Using Shelf Standards and Brackets From Different Manufacturers

Installing shelves in your home or office can be a great way to maximize storage space and organize your belongings. However, things can get tricky when mixing and matching shelf standards and brackets from different manufacturers. Proper planning and research are key to ensure everything fits together properly for a stable shelf installation.

An Overview of Shelf Standards and Brackets

Before delving into combining components from different brands, let’s review some shelf basics:

Shelf Standards – These metal rails mount vertically to the wall and have slots that allow bracket connections. Standards are sold in various lengths, like 8”, 12”, 16”, etc. Popular standard brands include Elfa, Rubbermaid, ClosetMaid, and many more.

Brackets – Brackets hook into the slots on standards to support the shelving. There are various load-bearing types like center support, midspan, wall, and post brackets. Brands include the standard manufacturers above.

Shelves – The horizontal platforms that attach to the brackets and hold your items. Shelves come in materials like wood, laminate, metal wire, etc.

The standards and brackets combine to form the bones of the shelving system. The shelves lay on top to complete it. Now let’s look at mixing parts from different systems.

Mixing Shelving Components from Different Brands

Is it possible to use standards and brackets from Brand A with shelves from Brand B, and vice versa? The short answer is yes, you can combine components from different manufacturers. However, here are some key factors to consider:

Slot Spacing on Standards

  • The slot spacing on standards needs to match up between brands so the brackets can attach properly. This is commonly either 1” or 1.5” between slots.
  • If the slot spacing differs, brackets will not align correctly on the standards.
  • Some brands like Rubbermaid offer adapters to convert between standard spacings.

Bracket Fit

  • Brackets are designed specifically to fit into the slots on certain standard brands/product lines.
  • If the fit is off even slightly, the brackets can be loose and unstable or not fit at all.

Weight Ratings

  • Make sure the combined weight limits of the standards, brackets, and shelves exceed the intended load.
  • Mixing a heavy-duty bracket with weaker standards or shelves could cause failures.

Shelf Depth and Fit

  • Shelves usually need to be a certain depth range to fit the brackets. Shallow shelves may slip out of the brackets.
  • Consult the specs of the brackets and shelves to ensure proper fit.


  • Components from different systems may not match up visually if you have color/finish preferences.
  • This is minor, but some people want an integrated look.

With proper research and planning, you can absolutely use standards from one company and brackets and shelves from another. Just be vigilant about slot spacing, weight limits, and fit. Consulting the spec sheets for each product is key.

Tips for Combining Shelf Components

Here are some top tips when mixing and matching shelf parts:

  • Prioritize matching standards and brackets – Get these from the same system if possible, then mix and match shelves as needed. Standards and brackets need to integrate closely.
  • Mind the spacing – Confirm slot spacing is identical on standards from different brands before combining brackets and standards.
  • Get adapter brackets if needed – Companies like Rubbermaid sell adapters to convert between 1” and 1.5” standard slot spacing.
  • Watch weight limits – Exceeding the weight capacity of any component with cause failure. Standards, brackets, and shelves all have max loads.
  • Test fit components – Before full assembly, do a quick dry fit to make sure all parts integrate properly.
  • Compare dimensions – Check that shelf depths match bracket requirements and wall cleat lengths.
  • Consider aesthetics – Make sure finishes and colors blend well if this matters to you.

With a savvy eye on specifications and dimensions, you can successfully build shelving with standards, brackets, and shelves from different companies. Just be diligent with the details.

Common Shelf Standard and Bracket Brands

Now let’s overview some of the major manufacturers of shelf standards and brackets:

Elfa Shelving

Elfa is a top brand for modular shelving systems. Some key notes:

  • High quality standards and brackets made of steel with powder coated finishes
  • Standards have 1.5” slot spacing
  • Wide range of bracket styles and shelf depths available
  • Elfa standards and brackets are designed to work together

Rubbermaid Shelving

Rubbermaid sells the popular EasyFind and FastTrack systems. Details:

  • EasyFind has 1” slot spacing on standards
  • FastTrack has 1.5” slot spacing
  • Adapter clips available to combine EasyFind and FastTrack
  • Cost-effective systems great for closets and garage storage

ClosetMaid Shelving

ClosetMaid makes adjustable shelving perfect for reach-in closets. Notes:

  • 1” spacing on shelf standards
  • Brackets designed for ClosetMaid standards and 12”-16” deep shelving
  • Affordable wire and laminate shelving options
  • Ideal for closets and garage organization

Gladiator Shelving

Gladiator manufactures heavy-duty shelving and gear lockers. Details:

  • Standards have 1.5” slot spacing
  • Wide range of steel wire and wood composite shelves
  • High weight capacities of up to 1200 lbs per stationary shelf
  • Great for garages, home gyms, and workrooms

This covers some of the popular brands, though many more exist. The key is verifying standard slot spacing and bracket specifics when mixing and matching.

Using Adapters to Combine Different Shelf Standards

One solution that allows combining different standards brands is using slot spacing adapters. Here’s how they work:

  • Adapters fit into slots on standards and convert the spacing
  • Example: 1” adapter into 1.5” slots makes a 1” spacing
  • Allows brackets of one spacing to work on standards of a different spacing

Popular options like Rubbermaid sell adapters to convert:

  • Rubbermaid EasyFind (1”) to FastTrack (1.5”)
  • ClosetMaid (1”) to FastTrack (1.5”)

Using adapters adds a bit more upfront effort but allows flexibility to use brackets and standards from different systems. Just be sure to buy adapters specifically designed to fit the brands you’re working with.

DIY Solutions for Combining Shelf Components

If you can’t find adapters for your particular standards brands, DIY solutions can also work:

  • Wood shims – Cut thin wood shims to place in every other slot and convert 1.5″ to 1″ spacing
  • Plastic spacers – Use durable plastic to create your own 1″ spacing in 1.5″ slots
  • Metal clips – Drill metal clips that fit into slots to modify slot spacing

Take care with DIY methods to keep the standards evenly spaced and slots clear so brackets can still slide in. But in a pinch, crafty solutions like these can enable mixing components.

Best Practices for Installation

Once you’ve sorted out compatible brackets and standards, here are some best practices for properly installing your mixed-brand shelving:

  • Level standards – Use a level to keep standards perfectly vertical for stability.
  • Secure standards well – Follow manufacturer specs for screw sizes and spacing into studs or drywall anchors.
  • Check for tipping – Fully load shelves and check for tipping before finalizing. Add anti-tip kits if needed.
  • Follow weight limits – Don’t exceed the recommended weight capacities. This is key for safety.
  • Test load positions – Try loading shelves in different spots to ensure proper weight distribution.

Taking the time to install correctly will yield safe, sturdy shelving that can handle your storage needs, even with parts from different brands.


Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about mixing and matching shelf components:

Can I use brackets from one company with standards from another?

Yes, as long as the slot spacing, fit, and weight limits align. Checking specs carefully first is crucial.

What if I mix heavy duty brackets with weaker standards?

This can cause the standards to bend or pull away from the wall over time under excess loading. Always match the strength specs.

My standards are 1” spacing but brackets are 1.5”. What do I do?

Purchasing 1” to 1.5” adapter clips is the best solution for converting the slot spacing.

Can I just space shelves according to the strongest component?

No, the limits of the weakest component must be followed, whether standards, brackets, or shelves.

Can I use wood shims as DIY spacers if I don’t have adapters?

Yes, inserting shims into every other slot can work in a pinch to modify slot spacing.

How do I know which shelf depths fit my brackets?

Consult the bracket specs from the manufacturer. There is usually a range of compatible shelf depths.


Mixing and matching shelf components from various manufacturers is totally feasible with some diligent planning. The keys are verifying slot spacing on standards, load capacities, and fit for smooth integration. Purchasing adapters where needed allows flexibility too. With some research and testing, DIYers can build custom, mismatched shelving by combining standards, brackets, and shelves from different brands for a personalized storage solution. Just be thorough in your prep work so components work together safely and effectively. With smart shopping and savvy installing, the possibilities are endless!