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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Setting Up Shelving

There is little question that some portion of your garage storage system will require the use of shelving. Next to hanging, shelving is the next most popular and practical storage method. Open shelving is great for the storage of large, bulky items such as ice chests and smaller items alike. Also, open shelving makes it easy to see what you have. Because shelving can be used to store items in plain view, as well as in cabinets behind closed doors, it is an ideal solution for both visual and nonvisual storage preferences.

Although it is easy to find a shelving system for virtually any budget (as you learn in Chapter 4), you need to keep in mind these important considerations to make the best use of the shelving unit you ultimately select:

  • Shelves should be deep enough to safely store items, yet not so deep that items will get hidden behind each other. For a garage, 16'' depth is ideal for the storage of large items and 12'' depth is ideal for smaller items.

  • Adjustability is very important to maximize the use of space. Fixed shelving creates a lot of wasted space between the shelves.

  • It is better to have more shelves and space them closer together so that you aren't tempted to stack things too high on a single shelf. Tall stacks of items can fall, and it is more difficult to find and organize things within such stacks.

  • Store frequently used items on the shelves at waist height, where they're easiest to access; store the items you use less frequently on higher or lower shelving. Heavier things should be stored near the floor so if they do fall, they are far less likely to hurt anyone.

  • Keep newer backup replacement items behind the older items on the shelf, similar to the way items are displayed in a grocery store. That way, you use the older things first.

  • Ideally, shelves should be 6'' to 1' off the floor to keep the items stored on them clean and dry. This also leaves the floor area for storage of bulky and heavy items such as shop vacuums and five-gallon containers.

  • Enclosing the shelves within a cabinet or behind doors is a great help in keeping your items clean. One way to accomplish this is to build simple walls around your shelving units and create a closet enclosure with sliding doors.

To Do List

  • Shelving unit

  • Shelf dividers

  • Storage containers

  • Container-labeling markers/tags

  • Child-proof lock (where appropriate)

Using Dividers and Containers to Keep Your Shelves Organized

One of the major challenges in using any shelving system is keeping the shelves organized over time. Shelf dividers are a useful tool to slide on to the shelf and keep the items separated. However, nothing matches the usefulness of containers to store like items together and keep the items on your shelves neat. Square storage containers with lids work well because they stack neatly and come in a wide range of sizes. They can hold anything from household extension cords to painting, plumbing, and electrical supplies, as shown in Figure 3.12. As long as the containers are properly labeled, you will have no problem finding what you are looking for. You might consider labeling the shelves themselves if they contain only one type of item.

Figure 3.12Figure 3.12 Plumbing and electrical supplies are neatly sorted and stored in these labeled containers.

Most households already have many types of containers that also work well to keep your shelves in good order. Large plastic crates work well to store all kinds of things, as do plastic dish tubs, margarine bowls, and yogurt containers. Don't throw away your old food storage containers if they become stained or you lose the lid. The garage is the perfect place to utilize them and give them new life.

Cabinetry with Shelves

One of the key advantages to using cabinets outfitted with adjustable shelves is that things can be stored out of sight. Also, because stored items are not directly exposed to airborne dust and dirt, they will stay much cleaner. If you are storing food items that won't fit in your kitchen pantry or that you have bought in bulk, a closed cabinet is preferable to open shelving.

Safety is another important advantage of storing potentially harmful and lethal substances in cabinets that can't be opened by young children. Cabinets equipped with a lock are the ideal place for toxic chemicals, mineral spirits, oils, lubricants, garden fertilizers and fungicides, and spray paint. If the cabinet you already own did not come with a locking mechanism, you should purchase and install a childproof lock.

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