Is Overhead Garage Storage Safe?


One of the best ways to add additional space in your garage is to use overhead garage storage to keep things off the ground. But if the thought of storing several hundred pounds of clothing and Christmas decorations above your car worries you, you’re not alone.

Is overhead garage storage safe?

Overhead garage storage is safe, and a great storage solution for your garage. You need to stay under the maximum weight limits of both the storage rack and your garage ceiling. Attaching the overhead racks or shelves to the walls will add an additional layer of security.

Over the years, our garages inevitably fill up with stuff. It doesn’t matter if it’s old lawn equipment you might use down the road, an ever-growing collection of holiday decorations, or junk you don’t have room for in your house anymore: it all takes up space. 

No matter what the reason, we’re all looking for ways to maximize what little space we have. Overhead storage is a great solution.

To learn more about overhead garage storage and how to ensure it is as safe as possible, keep reading.

What is Overhead Garage Storage?

Although it’s common to only think of racks that hang from your garage ceiling, overhead storage actually refers to any kind rack, shelf, pulley or hooks that suspend the item above the roof-line of your car. 

Overhead storage comes in a variety of materials and sizes. They’re perfect for storing anything from kayaks to gardening tools to old clothing.

In most cases, they’re attached to the ceiling along the ceiling joists and can support up to 600 pounds.

How Safe Is Overhead Garage Storage?

One of my biggest fears about overhead garage storage is whether or not it’s safe to park my car underneath.

As long as they’re installed properly and your garage ceiling can support the weight, overhead storage is extremely safe.  

Storage manufacturers put their products through rigorous testing and rate them up to a specific weight limit. That limit is almost always less than the product can actually withstand, but they want to be safe and limit their liability.

That means testing how much weight the storage rack has support before the metal bends or the bolts tear out of the ceiling joists.

Additionally, you want to be sure that your garage ceiling can support the weight you’re trying to hang from it. Often, your ceiling can support far less weight than the overhead storage rack is rated for.

When I was researching overhead storage, I did a lot of research to figure out how much weight different types of ceiling joists and trusses could support. Before you commit to storage racks or shelves, I definitely recommend checking that article out. Hanging more weight than your ceiling can support is a sure-fire way to have it all come crashing down.

Improving Overhead Garage Storage Safety

No matter what type of overhead garage storage you choose, there are some steps your can take to make sure you’re being as safe as possible.

Heavy-Gauge Steel

A heavier gauge steel frame will go a long way to making sure your overhead garage storage is safe.

Metal thicknesses is measured in ‘gauges.’ As the thickness increases, the gauge number decreases. So an 8-gauge steel is thicker (heavier) than a 10 gauge steel, for example.

It makes sense that a thicker metal will be more durable and hold more weight than a thinner metal. But you might not realize just how much of a difference that makes.

According to The Engineering Toolbox, increasing the steel’s thickness from 18-gauge to 12-gauge doubles the amount it can support (lb.\sq. ft.).

Many manufacturers won’t list the thickness of the metal they’re using on their overhead storage units. However, it’s definitely worth asking about. The heavier gauge metal you can get, the more secure your overhead storage is going to be.

Weight Limit (Ceiling and Rack)

The biggest danger is exceeding the weight limit – both for your storage rack and for your garage ceiling.

Let’s tackle the easier one first. Each storage shelf or rack will be rated for a maximum weight capacity. It’s critical that you don’t try to store more weight on the shelf than it can support.

Also, I mentioned earlier to figure out what kind of ceiling supports you have in your garage and whether or not it can support any additional weight. Remember, that it’s already supporting any lighting, HVAC ductwork, ceiling insulation and the drywall. Be sure to factor that into your calculations.

If your ceiling can’t support any additional weight, that doesn’t mean that you’re out of options.

There are several manufacturers that make large wall-mounted shelving units that still get your stuff up high in your garage, but don’t stress your ceiling joints.

Professional Installation

I’m a big fan of doing projects myself, but sometimes it’s OK to call a professional.

Overhead storage racks will always come with detailed step-by-step assembly and installation instructions. There’s a ton of YouTube videos available so you can follow-along if you’re more visual.

Most people should be able to follow along and install their overhead storage safely. 

However, if you’re concerned about installing it by yourself, most manufacturers have plenty of approved installers to do it for you. Going with an approved installer virtually guarantees a safe and secure installation. 

Conclusion

Overhead garage storage may seem a little scary because you’re suspending your stuff above your car. But it’s actually a very safe way to store your extra stuff.

Overhead storage, when installed correctly, is just as safe as traditional storage. It gets the stuff you don’t need up off the garage floor and out of your way. It also removes potential trip hazards and keeps potentially dangerous items away from little children.

That said, to make sure your overhead garage storage is safe, you need to make sure it’s installed correctly. That means making sure that you’re within the weight limits for both your storage and your garage ceiling.

If you follow these suggestions. overhead garage storage can be a great, safe way to store your things and keep your garage free of clutter.

For more ideas on how to maximize the amount of space you have in your garage, check out some of our tips here.

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