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When and how to install cross-braces on a shelving unit? Answered

I purchased an "industrial" shelving system that I will soon install in my home. Each unit will be separate and measures 7 feet high, 4 feet wide and 2 feet deep. Each will have 5 shelves that can hold 600 pounds each. They can be bolted or clipped, but I prefer to use the clips (unless instructed otherwise by a guru). I'm not going to put anything much heavier than books on them.

I was assured by the seller that the units did not need bracings, but everyone else tells me otherwise. So what's YOUR take, fellow instructables member? How can you tell if a shelving system needs braces? If so, where do you put them? At the back back or on the sides? Full length (7' x 4') or any size but in the middle of the posts?

Thank you very much!!


If you can do it, do it. It can't hurt.
Good advice from Burf and Re-design.
The easiest way I've found, especially if you're a little mechanically challenged, would be to screw a board to the back and to one of the sides rather than a brace. It doesn't even need to cover the whole area, as long as you can attach the top and bottom and one edge to the shelving. About 1/3 to 1/2 of the width/depth of the shelves should do. Hold the shelving square as you do this.
Alternatively, screw it to a wall.
Better to do it before you realise that you need to.

Thanks! Glad to know there's no need for huge single sheets of plywood :)


7 years ago

If you securely attach the shelves to a wall, the wall will act as a brace, if you are going to leave them free standing, definitely add bracing to the unit.
Personally, I'd attach them to a wall. If you load them to capacity and they fell on someone or thing, you can bet there will be consequences.

Thanks! I considered it at first, most of the units will either be next to a concrete wall (basement and garage) or a non-supporting wall.

You could brace with heavy-wire, pulled taut diagonally corner to corner.


Whoa! Now THIS is my new standard for sturdiness :)

For what it's worth: My old wooden ladder has been getting wobbly. I thought about adding a diagonal brace. But simply tightening up the brace rods under each step was sufficient to stiffen it. So... Diagonals aren't always needed. It depends in part on how rigidly the shelves are affixed to the uprights. If it's _really_ an industrial system, rather than a cheap imitation, I would hope that if it doesn't come with diagonal braces it probably doesn't need them -- at least, not if you're going to be using it for static loads and not pushing sideways on it very hard or very often. Basically: Put it together and give it a shake. If it feels reasonably solid, it's solid (at least until the hardware loosens). If it doesn't, consider bracing it.

Thanks! I'm going to assemble one unit on the spot when I got pick them up. If there's any wobbliness I'll bite the bullet and brace them up.

I think I know what kind of shelving you are using. I have something similar in my garage.

On several of them I polted 1/4" plywood to the back so they would have a back and nothing would fall off the back.   They are bolted across the top and bottom and each side so they are braced VERY well but the shelves are still movable.

Several of them don't have backs so I used a couple of rolls of the perforated steel strapping from the plumbing department that plumbers use to hang pipes under a wood floor.  That stuff works great.  I made a big "X" across the back and it keeps the shelves braced and square.

Thanks for the imput! Perforated steel strapping is quite clever. I'm sure it's much cheaper than a 20$ 7' x 4' scaffolding cross-brace that I previously thought was the best solution... IF it's needed :)

But as for the necessity of installing braces: is it a must? Were your shelvings wobbly without them? Do they pose a risk?

I didn't wait to find out. They were only bolted at the top and bottom and it would be easier to install braces when they were empty rather than find out later that they were leaning/wobbly.

Put one of yours together and see what you think.  They may be sturdy enough.