One problem that seems to be common to every home is the need for more storage space, or at least at better way to make use of the space now available.

In many cases the simplest solution is to install additional shelving on one or more previously unused walls. Easy-to-install systems that anyone can put up are now widely available in hardware stores, home centers, lumber yards and department stores. Produced in many sizes, finishes, and colors, all these shelving systems start with channel-shaped metal strips called standards, which are fastened to the wall first.

These standards have short vertical slots along their length (usually spaced at one or two-inch intervals) which will accept matching shelf brackets that come in several lengths (depending on the width of the shelf to be installed on top of the bracket). The shelf brackets have metal tabs or hook-shaped projections that fit into the slots in the standards. They lock securely in place when the bracket is tapped downward after the tabs are inserted in the slots.

Made of either steel or aluminium, the channel-shaped wall standards come in various lengths, from short 12-inch pieces to room-height 8-foot lengths. They also come many thicknesses or strengths, depending on the load they must sustain after they are installed.

Before installing brackets for any shelf system, make certain the standards are firmly mounted at the proper spacing and to a wall surface that is strong enough to support the expected load. Standards are secured to the wall by driving long screws through the wall surface into the studs, or by using expansion-type wall anchors. Where studs are conveniently located, long screws provide the simpliest means of mounting, where this is not possible, the expansion-type hollow wall anchors can be used. On solid walls of brick or masonry, plastic or fiber anchors can be used after the right size hole is drilled in the surface with a carbide-tipped masonry bit.

The spacing between standards will depend on the loads that will be placed on the shelves. For light loads, such as a display of glassware or dishes, and perhaps just a few books, standards can be as much as 32 inches apart. However, for books full of shelves, or for holding records, stereo sets and other equipment, standards should be about 16 inches apart.

When installing them on the wall put the screw (or fastener) in the top hole only, then use a level or plumb bob to make certain the standard is plumb (vertical) before marking for the other screws or anchors.