Build a Shelf in the Garage

By James Dulley

March 22, 2018 4 min read

Dear James: I need more storage space in my garage for the kids' stuff. The garage is not large, but there must be some way to get more space. What possible areas could I use for more storage? — Keri R.

Dear Keri: There are ways to find additional storage space in almost any garage. Often, just rearranging things by how often they are used works well. This allows you to put seldom-used items in hard-to-reach places that you may not be using now.

If you check your local Yellow Pages, you may be able to find some home storage consultants. They can inspect your garage and advise you about how make more efficient use of the existing storage space. This can be done through both rearranging and installing some new storage devices.

Visit your home center store. Most stores have an entire aisle devoted to storage devices for the home. Take measurements of the garage walls and an inventory of the items you need to store to aid in your selection.

If you still need more space after doing the above, consider using the space above the car hood for storage by building a shelf. The only drawback to this storage method is you may have to walk around the back of the car to get the driver's side door. With today's sedentary lifestyles, a few extra steps can't hurt.

After you have done everything else to increase the storage, measure the heights of the remaining items to be stored. If they are not too tall, you may be able to build the shelf high enough off the floor so you can walk beneath it. Most garage ceilings are quite high, so there is a good chance of having adequate head clearance below it.

The storage shelf should be designed to carry a substantial amount of weight even if you plan to put only lightweight items up there now. If you ever sell your home, the new owners may overestimate the strength of weak shelves. Someone could get hurt if heavy items are put up there and the shelf cannot support them.

The basic construction method for building the over-the-hood shelf is not much different than building a raised deck outdoors. Attach a 2x8 or 2x10 ledger board to the garage wall. Make sure to screw it into the wall studs with one-half-inch lag bolts and make it level.

Use a stud finder like a Black & Decker "Bulls Eye" electronic stud finder. It will also locate electric wires inside the wall so you can avoid them with the drill and includes a laser leveler. You can also use a long standard carpenter's level.

For the outer edge of the shelf, bolt two 2x8s together. These will rest on 4x4 posts to support the shelf. Fix the base of the posts to the floor by bolting down metal base supports or putting screws in the floor on each side of each post. Garages can get damp from rain and snow, so use pressure-treated posts. Bolt or nail the double 2x8's to the posts.

Mark 16-inch lengths along the wall ledger and the outer support. Nail, using structural nails, joist hangers on 16-inch centers. Nail joists in the hangers to connect the outer support to the wall. Cover the joists with plywood and your shelf is ready.

Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit To find out more about

James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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