Buying a home with tons of closet space is both a blessing and a curse. Everyone loves being able to stow away items they don't need every day, but systems to organize your closet can be quite expensive. This article will review and compare three of the budget closet systems: IKEA Algot, Closetmaid Shelf Track, and Rubbermaid Fast Track.
Keep scrolling to learn the winners and losers when it comes to ease of installation, shelving options, variety of accessories, and helpful online tools.
All three systems are designed to be adjustable, with notched vertical wall tracks. Brackets are clipped onto the wall tracks and used to support the shelves, drawers, shoe racks, and other accessories. It is fairly easy to reconfigure your closet by moving the brackets to different heights on the wall tracks. All three systems also come with a "hang track", which is a long horizontal bar you will level across the top of the wall, and hang vertical standards from. The hang track helps ensure the vertical standards are properly spaced and level with each other.
The Closetmaid and Rubbermaid systems are actually so similar they can be used together. Rubbermaid brackets will fit into a Closetmaid standard and vice versa. If you want, for example, Closetmaid shelves with Rubbermaid drawers, you can mix and match however you like. IKEA Algot uses a different bracket system and cannot be interchanged with the other two.
While installation of all three systems is a DIY job, IKEA Algot is by far the most frustrating. Closetmaid and Rubbermaid allow some flexibility in design. For example, Closetmaid suggests brackets be installed at least every 24". You can install them from every 16" on each stud, up to every two feet, and the system will work. Algot, however, doesn't rely on long wire shelves and hang bars that you can cut down to size. Its shelves and drawers are precisely measured, and vertical standards must be placed exactly 24" apart to make sure accessories will fit between them. As studs are commonly 16" apart, you won't be able to attach each standard securely to a stud, and will need to rely on toggle bolts or drywall anchors for installation. The need for precise measurements and additional anchors make IKEA Algot's installation more difficult than Closetmaid ShelfTrack or Rubbermaid FastTrack.
Once you have your vertical standards measured and hung, you'll still have a lot more work to do with Algot. For an eight foot wall, the other systems will allow you to use one long shelf clipped onto brackets. Algot requires you to use four 2' shelves, each of which must be clipped into a bracket on two sides and covered with a strip of plastic. The silver lining is that all this extra work makes for a much nicer appearance! Algot's solid melamine shelves, mesh drawers, and plethora of accessories give a very finished final appearance. ShelfTrack and FastTrack's wire shelves look like budget-friendly options, whereas Algot looks very similar to the much more expensive Container Store Elfa system.
Winner: Closetmaid and Rubbermaid are tied for ease of installation; you should be able to finish a closet by yourself in less than a day.
Loser: Algot is the clear loser. While you can still install it yourself, be prepared for a lot more measuring, leveling, and running to the hardware store for extra bolts, anchors, and screws.
Most big box stores will carry plastic closet rod supports for the Closetmaid Shelftrack system. If you go directly to the Closetmaid website, you can order metal supports that will make your installation much sturdier!
The standard IKEA Algot shelf is a simple piece of white melamine board. It can be bought in depths of 15" or 23", and widths of 15 3/4", 23 5/8", or 31 1/2". The board is easy to wipe clean and has a simple, neat appearance. It clips easily on to special brackets, which are then covered with a white plastic strip to keep the appearance uniform. The only other shelf offered is a metal, ventilated shelf in white or black. This shelf is sturdier, and hooks can be attached to the bottom for more storage. It's great for laundry rooms, bathrooms, garages, and any other areas that may be exposed to humidity or wet items.
Closetmaid and Rubbermaid's wire shelves look less clean than IKEA's melamine, but are much more customizable. Both products are offered in white and nickel. They can be cut to length to fit your space, unlike IKEA. They come in depths of 12", 16", or 20". If you prefer melamine or wooden shelves, Rubbermaid and third parties make brackets that can be attached to either system and screwed to wood or melamine boards. It is also possible to purchase liners to cover the wire shelves.
There is no clear winner or loser in this field. You personal taste will dictate whether you prefer the clean look of IKEA Algot, or the highly customizable Closetmaid and Rubbermaid.
While all closet systems include the basic shelving, you probably want to customize your dream closet with a few more accessories. You'll want drawers, shoe racks, hooks, and baskets. In a pantry you may want to hang kitchen utensils; scarves and hats may need their own hooks in a coat closet; a bedroom closet will need long rods where clothes can be slid from side to side; a garage will need drawers of all sizes for tools and hardware.
If you're looking for variety at a low price, IKEA Algot has you covered. Drawers come in plastic, wire, and mesh varieties, at either 5" or 12" deep. Lids can be used on the plastic drawers. And best of all, they are completely affordable. To install a 12" deep mesh drawer, for example, you will need two brackets, a pull-out rail, and the drawer, for a total of only $16. Algot offers a shoe organizer like the other brands, but it is not of the highest quality and can only hold certain types of shoes. For laundry rooms and bathrooms, you can buy a drying rack to hold wet clothes or towels. Stackable baskets can be clipped onto the underside of shelves for even more storage area. And the versatile SKADIS Pegboard connects to the Algot system and works with a wide assortment of baskets, clips, hooks, and cords.
Closetmaid Shelftrack comes with a limited number of accessories, but expect to pay a little more. A single 8" deep drawer from their Elite line, for example, runs over $60. The Elite line also offers a cubby organizer and shelf organizer. A cheaper option is the sliding basket, but it only comes in a 7" deep wire style and must be used with a wire shelf. Wire drawer kits are also available. The one area where Closetmaid shines is their shoe support, which allows you to install a shelf tilted downward to conveniently hold any type of shoe.
Rubbermaid's has options similar to Closetmaid, including the shoe support shelf that can hold any type of shoe. (A wooden version is also available.) They offer a sliding wire basket, and a wooden drawer (in multiple colors). However, Rubbermaid offers a number of options not available with Algot or Shelftrack, especially in their garage line. The garage line contains a large selection of sturdy hooks and racks for hanging tools, steel shelves and bins for heavier items, compartmentalized plastic bins for sorting nuts/nails/screws/etc, a ball rack for athletic gear, and baskets for larger items. For the pantry, check out their slide-out tiered shelf, plastic sliding shelf, plastic baskets and trays, and plastic shelf. And for the bedroom, you might find the tie and belt rack useful.
Winner: Though IKEA Algot offers a good variety and the best price, Rubbermaid wins the accessory battle. Where the other two focus mostly on the bedroom closet, Rubbermaid has you covered in any room of the house.
Loser: Closetmaid comes in dead last, with a small selection at high prices.
Once you've selected a closet organization system and are ready to buy all your shelves, accessories, brackets, and supports... you need to figure out which shelves, accessories, brackets, and supports you need to buy! An online planning tool can be a big help here.
IKEA Algot's planning tool is a joy to use. You can choose one of their pre-designed options to customize, or start from scratch. Then you simply enter the measurements of your wall, and start dragging and dropping elements you want to add from a side bar. The planning tool will calculate how many of each item you need for your desired configuration, and allow you to add them all to your shopping cart and list with one click. You can also save your combination and get a code, which can be entered at the store to pull up your list. It's hard to imagine how they could make the process any easier.
Closetmaid's design tool is more cumbersome. You can select which room you are designing for, enter measurements, and choose from pre-selected product options. Because they are pre-selected, you can't combine accessories meant for the garage with accessories meant for the pantry. The tool will present options based only on what room you selected. From there, it will offer a few limited layouts for you to choose from. Once you choose a layout, you can click "Customize this design", and it will let you swap certain sections with different pre-selected layouts. For example, you may be able to switch a section from all drawers to all shelves... but you cannot customize that you want a shoe rack on the bottom, two drawers above, a tie rack, and shelves. You must choose one of their layouts. Even that small amount of customization is not available for all rooms and products. When you are done, you'll be presented with a shopping list, estimated cost, and button to add all items to your shopping cart.
Rubbermaid's tool is rather clunky, but usable. You are guided through four steps by animations that need to be manually skipped, which can be frustrating as the tool is rather intuitive. You can select which closet system you would like to use, enter the dimensions of your closet, design it, and print out a parts list. The design tool allows more customization than Closetmaid's, but does not allow access to all of their accessories. You are only able to add shelves, shoe storage, and one wire basket. If there are other accessories you would like to use in your system, you must manually find them and add them to your parts list, and make sure you buy all necessary parts to install them.
Winner: IKEA's Algot planning tool is hands down the easiest to use, most customizable, and most helpful.
Loser: Closetmaid's system is almost entirely unhelpful, unless you plan on buying their pre-fabricated kits.
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