Commercial Wire Shelving for Your Kitchen

Wire Shelving Guide

Its affordability and versatility have made wire shelving a top choice for general storage in restaurant kitchens. It's easy to install and it can be used just about anywhere from inside the walk-in cooler to behind the host station. Wire shelving's modular nature means that storage solutions built with it are highly customizable. You can buy a kit that includes everything you need for a simple four-level shelving unit or build your own to your unique needs using shelves and posts purchased individually.

Wire shelving certainly isn't the only choice of shelving on the market. Nowadays, it competes with polymer shelving for many of the same applications, but wire shelving still tends to be a more affordable alternative. In fact, models are available at prices as low as a quarter of what you'd pay for comparable polymer models. And it's not just the price that might make it a better choice for your kitchen. Wire shelving units have at least the same weight capacity as the most premium polymer shelving and even the most basic wire shelving has higher capacity than entry-level plastic shelving units.

One critical advantage of wire shelving is that their open surfaces enable air circulation around products, helping keep them dry and safe from mold, mildew, and condensation. It also helps to minimize the accumulation of dust and makes cleaning a little bit easier. Many shelving units are protected by an antimicrobial coating that slows down the growth of bacteria to help keep stored food safe. That feature can also impede the growth of other microorganisms like mold, mildew and fungus.

Wire shelving is easy to assemble, constructed with four posts that slide through the shelves' corners. In most cases, operators simply snap a 'split sleeve' over the place on each pole where they want the shelf to sit, and the shelves are typically adjustable on one inch increments. Other 'latching corner' models make the process even easier with latches on each corner that loosen shelves so they can be quickly adjusted. That adjustability allows a high degree of customization when it comes to setting up a storage system that makes the very most of the room you have, optimized to accommodate the items you need to store. Commercial shelving units can hold hundreds of pounds per shelf, so as long as the weight is evenly distributed across the shelf, products and supplies can be packed pretty densely.

When it comes to finding exactly the shelves you need for the application you have in mind, your options are plenty. Stationary shelves sit in one place. They usually include adjustable feet so the shelving can be installed level on uneven floors. Mobile wire shelving units are built with casters instead of feet so that they can be transported from place to place, so they're great for carting supplies around the kitchen and throughout your building. At least two of the casters will be lockable so that you can safely park the unit. Wire shelving isn't just available as free-standing units, but also in wall-mounted designs that can be installed virtually anywhere you need it.

Wire Shelving Materials

The primary difference between different types of wire shelving is the materials they're made of. Virtually all wire shelving is made from steel, but most units are coated with another layer of material to give them a finish with desirable properties like rust-resistance, cleanability, and an attractive appearance. Here's a rundown of popular finishes and what benefit each provides:

  • Epoxy is a rubber-like coating used on wire shelving to protect the bare metal underneath from rust and make the shelving easier to clean. Typically, the epoxy coating will be green, a standard across the industry, though some manufacturers offer other colors. These are a great budget storage solution for wet, high-humidity areas like dishrooms and walk-in coolers.
  • Chrome-plated shelving is valued for its sparkling appearance, ease of cleaning, and durability. It's made with a chrome plating over steel wire that tends to hold up well over time. Use these for dry storage that demands a good level of abuse-resistance; near work stations in the middle of busy kitchens, for example. Chrome shelving isn't recommended for use in wet, humid environments.
  • Stainless steel shelving is typically considered to be the premium variety. It tends to be the longest lasting and has an attractive appearance. It's good for high-humidity, high-abuse situations, and can be used in walk-in coolers and freezers.

Essential Wire Shelving Accessories

A number of accessories are available to outfit your wire shelving units.

  • Label holders to help keep your supplies well organized and easy to identify.
  • Storage baskets for expanding your storage capacity and storing bulky items like textiles that don't sit well on shelves.
  • Dividers to keep stored items organized and stable.
  • Tray slides for efficiently organizing and storing trays and pans.
  • Can racks for organizing and storing large cans.
  • Ledges for keeping items from sliding off your shelves.
  • Casters to making your shelving mobile or to replace broken and worn out parts.
  • Leveling feet to protect floors from scratches and to install shelving on uneven floors.
  • Foot plates for bolting the unit to the floor for ultimate safety and stability.
  • Solid shelves to store smaller items that would fall through the gaps in wire shelves.
  • "S" hooks to let two shelves share two common posts. This is the setup you need if you want to connect two sets of shelves, but want to conserve a little space by using only three sets of poles. That's also an economical way to expand your existing storage. However, these typically lower the weight rating for each shelf they're used on.