What Is the Proper Height for Closet Rods & Shelves?

Generally, a closet shelf is about 87 inches above the floor, and a single closet rod is mounted at around 72 inches in height. These numbers are not carved in stone, however, and you can create designs and modifications that work for you. A shorter person may prefer lower shelving, while a tall woman may need a higher rod for floor-length dresses. The specifics of your closet may also force you to work around factors such as slanted ceilings or ducting. When planning your closet design, start with the standard measurements and adjust them as necessary to make your closet work for you.

Wooden hangers on a rod (Click for more)
credit: nzphotonz/iStock/GettyImages

Shelf Height

Ideally, the top shelf of a closet is high enough to tuck items out of the way, but low enough that you can retrieve them without a stool. The recommended shelf height is between 87 and 96 inches from the floor. The shelf should also sit at least a foot away from the closet ceiling. Keep the top shelf height below 96 inches, however, as shelves of this height are not only very difficult to reach but impractical. When placing a vertical row of shelves in the closet, space each shelf 12 inches apart. The lowest shelf in your closet should be 16 inches above the floor, leaving room for tall boots and shoes underneath it.

Shelf Depth

The shelf depth varies based on what you intend to store. Shelves work best when they are between 11 and 15 inches deep. Sweaters, towels and sheets need wider shelves, while T-shirts need only about 12 inches. Most shoes need only 10 to 14 inches of depth. If you make your shelves too deep, you risk not being able to reach small items that may get tucked on the back of the shelf.

Rod Height

Standard rod height for a single closet rod is 60 inches, a height that leaves ample hanging space for floor-length dresses. When installing double rods, hang the top rod 80 inches from the floor and the bottom rod 40 inches from the floor. Leave at least 3 feet of space between the two rods. These systems usually work best for skirts, blouses, shirts or pants folded over a clothes hanger. If you want to hang shelves above a medium-height rod, position the rod at least 54 inches above the floor. Rod depth is also important. Hanging clothes require a closet depth of at least 24 inches, so make sure your closet rod is at least 12 inches away from the closest wall.

Rod Capacity

Although you may have more or fewer articles of clothing, the general rule is to provide 4 feet of closet rod space per person using the closet. Factoring about 2 1/2 inches of rod space per garment allows ample room for reaching in for a garment and prevents clothes from being smashed together and wrinkled. The width of your rod is not the only factor to consider. You'll also want to take into account the weight of your clothes. A 6-foot span of closet rod can hold certain amounts of weight, depending on its shape and what it's made of. Six feet of oval aluminum anodized rod can hold 45 pounds. The same length of rod can hold 170 pounds if it's made of 1 5/16-inch steel polished chrome. On average, jeans weigh 1 1/2 pounds, shirts 1/2 pound and suits 4 pounds.