A shelving unit is a structure of supports and ledges used to hold and display goods. Shelving optimizes space by stacking goods both horizontally and vertically. This configuration allows inventory to be displayed in an organized manner. Various forms of shelving can hold a great variety of items and are used in many different environments.
Shelving is used in warehouses to hold and organize products to be distributed. Specifically, heavy duty shelving is often used in these industrial contexts because heavy items require very strong and secure bases for storage. Heavy duty shelving is anchored to the floor, so the support system is more complex and steady then wall shelving units. It is also used in homes and offices to hold storage containers, boxes, cleaning products, and other goods. In these contexts, the aesthetics is commonly a more important factor then the amount of weight the shelf is able to support. Although hardware stores must be fashioned after warehouse shelving because of the weight and nature of their products, private homes and specialty stores have the freedom to make shelving more then just functional; based on the material and design, shelving can be a very pleasing thing to look at. These specialized shelving units can be made to hold books, knick-knacks, antiques and clothing, to name a few. Shelves are also often found inside closets and cabinets, which can be found in businesses, homes, hotels and industrial settings. Shelving is basically found everywhere.
Shelving is usually made from hard metal, like steel, but can also be constructed from aluminum, plastic or wood. Depending on the application, shelving can come in a wide range of sizes and weight capacities. Metal is the most common material for industrial shelving
. Cast iron, aluminum and varieties of steel, particularly stainless steel, are all used often. Aluminum is the more common material for flexible and lightweight applications such as mobile shelving
, while cast iron or steel would be chosen for their sturdy and strong natures in heavy duty applications. Plastics are a cheaper shelving option, but are limited because of their strength. Therefore, plastic shelving is often only found in homes and offices. Wood is either chosen for its aesthetic design purposes in private homes or specialty stores, or used as a cheaper base on a metal frame for more industrial storage applications. Even glass is used to display jewelry in a classy fashion while still utilizing space, or in homes for displaying trinkets and such. The materials used to create shelving systems, as well as the treatments that can be applied to improve their durability, are as varied as the applications themselves.