Aesthetic and Functional Considerations

You may have weighed several options when considering the best type of display case for your team’s trophies, but you’re not done yet. There’s another important element—the shelving. Shelving for display cases is more than just a place to set the awards. Your choice will have aesthetic and functional implications for the display unit.

There are options to consider with shelving selection. This information will help with your shelving decision.

Campbell Middle School Shelving for Display CasesTypes of Shelving

Glass shelving is most common and is available in ¼” to 3/8” for standard displays. It can be ordered with a thicker glass of ½” if heavier objects will be on the shelves. Most school displays have an economy cabinet with ¼” glass shelving that attaches to the back of the display with brackets. Glass may be tempered for all shelving options.

Glass shelving is most common since most units are multi-tiered, and glass, being transparent, allows the light to pass through. The recessed display cases are typically illuminated at the top and glass shelving allows the light to wash all the way down on objects on lower shelves.

When selecting glass, there is the option to have Starphire glass that is lead-free and low iron. It’s a higher quality, higher clarity glass that’s blue on the edges. Standard tempered glass is green on the edges and as the thickness increases, the overall tint becomes greener. However, Starphire glass is nearly 3 times the cost.

Opaque Shelving is another choice and is available in laminate, wood veneer, plywood with wood veneer, or hardwood with plastic laminate. These options tend to be used in atypical display cases which have fewer items on display. Some people desire the warmth of wood in their display cases. Though wood tones add to the warmth of the unit, this choice has a bearing on subsequent lighting selections. Opaque shelves will need a supplemental lighting (puck lights or LED strips) on the bottoms of the shelves since light can’t wash down from the top.

Opaque shelves can be rotated at an angle to display a book, an engraved trophy plate, or other memorabilia. Also, a display cabinet with wood or laminate shelving gives the unit more of a “furniture look” than trophy case look—a consideration for some business displays, museum displays, or those used in libraries or nature centers.

Glass and opaque shelving can be combined in a custom unit as is shown in the image for Campbell Middle School’s display.

Standard Brackets or Cable Suspension

MVS Gopher State Shelving for Display CasesThere are two methods for mounting shelving for display cases — by standard brackets or suspension cables.

Typical brackets are inserted into a “Standard” strip mounted to the back of the display unit. The standards and brackets are steel for maximum strength. Standard and bracket mounting is adjustable and has a classic, traditional look. A slat wall backing is an option with bracket mounted shelving as is shown in the image.

Cable suspension is the most aesthetically appealing for a display. Stainless steel cables are suspended, running from the top to the bottom of unit and have small clips to attach the shelves to the cables. Santa Margarita Catholic High School Shelving for Display CasesSuspended cable shelving is a “step up” from standard, and has glass (3/8”) with a polished edge. Suspended shelving gives a cleaner, more contemporary look that’s preferred by architects and designers. This type of shelf mounting allows for greater mobility and adjustment of the shelves since the clips ride up and down on the cables.

Additional design options are available with the wire/cable/suspended shelving. For an aesthetically stunning look that allows multiple sides for viewing there are options to do double face or even 3 or 4 sides of viewing where the cables are barely visible. The display unit in the image uses a set of outside windows facing a courtyard.

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