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Different Types of Restaurant Shelving

Different Types of Restaurant Shelving

Creating and maintaining an effective storage area in your business can be challenging, especially if you have limited space and lots to store, but purchasing a shelving unit can take your storage capacity to new heights. There are all kinds of shelves, materials, components, and accessories to choose from when looking into buying a shelving unit. This guide will explain all things shelving-related and inform you on how to pick the perfect shelving unit for your commercial kitchen!

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Restaurant Shelving Material Types

Material is one of the most important things to consider when buying a shelving unit. Is your location near salt water? Will you be using your shelves in a damp environment like a walk-in cooler or warewashing area? Maybe you intend to use it solely for dry storage. Whatever environment you're planning to place it in, one of these common shelf materials will get the job done.

Right section of a chrome wire shelf

Chrome Wire

- Chrome-plated wire shelving units are great for dry storage or heated environments, including stockrooms, warehouses, garages, and retail applications

- Prone to rust if used in a humid environment

- Designed to increase visibility and ventilation, chrome wire shelves may or may not come with a clear epoxy coating, but many of these units are NSF Listed

Right section of a green epoxy-coated wire shelf


- Epoxy-coated wire shelving units are much more resistant to humid environments such as warewashing areas, walk-in coolers, or moist storage

- Different manufacturers have different colors of epoxy-coated shelves available, but all colors of epoxy will give you the same great protection against rapid corrosion

- Two of the most common colors include black epoxy-coated wire shelving, which is often used in retail settings or warehouses because of its subtle coloring, and green epoxy wire shelving, which is more characteristic of the food service industry

Right section of a drop mat wire shelf

Drop Mat Shelving

- Drop mat shelving combines epoxy-coated wire shelving with removable polymer drop mats. Just like epoxy shelving, these units are resistant to rust and suitable for moist or humid environments

- Removable drop mats easily detach from the shelving unit and can be placed directly in the dishwasher for a quick clean

- Ideal for busy storage areas that require frequent cleaning thanks to the ease of sanitizing the drop shelving

Left section of a polypropylene wire shelf

Polypropylene / Polymer

- Polypropylene or polymer shelving units are extremely corrosion-resistant and will not rust even in the presence of salt water or sea air

- Generally constructed of metal with a thick outer coating of polypropylene or a polymer that makes them just as strong as regular metal shelving units

- The components are dishwasher safe and can be easily wiped clean

- Many manufacturers offer longer warranties on this type of shelving unit

Left section of a green antimicrobial wire shelf


- Antimicrobial shelves can be constructed of the any of the materials above, but they come with an extra layer of antimicrobial agent such as Microban built in

- The added layer protects your shelving unit from bacteria, mold, mildew, and fungi that could potentially contaminate food or cause unpleasant odors

Right section of a stainless steel wire shelf

Stainless Steel

- Stainless steel shelving is one of the most durable and versatile types of shelving available

- Thanks to its natural corrosion resistance, it withstands rough, heavy-use applications in virtually any environment, whether wet or dry

- From food storage in walk-in coolers to retail use to warehouse storage, stainless steel shelving is the high-quality option to suit any area, purpose, or industry

Types of Restaurant Shelves

Solid stainless steel shelf

Solid Shelves

Because solid shelves have no openings on their surface, any size or type of item can be stored on them without the risk of it slipping through the rails or spilling onto the items below it. Solid shelves are also easy to clean and maintain since dust and grime won't get trapped in between the wires. The downside to solid shelves is that they don't breathe as well as vented shelves, which makes them best for dry storage, garage storage, or retail applications.

Vented dark gray plastic shelf

Vented Shelves

Vented shelves are a great option for any type of cold storage application because they promote air circulation through the unit for maximum product shelf life. They also offer greater visibility when trying to identify what items you have in inventory. The downside of vented shelves is that they are more difficult to clean and don't prevent items on higher shelves from dripping or spilling onto items on lower shelves.

Stainless steel wire triangle shelf

Triangle Shelves

Triangle shelves are designed specifically to fit into tight corners so you don't lose any valuable storage space. Generally, these shelves can be used with the same posts as regular rectangular shelves.

Shelving Assembly & Mounting Types

Green stationary shelf post


Stationary posts are not designed for transport. These should be used in areas that are consistently used for storage and aren't often rearranged.

Green mobile shelf post


Mobile posts give you the option to easily move your shelving unit from place to place. Plus, having a mobile unit makes cleaning behind and under shelves a breeze since you can simply roll the unit away from the wall and roll it back when you are finished.

How Do I Know When to Purchase a Mobile vs. a Stationary Shelving Unit?

If you're not sure whether you should go mobile or if a stationary unit will do, consider these few key questions:

Is your space limited? In areas with limited space, mobile shelving units can be pushed together to save space when no one is working with them and can be rolled apart when an employee needs to access their contents.

How big is your budget? In general, mobile units are more expensive than stationary units. However, if you have your heart set on purchasing a mobile unit, check out Regency's mobile posts, which come caster-ready but won't break the bank.

Who will be working around your shelving units? Before settling on a mobile unit, you might want to ask yourself who will be working in your storage area. Since they require manpower to move and maneuver, mobile shelving systems can be a source of risk, especially if you are storing or transporting particularly heavy items. To prevent possible injuries, it is important to train your staff on the safe operation of mobile shelving units.

Will your shelving unit be located in an area that is frequently cleaned? If you're buying a shelving unit to be used in areas like walk-in coolers that will be cleaned weekly or monthly, then you should definitely consider purchasing a mobile unit. Mobile shelving units give you the flexibility to move your shelves so that floors, walls, and other important surfaces can be completely cleaned and sanitized.

Still unsure which type will work best for your business? Then perhaps the best option for you is to purchase a unit that can be modified without much effort, so you can easily change the configuration to adapt to new storage needs and add more flexibility in menu offerings. However, attaching casters to a stationary post to convert it to a mobile post is not recommended. Many stationary posts do not accept casters, and in the case of some manufacturers, adding casters to a stationary post will void your warranty.

Types of Specialty Shelving

Stainless steel wire wine shelf with two bottles of wine

Wine Shelving

Keeping bottles of Riesling, Merlot, Pinot Grigio, and more is easy and inexpensive with wire wine rack shelving. Wine shelves are designed to hold bottles at the proper angle to preserve wine quality as well as allow air to circulate through the shelves to maintain consistent, cool temperatures.

Stainless steel solid wall mount shelf with backsplash

Wall Mount Shelving

Ideal for creating storage space over stainless steel prep tables and other work areas, wall-mount shelving will allow you to keep ingredient canisters, spices, and other important prep tools organized. These shelves are often made of durable stainless steel and come in a variety of lengths and widths to fit your space. Shelving for specific purposes is available, too. Microwave shelves provide storage space for small appliances, and glass and dish rack shelves help keep tableware and racks off your countertops.

Aluminum dunnage rack with four legs

Dunnage Racks

Dunnage racks are perfect for storing bulk ingredients such as flour or sugar off of the floor. These versatile restaurant racks come in a variety of materials, including aluminum and polymer, as well as in mobile and stationary models. Whether you need a heavy duty option or a standard unit, we have a dunnage rack that will meet the needs of your foodservice operation.

Mobile green wire security cage

Security Shelving

Security shelving is a great option when you need to protect your employees' valuables or sensitive items like high end liquor. These units typically lock, but still allow you to view their contents through their open wire walls.

Grey high density shelving with various food service supplies and products

High Density Shelving

High density shelving units are designed to greatly reduce the space required for a traditional storage area. In fact, it eliminates the shelf-aisle-shelf-aisle layout and creates a space with a movable aisle instead. This is accomplished by mounting your shelving units on a track system where they can be rolled from side to side depending on which shelf you need to access. For buildings with too much stuff and too little space, high density shelving can be a godsend.

Cantilever shelf mounted along white wall holding 5 containers of spices

Cantilever Shelving

Cantilever shelving is a great option for space-efficiency. This type of shelving gets its support from a rear support system, creating an overhead storage solution without drilling into the wall. These shelves can be used above tables or countertops to maximize storage space.

Stainless steel adjustable shelf holding potato chips

Adjustable Shelving

Adjustable shelving makes it easy to customize and change your display based on your needs. This option provides flexibility that is great for businesses with changing product offerings. The design allows you to move the shelves up or down along the rack's posts, ensuring products of various sizes can fit.

Shelving Accessories

In addition to choosing the best shelving unit for your establishment, ensure you have all the accessories you need to streamline your storage area.

  • Shelving Casters: Turn your stationary shelving unit into a more versatile mobile shelving unit with shelving casters.
  • Wire Shelf Label Holders: Use wire shelf label holders to clearly label ingredients and other stored foods to maintain a functional storage area.
  • Wire Shelf Storage Baskets: Create extra storage in your kitchen with wire baskets that attach directly to your wire rack.
  • Wire Shelf Dividers: Use wire shelf dividers to break long shelves into smaller, more organized sections.
  • Shelf Covers: Protect your shelves from water, dust, and other airborne contaminants with shelf covers.
  • Wire Shelf Ledges: Keep items from falling off the shelf by adding wire shelf ledges to your unit.
  • Wire Shelf Hanger Tubes: Attach a hanger tube to your wire shelf to hang aprons, chef whites, and other clothing.
  • "S" Hooks: Attach two wire shelving units together side by side with a "S" hook.

Popular Shelving Brands

Regency Space Solutions logo with black text on green background

Regency Space Solutions offers a broad range of shelving units and accessories to fit your needs and your budget! Their shelves, posts, and other components are manufactured using only the highest quality materials, which makes them ideal for tough kitchen environments. Regency Space Solutions specializes in durable wire shelving options, offering everything from basic chrome wire units for dry storage to epoxy coated units that can easily stand up to humid environments. With the multitude of accessories available, customizing a Regency shelving unit is easy. Plus, if you're really stuck, they have shelf kits that come with all the components in one package ready to assemble!

Cambro Manufacturing Company logo with red and black text

Featuring a durable polypropylene construction, Cambro shelving is a great option for businesses that are located near the ocean or in particularly humid climates since it is completely corrosion resistant. Cambro Camshelving® is a versatile option as well. With several different types of shelves, posts, and other accessories available, these easily adjustable shelving units can be built and reconfigured again and again.

Metro logo with white text on red background

Metro manufactures basic wire shelving units as well as shelving units with polymer shelves or shelving mats. Some Metro products come with antimicrobial technology built in for superior resistance to mold or bacteria. Popular Metro lines include:

Click here for more information on the different Metro shelving lines.

Combining Shelving Brands

So you bought Metro Super Erecta posts, but just realized that Regency's shelves are cheaper than similar Metro shelves. Can you buy Regency shelves even though you already bought Metro posts? The answer is yes! When it comes to standard wire shelving, most brands can be mixed and matched. One brand of wire shelf posts can be used with a different brand of wire shelves. On word of caution, however, you cannot mix different types of shelves within the same shelving unit.

Where to Place Your Restaurant Shelving

Whether you're creating a few extra feet of storage space or arranging shelves in your designated storage area, it can be difficult to decide how to place your shelving units in the space you're working with. First and foremost, it's important to store items in practical places. For example, a bulk bag of flour should be stored on a dunnage rack near the floor, while small items like ingredient canisters might be best stored on a wall shelf near your prep area. Walk-in coolers or freezers require special consideration as well. When placing shelving units in these environments, you will need to make sure that they don't block air vents because it could cause warm pockets of air to develop.

As for your designated storage area, shelves should be arranged in a way that utilizes walls, corners, and any other available space, but still makes all items accessible. It's also important to adhere to health code guidelines, such as storing food items at least six inches off the ground. Check out the video below to see how easy and beneficial it is to add wire shelving units to your storage area!

How to Clean Your Commercial Shelving

Keeping shelves cleaned and sanitized is a key part of maintaining a safe kitchen environment. We offer a complete shelf cleaning kit with everything from sponges to rubber gloves to essential cleaning products you will need when tackling the grit and grime that can build up on shelves. It even comes with a convenient storage caddy!

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