Closet Installation Guide

Building your own storage systems can be rewarding and cost-effective, but you’ll probably have questions throughout the process. You don’t have to go it alone. Follow our expert advice to guide you through every step, from taking the first measurements to cutting the top shelves.

An overview of closet terms
You don't need a pre-existing closet to build a storage system. Some ClosetMaid solutions can be installed as standalone units.

An overview of closet terms

If you’re new to closet installation, you might need a primer on a few commonly used terms you’ll probably come across as you’re working on your project.

Just beginning the process?

As you look into your options, you’ll discover that you can solve your organizing dilemmas with shelves, rods and accessories to suit your needs or choose a closet system based around a tower.

A tower is a unit that has shelves and acts as an anchor for other closet components like shoe racks and drawers.
Rods can be single hang, meaning they’re the only rod in that part of the organization system. They’re usually used for dresses and pants. Double-hang rods are placed one above the other and can accommodate shorter items like shirts and skirts.

How to measure

How to measure
Take careful measurements of every area, from the ceiling to the floor and wall to wall.

Use a 25-foot measuring tape to carefully take measurements of each surface in your closet or storage area. Make note of any windows, equipment that’s mounted to a wall or other potential impediments. A sloped ceiling or oddly shaped wall will also affect what kind of system you can install.

How to measure
If your closet has odd angles or other unusual spaces, take note of them. They might affect your storage system choices.

Important Measurements to keep in mind:

  • Your reach-in closet must be at least 30 inches deep.
  • Most towers are between 82 and 83 inches tall.
  • Single-hang height should be 70 inches from the floor; double-hang height is 84 inches from the floor, with the lower rod 42 inches above the floor.
  • Wire system support brackets should be no more than 36 inches apart for fixed-mount systems and 24 inches for ClosetMaid’s adjustable ShelfTrack hardware system.
  • If you’re installing a tower system, the tower should be mounted no more than four feet away from either side wall.
How to measure to keep in mind
A tower-based system is relatively easy to install but be sure to follow the instructions and required minimum and maximum distances.

Required tools

  • 25-ft. measuring tape
  • Drill with 0.25-in and 0.5-in. drill bits
  • Stud finder
  • Level
  • Step ladder
  • Pencil

For a wire closet:

  • Bolt cutter or hacksaw

For a wood closet:

  • Phillips head and flathead screwdrivers
  • Fine-tooth saw

The type of fasteners you will need for your system depends on the material of your walls: drywall, studs or solid wood or concrete/masonry.

Use toggle bolts for drywall, 12-inch x 2-inch pan head screws, so called for their shape — flat on top and rounded on the sides — for studs and 12-inch x 2-inch pan head screws with anchors for concrete/masonry.

How to measure - additional video installations
Watch this short video for additional tips on installing with specific fasteners.

How to remove an existing plank-and-pole system

How to remove an existing 
plank-and-pole system
You'll need a few basic tools to complete this part of the project.

If your closet already has a plank-and-pole system (you know, those old closet standards that have a single rod topped with a long shelf) in it, you’ll have to take it down, preferably before you even take measurements. To start, gather up a few tools:

  • A power drill or screwdriver
  • Pry bar
  • Box cutter/knife
  • Safety glasses
How to remove an existing 
plank-and-pole system
Gather the necessary tools before removing an old "plank and pole" closet system.

Then take the pole out.

Now you’ll be able to uninstall the plank using your power drill to remove any screws that were used to fasten the plank to the wall. If nails were used, pry them out of the wall with the back of a hammer. The box cutter or knife can help you detach the plank from the wall, if necessary.

How to remove an existing wire system

How to remove an existing 
wire system
Replacing your old wire storage system? Take care when removing the old one to save yourself time and money later.

If you’re removing a wire system, make sure you have these tools:

  • Safety glasses
  • Power drill
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Box cutter
  • Hammer

Begin demolition with the support brackets or poles. You can pull out pins with pliers, and a drill will work for screws.

Next, extract the anchors from the wall by leveraging the support brackets.

Lift the shelf so that it comes out of the wall clips. Like you did with the support brackets, use pliers or a drill to loosen the shelves’ fasteners from the wall.

General installation tips


Always anchor towers to the wall.


Units can only be installed in drywall, concrete or stud wall.


Laminate panels cannot be painted.


You can switch a right-hand configured corner unit to a left-hand one by flipping the shelves so that the cam heads are facing upward. Cam heads or locking screws are two-part screws that are used to connect one section of a structure with another. Many ClosetMaid wood storage systems come with cam heads.

How to cut top shelves for a wood closet system

How to cut top shelves for a wood closet system

Cutting the top shelves of a wood closet system can be challenging, but we've got your quick guide.

Once you have your tape measure, painter’s tape and a hand saw or circular saw, you can tackle this project. Measure the width of your space, accounting for the width of the tower.

Mark the shelf where you will cut it and place a piece of thick painter’s tape along the edge to prevent cracking or chipping.

A fine-toothed saw works best, whether it’s a circular or hand saw. Cut one side first and then turn the shelf over to make the final cut.

How to install ShelfTrack

How to install ShelfTrack

If you’re installing a closet system that uses ShelfTrack hardware, watch this video for step-by-step instructions.
How to install SpaceCreations

How to install SpaceCreations

For a SpaceCreations installation tutorial, watch this video.

Have installation questions or need assistance?
Contact our customer service team at 800-874-0008 or

Contact our customer service team