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How To Install Garage Shelving

Install Garage Shelves

Originally designed to store vehicles, the garage is often a multipurpose room that serves as an extension of the home. Many people use their garages as a storage facility, especially for bench and stationary machinery and outdoor power equipment. Others convert their garages into studios or workshops where they spend hours perfecting their crafts or tinkering.

Having an organization system can help keep your garage clutter-free and organized. Installing shelves and cabinetry gives all of your belongings a place of their own and keeps your garage floor free for storing, dare we say it, your vehicle. If you’re looking for a custom garage shelving solution, your best bet is to design and install it yourself.

Types of Shelving

When it comes to garage shelving ideas, you have plenty of options from which to choose. Metal, wood and plastic are the most common materials you’ll encounter, and each comes with its own considerations. Wood and metal are more durable and thus able to bear more weight if you build the shelves properly. Plastic shelves, however, offer more versatility as they are often portable and reconfigurable.



Best Used For

Weight Limits

Plastic lightweight tools, soil, cleaning agents <100 pounds
Wood medium-weight tools, paint cans <1,000 pounds
Metal Heavy tools, equipment, car parts >1,000 pounds


dado_cutThere are several different types of wood garage shelving to choose from, including particleboard, fiberboard and plywood.

Particleboard shelves are the least sturdy but also the least expensive. They are best used in climates where humidity isn’t a huge factor. Over time, exposure to moisture can lead to expansion and splitting, compromising the shelf’s position.

Fiberboard is another option, and while it’s made of wood composites like particleboard, it is sturdier and not as susceptible to moisture.

Plywood is stronger, and it’s best to choose hardwoods rather than softwoods like pine — pine warps easily and sometimes breaks when bearing a heavy load. Wood shelves are ideal for bearing lightweight equipment and power tool accessories.


There are several different types of wood garage shelving to choose from, including particleboard, fiberboard and plywood.

Metal shelves are the sturdiest of all options, but they are also the least flexible. However, they are ideal for holding heavy items such as large tools, car parts and paint cans. The most common type of metal garage shelving is steel as it can bear several thousand pounds. You can find metal shelveing in different colors, including chrome and black.

Storage Options

In addition to different material options, you have plenty of configurations to select from as well. Cabinets and open garage shelving are the most common options, and both work well for multiple layouts. Use cabinets for items you wish to keep behind closed doors, such as cleaning products, lubricants and car fluids.

Shelves are ideal for storing tools and items you need to keep within close reach at all times. Overhead shelves give you the option of using the garage ceiling for storage space, instead of taking up extra space on the wall and over-cluttering the space. In addition to cabinets and shelves, you might opt to install a pegboard to hang up yard tools, such as rakes, shovels and weed whackers, or for hand tool storage.


Before you can start installing your components, it’s important to develop a garage shelving plan that outlines where the cabinets, shelves and pegboards go. Using graph paper can help you develop an accurate layout on a miniature scale. Be sure to use an accurate measuring tape, like one from Stabila, to measure the available space and then measure it again to be absolutely certain of the dimensions. If you fail to measure correctly, it could affect the entire layout. Additionally, you’ll want to determine how much weight the walls can bear, and this depends on numerous factors including:

  • Construction of the wall
  • Age of the house
  • Location of the studs

Once you have all of this information and a to-scale diagram of what you plan to install, the only thing left to do is buy the materials and install the cabinets and garage shelving.


3E873912-608C-44A5-85F6-E2AA7A579C7DBefore you begin the installation, it’s best to make sure you have the right building supplies and tools on hand. For most garage shelving solutions, you’ll only need a few basic tools including:

  • Screwdriver — an electric one is best for better driving power
  • Stud Finder — a tool that locates the studs for better support
  • Hammer — to drive the shelves into place
  • Brackets — to secure the shelves to the wall
  • Removable Support — for cabinet systems
  • Level — for correct placement

Additionally, you’ll need the components and materials for the garage shelving systems or cabinets you plan to install. Once you have all of these parts on hand, you’re ready to begin.

Locate Studs

Use your stud finder to locate the studs in your wall. As an integral part of the structure of your home, studs are the best place to mount shelving and cabinetry. Here, you place the anchors, butterfly supports or screws, depending on the type of garage shelving that you’re installing.

Start by inserting the anchors and screws — whichever is ideal for your garage shelving system — and use a cordless drill to drill it into the studs for added stability. It’s important to secure them to studs; otherwise, you run the risk of collapse or damage to your walls. Use a Stabila level to ensure that the screws are parallel to each other. If they’re not even, your shelves will not be level, and you’ll quickly find that they’re not as stable as they could be.

Add Standards and Shelves

Once you have the anchors and screws installed and you’ve verified they’re even, it’s time to install the brackets and the standards. You can easily attach the standards to the anchors with screws. The brackets fit into the slots on the standards, and you simply tap them with a hammer to get them to sit in place.

After the brackets are installed, all that’s left to do is add the garage shelving of your choice. Check once again with a level to ascertain that the balance is on par and they’re all set to use. If you’re installing a peg wall, you’ll use the same method, but instead of installing standards, you’ll attach the peg wall to the anchors.

Installing Cabinetry

hqdefaultCabinets are a bit different to install and require a few additional steps. You’ll start by drawing chalk or pencil lines where you want to install the cabinets, measuring to make sure you have enough clearance for other garage shelving ideas you might have in mind. At the bottom, nail the support board — usually a 1 or 2 x 4-inch piece of plywood — to rest the cabinets on temporarily until they’re secured to the wall.

Place the cabinet against the wall, matching it up with the line you drew previously and resting it on the support. Before securing it with wood screws, use your level to make sure it’s even. Repeat the same steps for any additional cabinets you want to install. Once they are all installed, remove the support, and your cabinets are ready to use.

Organization Tips

Once your garage shelving installation is complete, you’ll be able to organize your belongings. Regardless of the type of shelves you decide on, there are considerations to bear in mind. Here are some garage organization tips:

  • Place lighter items on top shelves to lighten the load and prevent shelving system overload
  • Medium weight items do well on lower or middle shelves
  • Heavy items are best reserved for the lower shelves
  • Place cleaning agents, fluids and poisons in the cabinets or on top shelves, out of the reach of children and pets
  • Storage bins give you a way to store even more in a neat and organized manner.

Learning how to install garage shelving is pretty simple once you have the system, design and plans laid out for your garage. With the right tools and a little bit of elbow grease, you’ll be on your way to a cleaner, less-cluttered garage in no time.

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