Don’t Make This Mistake With Garage Ceiling Storage!

One of the best ways to maximize your garage space is to use overhead garage storage racks 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?

Garage ceiling storage is safe as long as you 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 safety and allow the rack to support more weight.

Our garages fill up with old clothes you might wear again someday, seasonal items, large and bulky items, toys, or stuff you don’t have room for anymore.

No matter the reason, we’re all looking for ways to maximize what little storage 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?

The most common type of overhead storage is metal racks that hang from your garage ceiling. However, overhead storage can mean any rack, shelf, pulley, or hook that suspends the item above the roof line of your car.

Overhead storage systems come in a variety of materials and sizes. They’re perfect for storing kayaks, gardening tools, or old clothing.

In most cases, they’re attached to a ceiling joist 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 correctly and your ceiling can support the weight, an overhead garage storage rack 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 withstand, but they want to be safe and limit their liability.

That means testing how much weight the overhead garage storage racks can support before the metal bends or the bolts tear out of the ceiling joists.

You also want to ensure 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.

While looking for overhead storage, I did a lot of research to figure out how much weight different types of ceiling joists and trusses could support. Before committing to storage racks or shelves, check that article out.

Hanging more weight than your ceiling can support is a surefire way to have it all come crashing down.

Improving Garage Ceiling Storage Safety

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

Opt for a Heavy-Gauge Steel

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

Metal thickness is measured in ‘gauges.’ As the thickness increases, the gauge number decreases. So 8-gauge steel is thicker (heavier) than 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 rack. However, it’s definitely worth asking about. The heavier gauge metal you can get, the more secure your overhead storage will be.

Check the Weight Limit (Ceiling & Rack)

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

Let’s tackle the easier one first.

Each storage shelf or rack will be rated for a maximum weight capacity. No matter what, 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 they can support any additional weight.

Remember that it’s already supporting any lighting, HVAC ductwork, garage ceiling insulation, and drywall. Be sure to factor that into your calculations.

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

Several manufacturers make large wall-mounted shelving units that still get your stuff off your garage floor but don’t stress your ceiling joints.

Get 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 instructions for DIY installation. There are a ton of YouTube videos available, so you can follow along if you’re more visual.

Most manufacturers have approved installers to do it for you if you’d prefer not to install it yourself. Going with an approved installer virtually guarantees a safe and secure installation.


Overhead garage storage may seem a little scary because you’re suspending your stuff above your car or garage door. However, it’s a fantastic way to add extra storage space for your extra stuff or seasonal items.

An overhead garage storage rack, 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.

To ensure safety, you must stay within the weight capacity 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 space in your garage, check out some of my tips here.

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Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.