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Easy Garage Storage Solutions

Four simple DIY projects to help organize your garage. None of these DIY projects take more than four hours to complete. Complete instructions and photos for how to build suspended shelves, a bike lift, a ladder rack and a wheelbarrow holder.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

  • COST
  • CostCost $20 - $100
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    These projects will cost $20 to $30 each. Depending on the type and how many bins you want for the Suspended Shelving, the price could go up.

Suspended Shelving

Tuck medium and lightweight stuff onto shelves suspended from the ceiling. The shelves are designed to fit into that unused space above the garage doors (you need 16 in. of clearance to fit a shelf and standard 12-1/2 in. high plastic bins). However, you can adjust the shelf height and put them anywhere. The only limitation is weight. We designed this 4 x 6-ft. shelf to hold about 160 lbs., a load that typical ceiling framing can safely support. It's best to save the shelf for “deep storage,” using labeled bins with lids, because you'll need a stepladder to reach stuff. First, find which way the joists run, then plan to hang one shelf support from three adjacent joists (Photo 2). Our joists are 24 in. apart; if yours are spaced at 16 in., skip one intermediate joist. We built ours to hold plastic bins, but if you put loose stuff up there, add 1x4 sides to keep things from falling off. Assemble the 2x4s as shown (Figure A), using 5-in. corner braces ($2 each) and 1/4-in. x 1-in. hex head lag screws (drill pilot holes first).

Now attach the corner braces on both ends of a shelf support to the center of a joist/truss by drilling pilot holes and using 1/4-in. x 2-in. hex head lag screws (Photo 2). The only challenge is finding the center of joists through a drywall ceiling (if your ceiling is finished) to attach the shelf supports. Tap a small nail through the drywall until you locate both edges of the joist. Measure to find the center of the adjacent joists, and measure to keep the three supports in alignment with one another. Finish the shelf unit by attaching a 3/8-in. x 4-ft. x 6-ft. plywood floor (Photo 3).

Heavy-bicycle lift

Hanging bikes by one or both wheels on bicycle storage hooks is the quickest and cheapest way to get them off the floor and out of the way. But the hooks won't always work if your bike is too heavy to lift easily. Then the best solution is a convenient pulley system that allows you to quickly and easily raise the bike out of the way. We couldn't design a system much cheaper or better than a purchased system like the Hoist Monster from ProStor.

It can lift up to 100 lbs. with its quality mechanical system of pulleys and hooks, and its dual safety design (locking mechanism and rope tie-down cleat) keeps the bike secure. Attach the pulley brackets to a ceiling joist with wood screws. Position the hooks the same distance apart as the distance from the handlebar to the seat rear. Choose a location that's convenient yet doesn't interfere with vehicles or people, since the bike will hang down about 4 ft. from the ceiling. If the joists aren't spaced just right, lag-screw 2x4s to them and then screw the brackets to the 2x4s.

Suspended extension ladder

It's always most convenient to hang an extension ladder on brackets on a wall. But unfortunately that wipes out all other storage potential for that wall. To save that valuable wall space, we designed a pair of 2x4 suspended brackets so a ladder can be stored flat along the ceiling. Simply slide one end of the ladder into one bracket, then lift and slide the other end into the other bracket. Most people will need to stand on something solid to reach the second bracket. The 2x4 bracket sides are 16 in. long with 5-in. corner braces lag-screwed (like the shelf unit) into the top for attachment to the ceiling joist (Figure B). The bracket base is a 1/2-in. x 24-in. threaded steel rod that extends through 5/8-in. drilled holes on the bracket sides. It's held in place with flat/lock washers and a nut on each side of both 2x4 uprights. A 3/4-in. x 18-in. long piece of PVC conduit pipe surrounds the rod for smooth rolling action when you slide the ladder in and out.

Caution!

For extra security, wrap a Bungee cord around the ladder and one bracket.

Wheelbarrow on the wall

Wheelbarrows are fairly heavy and awkward. The trick to storing them is to get them up off the floor but not so high that you can't lift them down easily. We've designed simple wall storage brackets in the past, but it's tough to beat the nifty wheelbarrow holder bracket we found at Home Depot. With this bracket, you simply set the front lip of the wheelbarrow into the lower bracket and swing the back up and into a latching upper bracket. To get the wheelbarrow down, just unlatch the upper bracket and swing it down. Keep in mind that the metal legs will stick out and can cause a nasty bump or bruise. Hang your wheelbarrow along a little traveled wall or cover the legs with something soft. Push the wheelbarrow next to a wall stud and mark its height (Photo 1). Attach the lower bracket to the stud with wood screws (provided), 1 in. below the mark. Next, push the wheelbarrow up so the front lip drops into the lower bracket, then raise the handles to the wall (Photo 2). Mark the upper bracket location, then attach the bracket to the stud.

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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.

    • Cordless drill
    • Tape measure
    • Circular saw
    • Socket/ratchet set
    • Stud finder

Required Materials for this Project

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

    • Suspended shelving
    • Shelf support corner brace (also called an L-bracket)
    • 1-in. x 5-in. Stanley corner brace
    • 1/4-in. x 1-in. hex head lag screws
    • 1/4-in.x 2-in.hex head lag screws
    • 3/8-in. x 4-ft. x 6-ft. plywood 2x4
    • Bicycle hoist
    • ProStor PBH-1 Hoist Monster:
    • Suspended extension ladder
    • 5-in. corner braces
    • 1/2-in. x 24-in. threaded steel rod
    • flat/lock washers and a nut, lag screws
    • 3/4-in. x 18-in. long piece of PVC conduit pipe
    • 2x4
    • Wheelbarrow holder
    • Crawford No. WBH

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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May 30, 2:36 PM [GMT -5]

Love the extension ladder idea. With 10 Ft. ceilings, I tried above the garage door, but too hard to get up and down. Moved it high on a side wall, but still not easy to work around the garage door track. This opens all kinds of other options.

On the shelves, maybe they did not suggest a dado channel to recess the brackets to keep it simple, but a dado channel would allow the joint to butt up flush and a pair of deck screws on either side to add strength to the joint. Also the 6 ft length is a bit confusing since plywood comes in 4x8 sheets. Maybe it was a single car garage with out enough space, but on a double car door, extending it to a full sheet seems to make sense.

April 26, 7:00 AM [GMT -5]

Can anyone tell me where the quantities are listed in the "Required Materials"? For example in the Suspended Shelving project you need 12 L Brackets....just would be nice if these quantities would be listed...

May 22, 11:09 AM [GMT -5]

That is some GREAT advice. I took it one step further and used the bike storage system for my extension ladder. I extended the ropes far enough where the hooks will com all the way down to the ground. No second ladder necessary to hang it back up. And, when I need to go somewhere with my extension ladder, I simply drive my van underneath it and lower it right onto the top of the van. Very simple, very easy.

May 21, 1:58 PM [GMT -5]

Found the bracket. google rocks. Sears carries it. Here is the make and model:

Lehigh Group Lehigh Group Wheelbarrow Holder WBH-6

May 21, 1:52 PM [GMT -5]

I can't find the wheelbarrow bracket at home depot or lowes. Is there a manufacturer name and model number available?

February 24, 6:58 PM [GMT -5]

I'm planning to build the suspended shelving this weekend, but holy crap: it's gonna be much more expensive than I anticipated! The plans call for twenty-four 5" corner braces- which at $2 each like the plans account for- is $48 just for the braces! Yet the cheapest I have found them online while researching pricing is $2.77 each- or $66.48 for all 24!

February 20, 12:37 AM [GMT -5]

I am building the suspended shelves on the garage ceiling now to store lumber. Don't forget to put a "dead man" (bracing the trusses) so the ceiling doesn't sag.

CB

September 21, 5:23 AM [GMT -5]

Yes, true garage organizing cannot happen with out one wall of shelving. I have done it in my own garage, and for friends. I buy two sheets of 3/4" plywood, and have the store rip them into 6 pieces of 16" widths. Then I build 2x4 framing at 24" on center. The assembled units are 16" wide and 8' long, with 6 shelves high. I put the first shelf at approx 20-24" off the floor, and then divide the rest appx 16" high. Enough to get a rubbermaid tub into, anyway. I can build this wall of shelving in a morning for about $80, which is a real bargain.

September 20, 5:52 PM [GMT -5]

The problem with this idea is, it really doesn't help the seriously cluttered garage. The one poster who said it's best to go through things with the mindset of tossing/donating anything that hasn't been used in a year or two makes sense. However, my packrat husband and self find that hard to do.

My sister-in-law did something with her garage, though, that made it very easy to store and find things. She had her husband build shelves from floor to ceiling along one side of their garage. Then, she bought several dozen clear Rubbermaid bins with colored tops, using a color code for various items. Red was Christmas, Orange was Fall, Green was for something else, etc. She made sure that each color had its own section, too; no mixing it up. She put certian items at the viewing end that represented what was inside the container (tree ornaments, for example, for the Christmas tree;, etc). That way, it would be easy to see what kind of items were in each bin. In all, I think they ended up with over fifty bins, but she saved herself a ton of time in looking for things when she needed them and she freed up a lot of floor space in her garage. Best of all, it looked pretty, too! :0)

September 20, 4:48 PM [GMT -5]

More like I resolved the garage storage problem. We recently completed a major renovation of our house now that our children have lives of their own. As a result of this renovation, our garage became a repository for the contents of each room as we did the renovation. Needless to say, our garage was a downright dangerous place to navigate through. The final renovation became the garage! Anyhow, You failed to mention one important detail, this one: View each item in the garage with a critical eye and ask yourself the question "when did we last use, wear, play, this item?" If the period is a year or more, sell, donate or discard the item. You might be surprised how much room you have after doing that. We wound up with room for our automobile and I didn't have to sacrifice any room for my woodshop.

September 14, 5:52 PM [GMT -5]

Best thing I've done in years....clean and orgainze my garage. I purchased some hooks and baskets at local DIY store and mounted to wall and got some Ulti-MATE Garage cabinets from a online retailer to be shipped to house and all looks great, I actually hang out in my garage now....I guess a true man cave, just a neat one!!

September 03, 6:56 PM [GMT -5]

I loved the great ideas! I also used a Large Vertical Storage Shed by Rubbermaid. I found it on sale at oneclickdirect.com or go to it directly at http://bit.ly/b6z0aY. It easily fits in my garage without it being bulky. My garage looks awesome!

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