Disclaimer: Gladiator did not sponsor this article in any way. I purchased all of my cabinets myself, so the viewsin this article are from an average owner (me) who spent hard-earned money on cabinets and is sharing my opinions.
I’m not going to come out and say that Gladiator GarageWorks makes the best garage cabinets in the world.
That’s just silly.
I will say that of all the cabinets that I looked at, Gladiator cabinets checked all of my “must have” features at a price I was happy with.
Whether you’re on a shoestring budget or if money is no object, there are a bunch of really well made cabinets at every price point imaginable.
Saber, NewAge and even Craftsman make some high quality, reasonably priced cabinets. Moduline and Vault cover the high-end with some absolutely gorgeous aluminum cabinets.
So what made me choose Gladiator cabinets?
Get your priorities straight
As much as I love the super high-end stuff that you see on Obsessed Garage, not everyone can afford a dedicated wash bay for their Porsche 911 GT3-RS.
Most people can’t afford a Porsche 911 GT3-RS., actually.
Still, if you want to see the kind of dream garage to have if money is no object, then definitely check him out. Seriously.
For the rest of us, we’ll probably have to make some compromises. There are a couple of things that I wouldn’t skimp on, but a few things were negotiable.
Here were my “must-haves” for my garage cabinets:
Price: I wanted something that looked good but didn’t break the bank. My comfort zone was less than $300 each for wall cabinets and less than $500 each for freestanding cabinets.
While I was doing my research, I wrote an article on how much a garage cabinet costs with over 30 different examples. Hopefully it can save you some time in your search!
Style: As much as I love red, I didn’t want my garage to have wall-to-wall red cabinets. Or blue cabinets. There is such a thing as “too much of a good thing.”
One of my future upgrades will be a RaceDeck or SwissTrax floor in black, silver and red checkerboard pattern. I knew my cabinets would have to be black or grey so my garage wouldn’t be red-overkill.
A cohesive look: I didn’t want to have one cabinet from Brand A and another from Brand B. Everything had to be from the same manufacturer, so I had to make some tough decisions.
Quality: I wanted something that was good quality, but not professional grade. I’m an average homeowner working on project in my spare time. I don’t have a lot of tools and I don’t use them frequently.
I wanted a solid fitting garage cabinet to store my stuff. I wanted welded cabinets whenever possible because the fit and finish is noticably better. For more on that, check out my comparison between Gladiator’s Ready to Assemble (RTA) line and their Premier line of cabinets. I go into a ton of detail!
No store brands (Kobalt, Husky, etc.): I’ve been burned too many times by trying to build a collection over time only to have the manufacturer decide not to make it anymore.
With those criteria, I was able to narrow down my list to a couple different manufacturers, so let’s look at some comparisons.
Cabinet comparisons: NewAge, Saber & Craftsman
My short list of cabinets came down to Saber, NewAge, Craftsman and Gladiator. Each had their pros and cons and it helps to list them out to get a better idea of which cabinets work for you.
It ultimately made this a pretty easy decision for me.
In my next garage, I’ll probably end up going with Saber cabinets. They’re really high-quality stuff, but you’re definitely paying a premium for it once shipping is factored in (comparatively speaking).
Pros: Great looking. Very well made. Reasonable price for 20 gauge welded steel cabinets.
Cons: Expensive shipping. For me in Florida, their estimated shipping charge was around 25% of the price of the cabinets. If you’re on the west coast, shipping is only 10-15%, but that’s still pricey.
NewAge has two main lines that you can mix and match. The Pro series is welded, 18 gauge steel while the Bold series is the thinner 24 gauge steel.
Pros: Cost and color options. The Bold series is cheaper than the Gladiator RTA cabinets, especially if you can find them on sale from Costco or Home Depot. The paint colors are the same between both lines so you can mix and match, if you want.
Cons: 24 gauge steel on the Bold series, which feels flimsy when you open the doors and drawers.
I’d seriously look at Craftsman cabinets if you’re on a tight budget and don’t mind red and black. In my case, I wanted something more heavy-duty and not as flashy.
Pros: Least expensive cabinets. Works with their VersaTrack system for an integrated look and flexibility to move them around later.
Cons: Thinnest gauge steel. Ready to assemble only, no welded options. Only one color option.
Gladiator GarageWorks cabinets
Gladiator has two model lines, the cheaper Ready To Assemble (RTA) line that you’ll find in most of the local big-box hardware stores and the heavier-duty Premier line of welded steel cabinets.
Unless you have both RTA cabinets and Premier cabinets in front of you, it can be difficult to tell them apart. I wrote a pretty detailed article that goes into the differences between the Gladiator RTA cabinets and the Premier cabinets. Check it out, but be sure to come back!
Pros: Integrates well with their GearTrack and GearWall track system which means you can move the cabinets around later. Easy to find locally.
Cons: Not a big fan of the diamond-plate look of the doors. The design is the opposite of flashy.
Gladiator cabinet review
I purchased a few Gladiator cabinets from both the Premier line and the Ready to Assemble (RTA) line, so this review will cover both.
I’ll try to specifically mention which model I’m talking about each time.
Here’s what I’ve got:
- Two Premier 30″ wall cabinets (GAWG302DRG)
- One RTA 28″ wall cabinet (GAWG28KDYG)
- One Premier 65″ tall GearBox (GATB302DRG)
- One RTA 72″ tall GearBox (GALG36KDYG)
I also picked up a couple of things I’ll be covering in a different review. You may see them in photos, but I won’t specifically cover them here.
- 6′ adjustable hardwood workstation (GAWB06HWEG)
- Premier series modular GearBox (GAGB272DRG)
- Premier series modular GearDrawer (GAGD275DRG)
So let’s dive in.
How much do they cost?
I have a really detailed article that covers how much garage cabinets should cost, but that’s just the suggested retail prices. The benefit of something like a Gladiator cabinet – especially the Ready To Assemble cabinets, is that you can usually find them on sale at Amazon or any of the big-box stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot if you’re patient.
My Premier wall cabinets can sometimes be found for as low as $200. My 3/4 door RTA cabinet was just over $100 on sale.
The freestanding cabinets were more expensive, clocking in at around $200 for the RTA cabinet and around $330 for the Premier cabinet.
Even with the Premier cabinets, there’s going to be some assembly required.
I need to point that out because I’ve seen some comments online from disgruntled customers who were upset that they had to install the casters on their Premier cabinets.
Premier cabinets: On the freestanding cabinets, the casters don’t come installed because you have the option to wall mount the cabinet either directly to the wall or on a GearWall or GearTrack channel.
If you want to wall mount a tall GearBox, there will be a bracket that you’ll need to purchase separately, but I’ll get more into that later. The wall GearBoxes already have that bracket built in, so there’s nothing extra to buy.
Other than that, there’s nothing to assemble for Premier cabinets.
RTA cabinets: The Ready to Assemble cabinets come as a giant Lego set. That said, if you can assemble anything from IKEA, you can put a Gladiator RTA cabinet together.
It took me about an hour to assemble my tall RTA GearBox and that included the time it took to re-do a couple steps because I was assembling it upside down. The smaller wall-mount GearBox went a lot smoother and only took about 15 minutes to assemble.
Since I got the smaller cabinets later, you can also chalk that up to being a little more familiar with how Gladiator wants you to put them together.
Feet and casters
Depending on the model you purchase, you’ll either have leveling feet or wheeled casters that come with it. But there’s also a caster kit that that you can buy separately.
The leveling feet are pretty basic. They’ve got hard plastic base on the bottom of a single screw. The screws are long enough so that you can adjust the cabinet to be level even if your garage floor isn’t.
If the leveling feet look a little flimsy, the 5″ casters that came with my Premier cabinet more than make up for it. These things are huge!
The casters are made of heavy rubberized plastic and attach with four bolts each. The front two casters swivel while the back two are fixed which is par for the course to every rolling cabinet I’ve seen so far.
All things considered, if you’ve got the option of wall mounting your cabinets, I highly suggest you do that. Having that little extra bit of space underneath your cabinets makes it a lot easier to clean and puts more of your cabinet space near eye level.
Take your time to assemble everything correctly the first time.
Each panel is attached independently from all the others so there’s always the potential of small gaps in places where you don’t want them.
The main panels of the Gladiator RTA cabinets screw in with some black powder-coated 5/16″ hex-bolts and flange nuts. The Premier cabinets obviously don’t need them since the pieces are welded together.
In my opinion, I like both looks. The bolts give it a bit more industrial, heavy-duty look and the Premier’s corners are clean and simple. It all depends on what style you’re going for in your garage.
If I had to pick one challenge spot, it was the back panel on the tall GearBox. The side panels are two long pieces of steel but the back panels are made up of five smaller pieces that stack on top of each other.
Here’s a look at how the panels stack together as well as the wall-mount brackets for the RTA cabinet.
As you can see, there are some small gaps where everything fits together. If you have something that spills on one of the shelves inside, it’s probably going to leak down the back and on to your wall and floor.
I don’t want to give the impression that the welded Premier cabinet is water-tight – far from it. But it’s going to give a little more protection than the RTA cabinet will.
Fit and finish
Overall, I really like the way that the Gladiator cabinets look, but there are some minor annoyances.
Especially on the RTA cabinets, the inner shelves can get bent out of shape if you’re not careful.
The thinner gauge of steel in the RTA cabinet is easily bent back into shape, but I’m OCD enough to notice that it’s never going to be perfectly smooth.
The dark grey hammered finish hides most small imperfections, but the dark color shows every little bit of dust. If you’ve ever owned a black car, you understand what I’m talking about.
The interior shelves are adjustable to a point. There are tabs spaced out along the side panel that the shelves will fit in. Unfortunately, you can see the tabs from the outside of the cabinet, so the finish of the side panel isn’t as smooth as I’d like it to be.
One of the things that impressed me was the fit and finish of the doors themselves.
I’m always worried when I have to install doors on something because they never seem to fit as straight as I want them to. The RTA cabinets have some adjustments that you can make on each of the doors to help make them line up correctly.
The doors have a shiny diamond-plate look to them that feels solid to the touch. I’ve heard complaints that the finish can show some imperfections, especially if you spill grease on it, but I haven’t run across that personally.
Mounting Gladiator cabinets on the wall
Mounting the Gladiator cabinets on the wall is super easy.
Getting them to look nice and clean is super annoying.
Let me explain.
The Gladiator cabinets are designed to be mounted on their GearTrack or GearWall system. All of the 28″ and 30″ wall cabinets have built in mounting brackets on the back which just slide into the channels. The tall GearBoxes like you see below have additional hardware kits that are purchased separately that do the same job.
The tall GearBoxes will have three support brackets. The smaller cabinets will only have two.
To start, only the topmost bracket is securely fastened. Don’t tighten the bolts on the others because you want them to be free to move about and slide into the track channel.
It’s a bit tough if you’re installing them yourself because the cabinets can get heavy and awkward when you’re trying to line them up just right.
This is why you don’t tighten the lower brackets. It makes it so much easier when you only have to worry about getting one bracket in at a time.
Unless you get really lucky, you’re going to have to adjust the lower brackets to get them to fall into place.
As you can see, this bracket was about an inch below where it should have been. If you’re mounting one of the tall GearBoxes like you see here, you may have to go back and forth between two brackets to make sure everything is lining up correctly.
One trick I found helpful was to use a long ruler or broom handle to try to lift the bracket into place. Either that, or just have another person help you like the instructions tell you.
Once you’ve got everything lined up correctly, the brackets fall into place with a satisfying thud. From there, you just have to tighten up the bolts on the inside and you’re all set.
Now for the annoying part.
Why don’t they line up?
There’s one thing that just annoys the crap out of me. It seriously makes me question what the hell Gladiator was thinking when they designed it.
I’m OCD enough to want all of my cabinets to line up perfectly. The tops of the cabinets should all line up. The door handles should all line up.
But for some crazy reason, Gladiator didn’t make that easy on us.
Let me show you:
These three cabinets, the 30″ Premier GearBox, the 28″ RTA GearBox and the 72″ RTA Tall GearBox on the left edge of the photo ARE ALL ON THE SAME TOP TRACK!
How difficult would it be to make the distance from the top of your cabinet to the top of the bracket be the same, no matter what cabinet line you have?
Obviously this setup is just for illustration. I actually have my 28″ GearBox on a different wall, but my original plan was to have a combination of RTA and Premier wall cabinets because I liked the different functionality of each piece.
That’s not possible without A LOT of hassle mounting different pieces of GearTrack at different heights just to get everything lined up correctly.
Of course, you can skip the GearTrack\GearWall mounting setup entirely and just attach the cabinets with lag bolts, but one of the main selling points is how easy they are to mount on the wall.
Some cool features
There are some really cool touches to some of the cabinets.
One word of caution is that not all of these features are available in every cabinet, so if something is a deal-breaker, be sure to double check before you buy it.
Many of the cabinets will have circle pin tumbler locks on the doors. They won’t keep out a determined thief, but they will keep children away from things that might hurt them.
Of all the cabinets I purchased, only my 28″ RTA cabinet has this. It’s a great feature if you’re going to use that open lower shelf to hold a small Bluetooth speaker.
Full length magnets
Unfortunately this is only on the Premier line, but you can definitely feel the difference when you open the door.
There’s just something solid about having the magnet contact points run the entire length of the door instead of just a small magnet in the center.
Some of the cabinets have peghook slots on the inside of the doors to give you a little extra places to stick things. I don’t use them personally because I’m not a fan of peghooks, but I’m sure someone will appreciate them.
I wanted to be really honest with this review and show Gladiator’s cabinets – warts and all.
Would I still buy them knowing all this?