A garage can be a sanctuary — if everything is neatly stored. Whether you use your garage as an auto workshop, a gym or even just a storage space, you want to make sure that your odds and ends are in place and easily accessible. If they’re not, then your garage is more likely to be a headache than a productive, calm space.
The key to making sure that you can store all your garage goodies — but still reach them when you need them — is the right shelving solution. Shelving allows you to store items in multiple tiers in your garage, effectively increasing the surface area of your storage space. The only question is, which shelving system is right for your needs?
Here are some of the best garage shelving options across a variety of categories, based on expert opinion and customer reviews. After the list, read on for more information about how to select the best garage shelving option for you.
The best overall garage shelving needs to be sturdy, strong and reliable while also offering enough space to hold whatever customers might need. The DeWalt Industrial Storage Rack delivers on all counts, with three large adjustable shelves and a powder-coated steel construction that allows for up to 1,500 pounds to sit on each shelf.
The rack is available in different sizes, shelf numbers and colors, and with different shelving options — including wire shelves, and, for a little less, composite shelves. There’s also an option that includes a workstation for $500. Multiple units, even those of different types, can be joined together using the included fasteners.
The DeWalt Industrial Storage Rack currently has 4.8 stars out of five on Amazon based on over 800 customer ratings. Satisfied customers cite the durability of the product and the storage space allowed as positives.
The DeWalt Industrial Storage Rack is a great choice, but if you want something taller that offers more space, you should look at the Trinity EcoStorage Rolling Steel Wire Shelving Unit. This rack is almost six and a half feet tall, with six shelves that can hold a total of 4,800 pounds (if you’re using the flat feet and not the wheels).
If you do use the included wheels, the weight capacity drops significantly, but it’s still high: 133 pounds per shelf, for a total of 800 pounds across all six. This adds an extra level of maneuverability to the system. Trinity also offers its EcoStorage shelves in different sizes and configurations.
Over 1,100 people have rated the Trinity EcoStorage shelving system on Home Depot’s official website. Of those, 96% have recommended the rack giving it ratings of four or five stars out of five.
Just because your budget for garage shelving is on the lower side, it doesn’t mean that you want to sacrifice quality. You still want something that looks good in your garage and can hold several pounds without problems.
Gracious Living’s five-shelf Knect-A-Shelf Ventilated Heavy Duty Storage Unit is the winner in this category — a super lightweight (22.8 pounds apiece) resin model that still offers 150 pounds of storage capacity on each of its five shelves. The units can also be connected to one another, forming larger shelving systems. This shelf is offered a number of difference sizes as well.
Gracious Living’s storage rack currently has 4.5 stars out of five on Amazon based on over 400 customer ratings. Satisfied users tout the sturdiness of the model as well as the ease of assembly.
A garage shelving unit doesn’t need to be freestanding to be one of the best. Case in point: the Fleximounts Wall Shelf Garage Storage Rack, which needs to be properly secured to a wall in your garage and can then provide years of storage service.
Fleximounts has designed the rack to be as sturdy as possible, with steel brackets that boast velcro buckles to prevent any movement. The rack is available in a range of different sizes, and at an additional cost, users can include hooks that enable under-rack hanging (like on bicycles, for instance).
Fleximounts’ Wall Shelf Garage Storage Rack is currently Amazon’s best seller in the “Garage Storage System Shelves” category. Over 3,500 people have rated it, giving it 4.7 stars out of five.
When you need to store large items, you’ll need a lot of space — not just in terms of shelf surface area, but in terms of room between shelves. SafeRacks Garage Shelving delivers in both areas — the largest model is 96 inches wide, and the 84-inch height allows for customizable placement of shelves.
SafeRacks Garage Shelving may be more expensive than other models on the list, but the sheer size that it offers makes it worth every penny. It’s also able to support a ton of weight — literally, as each of the four shelves has a 500-pound weight capacity.
The SafeRacks shelving unit is available in widths of 48 inches, 72 inches and 96 inches. It currently has 4.5 stars out of five on Amazon with over 300 customer ratings.
If you have truly heavy items that you’ll be storing on your garage shelving, you’re going to need a unit that can bear more weight than any other. That’s exactly where Gladiator’s Heavy Duty Rack comes into play.
The Heavy Duty Rack is made of steel and has four shelves, each of which can hold an astonishing 2,000 pounds. That means the unit as a whole can support up to 8,000 pounds, which should cover just about any home garage work. It’s also easy to put together, with tool-free snap and lock assembly. Gladiator offers this shelf in a number of sizes including 48-inch, 60-inch and 77-inch wide units.
The Gladiator Heavy Duty Rack has 4.8 stars out of five on Amazon with over 80 customer ratings. Satisfied users on the website cite the ease of assembly, value and, of course, the strength as positives.
Some garage shelving racks are easier to move than others, due to their shape and weight. If you think you might need to move things around in your garage, you’ll want a light storage rack. That said, you still won’t want to sacrifice structural integrity.
Amazon Basics’ shelving unit is a good compromise between light weight and sturdy performance. The unit is just over 30 pounds (the three- and four-shelf models are even lighter), but the shelves can each hold 300 pounds — make sure to note, however, that the carrying capacity drops to 132 pounds per shelf if the unit’s wheels are attached instead of its feet. That number drops to 88 pounds per shelf when the wheels are in motion. It’s also offered in different sizes and without casters.
The Amazon Basics shelving unit is the second best selling item in Amazon’s “Utility Racks” category. Over 57,000 users have rated it giving it an average of 4.7 stars out of five.
If you’re going to primarily use your shelving unit for tools, you might not need as much space between shelves as if you were holding larger items. 2x4basics’ Custom Work Bench and Shelving Storage System provides shelving space to hold a variety of tools while also, as the name promises, serving as a fully functional workbench.
The workbench and storage system is available in a regular configuration, as well as an L-shaped configuration either with or without overhead shelving. It’s the fifth-best-selling item in Amazon’s “Workbenches” category and has a customer rating of 4.6 stars out of five (with more than 6,000 users having responded).
Please note that this storage system only includes workbench legs and shelf links, not the lumber to be used as sheling. You’ll have to buy that separately.
For garage owners who want to maximize their storage space, ceiling-mounted shelving systems are a great choice. Since these shelves are mounted on garage ceilings and project downward, they don’t cut off any space on garage floors. Those floors can be used for additional storage of any type.
Still, for ceiling-mounted garage shelving to be worth the purchase and installation, it has to be reliable. That’s where Fleximounts Heavy Duty Overhead Garage Adjustable Ceiling Storage Rack comes in. The iron wire shelves can be set to project from 22 inches to 40 inches down from the ceiling and they’re available in an assortment of sizes. For the 4-foot by 6-foot model, the weight capacity for each shelf is an impressive 450 pounds.
The Fleximounts ceiling rack has an Amazon score of 4.7 stars out of five based on over 2,400 user ratings. It’s currently the third-best-selling item in the site’s “Ceiling Mounted Storage Racks” category.
Putting a garage shelving unit on wheels greatly reduces the maximum amount of weight it can hold, but it also offers a user considerable advantage that wouldn’t otherwise be possible, such as the ability to update a garage layout with relative ease.
The Seville Classics UltraDurable Steel Wire Shelving with Wheels is our choice for the best system on wheels. Available in a variety of sizes, the UltraDurable shelving system is made of steel wire and has chrome plating for maximum durability. When set up with wheels, the weight capacity is 100 pounds per shelf and 500 pounds overall. With the included feet, the capacity jumps to 800 pounds per shelf and 4,000 pounds overall.
Seville Classics’ UltraDurable shelving system currently has 4.7 stars out of five on Amazon with more than 4,600 customer ratings.
If you haven’t seen any garage shelving items that truly speak to you and you’d rather design your own shelving system, you’re in luck: 2x4basics offers ShelfLinks, a custom storage solution that lets you build your own storage rack piece by piece.
The building kit comes with six packs of shelf hardware, lumber not included. While creating a ShelfLinks system will require more technical know-how than some of the other models on this list, it’s still relatively simple: You just need a screwdriver for the hardware and a saw for the wood. After that, you can build the shelving unit of your dreams.
2x4basics’ ShelfLinks have 4.6 stars out of five on Amazon with more than 2,000 customer ratings. Satisfied users cite the design aesthetic and the ease of creating shelving units as positives.
Comparison of the best garage shelving for 2022
|Shelf||Unit height||Weight capacity (per shelf)|
|Best garage shelving overall||DeWalt Industrial Storage Rack||48 inches||1,500 pounds|
|Best garage shelving overall runner-up||Trinity EcoStorage Rolling Steel Wire Shelving||77 inches||800 pounds with feet, 133 pounds with wheels|
|Best cheap garage shelving||Gracious Living Knect-A-Shelf Heavy Duty Storage Unit||72 inches||150 pounds|
|Best wall garage shelving||Fleximounts Wall Shelf Garage Storage Rack||N/A||200 pounds|
|Best garage shelving for large items||SafeRacks Garage Shelving||84 inches||500 pounds|
|Best heavy-duty garage shelving||Gladiator Heavy Duty Rack||72 inches||2,000 pounds|
|Best light but sturdy garage shelving||Amazon Basics Adjustable Heavy Duty Storage Shelving||65 inches||300 pounds with feet, 132 pounds with wheels|
|Best multifunctional garage shelving||2x4basics Custom Work Bench and Shelving Storage System||96 inches||1,000 pounds|
|Best ceiling-mounted garage shelving||Fleximounts Heavy Duty Overhead Garage Adjustable Storage Rack||40 inches||450 pounds|
|Best garage shelving on wheels||Seville Classics UltraDurable Steel Wire Shelving with Wheels||73 inches||800 pounds with feet, 100 pounds with wheels|
|Best custom garage shelving||2x4basics Cutome Shelving and Storage System ShelfLinks||Varies||1,000 pounds|
What to consider when shopping for garage shelving
Garage shelving comes in many different shapes and sizes, but the most notable variation between different shelving options comes in how they’re mounted — or if they’re even mounted at all. Some options can be attached to your garage ceiling, while others can be attached to the walls. These mounted models free up more space on the floor of your garage, which can be used for activities or even more storage. Freestanding shelving units are also available, both with and without wheels. Typically, a freestanding model will have a higher weight capacity than a mounted model, but the weight capacity will decrease drastically if the shelving unit is on wheels.
There are also many different options when it comes to the material from which the shelving rack is built. Plastic units are typically lighter and easier to move than metal ones, but some wire metal units are actually quite light as well. Other shelving materials like particle board or medium-density fiberboard (MDF) are also lightweight, although they have lower weight capacities than metal. They also may stain if a can of engine fluid or motor oil leaks on the shelves — although with a grated metal or plastic shelf, that same fluid might leak down to lower shelves and ruin other items.
Shelf size and weight capacity are also major factors that should influence a shelving decision and the answers to your questions will ultimately be based on what you want to store. Larger units with more shelves obviously offer more space, but if you want to store large items, you’ll need to make sure that there’s enough room between shelves to accommodate them. Likewise, if you’ll be storing heavy items (such as car parts or large tools), you’ll want to make sure that the weight capacity of each shelf is high enough to provide support. If you’re storing lighter items, this won’t be as much of a concern and you’ll be covered with most shelving models.
“At Gladiator, there are endless opportunities for garage shelving,” says Blake Bancroft. Bancroft is Gladiator brand & ecommerce manager at Whirlpool Corporation. “From heavy-duty racks to overhead storage and even customizable wall systems, there are scalable options to fit any space. The biggest factor in determining what shelving is best for you comes down to identifying what you’re trying to store. Storing lawn and garden equipment, such as rakes and hoses, may only require a few wall hooks, whereas larger tools or sports equipment could need durable shelving solutions.”
It’s also important to consider the installation process. While most freestanding shelving units are relatively easy to assemble — and many can even be done by a single person — mounted units are more difficult. Hanging a wall-mounted or ceiling-mounted shelving unit can be a multi-person job. Since the sturdiness of the units is of prime importance, you may find that hiring a professional for the installation is the way to go.
“Know your garage measurements — and this includes your vehicle — before you buy any storage system,” advises Mike Martin. Martin is the founder of RemodelingExpense.com and a licensed general contractor in Massachusetts. “You need to make sure you have enough clearance to park your vehicle, open your door and safely walk around your vehicle.”
How to install and use garage shelving
Each garage shelving unit will come with its own installation instructions, whether the unit is mounted or freestanding. Many freestanding units can actually be fitted together with just included materials — some plastic shelving units simply snap together, while many metal shelves come with pins or other fasteners designed to hold shelves in place. Mounting a unit is harder — you’ll need to make sure that your wall or ceiling is strong enough to support the load you’re planning on shelving and you’ll need tools (such as a hammer, nails, a level, anchors and/or a stud finder) if you’re doing the mounting yourself. If you’re concerned about the balance of your freestanding shelving unit, you can anchor that to the wall, as well — just make sure not to anchor a shelving unit with wheels!
There are also many different ways to keep your garage shelves organized. It’s best to place the items that will be needed most often in the most accessible places, while items that are rarely used can be placed more out of the way. If you’re keeping automotive tools on your shelving unit, you may want to put them on a low shelf so they’re accessible while you’re working on your vehicle. You might also want to keep heavier items on lower shelves, so there’s less of a chance of them falling off and causing damage. Finally, if you have small children, it might be good to keep dangerous items (such as sharp tools or toxic liquids) on higher shelves that are harder to reach.
“One of my favorite phrases is, ‘If your space is as organized as your silverware drawer, you will never wonder where something belongs.'” says Bancroft. “That applies to the garage, as well. If you take the time to organize your spaces in a way that makes sense for your lifestyle and needs, you will never wonder where things need to go when you’re done with your project or need to make room on a random shelf. Putting in the work early to create an organizational system can pay dividends in the long run.”
Garage shelving units will also need to be cleaned regularly — some more often than others, depending on what they’re holding. The way you clean your shelves will depend upon what they’re made from. Odds are that a shelving unit will come with cleaning instructions, but in a general sense, all-purpose cleaners or degreasers tend to work well on metal and plastic units. If your shelves are made from a material that stains, like particle board or MDF, you might not be able to get them back to mint condition. In this case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — you can cover the shelves with thin plastic or another material that’s easy to replace, but which will also prevent spills and stains from seeping through.
Written by Scott Fried for CNET Cars
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Garage Shelving FAQs
What are the different options for garage shelving?
The main way in which garage shelving units differ is based on whether they’re mounted or freestanding. Mounted units can be attached to a garage wall or ceiling, depending upon the unit’s specific configuration. Freestanding units sit on the ground, though some have wheels and can be moved around easily.
Garage shelving also differs based on construction material. Many shelving units are metal or wire, but there are also a wide variety of lighter plastic shelving units that fit well in a garage. Some of the actual shelves are made from particle board or MDF. Ultimately, the one you pick will depend upon your preferences regarding weight capacity and the cleaning process.
Additionally, garage shelving is available in a wide variety of sizes.
What is the strongest shelving material?
The strongest material for garage shelving is metal. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t plastic shelving units that offer high weight capacities, but the absolute sturdiest shelving units — ones capable of holding 1,500 to 2,000 pounds per shelf — are made of metal. It’s also worth noting that wheels are inherently less stable than flat feet, so units with wheels have much lower weight capacities than those that sit on the ground without moving.
Is wire shelving good for garages?
Yes, wire shelving is a good choice for garage units. Wire shelving provides much of the stability and strength of metal while maintaining a weight light enough to move relatively easily. Many wire shelving units also have wheel options, which reduces their weight capacity but provides more mobility options. It’s also work noting that if a liquid spills on a wire shelf, it will seep down to lower shelves.
Is particle board or MDF good for garage shelving?
Both particle board and MDF can be good options for garage shelving. They offer less support — and therefore a lower weight capacity — than metal shelving, but for garage owners who don’t plan on storing heavy items on shelves, particle board and MDF are lightweight, easy-to-move options. Particle board and MDF are harder to clean than metal and plastic meaning spills on their surfaces may cause permanent staining.
How do you clean garage shelving?
The instructions for cleaning a garage shelving unit will depend upon the material from which it’s built. Metal and plastic shelving units are relatively easy to clean — just use all-purpose cleaners or degreasers and scrub them the way you would anything else. Particle board and MDF shelves are more likely to stain permanently if they’re subject to spills. For that reason, it’s worth covering them with plastic sheets or contact paper than can be easily replaced when they get dirty.