Using the Ceiling to Create More Storage
Frequently in this chapter I've talked about the importance of maximizing the usage of your garage walls and minimizing storage on the floor. One good way to make the most of your garage storage space is by using the rafters or suspending loft storage from the ceiling. Many people overlook this huge expanse of space, which can be ideal for seasonal storage and things that are not accessed on a frequent basis.
Both loft and rafter storage are ideal for keeping less frequently used items out of the way. Rafter storage is especially useful to store items such as bed frames, fishing poles, skis, and other long items that can be suspended between the rafters themselves. It is also a great place to store pieces of lumber. However, make sure you label the end with the length so you don't have to keep measuring the pieces over and over. By installing full sheets of 3/4'' plywood across the tops of the rafters, you can create instant makeshift attic storage that's easily accessible and can accommodate smaller items. Suspended loft storage can be ideal for storing even larger items such as furniture, suitcases, camping gear, and off-season items such as holiday decorations and patio furniture.
To keep the stored items clean, cover them with plastic tarps or old sheets if they need to breathe. Use jumbo heavy-duty lawn bags for luggage, fans, and other large items. Kitchen trash bags work well to protect smaller items such as sleeping bags and smaller suitcases.
Things You'll Need
Loft storage system (if appropriate)
Three-quarter-inch plywood sheets
Plastic tarps and jumbo heavy-duty lawn bags
Installing Your Own Loft Storage
Loft storage is most commonly installed in the unused area above the garage door and can significantly increase your overall storage capacity. The only drawback is that this area can only be accessed when the garage door is down, and it's difficult to reach when the garage door is up. However, this is a small price to pay for the versatility it provides and the storage space you will gain.
One of the least expensive ways to create loft storage is by inserting several screw-in hooks from studs in the ceiling and suspending equal lengths of chain from them. Then, by attaching a piece of plywood to the ends of the chains with S-hooks, you will create overhead storage that can be used for all kinds of things. Use heavy-gauge hooks and chain and be careful not to store items up there that are extremely heavy. If you are in doubt, seek the assistance of a professional carpenter. In Figure 3.14, you see how one homeowner designed loft storage by using heavy-duty brackets and scrap lumber to store plastic boxes and get them out of the way.
Figure 3.14 With a few brackets and some lumber, you can quickly create loft storage like this.
Another option to create loft storage quickly over the garage door is to use an adjustable shelving system, such as one manufactured by Elfa or Schulte (you learn more about these systems in "Creating a Storage System for Less than $500," in Chapter 4). In such a system, a track or rail is attached at the top of the wall near the ceiling, and hardware to which brackets are attached is hung from the rail. The ventilated wire shelving is available in 12'', 16'', and 20'' depths and snaps onto the standards with brackets wherever you want.
The Hy-Loft storage system (http://www.hyloft.com) shown in Figure 3.15 is a great option for the quick-and-easy addition of suspended loft storage in your garage, as well as other rooms of your home. These ventilated shelves are supported with adjustable brackets suspended from the ceiling or can be mounted on the wall with brackets. They are made of durable steel with a scratch-resistant finish and come in three major sizes with a lifetime warranty. This product is versatile enough to hold anything from large, bulky items to heavy boxes of archived files with a weight load capacity of up to 250 pounds and over 30 cubic feet of storage capacity. What's more, accessory baskets can be suspended from the loft. Hy-Loft systems are available for less than $75 at major home improvement stores as well as in discount stores.
Figure 3.15 Hy-Loft helps you create space in places you never thought of using. (Photo courtesy of Hy-Loft.)
Loft-It Storage Lift System
Have you ever asked yourself how you are going to park your cars in the garage and still accommodate all the other large motorized vehicles you need to store? What does a person do if he or she has a riding lawnmower or motorcycle and wants to get it out of the way during the winter months when it is not being used? Or what does that person do to store a snow blower and snowmobile during the summer? Aside from getting an outdoor shed or having a three-car garage, there haven't been many options until now.
One of the newer innovations on the market to deal with this problem is the Loft-It Storage Lift System (http://www.loft-it.com). The mechanical lift shown in Figure 3.16 can raise 1,000 pounds up to 6' off the ground on its 4'x8' platform. You must insert a key into the control box to raise or lower the platform, which ensures safe and smooth operation. The system comes with do-it-yourself installation instructions, or it can be installed by a hired contractor. With a one-year warranty and a cost of approximately $2,000 installed, your Loft-It Storage Lift System can store anything from bicycles to a riding mower, getting them up and out of the way until you need them.
Figure 3.16 With the Loft-It Storage Lift System, motorcycles and other large items are hoisted out of your way with ease. (Photo courtesy of Loft-It.)