Sagging Kitchen Shelving – Install Cleats
Completed kitchen shelving project with shelves bowed slightly upward in the middle because they’re upside down.
Kitchen shelving can sag after years with a heavy load on them. This is especially true if the shelving is made out of particle board and you live in a humid environment. I encountered just such a problem recently and decided to fix it rather than have the shelving fail on me and send my dishes crashing down.
The problem was two-fold, shelves were sagging and the tiny plastic cleats that hold up the ends of the shelves were deforming.
My biggest concern was the plastic cleats as they’re prone to becoming brittle and cracking as well as releasing their load due to deformation. The solution was to create long wooden cleats for the ends of the shelves and short ones for either side of the middle of the shelves.
Tiny plastic cleat with a bent stud could slip out of place.
I made new cleats out of a piece of scrap wood formerly used as a trim piece, and chose to screw the cleats in place for better holding power. The tricky part is getting the cleats level with one another. Using the holes in the sides of the cabinet where the plastic inserts were previously installed made placement of the cleats at the ends of the kitchen shelving a breeze. To determine where the cleats needed to be placed mid span, I cut a small board to match the length of the shelves and placed that on the main cleats as a straight edge to find the level required for the mid span cleats.
Painted end cleat screwed into the side of the cabinet.
After installation, I gave the cleats and the cabinet internals a couple of coats of paint. After the paint was dry, I then placed the shelves upside down so their “smiles” would be straightened out under the weight of the items placed on them. Otherwise, the shelves would never relax into a flat posture, and instead would rock between the end and mid span cleats.
This won’t necessarily be the right approach to fixing fine cabinetry in the kitchen, but it does the trick for my fishing hideaway at the lake. The cabinets there are painted and they’re the grade of cabinet that fits in well with a “fish camp” setting.
A similar technique can be used for just about any shelving that needs support and sits within a wooden framework or cabinet. Cleats provide a broad and strong alternative to small plastic or metal inserts at the ends of kitchen shelving or any other shelving that may see a heavy load.
It should be abundantly clear that Clair Schwan isn’t a cabinet maker, but he can fix a wide range of things. With help from his self-reliant friends, he can fix just about anything except a broken heart and the crack of dawn.