Many people use their metal buildings as garages, workshops, and storage spaces. However, if you don’t have any room to actually store or work on anything, you won’t get much use out of your building. Luckily it’s actually very easy to install shelves and other storage solutions in a steel-frame building - you just need the right tools and a little bit of patience. 

metal barn

Before trying to install shelves or other storage systems in a metal building, it’s important to plan out exactly what you want to do and how your space will work with the shelving installed. Many metal building owners forget how much space shelves take up when they’re installed and end up dissatisfied with the amount of open space they have left. It’s always a good idea to draw up accurate plans, either on paper or using a design tool like SketchUp.

You’ll also need to decide how you want to add shelves to your metal building. Unlike wood-framed buildings or buildings made of stone or brick, the walls on metal buildings are thin and light. While this makes them great for saving on weight and making assembly easier, it’s not ideal for drilling holes into. Instead, you’ll have to choose from some other options. 

The most common ways to add shelving to a metal building are:

  1. Fastening wooden beams to the walls of the shed.
  2. Attaching shelves directly to the shed’s frame.
  3. Using floating or free-standing shelving units.

Each of these methods has advantages and disadvantages you should consider before installing your shelving units.

The first method, fastening wooden beams to the shed walls, is the easiest and most straightforward. To install shelves this way, you drill holes through the outer wall of the shed and into a wooden board or beam (often a 1x4 or 2x4) on the other side of the wall. Then you fasten the board to the wall using wood screws and washers, and seal the holes with silicone caulk to prevent water leakage and corrosion. Finally, you add your shelving brackets or frame to the inside of the boards using shorter wood screws.

The benefit of this method is its ease - a single person or a team of two can install shelves in a metal shed this way in just a few minutes. However, it has the negative of requiring holes drilled through the outside of the shed. Even with silicone caulk, these holes make a path for water damage, corrosion, and other problems. You’ll almost certainly see wear and tear around these shelving holes before you see it in the rest of the shed.

A better, though more complex, method is to add shelving directly to the framing on the inside of your shed. You can do this by using toggle bolts - bolts with a flanged, winglike attachment on one end that expands when pushed through a hole. Medium- or heavy-duty toggle bolts are capable of handling a good deal of weight, and they won’t run into the problem of outdoor exposure. This method avoids drilling any holes into the walls of the shed directly, making sure it stays watertight. 

The drawback of drilling into the frame is that it leaves a gap behind the shelves where the frame stands out from the wall. Some shed owners want shelves that are flush with the wall, and though they can achieve that goal with some careful work - such as cutting channels in their shelves for the frame members - it’s definitely more labor-intensive.

Finally, some shed owners opt to use freestanding or floating shelves in their sheds. If you have a larger building like a metal garage or work shed, this can be a great option since it avoids any drilling altogether and allows you to make a modular, adjustable storage system in your space. However, freestanding shelving can be expensive, and if you have a smaller shed it might not fit well into your space.

No matter which option you choose, your metal building will offer you years of service and protection. If you want to learn more about how a metal storage building can make your life easier, contact us today (405-872-0338) at Bargain Barns USA, or follow us on Facebook and Google+