Increasing your Garage Storage with Shelving

The original use for a garage is, of course, to store a car, but there are many other things it can be used for. These include being used as a home office, to store sports equipment, tools or garden furniture or equipment, as a home gym or it can be used as a workshop. Should the main use of the garage be for storage then it can be useful to add some shelves to help organise it and to store things on. Even if storage isn’t the intended main use, shelves can still be helpful, tidying the place up and making the use of the, possibly limited, space more efficient.

There are two main types of shelving that can be used in a garage. These are pre-made shelving and shelf units, and made to measure shelves which are constructed on site. Prices for both can vary; made to measure shelves can be cheaper if personally constructed rather than made by a professional. Materials to make shelves can be found in places such as do it yourself shops, lumber yards and hardware stores.


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A very simple type of shelf for a garage is to place a piece of plywood, such as 0.75″, or similarly sized lumber, onto some shelf brackets. Both the brackets and the wood used need to be of sufficient strength to take the weight of items placed on the shelf, so be sure to consider what the shelf is going to be used for before making it. Shelf brackets can say on them what weight they will take. These shelves are fitted by screwing the brackets to the walls of the garage, preferably to the wooden studs or similar if your garage has them, by the longest screw that can be used. The shelves can be braced at the studs to add strength.

You can also use floor supported shelves. These can be made by using 2×4 pieces of timber that are mounted vertically. A suggested spacing is every 50″ (approximately 127 cm) although this distance should be reduced if extra strength is required. The timber is rested on, or affixed to, the floor of the garage and then attached to the ceiling joists or rafters at the top. Depending on the garage construction, one row of uprights will be next to the wall of the garage, with a second row mounted parallel to it at a distance in the region of 19-25″ (approximately 48-63 cm). More 2×4 timber is then run horizontally between the uprights. The distance between each set of horizontal 2×4 should be in the region of 25″ (approximately 63 cm) but again alter this as desired. Make the shelves from particle board or composite board and attach them to the horizontals.

Shelves for small items can be fitted in between the studs on a garage wall. 1×2 pieces of timber can be attached horizontally between two studs and then shelves can be attached on top of them, providing storage space for smaller and lighter items such as jars, bottles, screws and nails.

When buying pre-made shelving, metal shelves should be purchased over plastic. Although plastic shelves can be sufficient for light items, something sturdier is recommended for storing heavier items, and many items stored in a garage tend to be heavier. Most pre-made steel shelving comes in standard sizes and cannot usually be cut to fit the space you have available should none of the standard sizes be suitable.

A useful feature of pre-made shelves is if at least one, and preferably more, of the shelves are adjustable, which allows the distance between the shelves to be changed allowing for the storage of larger items. Whatever is used to support the shelves if they are adjustable should be heavy duty and they should also be prevented from coming out accidentally. Weak pins or those that can come out unintentionally are an accident waiting to happen, and having a shelf collapse is at best messy and at worst dangerous. Also to prevent accidents, especially from shelves carrying heavy loads, it may be necessary to fix the shelves to the wall or otherwise fix them in place to prevent them from tipping over.


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