How To Remove Wire Shelving

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Photo by floodllama

We recently undertook to convert an unused walk-in closet into a small writing studio. The closet, which had sloping ceilings, was inappropriate for clothing. In spite of its tiny size, we converted it into “the cat closet” where the litter box lived. Part of the conversion project was to remove the wire shelves that surrounded three sides of the room. Looking at them, it seems like an easy task. But it’s not. Here is what I learned about removing those shelves:

Removing the Supports First

The angle brackets supporting the shelves need to be the first thing that comes out. When we tried to remove the shelves from the clips first, we still had problems freeing the shelf from the wall because of the end pieces. So the supports have to go first. This can be done by taking a hammer and knocking them free. Don’t be fooled by the “screws” that attach these things to the wall. They are actually nails with a slot in the nail head. And they are attached to wall anchors the size of small elephants.

Freeing The Shelves From The Clips

The back of the shelves are held to the wall with plastic clips that fold over the “screws”. (See above for the description of the screws). Ideally you would think you could pop open the clips and free the shelf. Unfortunately, the clips deteriorate in quality, and the best way to get them open is to insert a flat-head screwdriver and pry them open. We found that 90% of the covers snapped off.

Remove The Shelves

At this point, the shelves should be removable. You will have to lift the front free of any U-shaped supports, and then pop them out of the clips at the back. A small sledge can help if the shelf becomes stuck. (Angled ceilings right above the shelves complicates matters greatly!)

Pulling Out The Supports

Now that your shelves and supports are gone, you are left with the hardware attached to the wall. This is where it gets scary. Take a deep breath and accept that you are going to have holes in the drywall. Sometimes large holes. That is why they make spackle. I found that the easiest way to remove the screw-like nails was to use a pliers and wiggle the clips out from the wall a bit. Then I inserted the claw of a hammer and pulled. Be warned: this method can lead to injury if the pliers or hammer should slip. (Trust me on this. I have three blood blisters on my right hand) You could also use a thin pry bar and lever up the clips. Since they are very tight to the wall, you might damage more of the wall with the pry bar. But don’t worry. You’re going to have to patch and repaint anyway.

I managed to get all of the shelves and related hardware out with only minor injury (the aforementioned blood blisters, and the bruise on the top of my foot where I dropped a shelf). Since I didn’t have to resort to the Sawz-all, I think it was a win. Do you have any tips for removing this type of shelving? Share below.

Photo by floodllama