7 Essential Factors to Determine if its Best to Buy a Wire or Laminate Closet System
I’ll admit right up front I lead a closet design and installation business which DOES NOT sell wire closets, but we do sell laminate systems. And most closets we replace are builders-grade (and I don’t say this as a term to be proud of) ‘fixed’ wire closets. The owners of these ‘fancy-schmancy’ (sarcasm intended) systems are often desperate to ditch them.
And while there’s a lot to gripe about with wire closets, not all are wire systems are bad, just as all laminate systems aren’t good.
The key to choosing a closet system of any type (whether it’s wire, wood, laminate – you name it) is to think what’s important to you and then ‘grade’ your choice against that standard.
And by ‘beginning with the end in mind’ (as Steven Covey would say) and measuring your goals against the available systems, you’ll be able to make your best choice.
In this article I’ll look at the following 3 popular options and give you 7 ‘grading’ factors to figure out which is tops for you. At the end I’d love to hear which one you think is best.
- Option 1 – A ‘fixed’ wire closet (the bare-bones-budget option)
- Option 2 – An ‘adjustable’ wire closet (a wire system with more bells, whistles, and reliability than the fixed wire closet)
- Option 3 – A laminate closet system (a sturdy system with more flair and design options than wire, but often at a higher price)
Now, let’s look at the 7 factors.
Factor # 1 to determine if it’s best to buy a wire or laminate closet– PRICE.
The ‘Bruce Almighty’ dollar (a little movie reference for you here) drives many decisions. It can be a favorite (or unfavorite) topic depending on your perspective. If your budget is razor-tight for your remodel or new build and you must cut back somewhere, the closet is often chosen as the place to do it. And low-cost fixed wire closets are at the top (or the bottom depending on how you look at it) of the list. This budget-friendly option (OK – I’m being P.C. here) is the ‘go-to’ system of production home builders today.
And it’s nice to know you can buy an 8’ wide fixed wire shelf and rod system for only $80 to $120. OK, so there won’t be any drawers. And you won’t have any place to put your high-heeled shoes without them toppling over. And you won’t be able to adjust it (it’s screwed – and if you’re lucky, securely to the wall) …but it is a closet. And it’s….
Image Source: www.closetmaid.com
Cheap, cheap, cheap.
However, it’s also nice to know if this cheap closet is something you have now and desperately want to get rid of, there are better options.
One is a sturdier, higher quality adjustable wire closet system. A highly rated one is the Elfa 8’ white reach in closet. It’s a significant upgrade from fixed wire, but its price is also quite a bit more. You’ll buy the closet below for $1,184 (plus tax) at The Container Store.
However, I’d argue an even better value is this customizable AND PROFESSIONALLY INSTALLED laminate closet. You see this system can be bought AND INSTALLED for less money than the Elfa system can be picked up at the store. And it’s even nicer to know it’s $1,175 ‘out the door’ (as the cheesy car salesperson would say) price is less than this wire alternative.
And when you use a laminate closet you won’t see the ugly ‘grocery-store-esque’ brackets in the back either! And with laminate you won’t be using mesh wire drawers you can ‘see through’ to draw attention to the messiness with IS you (or maybe IS your spouse or partner).
Factor # 2 to determine if it’s best to buy a wire or laminate closet– Adjustability.
Other than hanging clothes bunched against hanging clothes creating ‘dead corners’ in your closet, perhaps there’s nothing more frustrating than an ‘un-adjustable’ closet.
And if you’re V.C. (and no, that’s not a Venture Capitalist, it’s Vertically Challenged – the P.C term for short) you know what a pain in the neck (arms and shoulders) it can be hanging clothes up and getting them down when your closet rods are as fixed as your ‘Old Man’s’ political POV.
And it’s for this reason I’d guide anyone away from a ‘fixed’ wire closet system where the rods and shelves are screwed (hopefully securely) into one fixed position onto the wall. Here’s 2 better options:
- Option 1 – Use an adjustable wire closet system (like this unit from Wayfair) for only $147.
- Option 2 – You can ‘notch it up’ (bad adjustable closet pun intended) a rung or two with a laminate closet system with ‘increment holes’ (this is the closet industry term for holes on the side you can use to adjust).
Factor # 3 to determine if it’s best to buy a wire or laminate closet– Desire to get ‘fully ready’ in your closet and not wake up your spouse or significant ‘utter’
If you’re the one waking up your ornery spouse (shhhh…don’t say it too loud) rummaging through your bedroom dresser drawers looking for socks and underwear (you remembered Mom told you to never leave without them) to get ready for work – you know there’s got to be a better solution.
And I’m happy to tell you there is a solution……IF (and only if) …. you DO NOT BUY THE CHEAPEST FIXED WIRE CLOSET known to man (and woman).
You see to get ‘fully ready’ in your closet (without pillaging through bedroom dresser drawers) you need more than the rods and shelves you’ll find in low-low-low priced fixed wire closets. You’ll need drawers and baskets to house those socks, underwear, pantyhose etc.
And with the higher quality (and unfortunately higher priced) wire and laminate closet systems, you’ll have drawers and baskets to retrieve socks and underwear in without starting you (and your spouse’s) day off on the wrong foot.
Factor # 4 to determine if it’s best to buy a wire or laminate closet– Ability to compliment the architectural style of adjoining rooms.
You may want a closet system which goes beyond function. You may want a closet system which ‘looks good and feels good.’ You may want one which compliments the architectural style of your newly remodeled bathroom with it’s distinctive Shaker, Euro or raised panel style cabinet doors and drawers.
And this is where wire systems – IMHO – fall woefully short. Sure – the best ones like the Elfa system from the Container Store don’t look bad, but they’re not available in different pattern (and colors) doors and drawers to be ‘architecturally correct.’
And if style is important to you- this is an area where a laminate system blows the doors (literally and figuratively) off wire. And if you don’t believe me check out some of the ‘far-out’ laminate closets in this article titled 21 Tips to Glam Up Your Closet Recommended by Award-Winning Closet Designers. It’s OK to dream a little, even if some of these ‘champagne closets’ ain’t happenin’ on your beer budget. And I’ll give you hope by telling you there’s ways to take these inspirational looks and do them on a ‘nice bottle of Merlot’ budget (just ask me how).
Factor # 5 to determine if it’s best to buy a wire or laminate closet– You need a system you know won’t fall off the wall.
If you Google ‘how to fix wire closets which fall off the wall,’ you’ll find a slew of videos like the one below. This one is narrated by the man wearing the funny t-shirt which says ‘If Jeff Can’t Fix it, We’re All Screwed:
And while it’s a good video, who wants to invest 30 minutes learning how to fix cheap fixed wire shelving (before you even begin to do the repair) so it’ll do the ‘basic’ job of holding your clothes up? After all this system also has zero adjustability, style, or ability to give you the features (like drawers and baskets) to get fully ready in the morning. Why put good money (and your time) fixing a cheap system?
And I can tell you from experience in my closet biz – Innovate Home Org in Columbus Ohio, we get desperate ‘we’ve got a fixed wire closet down’ calls ALL THE TIME. That’s why mad homeowners with falling rods and shelving are saying, “We’re done with fixed wire closets!”
So, if you want to use lower priced wire shelving solution at least opt for the adjustable product which won’t require you to pray the cheap plastic clips will hold another day. For a few bucks more the adjustable wire systems use far more fasteners which equal less concern for you.
And if DIYing your closet installation sounds like as much fun as visiting the dentist for your annual cleaning, then a professionally installed laminate closet which is supported by a heavy-duty steel support rail and cleat or are built to the floor (and is GUARANTEED BY SOMEONE ELSE NOT TO FALL) will be right for you.
Factor # 6 to determine if it’s best to buy a wire or laminate closet– If you don’t want your closet to leave its ‘brand’ on your clothes
You may love your ‘branded’ Chanel blouse, Nike Air t-shirt or Gucci purse. This is ‘branded’ merchandise you’re proud to wear.
But I’ll tell you another type of ‘branded merchandise’ which will have your way-too-vain ‘friends’ inducting you (behind your back) into their hall of shame. It’s sweaters, t-shirts and blouses which have been ‘branded’ (so to speak) with the ‘design’ of your (unfavorite) wire closet shelves. The lines from wire closet shelves on clothes is a frustration (and ironing chore) you can do without.
And its for this reason the ‘best’ closet system you can buy is NOT the fixed wire shelf and rod system which leaves those annoying marks caused by a builder who ‘slapped in’ the cheapest closet they could ‘get away with.’ And while can buy ‘cheap plastic shelf liners’ to go over your ‘cheap fixed wire shelves,’ I’d contend it’s not the road smartly traveled.
And it’s funny to note these cheap plastic liners are also sold by the companies who make the cheap wire shelves. Sell one cheap product as a ‘work-around’ for another cheap product you sell. As Larry the Cable Guy would say, “That there is funny!”
So, what can you do to get rid of this bad ‘wire shelf branding?’ Here’s 2 solutions.
- Solution #1) Use flat metal shelves in the adjustable IKEA Boexel wire closet.
Image Source: www.IKEA.com
- Solution #2) Use flat laminate shelving. You can get them in multiple colors and designs. They eliminate lines AND add flair to your closet design.
Factor # 7 to determine if it’s best to buy a wire or laminate closet– You want a closet with a beautiful, finished furniture look which will work even in your crazy-shaped closet.
Beauty is a factor where wire closets are lacking (even when you go on the ‘high end’ of wire with this $1,500 Elfa Classic Premium option).
You see wire closets with mesh baskets – while a huge upgrade over the fixed wire shelves the original home builder installed, still look like a wall hung closet without much flair. They won’t compliment adjacent rooms. And they offer limited options in depths and heights to make the most of a weird sized or shaped reach in or walk-in closet.
Image Source: www.containerstore.com
No, when you want a finished furniture look, you need to blow up wire shelving as an option. You need a laminate closet. Whether you want a stylish reach-in closet or a designer walk-in closet like the one below, a laminate system is smart when you want style and/or have a weird sized space you need to use wisely.
Image Source: Inspired Closets Chicago
So, now that you’ve read the 7 factors, is it best for you to buy a wire or laminate closet system?’
Given the 7 factors which system is best for you? On this ‘multiple choice pop quiz’ (and I hope calling it a ‘pop quiz’ didn’t bring sweaty palms from your high school days back to you) what would you choose….
- A) The fixed wire closet with the low, low, low price.
- B) The flexible wire closet which is sturdier and more ‘flexible’ than a fixed wire system.
- C) An adjustable laminate closet which is more stylish, sturdy and can be professionally designed and installed.
- D) Some other systems I didn’t discuss above (maybe wood is one example)
- E) I’m still not sure what’s best, but I’d like to learn more.
And if your answer is ‘C’ or ‘E’ me and my team would love to help. We do Free 3D laminate closet designs and problem solving for homeowners (and also interior designers, remodelers and new home builders) in Columbus Ohio and would love to assist you. Call 614-545-6888 or click for an in-home or virtual Free 3D Design Consultation.
And if you don’t live in Columbus Ohio, don’t fear. Comment in the box below and identify your city and state, I’ll look to connect you with one of my friends in the closet business across the country.
I wish you the best in your closet selection journey and look forward to helping you.
Thanks for reading.
If you’d like more information on closet organization, a laminate closet system and interior design (with a little wackiness thrown in along the way) follow me on LinkedIn @MikeFotiLinkedIn (and you might even ‘like’ me better on LinkedIn because you’ll get a more ‘buttoned-up’ business guy version of me there!).
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Great post, Mike! I also prefer laminate closet systems since they are a long-lasting option. Also, it is quite easy to install sliding drawers in them for jewelry, scarves, or other small accessories.