If your car is sitting in the driveway because there is no room for it in the garage, or if you are simply tired of spending an inordinate amount of time looking for an item, take heart. There are simple and affordable storage solutions for organizing a garage.
The first step is to take a good, hard look at what you have in your garage. Get rid of unnecessary items before you try to determine what you need for storage. Do you have a lamp you’ve been meaning to repair for the last two years? The odds are you are never going to actually fix it, so move it out. Have you lost weight and stored your larger size clothing in the garage for a year or more? You won’t need them. Gather up all such clutter that is taking up valuable room and have a yard sale or call a charity for a pick up. Then see what is left.
Shelves are an excellent place to begin when trying to organize a garage. If you don’t have any, you can always buy some sturdy metal units. However, if you purchase quality metal shelves, they can be quite expensive, and the cheap ones may prove unsatisfactory. It is possible to build your own in less than a weekend and at a very economical price.
The following plan for affordable wooden shelving for your garage can be varied to suit your own needs, but here are the basics to construct 16 shelves, each 4 feet wide and 12″ deep. You will need 8 each 1-1/2″ x 1-1/2″ x 78″ boards for the vertical posts, 8 boards that are 1/2″ thick x 1-1/2″ wide x 16′ long for the shelf rails, and 32 support blocks that are 1″ thick x 1-1/2″ wide x 12″ long.
It’s best to secure the back of your shelves to the wall, but it is not necessary. Using two support blocks, nail one on each side of the first vertical post about two inches from one end. Keep nailing the support blocks to the post, spacing them to create the shelf heights you desire, with the last two placed about one inch below the top of the post. You will have 8 support blocks nailed to post. Now nail another vertical post to the front side of each support block.
Measure carefully to make sure that your shelves will be level. Then nail support blocks to each vertical post as you did with the first one. Once done, lay a shelf rail on its side (so that you only need to nail through the thickness and not the width) atop the support blocks. Nail to each rear vertical post, then repeat for the front shelf rails. Continue nailing the shelf rails in place until completed. Once the last rail is in place, you can paint the shelves, if desired.
You now have some sturdy, inexpensive shelves so that you can place boxes or storage bins out of the way. They will be much more accessible than if they were merely stacked, and you are also utilizing space that would normally be wasted.
Plastic storage bins are a great way to organize your garage. You can color code them if you like, such as using green ones to hold Christmas decorations or orange ones for Thanksgiving. For items that do not lend to such coding methods, use the type with a see-through base so that you can identify contents at a glance. You can usually find the best prices on storage bins between Christmas and Easter.
If you opt to use cardboard boxes for your storage, label them clearly. Use a felt tip marker or tape a piece of paper to the outside of the box to record the contents. You don’t need to list every item within, but you do need to provide a few words that will summarize what each box holds. For example, don’t just label three boxes as “books” but as “Mom’s paperbacks” or “children’s books” or whatever is appropriate.
Hang items like tools and ladders on the wall whenever possible. If you don’t have pegboard, just use some sturdy screw hooks. Once you have everything arranged on the wall, use a felt tip pin to trace the outline of each tool. This will let you see instantly where an item should be replaced or if one is missing.
Recycle household items to help organize your garage. Bookshelves can be used to hold paint cans or cleansers, and file cabinets that are no longer needed in the home can provide a home for tools. Jars, once cleaned, can organize small items such as nails and screws, and baskets can hold sandpaper, sockets, cleaning rags, or whatever is needed.
Organizing your garage is very similar to organizing your kitchen or your closet. You just need to plan ahead, evaluate your needs, and then proceed. If you feel overwhelmed, start small, perhaps tackling one corner at a time. Once finished, you are certain to feel the rewards exceed the effort.