We ask a lot from our garages these days. Once just a place to park the car and lawnmower, garages have evolved into storage spots for everything from bikes and camping gear to bulk purchases of paper towels. They’ve become workshops and craft rooms. Some have even become refuges for people in need of a little personal space.
Fortunately, there are many products designed to help organize our garages. Before buying any garage organization products: Drag everything out of your garage…dispose of items that you no longer need…sort what’s left into categories— yard stuff, car stuff, camping and so forth…then determine how much storage space each category requires. If you feel overwhelmed at this idea, consider hiring a professional organizer. The website of the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals (NAPO.net) is a great way to find someone in your area who can help.
Even if you decide to do it yourself, here are the best organization products…
Best way to hang items from garage walls: Elfa Easy Hang Top Track system, available at the Container Store, consists of horizontal steel tracks that are screwed onto garage walls and have an extensive array of hooks, hangers, shelves and drawers in many finishes and materials. These components attach to the tracks to hold a multitude of garage items including ladders, extension cords, rakes, soccer balls and much more. Advantage: You can reposition or replace the hooks and hangers if your garage storage needs change. Prices: There are many components and combinations, but examples include $12.60 for a 32-inch length of track…$18.90 for an 80-inch length…$9.10 apiece for specialized hooks for ladders, lawn tools, cords and other items…and $21.30 for a hanging mesh storage basket appropriate for soccer balls and footballs. A full Elfa Utility Garage & Planting Solution system that includes enough track, hooks and other pieces to transform approximately seven square feet of garage wall space into versatile storage can be assembled for around $1,000.
Similar: Rubbermaid’s FastTrack Garage Rail Storage System is comparable to the Elfa system but more widely available and generally less expensive. Prices: $90 for a kit containing three 48-inch steel rails and nine hooks that can be used for storing extension cords, ladders, coolers, brooms, shovels and more.
Best way to hang items from garage ceilings: The ceiling of a garage actually is an often-overlooked potential storage area. Auxx-Lift’s motorized overhead shelving utilizes the space above parked vehicles. The challenge with storing things on shelves hung from the ceiling has always been that these shelves are tricky to access. But with this motorized unit you just push a button on a remote control, and a shelf that can hold up to 400 pounds will lower down to you or climb back up to near the ceiling. It’s most useful in garages w i t h c e i l – ings at least 10 feet high. It must be mounted on a section of garage ceiling where it won’t be in the way of the garage door when opened. The metal mesh and open side design make it easy to see what’s on the shelf from below. Price: $1,400 for the Auxx-Lift Premium 1400, which has a four-byeight- foot shelf. Installation is about as challenging as installing an electric garage door opener. If you prefer to hire a handyman or contractor for the project, expect to pay for around two hours of his/her time.
Best way to store bikes: GarageSmart Universal Lifter is a motorized lift that raises bicycles to near the garage ceiling at the touch of a button via a smartphone app—you don’t need an electrician for installation. Prices: $249 for the single-bike lift…or $349 for a multi-bike lift capable of holding three typical adult bikes. Installation can be done by most homeowners.
Beyond bikes: The company also offers a $299 Universal XL lift system for long items such as kayaks…and a $999 Truck Top Lifter that can lift a truck cap off a pickup.
Affordable durable shelving: Trinity freestanding metal wire shelves, available at Costco, are the sturdiest freestanding shelves you can buy without spending a lot of money. They’re available in a range of sizes, but the 24-inch-deep units are particularly useful for storing the large stuff found in many garages, such as big plastic storage bins, snow tires and warehouse club purchases of toilet paper and paper towels. They can be anchored to a wall for greater stability. Price: $109.99 for a 24-x-48-72-inch four-tier unit…or $189.99 for a five-tier wheeled unit with similar dimensions.
More shelving options: If you’re willing to pay more for shelving that’s customizable and looks less industrial than fixed wire metal shelves, the Container Store’s Elfa system mentioned on page 13 offers numerous shelving options made from a variety of materials including wire and wood veneer. Price: $405 for 12-inch-deep shelves that cover around a six-by-seven-foot area of garage wall space.
If you think exposed shelving makes the area look cluttered, California Closets Garage Storage Cabinets can hide stored items behind attractive, durable wood doors. Price: Expect to spend $5,000 to $9,000 for a system large enough to cover one or two walls in the typical garage.
Most durable and affordable storage bins: Hefty’s 72-Quart Hi-Rise Bins are sturdy, sizable, stackable, inexpensive and moisture-resistant. They’re made from translucent plastic, so you don’t have to open them to see what’s inside, and they’re available at Target and other locations. You won’t find a better big plastic bin for the price. Hefty bins are available in a range of smaller sizes as well. Price for one 72-quart bin: $10.99.
Best way to store tools: Craftsman’s Rolling Tool Cabinets are sturdier than competing tool storage units in their price range. They’re constructed from steel, made in the US and feature drawers that are easy to open even when full of heavy tools because they glide on a ball-bearing system. Price: $249 for the five-drawer 26-inch model. Other sizes are available.
Best way to stow golf gear: The Container Store’s Heavy-Duty Golf Storage Rack is made from durable steel and has room for two sets of golf clubs with shelves for golf shoes, balls and other equipment. Price: $89.99.
Alternative: Millard’s Golf Organizer is very similar and available on Amazon. Price: $114.99.