Organizing your garage can be challenging, but it isn't impossible. Getting your garage in order requires figuring out how to best use the space you have to maximize storage.
Hanging Wall Storage
Hanging items is a great way to free up floor space in the garage. Pam Bowers, owner of Dallas-Based Organized Chaos states, "The absolute best piece of advice that I can give when organizing your garage is to think vertical. If it can be hung, then hang it."
Bowers explains, "Sports equipment, tools, yard equipment, lawn chairs and garden hoses can be hung on walls." You can use large nails, drywall screws or specially-made wall hangers for these purposes. A few examples include:
- Tornado Ladder Hook: For around $7, you can get a wall hook especially designed to hold a ladder that weighs up to 30 pounds.
- Crawford Garage & Tool Organizer: For just under $12, you can get a wall-mounted strip with multiple hooks to hold several pieces of lawn and garden equipment (such as a shovel, rake, pruners, etc.).
- General garage hooks: Garage hooks are available in a wide variety of sizes and configurations, to meet any wall storage need you might have. Prices range from less than $10 to over $50.
Wall-mounted pegboards are a good choice for hanging for small tools that you use frequently, such as hammers and levels. It's generally best to place these items over your tool box or work bench so the items are within easy reach.
DPI Brown Hardboard Pegboard: If you aren't concerned with having hardwood pegboard, this option is more affordable at less than $8.50 for a 48" x 48" sheet.
DuraHook 24-Pack Steel Pegboard Hooks: You will need an assortment of hooks and bins to use your pegboard. This 26-piece kit includes a variety of hooks and bins in different sizes for less than $25.
The walls aren't the only option for hanging garage items. Look up to the ceiling and you'll find extra space that you can use.
J.B. Sassano, President of Mr. Handyman, suggests using exposed rafters to store seasonal items. He states, "Recreational items like kayaks fit well in between rafters. While summer items are in use, stash your holiday decorating boxes and supplies there."
- Sassano suggests placing a piece of ½-inch or ¾-inch plywood across the rafters to store smaller items such as camping equipment and coolers.
- You can also create shelves to suspend from the rafters using plywood and heavy duty chain. The homemade shelves pictured here are in the author's garage. The chain is hooked to a steel dowel and is secured in place with 5/8 fender washers, 2 ½-inch long quarter-inch bolts and a nut.
If your garage has a finished ceiling with attic space above it, Sassano suggests installing pull-down attic stairs, which generally cost between $100 and $500, to make adding and removing items easier while keeping them out of sight.
Ceiling Mounted Bicycle Hooks
Sassano recommends mounting strong, rubber-coated hooks to the ceiling to store bicycles. He advises, "Make sure you secure the hooks into ceiling beams and not just drywall to ensure the hook is safe." He recommends pre-drilling a starter hole about half the size of the hook screw.
- TEKTON Bicycle Hooks: You can get a set of two coated bicycle hooks to mount to the ceiling for just over $5. These provide a great way to get your bike off the floor as long as you don't mind lifting it manually to place on or remove from the hooks.
RAD Cycle Products Bike Lift Hoist: Spend a bit more (around $30) and get a bicycle hoist to make your bike easier to access and store. According to Sassano, a hoist "can be added to handlebars and the seat, making it easy to store or unload a bike from the ceiling."
Closed Storage Units
Tool chests are a must for any garage. Sassano also recommends using closed storage units such as storage cabinets, file cabinets and old dressers for garage storage as a way to contain garage clutter.
The size and type of tool chests you will need depends on how extensive your tool collection is.
- Craftsman tool storage: Craftsman makes a number of modular, stackable tool storage chests outfitted with tool drawers. Top units are designed to sit securely on top of wheeled bottom units, so it's easy to push your tools to where you need them for various projects. A two-piece home series unit with six drawers costs about $120 while a heavier-duty model with five drawers is priced around $160. Individual pieces are also available.
- Homak PRO: If you are looking for super heavy-duty tool storage, along the line of what a mechanic might use professionally, consider the various options available from Homak. They are similar in form to Craftsman models, but they are designed to take the abuse of daily use in a professional setting. Expect to purchase the top and bottom units separately and to pay $300 or more per piece.
Garage cabinets are a great option for storing items that you want to keep tucked away out of sight. They can be wall-mounted or free-standing. You can purchase custom cabinets configured by a design expert or buy pre-made cabinetry to set up yourself.
- Closests By Design custom solution: If you are looking for a comprehensive garage cabinetry solution that is customized to your needs, consider Closets By Design. Visit the website to find a supplier in your area and request a free design consultation in your home. Derek and Jennifer Sanders, owners of Closets by Design of Palm Beach, explain, "In effort to help our customers get the best organization possible, our designers walk through with them their needs and wants for their garages." Pricing varies based on design.
Repurposed Storage Units
Old file cabinets and dressers are great for organizing items in the garage. Sassano points out that these items can often be purchased used from Craigslist or garage sales for a fraction of the new cost.
Closed storage isn't the only option. According to Scott McCreary, Owner, Closets by Design of Central Florida, "Shelves provide excellent storage options for most products." Shelves work great for holding containers of nuts and bolts, vehicle and equipment maintenance supplies (oil, filters, etc.), small gardening tools, dirty shelves and more.
McCreary recommends investing in adjustable shelving. He states, "While these can cost a bit more, the additional function is well worth the price. As we go through life, our needs can change greatly, and it's nice to have a storage system built with that in mind."
Edsal Steel Storage Rack: If you are looking for super-heavy duty shelves that items can't slip through, consider this option. This budget-friendly shelving unit is available for around $70, but don't let the bargain price fool you. With a total storage capacity of 4,000 pounds, this unit can hold just about anything. It stands 72" tall x 48"wide x 18" deep.
Honey-Can-Do® Steel 5-Tier Shelving Unit: This commercial-grade ready-to-assemble steel shelving unit is a good option for use in the garage if you prefer shelves that don't have a solid bottom. Each shelf is designed to hold up to 350 pounds. As the height of each shelf can be adjusted to best meet your needs, this unit offers maximum flexibility to accommodate various types of items. This unit measures 72" tall x 36" wide x 16" deep and is priced around $100.
While getting things off the floor is often a major objective of garage organizing projects, some items will need to stay on the floor. McCreary points out, "Heavier items like five-gallon buckets of paint and other large liquid containers or might be best on the floor. Also keep any exercise weights on the floor. Besides being heavy, many can roll right off the edge of shelving units."
Sarah Eppard, owner of Closets by Design of Minneapolis, points out that "kid toy storage is always in need in the garage." She recommends baskets for storing balls, paired with kid-friendly shelves and drawers for children's toys when designing garage storage solutions for clients with kids.
You can work this type of storage into a custom solution, or opt for any kind of storage bins that will fit into your organization plans.
- Land of Nod has wire ball bins that will work great for storing balls and other large toys. They sell for $39 each.
- Kmart has a wide variety of stackable storage bins appropriate for use in the garage, ranging in price from $30 to $100.
Parents can also help make it easy for kids to return their things to the right place. Eppard suggests, "Help your children get their bike helmet or roller blades back on the designated shelf by labeling the location for its return."
General Organizing Tips
The greatest garage organizing ideas won't do you any good if you don't actually use them. Colleen Ashe, Certified Professional Organizer® and CEO of Ashe Organizing Solutions, Ltd., recommends using a systematic approach to organizing items that will be stored in the garage. She suggests, "Start with sorting items into categories and, from those categories, create zones within the garage to store all the items within a category."
Tips to consider include:
- Purge unnecessary items: Ashe urges, "After you've sorted the contents, take a hard look at what could be disposed of, either donated, recycled or trashed. You do not want to store items that your family no longer needs, uses or wants."
- Consider compact items: You may have some old, bulky items that can be replaced with smaller products that serve the same purpose. For example, if you have a huge water hose taking up space in your garage, you may be able to replace it with a Pocket Hose, which takes up much less space.
- Keep items in plain view: Consider using clear totes or open containers that allow you to easily view the items inside. Ashe states, "I discourage large totes with lids as items tend to go in and forever be forgotten."
- Create usage based zones: Use a logical flow based on season and usage to determine the ideal zones for your garage. Ashe points out, "Any time you can store like-with-like, that's ideal."
- Simplify your system: However, you decide to organize your garage goodies, keep things simple. Ashe reminds, "Storage solutions that are complex or inconvenient are likely not to work in the long run.
- Maintain your system: Your garage won't stay organize on it's own. You will need to maintain it once it is organized. As Ashe points out, "This is not a one and done exercise."
Getting and Staying Organized
There are plenty of tools to help you get your job organized. You can do it yourself or bring in a professional for assistance. Either way, you'll likely need to invest in some storage equipment and make a commitment to changing the habits that allowed your garage to get messy to start with. No matter what kinds of storage units you bring in, make sure the items are properly assembled and installed. Also take steps to protect your investment and keep things organized. For example, use shelf liner (Duck Tape makes a good one) to protect your shelves and cabinets, and clearly label your tool boxes so it's easy to remember what goes where.