Updated: October 12, 2016
Best Garage Organizers and Garage Storage SystemsHow can I clean out my garage? Even though the 2 car garage has expanded to the 3 car garage at many homes, there still never seems to be enough room for all the stuff we need to store in the garage. True, if you are in the lucky half of the country that has a basement, your storage problems are less severe. But for the rest of us, we have the attic and garage to accomodate everything from bikes to ladders to gardening equipment to power tools. Basic garage shelving systems or pegboards are a start, but they are not designed to carry heavy loads or handle all the various types of tools and equipment you might have. Below, we will look at 2 of the leading garage storage systems on the market, read reviews, and discover what to look for when searching for a solution to clean your garage.
Cluttered Garage Floor? Try Wall Shelves, Overhead Storage, and Garage Storage CabinetsUnless you have an outdoor toolshed or something, your'e stuck with the basic limitation of physical garage space. Piling things up on the garage floor is what starts the whole problem -- the answer to that problem is using the garage walls and ceiling to efficiently store all your stuff. Garage cabinets are one answer -- they allow you the luxury of many shelves and drawers to get tools and smaller items organized and out of the way (and out of sight!). But there are also newer, more innovative systems for organizing your garage. The 2 leading systems (listed below) are similar in design and function. You attach hanging rails along the walls at various heights (attached to studs), then connect storage aids along those rails - things like bike hooks, storage baskets and hanging storage shelves, storage bins, tool hooks, wheelbarrow hooks, ball rack, fishing pole holder, hose and extension cord holders. This makes it easy to get bikes out of the way, hang power tools, move ladders up and out of the way, organize shovels and rakes, etc. It's all done in components, so once your rails are in place you can mix and match and move things around without any tools -- just pop-off one location and slide onto another, it's that easy. You can browse the up-to-date list of best-selling garage storage systems here.
Rubbermaid FastTrack Garage Storage and Organizing Systems
One popular garage organizing system is available from Rubbermaid, kings of the all-things-storage marketplace. Their Rubbermaid FastTrack System installs along studs, wallboard, or solid surfaces with strong screws. The FastTrack panels can support up to 1750 pounds along a 4 foot stretch - pretty impressive. Like the Gladiator (below), it comes with all kinds of storage helpers, from shelves, hooks, bins, and baskets, all at additional cost of course. A 30" mesh basket than hooks onto the wall hanger panels is $44, while a Fast Track shelf with 5 built-in hooks below it is $20. A 56 inch rail by itself will set you back $17. Overall, we liked the looks of both systems - whichever you choose, you end up with a tidier, less cluttered garage. Price is also about the same for both products. The Rubbermaid wins out slightly for us because of their larger selection of parts and hooks, and the greater ease in finding and purchasing their system. We installed a Rubbermaid garage storage system in 2006. We placed the rails along 2 large walls, which let us store more than 2X the normal amount of stuff we had lying around prior. Their hooks can hold all kinds of things, from tools to coiled hoses and extension cords. We got the ladder holder which also manages to clasp our sledge hammer. We have basket attachments for kids sports equipment. We have storage shelves for a variety of things from paint cans to camping supplies. They even make a golf bag holder, though we get ours up on a regular hook.
The Rubbermaid Fast Track parts can be purchased at Amazon.com (link above) and we also found various components at Home Depot. A complete starter set is available for $159, which includes six 48" rails, 2 horizontal bike holders, 2 power tool holders, 2 ladder hooks, 2 utility hooks, 2 multi purpose hooks, 2 hose hooks, and 1 wheelbarrow hook (yes, you can even hang a heavy wheelbarrow from these things!). Ace Hardware also carries the FastTrack components. The Rubbermaid.com site also offer the various parts for sale, but their prices are slightly higher than Amazon, so no reason to shop direct in this case! Their site does however showcase their entire line of products - ball racks, bike hooks, power tool hooks, wire shelves, etc.
Closet Storage Wall OrganizersIn addition to our garage, we also have a storage closet on the exterior side of our house. Many house have storage nooks carved out of otherwise dead-space in their home framing (sometimes under stairs, etc.). Our space happened to be tall -- around 10 feet -- and about 8 feet deep by 5 feet wide. It doesn't sound like much space, and with just a storage rack in it and 2 bikes, we weren't making very good use of the space. We decided to add the Rubbermaid FastTracks to this storage area as well, and now we store probably 3-4 times as much stuff in there. I hung the Rubbermaid rails at two heights on both side walls, and at one high location on the back wall. I have to get up on a ladder to get stuff up and down from the higher rails, but I have beach chairs, outside furniture, big black Glad bags stuffed with things, coolers, power tools, hammock components, skis, garden tools, ping pong table, 3 bikes, and then some. Granted, I can barely turn around once inside the door, and I have to rearrange things to get to some items (if you plan seasonally, it makes it alot easier), but overall these wall shelving and wall organizers really make a difference when it comes to maximizing your storage space. I've been very happy with my purchase.
Cleaning up your garage - Gladiator GarageWorks Gear TracksWhat's the best garage storage system? Gladiator Garage Works has long been a maker of cabinets and other garage storage systems. Now a part of Whirlpool, they have expanded their distribution recently to include Lowe's home stores (and now they are common enough you can get them from Amazon as well, see link below). Gladiator sells work benches, cabinets, and specialty garage appliances like trash compactors, refrigerators, and freezers. But they have gotten a lot of press recently for their line of garage wall system organizers called Gladiator GearTracks and GearWall Panels. The GearTracks are 6 inch high strips that are attached length-wise to a wall in your garage. These heavy duty units attach to studs, through drywall, or directly to masonry or brick. By stretching out their load-bearing capacity along the wall, they are capable of holding a lot of weight. They come with a custom designed system of hooks, shelves, baskets, etc. for holding bikes, ladders, brooms, rakes, power tools -- just about anything you might have in your garage. You can lay them out in pairs along a wall for 2 levels of storage, or place a long one up high on a wall to really get things up and out of the way. Two 48 inch GarageWorks GearTrack Channels can be purchased for $25, but we recommend you start out with a kit that offers a variety hooks and storage implements as well, like the Gladiator GarageWorks Completer Kit (you need to purchase the GearTrack panels separately).
In general, the GarageWorks system looks great, installs easily, and is fairly affordable. Of course, you end up paying more for accessories than you do for the actual Gear Tracks, but that is part of the marketing system to get you to keep buying more. In terms of accessories, a 6-pack of small clip-on plastic bins (for storing screws, parts, etc.) runs $10, while an 8 pack of J and L hooks costs $10 as well. All the parts are interchangeable and movable to wherever you want to position them on your wall hanging panels. Their website is at GladiatorGW.com.
Hyloft Overhead Garage Shelving and Storage
If you have high ceilings in your garage and areas not blocked off by your garage door opener and tracks, you can also experiment with overhead storage systems. One of the most popular is the Hyloft overhead storage system (around $75). I installed one 2 years ago to handle things like our camping gear, Christmas lights storage, coolers, and more (you can see what it looks like in pictures to the right). Basically, it's just a hanging shelf, but it can hold up to 250 lbs when installed correctly. Installation is a little trickier since you have to kind of do it upside down from a ladder -- you have to find ceiling joists to screw it into. You then adjust the hanging height and put the shelf in place. I read another reviewer who said that he carefully hung from the supports once in place just to confirm they could handle the weight -- I did the same thing, but don't do it unless you are very careful and just barely off the floor (you don't want to fall and have it come crashing down on your head). Once in place, it is nice that it is open on all 4 sides so you can see what is up there and pull things on or off from any side. They also offer hook attachments for hanging bikes, if that works for your space.