How to Create Space and Organise Your Garage Storage

There is a law in physics called entropy which is the tendency for order to turn to disorder. If you are reading this, you have probably experienced entropy at work in your garage, where there is the greatest tendency for disorganisation in the home.

Fortunately, the battle against nature is easily won with a little effort and a lot of organisation. Get your garage clear, ordered and sort out your garage storage systems, and you will always be able to find what you are looking for. Get it right and you will have plenty of space to store your tools and gardening equipment, and can order everything else that is usually just dumped in your garage.

To make organising your garage storage easier we have prepared a guide to organising garage storage to help you get the most use of the available space, with tips on how to organise your garage  to make your life easier.

Stage 1: Identify Your Goals

A garage can be a convenient dump for everything that cannot fit in the house, but with a little organisation and some good quality garage shelving units you can transform your garage from a dump to a well ordered storeroom, increasing your storage space many times over.

Rather than just clearing the clutter and boxing up all of your stuff, take a few minutes to plan your storage needs for the whole house.  This is a great opportunity to sort out your house and shed storage and repurpose the space.

Plan your storage requirements, and you may be able to clear space to create a workshop, hobby area, larder or a play area for your kids.

Stage 2: The Big Clean

Before you can get your storage organised you will need to clean out all the clutter, rubbish and items that you will never use again. It is far easier to assess the space you have available if it is totally cleared, and until all of your clutter has been organised, it will be difficult to assess accurately how much storage space you will need and the shelving units and cabinets you will need to buy.

You should be quite ruthless when it comes to clearing out clutter. Some items may never be used again, but have sentimental value. However, the golden rule is, if it hasn’t been used in a year, it’s time to clear.

The easiest way to clean and clear is to create three separate piles: Items to throw away, items to keep and those which can be donated to charity or recycled.  Get rid of anything faulty or broken, sell items you don’t need on E-bay or donate them to charity, and trim down your stored goods as much as possible.

If your garage has not been ordered or cleared for some years, it is likely that cleaning and sorting will take a long time. Try to allocate time at the weekend when you can really get stuck in for a good 2-3 hours or more. Any less and you are unlikely to make much of a dent and if you can’t notice the difference after 3 hours of work, it can be very disheartening.

It’s a good idea to tackle a big clearing and cleaning job in sections to give you a sense of achievement if you do not manage to get it all done in one weekend. Once you have trimmed down your stored goods and have got rid of everything you will never need, you need to clean thoroughly. Consider painting the walls to create a bright and welcoming space, as this will be difficult once your garage shelving units are installed.  

When you have cleared as much as you can, it’s time to organise all of your items that need to be stored. Try to keep similar items together and create separate piles for different categories of items such as gardening equipment, tools, food, household items etc. Similar items should be stored together as it will make it far easier to find what you want.

Remember that garages can be cold, suffer wide fluctuations in temperature, can be prone to flooding and are often damp, so the garage may not the best place to store items which can be easily damaged.

When you have sorted all of your kit, you will have a good idea of the amount of storage space you need and you can measure up and order your shelving and cabinetry.

Stage 3: Organising Your Storage Area

The same level of thought and consideration that goes into planning the layout and storage space in any room in the house should be applied to the garage. Plan where you want your stuff stored where it will be easily accessible and make sure that you factor in space to move around and use the space easily.

Even small garages offer plenty of scope for storage. The key to using this space is to think volume rather than area, and vertical space rather than floor space. Calculate your storage requirements to make sure you have ample space to keep all of your equipment, and factor in extra space for future storage needs. It’s better to have too much storage space than too little.

If you park your car in the garage, consider getting a carbon monoxide detector and a smoke alarm, and the purchase of a fire extinguisher is also a wise precaution. 

Stage 4: Choosing your Shelves and Cabinetry

The easiest way to create more storage space in a garage is with shelving. Shelves can be fixed to the wall, but this will severely limit the weight of the items you can store and it will be time consuming to drill the holes and make sure the shelves are level. The most practical and versatile solution is to purchase free-standing shelving units. Not only are they practical and easy to install, but they can be moved and repositioned easily should future storage needs change.

Installing the right type of shelving will clear floor space, increase storage space and keep access free, which in itself can make a huge difference to the usability of your garage.

There are many choices of shelving units depending on the space available and the weight of the goods that need to be stored. Always choose metal shelving units over wood. Metal is low cost and it copes better with humidity, heat and cold than wooden shelving. Heavy duty shelving is often the best choice for garages as it will ensure that whatever your storage requirements, you will not have a problem with load levels.  Metal shelving units are also much more resistant to knocks and have a longer lifespan than their all-wood counterparts.

Stage 5: Stacking your Shelves

If you have mountains of boxes of stored goods, it is likely to be manually taxing and mentally demanding to find anything without going through virtually every last box, so make sure everything is labelled clearly so you know what each box contains. It takes time, but creating an inventory of each box will make it easier to find items. The inventory can then be taped to the box for quick identification of the contents.

When stacking your shelves it is important to create some order. It should be easy to clear space and get everything off the floor, but if you want to be able to find things quickly. Try to create zones for different classes of items such as gardening equipment, cleaning products, tools, clothes storage etc.

Items which are used frequently should be close to the entry point into the garage. Frequently used and small items should – where possible – be stored at eye level. Large and heavy items should go on the bottom shelves, with boxed goods on the upper levels and the most infrequently used items on the top shelves.

Pipes, water heaters and boilers can leak, so it is important not to store any items on the floor to prevent water damage. Flammable goods should also be stored well away from any sources of flames.

Items should be stored in waterproof plastic boxes with closely fitting lids and cardboard boxes should be avoided whenever possible. Cardboard will degrade, rot and can be eaten by pests.

To ensure that damp and moisture is controlled, consider adding silica gel packets to storage boxes, or use blocks of charcoal tied up in a porous cloth or an old sock as this will help to absorb any moisture. You should also make sure that any item stored in your garage is thoroughly dry before storing to prevent mildew and mould from growing, and to prevent the build up of humidity of your garage.

Garage Storage Do’s ......

  • Measure, measure and measure again for shelving and cabinets. It pays to be certain.
  • Think volume rather than floor space to maximise your storage options
  • Keep dangerous items such as chemicals in a lockable cabinet
  • Buy a secure lockable cabinet for any valuables you want to store in your garage.
  • Flammable items should not be stored within half a metre of the boiler or a heater
  • Label all boxes correctly and create an inventory
  • Factor in additional storage to cope with changing needs in the future
  • Keep your garage clean, and take time to put everything back in its proper place
  • If you have kids, keep all dangerous items out of arms reach

..... and Dont’s

  • Don’t cover up drains with boxes or block access to fuse boxes or ventilation systems
  • Don’t forget that doors need to open – leave sufficient space
  • Don’t exceed the UDL levels of your shelving
  • Don’t fill more than ¾ of your shelves. If you are virtually full up you need another shelving unit.

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