How do you know if you have a garage storage problem? Open the door and look inside. If you can't see the floor you then you've got a problem.
The fact is that most people in the US cannot park their cars in their garages because they've filled them with everything else. So, how can you improve your garage storage?
When "Put It in the Garage" Gets Out of Hand
On one hand, we are fortunate to live in a country where most folks have a place to store all the things they don't have room for inside their homes.
According to the American Housing survey, 80 percent of owned houses and condos in the U.S. have a garage or at least a carport or garage. And an older statistic for the 2015 American Housing Survey revealed that 63 percent of all occupied housing units have a garage or carport.
That's good news for those who need some extra storage space, which seems to be almost everyone in the United States!
But the downside is that many of us have far too much "stuff" to store, it seems, and the available space in our garages often seems to be quickly taken up and then more stuff piled in on top of that.
In fact, for most Americans with a garage, that space has become the household self-storage unit. And, as it turns out, only an estimated 20 to 30 percent of those with a garage actually can park their cars in them.
According to a survey of 1,500 North American respondents to a Garage Living poll, 20 percent reported that they were unable to park in their garage. While 53 percent of households have access to a garage, according to another source, only 1 out of 4 use them for parking cars.
And, when you consider that most single-family homes have two-car garages, that means we've managed to fill up about 400 square feet of floor space with... well, junk!
"You Never Know When You Might Need It."
Many of us are guilty of saying or at least thinking this. But the problem is that much of what we stash away in the garage goes untouched, often for years at a time. Which is all the more reason that, at some point, you have to stop saying "put it in the garage" because that is simply a recipe for a storage disaster.
Not only does a cluttered and over-packed garage look bad, it can be a hazard as well. Not to mention that it makes it difficult if not even impossible to find things there when you really need them.
On top of that (literally!) we tend to stack things in our garages, sometimes to dangerous heights, and hang things on the walls and rafters, if they're exposed. The end result can be a literal maze of junk that we work our way around to get the door.
While some items only get used once a year like holiday decorations, if you have items stored in your garage for years on end it pays to ask yourself if you really need to hang on to them? Stuff that simply sits in your garage - or basement or attic - does nothing but take up space is likely stuff you really don't need or want.
So, what's the smart approach to efficient garage storage?
Making the Best Use of Your Garage Space
The key to being smart with garage storage is figuring out how to best use the space that you have to work with. Stacking and piling is not strategic nor efficient. Simply filling available floor space is not an effective storage strategy.
Another garage storage problem is that most garages have no shelving or cabinets.
Making use of plastic storage containers is a great tactic, but simply stacking storage containers and boxes of stuff on the floor doesn't work well. Having shelves on the walls, or floor-mounted shelving units or storage cabinets is a major step in the right direction.
Maximizing your available space is a challenge as well.
You obviously can't stack things in front of doorways or the water heater or furnace. And it's a good idea to leave some space close to the garage door. But simply avoiding these areas and creating teetering, disorganized piles of stuff that are crammed into the middle of the garage, isn't efficient either.
And these piles are awkward and even and even dangerous to move around. Unstable piles of junk can fall over and they are also potential fire hazards as well. And if you actually need to find or retrieve something "stored" in the garage, good luck finding and getting it back to the house safely!
No, what's required is a strategy and a plan for smart garage storage.
The First Step is to Get Everything Sorted
To do this properly you will need a staging area for separating all your items into different categories. Typically, this means moving things from the garage and out onto your driveway. This allows you to separate things more easily while also clearing out the garage so you can work there later.
The separation phase involves grouping items that should or can be stored together, such as:
- Automotive tools and supplies
- Household tools and hardware
- Paints and other combustibles
- Garbage and recycling containers
- Gardening supplies and tools
- Sports and hobby gear, such as bikes
- Seasonal items, such as holiday decorations
The other step in separation is for the items that you're getting rid of. Sort these into four piles:
And after you've sorted everything, it's a good time to clean your garage from top to bottom.
If possible, you may want to take care of your donation items as soon as possible to get them out of the way. Any recyclables that can go into your home recycling bin should go next, and anything that doesn't fit can be set aside for now.
Set Up a Smart Storage System
There are dozens of garage storage systems, products, and DIY options available for any budget and any level of technical prowess.
The options for storage systems are almost endless and they range from simple shelves you build yourself to computer generation designs incorporating high-end cabinets and shelving racks. The bottom line here is to start with what you have already and add only what you need.
If the budget for storage equipment is modest, make bins and containers a priority. Shelving can be relatively inexpensive once you know how much you need and what size they should be. The folks at The Spruce provide these great suggestions for storage tactics:
Assess your garage storage space and begin storing items in their proper homes. Here are some easy (and free) ways to create more storage space in your garage:
- Utilize vertical space
- Use what you have, or purchase the right products
- Make sure dangerous items (chemicals, tools) are stored in a locked cabinet if children are in the house
When planning your garage storage, don't buy an organizing system and then install it and see if it fits all of your stuff. Instead, take a conservative approach to storage planning. Start with some basic garage organizers, like shelving and a good step stool. Work with the basics and then expand out as you see fit.
Once you have everything sorted and a storage system in place, you can now organize and put things away. Remember: a place for everything and everything in its place.
Going Up, Not Out
The goal is to store as much as possible "up" and not all over.
Shelving on the walls or stand alone storage cabinets can make this happen. One of the advantages of installing shelves in most residential garages is that they can support a variety of shelving methods. In addition, shelving can go all the way to the rafters or ceiling, if need be.
Once you have shelves, all your "stuff" can be put away and your garage floor can be cleared. Putting as much as possible into plastic storage containers, for example, is a good tactic. Other items may not fit in a bin, but can still be on a shelf. Consider hooks, racks, and other methods for hanging things on the walls that may not work well on a shelf, such as long garden tools, bikes, or folding chairs and tables.
Once this is completed you need only take care of your other three piles set aside for disposal.
If your piles are large, we suggest calling a professional junk hauling firm like Junk King to take both your recyclable items as well as the "garbage" items. At Junk King, we work hard to recycle every item possible.
You may also find some great storage ideas with this infographic from CoolYeah Garage:
Ultimately, a home with a garage provides a great advantage with many benefits.
The most obvious benefit of having a garage is that your car has a home too! That's a great thing because consistently parking your car outside can shorten its life. Another benefit of a garage is that it is highly versatile. For example, if you have a garage that is not used very often, you can easily convert it into a living space or an office.
Most garages, of course, provide additional storage space and can also be used as a second entrance to your home. And the ideal use for most homeowners or tenants is that they can be used to protect your vehicle investment with garage parking.
You just gotta get rid of all the junk first! And that's where your neighborhood Junk King can help.
Junk King -Your Partner for Residential Junk Removal
Junk King provides an efficient, safe and eco-friendly residential junk removal service to make the whole process easy for you. Our experienced junk and trash removal team has the resources to haul off those large bags, boxes, and other trash items from out of your garage quickly, easily, and efficiently.
And, best of all, we do all the heavy lifting! You simply point and we haul your trash items into our junk removal trucks, with no hidden fees.
Our professional and insured junk removal and disposal team will call 15 to 30 minutes before we arrive at your home. And, once we’re there, we’ll give you a free quote based on how much room the junk from your garage takes up in our truck, along with any other household junk items you want to get rid of.
So, ready to get rid of that junk from your garage? It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3.
You can make an appointment by booking online above or by calling 1.888.888.JUNK (5865).