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How to Choose the Right Garage Storage

garage storage
An organized garage can serve multiple needs. This one provides a space to do home repair projects, light automotive work, storage for toys, yard tools, ladders, and more.

If you have an attached garage, chances are it's the most used entrance to your home. Yet, for most of us, it's also the messiest area of the house. Garages are used for more than just automobiles. Yard equipment, bikes, sporting goods, automotive supplies, power tools, garbage cans, lawn mowers, snow blowers — you name it, and chances are it's out there. A good garage storage system complete with cabinets, wall track, and overhead racks can eliminate the clutter. But there are many choices, and no system is one-size-fits-all. The key to getting the best garage storage is understanding your needs. Read on for advice in planning your new garage storage system.

Garage Storage Planning Secrets

Anyone can have a garage that's the envy of the neighborhood. You just need a proper storage system that can handle everything you keep out there, plus a good floor, lighting, and possibly a workbench for projects. If you take the time to plan your new garage in advance, you will be much happier with the end result.

Key Considerations

The key to a great garage is planning out how you want to use the space and then creating storage for everything that needs to go into it. Things to consider include:

  • Who uses the garage? How big are the cars and how many of them are there? Don't forget to take into account space for the walk paths around the cars.
  • How is the garage used in the Summer/Spring vs. Winter/Fall?
    • e.g.: Car stays outside in spring…
    • Different things stored year-round (boats, snowblowers, grills, patio furniture‚Ķ).
  • What things occupy floor space? Count the bikes, garbage cans, lawnmowers, snow blowers, recycling bins, etc. and allow space for these items.
  • What needs to be contained?
    • Use shelving for: shoes, paint cans, gasoline, gardening/potting supplies, tools, household chemicals, miscellaneous storage, etc.
    • Baskets can be used for toys, pet supplies, sporting goods, miscellaneous storage.
    • Drawers can be used for tools, screws and fasteners, gardening supplies, miscellaneous storage.
  • What can be hung on a wall?
    • Gardening tools, shovels, sporting goods, skis, golf clubs, bikes, and ladders.
  • Will it also be used as a mud room? If so, plan for mud room organizers for jackets and boots near the entrance to the home.

Measure carefully and be mindful of all obstacles:

  • Windows, doors, outlets, timers for sprinkler, water faucets, the gas curb, baseboards, light switches, garage door opener, track for the garage door, attic access, alarm boxes, windows must all be accounted for in the planning. Sketch out the room and mark where they are located so that you don't accidentally block access with your new shelving or garage cabinets.
  • Measure the dimensions of all the larger items that need to be stored in the garage. e.g. Measure the size of the bike, the lawnmower, the boat etc.
Garage work shop with work bench and cabinets
This 3-car garage/workshop provides a work bench, cabinets and wall track with hooks and bins for small hand tools along one wall of the garage. Another corner provides a mud room style bench and hook system for jackets and boots. Items are positioned so that there's still room for the cars.

Step-By-Step Garage Storage Planning

  1. If the floor needs to be resurfaced, that must be done first before you build any cabinets or other storage. Even old oil stained, pitted floors can be repaired with an epoxy or polyurea floor finishing system so that they look like new. But leave this to the professionals. They can clean and resurface your garage floor in a matter of hours. The results last for decades. And you won't have to worry about the paint chipping off in harsh weather.
  2. Complete an inventory assessment of everything you need to keep in the garage. Consider donating or discarding items you no longer use to free up space.
  3. Determine how much wall storage is needed and where it should go.
  4. Determine where garage cabinets will go.
  5. Will you need storage grade or garage grade cabinets? Garage grade cabinets can handle a lot more weight, but no everyone needs them.
  6. Decide if you will include a work bench.
  7. Will you need lighting? Lighting is the last step in the garage design, but it is very important. A work bench will most certainly benefit from some sort of task lighting. However, the interiors of the cabinets and drawers can also be illuminated using a simple LED closet lighting system. These low voltage systems can make it easier to find things in an otherwise dark garage — especially one with no windows.

Understand the differences between storage grade & garage grade cabinets.

Garage cabinets can be constructed in different ways to satisfy different uses. This means garage storage is separated into two categories — storage grade and garage grade. The garage cabinets are built to different specifications depending on whether the homeowner is requesting "garage grade" or "storage grade." These classifications also come with different price tags. That's why it is important to understand the differences. You want the right storage for your needs that will safely do the job without overpaying.

Garage Grade

Garage grade offers heavy-duty storage systems. Any commercial application would definitely require this level of storage because of the heavy use it typically receives in these applications. Auto service centers, professional wood working shops, and motor repair are a few of the types of businesses that might use garage grade storage. But there are some homeowners who also need this. The wood working hobbyist who owns a lot of heavy saws and tools is one. The sports car or antique automobile collector is another example. It takes a heavy-duty cabinet to handle storage of car parts. Be sure to choose garage grade if you think you might want to keep a spare engine or transmission in your garage cabinets. A lighter system simply can't handle the weight.

Garage Cabinet Comparison
comparison between garage grade cabinets and storage grade cabinets

Storage Grade

Storage grade, on the other hand, is perfect for the homeowner who has a lot of toys, sporting goods, gardening tools, bags of fertilizer, and light automotive supplies to get up off the floor. Keeping a few cans of oil and bottles of windshield washer solvent on hand does not require garage grade cabinets. Storage grade cabinets will usually suffice. They are the same quality as your typical pantry or closet organizers. The only difference is that storage grade garage cabinets are always floor-based and use garage legs to keep the cabinets off the cement floor. Garage legs are small plastic or metal feet that raise the storage cabinets off the floor, preventing moisture damage. They are also adjustable in height, making them perfect for leveling cabinets on an uneven garage floor. Storage grade cabinets are typically less expensive than garage grade components. Both may look similar in appearance, but they are built for different applications, thus the difference in price.

Think about how you plan to use your garage storage and plan for the right type of cabinetry. That way you're more likely to get the quality you need without overpaying. Think of it the way you would when selecting an automobile. For example, say you like nature and camping. Will an SUV built for leisure use suffice, or do you need a vehicle made for off-roading? The only one who can answer that question is you. Buy the right storage for the way you intend to use it.

Why invest in garage storage at all?

There are many reasons to invest in garage storage. A clean garage ensures there will always be room for the car — something many garages haven't seen in years. A well-designed garage storage system can also turn your messy garage into usable square footage for your home. It's a space where children can run around and ride their scooters on rainy days. Through the addition of a workbench or other amenities, they allow homeowners a place to indulge in hobbies that they might not otherwise be able to engage in at home. What's more, they increase your home's safety. The opportunity to include locked cabinets in your design provides a place to store sharp tools and chemicals/poison so that children and pets can't access it. With multiple price points available through storage grade and garage grade systems, there's certain to be a garage storage system that fits your needs.

Most companies will offer either storage grade or garage grade cabinetry and organizers. This is because different machinery is needed in the manufacturing process of these two systems. A company will typically invest in one or the other. Garage organization specialists will typically offer only garage grade. On the other hand, a closet company that also handles garage organizations will usually offer only storage grade because that is what is used on closets. Closet Works, however, offers both types of garage cabinets. Homeowners purchasing from Closet Works can order garage grade, storage grade, or a combination of the two (such as storage grade mud room organizers near the door and heavy-duty cabinets and shelving for the workshop area). We hope you will consider Closet Works for all of you garage storage needs.