For those who own one, a basement is a major perk to any home because it not only gives you more space—whether that’s livable space or not—but also has endless potential, especially in terms of storage. If your basement is where your stored belongings have piled high, a shelving system can make a world of difference to bring order and organization.
“Basements are often a space where we store a lot of bulky, oversized, and seasonal items, so having durable shelving is an excellent solution to maximize storage,” says Ashley La Fond, the founder of home organization company Of Space + Mind. La Fond notes that maximizing storage isn’t the only reason to invest in storage shelves for basements. “Basements are often prone to moisture and pests, so storage shelves are important to keep items up and off the floor for protection,” she explains.
While there is an abundance of shelving options to choose from, not all may be durable enough to withstand basement elements or have the weight capacity necessary to hold all of those belongings (especially those heavy totes filled with holiday decor!). With this in mind, we researched and reviewed dozens of basement storage solutions, carefully considering material, durability, sturdiness, assembly, and price to find the best options for all of your storage needs.
Wayfair Basics Wire Shelving Unit
Comes in different color options
Shelf height is adjustable
A 1,000-pound weight capacity
Assembly might be a little tricky
Our top pick for the best storage shelves for basements is the Wayfair Basics Wire Shelving Unit. Featuring a simple and minimalistic design, the utility shelves are completely adjustable and boast a 200-pound weight capacity each (so, 1,000 pounds in total) making this unit super durable and versatile.
We love it for basement storage because it can keep things neat and tidy while ultimately remaining discreet. Thanks to its sleek design, it could work well in a number of configurations. Crafted from steel, we love that this shelf has five open wire shelves that provide a place for all those boxes and totes. And if black doesn't match your style, it comes in chrome, too!
Dimensions: 72 x 36 x 14 inches | Number of Shelves: 5 | Materials: Wire, metal
Price at time of publish: $177
Amazon Basics Heavy-Duty Storage Shelving Unit
Available with or without wheels
Choose from 3 to 5 shelves
Each shelf holds up to 250 pounds
Assembly instructions aren’t clear
Shelving units often come with a high price tag, making an organization project a bit of an investment. However, for those looking to declutter and organize their basement on a budget, there are some more affordable options. The best one is the Amazon Basics Heavy-Duty Storage Shelving Unit, which starts at $40.87 per unit.
We love this storage shelf because, despite a low price tag, it’s heavy-duty with a 250-pound-per-shelf weight capacity, plus you can choose between 3 to 5 shelves, depending on your storage needs. Constructed from alloy steel, the storage unit also comes with or without wheels and the shelves are adjustable so you can customize it for your storage needs.
Price at time of publish: $40
Dimensions: 13.4 x 23.2 x 30 inches | Number of Shelves: 3-5 | Materials: Alloy steel, plastic
Best with Doors
Fedmax Heavy Duty Metal Garage Storage Cabinet
Lock and key system for security
Available in 4 different color options
Place several together to create the illusion of built-in storage
Not as heavy-duty
Purchasing storage shelves with doors is an excellent option for those looking to hide their storage in a more sleek and intentional manner, as well as those who want added security (especially if your basement is shared or you’re looking to store personal belongings in a vacation rental).
The Fedmax Heavy Duty Metal Garage Storage Cabinet is our top pick for "best with doors" because it features a sleek design and comes in four different color options, so you can choose the best one for your style. Function-wise, this storage cabinet is incredibly durable (though not as heavy-duty as other options on our list) and can hold up to 180 pounds per shelf. Plus, it has a lock and key feature so that you can keep your belongings stowed away safely without open access.
Price at time of publish: $394
Dimensions: 15.75 x 31.5 x 70.86 inches | Number of Shelves: 4 | Materials: Metal
Best for Totes
CX Original Black & Yellow 4-Tier Storage Shelving Unit
Durable plastic shelving unit designed for totes
Can fit 6 totes with plenty of room on the top shelf for miscellaneous items
While they might already stack well together, totes look even more organized when placed on a shelving unit. The best storage shelf for totes is the Original Black & Yellow 4-Tier Storage Shelving Unit.
While these shelves are on the bulkier side, it’s an incredibly functional unit that can fit six totes with lots of extra space on top for miscellaneous items. We love it for the basement because it has adjustable feet that can be altered if the floor is uneven, which is all too common in a basement area.
Price at time of publish: $130
Dimensions: 20 x 48 x 55 inches | Number of Shelves: 4-5 | Materials: Plastic
Juggernaut Storage Shelving Unit
Holds up to 4,000 pounds
Shelves are adjustable
Not big enough to hold several totes at once
While there are some excellent options for heavy-duty shelves on our list, none quite compare to the Juggernaut Storage Shelving Unit, which can hold a whopping 4,000 pounds. This sturdiness makes it versatile enough to use for storage boxes, as well as sports and gym equipment, if you use your basement as a workout area. In addition to its weight capacity, the storage shelves are super chic for a utility shelving unit and feature a jet-black steel frame that is completely adjustable.
That way, you can customize your shelving height based on your needs. Just note, the unit isn’t big enough to hold several totes at once, so it might be a better option for smaller boxes and baskets.
Price at time of publish: $120
Dimensions: 72 x 48 x 24 inches | Number of Shelves: 5 | Materials: Steel
HealSmart Heavy Duty Foldable Metal Rack
Choose from 4 to 5 shelves
Comes with wheels
Has a maximum weight capacity of 1,000 pounds
Foldable shelves boast a lot of versatility. If you’re looking for a set of foldable shelves for the basement, our top recommendation is the HealSmart Heavy Duty Foldable Metal Rack, which comes in three, four, and five-tier options.
We love that it's easy to assemble and is heavy duty enough to hold up to 1,000 pounds (which, considering it folds up, is quite impressive). We love these shelves because, in addition to folding, they also have wheels, so they can be easily moved around, making them an excellent rolling rack option. The best part is that when you want to clear out your basement space, you can easily fold everything up and put it away.
Price at time of publish: $80
Dimensions: 15 x 49.5 x 28 inches | Number of Shelves: 4-5 | Materials: Iron
SafeRacks Heavy Duty Steel Wire Shelving Unit with Wheels and Adjustable Feet
Choose from 4 to 6 shelves
Wheels are durable compared to similar styles
If you need a storage rack that you can move around easily, one with wheels is a must. The SafeRacks Heavy Duty Steel Wire Shelving Unit with Wheels and Adjustable Feet is our top pick because the wheels are much bigger and more durable compared to similar options, plus the feet are adjustable giving it added customization. The unit is also an NSF-certified utility shelf and is designed as commercial grade so it’s a great option for those running a business from their home with inventory stored in the basement.
With that being said, some users report that the unit isn’t as heavy-duty as the packaging claims, and it works best with medium weight. Nonetheless, the shelving unit can fit a lot of storage and even comes in several different sizes, depending on your organizing needs.
Price at time of publish: $280
Dimensions: 24 x 60 x 72 inches | Number of Shelves: 4-6 | Materials: Alloy steel, plastic
The overall best storage shelves for basements is the Wayfair Basics Wire Shelving Unit, which has a 1,000-pound weight capacity and adjustable shelves, making it easy and affordable to add a little more organization to the basement. But, if you want something that is even more budget-friendly, you’ll find it in the Amazon Basics Heavy-Duty Storage Shelving Unit, which comes with or without wheels and the choice between three, four, and five adjustable shelves. Additionally, this unit is heavy-duty as each shelf has a weight capacity of 250 pounds.
What to Look for in Storage Shelves for Basements
Evaluate Your Space
Before thinking about anything else, the first thing to consider when shopping for basement storage shelves is your space: you need to know exactly how and where they will fit. “In order to ensure that you are optimizing your basement storage needs, you want to measure that space to determine height, width, and depth constraints,” says Britnee Tanner, a professional organizer who specializes in decluttering. “Additionally, you’ll want to know how many separate shelving units you can fit side-by-side if you need more storage,” she adds.
Sturdiness and Assembly Requirements
The next items to consider are sturdiness and assembly requirements. “Sturdiness is one of the biggest factors when it comes to quality basement storage shelves,” Tanner explains, noting that it’s all too easy to accidentally purchase flimsy shelves. “I recommend you look for shelves that are made of quality steel frames and have heavy-duty metal shelves,” she adds. This is especially important when storing heavier items since your shelves need to be able to support the weight for years to come.
Assembly requirements play into sturdiness because, with complicated assembly, there is a bit more room for error which can result in instability. When shopping for shelving units, be mindful of the assembly requirements and consider reading customer reviews for real-life information on the assembly process. If you have your heart set on a shelving unit that has challenging assembly and have little experience building furniture, it might be worth hiring an expert through a service such as TaskRabbit to ensure the unit is put together as intended.
The material directly impacts durability, so considering how and what the shelves are constructed from is vital. “Steel shelving is the trustiest for strength,” Tanner explains. Steel shelving can get more pricey, though. If you don’t have it within your budget or don’t want to go with steel, Tanner says a heavy-duty metal is second best. “Oftentimes, you can read the weight limits in the shelving description to help give you an idea of what they can hold,” she adds.
How do I declutter my basement?
Decluttering a basement is similar to decluttering any other space, however, the basement can feel like a much more daunting task because it’s often a dumping ground. To rip the bandaid off, Laura Barnes, a professional organizer and founder of Let Laura Jean, recommends setting aside a designated time to tackle the basement and says to start by organizing things into categories and deciding whether or not you want to keep or donate each item.
Once you have your items, it’s time to organize them based on the categories you set. “Depending on the type of basement you have, you may want to invest in new bins that will protect your things from dampness that can be present in some basements,” Jean explains. When determining which bins and shelving to use in your space, she recommends measuring your space so that you have a good idea of what will actually fit. You should also measure your bins to ensure they will actually fit on and between the shelves.
If you wish to take things a step further, Lindsey Mahanna, a professional organizer at Clutter to Clarity says to “think about whether you prefer to see what you have and need clear containers or if you prefer to hide the items within opaque containers” as this can add to the overall aesthetic of your organization. It also helps to label any containers — and even the shelves — so that it’s easier to find what you are looking for when you need it.
How deep should basement shelves be?
“The deeper your shelves, the more you can store,” says Tanner. But it’s more important that the shelves actually fit within a space, so first consider how much depth you have to work with, based on the area. “If you have a narrow closet in your basement then you may need to opt for a narrow 12-inch shelf,” says Tanner. If you aren’t confined, the ideal depth is somewhere between 16 and 20 inches deep, though more is always appreciated, especially if you have lots to store.
How many shelves should my storage system have?
The amount of shelves needed depends entirely on your space and how many items or boxes you need to store. “If you’re just starting out, I recommend selecting a shelving unit that comes with 4 to 5 shelves,” says Tanner. This is enough space to get a significant amount of storage off the ground, and if you find you need more, you can always add additional units.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Contributing writer Jessie Quinn covers everything from organizing solutions to home essentials for The Spruce. When researching the best storage shelves for basements, Quinn considered everything from shelving depth and overall size to the number of shelves and adjustability. She also paid close attention to durability and sturdiness and looked for options that are heavy-duty. And, because it’s likely you’ll need more than one set of shelves, Quinn also considered the prices and how that would add up if fully organizing the basement.
Quinn also reached out to top organization experts Britnee Tanner, Ashley La Fond, Laura Barnes, and Lindsey Mahanna to learn more about what makes shelves suitable for a basement and what to look for in storage options.