by Dallas Campbell, on August 13, 2020



This article is primarily being written to help material handlers and facility managers get a better understanding of different types of commercial stationary shelving and their ideal uses so you can easily identify which shelving will best suit your needs.

Often the questions that plague material handlers and facility managers, i.e., the person in charge, are:

How do you store materials effectively?, How are your materials accessed?, How do you manage your inventory and supplies?, Is your workflow affected negatively by less than optimal material handling processes?

As freestanding stationary shelving is only one solution to a variety of storage needs, I have also provided some helpful links throughout this article to other types of storage solutions. For instance, this article, “What is the #1 Best Storage Solution For My Commercial Workspace” is a great overview of most major material handling solutions.

Now I will discuss the basic features and characteristics of different freestanding stationary shelving systems and ideal applications for each.


Freestanding stationary shelving products for the commercial industry include:

Each of these stationary shelving types have a few things in common:

  • No moving parts to wear out
  • Simple maintenance
  • Accessibility on both sides
  • Generally easy installation

For the above reasons, stationary shelving is often the simplest solution to start with for material handling needs.

Note, however, that each accessible side of stationary shelving requires a 36” minimum access aisle (wider for forklift access) which means these types of shelving systems generally require more space than other high-density storage solution, e.g., mobile shelving or vertical storage systems.


Divider/4-Post shelving comes in one-piece upright units which is divided with shelves. Units are either configured “open” with welded braces connecting the front and back posts, or “closed” with solid metal panels.

Each shelf rests on front and back support bars. Reinforcement bars are generally included for shelves 18” deep or greater to prevent the shelves from bowing. These shelving units can be configured in any formation to fit your space and needs, e.g., back-to-back, long rows, staggered, etc.

Options & Accessories

There are a range of accessories to adapt the 4-post shelving units for different applications such as:


  • Work drawers
  • File drawers
  • Flipper doors
  • Bin dividers
  • Adjustable Dividers
  • Locking hinges
  • Pullout work shelves
  • Hanging garment rods
  • Sliding or tambour doors for security

The open shelves are easily adjustable and can be slotted for dividers or remain smooth.

Load Capacity

Light to medium duty storage capacity, with shelves designed to hold 300-500 pounds each, depending on configuration. Check with your specific manufacturer for exact weight loads.


Divider shelving is easy to install with boltless assembly.

Best Uses

As one of the most universal storage systems out there, divider shelving is used practically in all business environments, including patient or client record rooms, construction offices, architecture firms, law firms, corporate offices, museums, colleges and universities, and more.


There are two basic types of library shelving, cantilever and case-type/4-post shelving:

1. Cantilever shelving has a central upright frame and shelves that hang on either side. Note that lateral racking can occur with cantilever shelving

2. Case-type/4-Post shelving is similar to closed divider shelving, except the upright has a dual wall. The dual wall prevents media from getting hidden or stuck behind the front post from the inside of the unit.

Following is a comparison of features:

ezgif-3-3f6ca2bc54Options & Accessories

There are numerous accessories to accommodate all library media collections. Here are just a few:

  • Rollout drawers
  • Adjustable shelves with or without adjustable dividers
  • Dividers and book ends
  • Pullout reference shelf
  • Hanging racks
  • Media shelves
  • Flip-up periodical display shelves
  • Sloped shelves
  • Newspaper racks
  • Label holders
  • And more…

Load Capacity

Light to medium duty storage capacity, with shelves designed to hold 300-500 pounds each, depending on configuration. Check with your specific manufacturer for exact weight loads.


Library shelving is easy to install with boltless assembly.

Best Uses

Library Shelving is most often used in public libraries, law libraries, higher education, architectural & design firms, and bookstores.



A Rotary File Cabinet is a double-sided shelving cube contained in a cabinet. The cube rotates in quarter turns (or free spins) on an axle to access open shelving. The cube can be rotated to the closed position (side panels facing forward) and locked to prevent access to its contents.

Rotary units can also be installed as a dividing partition or wall between work areas, with file access to both sides.

Rotary Cabinets are a space saver! One 7-tier rotary unit can store as much as three 4-drawer lateral file cabinets in half as much the space!

Options & Accessories

Rotary cabinets can be configured in a variety of ways to suit the intended application with the help of the following accessories:

  • Rollout Hanging Folder Frames
  • Rollout Drawers
  • Adjustable Reversible Shelves with or without dividers
  • Weapons Racks
  • Rollout Tub Drawers
  • Rollout Supply Drawers
  • Rollout Reference Shelf

Mobility. Rotary cabinets can be put on casters for mobility.

Exterior Design Functionality. Pegboards and fabrics can be added to the top and sides of a unit. Countertops in wood, granite and other materials can be added to a unit for a more aesthetic look.

Load Capacity

• Letter size shelf and drawer capacity is 100 pounds each
• Legal size shelf and drawer capacity is 110 pounds each


Professional installation is required.

Best Uses

Rotary cabinets are perfect for any media that requires secure access: medical files, pharmaceuticals, museum collections, personnel files, sensitive data, weapons, tools, or any item that needs to be secured.

Rotary cabinets can be found in libraries, automotive shops, education settings, law enforcement, healthcare, government, law offices, museums, and service industries.


Wire Shelving duo_DallasDescription

Wire shelving provides strength, durability, visibility, airflow, and supports a clean environment. Fire sprinklers are able to reach all levels and stored materials are easily identified.

Options & Accessories

  • Bins
  • Wire Mesh Baskets
  • Wire or solid shelves
  • Antimicrobial polymer shelf cover
  • Sloped shelves (single or double sided)
  • Cart Covers
  • Shelf Dividers
  • Catheter Slide
  • Label holders
  • Push/Pull Handles
  • Dolly Base
  • Hooks and Clamps
  • Casters for Mobility
  • Bottom dust shelf covers

Wire shelving can be put on casters for mobility, or on tracks for sliding high-density storage.

Weight Capacity Per Shelf Length:

24–48 inches
54 inches
60 inches
72 inches
850 pounds
800 pounds
750 pounds
700 pounds


Professional installation recommended for sliding wire shelving or large spans of shelving. Single shelving units can be assembled easily with or without casters.

Best Uses

The strength, durability, and flexibility of wire shelving makes it a great solution for healthcare, warehouse order fulfillment, product storage, and retail applications. Air flow makes this a perfect application for cold storage.


Clip shelving duo_DallasDescription

Industrial or clip shelving is an all-purpose metal shelving with bolted posts and either braces or panels. Industrial shelving is known for its strength and adaptability in a wide range of uses.

Shelves can be equipped with extra reinforcement for larger installations or higher load capacities. Typically a compression clip is used to support the easily adjustable shelves. Unit heights can be extended and used with a catwalk system to make use of overhead space. It is often used in warehouse and mezzanine applications.

Options & Accessories

There are multiple accessories to accommodate different applications, such as:
Clip Shelving Accessories
  • Modular Drawers and Roll-out Shelf
  • Hinged solid or polycarbonate doors
  • Flipper Doors
  • Locking mechanisms
  • Dividers and Dividing Rods
  • Rails and spool supports
  • Adhesive or Magnetic label holders
  • Solid or Perforated finishing panels for use with light duty hooks
  • Utility panel for use with hooks, supports, tool holders and small shelf
  • Louvered panel for hanging bins
  • LED light
  • Supply storage and parts bins
  • Sloped shelves for gravity-feed storage
  • Hinged tambour doors for security

Load Capacity

The load capacity depends on the width, depth, and gauge of shelf. For example, a 30 inch wide x 12 inch deep 22 gauge shelf will hold 900 pounds. Weight capacity ranges from 250 to 1900 pounds per shelf depending on configuration. Click here for some sample load capacities, but check with your specific manufacturer for exact weight loads.


Compression clips make installation and shelf adjustment fairly easy. However, professional installation is recommended.

Best Uses

Clip shelving is used in many different industrial settings to store paper goods and supplies to industrial parts. You can often find industrial clip shelving in warehouses, repair shops, distribution centers, automotive parts departments.


Mini and Pallet Rack DuoDescription

Wide Span Shelving, also known as Mini-Racking, and Pallet Racking are large shelving systems using open upright frames and beams for storage of large and bulky items, palletized materials or bundles of small items to be broken out and distributed.

Racking is similar to industrial shelving with the exception that steel support beams are used instead of metal shelves to handle the heavy industrial uses of this type of shelving. Pallet racking, by design, has the highest weight load capacity of all industrial shelving types.

Options & Accessories

The beams on pallet racking can be accessorized with a variety of decking types:

  • Open (use with full size pallets only)
  • Wire deck (use to allow water from fire sprinklers to permeate the stack)
  • Wood decking (use when loose items need a solid surface to sit on)
  • Solid metal decking (use when a solid, non-reactive or inflammable surface is needed, easy slide surface)
  • Corrugated decking (usually less expensive than wood. Stronger than wire or plywood, easy slide surface)

Load Capacity

The load capacity per shelf is largely dependent on the shelf dimension and gauge of steel:

  • The overall load capacity range for mini-racking is 400 to 1,500 pounds
  • The overall load capacity range for pallet racking is 2,500 to 10,000 pounds


Professional installation is recommended.

Best Uses

Bulk storage or warehouse applications are the traditional uses for wide span shelving or racking.


When considering stationary shelving for your business, if you want to inquire further into 4-Post, case-type/library, wire shelving, rotary cabinets or any industrial shelving, don’t hesitate to contact a storage specialist. With a combined 100 years of experience in storage solutions, we will be able to answer your questions and make recommendations at your request.

Contact A Specialist Now

P.S.  Is there any other storage topic you want to hear about? We welcome your suggestions or comments below.

Topics:Commercial StorageShelving


About Olpin Group Blog

We blog so you can find the answers to all your storage questions.  We are continually adding articles and welcome your topic suggestions which you can provide at the end of any article. Happy reading!

Learn More About Us →

Subscribe to Updates