I built garage shelves using Grip Rite construction screws (photo of box below). Only afterwards did I notice the statement about "non-structural" use.

Did I make a major mistake? Should I get some stronger screws to attach the beams to the posts?

FWIW, I also used wood glue (Titlebond II) to attach the shelves to the posts.

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  • 3
    If I understand your photo right. the weight of the middle shelf is held by the shear strength of the screws and glue. I think you would have a strength improvement if you glued/screwed some additional struts so that the shelf was held up by longitudinal sections of wood (even small ones) Commented Jan 13, 2019 at 4:32
  • the glue will probably provide more shear strength to the joint than the screws would, but the screws can probably take ~100lbs shear each anyway. Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 3:55
  • It has king studs but it's missing its cripples : "held up by longitudinal sections of wood"
    – Mazura
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 5:42
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    I've built shelves the same way, it is plenty strong for what it is. You wouldn't want to build say a deck like this, thus the warning on the screws.
    – Greg H
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 16:32
  • 1
    Notice the built-in cabinetry on the box of screws, and the frames for two more shelves leaning against the wall. Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 3:58

4 Answers 4


"Structural" applies to load-bearing walls and the like. I think you're safe. From what i can tell in the picture, unless you're storing engine blocks on them, you should be fine.


I think generally, shelves are non-structural. Structural use is building a house.

Although I bet those 2 could use your good-looking shelves as a sweet fort structure! That doesn't count.

My idea: let those 2 paint the shelves. They go to the paint store and each one picks his / her color. The boy gets the vertical pieces. Then when those dry, the girl gets the big flat areas. You can turn it sideways for her turn. Whenever they see those shelves as they grow up, they will be the shelves they painted.

  • 2
    Nice idea about the painting, I love it :-) Commented Jan 13, 2019 at 11:23
  • 5
    Well I guess we know what Tom Sawyer's account name is now. Commented Jan 13, 2019 at 21:10

Did I make a major mistake?

No, non-structural screws are suitable for the shelves in the photo. 2×4s and wood screws support millions of shelves in garages around the world.

Should I get some stronger screws to attach the beams to the posts?

Only if you're paranoid, or there'll be extra-heavy stuff. Based on this calculator and some conservative assumptions, each screw will support 50 pounds after the glue fails.

I think the most vulnerable joint is between left-right beams and front-back beams. There's two screws going through face grain into end grain; this joint is weak in bending and is the only thing keeping the structure from racking forward. Possible improvements include attaching the plywood to the beams, adding metal straps, using pocket screws, or using longer (4-5") screws.

Your confusion comes from engineers having a more specific definition of "structure" than anyone else. To an engineer, "structural" means it supports loads as dictated by the relevant building code. Shelves also have loads, but nobody regulates the design of your homemade shelving.


Why risk it? Usually shelves get over stacked with time. So reinforce them now to avoid possible crashes in the future. Do it right the first time.

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