Storage Solutions: Attacking Garage Gridlock


The goal of creating storage space in the garage should be to take advantage of the peripheral spaces without intruding on the parking area.

Does your garage have an open ceiling and a peaked roof, Supported by rafters rather than a truss system? If so, the overhead space may be usable for light storage. Does the garage have open floor space not occupied by cars? Shelving systems can go here.

What about wall space? It’s useful for hanging yard tools, bicycles, and other sports equipment. More important, does your garage have a car in it?

Or, like so many garages, is there so much clutter that your car has been relegated to the driveway or street?

If you have an unheated, unattached garage and you live in a cold climate, avoid storing anything in it that might be damaged by freezing. With an attached garage, you may be able to direct sufficient heat to the garage to prevent freezing problems.

Each garage has its own possibilities. See whether you can adapt some of the ideas on the following pages so you have room for more than your vehicles.

Whether you create space for a shop or just store lawn and garden tools and furniture. Concentrate garage Storage around the edges so you still have room for vehicles.


LADDER SHELVES: A ladder-style shelf uses space above or beside your car to get items off the floor. If you have a sedan, the shelf can be mounted in the space above the front hood of the car, taking advantage of that wasted space.

Ladder shelves are simple construction projects, built from 2x4s, 1x2s, and either 1/2" or 3/4" plywood. The 2x4 uprights can be secured directly to the ceiling joists with lag screws. Attach the 1x2 cleats to the uprights and nail the plywood on the cleats. This technique also is useful building simple freestanding shelves.

If the joists run the wrong direction or you don’t have many joists, as with some older garages, you can lay 2x4s across the top of the joists and bolt the uprights to the other 2x4s rather than the joists.

MINILOFTS: With a traditional gable-roofed garage, you can lay 5/8” or ¾” plywood across the ceiling joists to create a storage loft. You need to make sure the present joists can support the weight you intend to have on the loft. Joists should be good quality 2x6s. If they are not, add new ones before taking this approach. New joists should sit on the top plates of the walls; do not attach them directly to the wall studs. If you don’t have access to the top plates, secure ledger strips to the wall studs with lag screws and use joist hangers on the ledgers.

If you have a large gable space with solid joists, you could floor the entire space above the joists. You then could add a fold-down stairway for access to this garage attic space.

PLATFORM SHELVES: A storage platform uses the loft concept, except it’s built up from floor level. Platforms are ideal if you own a sedan. Be sure to build it high and wide enough so the hood of your car will fit under it, which will allow you to make use of the whole garage space.

A platform shelf is built much like a deck on your house. Attach a 2x4 ledger strip across the wall studs. Run 2x4 end joists out to pressure-treated 4x4 corner posts, which are tied together with another 2x4 along their front edge (the rim joist of a deck), You’ll want to install additional 2x4 supports (the joists of a deck) between the ledger and rim joist at 24-inch on-center intervals to help support heavier loads. Use 3 plywood for the platform top.

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