Effective Garage Organization and Storage Effective Garage Organization and Storage

Do you leave your car in the driveway because it won't fit in the garage? Does your garage serve as a dumping ground for all things you don't know what to do with? Take a deep breath; there is hope. With a little planning and minimal investment, you can reclaim your garage space without simply shifting all of the junk to another room or into the basement.

The first step is to examine what you really have. Take some time to sort through the piles and see what you want to keep and what you want to get rid of. This step really goes without saying, but it is important to know what you are going to keep so that you can make a good plan for organizing your stuff.

Shelving and Hanger Options

When it comes right down to figuring out where everything is going to go, there are several options that you will want to consider. One option is to use prefabricated shelving. These shelves come in a kit that you put together yourself. Some are made of plastic, others steel, and some even have steel frames with wooden shelves. Most, especially the plastic models, are very easy to assemble. One of the key benefits of this type of shelving system is that they can be moved around without too much trouble. Mobility simplifies the process of re-organizing at a later date when your storage needs might change. Are the kids home from college for the summer? Will their piles of belongings be leaving with them in a few months? These types of shelving systems may be the best answer for you.

If you are looking for a more permanent solution, consider a customized shelving system. These require a little more work during the installation process, but the manufacturers of these products have done very well in developing the installation hardware to be very user friendly. The instructions tend to be very simple, and they don't require elaborate tools - usually just a hammer, screwdriver, and a drill. The most common type of permanent shelving systems are made of wire racks that are coated with a white rubber. They are quite durable and surprisingly strong if they are installed and supported correctly. Many add-on features make these systems quite versatile. The options for layout and design are only limited by your imagination and space.

In recent years, a large number of hardware companies have developed their own variety and variations of tool hangers. These are ideal for hanging garden and yard tools such as shovels, rakes and hoes. The hangers are beneficial because they allow you to reclaim the corner space where all of these implements would usually be stacked up, and they also add an element of safety. By securing them in a hanger on the flat surface of the wall, it greatly reduces a trip hazard that may have existed on your property.

Don't Forget the Ceiling

One of the most under-utilized spaces in many garages is right overhead. There are several options for overhead storage in your garage depending on how your ceiling is finished. Even if your garage ceiling has wallboard on it, you can still utilize the space. There are a wide variety of hangers available that will allow you to suspend everything from bicycles to ladders. You may even find space for those old fishing poles sitting in the corner. You know, the ones that you haven't used in ten years, but that you trip over twice a week? Here are the options available to you if you have a finished ceiling:

1. Buy some large hooks that can be screwed into the joists. Some have a rectangular hook and others have a rounded hook. Buy according to your needs. These kinds of hangers are often called ladder hooks. Most have a protective rubber coating on them to prevent your belongings from being marred and scratched by the hook itself. As noted above, these are ideal for hanging ladders (at least two hooks will be required for this application), bicycles, lawn chairs etc.

2. Buy four rounded ladder hooks and two lengths of 3/4" steel pipe. Screw the hooks into the ceiling joists so that the length of pipe can be held securely by placing it in the hooks. Move down the ceiling 5 to 10 feet (depending on your needs) and hang the other two hooks and pipe. Now you have a rack that can be used to store tall thin items that you most likely used to keep leaning up in a corner. This is where you will put your fishing rods, extra lengths of lumber, and the old whip CB antenna from 1978 that you insist will be useful for something again at some point. This is an easy and quick way to create quite a bit of space. The size of rack that you create is very flexible, and the spacing for the hooks and the length of pipe that you use is completely up to you.

It's time to get your car back in the garage! Any of these projects can be done in a few hours and most require very little technical know how. Imagine wanting to leave your overhead door open so the neighbors can see how clean it is, instead of hurrying to close it before anyone gets a chance to see how much junk you really have.

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Brian Simkins is a freelance writer living in Chicago. He enjoys using his 14 years of home improvement experience to educate and equip new home owners.

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