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Gliding cabinet shelves: Pro vs DIY

We are a DIY household whenever possible. Yes, we like to save money through the Do It Yourself route, but we also appreciate our attention to detail, the pride in our work, and the sense of accomplishment. But we know when to call in the professionals. Some tasks are best left to those who know best.

We LOVE the custom gliding shelves from ShelfGenie in our pantry. They help us access every inch of space in our deep and tall cabinet full of food. There is no way we would fully utilize the space without those pull-out shelves. Without them we would find expired food years later and be crawling on the floor trying to get to things in the back, probably getting injured in the process. Cabinet pantries without gliding shelves are just food graveyards.

Since we love our pantry shelves, we decided to install some in our kitchen cabinet that holds our pots and pans. Even though I'm not the cook of the house, I clean up after meals and have been equally frustrated as the cook when accessing that cabinet. While custom gliding shelves from ShelfGenie are amazing, they are certainly an investment. Part of what you pay for are the fees for the Designer and Installer. Since Erik and I are the Installer and Designer respectively, we determined we could tackle this project ourselves.

After a bit of research, we opted to order gliding shelves from Costco via Slide-A-Shelf. The two custom shelves came to $157, including shipping directly to our house. I spent 30 minutes reading all the instructions, taking measurements and entering the dimensions into the online order form. They arrived ~10 days later!

On installation day I took 30 minutes and unpackaged everything, emptied the cabinet, and read the instructions (several pages). Then Erik installed the 2 shelves, taking about 60 minutes. He had to make some modifications, but he got them to work perfectly! Erik strategically put all the pots and pans away (took 10 minutes) and kept uttering "Wow!" and "I forgot we had this!" throughout the process.

Ultimately, we are pleased with the finished product and are happy with our decision. However, the DIY gliding shelf route is not for everyone. I want to point out some frustrations we experienced (even as experienced DIYers and gliding shelf experts):

  • Shelves did not include rail bumpers that prevent scratching cabinet doors when pulling out. This is more of a problem with older cabinet doors that don't have hinges that encourage full opening. Newer hinges help you pull the doors open and out of the way.

  • Initial feeling of overwhelm: "What did we get ourselves into?" The instruction booklet is LONG.

  • The cabinet is a tight space and is difficult to maneuver within, especially if your installer is not a small person.

  • The job sometimes required 2 people (1 to hold the template still, while the other drilled).

  • We had to securely mount our middle shelf into the cabinet, so the gliding shelf wouldn't tip when pulled out. This could be a problem for people who don't have a full-depth shelf currently (many newer cabinets have a 12" deep half-shelf that is insufficient for this purpose). Erik carefully chose the screws, so they wouldn't poke through the visible cabinet sides.

  • The job can require special tools for optimal results. For example, Erik used a flexible drill extender that made the job much easier to get the right angle.

  • We had to do some troubleshooting when the bottom gliding shelf was rubbing along the cabinet faceframe. The manual suggested using washers to lift the front mount of rails to clear the frame, which we did - in addition to a bit of sanding of the bottom of the shelf.

If you feel that the DIY route is not right for you and want to outsource the project to professionals, message me for a free ShelfGenie design consultation. I would be happy to assist! Plus, we can get REALLY custom with ShelfGenie and do some really cool things, so check out my Brag Book for more ideas.

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