What is the best material to use for pantry shelves is one of the most commonly asked queries. Many options are available, so we put together this list of the different materials and why they may or may not be ideal for your needs. So, what is the best material to use for pantry shelves?

The most common material for pantry shelves is wood and wood composites because you may use them for decorative and practical purposes (whichever your needs are).

What Makes a Good Pantry Shelf?

Decide if your space is suitable for open shelving or closed cabinets. If you have children or pets, closed cabinets may be better. On the other hand, open shelving is ideal if you want to make your pantry feel more like a showroom. For the best storage capacity-to-size ratio, add two 2x4s onto the wall studs on either side of where the shelves will go. Then, mount the shelves on this non-load-bearing wall. This allows you to add as many shelves as possible without extra support.

Consider adding extra shelving for canned goods or small packages. Smaller cans and boxes are easier to lose in a big pantry. A narrow shelf lets you keep these items upright and easily visible.

Good storage options are different for every kitchen. For example, if your pantry is long and narrow, use attractive hooks to organize pot lids or put them on a pot lid rack. If it is wide, put smaller items on the floor-level shelves and use narrow shelves farther back to store heavier items.

Furniture and Cabinet Material Options

Command Shelving gives you a huge choice of solid wood shelving solutions to fit your budget and style. Since many different cabinet doors are available, you can customize your pantry. Use durable solid wood doors and baseboards for durability and a classic look. Choose knobs that complement the door color, or use a simple pull handle to cinch open with one hand. Painted or stained doors send a conservative message that complements your kitchen decor.

Have clear composite doors for easy installation without painting. Other interior door options consist of solid wood doors with glass inserts, dark finishes, distressed finishes, or various types of paneling with simulated softwood veneers.

The simplest furniture solutions for the pantry shelf can be just some hooks from the hardware store or the like to hang everything. If you want more storage capacity, consider installing a pull-out shelf to help manage larger items. However, since you already have a wall on your pantry, you can also find many pantry shelf ideas that use a simple door to cover the opening and make it look like a cabinet.

Decide what different types of items to store in your pantry. For example, bread, flour, sugar, and dry goods are best stored in open baskets or barrels to keep dust and bugs off. On the other hand, you should store food for the freezer in containers, such as pint-size jars with lids or small plastic bags that are easily stackable. Refer to your recipe card for storage tips on each type of food.

STYLIFING Rotating Rolling Storage Cart 6 Tier 360° Rotation
STYLIFING Rotating Rolling Storage Cart 6 Tier 360° Rotation

Pantry Shelf Ideas

Here are some ideas to put a finishing touch on your pantry. First, add a cubby or shelf to store plastic bags, which are great for storing small items. If you have exercise equipment, add a cubby to hold sunglasses and other items you need quickly. You can also try floating shelves that give the illusion of an entire cabinet. For example, a floating shelf might be good for storing canned goods such as tomatoes since they tend to roll around if not held in place.

Some people like the look of shelving that sits slightly off the ground, especially if it is covered with decorative paper or tile. However, if you want to economize on space, consider installing a pull-out shelf, which saves floor space and provides extra storage capacity.

1. Cabinet shelving

It is one of the most inexpensive choices and requires no assembly, depending on what you want to store in your pantry. Metal shelves are sturdy but not very attractive, and glass shelves allow light in but can warp if extreme heat is applied to them. Check out this Simple Houseware Stackable 3-Tier Sliding Basket Organizer Drawer.

2. Wood

This is the most commonly used material for pantry shelving, but it’s also one of the most expensive. Wood can also be used with other materials to give your pantry shelf a more custom look. Check out this MDLUFFY Farmhouse Floating Shelves Wood.

3. Plastic

Anyone trying to save money will find this material a great option because of its surface and durability. It’s lightweight, easy to clean, and doesn’t warp or scratch easily. However, plastic shelves will only last about a year before they need to be replaced due to their tendency to crack from moisture or temperature changes. Check out this Storage container, Plastic Shelves Organizer.

4. Steel

Steel shelves are very durable and provide excellent stability. They are often used in industrial settings because they can withstand dirty, wet conditions. However, they could be more convenient and easier to work with. Check out these Stainless Steel Shelves.

5. Glass

This material is ideal for storing food that needs light (such as grain or dehydrated foods). It also looks great but is very fragile and is prone to breaking if dropped or bumped into. Check out this mDesign Metal/Glass 3-Tier Storage Tower.

6. Aluminum

This material is lightweight and can be combined with other materials for a more custom look (for example, you can have your pantry shelves made of steel sheets with aluminum covering the front for a glossy finish). It’s less durable than steel, though, and scratches easily, meaning it has to be re-coated often, which means additional costs. Check out this Aviator Aluminium Shelf Unit.

7. Corian

This artificial material is resistant to scratches, heat and cold, and chemicals. It’s easy to clean but not recommended for outdoor use. It is also quite expensive.

Can I use MDF for pantry shelves?

Yes, Even if you have a small pantry or essential pantry closet, they are surprisingly easy to build and can be quickly altered to fit any area. They have created solely of two materials: 1 x 2 pine boards, 3/4″ MDF sheets, and a few screws and nails.

What is better for shelves MDF or plywood?

It is advised to only use MDF for shelves that won’t hold heavy objects because the wood composite tends to droop if used for shelves that might support big weights. However, for shelves that will support many books or other heavy things, plywood is, without a doubt, the best material to use.

Is it better to store pantry items in glass or plastic?

Glass storage containers are ideal because they reduce the possibility that potentially dangerous chemicals from the plastic can leach into your food.


In general, wood and wood composite materials are the most popular choice because they can serve decorative and functional purposes (whichever your needs are). They are also easy to find in almost any home improvement store or online retailer.