How To Build A Custom Closet

Written by Jeff Thorman

Good day DIYers and welcome to our custom closet break down! This blog post will serve more as general guide than an exact plan since the nature of a custom closet is that it's, well, custom. That means every room and design choice will be different. In this piece we're going to outline the materials and tools we used to create the closet from the video as well as a few tips and tricks to help you finish your project with professional results.

Essentially, the process will go as follows:


  1. Measure your space and create your vision. Whether you're sprucing up an otherwise unused closet or modifying a spare bedroom, a clear vision of the final product is key. This will involve a little bit of math (and probably some consultation with your partner). Remember that the steel rod from which you will hang your clothes needs to be approximately 12 inches from the wall so that the hangers can hang freely.

  2. Decide what kind of materials you want to use and make your purchase. In our video, we used melamine panels, mdf trim and lightweight hard foam crown moulding. You may choose to go with other options. There are many prefabricated and modular systems to choose from, but the DIY route will definitely save you a bunch of money.

  3. Frame the closet. Follow along in our video to see how Jeff approaches framing the different sections of the closet and the shelving unit. Since your design will be unique to your space, you will have to use some intuition and creative reasoning.

  4. Install crown moulding and trim. Voila! You're finished.


Obviously it's not quite as simple as that, but here are few tips and tricks to keep in mind that will help the process go as smoothly as possible.


  1. Use a heavier gauge steel rod to avoid the need for a support bracket in the middle.

  2. When using the brad nailer, install the nails straight and square to avoid splitting the panel (Jeff split a panel by accident at 30:54).

  3. When assembling the adjustable shelving unit, install a permanent middle shelf that is fixed in place so that the unit is reinforced while you're placing it against the wall. This will make it less likely that the unit will be damaged when you hoist it against the wall for installation.

  4. Don't expect your floors to be level! Even in new construction, floors are almost always not level. So be ready to either shim (raise) or scribe (cut down) the feet of your shelf and closet panels to compensate. A laser level makes this very easy.

  5. If you plan on creating an upper shelf above your closet rod, use stainless steel mending plates with bevelled screw holes to secure the shelves together where they meet in the corner.

  6. When measuring where your closet rod should be attached to the panels, you can use a clothes hanger to help envision where you would like your clothes to be hanging.

  7. Don't worry about lines, dirt marks or pencil marks on melamine – they will wipe off easily after the project is finished. Best to wait until the end for a final cleaning.

  8. If you're brad nailing a panel into drywall where there is no stud, put one nail in at an upwards angle and then another at a downwards angle for stability.

  9. When installing the hardware for the closet rod, pre-drill the hole a tiny bit because the screws that come with the hardware can sometimes have a hard time penetrating melamine panels.

  10. The panels for supporting the adjustable shelves typically only have one finished edge, so be careful when you are cutting them to size to make sure that the finished edge will be facing out and all the holes for setting up the shelves line up correctly.



Brad nailer (or hammer and nails)

Air compressor

Stud finder

Laser level

Impact driver

Skill saw, table saw or miter saw


Materials needed to build 6' Closet Shelf With Rod

2pc 16" x 96" melamine shelving

4pc 16" x 72" shelving

1pc 1" x 5" x 8' for install across the top to nail crown moulding to

4pc of 1" x 2" x 8' mdf to trim out the face of the closets

2 rods cut to fit to make 4 rods that require 4 packs of hanging brackets

1 pc 8' long crown moulding


Materials list for building Shelving Units

3pc of 16" x 8' (or) 12" x 8' melamine shelving to build each 12" to 16 " wide shelving unit

3 pc 1" x 2" x 8' mdf to trim cabinets

1 pc 1" x 3" x 8' wood to install as braces on back of cabinet to attach to wall

1" x 5" x 8' to install on surface at top of cabinet and in the base to create nailing surface for baseboards

1 pc per 4 linear ft of cabinet total

1 pc of cabinet material to act as gable end on exposed sides of the shelving system


use 1 1/8 particle board screws to attach

use 18 gauge brad nails 1 1/2" to connect

regular wood glue to install


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