Although it is just as easy and less expensive to install shelving in your garage to organize items, garage cabinets provide many benefits that shelves cannot give you. One predominant benefit that many garage owners cite as being the main reason they opt for cabinets is that cabinets have doors that enclose and conceal garage clutter, making the garage appear more clean, streamlined, and even stylish, depending on the colour design of the cabinets.
In addition, you can choose to purchase garage cabinet doors that have locking mechanisms designed to prevent other people–especially children–from gaining access to the items behind the door. Since most of us keep smelly, dangerous and possibly toxic solutions and chemicals in the garage, what better way to control their use by placing them in secured, sturdy wall or floor garage cabinets. Whether you select cabinets with combination locks, tubular locking systems or standard lock and key systems, you won’t have to worry about curious kids or even adults knocking something hazardous off an open shelf.
Some of the different types of garage cabinet material include:
- Plastic resin
- Medium-density fiberboard (MDF)
- Stainless steel
The most durable and strong cabinet material is stainless steel, while the least resistant to damage of any kind is particle board. For homeowners wanting a less practical and more stylish garage, hardwood cabinets are the most popular choice because of the sleek, elegant appearance they give to a renovated garage. Natural maple and alder wood make excellent material for garage cabinets because of their beautiful finish and ability to withstand years of use. In addition, most wood garage cabinets are “powder-coated”, meaning they have been encapsulated with a special baked-on finish that resists moisture, warping, cracking and allows for easy cleaning with a cloth and cleaner.
Garage cabinets are also available with interior stationary shelving or adjustable shelving that can be moved to widen the space between shelves to accommodate larger items. Unfortunately, regular, open shelves are not adjustable, so you will need to purchase different kinds of units if you have many items of various sizes to place on shelves.
Additionally, open shelving installed on garage walls that is shoulder to waist level tends to get bumped by vehicles, large pieces of sports equipment or kids playing in the garage. Whatever is laying on those shelves when it gets struck by something substantial will be knocked off and likely strike the floor hard enough to break it.
With closed garage cabinets, you never have to worry about falling tools, spilled cans of paint or pesticides contaminating the floor when you have containers securely placed behind garage cabinets with heavy-duty doors.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Garage Cabinets
Before choosing a garage cabinet for your shelving and storage needs, educate yourself on the most important considerations to keep in mind.
Consider the dimensions of your space to determine what size of garage cabinet you can install. Maximize space in small garages with hanging or wall-mounted cabinets that don’t take up floor space. Average-size garages can use freestanding, rolling, modular, and wall-mounted cabinets, while larger garages (three-car and bigger) have room for an entire storage system.
Garage cabinets can be made out of plastic, wood, aluminium, and stainless steel.
- Plastic garage cabinets are durable, waterproof, and lightweight, making them a great option for yard tools and other light- to medium-weight objects. They can lack the strength to store heavyweight items.
- Wood garage cabinets give your garage a classic look and are strong enough to hold most yard and power tools. Wood is susceptible to moisture damage, rot, and impact damage caused by tools and fasteners.
- Aluminium and stainless steel garage cabinets are the best options for a busy workshop, with a heavy, durable design that can hold all your tools while withstanding the bumps and abuse of a working garage.
When shopping for a garage cabinet, consider what items you will store in it. For example, you need strong shelves but not drawers if you want to store larger power tools. On the other hand, if you plan to store nuts, bolts, screws, and nails, then you need drawers. Determine how the cabinet doors open so you can properly plan their placement. Some cabinets have sliding doors that don’t require space for the door to swing, so they can fit into compact locations.
Garage cabinets can come with a range of features for security, efficiency, or aesthetics.
- Door locks are needed for any garage cabinet in a home with children. This simple feature keeps potentially dangerous tools, blades, and fasteners away from your kids. Door locks also keep your items safe from theft.
- An attached workbench is a frequent inclusion in complete garage storage systems, giving you a place to both store and use your tools.
- Built-in lighting is sometimes included on the underside of overhead or wall-mounted garage cabinets for illuminating a workbench. Freestanding or wheeled garage cabinets may have interior lighting activated when the doors open so you can see your tools.
Determine the maximum weight capacity your garage cabinets can hold without the shelves collapsing. Garage cabinets made of stainless steel or aluminium can hold the most weight, but some wooden cabinets, and even some thick plastic cabinets, can have similar weight capacities.
Modular, customizable, wall-mounted, and overhead cabinets require you to locate studs in your walls and properly fasten the cabinets to them so that they are supported and level. Depending on your skill, experience, and the size of the cabinets, this can be difficult.
What Are The Options for Garage Cabinets
Cabinets are certainly not required in a garage. Open shelving is less expensive, extremely strong, easy to install and reconfigure, and it also keeps stored items visible. But cabinets with doors do offer a more finished look, the ability to store potentially dangerous items, such as chemicals or sharp garden tools, behind closed and locked doors is a safety feature appreciated by parents of young children.
If you’ve never looked into garage cabinets before, you might be surprised at the range of products available. They range from remarkably affordable MDF-and-laminate cabinets to elegant stainless steel custom cabinetry designed and installed by firms specializing in this work. It’s even possible to repurpose kitchen or bathroom cabinets for use in the garage.
Here are the four major categories of cabinets available to do-it-yourselfers for installation in a garage.
Recycled Kitchen Cabinets
Standard kitchen cabinets are not going to be as rugged as cabinets built specifically for garage use. But because kitchen remodelling is so common, used kitchen cabinets can be easy to find at very attractive prices. Check local classified ads, post a request on a neighbourhood online chat forum, or seek some advice from a remodelling contractor who may be willing to sell you some used cabinets from a project he’s currently working on. The Habitat for Humanity restore is a great place to buy reused cabinets—and your purchases will also help fund this worthy organization. In addition, other second-hand stores carry used cabinets.
If you plan a kitchen remodel yourself, think about putting the old cabinets in the garage. Ugly kitchen cabinets can be improved significantly with a coat of paint and some new hardware.
You can, of course, buy new economy kitchen cabinets to use in a garage. However, if you go this route, buying low-end kitchen cabinets off the shelf at a big-box home improvement centre makes the most sense.
Moulded Plastic Cabinets
If you are looking for new cabinets built specifically for the garage, plastic units will usually be the most affordable. A number of manufacturers specialize in plastic units, offering product lines designed especially for garage use. Ranging from small, narrow cabinets to hold lawn rakes and other garden tools to shed-sized units, plastic cabinets are easy to clean, and are waterproof and rust-proof. Most plastic cabinets come disassembled and are easily constructed by snapping the parts together. You can find units with lockable doors and adjustable shelves, both in styles that are mounted to walls or set on the floor. In addition, major manufacturers offer a variety of accessories to make your plastic garage cabinets more functional.
Plastic garage cabinets are available at home centers and big-box retail stores, both off-the-shelf and as special-orders. You can also buy cabinets that fit into slot-wall systems.
Several manufacturers offer sturdy garage cabinets with plywood, medium-density fiberboard (MDF) or particleboard cores covered with durable melamine or similar plastic laminate surfaces. The biggest selection will be found online, where you can find a wide selection of styles, sizes, and colors. Some assembly will be required. These product lines are often offered by the same companies that make kitchen cabinets or closet organizers. Their garage cabinets are often sized in dimensions that are best suited for use in the garage.
Many dream garages are filled with heavy-duty steel or stainless-steel cabinets. At the top of the line, these are the most durable—and the most expensive—cabinets you can get for your garage. Some manufacturers also make more lightweight and affordable consumer-grade metal cabinets made from a lighter-gauge metal, often powder-coated in a variety of color choices. Fully assembled and ready-to-assemble units are available; the ready-to-assemble units generally cost less.
The attractive Gladiator Garageworks line is proprietary at Lowe’s and Sears, but there are other many other product lines available. Individual cabinets are available “a la carte,” or you can buy a full ensemble of cabinets to create a comprehensive garage storage system.
Don’t Forget Overhead Storage
Garages often have a great deal of wasted space overhead—either above the rafters or in the space below a finished ceiling but above your head. So the space above the hood of your car is a prime place to put overhead storage units. These units are usually wire racks rather than traditional cabinets, but when integrated with traditional cabinets, they let you maximize the available storage in your garage.
It is also possible to hang traditional wall cabinets from the ceiling of your garage, much the way that upper kitchen cabinets are sometimes suspended from a soffit above an island or peninsula. All that’s necessary is access to ceiling joists to firmly anchor the hanging cabinets.
Other Features To Consider When Shopping For The Best Garage Cabinets
The hunt for the best garage cabinets isn’t as simple as buying a few storage cubicles and calling it a day. Start with a checklist of questions: Do you want metal garage cabinets, wood ones, or some other type of material? Do you prefer mounted garage wall cabinets or garage storage cabinets on wheels? Once you figure out what you’ll be storing in your garage, you’ll have a clearer idea of what kind to get.
There are myriad benefits to getting wall-mounted garage cabinets—namely that they are more permanent fixtures than freestanding cubbies that sit on the floor. Depending on your taste and the space, these units can either be in the form of enclosed cabinets with doors or wall-mounted shelves. They are typically raised above ground level, so they make it easy to clean underneath the cabinets, and they make the space they are in appear less cluttered. Wall-mounted garage cabinets are also sturdier, and garage storage shelves require less bending than most standalone models. Both are less prone to wobbling around.
This type of organizing system does come with a few downsides. They require installation, and they can’t be easily rearranged once they’ve been mounted to the wall. Also, they may not be as tall as standalone units, which may mean storing longer items elsewhere in the garage. And if you prefer things to be out of sight and out of mind when not in use, wall-mounted storage shelves won’t keep anything hidden.
If the cons of permanent garage storage outweigh the pros, and you aren’t good with a hammer and other tools, make sure you consider the cost of hiring someone to install garage wall cabinets when comparing their price to that of other types of storage.