You did it. You made the call. It’s time. . . It’s finally time to clean out your garage. Deep breath, my friend. A lot of us have been there – where the mess is finally too much to handle any more. And either something needs to change, or you may just light it all on fire and hope the rest of your house stays intact. But before that impulse gets the best of you, do know that garage organization and storage solutions are not too far out of reach. It may feel overwhelming at first since your garage may truly be neglected or uncharted territory. Or the number or options for how to tackle and organize the space may feel endless, but not quite what you need. Add to that all the companies bidding for your dollars with shelving, cabinets, bins, hooks, and other products. Measuring! Configuring! Planning!
But no need to lose hope! We were there with our own garage, and successfully came out the other side. And we’ve compiled a list of garage storage solutions to help you make the process of getting your space in order a little easier.
Getting your garage things in order can be challenging, but there are several ways to implement customized garage storage solutions to make your task manageable. From storage and tool cabinets to wall-mounted and free-standing shelving. From overhead storage solutions to what and how to store tools and other items on the narrow sidewalls of your garage, there are garage storage solutions for you and your situation. Here are some of the best garage storage solutions for your garage.
I was walking to the mailbox the other day and enjoying the neighborhood. I was just walking there minding my own business and enjoying the wonderful weather that Arizona has in the winter. The sound of a garage door opening caught my ear and I looked toward the sound. As the garage was opening, I saw a garage from floor to ceiling, stacked precariously, full… and I literally mean FULL of stuff. I was probably 100ish feet away, but I could see that there were little walkways around the mess, and that was about it.
As I continued to walk, I started chewing on the idea of how I would tackle that situation. How would one go through that mess and make order out of something that is pure chaos? First, it would require a huge dumpster and some online sales. But after the initial purge, a garage storage solution would need to be determined and put into place.
Organized garage storage can be achieved in numerous ways. This includes garage storage cabinets, garage tool cabinets, and garage storage shelving. There are also overhead garage storage options and organizers that can be extremely helpful in giving everything its place in the garage. We are going to break down the different garage storage solutions that are available and how they might be able to fit in your specific setup. We will have links to the products that I either own or recommend. We will also have links to other articles that drill down on a specific topic for further information.
Garage Storage Cabinets
Storage cabinets can be an amazing component of your garage storage solution. They look amazing and can make your garage look far more professional. No matter what you store in the cabinets, no matter how much of a disaster they may look on the inside, you can close the doors and your garage looks immaculate. (Of course, tidy organized shelves are worth the time too, if you go so far as to purchase the cabinets. But I’m sure we’ve all been in a place where a quick cleanup is needed before the actual project is complete.)
If you are considering storage cabinets as a garage storage solution, you will need to consider a few things before you purchase. First, make sure you know the dimensions of the space so you can design a cabinet layout that is going to be most beneficial. Second, you need to make sure that the dimensions are not going to impede parking, doors opening, or additional storage options I.e. overhead storage solutions. Third, what are you going to store? What dimension depth will you need/prefer? Usually, the 18-inch cabinets are made of 24-gauge steel when the 24-inch cabinets are a little hardier and are built from 18-gauge steel.
Garage storage cabinets nearly always have to be on the ground because of the overall weight that they are holding at any given time. There are some options that can be installed into the studs on the wall so that they are suspended rather than having feet on the ground holding up the storage cabinets. I like the idea of easy cleanup of sawdust and other debris since there are no legs on the ground harboring unwanted sawdust and other junk. I also really like that when sweeping and mopping, you have easy and simple access to the entire floor rather than having to contend with the cabinet feet when trying to clean up. The last benefit, and is the thought that almost had my install my cabinets on the wall is that you have more control over the height of the cabinets, and ultimately the work countertop since you can raise the garage storage cabinets a little higher than what the feet adjustments allow.
If you would like additional info and thoughts on storage cabinets as a garage storage solution, check out our article on “How to Choose the Right Storage Cabinets” for your garage.
For our product review on the NewAge Bold Series Storage Cabinets, check out our article.
Garage Tool Cabinets
Tool cabinets, especially rolling tool cabinets/boxes are fantastic. They provide designated places for everything in your tool arsenal, and if they have rollers, can be wheeled to where you are working. Having your tools in arms reach is far more productive and can speed up efficiency when you are working on something.
When considering this kind of tool chest, there are some other things you should ask yourself. (Will all my tools fit in the one tool chest? Is there space for it in my garage?) If you are contending with space issues, some of the garage storage cabinet solutions have a tool cabinet option that can be parked under a worktop. For other ideas here, check out our article on “Tips for a Tidy Toolbox and Workspace.”
As a collector of tools, seeing the massive toolboxes at the big box stores sometimes makes me yearn for the “have it all” models. I will say that the toolbox with the radio, electrical power hookup, jetpacks, water dispenser, and a disco ball has its amazing draws. And for a shop, or a huge garage that is not limited in space (and for the person who is not limited in budget), these might be the perfect option for you. I have learned recently though after moving that two smaller toolboxes are a ton easier to manage and move than one monster that takes up most of a wall, six dudes, and a case of beer to move.
Garage Storage Shelving
There are two different types of garage storage shelving that you may want to consider when you are looking at garage storage solutions. There are wall-mounted shelves that are suspended from the sidewall, and in some cases, have cables that either also suspend from the wall or can suspend the shelf from the ceiling. The other option in your quest for garage storage serenity is free standing shelving. You need to consider how shelving; especially free-standing shelving is going to work with the rest of your garage storage solutions.
Height is one of the major things to consider when it comes to garage storage shelving. For wall-mounted shelves, you have options for how high or low they hang based on how they are installed. These allow you to either conserve garage floor space leaving it free and clear, or as another slot to slide things under the unit. For the free-standing shelves, be sure to measure carefully, as the dimensions play a large role in where your shelving will stand and stay. If you purchase a 2’ by 4’ garage storage shelf, you are committed that 8 square feet of space in your garage is going to be taken up with that unit.
There are several options for wall-mounted shelves. Most of them will have a supporting bracket that is under the shelf. In general, the bracket is mounted on the wall like typical shelving that you see either in the laundry room or closet. Normally this will not be a huge deal, but this will limit what can be stored on the wall-mounted garage storage shelf since the wall stud is supporting all the weight and that bracket is acting as a fulcrum.
Depending on what you want to store with this particular type of unit, you need to make sure that the wall-mounted shelf will be able to support the weight. What we recommend is the type of wall-mounted shelf be suspended from both the wall stud and the ceiling joist. This type of shelving can handle more weight since the wall is not the only support and the shelf is acting as a lever.
The recommended products will have both the bracket-type wall mounted garage storage shelf and the one with the cable suspension option that can be secured on the garage ceiling joist.
Here are a few recommendations for wall mounted shelves.
For our owner review on the NewAge Pro Series Wall Mounted Shelves, check out this article on the product.
Free Standing Shelving
If wall mounted shelves have several options, there are a bazillion options when it comes to freestanding shelving. Some things to consider: Obviously, weight capacity is always a factor when it comes to storage. Another is where this garage storage solution going to reside? Will rolling casters be a benefit for this shelving unit so you can move it out of the way depending on the project or trying to clean the floor of the garage? Personally, I am a fan of keeping as much as possible off the floor of the garage. There needs to be a good reason, and not many other viable options if I am going to take up precious square footage in the garage junkie garage space.
Garage Junkie Garage Storage Recommendations for Free Standing Shelving:
Overhead Garage Storage Solutions
Overhead garage storage solutions are something that anyone who is trying to increase their storage options should at least consider. There are several different versions, sizes, and addons to help with making the most out of something as versatile as your garage ceiling for storage options.
Overhead garage storage shelves need to be secured into the garage ceiling joists. From the options available for purchase, I would say that most of them are able to support more weight than what a truss chord is able to support. If you have floor joist above your garage (you have a second level living area above the garage), that type of ceiling joist can support more weight. If you have a ceiling truss, be aware that that will limit the weight able to be supported by the ceiling. Please read this article for more information on “How Much Can My Garage Ceiling Hold”.
One of the major concerns that people might have, or they at least might be averse to needing a ladder to gain access, is having to get to their stored items overhead. Now, this is a valid concern and depending on your situation, might have been something that you should have avoided with earlier overhead garage storage options. Several companies have now provided options, either manually or motorized, that give you the convenience and flexibility of using overhead storage yet will also grant you access from the ground by having the option to lower the shelving platform.
Another concern that people might have when it comes to overhead garage storage is the fear that their stored items may fall and break or fall and hurt someone or something. On some of the shelving units, there is a lip around the frame that helps prevent this from happening. If items are secured properly when stored, there will be little chance that jostling or shifting should occur to the point that something falls.
When you are installing overhead garage storage, you need to make sure that the storage system is installed correctly and is secure to the ceiling. If would like more information on how to install your overhead garage storage shelves check out our article on the subject; “How to Install Above Garage Door Storage”.
Static Overhead Shelving
Static is just a term coined to explain the differences available when it comes to overhead garage storage. Most overhead garage storage options are storage systems that are stationary and are secured to the ceiling joist of the garage. There are some adjustment options during installation, but other than when initially installed, there basically static and stationary along the garage ceiling. These types of overhead garage storage solutions can suspend the most weight since there is not something mechanical that needs to raise and lower the storage platform.
This is a type of garage storage shelving that will require a ladder to gain access. Consider what you are going to be storing on the shelves, how often you will need to access, and what all it requires you to do to gain access (I.e. pull the cars out of the garage).
Garage Junkie Garage Storage Recommendations for Overhead Shelving:
Manual Crank Storage Lift
If you need to have access from the ground, items that you want to store in an overhead garage storage shelf, a manual crank lift might be a viable option for you. Generally, these manual crank storage lifts are cheaper than their motorized counterparts and do not require you to either have a power supply nearby or have the possibility of a kid hitting the button and dropping the storage platform on the car. You will have to manually raise and lower using a hand crank or purchasing an attachment to connect to your hand drill, but this type of garage storage solution can be a valid choice.
Garage Junkie Garage Storage Recommendations for Manual Crank Storage Lifts:
For more about the Racor Garage Ceiling Storage Rack Lift, check out our article on the product.
Motorized Storage Lift
Talk about the Cadillac of overhead garage storage options… Having a motorized overhead storage lift gives you the utility of using your garage ceiling as storage space, but with a press of a button, lowers the storage platform for easy access. Motorized hoists in general can raise and lower more weight and are safer since the motor provides only a set speed for the storage shelf to be raised and lowered.
If you are considering a motorized storage lift as an overall garage storage solution, you need to make sure that you have a way to supply power. You will also need to determine how the hoist works. Some of them have the hoist and the rest of the lift system on the overhead unit itself and are operated by a remote. Others that you might come across have the hoist at typical light switch height with a pulley and cable system that will raise and lower the storage platform. You will need to pay attention to your space since this type of lift might require more than the square footage of the shelving unit itself.
Garage Junkie Garage Storage Recommendations for Motorized Storage Lifts:
Wall Garage Storage Solutions
If you are limited to the space you have between the cars and the garage side walls, you know how irritating it can be seeing that open canvas of a wall go to waste since the spacing is so narrow when the cars are parked in the garage. Well, do not fear. There is still very little space, but we might as well make the most out of what we have.
There are a few garage storage options that are prime to fit in those narrow areas of the garage where nearly everything else will bang up the car door. These are perfect places to hang up ladders, collapsible chairs and tables, yard tools, and more that otherwise collect in the corners of the garage and become a tripping hazard for anyone that looks in that direction. Check out this article on “Sidewall Storage.”
You might need to be strategic with how you do this- Survey the scene once the cars are parked in the garage to see what kind of space you have after the sidewall storage you choose is on the wall. If there is a concern with banging up the car door, you might want to look at strategically placing a pool noodle or a piece of carpet as a guard to keep things from rubbing up against one another. You also may also want to lower or raise what you decide to go with a few inches to avoid contact. Most of these items are very forgiving on how they are installed and if you have the space, raising the storage unit to account for the car door might be an easy fix.
Wall Mounted Tool Organizers
There are several options for wall mounted tool organizers that will be a great addon for any overall garage storage solution. Most of the time, in one way or another, these types of tool organizers are hooks, pegs, clamps, or a combination thereof. These wall organizers work perfectly in these narrow sidewalls because they only stick out a few inches from the wall and allow most of the door clearance to remain. These narrow areas are perfect for yard tools, like shovels and rakes, since they hang against the wall getting them out of the way, yet not taking up much space at all.
Garage Junkie Garage Storage Recommendations for Wall Mounted Tool Organizers:
Ladders are one of those things that unless you have a designated place and a determined way to store them, they are always in the way. The sidewalls of the garage or overhead are perfect places to park these things when they are not being used. Another option and another type of ladder rack that we recommend is one that installs overhead.
You need to determine what is best for you to access your ladders. Both racks and hooks will generally allow for easy access, but you will need to take in consideration the ceiling height, how the ladder rack is going to work with the rest of your garage storage solution, and how heavy these ladders are that you are going to be lugging around and trying to gain access to or store.
Since we moved, I have not had a chance to get the ladder hooks installed into the new garage yet. We had them in the old house, and they were perfect since the extension ladder was near the ceiling running parallel with the garage door track. The extension ladder was completely out of the way and was taking up space that I would not have been able to use for anything else. The A-frame ladder was on a set of ladder hooks on the sidewall. The ladder was at normal height, but since it was on the hooks rather than resting on the floor and leaning against the wall, it was able to take up less floor space and we were able to park the cars in this tiny little garage.
Garage Junkie Garage Storage Recommendations for Ladder Racks:
Garage Storage Organizers
Shelves, cabinets, and chests provide excellent places to store your larger tools. But smaller items can still clutter up your shelves if not organized into their own controlled spaces. Organizers can make your garage storage solutions more functional and can work seamlessly within the larger storages spaces as needed.
For example, you might want to use the storage bins either inside your garage storage cabinets or maybe have slatwall along the wall over your work countertop. Pegboard might be above the rolling toolbox or behind the hanging tools to fill in the gaps between the rake and shovel. Be creative and you will be amazed at the nooks and crannies that you can store your garage tools and other items. Here are a few ideas for sorting your bits from your saw blades and your plumbing from your electrical.
Hanging bins and shelving bins can be a huge space saver for your overall garage storage solution. We use these in several ways to help keep things separated and organized so that everything has a place and is much easier to find. This is one of the things that I struggle with most when it comes to my garage storage and overall garage organization.
My wife is much better at organizing things and life and she can locate nearly anything I ask in the house. She has helped me with the garage, and I can sometimes find it a drudgery, but then I use a tool and did not put it back, I instantly regretted it next time I need to use that tool… don’t tell my wife that though…
Garage Junkie Garage Storage Recommendations for Shelf Bin Organizers:
Slatwall is normally something you would see in an apartment store, but it is amazing and very versatile and can be implemented very easy when it comes to your garage. Slatwall has these running grooves that run horizontally and allow for hooks and hangers, racks and bins to be placed along the track. Slatwall is fantastic for garage storage solutions since the hangers and other hardware can be moved and rearranged to fit the ongoing, ever-altering, needs of your garage. For more ideas for what to store, check out our article on “6 Creative Garage Slatwall Ideas.”
Garage Junkie Garage Storage Recommendations for Slatwall Organizers:
Pegboard is one of the most tried and true garage storage options. Much like slatwall, pegboard is very versatile since the pegs can be continuously rearranged to fit as tools are cycled out or, let’s be honest, added to over time. The other part that I like about pegboard is that this can installed all over the place as a garage storage solution. If there is a small area that otherwise would be wasted, pegboard can be installed. If you have a flat surface, even a side panel of your garage storage cabinet, install a panel of pegboard to redeem that space.
Normally, pegboard is more functional than aesthetically pleasing. But more recently, metal options have arrived on the scene as an alternative to the old MDF board. As the metal pegboards are manufactured a certain way, installation is easier. The metal pegboard is usually offset from the wall a half-inch because of how the metal is bent and formed, this no extra frame construction is needed.
Garage Junkie Garage Storage Recommendations for Pegboard Organizers:
Final Thoughts Before Implementing Your Garage Storage Solutions
When looking at garage storage solutions and how to integrate them into your space, it can feel like a daunting task. There are options upon options out there for garage storage. If you are trying to implement a better overall system for your garage storage needs, keep these concepts in mind and make it happen.
Make sure you know what you are going to store and if there are any weight capacity concerns. Measure things out, maybe even taping out the layout on the garage floor so you know where your garage storage solutions are going to fit. If you are going to be parking the vehicles in the garage, make sure they are going to be able to fit once you get everything else installed.
Garage storage cabinets are an amazing addition to any garage. They look sleek and professional and can change the look and feel of your garage in one go. There are two general depths when it comes to garage storage cabinets; you have 18” and 24” depths. Usually the larger depth, the hardier and thicker the material it is made from. Generally, you will see 24-gauge steel for the 18” garage storage cabinets, and 18-gauge steel for the 24” garage storage cabinets. Make sure the storage cabinets you choose can withstand the beating of what they are going to store.
Garage storage shelving can be a huge benefit for your overall garage and household storage capabilities. I know what you are thinking “I do not want my spouses crap cluttering my garage”, and if my wife doesn’t read all my articles, I would say that I completely agree. Sometimes you must compromise for the greater good… or whatever. I really like the idea of the wall-mounted shelving being overhead so you can keep as much square footage available at floor level. Combining overhead storage and the wall-mounted storage options have worked great so far.
When you are looking at overhead storage, make sure your garage ceiling can hold the weight. You need to take in account the other fixtures that you might have in the garage (I.e. water heater, entry doors, etc.). Determine how best to access the overhead garage storage solution to decide to go with. Are you going to need to pull out a ladder to get to the stored items? Are you going to go with one of the lifts that were discussed earlier so the cargo can be raised and lowered?
Lastly, for garage storage organizers, these are fantastic to implement into nearly any part of your overall garage storage solution. Having a place for everything and keeping everything in its place helps keep your garage clean and everything running smoothly. The trouble, that at least I have, is remembering to put everything back.