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Plastic Dust Covers For Steel Shelving


This storage suggestion provides a method of enclosing large metal shelving units for dust protection and partial micro-climate control. Although not air-tight, the plastic cover will provide some protection for humidity-sensitive items from insect invasion and short-term rapid humidity fluctuations in uncontrolled buildings. The method is simple, economical, and most of the materials are easy to obtain.



David Guynes
Museum and Archeological Regional Storage
National Park Service
10201 Aerospace Road
Box 283
Lanham, MD 20706 USA.
Tel (301) 344-3376
Fax (301) 344-3033

Photographs: David Guynes


The dust cover is made from two panels of polyethylene sheeting that are stretched over and around the uprights on each of the two ends of metal shelving units and are held in place with office binder clips. A third sheet of polyethylene is draped over the top and down the front and back of the shelving unit. This sheet overlaps the edges of the plastic end pieces and is secured in place with magnets. The unit is accessed from the two sides that are magnet-held (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. Steel shelving units enclosed in plastic dust covers.

Materials Tools Supplies

  • Binder clips, small
  • Ceramic magnets 17/8in x 3/8in, 35/8lb lift
  • Metal straightedge
  • Polyethylene heat sealer
  • Polyethylene sheeting 6mil, roll 20ft x 100ft
  • Utility knife


  1. Cut two pieces of polyethylene sheeting that are the width and height of the ends of the steel shelving units, plus 6in for overlap around the steel frame.
  2. Cover the ends of the steel shelving units by stretching the strip of plastic over them.
  3. Tightly wrap the edges of the plastic around the steel frame to form a drumhead-like skin and secure the plastic to the frame with office supply binder clips. The type of clip with folding handles works best (Fig. 2).

    Figure 2. Plastic tightly wrapped around ends of shelving unit and held in place with binder clips.
  4. Cut a third piece of polyethylene sheeting wide enough to cover the face of the unit and long enough to extend from the bottom to the top of the face, over the top and down the other side.
  5. Secure the plastic at the bottom of each side with binder clips. Allow sufficient overhang at each end to permit the plastic to be lapped around steel and against the plastic that is secured to the ends.
  6. Hold end and front layers of plastic together with magnets.
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