How to Install Above Garage Door Storage

Being in the house with limited storage options, the garage has definitely been a space our brainstorming juices have run freely.  The goal: to creatively utilize what we have, to store our items accessibly AND aesthetically. Lately, anytime I walk into the garage, that beautiful ceiling with nothing on it besides the garage door opener and the door rails are staring at me with open arms basically asking me, “How are you going to install my above garage door storage?”. The ideas and research took a little mulling over and scrolling through. There weren’t exactly clouds parting and angels singing that “AHHHHHHH” when we came to our ultimate decision. But you get the drift, we wanted to make the most out of ALL of the space – even the harder to reach, corners. And the good news is, there are some sensible options out there that may be the perfect fit for the space above your garage door too.  Here is how to plan out and install your above garage door storage to make the most of your space. 

To utilize the space between your garage door and the ceiling, you first need to take measurements of the wall when the garage door is up. Then create a layout of the storage space so that you know what you can and will store and how it will be accessible. Then, choose an above garage door storage system that will fit within those dimensions and needs. For shelving installation, use a stud finder to help locate the ceiling joists. Using a drill bit, drill the pilot holes so the lags will not split the ceiling joist. Make sure the feet of the storage system are secured and snug to the garage ceiling. Follow the manufacturer’s safety and installation guidelines to guarantee a proper install. 

Determine Available Space for Above Garage Door Storage 

There are several things that you need to take into account when you are looking at installing storage above your garage door. First, you need to determine the height you have between the garage door and the ceiling when the garage door is UP. This is important because an accurate assessment of the space you are working with will ensure that you don’t bang up what you are storing or scratch the door when it is going up and down.  

Making the Most Out of Narrow Above Garage Door Storage 

If your garage is like mine, after this initial assessment, I discovered that there is not much space between the garage door and the garage ceiling. This limits the options for things like shelving but is not a storage deal-breaker! And It doesn’t mean that the space is completely unusable! Flatter, narrower tools, and items may find a safe haven here. I am considering storing my extension ladder, as it is skinny, lightweight, and isn’t something I use all the time. The installation is fairly user-friendly as well – with the right drill bit and some sturdy hooks, my ladder will fit securely above the garage door. You can also check out some pulley storage systems. These are affordable and give easy access for ladder (or kayak!) storage on the garage ceiling. 

Other Suggestions for What to Store Above Your Garage Door 

When I was doing my research, I was impressed by the storage creativity that people have had with this narrow strip of garage wall and ceiling. The possibilities here are endless but I’ve compiled a basic list to get you started.  

Here are some things might consider storing here: 

  • Ladders 
  • Sports Equipment (hockey sticks, bats, rackets) 
  • Camping Equipment (tents, chairs, pop-ups, coolers) 
  • Kayaks or canoes 
  • Woodworking materials (boards or dowels) 
  • Plumbing Materials (copper or PVC pipe) 
  • Luggage 
  • Flat storage boxes (holiday decorations, yard games, seasonal clothing, wrapping paper) 
  • Boxed Christmas tree 

(I will add that we like these flat storage boxes. They are extremely versatile – I think we have used them for nearly everything up there that was listed!) 

Once you have brainstormed your own list, think about the ways you can store these items securely in the space. This may mean sturdy hooks, narrow shelving, or some other option. We will explore a few in detail to assist with the correct installation.  

Plan Out Your Above Garage Door Storage 

The next step is to map out where these items will go. You may need to grab a friend or neighbor to help you measure or hold up items to see if you like how they will hang on your wall, or if they will slide completely onto a shelf. You also want to ensure that your items are accessible – do you have enough room to pull things down? Will your canoe or popup obstruct the lights when it’s put away? Take a good look at the other things that are already functioning in your garage to ensure that your new storage fits the flow.   

Products for Overhead Garage Door Storage 

If you are not sold on a certain storage system that you are going to have above your garage door, here are some products with easy(ier) installation. Again, follow the installation guidelines and do not exceed the max capacity of the storage system. Click here for more detail on choosing the best overhead garage storage. 

How to Install Above Garage Door Storage 

If you are like me, and you are against having your garage door look like Michelle Pfeiffer, and her Cat Woman costume, came to visit. Or worse, have an incorrectly installed storage system attempt Booker T’s (for you old-school WWE fans) Harlem Hangover destroying your garage door, and your hopes and dreams all in one go. For you uncivilized folks, think of your above garage door storage system performing a cannonball and your garage door being the pool… 

Since none of us want either of these to happen, let’s make sure you know how to correctly install your above garage door storage. 

Before you start hanging your above the garage storage system, take the time to measure where the shelves are going to sit suspended from the ceiling. Once you have the initial measurements, next you need to locate the ceiling joists so you can safely secure the feet of the storage unit rather than drilling solely into drywall which will quickly fail and fall under the weight of the system and the items you are storing.  

With your stud finder, mark either side of the ceiling joist so you know where the center of the board is. You want to make sure you are pre-drilling and screwing into the middle of the joist. This will help ensure that the foot of the storage system is secure and there is not going to be any unwanted circumstances once weight is added to the system. 

With the ceiling joists correctly marked, secure the feet of your above garage door storage system to the ceiling. If the unit you purchased has an extended foot so that is can span between two ceiling joists, make sure it is fastened properly so the weight is suspended evenly.  If you are concerned with how much weight your garage ceiling can hold, here is an article that goes over that topic in greater detail

Once the feet are properly installed and are compliant with the manufacturer’s installation guidelines, install the legs of the storage system. Read the directions because they might say otherwise, but typically here the legs will be added to the feet, but the bolts holding the two pieces together will not be tightened yet so the legs can move once you install the shelving itself.  

This is a good time to confirm you have the proper clearance between the bottom of the legs and the open garage door. At this time, partially open the garage door so you can guarantee that you have the clearance and that your garage door is not going to become a #nailedit meme on the internet. Remember, depending on the above garage storage system that you purchased, you might still have a few more inches to add to the legs, so keep that in mind when you are verifying the height differences. 

Once you have the shelf put together, refer to the instruction manual on how to suspend the shelf on the legs of the above the garage door storage system. In most cases, you will need to secure one side of the shelf to the legs, so the shelf is dangling from the ceiling. If you did not over tighten the legs to the feet, you should be able to adjust the shelf and the legs so they are easy to fasten together and you are not having to fight to get the bolt holes to line up. Once the shelf is fully suspended, you might need to adjust where the leg lines up to the foot so make sure the legs are perpendicular to the ceiling/foot and the shelf.  

Once everything is suspended and is properly lined up, crank down all of the bolts and screws to assure nothing is going to loosen or back out of their holes causing safety concerns. 


To make sure you have a proper install of your above garage door storage, there are several questions you need to ask and things to consider before you even start your DIY project. Once you have an idea of what you are wanting to store and the products you are going to use to achieve your goal, determine your plan of attack. Follow the installation guide, and make sure you are drilling and securing your shelving either into the wall studs or ceiling joists of your garage. Make sure to not go over the weight capacity and only store items that can securely sit on the storage system you purchased.

Thanks for reading, and as always, be sure to keep it tuned to The Garage Junkie for all of your garage’s FYI and DIY needs!

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