It’s difficult to get anything accomplished in a cluttered, disorganized garage or workshop where supplies, tools, and other gear aren’t easy to stow or access. While there are various types of garage storage solutions, one of the most reliable and least expensive is shelving.
But not all shelving is alike! To help narrow down the field and highlight only the very best, we tested several of the most popular options. Continue reading for our hands-on reviews and smart shopping insights on how to find the best garage shelving.
- BEST OVERALL: FLEXIMOUNTS 2x6ft Garage Shelving
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: HDX Black 5-Tier Plastic Garage Storage Shelving Unit
- BEST CEILING-MOUNTED: FLEXIMOUNTS 4×8 Overhead Garage Storage Rack
- BEST DIY KIT: 2x4basics 90124MI Custom Shelving and Storage System
- BEST FREESTANDING SHELVING: Seville Classics 5-Tier Steel Wire Shelving
- BEST ADJUSTABLE SHELVING: Fleximounts 3-Tier Storage Wall Shelves
- BEST HEAVY-DUTY: DEWALT 4-Foot Tall, 3 Shelf Steel Wire Storage Rack
- ALSO CONSIDER: Rhino Combo Universal Garage Storage Kit
Types of Garage Shelving
Garage shelving is mainly distinguished by size, the material it’s made from, and whether it’s freestanding or mounted to the wall or ceiling. Prices will vary depending on material, shelf size, quality, and brand.
Wooden shelves are beautiful and sustainable, adding style to work and storage spaces. Hardwood shelving like oak and maple is strong and durable. Softwoods such as pine, as well as pressed wood like plywood and chipboard, can handle light-duty storage but can warp, buckle, and break under heavy loads.
Freestanding wooden shelving units are easy to move wherever storage is necessary. Wall-mounted shelves are fixed into structural studs via metal brackets and attach firmly to the walls. If building a wooden shelving unit is on the docket, look for a kit that contains all of the hardware parts necessary, as well as clear instructions for this DIY project. However, bear in mind that some kits don’t include lumber.
Metal and Wire Shelving
Metal (typically steel) shelves can hold heavy loads and come in a variety of sizes. Because it’s nonporous, metal shelving is very easy to clean and won’t absorb chemicals or paint in case of a spill. Metal shelves may have black or powder-coated protective finishes to resist rust and damage.
While solid metal shelves are useful for heavy-duty equipment, wire shelves offer the strength of metal without the weight. They’re typically made of steel or chrome mesh, a surface of connected metal strands that form a sturdy grid, web, or net. These shelves are ideal for paint cans, tools, bins, and boxes. Just make sure any smaller items, such as loose nails and screws, are inside larger containers before storing on wire shelves so they won’t fall through the gaps.
Solid metal shelves are often found in freestanding units, as they can be quite heavy to fix directly to the wall. Wire shelves can be freestanding or they can mount to walls and ceilings.
Adjustable Rail Shelves
Depending on what the user intends to store, adjustable heights allow users to gain more or less space between tiers. Adjustable rail shelves offer this flexibility, thanks to vertical metal tracks installed on the wall. These tracks are slotted at equal intervals, with metal brackets designed to be fitted into each slot.
To change the position of a shelf, simply remove it, move the brackets up or down, and refit the shelf at this new height. Commonly made of steel wire, adjustable shelves can easily hold heavy objects, as long as the brackets are also metal.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Garage Shelving
After selecting a shelving material, decide whether to go with freestanding or mounted shelves. And for mounted shelves, choose how they’ll attach to the wall or ceiling. Then carefully measure the intended space and learn how to install.
The three most popular and functional styles of garage shelving are freestanding, wall-mounted, and ceiling-mounted.
- Freestanding units provide flexibility and mobility since they are not attached to any surface but can also take up valuable floor space and get in the way of other functions (like parking a car). They are typically wood, metal, or a combination of both.
- Wall-mounted shelves attach to studs (vertical structural beams) at regular intervals using metal brackets. The metal, wire, or wooden shelf then fits onto this bracket for maximum stability and strength.
- Ceiling-mounted shelves attach to ceiling joists using long, adjustable metal brackets and are ideal for storing seasonal items and equipment out of the way. Welded steel construction can provide safe and reliable storage for up to 600 pounds of weight. Access these shelves using a ladder or step stool.
Dimensions and Capacity
Wall-mounted shelves and freestanding units should range between 12 inches and 24 inches deep. For convenient access and visibility, aim for shelves that will hold boxes and other items without cutting into the surrounding space or hiding gear stored in the back. For ceiling-mounted units, look for dimensions of at least 2 feet by 3 feet and larger for storing bulky items like golf clubs or other sports equipment.
Shelf length can vary widely, depending on spatial requirements. Measure how long ideal shelves would be, then look for prefab shelving that approximates this length. Popular for most residential garage spaces are 3-foot, 4-foot, and 6-foot lengths. Custom shelves built using a DIY kit are also an option.
In terms of weight-bearing capacity, be wary of shelving units that claim to bear up to 1,000 pounds. It’s likely that a maximum bearing load for a single shelf is between 100 and 400 pounds. For those with a lot to store, consider multiple shelves rather than overstraining a single shelf. This is especially important with ceiling- or wall-mounted shelves. If the weight load is too great, shelves can pull away from the surface, causing superficial or structural damage.
With freestanding shelving units, simply assemble (if needed), position into place, and start using it—no installation required. Wall- and ceiling-mounted shelves require careful positioning into studs or joists.
Wall studs are 16 or 24 inches apart, and run from floor to ceiling. To locate a stud, use an electronic stud finder or a manual method. Once located, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing the shelves. For wall-mounted units, consider spacing shelves around 16 to 20 inches apart for as much flexibility and storage capacity as possible. Ceiling units are usually easier to position when they are adjustable.
Installing adjustable rail shelving also requires locating studs, then firmly attaching the metal track to the studs with screws. Some rail tracks come with hardware compatible with concrete walls as well as drywall. Be sure to read instructions prior to purchase, as some tracks can only be installed into wooden studs, not steel studs. Once the tracks are in place and attached, secure the brackets into the slots, and place the shelves on top.
Our Top Picks
That’s a lot of background information on choosing the best garage shelving, and the sheer volume of information can feel overwhelming. For a bit more guidance on the topic, refer to the following list of models. We put each of these top-rated garage shelving units to the test. Read on to find out why they made the cut.
For those looking for all-around quality shelves, check out Fleximounts garage shelving. This unit comes with eight wire shelves and eight heavy-duty brackets that offer up to 200 pounds of storage per shelf section (800 pounds total).
During testing, we found the Fleximounts shelves to be somewhat of a unicorn. Not only do the shelves have a high weight capacity at 200 pounds each, but they’re also 24 inches deep. They come with heavy-duty hardware (lag bolts), and the brackets are extremely high quality, but we were still surprised that these shelves could hold so much.
Installing the brackets was a little tricky as they needed to be level to one another, and the lags were too long for a drywall-over-concrete installation (though they were high quality). However, the mesh shelves break down into two pieces each, which made it easy to actually assemble the shelves. There was a bit of wobble, but that’s typical of a wall-mounted shelving unit.
- Style: Wall-mounted
- Material: Metal
- Dimensions: 24 inches by 72 inches
- Large shelves with plenty of storage
- Heavy-duty brackets can handle a lot of weight
- Two-piece shelf design is easy to install
- Lag bolts too long for drywall-over-concrete installation
Get the Fleximounts garage shelving on Amazon or at Walmart.
High capacity and high price don’t always go hand in hand, and this model from HDX proves it. The HDX shelving unit offers plenty of storage without breaking the bank. This plastic kit features five shelves, each capable of holding 150 pounds. The result is a water-resistant storage unit with fixed shelves and plenty of strength.
There is a negative to get out of the way: During testing, these shelves did bow a little when loaded with drill presses and other heavy tools. However, the fact that these shelves are so lightweight and easy to move might make up for that. Also, we liked the affordable price, and that they might outlast a metal or wood shelf in a wet space. It’s also worth noting that for a plastic shelving unit, there wasn’t a lot of noticeable wobble.
- Style: Freestanding
- Material: Plastic
- Dimensions: 36 inches wide by 18 inches deep by 74 inches tall
- Very affordable price point
- Suitable for occasionally wet spaces
- Lightweight and easy to assemble
- The shelves will probably bow with a lot of weight
Get the HDX garage shelving unit at The Home Depot.
The space above a car or workbench doesn’t have to go to waste. Designed for stashing seasonal gear and occasional-use equipment, these ceiling storage dropdown units are 96 inches long, 48 inches wide, and 22 to 40 inches high (adjustable, depending on the space). Thanks to heavy-duty rolled steel construction, the wire mesh rack can bear up to 600 pounds.
At first glance, we didn’t know that this model had an adjustable height, so we thought we might actually have to cut the brackets to use it. However, we quickly realized that these brackets adjust easily, allowing us to take advantage of the space over a garage refrigerator.
Initial assembly was a bit of a challenge, but because this model installs into ceiling joists rather than wall studs, it worked out well for our garage application. Our biggest complaint was that the weight limit seemed slightly low for this much space and it would wobble a bit. That said, that wobble is probably necessary for safe hanging.
- Style: Ceiling-mounted
- Material: Metal
- Dimensions: 48 inches by 96 inches
- Flexible height works in most garages
- Takes advantage of overhead space
- Lots of storage
- Weight is a little low for the amount of space
Get the Fleximounts garage storage rack on Amazon.
Anyone who’s struggling to find a shelving unit to fit a specific space may want to check out the 2×4 Basics storage system. This system comes with six heavy-duty resin brackets that can support up to 1,000 pounds. These brackets slide onto standard 2×4 studs, and a user can screw them in place easily, allowing them to customize the height, width, and design of their shelving space.
This unique kit was a lot of fun to put together. First, it allowed us to take advantage of some 2x4s we had lying around from a recent project, and the total cost of each shelving unit was extremely affordable. The flexible design was a real plus, and although it did not include lumber, the kit was easy to assemble. We also noticed very little wobble when it was loaded.
- Style: Freestanding
- Material: Resin, but requires wood for shelves
- Dimensions: Customizable
- Very affordable price
- Easy to assemble
- Flexible design works in most garages
Get the 2×4 Basics storage system on Amazon.
Metal wire shelving can be a blessing in a garage, as it’s often lightweight enough to assemble alone but sturdy enough to handle some serious weight. That’s the case with the Seville Classics wire shelving. This set of five shelves is 36 inches wide, 18 inches deep, and 72 inches tall, offering plenty of storage for gear, tools, or hardware. It can also handle up to 4,000 pounds of weight.
Assembling the Seville Classics system was straightforward, requiring just two small plastic clips per corner before sliding the shelf overtop. And this assembly style also allows for easy adjustment of shelf locations. We liked its tremendous weight capacity, with each shelf capable of holding 800 pounds. However, that weight capacity drops to just 500 pounds with the wheels attached. When loaded, it did wobble a little, but it was on wheels at that point. On feet, it was much more stable, though an unloaded unit might wobble if the feet were not level.
- Style: Freestanding
- Material: Metal
- Dimensions: 36 inches wide by 18 inches deep and 72 inches tall
- Heavy-duty weight capacity on standard feet
- Simple, straightforward construction
- Shelves are easy to adjust
- Weight capacity drops tremendously with wheels attached
Get the Seville Classics wire shelving on Amazon or at Walmart.
Fleximounts’ adjustable rail shelving system features wall-mounted rails that remain flexible for most storage needs and height requirements. The heavy-duty steel construction ensures that each shelf can bear up to 150 pounds, providing a 450-pound capacity, distributed evenly among the three shelves. Each shelf is 48 inches wide and 12 inches deep.
During testing, the Fleximounts 3-tier shelves proved that there is no substitute for easily adjusted shelves. This kit came with the hardware to attach to framing studs, and we liked that each shelf offered up to 150 pounds of storage. We also liked the relatively compact size, as it could be ideal for some tighter spaces. Also, installation was relatively straightforward, especially considering that lining up the two wall-mounted brackets ensured that everything else worked well together. It does wobble slightly, but that’s understandable for a wall-mounted shelf. Our only complaint was the lockdown stud on the bracket, as it stands out from the shelving surface by a few millimeters.
- Style: Wall-mounted
- Material: Metal
- Dimensions: 12 inches deep by 48 inches wide by 36 inches tall
- Easily adjustable shelves
- Ideal for smaller spaces
- Easier to install than individual brackets
- Lockdown knobs stand out slightly from the shelf
Get the Fleximounts 3-tier wall shelves on Amazon.
Anyone who prefers a high weight capacity over height may want to check out DeWalt’s steel wire storage rack. This model features heavy-duty shelves that combine to carry up to 4,500 pounds. Made from an all-metal design, each shelf is capable of handling 1,500 pounds.
The DeWalt unit certainly won us over in testing. While we weren’t sure we’d like this squat shelving unit, this model’s massive weight capacity and ease of assembly were instant draws. We also liked that despite the design or weight, the shelves were easy to adjust to make room for larger objects or keep smaller ones organized. And, when loaded, it didn’t rock or move at all.
- Style: Freestanding
- Material: Metal
- Dimensions: 50 inches wide by 18 inches deep by 4 feet tall
- Incredibly heavy-duty construction
- Easier to assemble than the others in the test
- Adjustable shelf heights
- A bit short for easy access to items
Get the DeWalt wire storage rack on Amazon.
DIYers looking for a simple yet effective wall-mounted storage system may want to check out the Rhino garage storage kit. This kit’s bracketry is made from aerospace aluminum, making it durable enough for standard rigors while also remaining lightweight. And, at 20 inches deep by 48 inches wide, each shelf provides quite a bit of storage.
There were things about this kit we really liked, and some we didn’t. For one, we’d prefer that this kit come with the required shelving boards, even though we were able to take advantage of some of our own. Also, we liked that the side brackets will keep items from falling off, and there are no brackets in the middle to cause space issues. We also liked the lightweight brackets for easy mounting to the wall. It also wobbled a bit but less than other wall-mounted shelves.
- Style: Wall-mounted
- Material: Metal
- Dimensions: 20 inches wide by 48 inches deep
- Side brackets
- Lightweight bracket was easy to install
- No middle brackets for a more expansive storage shelf
- Doesn’t come with the lumber to finish the job
Get the Rhino garage storage kit on Amazon.
From where we stand, it’s hard to beat the convenience, storage, and organization that a kit like the Fleximounts 2x6ft Garage Shelving offers. However, for those who’d like to spend a bit less without sacrificing much, the HDX Black 5-Tier Plastic Garage Storage Shelving Unit is worth a look.
How We Tested the Best Garage Shelving
Putting together a list of the best garage shelving was near and dear to our hearts, so we wanted to make sure we put our best foot forward. We performed hands-on testing with all of the models on this list.
First, we looked for shelving units with plenty of space and weight capacities for a variety of gear. Once we had the products in hand, it seemed the act of putting them together and loading them was more applicable than simply testing their stated weight capacities. So, the tests began with seeing how difficult these models were to assemble. Then, we tested how easy they were to install, if they needed installation. Finally, we loaded them up with what we could safely fit on them–which mostly included heavy-weight drill presses, miter saws, and other tools—to see how stable they were.
By the end of the tests, we had a good idea of what each shelving unit could do, so we gave them awards and ordered our list accordingly.
Now that you’ve learned more about the variety and type of garage shelves, and considered our hands-on reviews, you may still have some lingering questions. Below are answers to some of the most popular queries about garage shelves.
Q. How deep should garage shelves be?
To be able to see everything on the shelves and not have too many items hidden behind other things, 16 inches is an ideal depth for storing large items. If you’re going to store only smaller items, 12 inches is even better.
Q. Is MDF good for garage shelving?
Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is a versatile and inexpensive material that works great for garage shelving. It is strong enough to hold the items from most typical households.
Q. How do I organize my garage?
Installing shelving areas around the wall space of the garage is a good idea if you’re planning to store your vehicle in the garage or use the main floor space for an activity. With storage shelves on the perimeter, it usually leaves enough space around the car area to easily open doors and get in and out. For smaller garage spaces, using ceiling-mounted shelving can be an excellent way to increase your storage capacity.
Q. What shouldn’t I store in my garage?
Since most garages are not as temperature controlled or dry as the rest of a house, avoid storing food, important documents, delicate clothing, or hazardous materials in the garage.
Q. Is particleboard good for garage shelving?
Particleboard is a standard material used in shelving and works very well. Just be aware that if you’re planning to store large heavy items, you should consider investing in a thicker particleboard.