Storage Ideas

Installing Ceiling Storage Unit

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BLACK+DECKER B+D Contributor 120 Projects

Some garage storables, such as empty coolers, luggage, and cartop carriers, tend to be bulky but lightweight. They take up an inordinate amount of shelf or floor space that could be better used for heavier items. One storage option for these items is right above your head—on your garage ceiling. Aside from a few lights and the track rails for your garage door, there isn’t much on the ceiling of most garages. If your garage has roof trusses, you’ve got the perfect location for some lightweight shelf storage.

There are several ceiling-hung shelf kits available in a range of lengths and widths. The typical ceiling storage unit consists of four downrods that bolt to the bottom truss or joist members. A pair of crossbraces attaches to the downrods to form support frameworks for wire shelf grids. Other styles of ceiling storage are available for hoisting bicycles, truck toppers, or canoes up and out of the way.

Installing ceiling storage involves locating truss chords, joists, or rafter ties to support the four downrods, and then attaching the rods to the ceiling framing with lag bolts. The crossbraces and grids fit between the downrods and attach with nuts and bolts. It’s possible to install the system by yourself, but a helper makes the job much easier. Once the parts are assembled, carefully double-check all connections before loading up the shelf.

Be careful to position your ceiling storage unit clear of the path of your sectional garage door and the moving parts of your garage door opener. Use a stud finder to help determine the thickness of the trusses so you can locate the attachment bolts as close as possible to their centers. Refer to the instructions that come with your kit to be clear about the maximum weight load your unit can hold. 

How to Install a Garage Ceiling Storage Unit

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    Attach the downrods for the first pair of horizontal support bars using the fasteners recommended by the manufacturer. The fasteners must be driven into structural members in the ceiling, be they truss chords, rafter ties, or ceiling joists. The outside edges of the two footplates should follow the spacing recommended in the instructions (69" apart for the model seen here). Install the second pair of downrod footplates on the next rafter or truss chord in 24" on-center framing. If the ceiling is 16" O.C., skip one member so the footplates are 32" apart.

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    Install the horizontal support bars. The bottom ends of the downrods are secured to the horizontal bars that support the shelving. This is often done with the use of L-shaped corner rods with female ends that accept the male ends of the downrod and the horizontal bars. How deeply the corner rods are inserted into the downrod determines the height of the storage platform. Set the height you want and then insert bolts through the aligned bolt holes in the downrods and corner rods. Align all parts and secure with bolts and nuts.

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    Install the shelving grids. Position the wire grid shelves so they span the support bars with even overhang (if possible). Thread bolts through the parallel wires and support framework as directed. Hand tighten nuts and washers onto bolts.

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    Join the grids together with the supplied fasteners. Load the storage items onto the shelves. Do not overload. Your instruction manual will inform you of the weight capacity. The model shown here is rated for up to 300 pounds provided the weight is distributed evenly.