How To Organize Wood Lumber In Your Garage

How to Organize Wood/Lumber In Your Garage

Many homeowners have a long list of DIY projects on their to-do list, but once you’re ready to start, you’ll likely be faced with another dilemma: where to store the needed supplies. That’s especially true if your project requires having a large amount of wood or lumber on hand.

While many of the most rewarding projects require a massive amount of wood (like new flooring or building custom shelving or furniture), finding a place to store all that lumber can be quite a headache.

You may be thinking that you can just sacrifice some garage space for a few weeks or months, dump the lumber in your normal parking spot, and leave your car outside. But, you should reconsider that idea, because not only can you not always count on having the space to do that, storing wood that way can pose a danger to your family and your wallet.

1. Organized Wood Storage Is Safer and Saves You Money

While storage wood may seem like a simple task, there actually quite a few “rules of thumb” to follow when it comes to storing different kinds of wood or lumber, especially if you plan to use it in flooring or furniture.

In most cases, the wood you’ll be storing for such projects is already kiln-dried, which means it’s much better off being stored inside. However, a garage doesn’t quite offer the climate-controlled environment that the rest of your home provides.

The problem is that many garages aren’t fully insulated against temperature and humidity changes in the outdoors. While those fluctuations may be less felt in your garage, they can still be enough to warp the wood, especially if you don’t follow proper storage protocols.

Additionally having large piles of wood on the floor is an obvious hazard, not only to you but also to any children or pets you have running around. Further, if you end up building furniture with warped or compromised wood, you run the risk of something failing when you least expect it, which is less than ideal if you use the wood for storage furniture or a chair, to say the least.

2. Insulate Your Garage to Store Wood Safely

To reduce the chances of moisture negatively affecting your lumber, make sure to inspect your garage for cracks along the walls, seams, and garage door. You can fill these with generic caulk, which is a relatively inexpensive way to stabilize the temperature and moisture conditions in your garage.

You may also want to consider other methods of insulating or protecting your garage against humidity, including:

Whether or not trying any or all of these methods is necessary is dependent on your situation. If you live in a climate with high humidity and/or large temperature fluctuations, you may want to take at least one or two of these additional precautions, especially if you have expensive lumber you want to protect.

3. Build or Install Wall Storage that Divides up Stacked Wood

Once you have made your garage’s environment more suitable for storing wood, you’ll want to prepare an appropriate storage location for your wood and/or lumber. If you have wood planks, having wall-mounted storage can be a great way to have highly organized wood storage that preserves their straightness and structural integrity without taking up too much space in the garage.

It’s important that you don’t make piles of wood or lumber that are too large for a couple of reasons. Firstly, planks for wood sitting at the bottom of the pile can become weakened or bent because of the weight of all the other planks on top of them. 

Secondly, if moisture becomes a problem with any of the stacks of wood, having too many planks in one stack can make it hard to identify the problem quickly and remove the problem planks before the rot spreads between the lumber. That can end up costing you quite a lot of money, especially if you have a type of lumber or wood that’s hard to find or match with replacements.

4. Wall-Mounted Storage Is More Usable than Storage Racks

In most cases, using storage racks could be easily argued as a more hassle-free, convenient, and cheaper storage option when compared to wall-mounted storage. However, when it comes to storage wood and lumber, wall-mounted storage is likely a better bet, especially if you’ll need to resume this set up to store wood/lumber in the future.

Generally, the planks of wood that you’d be stored would be longer than a single section of a storage rack, which means you would have to slide planks of wood in and out of the narrow end of the shelving every time you want to use or store your wood.

In contrast, vertically stacked wall-mounted shelving with open front ends would make it easy to stack and remove planks whenever you want. If the idea of cutting and installing wood to make these shelves is what’s putting you off the idea, consider installing heavy-duty wall shelves that are made to hold heavier items in the garage.

If you get pre-made shelves that have large widths, you may be able to get away with multiple stacks of wood on a single shelf. That means if you don’t have too much wood to store, you would only need to purchase a few shelves total to have enough storage. Keep in mind that you want to purchase a floating shelf that uses brackets that sit underneath the shelf and don’t have arms that extend above the shelf to anchor into the wall.

5. Avoid Stacking Lumber Vertically If Possible

When stacking wood horizontally, you’ll want to make sure that the shelving you use allows the wood to breathe, so as to prevent moisture buildup, while still providing support every 16 to 18 inches

You might think that storing your lumber vertically would be a neat loophole to this requirement, but it actually can cause even more bowing and require support at the top and bottom of the plank. Additionally, storing wood this way is only recommended for lumber that’s completely dry, as the gravity can still cause significant bending at the upper ends of the plank, even with some support.