reason, you can insert horizontal pieces between the studs, enabling you to drill through the back vertical supports to the studs.

There are various types of hardware on the market meant just for attaching bookcases and other items to walls, but these usually involve adhesive rather than screws and won’t be as sturdy. If nothing else, you can attach metal clamping straps to the studs and around the vertical supports in the back.

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What Are the Best Plastic Shelving Units?

When choosing plastic shelving units, you want to look carefully at the construction of any display samples. This will help greatly even if you plan to purchase your unit online. Like any other product, there are some that are well built and meant to be sturdy and others that use lesser materials and perhaps shoddy construction.

Examining display units will also give you an idea of which brands tend to be built better and more sturdy and which ones you may want to avoid so that you can narrow down your search.

Besides the need for sturdiness is the care taken in the manufacturing process. Plastic shelving units, much like plastic sheds, have parts that just fit together rather than being held together with nuts and bolts. With some cheaper models, some parts may just not fit the way they were intended.

One thing to look for is shelves that feature a grid construction or shelves with some kind of openings rather than solid shelves. This is because the grid allows for a great number of vertical supports all the way through the shelf construction itself. Solid shelves only have center support on the front and back of the shelf. These open grid shelves also provide drainage in case you store outdoor toys or sports equipment that get caught in the rain.

If you haven’t researched plastic shelving units, one good example is the five-shelf resin unit from Juggernaut found on Amazon. This unit is 36″ wide by 24″ deep by 72″ tall, but also comes in other sizes. Each shelf holds up to 150 lbs., and the shelves feature an open grid pattern to add strength and drainage. The unit itself has sturdy feet to keep items away from the floor and allow airflow underneath. Check out the reviews for yourself on Amazon here.

Conclusion

Plastic shelving units can add a lot of storage to your shed while being easy to move and arrange. The right kind can hold just about anything that will fit into the space. You’ll find it quite convenient not to have to worry about rust or corrosion, especially on connectors. If you need shelving for your shed, it will pay to at least investigate these.

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