Most Popular Types of Industrial Shelving

By: Larry Rausch – Vice President of Sales and Marketing

Navigating through all the different types of industrial shelving can be a daunting task. We are often asked to recommend the most popular types of industrial shelving. This post is intended to provide our view of the most popular types and the best uses of each as it pertains to your specific application

First off, there are several things you must consider when looking at the various types of industrial shelves currently available. Some of these include:

  • What are your floor space requirements?
  • What is the weight of the material to be stored?
  • Are the items breakable?
  • Is the shelving for longterm use?
  • Will you need to add and remove items on an ongoing basis?
  • Are aesthetics important?
  • How will the items be placed and removed?
  • Will items be forklifted or rolled on?

Whether there are less expensive shelves available or not, buying the right ones the first time is far more likely to provide you with the best possible return on your investment. Given these considerations, based on our experience, the following are the most popular types of industrial shelving.

Wire Racks

Many industries believe wire racks to be the most attractive form of industrial shelving. They are perfect for use in a wide range of commercial and industrial applications. Not only does this type of industrial shelves offer you better product visibility, it also offers better airflow than steel shelving. It easily allows you access from both sides of the shelving section. While it is not quite as durable as steel shelving, it can still hold a significant amount of weight and take a reasonable amount of abuse. It is fast and easy to assemble and ideal for smaller or larger applications.

Wire racks do not collect dust and in the event of a fire will not hinder the water spray from a fire sprinkler system. These shelves are available as stationary units, mobile units, and for bin storage, making them extremely versatile. The shelves themselves are relatively light weight and are resistant to issues such as mold

 Pallet Racking Systems

If your business or industrial facility receives inventory or stores it on pallets, you need somewhere to store everything off the floor in an easy to access format. Pallet racking is the answer and they let you make better use of vertical space. Pallet storage racks feature a heavy-duty frame along with heavy duty beam levels.

The entire shelving system frame is assembled using nuts and bolts or welding to ensure it stays firmly put together. Using bolts to anchor the racking system to the floor also helps to ensure the shelves are not accidentally knocked over by the forks of the forklift. You can adjust each individual shelf height to suit the palletized items you need to store. There is a wide range of accessories available designed to let you customize your shelving to meet your varied storage needs.

 Steel Shelving

Steel shelving is among the most commonly used shelving in most industrial applications. Not only is this type of shelving relatively inexpensive, it is very robust in design, providing you with many years of service. Steel shelving has the advantage of being able to take on the brunt of your storage needs and can handle varying amounts of weight depending on the gauge of the steel, the design of the shelves, and their support system. There are two different styles of this type of shelving:

Open Steel Shelving – Instead of steel panels, these shelves use braces to provide the necessary stability. The design allows employees to access products from all four sides. It is possible to join multiple shelving units together with longer support braces to create long shelving runs. The open-air design may also be useful in certain instances where constant air flow is necessary.

Bulk Storage Racks

Industrial storage racks come in an incredibly wide array of sizes intended to let you decide the best possible configuration for your specific application. One of the more common varieties of this type of industrial shelving is the wide span shelf. These shelves feature heavy duty uprights and cross braces made to handle a load. Depending on the type of shelving you order, a single shelf may be able to hold several hundred pounds.

In most cases, the shelves are made from 1/2-inch or thicker plywood that can be easily replaced should it become damaged. However, you can also buy galvanized steel shelving panels for those items that cannot, for one reason or another, be stored on a wood shelf. This may include chemicals, certain foods, and items that are simply too heavy for a wood shelf to handle.

Rivet Shelving

Rivet shelving is considered to be the most economical form of industrial shelving available. It tends to be strong, durable and can provide exceptionally easy access to both sides of the shelving section. The rivet design entails affixing a rivet-like head to either the corners of the shelves or on the steel framework at specific intervals.

Assembling rivet shelving requires no more than sliding the rivets of each beam into slots on the frame at the desired height, then tapping with a rubber mallet to lock into place. Another term used for these types of industrial shelves made by companies like Interlake Racks is boltless shelves as they require absolutely no bolts to assemble them. They can be used in warehouses, stock rooms, and for a wide range of industrial applications.


We recommend that you take into account many different considerations when purchasing your industrial shelving. Based on this, the most popular shelving can include wire racks, pallet racks, bulk storage racks and rivet shelving.

We hope this post provided you helpful information as it relates to understanding the most popular types of industrial shelving systems. To speak with one of our technical experts, please call 1-216-229-9300. And thank you for reading our post.


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