One of the facts of life is that over time, people tend to accumulate a lot of stuff. Another fact of life is that people often have a difficult time getting rid of the stuff they accumulate. For some it may be tied to the sentimental value, whereas for others it may be tied to dreams of revisiting a neglected hobby at sometime in the future. Whatever the reason, those items need a space in which they can be safely stored.
With closet space always at a premium, many of these longer term storage items get relegated to the garage where they will be out of view but also out of harm’s way. In order to take as much advantage of your garage space as possible, it makes sense to do some research to select the best garage shelving setup possible for your space and needs.
Garage Shelving Comparison – Quick Reference
Before we get too deep, if you are already savvy enough to know what you need when it comes to choosing garage shelving and just want some quick recommendations from an expert, we have made a chart comparing our favorites below. If you are interesting in learning about the finer points of selecting the right garage shelving units, skip the chart below and read on!
Whitmor Supreme Wire Storage Shelf
Sterilite Plastic Shelving Unit
Muscle Rack Steel Shelving Unit
Sandusky Lee Plastic Garage Shelving Unit
Edsal Heavy Duty Steel Shelving Unit
What is Garage Shelving?
The term garage shelving is a little bit nebulous when it comes to definition. The reason for this is that there are a number of different types of shelves that are made that would work nicely in a garage. Anything including pantry shelving, lab racks, closet shelving, utility racks or industrial shelving units can be repurposed for the garage depending on your needs. For purposes of this guide, we consider garage shelving to be open sided floor standing racks (meaning cabinets with doors are outside the scope of this guide).
Factors to Consider For Garage Shelving
When it comes to buying a garage shelving unit, there are a surprising amount of things you should consider. This is because there are many different types of shelving units that would work nicely in a garage. We have detailed the things that are ideal to keep in mind if you want to make an educated decision about what shelving you get.
One major consideration is storage area, otherwise known as shelf space. Obviously, if you are in the market for a garage shelving setup, it’s because you are looking to store stuff and the amount of storage area that your shelf has is directly proportional to how much stuff you can store. More storage area means more space to store your items. Storage area is affected by three things: the shelf width, the shelf depth, and the number of shelves.
When it comes to deciding on how much storage space to get, we typically recommend biasing towards the higher end rather than the lower. The cost differential between larger shelves and smaller shelves tends to be manageable, and springing for the shelf with a little bit more storage area up front gives you room to grow and will save you the cost of having to buy another shelf down the road should you run out of room.
The other major consideration when deciding what to store is shelf weight capacity. There is a big difference in the amount of weight you can store on a light duty shelf versus a heavy duty shelf. Lighter duty shelves may allow for between 100-250lbs per shelf, whereas heavy duty shelves can sometimes exceed 1000lbs per shelf. Much like with storage capacity, we typically suggest springing for the higher capacity models if you are on the fence as you can always store your lighter items on a heavy duty shelf but you won’t be able to store your heavier items on a light duty shelf.
Materials and Construction
When it comes to materials, there are a few materials that are used widely in shelving rack construction. These materials include steel, plastic, and wood (specifically medium density fiberboard or MDF). For heavy duty shelves, steel beams are the framing material of choice which is owed to steel’s strength and affordability. Some heavy duty shelves rely on steel wire to create the shelf surface, whereas others rely on medium density fiberboard (MDF) to create the shelf surface. For shelf surfaces, both work great from a load capacity standpoint, however the MDF lends itself well to storing small items that would otherwise fall through the holes in a steel wire shelf. For light duty shelves, plastic is a favorite due to its low cost. Plastic also has the advantage of being light weight, which means plastic shelving can be highly portable. This makes plastic an ideal choice for people who are planning on moving frequently (such as college students).
One feature to be aware of that high end shelves have is modularity. This means that you can reconfigure the shelving units to customize them to your specific use case. A modular shelf allows you to adjust the height of the individual shelves in the unit relative to each other, and may also allow you to adjust the height and footprint size of the shelf. There are a lot of unique options and systems out there, and it would be overly burdensome to try to describe them all here. For this overview, it’s most important that you are aware that these options exist.
Build quality is extremely important when choosing the best garage shelving. Build quality can impact everything from assembly to lifespan. One obvious factor by which to judge the quality of a shelf is the fit and finish. If the paint is flaky, thin, and cracking, it’s a good indicator that the manufacturer cheaped out in other places. Similarly, if you are assembling a shelving unit and notice that you have to use some strength to align components to get them to snap together, this means that the manufacturing tolerances are pretty loose which is another sign that the manufacturer has tried to save cost at your expense. Conversely, if you get a shelf with a finish that is smooth and uniform and pieces that fit together with ease, this is a good indicator that the quality is likely pretty nice.
Materials are another obvious way to assess build quality. Thicker gauge steel, thicker MDF, and clean welds are all indicative that you have chosen a good garage shelf. Thinner material that flexes under load is a sign of a cheap garage shelf.
Reviews for the Best Garage Shelving Units
Edsal Heavy Duty Steel Shelving Unit
When it comes to the best storage racks for your garage, it’s hard to top the Edsal Heavy Duty Steel Shelving Unit. Thanks to the steel frame that contains double riveted braces paired with the particle board shelves, this utility rack can hold up to 800 pounds per shelf. This means that the four shelf can support a total weight of 3200 pounds and the 5 shelf can support a total weight of 4000 pounds. As such, these shelves would be right at home in the garage of a mechanic or handyman who plans to store heavy tools and equipment. They would also make an ideal storage space for car parts, tile, or anything else that is heavy and compact.
As far as options, the Edsal Heavy Duty Shelves can be had in a variety of configurations. These racks can be had with a depth of 18″ or 24″, a width of 36″ and 48″, and a height of 4 shelves (60″) or 5 shelves (72″). Other features include adjustable shelf height that allows you to add some customization to your setup.
Regarding value, the price of the Edsal’s is very reasonable, especially considering the build quality and excellent finish. It costs significantly less than many other heavy duty shelving units on the market but also performs extremely well. Overall, Edsal makes top notch garage shelving and you will not be disappointed.
Whitmor Supreme Wire Storage Shelf
If you are looking for a mid-duty shelf, the Whitmor Supreme Wire Storage Shelf is the perfect middle ground between something heavy duty like the Edsal and a light-duty plastic unit. The Whitmor unit is available as a 5 shelf unit that stands 72″ tall, 36″ wide, and 14″ deep. Each of the five shelves is capable of supporting a capacity of 350 pounds, which makes the shelf very versatile in terms of what can be stored on it.
The wire shelves offer the additional advantage of limiting mold and mildew due to the fact that the bottoms of the items you store are in contact with air which helps them remain dry. As such, you can easily store wet items ranging from gardening equipment to laundry on this shelf without worry of microbial growth. The chrome finish also prevents corrosion of the shelves themselves so you can expect a long lifespan. The fact that Whitmor offers a 10 year warranty is the icing on the cake as it means that you can be confident the shelf will last.
The two other features that make this shelf a slam-dunk in terms of value are the adjustable height shelves and the leveling feet which allow you to adjust the base of your shelf to accommodate uneven flooring. Overall, the Whitmor Supreme Wire Storage Shelf is a terrific mid-duty shelf and we can’t say enough good things about it.
Sandusky Lee Plastic Shelving Unit
If you are looking for a light duty shelf relative to the Edsal and Whitmor above, the Sandusky Lee Plastic Shelving Unit fits the bill quite nicely. The Sandusky shelf is made from high impact plastic resin which has a few advantages over the heavy duty metal shelves. The biggest advantage is that it is lightweight. This means that it can be easily moved around so if you move residences frequently or just like rearranging from time to time, this shelf will make your life easy.
The Sandusky Plastic Shelving Unit is available in a four shelf configuration that is 56″ high and 18″ deep. It is also available in a 5 shelf 72″ high version with depths of either 18″ or 24″. Each shelf can support a weight of 150 pounds, so this would be ideal for storing sports equipment, lab equipment, or you could even use it in the pantry to store food. Additionally, the plastic construction means the shelf is rust proof which makes it ideal for damp environments such as basements, mud rooms, or sheds. Additionally, since the shelves are vented, it makes it an ideal place to store things that can get damp such as yard-working equipment or car washing supplies.
As far as cost, this shelf is a little bit cheaper than the metal shelves. If you don’t need extremely high capacity, this shelf represents a fantastic value. Overall build quality is great and we think you will be extremely satisfied if you choose to store your stuff on the Sandusky Lee unit.
So there you have it! We hope that our comprehensive guide to the best garage shelving has made your search a little bit easier. Now you should know exactly what to look for to best suit your garage storage needs. While we have chosen our favorite shelving units above, there are many more great options out there. If none of our recommendations quite suit your needs, we suggest you have a look at some of the other shelving units available by clicking here. Thanks for reading!