Whether you have a small garage or you’re just trying to find more space in your garage, overhead storage can be a huge help.
In my garage, I can fit a lot on my wall storage system, but there’s some things that I can’t: bigger or bulky items that just don’t fit on a hook.
That’s where overhead storage racks can make a lot of sense.
When you’re looking for the best garage overhead storage, you should make sure that it’s the right size, weight capacity, and material for your needs. Consider whether or not it’s porous since you could use hooks. Base your decision on the items that you’ll be storing, such as tools or bicycles.
Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following information about the best garage overhead storage on the market:
- Various styles of overhead storage solutions for your garage
- Helpful tips to get your hands on the best choice for you
- Answers to all of the most common questions about overhead garage storage
- What you should look for before making a purchase
Types of Overhead Storage for Your Garage
Not every type of storage rack is right for your garage. In this section, we’ll talk about what options you have and which ones will be best for your needs.
With that out of the way, here are some of the main types of garage overhead storage:
Traditional Overhead Rack
Traditional overhead racks are usually made from wood, metal, or ABS plastic. They attach to your ceiling on four posts, one at each corner.
These arms are mounted into the ceiling joists to make sure they can withstand the weight of whatever you’re storing on them. Expect to have between 2 to 4 feet of storage space to work with, depending on the model of storage rack.
They come in a variety of different sizes, but are usually between 2′-4′ deep and between 4′-8′ long.
These are often the best choice for people who have a bunch of storage totes. If you’re storing your Christmas decorations or seasonal clothes in your garage, then overhead racks will be a great solution.
Double-sided ceiling racks are just like traditional overhead racks, but they have a partition down the middle to separate the storage. Although you can get them in smaller sizes, they’re mainly used for massive racks that are so large you need to be able to access them from both sides to reach everything.
Regardless of which one you go with, many people like having the partition to give different people their own dedicated storage space.
Bike/Sports Storage Racks
Cycling is getting more and more popular, but it can be difficult to find a place in your garage to store your bike. Most bicycle racks are only about 50 pounds, so they’re easy to install and can hang from most garage ceilings.
Alternately, many overhead storage racks also have custom mounts that let you hand your bicycles underneath them, for even more storage.
Another cool thing about bike racks is you don’t need to use them exclusively for bicycles. They can be used for skateboards, longboards, backpacks, hats, and many other items.
Bike storage racks come in many different styles, so if a ceiling bike rack isn’t right for your garage, you can find racks that mount to your wall or floor instead.
Last but not least, storage hooks are some of the most common garage overhead storage solutions.
Installation is simple. Drill a pilot hole with a bit, then hand-twist the hook into the hole.
While they’re not strong enough for bicycles and other large items, but you hang plenty of other items. They’re a great place to store clothes, packed sports bags, kayak paddles, and decorations.
Storage hooks are extremely popular because they’re about as simple and compact as it gets.
Depending on the size you’re looking for, most hooks only cost a few dollars each. Their only downside is that they don’t have as much weight capacity as overhead racks.
Things to Consider
Before you buy overhead storage, there are a few things to consider.
Buying the first one you see isn’t a good idea. You can’t always trust reviews on Amazon. Going cheap and buying a plastic rack might end up cracking or dropping all of your supplies on top of your car.
OK, so how do you know which overhead storage is right for your garage?
Here’s what you should keep an eye out for:
- Make sure it’s big enough: It’s tempting to cut corners to reduce the price, but the size shouldn’t be one of those corners. If you buy a rack that’s too small you’ll either end up without enough room, or you’ll need to buy another rack down the road.
- Watch your head: Take it from me, hitting your head on a steel storage rack isn’t fun. When you install your rack, make sure it doesn’t hang low enough to bump your head.
- Pay attention to the weight capacity: There are two weight limits to pay attention to. You want to make sure that your rack won’t buckle under the weight of what you’re putting on it. You also want to make sure that your garage ceiling can support the weight.
- Don’t skimp on materials: Making our own storage racks from wood is popular with DIYers, but I recommend solid steel. Try to avoid plastic storage racks, however. It’s lightweight and cheap, but it’s not as durable as metal or wood.
- What will you store? Are you going to keep bicycles, decorations, heavy-duty tools, or a few lightweight items? Knowing what you’re putting on the storage rack or hook will give you a better perspective on what to look for. If you’re not quite sure, aim for a mid-sized metal rack for the best results.
How to Choose the Right Overhead Storage
You’ve seen what you need to look for, different types of overhead storage, and the materials, but how can you choose the right one for your home?
It’s important to note that there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to storage racks. Here’s the process to pick the perfect storage for your garage:
Decide How Much Space You’ll Need
If you’re only storing a couple of totes with Christmas decorations, then you might not need much more than a 3’ x 4’ platform. However, if you want to store a set of bicycles, a dozen totes, a kayak, or your children’s toys in your garage, then you’re probably going to need more room.
The best way to do this is to set everything out on your garage floor and measure how much space it takes up before you buy anything.
Start by laying everything out, side-by-side. Decide what can be stacked on top of other items and what can’t. Try to organize everything as if it were on the overhead rack.
Once you’re done, measure the length, width, and depth. That’s your minimum dimensions you’ll need for your overhead storage solution. It’s a good idea to buy something that’s at least a few inches wider, longer, and deeper for safe measure.
Flat panels or open grates?
Most overhead garage storage is designed to have open grating on the bottom so dust doesn’t accumulate. It also makes it harder for spiders, bugs and other little critters to build nests.
Open grating also helps you to quickly see what’s in the center of the rack. In most cases, getting a porous rack is better because you can hang items from the bottom to get additional storage.
Note: You don’t always need hooks or strings to hang items on racks. If you have backpacks or purses, they can tie to the rack by themselves. Gym bags, sports ball bags, and many other products come with strings or hooks built-in. You could even hang lanterns from a porous rack if you don’t have a ceiling light in the garage.
Mark It Out on Your Ceiling
Once you have an idea of how much storage space you need, you need to make sure it’ll fit on your garage ceiling.
Note: Several smaller racks may be a better idea than one big one. For example, you could arrange them in an ‘L’ shape to work around a corner or light fixture.
Grab some measuring tape, a pencil, and an eraser (unless you don’t mind marks on your ceiling).
- Once you have an idea the size of overhead storage rack you need, get their exact measurements from the manufacturer’s website. You don’t want to use Amazon’s dimensions because they might not be accurate.
- Consider where you want to place the rack. Corners are often the best placement since they don’t get in the way. Depending on the rack, you may be able to secure it to both the ceiling and your garage wall.
- Put a mark on the ceiling with your pencil at each corner of where the rack will go.
- Outline the area with a pencil to finish the ceiling sketch. If you like the location and size and it fits the length, width, and depth mentioned above, then you’ve found a winner!
Don’t Forget Removable Options
Most of us think of overhead storage as a semi-permanent solution. Once you start drilling holes and mounting the rack into the ceiling, it’s there for the long haul.
However, there are also ways to create short-term, removable overhead garage storage for your house.
For example, you could use velcro, Command Hooks or screw-in hooks that we mentioned earlier. Once you remove them, most small holes can be filled and adhesives can be scrubbed off.
These solutions don’t have an excellent weight capacity, but they’re good for lightweight needs.
If you’re getting a wooden or metal storage rack, make sure you monitor the humidity in your garage. If it’s too high, you might notice wood rot, rusting, or corrosion. In some cases, mold and mildew can start to form on the surface of the wood.
Fortunately, there’s a handful of fixes for humidity, including:
- Spray WD40 Specialist Corrosion Inhibitor directly on metal surfaces. You can also use it to remove rust as well, scrubbing the surface with a hard brush or a ball of tinfoil.
- Apple cider vinegar removes mold and mildew from most surfaces. Place one cup in a spray bottle and mix with one cup of water. Spray the solution on the mold, wipe it with a sponge, and repeat this process once per month to keep the mold at bay.
- If you live in a humid area like I do, a garage dehumidifiers may be your best option. You can check out the dehumidifier I use in this article, along with some more tips on how to keep humidity down.
Just in case you have a few unanswered questions, here are some of the more popular questions I hear about overhead garage storage:
- How do you install garage overhead storage? All storage racks should have instructions. Most of them are installed by drilling 4 to 8 pilot holes. Lining up the rack with the holes, and drilling the screws through the pilot holes. Consider using wood glue or epoxy for a long-lasting hold.
- How much weight can overhead racks hold? Fleximounts claims that many types of overhead storage solutions can hold up to 600 pounds. However, you can find plenty of budget-friendly options that hold about 100 to 200 pounds. Remember, you also need to consider how much weight your garage ceiling can hold!
- What can you store on a ceiling rack? The most common items to store on ceiling racks are plastic totes, toys, bicycles, and sports equipment. That said, you can store anything that you want to keep out of the way so you can have more space in your garage.
- Is overhead garage storage safe? As long as it’s installed correctly and you’re not putting more weight on it than it’s rated for, overhead storage racks are extremely safe. However, if you don’t feel comfortable installing them by yourself, there are many professional installers that can take care of that for you.
Additional Safety Tips
- Never install a storage rack on an old, rotted ceiling. The screws can come undone, even if you use epoxy or wood glue.
- Make sure that your items aren’t hanging off the edge. A small earthquake, door slam, or bump can send your supplies tumbling all over the place.
- Always drill pilot holes before using the provided screws. Although it might take a bit more time, pilot holes ensure a strong grip while preventing your screws from getting stripped.
- If you want to remove the overhead storage, remove everything from the rack beforehand. Slowly unscrew one screw at a time. Consider getting a partner to hold the rack as you unscrew it to prevent it from falling.
Garage overhead storage is as convenient as it gets. With this guide, you’ll be able to get the best rack for your garage without having to worry about it breaking or becoming a nuisance. Remember to maintain the rack by checking the tightness of the screws, removing rust, and wiping dust or debris from the surface.