Type of shelf material


Shelving materials can vary in cost and strength. Plywo […]

Shelving materials can vary in cost and strength.

Plywood Vs. Particle Board
There are lots of choices for shelving. The differences between them are affordability, ease of installation, looks and quality. Most shelving material requires paint or stain and lacquer, but others need no maintenance whatsoever to stay looking great. When selecting shelf material, figure the cost, labor and quality before choosing.


Economy Fir Plywood
Builders often use economy plywood for building shelves. It is light and has good resiliency. Economy-grade, or shop-grade, plywood is very common and easy to work with. When using economy fir plywood for shelves, two common problems occur: holes in the edge of the plywood and defects in the surface. Defects can be cut out, and holes, or "voids," in the plywood can be filled with putty. When enamel paint is applied to the shelf, it will last the lifetime of the home.

Pine Lumber
Solid pine lumber is one of the best of all the building materials for shelving. It looks great when it is finished with stain and lacquer and it comes from the lumber yard already cut to width. All that you need to do is cut it to length, finish it and install it. When selecting pine shelving, look for long, straight boards that are not cupped, twisted or warped. Knots are fine because they can be cut out.


Particleboard is an often overlooked shelf material. It is strong, has a hard, flat surface and finishes out nicely. Particleboard can save a huge amount of money over plywood or lumber and should be used more often. There is no grain pattern to particleboard, thus it can be cut in any direction, utilizing even the smallest pieces. It paints easily or finishes out better with stain and lacquer than either lumber or plywood.


Composites such as MDL (medium-density laminate) are sheets of material that are created in hydraulic presses, just like particleboard or plywood. The difference is that MDL's two outside layers are plastic laminate. MDL is probably the best all-around shelving material because of its durable plastic finish. Typically bright white, MDL is slick, smooth and attractive. It can be cut and installed in less time than any of the other materials, needs little maintenance and lasts a lifetime.

Contact Us