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What is Ventilated Shelving?

By Maggie Worth
Updated May 16, 2024
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Ventilated shelving is shelving that allows air to move through the shelving unit by providing holes or spaces in the flat surface of the shelf. It is intended to maintain environmental conditions and help control elements such as heat and moisture. It can be made from a variety of materials and is used in a vast array of situations, including residential and commercial construction.

The most familiar use of ventilated shelving may be in residential closets. These shelves are commonly made of wire-metal construction and coated with an easy-to-clean substance, such as vinyl or PVC. These shelves allow air to move freely throughout the closet so that clothing smells fresher, particularly rarely-worn items that may remain on a shelf for long stretches between use. At the same time, these shelves are relatively inexpensive and easy to install, can offer multiple configuration options and are lighter than traditional solid wood shelves.

Residential bathrooms are another common place to find such shelving. In this instance, the primary concern is moisture rather than temperature. Damp towels dry more quickly when air can easily reach them. Dry towels stored on ventilated shelves will stay drier despite the steam and moisture present in most bathrooms. Mold and mildew need moisture to grow, so ventilated shelving helps prevent these common bathroom problems.

Coated-wire ventilated shelving is also common in residential kitchens, particularly in pantries. Other common uses include linen closets, coat closets, garages, refrigerators and laundry rooms. In all cases, the primary goal is to assist in temperature and moisture control.

Use of ventilated shelving is not restricted to residences. Businesses often use such shelving in storage closets, supply rooms and break rooms. Retail and grocery stores also may use ventilated shelves to display merchandise.

A common use of ventilated shelving in commercial buildings is in the computer room. In this case, ventilation is not merely desirable, but necessary for the continued function of the equipment. Such shelving allows the heat that commonly builds near computer equipment to vent into the air rather than trapping it around the base of the unit where it can cause overheating.

Ventilated shelving meed not be metal. Inexpensive shelving can be formed from light- or heavy-duty plastic or PVC. Ventilation can be created by using wooden slats instead of solid wood. Placement of the slats can be basic or can be designed to create a custom, upscale look. Such wooden shelving is common in spas, resorts, high-end homes and boutiques.

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