Laminate closet shelves

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7 Essential Factors to Compare Wood and Laminate Closet Systems

Heather’s Dad pulled her aside and said, “Heather you need to get the real McCoy – a solid wood closet. It’s thick, durable and you can stain it to match your furniture.” While Daddy always has an opinion (and as a Dad I resemble that remark) – unless he’s an expert in closet organization systems he may not always see the full picture to know what’s best for your situation. Both laminate and wood closet systems can be excellent alternatives – as long as you understand the strengths and weaknesses of both, and your needs.

If you’re in desperate need to blow up your poorly designed existing closets you need to know the key factors to make the best decision for your family. Dig into the 7 factors below and the choice will become clearer.

Factor #1 – How important is the cost of your closet?  

If cost was no object I would own the 2 seater Mercedes I’ve had my eye since B.K (before kids). Buying this car would be a completely impractical purchase with one kid in college and two others not far behind – but I’m still dreaming about it! The reality is – for most of us – cost matters. While we may drool at Kloe Kardashian’s $100,000 closet but it’s probably not in the cards for us (at this time). So what does this have to do with wood vs. laminate closets?

In short, laminate closets are produced in cost-efficient factories where custom wood closets are often built by a carpenter on site.

Laminate closet system in Columbus with a wood look finish | Innovate Home Org

Laminate closet system with a wood looking finish

Given the cost of the materials and installation methods, a wood closet will usually cost more (and be less functional- more about that later) than a laminate closet.

Advantage: Laminate closet

Factor #2 – Do you want a custom stain?  

If you want to match your wood species and stain color to existing furniture a wood closet will allow you to make this happen. In addition, it’s possible with wood to re-stain and re-varnish if you get tired of your current decorating theme.

Wood closet system with double hang, single hand and angled shoe shelving

Wood closet system

Laminate closets do offer many popular wood grain looks which can also provide the same look (more cost effectively as wood) but the system cannot be changed as the laminate top surface is fused to the wood board underneath.

Advantage: Wood closet

Factor #3 – Who will be using this closet?

If your kids are like mine TLC (tender loving care) and closets don’t go hand in hand. If the clothes find the closet (with my one son that is a minor miracle) they are not neatly folded or removed with a gentle touch. Laminate closets are more durable than wood (which can be scratched or dented) and will stand up to more abuse.

A white laminate reach in closet system in a kids bedroom | Innovate Home Org

A white laminate closet system for a kid’s bedroom

Advantage: Laminate closet

Factor #4 – Do you need to maximize every inch of your closet space?

You’ve seen these glamour wood closets of the stars with soaring ceilings, a large island and a couch. Their space seems to be boundless. Then you look at your current closet (sigh). Clothes are jammed in like sardines. While the glamour closet is aspirational and inspirational it’s not your reality! If you need to leverage every inch the laminate option will be best.

Since the supports can be shared between the laminate sections you can actually get more storage in the same square footage (or square “inch-age” if that’s a word).

Laminate closet system with a wood grain finish with a single support between 2 sections. | Innovate Home Org

In addition, since there are “increment” holes in the side supports so you can adjust your closet shelving up and down to minimize any “dead” spaces between shelves.

Advantage: Laminate closet  

Factor #5 – Who will maintain the closet

If you answered nobody to this question e you’re like most people. Too much stuff to do and too little time to do it. On the other hand, if your spouse is an “aspiring Bob Villa” (or you have “Murphy Brown-esque” resident handyman – I might be dating myself here) who loves to tinker with wood the solid wood closet – and it’s upkeep – may be right up his/her alley.

The reality is wood can dent, warp or chip over time. It will need to be maintained. In addition, the wood should be regularly lemon oiled, whereas the laminate only need to be wiped down. If you want low maintenance laminate is the hands down winner.

Low maintenance laminate closet system with doors, drawers and angled shoe shelves. | Innovate Home Org

Advantage: Laminate closet

Factor #6 – What is this closet system made of?   

What’s great about wood is you know what lurks underneath the top surface – more of the same. With a laminate closet system, the “guts” of the board underneath are not all created equal. Underneath the laminate veneer there could be plywood, particle board or a higher grade fiberboard. If you choose a laminate system make sure to ask what the board is made of and ask how thick it is.

Advantage: Wood closet  

Factor #7 – Are moisture and humidity a problem for you?

Since many master closets are located off the master bathroom humidity and moisture content can be high. Natural wood is negatively impacted by humidity which can cause the wood boards to warp, rot or be a place for bugs to infiltrate.

With a high pressure laminate closet the wood is protected by the laminate from moisture.


While Heather’s Dad mentioned earlier was well meaning there are more factors to decide between a wood and a laminate closet than getting the “real McCoy.” If you’re still uncertain what’s best for you – what I didn’t tell is there is actually a hybrid option. Look into getting laminate cabinets with wood fronts. This is like getting the best of both worlds.

If you have questions, comments or need help with a laminate or wood front closet design call the numbers below or add your thoughts to this post.


For help with a Columbus home organization project call Innovate Home Org in Columbus at 614-545-6888 or in Cleveland call 216-658-1290.

Follow the author @Mike_Foti or our companies’ @InnovateBuild and @InnovateHomeOrg on Twitter.

Tags: Columbus premier closet, custom closet Columbus, FAQ closets, laminate closet, laminate closet Columbus, laminate closets, premier closet, sustainable closet, wood closet, wood closet Columbus

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7 factors to compare wire shelving vs. a laminate closet system

Are your clothes jammed in your closet like sardines? Is finding the right outfit a pain? When you do find that “needle in the haystack” outfit in your disorganized closet is it almost as wrinkled as your son’s pile clothes on the bedroom floor (I can relate to this as my 17 year old son believes in the pile dumping method for his clothes “organization!”). If this resembles your life as Jeff Foxworthy might say, “You might need a closet!” 

The question becomes what is the best system for you. Would choosing (A) a cost-effective wire shelving work just fine or would selecting (B) a professionally designed and installed custom closet with a laminate surface be the best option for your Columbus home? Well the answer is ….it depends. Right now you may be saying – Mike that’s a cop out answer – but it really does depend on your answers to some key questions. In the article below let’s take a look at 7 key factors to help you get clarity on the best closet system for your project.

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Factor #1 – Are you looking to move soon? You can’t take a closet organization system with you

With the exception of free standing wardrobe closet, standard reach in and walk in closets are connected to your wall – so taking them with you to your next home is not practical.

Wire closet system screwed into the wall for stability

Wire shelving connected to the wall

Given this fact a key factor to decide between a fabricated wire closet system or a laminate one is how long are you planning to stay in this house. If you’re looking to resell in a year or two the more expensive – and luxurious – laminate or wood front closets may not be best. On the other hand if you plan to stay a while, and know your life would be less stressful with the improved organization, a custom laminate closet system is a sound choice.

Factor #2 – What closet are you doing? A reach in closet for the kids or a walk in master bedroom closet.  

While it would be nice to do the luxury laminate system in both your master closet and reach in closets for your kids if money were no object – in most people’s cases (I know this is true in my family) money is an object. Remember you don’t have to use the same system for every closet. So if funds are limited think about doing the lower priced wire shelving in the kid’s reach in closet. 

Wire shelving in a reach in closet Innovate Home Org Columbus

For the walk in closet in the master use the laminate storage solution.

Walk in closet with a laminate finished Innovate Home Org Columbus Ohio

Closets will add value to your home in resale and you can enjoy it everyday (if you think about it who doesn’t want better storage than their old home when looking for a home to buy).

Factor #3 – Do you love your watches and jewelry but lack a storage solution for them?  

For men it can be a fascination with cool watches. For women it can be finding the perfect earrings or necklace for a night out on the town at the Ohio Theater or  Columbus Ballet. Watches and jewelry are key fashion accessories. Having a system to know where to find the specific piece you want can reduce the stress of getting ready for an event. Fortunately in my house my wife Rose has the benefit of this beautiful custom-built jewelry box made by my father in law Luigi in his wood shed.

Custom made jewelry box by my father in law Luigi

If you don’t have a talented woodworking savvy father in law like Luigi (and I’m betting most people don’t) then an organized jewelry drawer box or watch drawer can be just what the doctor ordered. The laminate systems offer excellent options for this type of storage. Wire systems don’t provide options to organize watches and jewelry.

Jewelry drawer and tray storage Innovate Home Org Columbus Ohio

Factor #4 – Do you love (and have time) to DIY a project or would a professionally designed, built and installed system be better?

You’re a weekend warrior and you LOVE to save money. In this case check out the wire closet shelving systems in your local big box stores (you may also find a limited selection of laminate systems). Since you’ll be doing all the labor yourself it will certainly cost less money.

On the other hand unless you’re a professional designer or own a closet business (or you play one on TV – like Jay Pritchett from the show Modern Family) you’re probably not an expert in designing a closet to maximize your current and future storage. Working with a professional designer (most of the companies who have these designers sell the nicer laminate systems) you’ll get a trained eye and usually a 3D rendering of your new closet. These custom built systems are designed to use every inch of the closet (there won’t be wasted space in the corners). So while in the short run you’ll pay more money with a pro system – in the long run you’ll get more storage, system flexibility and a better quality product than the out-of-the-box DIY system.  

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Factor #5 – How do you like to store your clothing – hanging or folded?

In almost every closet you’ll have rod (or multiple rods) for hanging your clothes and shelving to store boxes, folded sweaters etc. While both wire and laminate shelves are designed to stand up to a good amount of weight, when it comes to folded clothes stacked on your shelves there is a huge difference between the two systems. In the case of wire shelving you’ll get the not-too-flattering “wire marks” in your clothes and can have the frustrating problem of small thin items falling between the cracks of the wire. Laminate shelving is smooth and solid on the bottom so you won’t have to worry about having to constantly iron out those line marks of a wire system.  

Fixed and adjustable laminate shelves don't give the line marks like wire shelving

Laminate shelves won’t leave “wire marks”

Factor #6 – Do you want to “bare all” or keep your contents concealed?  

With wire shelving everything is there to see – all your stuff is exposed. Even if you incorporate storage baskets you can see the contents. While that can be good –it will kill the compulsive organizers who prefer a more uniform and tidy appearance. Adding drawers and doors (which are available in the custom laminate systems) provides a cleaner more sophisticated look and keep things which may get a bit jumbled concealed inside your drawers, doors and baskets.

Laminate doors and drawers in a custom closet keep items concealed Innovate Home Org Columbus Ohio

Doors and drawers keep contents concealed

Factor #7 – Would you like some fancy functionality like ironing boards or mirrors?  

Closets don’t just have to be about storage. Some cool options are possible if you choose a laminate system (wire closets offer limited accessories). Wouldn’t it be nice to have an ironing board which folds out of a drawer for a quick touch up. How about a mirror which slides out of a concealed door?

Hidden mirror in a custom laminate closet organizer system Innovate Home Org Columbus Ohio

If you want your closet organizer system to transform you space into a relaxing and enjoyable (beyond utilitarian square footage) retreat a laminate system will be better.


There is no one best closet organizer system. Think about your needs, budget, closet location, desire for style, design skills and/or desire to DIY the project. When you’ve analyzed these items you’ll be able to choose the system(s) which are best for your project.


For help with a Columbus home organization project call Innovate Home Org in Columbus at 614-545-6888 or in Cleveland call 216-658-1290. For bathroom and kitchen remodeling or window and door projects contact parent company Innovate Building Solutions at 877-668-5888.

Follow the author @Mike_Foti on Twitter or our companies’ @InnovateBuild and @InnovateHomeOrg.

Tags: closet accessories, closet ironing board, closet organizer Columbus, Columbus closet organizer, Columbus home organization, custom closet, custom closet Columbus, home organization, jewelry drawer in closet, jewelry storage, laminate closet, laminate closet system, reach in closet, reach in closet Columbus, walk in closet, walk in closet Columbus, watch storage, wire shelves, wire shelving, wire shelving Columbus

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