We are building a built-in shelving unit in a walk-in closet in our
I would like to use high quality materials in keeping with the style
of the house. We plan to paint the shelves.
What type of "wood" would you recommend?
1. Birch plywood with edge banding
2. Real wood (e.g., Poplar, Maple, Pine) -- if so which one?
3. Melamine (Are there high quality version or is it always somewhat
flimsy and cheapo)
Also, what would you use for the backing?
Plywood is probably the strongest and least likely to warp. You could use
edge banding or bicuit on a strip of wood in the front.
Maple is too nice (and too expensive) to paint. Poplar is harder that
Only stuff I'm familiar with is OK, but not as nice as wood, IMO. But it is
easier to clean and never needs painting. I'd consider it if it was behind
doors, but it is not in keeping iwth the Victorian era.
I don' tknow of another that is decent. You want to avoid particleboard.
You can't beat melamine for cleanable finish. Cap the end with the hardwood
of your choice (mine would be maple, because it's relatively cheap, very
hard available and look good.
You will want to make the cap something like 3/4" deep and 1-1/4" tall
depending on the span between supports.
MDF is the product I would use. It paints like a charm
and you don't mind throwing it away when you redo the
closet for the next "makeover". Keep the spans reasonable
and watch your fastners.
Fine HomeBuilding did a complete article on exactly what
you are wanting to do. As I recall, they did it with at
least three different materials just to show the different
I went ahead and found the article...
It's in the July 1999 issue can be downloaded at:
Search on "closet" and the article is by Gary Katz.
Jeffrey J. Kosowsky wrote:
potentially interesting article:
by Bruce Greenlaw
A guide to support systems, shelving designs and materials
This article describes the variety of hardware and shelving that can
be used to make bookshelves and cases. A sidebar lists sources for
hardware, some of them not the usual suspects. The author includes
good tips on how much distance shelves can comfortably span.
I went back and looked over that article...
It will be well worth the $3.50... The guy does an
excellent job of describing the three methods. The
article also includes excellent pictures.
The FWW and FHB are excllent magazines with great
articles. Fine Homebuilding always has somthing of
interest in every month they publish. I think they are
going to offer their own "Best of Series" on cdrom.
Jeffrey J. Kosowsky wrote:
Since you are painting, exotic or expensive wood seems pointless, provided
the material you choose is relatively stable and easy to work with.
If you think your shelves will carry any significant load, you might want to
consider that hardwoods (e.g. Poplar) will support (without drooping) higher
loads than softwoods (e.g. Pine) which will support more load than sheet
goods (e.g. plywood).
If your design incorporates supplemental shelf support, the above may be
moot, but then you might want to consider MDF, which is readily workable and
takes paint (after priming) nicely.
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