Want to Add Storage Using Vertical Space? Follow these Shelving Guidelines!

Running out of space in your kitchen or bathroom can be troublesome, especially if you’ve already gone through everything and tossed out what you don’t need. If you’re still left over with a lot of items to stow away, then it’s time to make some changes.

One option you have is to make extra storage space by adding shelves to your walls. Many homeowners overlook vertical wall space as an opportunity to better design their kitchens and bathrooms.

In this guide, we’re going to demonstrate how you can successfully implement wall shelves with the right spans and spacing.

Let’s get started!

Quick Notes to Keep in Mind

Before we begin, it’s important to consider multiple factors before going through with installing shelves. For instance, you’ll need to ensure the right material is used and the appropriate span is implemented.

There should also be sufficient vertical space between each shelf to accommodate the type of items you’ll store on them. It’s essential to set it up so that your shelves don’t buckle and sag under the weight of the items you store.

This is where the span comes into play. This determines the space between supports for the shelf. The type of material you use will determine the span limits to use. For instance, for heavy items, it’s likely you want to use short span limits so they’re closer together.

It’s also imperative that you fasten the shelf supports to your wall studs directly. Otherwise, you’ll have to use wall anchors.

Shelving Span Limits

close of kitchen or bathroom shelves


Again, the span of the supports for your shelves varies based on the intended use for the shelves. The material also plays a major role. For instance, with solid lumber, particleboard, glass, plywood, and other common materials, the span limit is between 18 inches and 5 feet.

This recommendation is based on a full load of hardback books (standard-size). You will have to adjust this based on the weight of the items you’ll store there.

Shelving Size Recommendations

kitchen or bathroom with lots of shelves

If you’re looking to go with plywood shelves, then opt for a ¾ thickness or thicker. You can find plywood in a variety of pre-cut thicknesses. However, if you’re going for something larger than ¾ inch, you’re going to have to put in a special order.

The plywood shelves with thinner thicknesses can be glued together like laminate. This way, the thickness is wider and sturdier for storing heavier items. It’s recommended that you don’t go any longer than 36 inches between supports for ¾ inch plywood.

Recommended Spans for 1 x Lumber

measuring a piece of lumber

1 x lumber is what you’ll typically find for building-grade varieties available. You can opt for either 1 x 8, 1 x 10, or 1 x 12 boards. Do note that the standard thickness of 1 x lumber is ¾ inches thick.

Make sure to go with select-grade lumber for your shelving. This way, there are fewer knots and flaws that can degrade your shelves.

At most, you should have the supports 24 inches support for 1 x 10 lumber. Then for 1 x 12 lumber, you don’t want to go past 28 inches per support.

Recommended Spans for 2 x Lumber

image of 2 x lumber shelves

Now, there are various dimensions for 2 x lumber – 2 x 10 and 2 x 12. This measures at around 1 ½ inches in thickness. Again, it’s advised that you go with select-grade material so there aren’t as many flaws and knots.

These are stronger and more aesthetically appealing than what you’ll find with construction-grade material.

As for the span between supports, you shouldn’t go over 48 inches for 2 x 10. And no more than 56 inches per support for 2 x 12 lumber.

Recommended Spans for Particleboard

kitchen with particleboard shelves

This type of shelf is crafted using sawdust and other wood by products. These are all bonded using resins and glued. The thicknesses available include ¾ inch, 3/8 inch, ½ inch, and 5/8 inch.

If you opt for the thinner pieces, you can glue or screw them together like with plywood to make the shelves thicker and sturdier. If you’re going to go with a single particleboard, then ensure it’s 5/8 inch.

Then for the spans between supports, it should be no more than 24 inches for 5/8 inch. And no more than 28 inches for ¾ inch particleboard.

Recommended Spans for Glass Shelves

kitchen or bathroom with glass shelves

The thickness, size, and type of glass you use will determine the spans for the supports. The most widely used glass shelves are tempered and annealed.

Out of the two, tempered glass is the stronger choice. Also, when it’s shattered, it breaks into small pieces. Annealed breaks into large chunks when shattered.

It’s a good idea to consider the shelf’s weight rating to determine the span dimensions for your shelves. The supplier can give you a recommendation for safe weight.

For instance, the max weight for ¼ inch x 11-inch annealed glass is 29 lbs. and should have supports no more than 24 inches apart. Then the max weight for tempered glass ¼ inch x 11 inch is 117 lbs.

Adding Storage to Your Kitchen and Bathroom

The experts at GBC Kitchen and Bath can assist you with remodeling your kitchen and bathroom with more space. There are different ways you can use your vertical wall space. For instance, you can opt for shelves or you can go with beautiful cabinetry.

You can visit our local showroom to look at our cabinets from leading industry brands. We can also give you a 3D design for your kitchen or bath to demonstrate how the upgrade will look.

If this is something you’re interested in, then don’t hesitate to give us a call for your free estimate!