A step-by-step guide to help you cover wire shelves
Hands down, the biggest impact in our master bedroom closet makeover was covering our wire shelves. Not only does it look so much better, but it makes using the shelves easier since stuff doesn’t slip between the wire slats like it did before.
This technique is not only very inexpensive, it is a great beginner DIY. All of the cuts that you have to make are straight (no angles, which I always thought were intimidating when I was first learning how to use power tools!) and there are very few required supplies.
Here’s what they looked like before:
Since I re-did this space as part of the $100 Room Challenge, and there is close to 50 feet of wire shelving here, I had to find a way to cover them in a cost- effective way that I could DIY. Here’s what I did:
How to cover wire shelves: supplies
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Here’s what you’ll need (total amounts needed will depend on how much wire shelving you have):
- 4X8 foot paneling- you will be using this paneling to “sit” on top of the wire shelves. The paneling is the cheapest thing I found to cover this much space. I bought two panels and had a little left for our almost 50 feet of shelves. I used this from Lowes (sold out, but this is very similar)
- Either 1X4 whitewood boards or 1X6X8 fence pickets You’ll need enough to cover the entire length of your wire shelves. Note: I used whitewood boards because we had enough on hand left over from other projects, but if not I would have definitely used the fence pickets. They are about 1/2 of the cost of the whitewood boards! (I totally ripped this idea off from Erin of Lemons, Lavender, and Laundry, who has an amazing blog with TONS of great money saving DIYs!)
- screws. I used mostly screws we had left over from other projects, all around 3/4 inches (something like these that are meant for wood projects).
- paint or stain of your choice
- You’ll also need a drill, drill bits, and a circular saw
Step 1- Measure
Measure the depth of the shelf that you want to cover, and add one inch. The depth is how far it is from the front of the shelf to the back of the shelf.
That extra inch will make sense in just a minute, hang in there with me 🙂
Then, measure the length of the shelf that you want to cover:
You don’t need to anything additional to this measurement.
Step 2- Cut
Now, use the circular saw to cut your 4X8 paneling. Because my shelves were so long (longer than the paneling even), it made sense for me to make my depth cuts first, but if you have shorter shelves, it may be easier for you to make your length cuts first.
Our two longest shelves were 16 inches deep, and the three shorter shelves were 12 inches deep. Here is what the paneling looked like after I made my cuts:
Step 3- Attach
You’re going to be attaching the paneling to the 1 X 4- the 1 X 4 will front the shelves, and the paneling will sit on top of the shelves. This whole thing will act as a “cover” for the wire shelves.
Use a small drill bit to predrill your holes. Then, screw your cut paneling into your 1 X 4.
I was doing this by myself and so couldn’t get a great picture, but you can see where I was going here:
I found it easier to do this with the paneling already sitting on the shelf, but you could definitely do this on the floor or a work table if you have one.
Okay, let’s talk about the depth thing again and why you add the extra inch to the depth measurement. I totally screwed this up, btw, because I started planning to do one thing, and changed my plans but AFTER I’d already made my cuts (doh!).
See in the pics, above, how the paneling “scoots” forward to cover the 1X4? That’s where the extra inch comes in. Now, be warned, a 1X4 isn’t *really* 1 full inch- it’s more like 3/4 of an inch. But when I measured the gaps in the back of my shelf covers (see below), they were all almost exactly 1 full inch, so that’s what I’d advise you to add to your measurements.
I will say, those gaps aren’t noticeable at all in real life, and would probably be less noticeable if I had painted those shelf covers!
The shelf covers just sit on the wire shelves. They aren’t attached at all. They won’t tip forward, even if there isn’t anything on them. They are perfectly steady and sturdy!
Step 4- Caulk or fill
If you’re planning to paint your 1 X 4, you can use caulk or wood filler, but if you’re planning to stain the 1 X 4, use wood filler. Lightly sand the caulk/wood filler once it dries.
You can see that filling those gaps leaves a pretty seamless look after painting!
Paint or stain your 1 X 4! There’s a lot going on in this closet, so I opted to paint them white for a clean look.
Although I really should have painted the bottom of the shelves white so they blend in with the wire shelves, I’m really happy with how these came out!
For nearly 50 feet of wire shelving, this cost me the cost of the two panels: $29.94 (remember I had the boards on hand, so I didn’t have to buy them). However, if I had to buy the 1 X 4’s, it would have added around $17 to the cost, for a total of $46.44. That’s less than $1 per linear foot- not a bad cost for so much shelving!
I feel like I can’t overemphasize the crazy difference these things made in this space!
I hope this tutorial is helpful for you! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments!
Edit: Have more questions about this project? Check out my FAQ post, here!