Lately, I’ve noticed that a trending use of wall space in garages and mudrooms incorporates the ever-versatile slatwall. This type of paneling isn’t anything new, really. The grooves in the wood panels are a classic way to organize any number of things with hooks and buckets. But whenever something is trending, you better believe that a designer put together a package with their name on it and added a price tag marked triple what the materials actually cost.  

So here you are. You probably just finished browsing the slatwall ideas for your garage to store your tools and other items. And maybe, you were (like me) shocked at the pricing on the “ready to install” panels. And then, did you think to yourself “I could build that and save a bundle!”?  

Well now that the sticker shock has worn off, and you are done marveling at the uncanny way I just read your mind, it is now time to put your project skills to task. Not sure how to build your own garage slatwall? Never fear! Charge your drill batteries and locate your stud finder – it is time to start building slatwall in your garage. 

Adding slatwall to your garage is a DIY upgrade that is not only functional and appealing to the eye, but also gives great versatility with storage. Building your own slatwall can be an excellent way to save some money and create a custom fit with the available wall space in your garage. By taking a few measurements, compiling tools and materials, and following a few other installation tips, you will be on your way to a satisfying new use of wall space you can be proud you put together yourself. 

Before you dive too deep into how to build your garage slatwall, you need to determine where you are going to install your snazzy new wall addition in your garage or mudroom. Now, you may already have a large wall surface that you have been eyeballing and dreaming about. But I would suggest, and maybe even challenge you – look for other flat surfaces that you may be able to spruce up as additional slatwall space.  

Areas that might be prime for slatwall include. . . 

  • On a wall behind a workbench 
  • On the side of a garage cabinet 
  • Above a wall-mounted bike rack 
  • Next to the garage entry door  

These are just a few functional options for you to brainstorm. Due note – as slatwall is customizable for surfaces like this, some installation steps may need to be modified slightly when you install. For example, you won’t want to drill holes into the side of your garage cabinets. Or you might need to change the lumber size to something with smaller dimensions, to fit a smaller space. But the premise for how to install garage slatwall on any surface is basically the same.  

Things We Like About Garage Slatwall 

You’re probably already sold on the idea if you’ve read this far. But for inquiring minds that are still asking how to make use of slatwall, or why they would want to cover a wall with it, here are some highlights that make this kind of paneling a must-have.  

Garage slatwall is low profile 

A lot of us have any number of things competing for space in the garage. Slatwall is a great way to gain back storage areas in those narrow places that would otherwise be unusable. Sidewalls, small spaces near doorways, or above the garage door are some examples.  

Slatwall also gives storage options for your walls while still giving you room to climb in and out of the car. It is also possible to build and install inserts for your garage slatwall, that you could add a pool noodle so your door can rest against the wall without paint chipping.  

Garage slatwall is very customizable 

Tools come and go. What might be an ideal storage situation now might not be the same a year from now depended if you are adding to your tools or are swapping old ones for upgrades. No matter the situation, garage slatwall can be tailored to your storage needs. If you purchase something new, you can reorganize the tools and hooks to make room for the new addition.  

If you find yourself juggling hobbies that change the “on-hand” repertoire of your tools, slatwall can provide a means to be flexible holding chisels and sandpaper, or drill bits and paintbrushes depending on the project. Using slatwall provides a simple way to customize your garage layout for easy access. It can also be a nice way to organize your garage laundry space, by adding a shelf for detergent, a basket for dryer sheets, and a hook for your lint roller. Check out our article on “6 Creative Garage Slatwall Ideas.”

Building your own garage slatwall is an easy project for the DIYer 

Installing slatwall in your garage is one of those projects that you can DIY with just a few hours of planning and working. If you have a stud finder and can stop pointing it at your chest for a few minutes while saying “I found a stud…”, you can map out your available wall space and really get to planning. 

How to Get Started with Building Garage Slatwall 

Just like any project, you first need to take measurements. Determining the dimensions will help you buy the right amount of materials to cover the right amount of space. After this, collect the tools and materials needed to get your slatwall dreams in motion.  

What is Needed for Building Your own Garage Slatwall? 

Tools 

You will need: 

  •  Stud finder 
  • Drill 
  • Level 
  • Miter saw 
  • Tape measure 

Materials 

For materials, you have some options. You will need some vertical boards that will run along the wall studs that will allow the slatboard to be offset from the garage wall. To keep things cost-effective, a 1×2 should work just fine, but you might want to consider up to a 2×4 depending on how much weight you are going to be loading onto the slatwall. In most cases a 1×2 will be more than enough, just predrill and use screws that will bite into the 1×2 and the stud. 

For the horizontal slats, we recommend 1×3, but again this might be substituted depending on what you are going to be supporting and where you are installing this specific piece of garage slatwall. For smaller areas, or with areas that will hold smaller tools, you might want to use a 1×2 or smaller. If you are looking to install slatwall on a large surface, like an entire wall, you might want to use larger width boards for the additional strength. 

If you are concerned about us mentioning different size boards to use when building your slatwall, do not worry. All you need to do is have your gap between your slatwall boards be the same height as the boards you going to use to make your attachments. We will go more into this in the next section. 

You will need to use screws to secure your slatwall to the garage wall. If you are drilling into a wood stud, and you are using 1xX boards to build your slatwall, we recommend 3 ¼”- 3 ½” screws so you can secure the horizontal boards not only into the vertical board but the stud as well (¾” horizontal board + ¾” vertical board + ½ to ¾” drywall which will allow 1 ¾” to 2” of screw left to bite into the stud. 

For masonry, you will want to use a larger vertical board, like a 2×4 and secure it with mason screws every 18” or so. Do not worry about screwing the horizontal boards into the masonry, use a 1 ½” to a 2” wood screw to secure the boards together. 

The Basics of How to Build Garage Slatwall 

Step #1 – Locate and mark the studs in the area that the slatwall will be installed. After all the studs have been located, cut the vertical boards to length and install them along the stud. Make sure to secure the vertical boards using screws. Screws tend to be more secure than nails in projects like this as it is harder for them to be pulled out of the wall when weight is added. Affix the vertical board to the wall with a screw at least one every 18 inches. Using a 3 ¼”- 3 ½ wood screw will ensure that the board makes it all the way through to the stud.  

Step #2 – Cut the horizontal slat boards to their designated length with your miter saw. Once finished, start with the bottom slat. Make sure the board is level. Take the additional time needed to get this first slat installed correctly. Once this one is in place, the rest of the job will go much quicker. 

Step #3 – Using the trick from Install Tip #1 (below), either use some scrap pieces or cut a few spacers from your 1xX and use the 1” (¾” for you people who are wanting to be overly specific) size as a spacer. You will want to have a few pieces to use as spacers, minimum 2. Put the spaces on the last slat that you have installed and rest the next board on top of the spacers. This will ensure proper spacing and will make it easy for when you build your pegs and other accessories to hold your tools. 

Step #4 – Once you have your slats installed and secured into the vertical board, you can now start building your pegs and other addons for the garage slatwall. In general, you can be as creative as you want to be with this.  

The general idea here is that you want to build these addons and other slatwall accessories out of 1xX, the same as you did with the boards. If the spacing was done correctly, the 1x will slide snugly into the groove without any play keeping your stored items and tools from being easily pulled out of the slatwall. 

Here are a couple of ideas you can use for your garage slatwall addons and accessories: 

  • Make and use 1×1 square pegs 
  • Use a 1×3 and install the board lengthwise in the slat board. Drill holes on the top of the exposed end for screwdrivers 
  • Screw a 1×2 to a 1×3 lengthwise to form an “L” shape. Drill holes partially through and use it to hold drill bits 

Install Tip #1 

If you are building your garage slatwall with 1x, use scraps as spacers for when you are installing the horizontal slats. This is a cheap, effective way of standardizing spacing on your garage slatwall without having to measure and level the slat every single board that you install. 

Install Tip #2 

If you are concerned once you build your garage slatwall, that the drywall behind it could get marred and beat up from continual use, we suggest that you either put in a stop screw so that your slatwall accessories cannot be over-inserted and/or install a sheet of luan board (link) to keep anything from hitting the back wall behind the slatwall.  

Install Tip #3 

When you build your garage slatwall and its accessories and add-ons, make sure you build the accessories and addons so that your tools and other items are as close to the slats as possible. This will help keep from your hooks and pegs from pulling out and sending your tools plummeting to the ground.  

Install Tip #4 

If you are looking at colors for your garage, and you want to incorporate your newly built slatwall into the overall décor of your garage, we suggest you paint your slats before installation. Painting before you install your garage slatwall will allow you to use a roller for the entire slat rather than having to brush it by hand, to get the grooves, once it is hung on the wall. 

Final Thoughts 

Custom storage, easy install, transformed space in a few hours! Slatwall’s utility and trendy look make it a fantastic upgrade for above the tool bench or near your washer and dryer. Enjoy your project, my friend! And enjoy keeping a few more dollars in your pocket!