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Cleaning Up Your Garage (Finally)

Last Updated on March 22, 2011

This is the first installment in our Spring Cleaning Series

Weekend projects and tackling that honey-do-list can seem daunting at times, but when you have a clean and organized space to complete projects in, those projects become almost fun. Here are a few tips and tricks to get your garage into a cleaner, work-friendly environment.

Down and dirty

The first logical step, and the least enjoyable, to any garage project is a thorough cleaning. While a quick round with the leaf blower will take care of most dirt and dust, actually sorting through piles that have accumulated in the garage will be a huge help in organizing the space. If the kids’ toys are taking over all usable space, let the youngsters go through their belongings and discard old and unused items. Cash in on your junk pile by joining in a neighborhood yard sale, or start your own. Use any profits to invest in some new garage organization supplies.

They can't always be this clean.
They can’t always be this clean.

Start with shelves

Most garages have unused space on those wide expansive walls, so begin your organization by installing sturdy shelving that will provide you with plenty of storage space. Precut wood or metal shelves can be easily found at any home goods store, or, for a custom look, cut your own basic shelves to maximize storage space. Regardless of the shelving material, be sure to use strong brackets when attaching shelves to the wall and always screw brackets into studs to make sure they hold.

If wall space is already at a premium in your garage, consider installing some simple suspended shelves overhead for extra storage. To make suspended shelves, build three identical U-shaped shelf supports out of 2x4s. Cut one long 2×4 to the desired width of the shelf, and cut two shorter 2x4s to the desired height, attaching each short piece to one end of the longer board. Use metal corner braces to hang the short sides of the U-shape from the ceiling, and suspend a large piece of plywood across all three supports.

After installing your shelves, search for bins and baskets to organize miscellaneous items you don’t use every day, like the children’s baby clothes that your wife isn’t ready to part with or seasonal sports equipment. Large plastic tubs provide a uniform and weather-proof way to organize things in the overhead shelves and keep your possessions safe from damp conditions.

Something to strive for...
Something to strive for…

Hang Loose

To free up additional floor space, take advantage of extra ceiling and wall square footage. Simple screw-in hooks make it easy to suspend bikes, scooters and skateboards when they’re not in use.

For the avid handyman, a wall organizer keeps tools easily accessible while corralling them all into one place. Premade modular storage centers are widely available at hardware and home goods stores in a variety of sizes and materials. These systems require minimal assembly and allow your most frequently used tools to always be within reach. Beyond just hammers and wrenches, a good organizational system will allow you to keep extension cords, paint brushes and loose nails all in one place.

To scrimp on cash but not organization, make your own storage center with a few inexpensive supplies. Use plenty of nails to hang a large pegboard on an empty wall. Wood or cork varieties are generally the cheapest options, but for a few extra dollars a galvanized steel pegboard will hold up better over time. Fit wooden or metal hooks into the pegboard to hang your most frequently used tools. Add a shelf on top of the pegboard and a hanging crate or two on each side for larger or bulky items.

Tackling a garage revamp as your next weekend project will ensure you have a usable, workable space at the ready all summer long.

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