Garage Storage: How Much Weight Can Trusses Take?

 

Garage Storage

This is the time of year when I bring outdoor stuff indoors and garage storage space gets scarce. My favorite storage solution is to shove more and more stuff "up in the rafters." And that got me thinking... how much weight can my roof trusses take?

 

Here's the official answer: Unless you have "storage trusses" specifically engineered for extra weight, you shouldn't store anything in them. They're designed to support your roof, not your junk.

 

But if you ask engineers what they do in their own garages, you'll get a different answer. The horizontal bottom chords of most garage trusses are designed to carry the weight of drywall and insulation. So if your ceiling is unfinished, you have some excess carrying capacity up there: 5 lbs. per sq. ft. is a safe estimate. That means you could lay a 2 x 4-ft. scrap of plywood over the chords and set about 40 lbs. of stuff on it. Make sure items are spaced so that the weight is evenly distributed over the chords.  

 

This goes for manufactured roof trusses--the kind assembled with metal "gussets." If you have traditional site-built roof framing, your storage capacity depends on the design of the framing.

 

Finally, make sure stored items are securely locked in place. As demonstrated by the dent in my pickup's hood, vibrations from the garage door opener can cause items to shimmy around and eventually crash down onto your car--or you.

 

Here are some more garage storage solutions:

- Super-simple shelves and plastic bins make an easy, economical system: Building a Garage Storage Wall

- You've seen those versatile wall-hanging systems in stores. Here's one you can build yourself: Garage Storage Systems