There are three basic types of wire shelving units: open wire, wire with a polymer mat, and solid. The classic open wire shelf has wires running the width and depth of the unit. Because the shelves on these are not solid, air can flow around the products, making this type a good choice for perishable items. Metal shelving units coated in epoxy are used to store food in walk-ins to avoid rust from condensation, for example.
While wire shelving is the most affordable, it's also the most difficult to clean and allows for smaller items to slide between the wires. To avoid those common issues, consider opting for a polymer mat. These fit snugly over the wire frame. Since their surfaces are solid, they are much easier to clean with a damp towel. If more thorough cleaning is needed, you can take off the mats and run them through the dishwasher. Their polymer construction makes them corrosion-resistant, and you can get these mats with a solid or louvered design. Much like open wire shelving units, good air flow is provided by units with louvers. This type is increasing in popularity, especially for walk-ins.
Solid shelving is also available. As the name implies, this shelving is completely solid and does not have any perforations. This allows you to store small or irregularly-shaped items that require a flat surface. It is also easier to clean than open wire. This type is best for dry storage or in alcohol storage rooms. It can also be used for front-of-house or in a retail setting. Because they do not have perforations, air cannot circulate through them, so they are not a good choice for storing food items that require air flow, like potatoes or onions.
These wire shelving units are available with many different finishes. Some of the most popular include chrome-plated, stainless steel, epoxy-coated, galvanized metal, and zinc-plated.
Chrome-plated shelves are generally found on welded, open wire shelving. They consist of carbon steel wire that is coated in chrome. Due to its corrosion resistance, it had been the standard for wire shelving for many years. However, other materials are now available that have similar advantages to chrome, such as epoxy-coated units.
Stainless steel shelves can be solid or open wire. Typically made out of 304 steel, they are corrosion-resistant and non-magnetic. This type is best when sanitation is important. Because of this, it is found frequently in the healthcare industry. It also has a clean, stylish look, so it is used in front-of-house applications.
Epoxy-coated shelves offer the best combination of quality and low price. Because they are resistant to humidity and corrosion, this type of wire shelving unit is frequently found in walk-in coolers. If you plan on putting wire shelving in your walk-in, you should use this type or units with a stainless steel finish. Its durability and strength allows it to be used anywhere you can use other materials.
Galvanized shelving is available in solid shelves and is made more rust resistant by the steel being dipped into a bath of lead and zinc, which makes it rust-resistant. It is not as stylish as chrome or stainless, but it is typically more economical.
Zinc plating was introduced as a low-priced alternative to chrome. While it lacks the luster of chrome, it has many of the same benefits, including the corrosion resistance, at a slightly lower price.
You can buy a full unit complete with all the components needed to build a shelving system. This is the way to go if you're buying the system new. That way, you are assured that all the parts fit together and it saves you time because you don't have to buy each part individually.
The other option is buying each shelf and post individually. Doing this allows you to pick how many shelves you want your unit to have. Another reason they are sold individually is so you can buy them to expand your unit. If you have room for additional shelves on your unit and wish to purchase more, you can easily add them to your unit.
You can also buy more posts if you wish to expand your shelving unit outward. By purchasing additional posts and shelves, you can attach this new shelving unit to the existing one through S-hooks or U-hooks, and can save the expense and hassle of having to buy a whole new wire shelving system. You can also purchase posts if your existing ones are damaged or corroded. If you do decide to buy your posts and shelves separately, make sure that you purchase them from the same manufacturer and the same series as your existing unit. Otherwise, the posts and the shelves may not fit together.
In addition to shelves and posts, you can also buy casters for your wire shelving unit. They provide easy movement of your model. This can come in handy if you wish to keep your unit mobile. They can also make cleaning the floor underneath the shelf easier.
- Antimicrobial metal shelving units are becoming a popular option. On these, shelves are made or coated with an antimicrobial agent that slows the growth of bacteria, fungi, and mold. This can also help prevent stains and odors. This treatment is available on all shelving materials.
- Cantilevered shelves allow for a storage space unobstructed by posts in the front of the unit. This makes items easier to move, reach, and see. Also, it offers a unique, uncluttered style for front-of-house or office use.
- Slanted shelves slope downward on the front to give people easier access to what's on them. These are great for displaying items to customers.