Shelving by Application: How to Choose the Right Shelving for Your Walk-in Cooler and Freezer

The foodservice industry has unique storage needs, especially when it comes to shelving for walk-in coolers and freezers.

Think about it: not only do your storage solutions need to support a high weight capacity, but they must do so in a cold, damp environment. Not every shelving solution will be up to the task, so it’s important to make the right choices when building out your cooler racking and freezer shelving solutions.

Fortunately, we’re here to help. At Metro, we know a thing or two about shelving, and we’re here to help you find the best foodservice storage solutions that meet your application needs.

Looking for the best shelving for your cooler or freezer? In this guide, we’ll walk you through choosing the right shelving for your commercial cold storage areas.

Metro Cooler/Freezer Shelving

Qualities to Look for in Walk-in Cooler Shelving

When you’re ready to select the right storage solutions for your commercial kitchen cooler or freezer, it’s important that your shelving works for you.

The right shelving…

  • Saves space
  • Improves organization
  • Adds convenience
  • Reduces waste
  • Improves efficiency and productivity
  • Is durable

Due to the environment they need to function in, walk-in cooler shelving racks are designed with additional qualities in mind.

Foodservice businesses and commercial kitchens often require large-scale storage and cooler shelving systems to safely hold large volumes of frequently used ingredients. They are also specifically designed to withstand rust and corrosion and stand up to the cold, humid environment of refrigerators.

Whatever shelving you choose needs to, at minimum, meet those demands.

It's important to remember that not every product will be the best choice for every application. You wouldn’t paint the exterior of your house with interior paint and expect it to withstand harsh weather conditions, and shelving is no different.

Here are the qualities to look for in shelving products that are suitable for use in a cooler or freezer:


Moisture is the #1 enemy of any cooler or freezer shelving. The ability to withstand rust and corrosion is critical to product integrity and food safety is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing cooler and freezer shelving.

In a cooler, the moderate temperature and humidity level have a severe effect on easily corrosive materials. 100% plastic shelving is the best in this application because it won’t corrode in a wet environment. However, that’s not to say that you can’t use wire shelving in your cooler/freezer—you just need the right kind.

Traditional wire shelving meant for dry storage will not withstand the wetness and humidity of your walk-in cooler long-term. Instead, look for materials that are rust-resistant or, ideally, rust-proof. For wire cooler and freezer shelving, stainless steel and epoxy-coated can be used. However, it is best to incorporate plastic, especially in the mats. Having plastic mats ensures the epoxy remains intact to further protect it from rust.

In short, while all-plastic shelving is best for use in a cooler, wire shelving can also work if it has the right properties.

Strength & Stability

Storage and safety go hand-in-hand in the foodservice industry. Employee safety is a must in any cooler/freezer, and the ability to hold heavy items safely should not be overlooked.

Maximum shelf capacity is an important metric when choosing foodservice shelving, but it’s not the only thing you want to pay attention to. It is equally important to look at the design of the shelf.

For instance, ladder-style shelving lacks end beams that are critical to a shelving unit's structural integrity. But with Metro, our strength comes from the corners: the 360˚capture of the post provides a “never fail, never fold" experience and allows safe storage from 800-1000 pounds per shelf.

Whether you’re looking for stationary, mobile, or high-density track shelving, it needs to be stable and robust enough for long-term use. At Metro, our shelving design is always wobble-free and worry-free thanks to our rigorous stability testing.


Keeping your commercial kitchen clean is of the utmost importance, which goes for your cooler/freezer shelving. While keeping up with proper cleaning protocols can be difficult, selecting shelving that will help make this task easier for you and your staff is possible.

At Metro, our commercial shelving solutions for coolers and freezers make cleanup easier:

Removable Mats:

Rust-proof plastic removable shelf mats are a great investment for protecting your cooler/freezer shelving. Our shelf mats are easy to remove for cleaning and are conveniently sized to run through your dish machine. Mats also protect the shelf from abrasion and daily abuse of polycarbonate totes, aiding in longevity.

If you are looking for the aesthetic of wire with the added protection of mats, Metro offers Super Erecta Pro, a shelf with a wire base and  heavy-duty plastic mats created with commercial coolers in mind.

Built-in Microban:

Metro cooler/ freezer shelving solutions have built-in Microban antimicrobial product protection to help keep surfaces cleaner in between regular cleanings. Microban is built into all shelf surfaces, epoxy finishes, and shelf mats to help keep your cooler or freezer cleaner.

Wire vs Polymer Shelving for Walk-in Coolers

While we already looked at appropriate materials for cooler and freezer shelving units, it’s important to dive deeper into the differences between wire and polymer shelving for use in walk-in coolers.

At Metro, we believe in a “good, better, best” system, ranging from solutions that will work to the best products for the application. We know budget constraints and personal preferences can affect purchasing decisions, so we offer innumerable options for your foodservice solutions.

Metro shelving for coolers and freezers: good, better, and best options

Wire Shelving for Coolers and Freezers

While some may claim that wire shelving is “outdated” for use in coolers and freezers, we say that they are likely trying to use a type of shelf that can’t handle such an environment.

For example, we do not recommend using chrome shelving in a wet environment like a cooler. And while stainless steel is naturally corrosion-resistant, it is expensive and, therefore, not the most cost-effective shelving inside a cooler.

Despite some metals being rust-resistant, they are not rust-proof, which means you may experience rust at some point. Instead, look for wire shelving with epoxy coating, such as our Super Erecta Pro shelving line with Metroseal and polymer shelf mats. 

Super Erecta Pro is a GOOD option for cooler and freezer shelving. 

Metroseal Epoxy Finish

When you think of “green shelving,” you think of Metro. We are the originator of epoxy-coated storage solutions for foodservice environments and the only coating available with Microban® in the industry.

Metroseal is an innovative coating comprising two layers: one that helps maintain the shelf's structural integrity while protecting it from red rust and a top epoxy layer that is hydrophobic, making it an excellent solution for use in wet environments.

Polymer Shelving for Coolers and Freezers

If you’re looking for the best cooler storage solutions, polymer (or plastic) shelving is hard to beat. Metro’s advanced plastic shelving offers premium performance in and out of cooler environments.

MetroMax shelving units offer superior lifelong durability and performance and are ideal solutions for your walk-in cooler or freezer. The MetroMax 4 and MetroMax i all-polymer systems feature a lifetime warranty against rust and corrosion. MetroMax Q’s quick-adjust shelving is combined with polymer posts to deliver a 20-year rust warranty.

All MetroMax plastic cooler shelving comes with removable shelf mats that wash by hand or in commercial dishwashers. Shelf mats also serve as a protective surface that withstands the daily abuses from poly-carbonate food storage boxes and stainless-steel pans. Our plastic walk-in cooler shelving includes built-in Microban antimicrobial product protection, similar to our Metroseal products.

MetroMax Q is the BETTER option because it provides the best of both worlds — rust resistant, coated wire understructure with polymer shelf mats for a strong cleanable solution.

But for the BEST solution for your cooler or freezer, we recommend MetroMax 4. This 100% rust-proof, all plastic shelving unit provides unmatched performance and value.

MetroMax 4 Shelving in a commercial freezer

Which Metro Shelving Solutions is Right for Your Cooler/Freezer?

Coolers and freezers are some of the most valuable storage systems in foodservice. Metro’s durable, cleanable walk-in cooler and walk-in freezer shelving systems effectively put your space to work. Need some inspiration? Check out our Idea Gallery to see examples of Metro cooler/freezer shelving in action. 

We don’t expect you to know everything there is about cooler-appropriate shelving—that’s our job. So, if you have any questions about the best products for your application, feel free to reach out to us to go over the best options for your operation.

View our entire collection of cooler and freezer shelving solutions on our website