Basics of Affordable DIY Shelving

In planning our laundry room overhaul, I knew that the only way to accomplish my low-budget makeover was DIYing my own shelving.  Custom shelving can cost upwards of hundreds of dollars, and even your basic pre-fabbed, boring shelves can be about $20+/- a piece!  With three shelves, that would have been a minimum of $60 right there!  That wasn’t going to work for us!

Our solution… Plywood!  Some of you might be thinking just what Eric thought… “that’s gonna look cheap!”  Yes, it even took me doing some convincing on the hubby before he’d sign off on the project.  Without making much headway, I finally just gave it the ol’ faithful… “trust me babe… and if you hate it, we’ll just change it!”  Apparently, that worked because he finally said ok. :)

Now, here came the options…  When people say “plywood,” lots of images come to mind for people… mostly OSB (oriented strand board) and particle board.

osb and particle board


THOSE LOOK CHEAP!!!!!!!!!!  Each type definitely has it’s appropriate use, but if you are going for a polished and more custom look… do NOT use these!!!

We chose 3/4 inch pine plywood to make our shelves.  It has a nice grain in the wood and the pre-sanded finish saved us a lot of time and headaches.  Lowe’s and Home Depot carry this product in various sizes and thicknesses, but since we were building these shelves in conjunction with some other quite large (and not yet debuted) projects, we simply bought it in 4’x8′ sheets (sometimes called woodworking panels since this type is used for lots of specialty building) at $20 a sheet, on sale.  This project required less than half of one sheet, which means that we only spent about $10 for all three shelves!  That’s an instant minimum savings of $50!  We were stoked! :)

Pine Plywood

With the plywood sheets home, we ripped the shelves down to the desired lengths and widths (Lowe’s and Home Depot can also do this for you if you don’t have the tools available to do it yourself- and most of the time it’s free or nearly free!).


Since our boards were already pre-sanded, we got right to staining, using our trusty MinWax Dark Walnut finish.



After completing the level of color depth that we wanted, we applied three coats of Helmsman Spar Polyurethane!  If you’re using the wood as a counter-type surface, a minimum of three coats should be applied!  This stuff is awesome and words great with our stain. We used this same combination of our front door makeover too.

Helmsman Spar Poly

When all was said and done, our affordable DIY shelves gave us the exact custom, but affordable look we were going for! :)


Oh ya… and if you’re wondering where our awesome shelf brackets came from… they’re from Ikea! We bought them in black (they only came in black and red)…


Gave them a quick coat of automobile primer (since they’re shiny metal like a car)


And then followed up with high gloss white and we were in business!



This is officially the last how-to/DIY from our beloved Laundry Room project.  I will be back later this week with a full cost breakdown and supply list for the project so y’all can see what it really took to get the room from awful to amazing. :)

ANYONE ELSE HAVE A FAVORITE AFFORDABLE DIY SHELVING OPTION?  I’d love to hear about it since we have more shelving projects in our near future!

Linking up…
Tip Junkie handmade projects
Momnivores Dilemma
The Shabby Creek Cottage
A Crafty Soiree
Somewhat Simple
IHeart Organizing

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  1. I love the bubble brackets (and the pic of you & the saw!!!) !! The room looks great! Almost good enough to make me want to do laundry, lol!

  2. I love how these came out. They look waaaaaay more expensive than $10 a pop! We are planning on replacing our upper cabinets in our kitchen with floating shelves and while we r still trying to figure out the best way to make them, we are definitely going with the pine plywood. Thanks for the advice.

    • Thanks Shavonda! Actually, they were only less than $10 total for all three, not per shelf! Crazy, right?!?!?

      Pine plywood should work great in the kitchen, I just highly recommend lots of coats of poly to protect the wood. Also, if you want a more finished edge for the kitchen, you can purchase finishing edges or there is “edge tape.” Both are great options!

  3. Hello,

    Thank you for your website and information! Found you guys through I heart organizing feature. Where did you get that white rod that’s holding the hangers above the washer or dryer? That is perfect! Thanks.

  4. Remodeling my ENTIRE house & have MADE room FOR a laundry room instead of just a washer/dryer alcove ! I am pinning this because chances are I will do just what YOU have done ! ;o)

  5. How deep did you end up making your shelves when you used this? I’m considering doing something similar for our own laundry room :) Thanks in advance!

  6. Perfect. Thank you! That does help :)

  7. Great post! Your step by step instructions are true value. Knowing what the differences in wood choice is great. Thanks for the information, very good post.

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