Storage & Organization
Organize Anything with Pegboard: 11 Ideas and Tips
Pegboard is everywhere-panels, hooks, doodads, you name it. Every hand tool in the hardware store is hanging on pegboard. Every bag of bolts, roll of duct tape and tin of Tic Tacs at the checkout counter-pegboarded. Even the pegboard hooks hang on pegboard hooks. But that should come as no surprise. Retailers want a display system that’s sturdy, easy to rearrange and adaptable-the same qualities you need in your work spaces at home.
All pegboard has holes with 1-in. spacing, but there are two thicknesses and two hole sizes available.
- ‘Small hole’ pegboard is usually 1/8-in.-thick hardboard with 3/16-in.-diameter holes. The holes will accommodate only the smaller 1/8-in. pegs. This thickness is good for small projects and for hanging lighter weight stuff. But for heavy tools—and longevity—go with the thicker board.
- ‘Large hole’ pegboard is usually 1/4-in.-thick hardboard with 1/4-in.-diameter holes that will accept both 1/8-in. and 1/4-in. hooks. This is the type you need for workshops, garages and other heavy-use areas. Some come with a melamine coating on one side.
Lock In the Hooks
The No. 1 complaint about pegboard? Hooks falling out when you remove a tool. The solution? Lock ’em in place. Zip ties are an inexpensive, surefire way to go—but you need to have access to the back of your pegboard (or plan ahead and install the pegs and zip ties before you mount the board). Pegboard clips have small barbs that lock into holes on both sides of the hook to keep them in place. Another approach is to add a dab of hot-melt glue to the lower leg before slipping the peg into the hole. The glue will hold well enough to keep the hook in place, but it will be removable later with a light tug.
Pegboard needs about 1/2 in. of ‘standoff’ space behind it so the hooks can be inserted. Plastic and metal pegboard panels have this space built in, created by the L-shape flanges at the edges. But you can also create this standoff space in several ways:
- Install screw-in standoffs with spacers. The store-bought versions often have short screws with small heads and wimpy plastic spacers. Make your own using beefier washer-head screws and nuts for spacers. On larger panels, install standoffs in the center to maintain space and add support. Tip: Use hot-melt glue to hold these mid-panel spacers in place before you install the pegboard.
- Create a frame for the back of the panel using 1x2s or 1x3s. For panels wider than 3 ft., add a 1×2 rib to the back every 2 ft. to support the weight of the tools and take the flex out of the panel.
Make Hooks Hold More
Some items won’t hang directly on pegboard hooks. But with a little ingenuity, you can make hooks hold just about anything. Here are three ideas:
Hooks and 1/2-in. wood dowels organize wrapping paper—no more digging through a stack of unraveling rolls.
Binder clips grab items that can’t hang on hooks. The clip shown here, for example, holds a canvas tool pouch.
A section of PVC pipe slipped over a long hook is a great nook for skinny stuff: pencils, brushes, zip ties and more.
Most home centers carry only hardboard pegboard, but you’ll find other materials by searching online for ‘metal pegboard’ or ‘plastic pegboard.’
- Metal pegboard has 1/4-in. holes and L-shape edge flanges that create built-in standoffs. The panel sizes are normally in 16-in. and 24-in. increments. Metal pegboard has a cool industrial look and is darn near indestructible.
- Metal pegboard strips are ideal for situations where you need a single, sturdy strip of pegboard—like in the garage for hanging long-handled tools. The strips have 1/4-in. holes and built-in edge flanges for standoffs, and they’re outrageously sturdy.
- Plastic pegboard has 1/4-in. holes, folded edges to create standoffs and center ribs for rigidity. Many systems come with slide-in connectors for joining panels. It’s at least as sturdy as hardboard pegboard.
You can craft your own hooks using stuff from the hardware aisle. Clip the tips from No. 6 hollow wall anchors, drive them into 1/4-in. pegboard holes, then secure your custom tool holder by driving screws into the anchors. Short 5/16-in.-diameter lag bolts fit snugly into 1/4-in. holes to create inexpensive hangers for lightweight objects.
Most hardware stores and home centers carry standard hooks for basic hand tools, but specialized hangers are available too. The circular saw shelf, cordless drill holder, wire basket, bins and other doodads can help organize hard-to-hang tools. Search online for ‘pegboard’ followed by the type of hanger you’re looking for, such as ‘pegboard circular saw shelf.’
Standard pegboard hooks can accommodate most tools—but sometimes you need a special place for special stuff.
Drill 1/4-in. holes in the backs of homemade shelves, then use those holes to slide the shelves over L-hooks. Or use cable staples to attach plywood shelves to standard pegboard shelf brackets. The staples allow you to slide the shelf back and forth so you can easily fit the shelf bracket ‘legs’ into the holes.
Dress It Up
Most pegboard comes in two colors—boring white and boring brown. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. Roll on a coat of primer followed by gloss or semigloss paint (glossy paints are easier to wipe clean). Apply light coats so you don’t clog the holes. Then snazz it up with a frame. After we attached our pegboard to a 1×3 frame, we added corner blocks and trim with hot-melt glue—no fancy miter cuts or fasteners needed.
Create pegboard walls by running 1×3 strips horizontally at the top and bottom of the panel and every 16 in. or 24 in. between. Use 1/4-in. pegboard and attach it to the strips with washer-head screws. The strips will also allow you to mount screw-on hooks to the wall for very heavy items like bikes and wheelbarrows.
Storage Behind Closed Doors
Pegboard is great for organizing kitchens, laundry rooms and bathroom cabinets. Rout a groove in a 1×2 frame using a rabbet bit, attach the pegboard with glue and brads, then mount it to the door. The frame helps support the edges of the pegboard and creates a 1/2-in. space behind the board so pegs can be inserted.