Is It Cheaper to Buy or Build Garage Shelves?

Is It Cheaper to Buy or Build Garage Shelves?

Almost everyone could use more storage space, and if you have a garage, building some shelves is a great way to use that space. But should you build the shelves yourself or buy them?

GarageSmart® offers a wide range of garage remodelling solutions to help you get the most out of your space.

That's a question many homeowners face, and the answer depends on a few factors. Keep reading to learn more about whether it's cheaper to build or buy garage shelves. 

Tips for Garage Shelving Planning and Installation

There are certain things to think about before you instal or buy garage shelves.

  • Before you start creating or shopping for garage shelves, think about these three things:
  • Make a decision on what will go in the shelves. Shelves that can withstand the weight of the objects you intend to store should be your first priority.
  • Think about the dimensions of the things you intend to store. You will need deeper shelves if you intend to store heavy or bulky things.
  • Think about how much room you have in the garage. When space is at a premium, choose for shelves that are either compact or affixed to the wall.

It's also important to evaluate your artistic abilities to see if you can produce a final result with which you're pleased.

If you are unsure of your abilities, it may be best to bring in an expert.

How to Shelve a Garage: Build It Yourself or Buy It?

Shelves make it easy to keep your garage neat and tidy, and they also help you locate items quickly and easily. You may either construct your own shelves or purchase prefabricated ones that only require assembly.

Weigh the benefits of each possibility against their drawbacks to determine which solution is best for you.

Pros And Cons Of Doing It Yourself

While constructing one's own storage shelving units may be the best option for certain people, it is not always the best choice. DIY shelving's benefits include, among others:

  • You may save money by constructing your own garage shelves rather than buying prefabricated ones; just make sure to get the job done properly.
  • Customised to your needs by design, homemade shelves are a practical and affordable solution. You can modify the layout to suit your needs and the dimensions of your storage area.
  • If you use excellent materials and a well-thought-out plan, your do-it-yourself shelves will last longer.
  • The Internet is a great resource for finding how-to guidelines on a wide range of topics, making the entire process simple even for newcomers.
  • You can take satisfaction in the fact that you created everything on your own.

There are a number of positives to constructing your own shelves, but there are also some negatives to think about.

  • More Work: It takes more time and effort to make your own as opposed to purchasing something already made.
  • DIY projects require extra time because of the planning, shopping, and construction phases.
  • Possible Extra Expenses: You may need to buy specialised equipment to complete the task.

Purchasing Prefabricated Shelving

Depending on your goals, skills, and available space, purchasing shelves may or may not be the best solution. Advantages of prefabricated or ready-made garage shelves include:

  • It's quicker and easier to just buy prefabricated shelves that you can hang up right away instead of building them yourself, especially if you don't have any experience with construction.
  • Modularity is another benefit of prefabricated shelves, since it is easy to add more to your storage as needed.

Ready-made shelves have some of the same drawbacks as do-it-yourself ones:

  • The price of prefabricated shelves is higher than the price of the raw materials used to construct them.
  • Strength and longevity: If the shelves are poorly constructed, they may not withstand regular use over time.
  • Create a Space That WorksBefore deciding on a solution, it's important to measure everything you intend to store and think carefully about what you'll need to store.

Extra Things To Think About When Building Your Own Garage Shelves

Making your own shelves requires careful consideration of the following factors:

  • If you don't want your garage to get even more cluttered, give yourself an hour or two to construct the shelves.
  • Containers While some prefabricated alternatives include containers, keep in mind that you may buy them by yourself cheaply and locate a do-it-yourself guide for that design.

Building Your Own Garage Shelving

While this plan can easily be adapted to fit your needs, we'll concentrate on constructing a single set of shelves that measures 48 inches in width and 16 inches in depth. Garage organisation is a huge hassle - but it doesn't have to be! Our GarageSmart® Shelving, Baskets and Hooks make garage organisation simple and easy. 

You can make any necessary adjustments to the given dimensions, but keep in mind that more or less materials will be required. In addition, your custom shelf's layout should maximise the use of those resources.

Lengthening The Legs

Arrange four studs so that they are perpendicular to one another and evenly spaced. Mark the longest of the boards at 72 inches by hooking its matched end with the tape measure. 

The mark can be copied on all four boards by simply laying the speed square on them. Finally, at the marked point, cut each plank to length using the circular or mitre saw (while wearing the appropriate protective equipment).

Adjust The Width Of The Shelf Frames As Necessary.

Align the ends of four more studs and set them in a row. Mark a stud at 48 inches using the measuring tape.

Once again, the speed square will be needed to copy this mark to all four corners. Use the mitre or circular saw to lop off 48 inches from each of the four studs.

Adjust The Depth Of The Shelf Frames

Align the ends of two studs and set them next to each other. Measure out 13 inches and put a mark on the tape every time you need to instal a stud (13, 26, 39, 52, 65, 78, and 91 inches). 

The speed square can be used to transfer these markings on both studs. To make twelve 13-inch-long boards, use a mitre or circular saw and cut the panels at each of the six marks.


The 48-inch boards should have two holes pre-drilled into them, one in the centre and one 3/4 inch in from each edge. In addition, make two holes, 24 inches apart, in these boards (center).

Frames Need To Be Assembled

Divide the wood into four stacks, two of 48-inch planks and three of 13-inch boards, the with shorter boards spanning between the larger boards in the holes you previously drilled.

One at time, glue or building adhesive to the edge of the each short board and sandwich it between the longer 48-inch boards to make a frame.

Attach the shorter planks to the longer panels using the 2 12 inch wood screws, making sure the frame stays as square as possible as you work. The same process should be followed for the remaining three images.

Chopping The Plywood

You may get the plywood off of the ground by sawing the other stud in two and using both pieces. Make marks every 16 inches along the plywood's shorter side using a tape measure and a chalk line or T-square (16, 32, 48, and 64 inches). 

Detach the power cord or take out the battery and set the depth of the circular saw blade to around an inch. Using the waste studs as guides, carefully cut the board along the lines to create four 48" x 16" boards.

Don't toss out that excess sheet of plywood just yet; you'll need it for bracing purposes down the road.

Screw The Plywood Into The Studs

The plywood should be adhered to the shelf frames with wood putty and construction adhesive around the top borders. 

Align your wood as best you can, making sure the frames are square. Drill pilot holes in the plywood's edges, then use 1 14-inch wood screws to secure it to the frame. It's the same process for the remaining three shelves.

Keep in mind that the squareness of the frames is more critical than that of the plywood. Providing the plywood doesn't extend past the frame, it should be fine. Put together the shelf and use the circular saw with caution if the plywood extends beyond the frame.

Put A Mark On The Lower Extremities

Put the four 72-inch legs next to one another, but this time on the floor (the wider dimension). Make sure the ends of one board are square, then measure and mark it at 8 cm, 50 cm, 46 feet wide, and 68 feet wide.

Apply these grades to all four slates by means of the speed square.

If you want there to be 18 inches of clearance between each shelf, you may use these markings to determine in which the bottom of the shelf frame should go. As an added bonus, it will give you a small kick in the toes when you need to move closer to large objects to lift them.

Glue These Shelves To A Support Posts

Separate two of the legs by 13 inches, and set them on the floor so that the notches indicating where the shelves should go are facing up.

A finished shelf frame is placed on top of a glue or adhesive that has been applied above the marking. 

When which was before from the inside of shelf, make sure the bottom of a frame is lined up with the markings. Then, using two 2 12-inch wood screws per leg, secure the frame to the floor. Align the bottom of the each shelf with the lines, and then do the same with the next three shelves.

Leave the unit on its side with the four shelves connected to four of the legs, and place the other two legs on top, indicated sides up. Apply a small amount of adhesive or glue above each line, then lay one leg in place at a time as you work. 

After marking the bottom of the frame, you can use squeeze clamps (not required) to keep it in place while you pre-drill and drive 2 12-inch screws into the inside of the chassis and into the legs. To finish, do the same thing with your other leg.

Get Up And Support The Bookcase

Lift the shelf to its proper height with some assistance. It may be shaky at the moment, but you will strengthen it in this step. Start by pre-drilling the legs from the outside, and then screwing two screws through the legs' faces and into the front and back of each shelf frame's long boards.

The remaining plywood should be used to make six right triangles, each with a square side that is about 8 inches in length.

The gussets formed by these triangles will keep the shelf steady and secure, avoiding racking and swaying.

Fasten the gussets to the back of the shelving unit, one at each shelf corner, using the 1 14-inch wood screws. Each gusset should lay flush on the back of the frame and the legs.

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Shelving is a great way to organise your garage and make it easier to find things when you need them.

Either build your own shelves from scratch or buy some ready-to-assemble ones.

Evaluate the perks of each option and their cons to pick the best course of action. It could take more time and effort to make something from scratch than just to buy one. Plywood should be stacked in four piles, with two 48-inch planks and three 13-inch boards.

Suppose you need to instal studs, measure and mark off 13 inches on the tape every time (13, 26, 39, 52, 65, 78, and 91 inches). Using a tape measure and a chalk line or T-square, make lines every 16 inches along the plywood's shorter side (16, 32, 48, and 64 inches).

To make your own shelves, you'll need plywood, glue, and construction adhesive. If you want perfectly square frames, you'll want to make sure your wood is perfectly aligned. Use one 14-inch wood screw to fasten the plywood to the frame after drilling pilot holes in its edges.

One board needs to have its ends squared off before you can measure and mark it at 8cm, 50cm, 46cm, and 68cm. Drill two 12-inch holes in the chassis and screw them into the legs. Construct a set of six triangles with a square base and a side length of around 8 inches. The triangular supports will prevent the shelf from wobbling and rocking. Use the one 14-inch wood screws to secure the gussets to the rear of the shelving.

Content Summary

  • Everyone could benefit from extra storage, and if you have a garage, constructing some shelves is a fantastic way to put that space to good use.
  • If you're wondering whether it's more cost-effective to build or buy garage shelves, keep reading.
  • Planning and installing garage shelves: some advice Before you go out and instal or buy garage shelves, there are a few things to consider.
  • There are three considerations to address before constructing or purchasing garage shelves. Determine the stock to be kept on the racks.
  • The shelves you choose should be able to support the load of the items you wish to store.
  • Take into account the size of the items you plan to keep in storage.
  • Consider the storage capacity of your garage.
  • Choose small or wall-mounted shelves when you're short on floor space.
  • Shelving is a great way to organise your garage and make it easier to find things when you need them.
  • Either build your own shelves from scratch or buy some ready-to-assemble ones.
  • Shelving can be expensive, but making your own is a cost-effective and convenient option that can be tailored to your specific needs.
  • If your storage space is a unique size, you can adjust the layout to fit your demands.
  • Your DIY shelves will endure longer if you utilise high-quality materials and carefully plot out your design.
  • There are a lot of benefits to building your own bookcases, but there are also some drawbacks to consider.
  • Making something from scratch is more work than buying one readymade.
  • It's possible that buying shelves isn't the greatest option, depending on your needs, your abilities, and the area you have to work with.
  • One of the benefits of readymade garage shelves is that they: If you don't have any experience creating things, it's easier and faster to just buy premade shelves that you can hang up straight away.
  • The disadvantages of prefabricated shelves are similar to those of homemade ones: Prefabricated shelves cost more than the raw components from which they are made.
  • Always take precise dimensions of whatever you plan to store, and give some thought to just what it is you'll need to keep in storage.
  • Before you begin building your shelves, you should think about the following: Spare yourself the aggravation of a crowded garage by setting aside an hour or two to build the shelves.
  • Containers are a readymade option, but keep in mind that you can buy them on the cheap and find a how-to tutorial online.
  • We will focus on building one set of shelves that is 48 inches wide and 16 inches deep; however, the plan can be easily modified to match your specific needs.
  • In addition, the design of your bespoke shelf should make the most of the available space and materials.
  • Hook the tape measure onto the end of the board that matches the longest and mark it at 72 inches.
  • By laying the speed square on any of the four boards, the mark can be replicated.
  • Shrink or enlarge the shelf frames to suit your needs.
  • Set four more studs in a row so that their ends are aligned.
  • Measure out 48 inches and put a mark on a stud.
  • Copying this mark to all four corners will require the speed square once more.
  • With a mitre or circular saw, cut 48 inches out of each of the four studs.
  • Frames for shelves should be adjusted for depth.
  • Place two studs next to one another with their ends aligned.
  • Always mark the measuring tape at 13 inches before installing a stud (13, 26, 39, 52, 65, 78, and 91 inches).
  • All that is needed is the speed square to copy the markings onto both studs.
  • Cut the panels with a mitre or circular saw at each of the six notches to form twelve 13-inch-long planks.
  • Also, drill two holes, spaced 24 inches apart, into these planks (centre).
  • We must assemble the frames.
  • Make four piles of wood, two 48-inch planks and three 13-inch boards, with the smaller boards spanning the gaps between the bigger boards in the holes you drilled earlier.
  • Apply glue or building adhesive to one edge of each small board, then place them end-to-end between two large, 48-inch boards.
  • Place the two 12-inch wood screws through the shorter planks into the longer panels, keeping the frame as square as possible.
  • The remaining three pictures need to go through the same procedure.
  • If you cut the other stud in half and use both pieces, you might be able to lift the plywood off the floor.
  • Using a tape measure and a chalk line or T-square, make lines every 16 inches along the plywood's shorter side (16, 32, 48, and 64 inches).
  • Don't get rid of the extra plywood just yet; it will come in handy for bracing later on.
  • The plywood should be screwed into the studs.
  • To properly secure the plywood to the shelf frames, wood putty and construction adhesive should have been used around the top edges.
  • If you want perfectly square frames, you'll want to make sure your wood is perfectly aligned.
  • Use one 14-inch wood screw to fasten the plywood to the frame after drilling pilot holes in its edges.
  • The following three shelves are prepared in the same way.
  • It's more important that the frames are square than the plywood.
  • If the plywood overhangs the frame, you'll need to use the circular saw carefully while putting together the shelf.
  • Use the speed square to apply these marks on all four slates.
  • Using these lines as a guide, you may set the bottom of each shelf frame such that there is a gap of 18 inches between them.
  • Attach these shelves to the wall studs using glue.
  • Put two of the legs 13 inches apart on the floor with the notches pointing towards where the shelves should be placed.
  • Verify that the markings at the bottom of a frame corresponded with the position they had when the shelf was empty.
  • Next, fasten the frame to the ground using two 2-by-12-inch wood screws for each leg.
  • Arrange the shelves so that the bottoms of the first three are in line with the markings.
  • The unit should be left on its side with the four shelves attached to four of the legs, and the other two legs should be placed above it, indicating sides up.
  • Mark the underside of the frame, and then use squeeze clamps (optional) to hold it in place while you drill pilot holes and insert two 12-inch screws into the chassis and the legs.
  • Repeat the procedure with the opposite leg to conclude.
  • Help raise the shelf to the ideal height.
  • To begin, pre-drill holes in the outside of the legs and then use two screws to attach the legs to the front and back longboards of each shelf frame.
  • Using the one 14-inch wood screws, secure the gussets to the back of the shelving unit, one at each shelf corner.
  • Each gusset must rest flat against the frame's rear and the legs' undersides.

FAQs About Garage Shelves

Is It Cheaper to Build Your Own Shelves?

Most of the time your DIY shelves will end up being cheaper if you build them right the first time and purchase your own materials. The best upside to building DIY shelves is that you will be able to customize the shelves for your space.

What Kind of Wood Should I Use for Garage Shelves?

OSB boards and even plywood can work and reclaimed wood is always a good option as well. A drill and a saw are needed but apart from that you shouldn't need to invest in any other tools and equipment. With these supplies you can make sturdy garage shelves so you can organize all the items and clean up space.

What Is the Best Material to Use for Shelving?

Broadly speaking, the main materials that are used to construct industrial shelving are metal and wood. These include steel, aluminium, copper, chrome, plywood, koa and oak. This is because these materials are strong, durable and long-lasting.

How Wide Can Shelves Be Without Support?

Single bookcase units with two sides, top and bottom should be no wider than 36 inches without a center support. Single bookcase shelves installed on a wall should have supports no further apart than 32 inches due to 16-inch stud spacing commonly used on homes.

Does a Carpenter Build Shelves?

Most finish carpenters/cabinet makers (who have a C6 license) or general contractors (B license) can build the custom cabinetry and shelving for you. They would typically have access all the kinds of hardware and custom doors etc that you'd need for this.

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