How To – Choosing And Installing Garage Shelves

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    Storage is an important part of any Garage or Workshop and there are many options available to you from ones you make yourself to professional grade solutions that are suited for specific tasks.

    If you are outfitting your garage for storage you might find yourself in a predicament of how much money should you spend. This is a problem as professional tool boxes can run into the thousands of dollars. The important thing to remember about professional tool boxes is that they are built to withstand 8 hours or more of abuse every day of the week. If you are a home or professional hobbyist then your tool box might only see about 10 percent of the workload that a professional garage will need. For this reason it is very reasonable to consider lighter duty / less expensive knockoff models that still provide a good amount of storage.

    Shelving goes hand in hand with your tool boxes and work bench. If you can store most of your hand tools in a tool box you won’t need to worry about hanging them on hooks or storing them on wall mounted shelving. However there are things that really should be placed on shelves for easy access.

    Your options for shelving include both free standing shelves and wall mounted shelves. It might sound like an easy choice but you must consider not only the size but the weight of the things you will be storing on them.

    Free standing shelves normally come in 6 foot heights with about 18 inches in depth and 4 feet in width.  You can find both steel and plastic shelving at reasonable and comparable prices. Meaning which ever material you like either can be found for about the same price.

    Steel Shelving has a benefit that it is normally adjustable so you can move a lower shelf up higher in the stack allowing you to store larger 5 gallon containers or other large objects.

    Plastic shelving normally does not require cross bracing so it is a good choice if you need to access things from more than just the front of the unit. They are great if placed between two large bays of a garage allowing access from both sides.

    Chemical resistance is another benefit for plastic shelving but this will depend on the type of plastic used in manufacturing. Caustic chemicals even soaps or bleach can cause steel shelves to rust which makes them a mess to work with and reduces their structural load capacity.

    Wall shelving can be purchased in Steel, Wood or Plastic. You are likely to see more offerings in steel and wood and each has its benefits. If you are storing materials that would work better on a open grate shelve then you can purchase wire shelves. They are also available in a plastic coating to increase chemical resistance. If you are storing a large number of small objects including spray paint and other chemical containers then you want a flat surface that wood can provide. There are a number of ways to protect wood from the day to day of your workshop including painting, covering with vinyl shelve liner and buying pre made shelve stock that has a laminate surface.

    Installing your shelves

    When you install your wall mounted shelves you should take into account what you will be storing on them before you choose a mounting system. If you are storing very light objects you might be able to get away with drywall anchors and or screws into your studs. If you will be storing over 100 pounds you really need to think about triangular shelve supports that are designed to take the heavier load.

    You might even reach a point where you really are better using a free standing shelve for storage of some items. Paints can get very heavy and they are heavier than the same amount of water or chemicals because of the pigments. Also petroleum based chemicals are much heavier than water based chemicals of the same volume. Keep that in mind when making the decision of where things should be placed.

    Always remember the heaviest objects are on the bottom and also the most dangerous. If you are storing chemicals put it near ground level.

    Final Note

    Remember that you don’t need to use new materials when making your own shelves. Shelving is a great reason to go dumpster diving but remember never take materials that are not inside of the dumpster.

    Also store closings are a good place to find discount commercial grade shelving. It may need to be adjusted but it normally is very well made.

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