Glass shelves or wooden shelves: which is better for you?

Since there are so many types of shelves and racks available on the market today, many people are not sure which one is better and why. Here we will look at the advantages and disadvantages of wooden shelves and glass shelves, and also when one is better than the other.

wooden shelves

Almost all wooden shelves sold today are not real wood. Today’s wooden shelves are typically made from a solid core of cheaper hardboard or plywood (sometimes called “engineered” wood) and then covered with a finish, paint, or veneer. These shelves are significantly cheaper than real wood, and are often lighter and stronger than real wood as well. The best of these shelves are covered with a veneer, which is a thin sheet of real wood. Veneer, if professionally applied, will give you the feel of a real wood shelf even though the core is not real wood. These shelves are not only less expensive, but are increasingly made from recycled materials, so they save trees and the environment at the same time.

As good as veneered wood is, it is not the same as real wood shelves. If you really want the most beautiful and rich wood colors then real wood shelves are the only way to go, but be prepared to pay for it!

glass shelves

Glass shelves are not all created equal. Just like with wood, you need to know what type of glass the shelves are made of in order to know what you’re buying. When looking for glass shelves, you need to worry about getting shelves that won’t break or chip easily. Most glass will break if dropped, but tempered glass is designed not to break into a million little shards. Plus, it’s less likely to crack or chip if bumped. If the glass is heat strengthened then it is about twice as strong as normal (annealed) glass.

Thickness is also an important element in determining storage resistance. A thick standard glass shelf could easily be stronger than a thinner tempered glass shelf. Glass shelving must come with a rating regarding the weight allowed on the shelves. Please inquire carefully before buying.

When one is better than the other

Ok, so now that we know a bit more about glass vs. wood, when one is better than the other. When deciding between the two, ask yourself a few questions:

1. What am I putting on these shelves?

If you are placing heavy or large items on the shelf, or large books, then wood might be the best choice. While there are sturdy glass shelves available, you don’t want to take any chances or start weighing every item you want on the shelf. With wood, you just fill the shelf and sleep well at night knowing it will hold up.

However, if you’re displaying a collection of baseballs, vases, golf balls, or anything else that’s small, glass shelves highlight the collection and draw attention to what’s on the shelf, rather than the shelf itself.

2. Where are these shelves going to be in my house?

If you want a shelving unit for your kitchen, for example, it’s easier to clean grease off glass than wood. Toxic cleaners won’t affect glass, but they can chew up the wood quite a bit. The same with the humidity and residues that are in a bathroom.

If you want these shelves in your living room, you may prefer the warmth and cozy feel of wood to the cool, modern look of glass.

3. Who will have access to these shelves?

Kids are great, but accidents happen. A blow will not only damage or even break a glass shelf, it could also cut the person who hit the shelf.

4. What type of lighting is available for this shelf?

Lighting is important to highlight the contents of the shelves. If you’re shelving books, then it’s only really important to see the spines. If you have smaller items that you want to display, then with glass shelves you get a lot more visibility, especially of things on the back of the lower shelves.

Glass or wood, you have many options and decisions to make. If you’re interested in more information and lots of tips, take a look at the Home Shelving Guide for answers to all your shelving and storage needs.

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