Garage Storage Shelves How to Make the Best of Yours

“If you already have garage shelving or are considering
installing it, you’ve already realized the benefits of setting your garage up in
a way that makes it easy to organize.

If you want to keep a tidy garage, it’s important to consider how to make the best of your garage storage shelves.


Garage expert Bill West drew that parallel in an article for theProfessional Door Dealer’s“Garage Storage and Organization” report, and it really struck a chord with me. Many homeowners put themselves in that exact situation when it comes to their garages.To put this into perspective, just imagine you lived in a kitchen without cabinets, drawers, or countertops. Wouldn’t that be a mess? Pots, pans, mugs, plates, spices, dishrags, and other kitchen necessities would end up piled into boxes, stacked off to the side, or in other states of disarray.

“Garages are designed to fail in the conventional sense when new homes are built,” argues Mr. West, due to a lack of basic features that help keep other areas of the house properly organized.

If you already have garage shelving or are considering installing it, you’ve already realized the benefits of setting your garage up in a way that makes it easy to organize. That’s why we’re going to cover basic tips and suggestions for how to make the best of your garage storage shelves, as well as factors to take into account when considering the purchase of new garage shelves.

Pick the right Garage Storage Shelves for Your Garage

garage storage shelving
Raxa Power Garage Storage Shelves
71″H x 36″W x 18″D

Garage shelves come in all shapes and sizes. You could have a wall-mounted unit just tall enough to fit a few inches above your garage workbench, or a shelf that goes from floor to ceiling. Likewise, shelf depth can certainly vary, although depths between 12 inches and 36 inches are the most common.

The advantage of choosing a shelf with a depth of 12 inches is that, obviously, it doesn’t take up as much room. This is especially important if you have a small garage. If you have a narrow one-car garage, this could be a way to install garage shelving without getting that claustrophobic feeling.

The downside is that you’re going to have a hard time stuffing large items on the shelf, even if the shelf is long. If horizontal space is enough of a problem that you need to use skinny shelves, you may want to consider overhead garage storage systems as an alternative option.

Overhead storage systems extra or unused space “up there” rather than line your walls with shelves and be forced to park outside. That kinda defeats the purpose of having a garage. You might be surprised at how create you can give with overhead storage space, even if you just want to store your canoe or kayak, or you want to use a bicycle hoist to store your bikes up and out of the way.

If you haven’t built your garage yet, STOP!

You still have time to think carefully about proper garage sizing. For a few bucks more (very few), you could add to the depth and width of your garage and save yourself a lot of anxiety down the road.

Read more about 2 car garage plans and how a little extra room makes a huge difference. If you are considering a larger garage, you can also learn about 3 car plans

If your garage IS big enough, you could go to the other extreme and use a 36 inch deep garage shelf. This will allow you to store larger stuff, such as bulky sports equipment, provided the shelf is long enough. Obviously, if you’re looking at a 10 x 20-foot one car garage, a 3 foot deep shelf is not a very good choice.

No matter how tall, short, shallow or deep your preferred shelves are, be sure to measure the area you have available and double-check it before spending a dime on garage furniture. My dad taught me to “measure twice and cut once” (When did my dad get so smart? Not when I was a teenager!)

Use Plastic Storage Bins and Totes

Plastic Storage Bins
Clear Storage Box – Iris 44 Qt.(2)

Plastic storage bins and totes are handy because you can use them to organize similar items in your garage, such as tools, gardening supplies, seasonal clothing and decorations, etc.. Then, you can just stick a label on them, or even write directly on each box with a permanent marker. Ideally, use clear storage bins so you can see what’s inside.

Make sure the bins and totes you buy are the appropriate size for the garage storage shelves you have or are planning to install. It’s important to know the precise measurements to be sure they will fit with as little wasted space as possible. This seems like an obvious detail, but it is often overlooked and can lead to a lot of wasted or underutilized shelf space.

If you have wall mounted garage shelves, you may be able to store your plastic bins directly on the floor, but you still need to measure the available space.

Free Standing vs. Wall Mounted Garage Storage Shelves

Free standing garage storage shelves are the most common. They don’t require installation, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally setting them up wrong and having them buckle under added weight.

Because they don’t require installation, you won’t have to make holes in your walls, which can be a biggie if you’re renting a home. Lightweight free standing garage shelves are also easier to move on a whim than wall mounted garage shelves, although the heavier ones are much harder.

Wall mounted garage shelves, on the other hand, have a modern, clean look. Since they can be installed at various heights, you can make them tall enough to keep curious kids and pets away from your tasty-looking gardening supplies and pretty tools. Wall mounted garage shelves also deter mice and bugs from getting to your stuff.

Thousands of Products Online at Stacks and Stacks

Another advantage is that, since the shelves don’t touch the floor, it will be easier to sweep and mop your garage. Plus, if there is ever water or road salt on your garage floor, it won’t have a chance to damage your shelves or the items they hold. If you do choose to store things directly on the floor, the potential for water damage is another great reason to use plastic storage bins.

Clearly, both floor mounted and wall mounted garage shelves come with advantages and disadvantages. Just think about your specific needs before choosing.

Designate Specific Areas in your garage for Specific Items.

Let’s go back to Bill West’s comparison of the kitchen and the garage. Many people who wouldn’t dream of storing the bags of flour next to the teacups in the kitchen still haphazardly throw art supplies next to holiday decorations or yard and garden chemicals in the garage!

It’s helpful to designate specific areas in your garage for specific items, just as you would in your kitchen. For small items, this could just mean deciding which part of the shelf they should go on. Obviously, if you have kids or pets, it’s a good idea to keep dangerous items higher up.

As mentioned earlier, plastic storage bins and totes can definitely be helpful with this task. It can also mean setting up your garage storage shelves to leave intentional gaps for large items.

For example, you could use four wide shelves that nearly cover one wall of your garage, but leave a gap just large enough for your folded-up ladder. With this method, large items can fit in neatly and stay in their designated places.

Garage Storage Shelves – Final Thoughts

Clearly, planning is the key when deciding how to make the best of your garage shelving. Measure the areas of the garage that you can set aside for shelves, consider the advantages and disadvantages of different types of shelves, buy plastic storage bins and totes in the appropriate sizes, and come up with a plan for which items should go where.

Basically, if you treat your garage more like your kitchen, you can transform it from an afterthought storage unit (or dump) to a tidy, big new room in your house. Oh, and with a well-organized garage, you might even have space for your car!


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