Enclosed Overhead Garage Storage




Introduction: Enclosed Overhead Garage Storage

About: I enjoy dabbling in everything. By trade I am a software developer during the day. At home for fun I like to dabble in electronics, minor woodworking, house projects, IOT, Smart Home setup, software developmen…

When we bought this house, we knew that the garage wasn't ideal for my wife and I, as it was a little small and didn't have any storage space. We had to get creative and decided to build an overhead storage space in our garage. Because the garage is my workshop for projects, I decided to enclose the storage to keep out dust and debris. While building this, we also wanted to unify our storage system and used all the same clear totes.

This instructable was our result! I'll include the list of parts in case you want to copy my exact plans for OUR garage. Keep in mind your garage may not be the same size and will require different measurements. My goal is to thoroughly explain the process I did so you can adapt it to your own space.



**Materials below are for the exact same specs I provide, if you adjust any measurements make sure to double check your required material.

Tools - Linked what I personally use

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Step 1: Initial Tips

I have enjoyed adding this step to share some initial tips and insights to be aware about something later and/or help get you started based on things I learned while working on this project.


Please use proper eye & ear protection!

Please use all safety guards on your tools!

Since likely using a ladder make sure it is properly placed before climbing as many accident happen on ladders.

Please read and understand how to use and operate your tools as they might not match how mine are used.

Project Note

I hope this instructable can serve both as a instruction manual, as I'll provide my dimensions, but also as a tool that you can use to change it up to your needs. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT as the height clearance and spacing above your garage door is very likely different than ours. So whether that is making it bigger or smaller, changing doors and access, or more. The only limit is your imagination.


The biggest most important measurement with this project when placing above the opened garage door is measuring the clearance as you would hate to have the garage door hit your work of art. Make sure to measure both ends towards the front and back of the opened garage door as both ends might not be the same height. Also if placing above/close to where the door turn from vertical to horizontal, watch and measure the highest point that the garage panel corners stick up.

Then once you figure out your height minus an inch or more to provide some extra clearance. Also if planning for storage bins and picking the right size make sure to factor in the height of the bottom 2x4 and 3/4" plywood


There can be more than one way to go about a build process that I share here. You may have different tools than what I have. The important thing to remember is to use your tools in a safe manor For example, I used pocket holes, which some might argue don't hold the weight, but you could just screw in straight from the outside. Another example is that I don't have a table saw to cut the plywood so I used my Circular Saw with the Kreg Accu/Rip Cut jigs. Just make sure to put safety first and to read the owners manual for your tools!


Measure twice (or trice) and cut once. :)

Step 2: Find Joists and Mount First Pieces

First we want to find the location of our joists in the ceiling if they aren't exposed. Thankfully I had a joist inline with the front of our opened garage door while being able to hit a joist 48" deep. Ceiling joists are typically installed either 16" or 24" on center and mine were spaced at 24".

Three key decisions have to be made here: the depth of your shelf, the width of your shelf and how many openings you want. My answers are below.

After you have made your decisions, I cut 4 - 2x4s to my depth measurement and put 2 pocket holes on both ends. I then measured out my first side placement and attached it to the ceiling (pocket holes down) using 3 long screws on either end and 2 screws into the center joist. I measured out the desired spacing and attached the next board and repeated for all upper pieces.

Depth of Shelf

I decided on 48" due to 4x8 sheet of plywood. This made the job easier with cutting the plywood as well as it matching the joist spacing.

Width of Shelf

I decided on 6' 6". That was the spacing I had from the garage door track to the center chain, minus some clearance and then went with a clean measurement (ie the 6" vs 7" or 5.5")

Number of Openings

There were a couple of factors to determine the opening size. One factor was that we wanted to have gasket storage bins. Because we were limited in our height, that narrowed the options of bins to pick from. I also wanted to make sure I could get our bins in and out easily. I also thought about looks and functionality. I decided that three doors would offer nice spacing, allow me to easily get bins in and out, and added two extra support locations for the shelf. I originally wanted to make the doors as sliding panels. *Keep in mind to factor the width of each vertical 2x4 when planning out the opening space.

Step 3: Add Vertical Supports

Next we will add the vertical support pieces. These are to be measured out to the full available height of the planned storage shelf. For example, take your total space from ceiling to garage door and subtract the desired clearance. This will give you the length of the vertical supports.

Here I attached the vertical supports using the pocket holes drilled out in the previous step. You could also skip the pocket holes and drill straight into the horizontal beams. Attach each vertical support to each side of all ceiling attached boards.

*Tip: I found it helpful using the Kreg Pocket Hole Right Angle clamp to hold the vertical support in position to get the screw in.

Step 4: Add Lower Horizontal Supports

Cut 4 more pieces of 2x4s measuring the depth of your storage shelf. This should match the pieces cut in Step 2.

Again drill out 2 pocket holes on both ends (or skip this and just drill screws straight in from the sides).

Here we will attach to the bottom of our vertical supports. Make sure to have the pocket holes on the top side and that our bottom is flush with the bottom of the vertical supports.

*Tip: I found using the pocket hole right angle clamps to be helpful with holding up the opposite end while securing the other end.

Step 5: Cut and Add Bottom Shelf

Next we want to cut our 3/4" plywood to size for our bottom shelf piece. For mine I only had to reduce the length to 6'-6".

For the next step I HIGHLY RECOMMEND GETTING A FRIEND TO HELP. Between the potential height and weight of the 3/4" plywood, having an extra set of hands is crucial.

Due to my space and the center garage bar and chain, I had to insert the plywood board between the third and fourth support pieces, pushing it up at an angle and going past the outside edge. Once the board was fully above all the bottom supports, I then pushed it back over the fourth support, getting all edges flush.

I then screwed down the 3/4" plywood to the bottom support pieces. Make sure to check the spacing measurements of the bottom of the vertical supports so they match the top of the vertical supports so they are square.

Step 6: Add Side Supports

Here we will add extra support pieces on the side. In my opinion, these add style to the build, but also serve additional support functionality.

Cut 4 pieces of 2x4s that measure the height of the full storage shelf. Attach and screw them on the side of each corner, making them flush with the front edges. I would recommend that you make sure to get a screw in the vertical support piece as well as the ceiling mounted board and repeat at the bottom. In addition drive in screws along the length of the board.

Step 7: Add Side Horizontal Boards

These next pieces help with adding to the styling, but also will act as a mounting spot for our side panel plywood.

Measure between the two side vertical supports added in the last step and attach at the top and bottom of our shelf.

I decided to add a single pocket hole on each end to drive into the vertical support for the half of the board that sticks into the center open space to add additional stability.

Mount them on each side all the way to the top and the other one at the bottom with its bottom edge flush with the bottom of the shelf unit. Drive in screws along the length of the board and then drive in the pocket screws on the inside.

Step 8: Cut and Add Side Panels

Measure the inside height and depth for each side panel and cut that out in your thinner plywood. I had 1/4" available and that worked well in my opinion, but feel free to go thicker if desired.

Place and insert each board from the inside pushing it up to the pieces we added in the last two steps. You could attach these with short screws or nails. I used my 18g nail gun and attached it along the sides, top and bottom edges to secure the panel into place.

Step 9: Door Panels

Next is adding the door panels. Originally I wanted a solid panel along the back with doors in the front, but after having just the frame up I didn't like the idea of having to remove everything in the front to get to a tote or item in the back. With my wife being shorter, she wouldn't be able to reach something farther in the back. I decided to do 6 doors, 3 in the front and 3 in back, with a bottom hinge. I thought this might be easier to deal with while on the ladder while removing the door and hardware from being in the way.

To copy what I did, measure the width of your opening and the height from the bottom edge of the shelf panel to the ceiling. Hopefully all 6 measure the same and you can cut them out using a table saw, track saw or the Kreg system with a circular saw.

I used 1/4" plywood, but would recommend 1/2" due to the mounting hardware and screws. I added some wooden spacers with the hinges and you can see some blocks on the back side with the barrel bolts.

Mount 2 hinges along the bottom edge of the door and then attach to the front face of the 3/4" plywood shelf. Continue repeating for each door.

Step 10: Door Stop Blocks

I added some stop blocks at the top of each side for every opening to add as a stopping point when closing the door.

I cut a 1" piece out of spare 2x4s and then cut that piece in half. I took my nail gun and attached them to the ceiling mounted board keeping flush to its end. I did this to both sides of each opening.

Step 11: Add Barrel Bolts

Finally I added some barrel bolts to secure the doors in a closed position. I mounted these about 2-1/2" down from the top of the door panel and on the right hand side. As you can see in the photo, due to the mounting hardware I needed to add an extra support block to secure the screws into.

Instead of using the piece the bolt slides in to secure itself, I drilled a hole into the vertical support.

*Tip: The trick is figuring out where to drill the hole. I used my Milwaukee Inkzall Marker. Most markers should do and colored in the tip of the barrel bolt (as you can see in first photo). I closed the door panel making sure it touched the stop blocks. Then I slid the barrel bolt into the 2x4, pushing in and twisting to leave a mark. I then opened the door panel to drill where the mark was made.

Step 12: Additional Options


Along with this project, I decided to upgrade the lighting in our garage to have a better lit work space. I got a pack of 8 LED shop lights from Amazon and mounted them to the underside of the storage unit. They have a small profile that fits within the bottom 2x4's, thus not adding to the profile of the shelf.

I also hardwired them because that was an install option. Before I added one of the side vertical boards I routed a groove for the wiring to run facing the inside. Then when I installed the side panel the wire was enclosed and went straight into the attic to be wired.

Storage Containers

As part of the plan with this project, my wife and I wanted to get eliminate the many different totes we had and get all the same size to have more unified organization. We also wanted to get totes that had a gasket seal to help prevent excess moisture and dirt getting into them. We went with the Sterilite gasket totes and picked the size that worked best for the spacing above the garage door.

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    1 year ago

    Great idea. Just a couple of thoughts...
    In careers #2 & #5 (30+ years), I've spent extensive time on ladders. These cautions could save your LIFE or prevent a paralyzing injury, especially if you only use a ladder 1-2 times a month or less.

    1. Use a stable ladder tall enough to access your items easily (not a step-stool). 2. Don't over reach-get down & move the ladder. 3. Have plenty of clear space around you. 4. Don't climb the ladder with a load. Have a second person to pass up or receive stored items. 5. Always ask yourself if you'll be able to get something back down years later. There's a lot of difference in age 50 & age 60. Start thinking this way when you're 30!

    These suggestions may not cover every needed precaution, but they'll prime your awareness. They've kept me safe even after losing my balance nerve on 1 side (brain tumor).

    Someone suggested reinforcing corners with angle brackets. Great idea, but use at least 4" brackets, 6" even better. Holes close together weaken the wood. Also use 1/4" bolts & fender washers on top sides. Don't count on vertical screw threads to hold up weight. Look at various framing brackets available at big box building supply stores.

    Best wishes & keep on inventing.


    Tip 1 year ago

    If the plywood sides are nailed to the 2 x 4's that are securely fasted to the ceiling using structurally rated screws such as those made by Simpson StrongTie or USP and the trusses are rated for the additional loading and then to the bottom 2 x 4's, then I like the design. I see you have an Iowa State University banner hanging in one of your photos. I'm ISU '74 Civil and Construction Engineering. Ya I know, older than dirt. Born when Truman was President. I'd hate to see the contents of that storage end up on top of someone's vehicle some day. You will not be the only owner of that home. We all pass on sooner or later. Gravity never gives up.

    uncle frogy
    uncle frogy

    Reply 1 year ago

    not an engineer just someone who has repaired things. wood is strong in compression and not in tension. I had to repair semi-island kitchen cabinet that was "hung" on the free end because it was lowly pulling away from the cieling it was hung on. I was able to get above the cieling and ran an all thread rod all the way to the bottom of the cabinet and hung all the weight from it.
    the cabinet had been just nailed this one uses screws which hold better but still in their weakest direction. could part of the drywall be removed and hang the cabinets with bolts through the underling framing be possible.


    Reply 1 year ago

    I want to do this and CharlesN63 got me thinking about those screws mounting into the trusses too. The screws he suggested or similar would work but me being who I am, would probably drill holes all the way through the truss and put in carriage bolts. A pain, but I'd do it.


    Reply 1 year ago

    Go State, Software Engineering here! Trusses are good and used all structural screws with this project besides whatever the kreg screws are rated. I have considered adding some mending plates or something additional though to the main support joints, held off but still might reconsider, doesn't hurt anything besides looks which when I eventually end up painting it, won't even be able to tell.


    1 year ago

    So to remain "nice" I really love the concept, especially the lights, but I have to be a little bit of a critic. This structure is counting on the screws just a little too much so don't put a lot of weight up there. Pocket screws help I think but I highly recommend adding metal saddles or even just some good sized "L" brackets as eventually the end grain of the horizontal pieces will give out. Just the four in the middle if the end pieces of plywood is attached to all but it doesn't appear to be. Understand what I'm getting at?


    Reply 1 year ago

    Haha thanks for staying "nice" :) You bring up good points though and I can agree that there could be improvements or things added for strength especially at those points. I had gotten some mending plates originally but ended up not using them. I've considered adding them though. At least on the corners I feel having an additional board that is mounted into all three pieces helps with this concern. Also mostly just storing lighter stuff but am also storing some heavier items on one. Like I said I might still add something. Thanks for bringing this up as it is a solid point.


    Reply 1 year ago

    Likely have to loosen up some of the screws mounting to the ceiling to get these installed, but should be able to cut by hand and form these up in a vice of some kind. They don't need to be heavy gauge really, maybe 23-24g? Yes 18g would be nice. 3in high by 3in deep by 3.5in wide


    1 year ago

    It would be better if you used sliding doors. You can make a hole at the side of the door or you could put a handle on it.


    Reply 1 year ago

    That was my original thought and want. But became limited with the height of open space we wanted to hold the storage bins we wanted and the space provided above the garage door. Adding something to mount a track at the top was going to add too much that bins wouldn't clear it. In addition with the way I designed and where it got mounted to the ceiling there is screws and stuff right there where the doors would slide if I were to cut grooves in the upper 2x4s so with these plans would have needed to add something extra for an upper track, thus not working due to clearance.

    That has been the story with this house is there is just no good storage. Literally just under the stairs nothing more. It is great to where we aren't keeping anything we don't need, but at the same time, no kids yet and trying to store kids stuff plus loosing space in spare closets we currently are using haha.


    1 year ago

    Very nice. I have some overhead storage shelves in my garage, but have wondered for years how best to put some doors or something to keep the dust out. I like the way you did this. Thanks for sharing!


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you. That was I think the hardest part with this project for me as well. Didn't want them to be in the way of removing stuff. Wanted it to be easy to handle while on a ladder. Went through many different ideas in my head, but this is where I landed and so far hasn't been to bad.