How To Organize A Garage On A Tight Budget

How to Organize a Garage on a Tight Budget

If you’ve decided to finally take on the challenge of organizing your garage but don’t have a huge budget for your project, you’re going to have to be resourceful.

While there are a lot of professional services out there that could help you clean out and organize your garage, having someone else do the grunt work can cost quite a lot of money.

To get a truly functional organizational system, you have to be willing to figure out what combination of storage supplies and DIY solutions will work best to sort out the mess in your garage.

With a little planning, patience, and perseverance, you’ll still be able to have plenty of pride in your final results.

Image: “IMG_1106” by Josh Gray


Strategizing Your Organization

To save the most money when organizing your garage, you need to choose options that will allow you to store the most belongings for the least amount of money. You need to approach this problem strategically, almost the way you would a math problem.

This project will consist of 4 main phases:

  1. Clearing out your garage and measuring and marking all the wall and floor space.
  2. Taking your plans for your garage and the measurements you’ve taken to design your organizational system.
  3. Comparing your measurements to storage equipment online to find products with the best deals that fit your organizational system’s design and measurements.
  4. Adding finishing touches, like specialty storage tools where you can keep items you need to access frequently or that are harder to store.

1. Prepping Your Garage

The first step to organizing your garage is simple: you have to completely empty the space. Having the space clear will allow you to see what kind of storage options you’ll need, which will also depend on how you want to use the space.

Are you planning to use all of your garage space for storage or as a workspace? Do you want to leave room for parking? You won’t be able to properly select the right storage options if you can’t first assess the space where you’ll be putting them.

Once you’ve taken everything out of your garage and you’ve decided what spaces are needed to be clear versus where you can implement new storage furniture, it’s time to get some measuring tools out. You’re going to need to know where you can attach storage that needs to be secured to the garage walls to arrange and maximize your storage space effectively.

Using a pencil and a stud finder, lightly mark where the studs are in your garage walls. Then, use a measuring tape to write in the distances between each mark on the wall. This step will make it much easier to map out where different shelves, racks, and cabinets that need to be secured to the wall can be placed in your garage.

painters tape

After that step, you’ll need to mark the floor as well to designate areas that need to be kept clear, such as places you need clearance to be able to park. Don’t forget to leave room to open your car doors. You can use painter’s tape to designate these areas and write the measurements that show the distance from the walls directly on the tape for reference. 

Make sure to take note of any low ceiling heights as well as places where clearance height is an issue, such as where high shelving could hit the garage door railings. These measurements don’t necessarily need to be marked on the actual wall.

2. Designing Smart Storage Solutions

Now that you have the measurements of your garage laid out in front of you, you can use them to visualize how you want to add large storage furniture that will maximize your storage space without breaking your budget.

utility shelves

Conventional storage solutions like stackable plastic utility shelving and sturdy metal storage racks can help you create a long-lasting and functional organization system if you make sure to buy what fits your space.

Here’s where you’ll need to exercise a bit of patience. You should use the measurements you’ve taken to find storage furniture that best fits the constraints of your garage. If you want to take advantage of vertical storage solutions but need to be careful to not hit a low ceiling, be sure to check the height measurement on several different garage lockers or storage racks that fit your desired criteria.

You’ll also need to start arranging the belongings you took out of your garage into categories based on how you plan to store them. Group similar items together and try to arrange them by how frequently you use them.

This will allow you to purchase large containers like storage bins in bulk, which will utilize the most storage space and save you the most money. 

For any storage needs where you can’t find a good-fitting or reasonably priced item, you should start looking into semi-custom or DIY projects. A simple solution can be buying multiple heavy duty floating shelf brackets and buying less costly particle board to make into cheap, sturdy shelving. 

Then, you can vertically stack where you attach these shelves on the wall. You’ll already have the studs marked and measured, making your DIY efforts that much more seamless. 

3. Gathering Your Supplies

The biggest issue that many people face in their garage is a lack of smart storage. People often tend to go for storage options that seem like they’d fit when they look at them in the store, but that usually turns out in the furniture not properly fitting the space.

That can result in wasted space either due to oversized storage furniture that takes up too much space to allow other pieces to fit in the garage or due to storage options that are too small and leave unusable space behind. 

If you buy your storage options online, you’ll also have the benefit of being able to easily go back and forth between options and compare measurements and prices in a way that can be difficult to do in person.

garage storage

If you approach this project with the right preparation, you’ll be ready to order main storage pieces that utilize your space effectively. This will help you save money because you won’t have to waste time buying storage you didn’t need in the first place or that you’ll have to replace or supplement with new supplies to make your garage function well.

Once your supplies arrive, you can begin putting away the largest groups of your belongings. It’s important that you wait until the end to pick up more specialized storage tools because you won’t know which supplies your garage really needs until all of your main storage furniture has been utilized and organized properly.

4. Adding Finishing Touches

Once you have the main components of your organizational system in place, it’s time to start putting the finishing touches on your garage. By this point, you should have all of the things you want to put back into your garage arranged and separated based on how you want to store them.

Items that you won’t need to use often should be stored in the most inconvenient spaces, such as at the top levels of storage racks and on the highest mounted floating shelves. If you still don’t think that you have enough storage space, now is when you should start considering more expensive storage solutions, like an overhead ceiling rack.

Overhead Garage Storage Rack

Once you have the majority of your belongings stored away, you can start choosing specialty storage items that will store only the things you use the most. If you use a pegboard, you can arrange multiple open wire baskets to provide compartmentalized but accessible storage. You can also hang tools directly on the pegboard itself. 

Wall Mounted Garage Organizer & Storage

Finally, you can add tool-specific storage like wall-mounted organizers for gardening tools or bike racks. Remember, to keep this project low cost, only choose items that will improve the day-to-day function and will allow you to maintain your garage’s new organizational system.


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