How to Build Cheap Garage Storage

Once of the biggest concerns in almost every home is storage. There are many reasons for this but the main one is that there are so many activities and lifestyle pursuits that require gear: camping, sports, hobbies, tools, garden implements, kids' toys and backyard furniture. So it is fair to say that the original builders of a 40 or 50 year-old home never anticipated the increase in both recreational and necessary items that would require storing for easy retrieval.

In most homes with basements this area is used for many purposes besides storage so that many items get pushed up to the garage, or into a confined space where most of the stored items have to be removed to get at the object of the search. In other words, to get a basketball the homeowner might have to sift through a dozen boxes of holiday decorations. Many people end up buying the same items a few times over because they can never find it when it is needed.

Garage Storage

One of the best places to begin building storage is the garage because even a one-car garage has enough room for a single set of shelves. In this situation buying steel shelving from the home store will suffice because it can be bought narrow enough to allow for the swing of the car doors. In this case the shelving can be 12” in depth. Because they can be flimsy it is suggested that strapping be put at each shelf's level for extra support. For a few hundred dollars you can cover the whole side with enough shelving to store hundreds of items.

Wooden Ladder Shelving

For about the cost of one steel shelf you can build 2 to 3 times the storage space using a simple ladder shelving made from framing studs (2” X 4”) and 1” X 3” strapping. You need space on one side of the garage but the front of the garage usually has enough space that you can build shelving and a bench. In effect you build a series of ladders for the frame and then use the strapping for the decking. This form of shelving is strong and it can take some heavy weight, more than a comparable set of expensive steel or plastic shelving.

Prepare the Wall

In the past very few people finished off their garages. Many were just left drywalled and taped without even a primer. Since this is a part of the home take the time to finish the wall before the shelving goes up. Take down all of the racks and other material and fill the holes with drywall compound. Washing the wall with trisodium phosphate (TSP) will cut through any grease spots. Primer and paint the wall.

The best way to cost out this job is to use this set of guidelines. For support each “ladder” should be on a 16” center from one end to the other. In a garage, which is usually not finished off as the interior you can almost see the centers because of the nail heads. Otherwise use a stud finder and mark the centers from one corner to the other. You can either drop a plumb line and find the vertical of the wall, or put a level on each stud as it goes on.


Studs: To put this into prospective each “ladder” is made of of 3 studs, 2 upright and one cut into either 16” or 24” widths depending on how wide you want them or how many levels you want. For example, one 96” stud can make 6 - 16” shelves or 4 - 24” shelves. With one ladder at each end, a 20-foot wall would require 21 ladders or 63 studs. The studs don't have to be a high grade but you might get 21 high grade for the ones that face out.

Strapping: Get a good grade strapping with rounded corners. These are easier to slide heavy boxes in and out without getting hung up. The deck takes 5 pieces across and the top deck can take 6 because they can run right to the edge while the lower decks have to go inside the frame. Therefore, 20 feet of wall would require 100 feet of strapping for each level and 120 feet for the top deck. For example, a 5 level deck would need 520 feet of strapping which, theoretically, would be 65 pieces of strapping. However, since there will be a small amount of wastage buy another 10% or 7 pieces. You can always return them if everything works out fine.

Screws: For the studs, use a 2 3/4 inch screw. The deck would easily go down with 1 1/4” screw.

Building the “Ladders”

To make the ladders take another stud and cut it in equal lengths for the supports. For example one stud will give you 4 supports at 2' in length or 6 at 16. Mark off the rest of the supports and cut them.

Lay two studs on the concrete with the small sides down. Measure the studs in increments to fasten the supports. Start at the top and screw down the supports to make “ladders.” Now, make the rest of the ladders.

Each ladder will be fastened to the studs already behind the wall which are at 16” centers. Now you have a wall full of upright ladders

Installing the Deck

Spacing: The decking holds the shelves together. Standing on a step ladder start on the outside edge (The one closest to you). As you put each deck screw in adjust the ladders with a square on the inside wall. In this way the ladders will be the right distance between each other. You should get someone to help you with this stage.

Decking: Do the top deck completely and then move down every level.

You now have a complete wall system that is, in effect, part of the frame of the home.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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