Sharing is caring!

DIY Cleat Shelves - The Easiest Closet Shelves Ever

These shelves were seriously SO easy to install, it almost seems silly to share a tutorial. I honestly think they were easier than metal wire shelves, because (in my optinion) cutting wood shelves down to size is much easier than cutting metal.

I’m so happy with the end result, though. And now it’s way easier to keep toys, puzzles, and games organized and out of sight.

An organized playroom closet for kids toys and games

Supplies & Tools Needed

  • 1×2 or 1×3 boards (for your cleats)
  • boards for shelves
  • circular saw
  • stud finder
  • pencil, measuring tape, & level
  • screws
  • electric drill
  • primer, paint, & brushes


Determine the height you want for your shelves. Think about what size items, baskets, bins, etc. will be on these shelves. Measure their height and add an additional 2-3 inches.

Also think about the depth that you want your shelves to be. I chose to make the bottom two shelves deeper than the top two, just so we could store larger items on those shelves.

DIY wooden closet shelves painted white

Here’s how my closet shelf measurements came out:

The closet is 28 inches deep. There is 12.25 inch height between each shelf. The shelf depths are:

  • top (existing shelf from before): 14 inches deep
  • middle 2 shelves: 11 inches deep
  • bottom 2 shelves: 15.5 inches deep

Find Your Studs

Locate and mark off your studs. It’s not complicated, just a bit time-consuming… especially if you live in an older house where nothing is consistent or even.

Install Cleats

Use 1×2 or 1×3 boards as cleats. Attach them with screws into the stud. Be sure everything is level – not only should each cleat be level, but you should be sure that the cleats are level with one another. Place one end of your level on one cleat and the other end of the level on another cleat. Level!

adding cleats for DIY wooden closet shelves

In case you noticed: Because of the location of my studs, the cleats on two of my shelves stuck out a bit.

Paint Before Install

I always, always, always paint my cleats and shelves before installing them. Life is so much easier this way.

I like to use two coats of primer and two coats of quality paint.

painting wooden cleats for DIY closet shelves

My Paint Color Choice

The walls, cleats, and shelves in my closet are all painted with Sherwin Williams Snowbound. It’s the same color I used in all of our upstairs bedrooms and front entry closet. Living in Minnesota, I find the paint color totally fitting!

Our new playroom closet

I can’t even begin to describe how much I LOVE having all of our toys and games tucked away into a closet… and not strewn about the playroom!

kids playroom with a chalkboard wall and organized toy closet

P.S. Want to see how that chalkboard wall came together? Check out this video tutorial:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *