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How to Make Garage Shelves

You may dream about remodeling or completely renovating your garage; but, when you look at the budget, you know it is not going to happen. So, how to you get that extra storage space that you need so badly? Well… the first step is to develop a good garage shelving plan.

Yes, you are using the garage for storage already, but the space is not being used efficiently and you can never find what you want. It seems to have become home for all types of sports equipment, tools, machines, and a collection of family stuff. The garage’s original purpose for parking the cars and a small workout area seem to have been lost in the mess of it all.

Sound familiar? Discouraging? Maybe, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it is a prime opportunity to organize your storage so that everything is organized and easily accessible. This can be done by designing and installing new garage shelving.

The most popular options for garage shelving are:

1. Modular Storage Kits – These have components that you can mix and match to solve your particular storage challenges. The pre-set sizes and allowable weight loads, limit how the shelving can be used and may also create lots of wasted space. Once the kits are constructed, it would be wise to secure them to the wall to prevent accidental tipping.

2. Shelving or wall-mounted racks. These are all very popular choices. Shelves are more space efficient than wall-mounted racks, but the racks are more affordable.

3. Cabinets, although costly are an excellent choice because they protect stored items from moisture and dust – and almost always require a contractor for installation. Stackable plastic containers placed on shelves are much less expensive and also have the advantage of providing visibility of the contents..

Let’s look at shelving since it is the one used most frequently. Shelving can be found in two main forms: 1) site-built and 2) prefabricated.

Site-built shelves work well because they allow you to adapt shelf size to the space available, making it easier to use the space more efficiently. The necessary materials should be available at your local hardware store, home center, and/or lumber yard.

Basic garage shelving can be constructed using a piece of ¾” plywood cut to the dimensions you need and set on heavy-duty shelf brackets. The brackets are mounted directly to studs using long screws. The shelf is then placed on top and attached to the brackets. To strengthen the shelf and ensure that it will hold heavy boxes or equipment, you should add a support brace to each stud.

Floor-supported garage shelving is another site-built option. One method for constructing these is to form upright supports by running vertical 2×4 boards every 50 inches. Each 2×4 should rest on the floor and be attached to a rafter or ceiling joist at the top. Then, additional 2×4 boards are attached horizontally on edge between the uprights and particle board is used to create the shelf. Dimensions are usually 19-25 inches deep with 25 inches between each shelf. These are only suggested dimensions and can be adjusted to better accommodate the size of the items that will be stored.

Small adjustable shelves can be built between the studs and provide great storage space for small items such as jars, cans, bottles and for organizing and storing screws and nails. These storage spaces are built by attaching a series of 1×2 wood strips horizontally to the inside edges of two adjacent studs, approximately six inches apart. Also cut some 1×4 and 1×6 pieces of lumber, slip them on top of the 1×2 where they should fit between the studs very nicely.

Steel prefabricated garage shelving is the best choice in this category. You can also purchase plastic shelving, which is OK for light items, but does not work well for storing heavier items. The big disadvantage of steel shelving is that the shelves cannot be cut to size. You are forced to work with standard measurements for depth and length of the shelves. Also, be sure that there are at least two different settings for shelf placement on the frame. The adjusting pins must be heavy-duty and should have something in place to prevent them from working loose or becoming accidentally dislodged.

The final consideration when using prefabricated garage shelves, especially those designed for heavy loads is that you find some way to attach them to the wall, or create some other form of support that will prevent them from tipping and creating a danger to friends and family members.

It is highly unlikely that you will have to acquire a building permit for this type of project, unless you decide to do any kind of plumbing or electrical wiring. When in doubt, be sure to check your city’s building codes.

Installing garage shelving is not particularly difficult, but if you have never done anything like this, you may want to hire a handyman to do it for you. It will probably be faster and could be less expensive in the long run.