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Create a Sliding Storage System On the Garage Ceiling

If your garage is running out of space, try building this overhead storage system. The construction is simple and fast, and the whole system is made with standard materials.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Create a Sliding Storage System On the Garage Ceiling

If your garage is running out of space, try building this overhead storage system. The construction is simple and fast, and the whole system is made with standard materials.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Out-of-the-way storage

Are all those cardboard boxes in the corner of your garage driving you crazy? Holiday decorations, camping gear, seasonal clothing and extra bedding take up valuable space. And who can tell one brown box from another?

We've designed this system to get all that stuff up and out of the way and into unclaimed space near your garage ceiling. We built this handy system around special reinforced plastic totes that hang from carriages made from 2x4s and plywood strips. In this article, we'll show you how to assemble these simple carriages, align them perpendicular to the ceiling joists, then anchor them into place with lag screws. It's that easy. Add labels to the sides of the totes and you can tell at a glance where to find that long-term storage item. You can build and install the carriages in an afternoon and start organizing right away!

Installation

If you don't have unused space above the garage door, you can install this system just about anywhere. However, keep the totes at least 2 ft. from light fixtures, door springs and garage door openers.

The special reinforced totes we used (available from internet suppliers like usplastic.com, simplastics.com and others) are a bit stronger than those you'll find at home centers or department stores. The reinforced rims on these containers will support weights of 35 lbs. or more, which is perfect for lightweight storage. And the totes will be easy enough to lift into place while you're standing on a ladder. To be on the safe side, the total weight of all the totes shouldn't exceed 210 lbs., so find a different place to store books and heavy hardware. Custom plastic lids are also available for dust-free storage.

If you use other types of containers, measure the rims carefully and adjust the bottom flange width to assure full support. And no matter what joist spacing you find (24 in. or 16 in.), be sure to fasten the carriages with at least four lag screws.

Before you order your totes, measure the height above your garage door and find totes that'll work. Our 13-in.-deep totes required 18 in. of clearance, including the carriages. For lower clearances, you can buy totes that are 8 and 10 in. deep but with the same top size.

Note: A Materials List and Cutting List are available in Additional Information below.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

    • Hammer
    • Miter saw
    • Cordless drill
    • Circular saw
    • Socket/ratchet set
    • Stud finder
    • Level
    • Drill bit set
    • Stepladder
    • Safety glasses

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

See Additional Information for the Materials and Cutting List

Comments from DIY Community Members

Share what's on your mind and see what other DIYers are thinking about.

1 - 12 of 12 comments
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November 26, 11:07 AM [GMT -5]

I haven't started this project yet. But, I have some thoughts on possible improvements to it and how to mount the carriages parallel to the ceiling joists..
1. To save a couple inches of height below the totes, use fairly clear 2 x 2 spacer instead of 2 x 4 spacers. The 2 x 2s should provide enough clearance for the rims of the totes to slide between the top and bottom flanges of the carriages.
2. You could also skip the top flange and run a single longer and thicker lag bolt for more purchase through an assembled bottom flange and a clear 2 x 2 spacer, directly into the ceiling joist. This would require about a 6 inch long 5/16 inch lag bolt to achieve enough purchase in the ceiling joists for the single point attachments between the carriages and joists. If you countersunk the lag bolt into bottom flange you might get by with a little shorter lag bolt. Make the countersink holes large enough to accommodate a washer and the socket wrench socket.
3. In addition, to running the carriages perpendicular with the ceiling joist, you could alternatively construct the carriages to run parallel to the ceiling joist. In this case you would have to make the top "flanges" run perpendicular to the carriages. In one scenario, the carriages with the transverse top flanges would have to be assembled on sawhorses and lifted as an assembly to the ceiling for attachment. Alternatively, install the transverse "top flanges" to the ceiling first and then attach the assembled bottom flange and spacer to the premounted transverse "top flanges" as previously described in point 2.

September 08, 10:23 AM [GMT -5]

Rather than permanent marker and alcohol, use a dry erase marker instead. Comes off way easier and no elbow grease is necessary.

April 14, 8:31 PM [GMT -5]

didn't have clear bins used numbers on bottom of bins. I made an inventory list on different pages to add or remove items,as time goes on. not hard to do alot of stuuf off the floor used bin with lids to keep bugs ect. out.

April 14, 8:26 PM [GMT -5]

Didn't have clear bins used color ones ,put numbers on bottom made a inventory list. I put each bin on different pages to update whem removing or adding stuff.

January 17, 10:18 AM [GMT -5]

Just completed this project and it came out great! Used clear bins since the stuff I'm storing isn't very heavy. I didn't use the center divider, instead, I installed a stop on one end, so the storage bins can't be pushed through. Getting ready to add more tracks to store more things. My garage hasn' tlooked this uncluttered in years!

January 06, 8:17 PM [GMT -5]

The clear boxes may not be as strong (I have not found a heavy-duty clear version). Use a permanent marker and list on the bottom of the box what it contains. Add to the list when you add things to it. You can erase permanent marker with rubbing alcohol.

Alternatively write on masking tape and put the tape on the bottom of the box.

I like the idea

January 05, 4:12 PM [GMT -5]

clear is typically less durable over time (they tend to crack when cold),ever heard of labels? problem sticking? spray with brakleen or wipe with laguer thinner first this removes any solvent when manufactured and clean dirt off.

January 04, 1:21 PM [GMT -5]

It sure would be nice to be able to buy those rails ... and find the heavy duty storage boxes locally. Also, As one other person said - YES... clear boxes would be great! It sure would save time having to climb up and see what's in them.

January 01, 9:17 PM [GMT -5]

Used these plans and the system works great. One suggestion...we did not have time to install the center divider and thought we would do it later. After hanging the storage bins, we decided not to put in the center divider. This makes it easier to load and unload from one side instead of having to do it from both sides. Saves time by not having to move both cars and shuttle the ladder back and forth.

July 25, 2:05 AM [GMT -5]

Very much creative.. but scared of thinking , it will fall down due to over weight

January 10, 1:40 PM [GMT -5]

First saw this idea at http://www.alpharubicon.com/kids/garagestoragetluweyen.htm. This is on my to-do list & just purchased more containers for this purpose. I like the Tough Box storage containers that you can get from home depot Make sure they are the ones from RELPAS There are some knock off's out there that are not durable. These will hold 400 lbs. Not that anyone could lift them overhead. RPLAS LLC 108-Quart Tough Box Model # 06200-6 Store SKU # 207585

January 08, 1:19 PM [GMT -5]

Very good idea, I want to do it with clear boxes to see what is inside.

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