Before choosing a unit, take into account the weight of the items you'll be storing on it. Different models are rated for different load weights, so you'll want to be sure you choose one that will safely hold everything you need to store. The lightest-duty versions will hold a few hundred pounds while the most rugged ones can handle 2,000 pounds or more.
Solid and louvered commercial plastic shelving is available. As the name implies, solid shelving is formed into one solid piece with no perforations, providing maximum support. This type is easy to wipe clean and well-suited for dry storage.
Louvered shelving is best for holding items like bagged and canned food. These shelves have narrow perforations that allow air to circulate around contents. These are ideal for use in coolers and freezers where products need to maintain contact with cold air. Circulating air also discourages the growth of bacteria and the collection of moisture, so it provides a quick, sanitary way to dry dishes as well.
Stationary models are designed to stay put as a permanent storage solution. They can be installed against walls to maximize space or in line with equipment to keep commonly-used items close to a work station. Mobile models come with casters for portability. This type allows you to move the unit easily from one place in the building to another, like from the kitchen to the storage room. These are also a popular choice in walk-in coolers where they can be pushed together to conserve space.
Since these models are often used in cold storage, shelving made with antimicrobial material is a popular choice. This addition discourages the growth of bacteria, mold, and viruses, and protects against stains and odors. This is a good choice for shelving that will hold perishable goods.
Heavy-duty models have a higher weight capacity. Consider this option if you will place dense, heavy products liked canned goods on your shelves. This is also a good option if you'll be purchasing a mobile unit that you'll move a lot, as these models bring added rigidity to stand up to being pushed and pulled for years.
Cantilevered shelves have an open design with no posts on the front. These provide convenient access for holding lighter-weight items, making them ideal for use front-of-house and in the office.
If you're storing loose items like towels and linens, consider a unit with baskets in place of shelves. These fit into a simple frame that sits on the posts in place of a standard shelf.
There are two ways to fit polymer shelving to posts:
- Standard collars have been around many years and are still a practical option. A tapered split sleeve is mounted on each post, then the shelf is lowered onto that assembly, with holes in each corner fitting over the sleeves. They're typically tapped with a mallet to ensure they seat snugly in place. Once assembled, these shelves will rest securely for years, but are difficult to adjust.
- If you want the ability to adjust the position of your shelves more easily, consider a fully-adjustable unit. The shelves on this type have a contractible collar inside each corner that can be loosened with the flip of a lever. While this type of polymer shelving is typically the most expensive, it can pay off with the convenience of being able to quickly adjust to your changing storage needs.