Ok, so as you know from our last little foray into the world of DIY projects, IKEA-furniture-building is wonderfully simple. My Expedit bookshelf that I reassembled is up and it is sturdy! But on to the big guns.
You know what wasn’t sturdy? My bedroom closet. When I first began piling my belongings into it, after the move-in, it occurred to me that the top shelf and rod spanned a pretty long distance (76 inches, to be exact). But I was possessed by move-in madness. All I wanted was to get everything put AWAY. So, I packed that closet full, and I shut the door. Out of sight, out of mind.
And then, like a true space-cadet, I forgot all about it. Closet? Shelf that’s bowing under the weight of a mountain of crap? What on Earth are you talking about? Yup, I’d forgotten all about my initial closet worry until one Friday night while I was watching TV. I heard the loudest thud come from the bedroom, and thought “what on earth could have made that sound?!” This:
If you can’t tell from my photography skillzzzz, the picture you’re staring at is showing a closet’s worth of shit, in a lump on the floor. Nice. One of the side supports for the top shelf of the closet had pulled right out of the wall. It clearly had not been screwed into any studs – just the flimsy old sheetrock. So, with the weight of my belongings, the whole shelf just came tumbling down, and it pulled down the whole rod of clothes, in it’s path (in my haste and panic, I actually removed the fallen shelf and shelf-contents prior to taking the photos…sorry!). UGH! Closet fixing/re-organizing = not how I wanted to spend a Friday night.
I busted out my tool box to see if I had anything that might help me reinforce the supports (and screw the fallen support piece back into the wall. But alas, my poor wimpy screwdriver was not going to get the job done.
Before it got too late, I headed over to the local hardware store and bought myself a decent drill and a stud-finder, and I set out to get that closet fixed immediately. I couldn’t stand looking at the mess of clothes and linens all over the bedroom floor. Initially, I thought I’d screw in a bunch of reinforcing wood pieces below the original supports (if the primary support beam ever pulled out of the wall, I figured the lower one would “catch” it). However, in talking to my dad, I learned that just screwing an additional piece of wood below the existing one would not actually do jack shit, despite the fact that it all seemed good in my head.
But, he assured me that if I found the studs and made sure to screw directly into them, the shelf and rod should hold up just fine. So, that’s what I did. In the picture below, the black dots are the screws I put in, into the studs (I did the same thing on all three support sides), with an additional screw in the middle. The other random screws that the builder put in are not really even close to the studs. 4-star contracting.
As a final additional safety measure, my dad suggested (and brought right to my doorstep!) a closet rod and shelf support bracket. It, too, was drilled into a stud, and the whole shelf and rod feel SO much more stable now.
So, rule number 1: FIND STUDS! For those who are still scratching their heads about what a stud is (don’t worry, I’m a construction idiot, too – you should have seen me trying to use the damn drill!), it’s a vertical beam in your wall. When you screw into it, the screw is secured directly into the wood of the stud, resulting in a strong hold. If you don’t find a stud when hanging something on a wall then you’re just securing the screw into sheetrock…which isn’t really secure at all.
If your sheetrock wasn’t there, your studs would look like this:
Just kidding. What? No Dirty Dancing maniacs out there? Just me? Weren’t you wondering where the “stud muffin” part of the title was going to come in?
Ok, for serious. The lesson here is that if you see a closet or shelf or cabinet that doesn’t look too sturdy when you move in, don’t just load it down with heavy items and assume it will hold. Ask your super or landlord to fix it or reinforce it (taking care of apartment issues is what they’re there for!). Or, in a case like mine, just take the ten minutes to ensure that the screws are all going into studs. And maybe go the extra mile to put up a support bracket. Better safe than sorry (especially if you have 2 kitties who like to sleep in your closet All. Day. Long.)!
And one more time for good measure, here is what a SAFE closet looks like:
Got a stud story? Studs OR stud muffins are welcome here. Tell me about it!