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The Ins & Outs of Closet Rods

Closet rod with clothes

Closet Rods are essential to any closet design. After all, you can't really hang your clothes without one. It seems like it should be simple, but why so many choices? Over the years closet rods have evolved to provide more decorative finishes and shapes. Options for unconventional closets with extra high or slanted ceilings are also now available. All of this means improved performance that ultimately benefits you, the consumer. You just need to know what to look for.

Everything you ever wanted to know about the different types of closet rods including usage and installation.

When it comes to hanging up your clothes in the closet, it simply wouldn't be possible without the humble closet rod. Their importance is often overlooked. But when it comes to hanging clothes in the closet, the closet rod is truly an "essential worker." Furthermore, different types of rods are available. Choosing the right one can go a long way towards your overall happiness with your closet. There are so many more options for today's consumer than the old wood or white wire rods of years past. All modern custom closet systems use metal rods that come in a whole range of styles, colors and finishes — just like those seen in plumbing fixtures. Consider all your options before designing your next closet. There's certain to be a perfect fit for your needs.

    Types of Hanging Rods for Closets

  1. Wooden Closet Rods

    Wooden closet rod
    Wooden cleat and rod closets have mostly been replaced by modern closet organizer systems. However, these rods are strong and long-lasting. You can still sometimes see these wooden closet rods in older homes.

    Wooden closet rods have been around for a long time. It's a bit old-fashioned but there's nothing wrong with it. Just sturdy, plain and simple. The wooden closet rod with a single shelf above it made up the standard closet for many years. During the early 1980s, the advent of cheaper wire closet systems mostly replaced it in new home construction. Its single two-inch diameter "no frills" design is made of solid wood, usually oak, and mounts to a cleat which is attached to the wall. The cleat adds strength because it is anchored to the studs or structure of the closet wall. This type of rod has mainly fallen out of use but is still available from some big box home improvement stores as a replacement rod for use in older homes.

  2. Wire Shelf and Rod Systems

    Wire closet rod and shelf
    A wire closet rod with integrated shelf is the least expensive way to build a closet. The rod/shelf combination is supported by small plastic brackets that connect the back edge of the shelf with the drywall. Additional support is provided by angled supports that run from the front edge of the shelf to the drywall.

    In the 1980s, home builders began to forego the old wooden closet rod in favor of an integrated wire closet rod and shelf. This is still the standard type of closet system installed by most builders because it is very inexpensive. It comes in a 12-inch depth and the wire is covered with a white vinyl coating, so it never rusts. The rod and shelf are welded together with the rod section suspended from the front of the shelf. Angled brackets add additional support. When money is tight, this type of closet rod may be useful. It is the cheapest option. Unfortunately, the single rod and shelf provided by most builders doesn't make the best use of closet space. Many homeowners who have wire rod and shelf systems will eventually switch them out with a higher-level custom closet design in laminate or wood that maximizes all available space for storage.

  3. The Standard Oval Closet Rod

    Standard oval closet rod in polished chrome
    Standard oval closet rod in polished chrome. All closet rods for custom closet organizers are made of sturdy metal rather than wood or wire that is coated in various finishes. The higher quality metal rods hold a lot of weight and won't sag. But they should be installed in sections no more than 48-inches wide unless additional closet rod supports are included.

    The Oval Rod is the standard choice when it comes to custom closets. It offers the simplest of the custom closet rod designs and considered a very good "Entry Level" option. The polished chrome oval rod is the most economical choice of all custom closet rods. When you are building a large custom closet and need a lot of hanging space, this is the option many will turn to. Its clean, practical design is a classic that never goes out of style. It attaches to the closet by use of two rod cups that snap into the vertical panels of the closet. This rod is a definite workhorse and is popular with many homeowners. Unfortunately, it is available in only two finish options (Polished Chrome and Brushed Chrome) so it might not work for everyone.

  4. Signature Series Rods

    Signature series closet rod in matte gold finish
    The Signature Series closet rods have a unique shape and are available in all colors to match the rest of your closet hardware. This includes the trendy Matte Gold finish shown here.

    The closet industry continuously strives to provide buyers with more options and innovations. The closet rod is no exception. One of the newest rod designs to come on the market combines classic functionality with an updated shape. The new appearance of the Signature Series Rod provides both strength and elegance. This metal rod line includes additional improvements such as a plastic cover across the top of the rod. Closet rod covers allow for smooth and quiet operation while avoiding the top of the rod being scratched by metal hangers from the dry cleaners. The Signature Series rods have the most mounting options or choices of color. Mounting brackets are available for traditional use on side panels, for hanging below a shelf, or for use with slanted ceilings. They are available in all five of the most popular coordinated finishes sold at Closet Works. They are certain to match perfectly with the rest of your closet hardware. Finishes available include Polished Chrome, Brushed Chrome, Oil Rubbed Bronze, Matte Gold, and Slate Gray.

  5. Round Rods Made from Anodized Aluminum

    Round closet rod in slate gray finish
    Round closet rods give a nod to the classic shape of the old wood closet rods but are lighter in weight without losing any of the strength of the older rods. They come in a wide selection of colors and even have features like plastic cover caps to prevent scratching by wire hangers from the dry cleaners.

    Round rods echo the classic shape of the old wooden rods used for many years. But the new rods are far from the old wooden ones used in the past. Engineered for enhanced functionality and smoother operation, the modern Round Rod line offered by Closet Works is 1-15/16-inches diameter, just like a wood rod, but is made of long-lasting anodized aluminum. It includes a plastic cover across the top of the rod to offer a smooth and quiet surface while avoiding the top of rod being scratched by metal hangers. It is available in all five of the most popular closet hardware finishes including Polished Chrome, Brushed Chrome, Oil Rubbed Bronze, Matte Gold, and Slate Gray. This style rod can also be used on slanted ceilings.

  6. Pull-Down Closet Rods for High Ceilings

    Pull-down rods are useful when you want to mount the closet rod high overhead in an out-of-reach location. This might mean you have high ceilings and want to make maximum use of the space, or it may be that you are on the shorter side and the upper rod is simply not convenient for you. The pull-down rod is much easier to use than a shepherd's hook for everyday use. Pull-down rods can have either manual or motorized operation. The manual version includes a handle. It lowers the whole rod to eye level with a gentle tug, but there are strict weight restrictions for this type of rod. Never put more than 25-pounds of clothing on one of these rods or it will fail. The motorized version works with a remote control and can hold up to 60-pounds of clothing per rod. However, it is more expensive than the manual pull-down rod.

    closet with mororized pull down rod for high ceilings
    This closet has a motorized pull-down rod for high ceilings.

  7. Rods for Slanted Ceilings

    Attic closet with closet rods suspended from slanted ceiling
    This attic closet has a closet rod suspended from the slanted ceiling. Notice how shoe shelves are installed behind the hanging clothes to ensure that there is no wasted space in this closet.

    Rooms with slanted ceilings like attics can be tricky. If there are perpendicular side walls at least 42-inches high, then no problem. You can install the bottom half of a double hang closet section along this perpendicular wall. However, when the slanted ceiling goes all the way to the floor or leaves less than 42-inches of perpendicular wall space you must attach the rod to the ceiling. Unlike traditional closet systems that insert a vertical panel every 48 inches, a single rod installed on an attic ceiling can be up to 8 feet long. Always use a cleat for this type of installation. The cleat is a long piece of wood. It is similar to the standard 2 x 4 used in housing construction but more likely a 1 x 5 piece of wood that is secured to the structure of the sloped ceiling the way a traditional closet section is screwed to the wall studs. The use of a cleat will ensure that your closet rod can support a lot of weight. Nonetheless, additional closet rod supports made for slanted ceilings are recommended every 36-inches to prevent sagging. Make sure the rod and cleat are positioned so that there will be a minimum of 40.5-inches of clearance between the rod and the floor for hanging shirts. For other garments, you may need more clearance. Depending on the pitch of the ceiling, you can end up with extra space behind the hanging rod. Don't let this potential storage go to waste. Use this area to install shelves for shoes and folded clothing.

  8. Lighting for Closet Rods

    Closet rods with LED lighting.
    Closet rods with LED lighting installed above the rod to illuminate the clothing hung from the rods. The most dramatic effect is achieved when strip lighting is installed under a shelf that sits directly over the rod rather than inside or along the bottom of the rod itself.

    If you want to be certain to highlight the items hanging on your closet rods be certain to add LED Lighting in the shelf above the rod. LED closet rods are available within the market but don't use these. The light inside the typical LED closet rod is located inside the bottom of the rod. It does not provide the best illumination of the clothes since it is positioned right over the hanger. Instead, it is better to incorporate the LED lighting into the bottom of a shelf above the hanging rod. This way it provides illumination across the top front of the item hanging on the rod.

With So Many Choices for Closet Hanging Rods, which is the Best?

Nearly everyone would be happy with a beautiful closet organizer system featuring LED lighting and round rods in their favorite hardware finish to match an elegant attached bathroom. Without a doubt, everyone likes the look of luxury, but not everyone will have the budget for it. The best closet rod for you is the one that makes you happy. Under the direction of a skillful closet designer, all of the various closet rod styles can be made to work. When it comes to finding the balance between elegance and price we often get asked about the range of costs of these rods. The price order (from lowest to highest) is wire, Oval, Signature, and Round. Pull-down rods also add extra costs because of the mechanics involved. Everyone's situation is different and there is no one rod that is best for everyone. That is one of the reasons why we offer an assortment of choices in all of our closet hardware at Closet Works.