Industrial Shelving Components 101

At East Coast Storage Equipment, we carry loads of different shelving types. From rivet to clipless, it can feel like all these products come with their own specific set of industrial shelving components. This is true for some specialty shelving. But, overall, you’ll find some common shelving parts that form the basic foundation for most systems.

If you’re ready to learn more about industrial shelving parts, we’ve got you covered. Read on to explore some basic shelving components and learn about how they interact with your overall shelving system.

Basic Industrial Shelving Parts

If you’ve ever had to deal with those annoying Ikea-like shelving products, you probably know that shelves are more than just a few nuts and bolts. When you get into industrial steel shelving parts, it can seem like the whole process gets even more complicated — and that’s after weighing your industrial shelving options.

Fortunately, with a bit of knowledge, you can master your shelving system in no time. 


Certainly the most recognizable of all the industrial shelving components, the shelves span the width between the upright posts. This creates the structural framework needed to store items. Now, depending on the type of shelving you’re using, you may encounter some different shelf materials:

  • Particleboard
  • Heavy-duty steel
  • Wire shelving
Backroom shelving (pictured) is a great choice for many different storage environments. The shelving type is perfect for smaller items and diverse inventories.

For a configuration like backroom shelving, particleboard may suffice. For more heavy-duty applications, you’ll want to source steel shelves. These will come in different sizes, measured by gauge. Additionally, how the manufacturer finishes the edge of the shelf will play a role in overall shelf strength and integrity. This includes flanged edges and boxed finishes that work well for heavy-duty storage needs.

Upright Posts

Keeping those shelves in place requires upright posts. Depending on the type of shelving you are using, uprights can come in various sizes and configurations. This affects how you assemble the shelving and the overall integrity of the structure. Some common types of shelving include:

Upright posts also come in different assembly types. Some you may see while shopping around include:

  • T-posts
  • Offset angle
  • Wide-span
  • Beaded


Braces add strength and structural soundness to shelving systems. While not all shelving systems utilize braces for heavy-duty applications, these items are very useful. Usually, you’ll see braces across the backside of the shelving unit in an “X” pattern.

This helps distribute the weight of the items on the shelves evenly across the structure. Braces usually need to be placed in specific areas of the shelving unit. Not every shelf will need a brace, so make sure to check with the manufacturer to get the correct placement.


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Other Industrial Metal Shelving Parts and Accessories

While almost every shelving unit will have shelves, upright posts and braces, some configurations require a bit more hardware. Below, you’ll find some other common industrial steel shelving parts and accessories that you may encounter when assembling your shelving unit:

  • Beams. In some shelving configurations, beams span the width between the upright posts, and the shelves rest on them. In others, it’s the shelf itself that creates the structural framework for the unit.
  • Boxes. If you’re looking to add a bit more organization to your shelving, boxes can help you store loose products and keep items separated.
  • Clips. Clips are a fairly common way to keep shelves in place. Other shelving styles, including clipless shelving, utilize the connection between the upright and the shelf itself.
  • Backs. In some shelving units, you’ll find backs that close off one side of the shelf. These offer structural strength similar to braces and work well when storing specific products, such as documents or books.
  • Sides. If you need certain sections closed off, adding shelving sides is an available option.
  • Dividers. If you’re looking to keep your shelves organized, use dividers to separate products easily.

These are just a handful of accessories you might find in your industrial shelving setup.

You can configure your shelving to meet your specific needs. You can choose closed configurations, open configurations (pictured) and other elements like shelf location and size.

What About Shelving Materials?

When it comes to choosing which shelving material you want to use, you’ll find a few common options. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Often, you’ll need to weigh price and strength to make a decision. In most cases, you’ll find steel as the most frequently used shelving material. Steel has an impressive amount of tensile strength and durability. 

Steel is certainly the most common material we see in industrial shelving. You may find other suppliers offering shelving made of other materials, but here at East Coast Storage Equipment, we usually only offer steel shelving because of the material’s strength, durability and flexibility. Additionally, you may find wood used for certain types of shelving — particularly backroom shelving.

Where to Find Quality Industrial Metal Shelving Components

It can be tempting to buy warehouse shelving on Craigslist or other bargain markets, but always make sure you trust your supplier. If you’re searching for high-quality used industrial shelving components, check out East Coast Storage Equipment’s inventory. While we try to carry complete shelving units, we often have spare or surplus parts and components available.

If you need any help assessing your needs, our team of qualified storage professionals is on standby to help you navigate the buying process. If you need additional services, such as installation or facility design, we are happy to help. Give us a call today at 888.294.5022.


Tiff Gregers
December 29, 2021

How helpful that you mention the different materials that shelves can be made out of. I am starting a new business this year. I will find a good industrial shelving unit service in my area to help.

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Paul Parisi
March 3, 2022

Ok, Tiff. Sounds like a good plan. Good luck with your new business.

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