5 Types of Wire Shelving You Should Consider


Storage systems with open wire shelves offer many ways to organize your warehouse or storage area’s inventory, increasing your total storage capacity without occupying excessive space in your storage area.

However, there are different materials and coatings you can choose from, each with its own advantages. Here are five types of wire shelving storage solutions you should consider and what features and benefits each type offers for your storage space.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel wire shelving is among the most common types of wire shelving units you can buy today. Stainless steel offers uncompromising durability and natural resistance to rust and corrosion, making it naturally suited for rough handling and heavy-duty applications.

The primary advantage of stainless steel wire shelving is its weight capacity. Due to the high ductile and tensile strength in most stainless steel materials, you can expect a typical stainless steel wire shelf to hold up to 800 lbs. of items without bending or fracturing. For instance, a standard 4-shelf unit rated at 800 lbs will support up to 200 lbs. per wire rack or shelf level.

Specific models may feature more robust construction to reach higher weight capacities. These heavy-duty models may feature shelves made using heavier steel gauge, double rivet reinforcing, or thicker upright posts.

Although they are ideal for high-density storage applications (e.g., heavy parts, machine elements, tools, etc.), these heavy-duty stainless steel shelves are also much more expensive.

The stainless steel materials used in most wire shelving are alloys with an average chromium content of 18%. This chromium content is the main reason this material possesses exceptional resistance to rust and corrosion.

If your storage needs include humid environments or wet objects, a stainless steel wire shelving unit is ideal because it will not rust or corrode, even after many years of use.

Whether you need shelving for wet or dry storage, a walk-in cooler, or any other application requiring rust- and corrosion-proof storage with a high weight capacity, stainless steel shelving is the ideal choice.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is one of the most popular alternatives to stainless steel for wire shelving systems. Although they are both durable steel alloys, carbon steel differs from stainless steel in many critical ways.

As the name suggests, a carbon steel alloy has a high carbon content, much like stainless steel has a high chromium content. Due to this difference in alloy content, carbon steel wire shelves don’t benefit from the same level of resistance to rust and corrosion as their stainless counterparts, meaning they may not be suited for storage in humid environments.

However, many types of carbon steel (especially high-carbon alloys) are harder and have a higher tensile strength than typical stainless steel. In other words, when comparing wire shelves of comparable overall dimensions, the carbon steel model will usually be stronger than its stainless steel counterpart, supporting a higher weight capacity and lasting for more extended periods.

Carbon steel shelving may be less aesthetically desirable than stainless, plated, or coated shelving because it more easily retains signs of superficial damage (e.g., surface wear and tear). However, this material’s shelving units are less expensive than stainless steel.

Carbon steel models may be the best solution for your storage space if you aren’t concerned about item presentation or wet storage or are looking for a cost-effective shelving system. Ideal applications include heavy-duty storage in non-customer-facing environments, such as warehouses and storage units.

Chrome Plated

Chrome plated wire shelving, also known as chrome wire shelves, is among the most popular wire shelving systems on the market because they offer an excellent balance of durability and versatility. A chrome-plated wire shelf is an ideal storage solution if you need a durable and corrosion-resistant option. Chrome plating creates a smooth, glossy finish that not only looks great but also helps to resist rust and corrosion.

The primary material used to build a typical chrome wire shelf is galvanized steel, which is then treated and plated with chrome or nickel-chrome (nichrome) alloy via an electrochemical process called electroplating.

The purpose of the chrome or nichrome plating is to enhance the shelving unit’s corrosion resistance. Although the chrome plating will not increase the shelving unit’s strength or weight capacity, it does, to a lesser degree, increase its durability and resistance to wear and tear.

Two lesser-known advantages of chrome plated wire shelves are their high resistance to dust and their sanitation certifications. Chrome plating creates a surface that keeps dust and debris off the surface of the wire shelving, making it easy to clean.
Additionally, chrome plating is highly resistant to abrasives, acids, and other chemical compounds, whether natural or artificial.

Most chrome-plated furniture, including wire shelving units, are certified safe to use with food and beverages by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF). Chrome-plated wire shelving units featuring the NSF mark are ideal for food storage applications.

Zinc Plated

Although similar at first glance to chrome plating, zinc plating differs in many critical ways. Like chrome plating, zinc plating enhances the shelving unit’s resistance to rust and corrosion.

Zinc-plated wire shelving is made using an electroplating process similar to that employed to make chrome plating, applying a thin layer of zinc chromate onto the galvanized steel surface. In other words, there is no difference between “zinc-plated” and “zinc chromate” shelving.

The primary difference between zinc plating and chrome plating is the durability properties it lends to the wire shelving unit. Although the color and finish are very similar, zinc plating is less expensive and slightly less durable than chrome.

A unique benefit of zinc plating is the alloy’s exceptional resistance to high temperatures, making it a natural choice for hot and dry environments. Zinc plating is the perfect solution if you are looking for heat-resistant shelving units that won’t degrade under hot conditions.

QU 1224C

Epoxy Coated

Epoxy-coated wire shelving employs a layer of protective epoxy material onto the metal surface, enhancing the shelving system’s durability. Epoxy coating is applied to the shelving system using an electrostatic gun. The sprayed shelf is then inserted into an oven and heated at temperatures between 320°F and 410°F, fixing the epoxy material to the metal surface.

Epoxy coatings can be added to bare or plated steel wire shelves, increasing the unit’s natural resistance to wear and tear. This type of wire shelf coating is often used in storage areas with high humidity or frequent exposure to water, salts, and chemical compounds, as the epoxy coating protects the steel from rusting.

Additionally, epoxy coatings are visually appealing and available in different colors, allowing you to organize your inventory by color and enhance the presentation of your stored items. This characteristic can be highly advantageous in the retail industry, as it can help improve sales.

There exist two types of epoxy coatings: standard and antimicrobial. Each provides additional advantages, depending on your industry and applications.

Standard Epoxy Coating

Standard epoxy coatings protect the underlying metal surface (whether plated or not) from humidity, wear, and tear. They also provide an additional layer of protection against impacts, increasing the shelving system’s long-term durability.

Coated shelves do not succumb to rough handling, maintaining their shape and structural integrity for several years. Standard coating colors include white, black, green, blue, red, and yellow. Although epoxy coatings can be made in virtually any color, each manufacturer offers its own range of color options.

Antimicrobial Epoxy Coating

Antimicrobial epoxy coatings are similar to their standard counterparts and available in the same selection of colors. However, they contain an additional active ingredient: an antimicrobial solution forming a barrier against microorganisms (e.g., fungi, bacteria, viruses, protozoans, etc.) and other contaminants.

This coating type is employed in environments with strict infection control rules, such as schools, food production, and medical facilities. It is also suitable for indoor and outdoor applications, making it versatile.

Although very effective, this coating type is more expensive than standard epoxy, and the active ingredient loses its effectiveness over long periods. Although most antimicrobial coatings have a service life of about 20 years, regular re-coatings are necessary to maintain the shelving unit’s antimicrobial properties.

Shop High-Durability Wire Shelves at Shelving + Rack Systems

Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc. offers a complete range of new and used wire shelving systems, parts, accessories, and numerous other storage and logistics solutions. Whether you manage a warehouse, food production site, or any other building with specific storage requirements, we have the shelving, racks, and storage systems you need.

Browse our catalog today and find the perfect products for your storage needs. For more information about our products and services, contact us at (800) 589-7225.