Garage storage ideas and solutions are not limited to the floors or the vertical walls. There is a “fifth wall” that is rarely used for tucking away infrequently used items. That, of course, is the overhead space. Garage ceiling storage can be accommodated with a wide variety of options that fit any storage need.
Most people think of storage as a “ground-based” affair, mounting shelves to the walls, or placing cabinetry on floors. In a typical garage, one may find pegboard as a half-hearted nod to organizing the space. But much of a garage’s space is wasted, and that is the area immediately overhead. Some homeowners pay for off-site storage instead of using the space they already have in their garage. Ceiling storage is an attractive alternative to cluttered floor space.
Most garages have open-rafter framework or visible trusses overhead. These are three-dimensional spaces, allowing for many storage alternatives. Some garages have flat, finished ceilings, which limit what can be stored above the floor. Regardless of which overhead storage decision best suits the environment, the first consideration involves the garage door. If one has a typical sliding garage door, the overhead space is constantly obstructed in one way or another in the path of the door. Yet even here, there is valuable storage space not being used above the garage door track. Newer garages have at least a couple of feet from the top of the track to the ceiling. Installing some overhead shelving in these locations is a great garage storage solution. In homes equipped with roller garage doors (much like a heavy-duty window-shade) the self-containment of the door leaves the overhead space completely free for other things.
Again, regardless of garage door style, planning will allow an effective storage method. The “open” (exposed rafters) overhead space affords the most flexibility. Simply placing a sturdy sheet of 5/8”-thick plywood across the ceiling joists creates an instant overhead shelf for stashing items. More advanced, of course, would be to floor the space between the overhead rafters with good, finished carpentry and then use the area as a fixed loft storage space. Overhead garage bicycle racks can be hung in the space as well.
Modular units can be purchased. These range from the simple “closet” organizer style wire rack that hangs from overhead to more complex platforms that, once loaded, use a simple pulley system to raise the filled platform off the floor and close to the ceiling where it locks into place (much like a dumbwaiter).
Common sense dictates what should be hung from any ceiling storage system. Garage ceiling storage should not be used for an abundance of heavy items like boxes of books and bowling balls. Not only does the excess weight stress the shelves and anchors, heavier items are difficult to get up and down ladders without sacrificing safety. Although the upper range limitations for overhead storage units can be up to 250 pounds, it is probably wiser to restrict one’s suspended storage to lighter items (such as bulky camping equipment – it generally doesn’t weigh much but it does take up a lot of space). Also, use common sense when deciding what to store – valuable, fragile items (such as glassware) should probably not be stored overhead on the off chance they may be dropped and broken while being put away or taken out.
Every overhead storage unit carries a weight limitation from its manufacturer. For bicycle garage racks this may be 50 pounds. For hoist systems where a capper (or “camper” shell) for a pickup truck may hang suspended from the floor, these weight limits may be set at 200 pounds. It is extremely important before selecting any unit for purchase what its recommended uses are – do not try to make something fit a purpose for which it was not engineered just to save a dollar.
Pricing is, of course, variable. Some simple wire shelving systems can be bought at any home improvement store for less than $30.00. Most popular retail outlets sell many of the smaller devices (bicycle hangers, etc.). The hoisting platforms can run a couple of hundred dollars. As with anything, such a venture should be carefully planned for material, the space in which it will be located, and for budget. Garage ceiling storage, however, can really clear a cluttered garage floor in a hurry.