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paul_2 05-25-2006 10:13 PM

Plans for a garage loft (large set of shelving)
I've been googling in vain for a number of weeks trying to find an easy to follow set of plans for building a set of large shelves in my garage. Possibly its my terminology of them - I would call what I'm looking for a 'loft', but I'll describe them here.

My garage is completely finished - it has fully sheetrocked walls and a ceiling. It is a two car garage and what I'm looking to do it add a set of shelves that are as wide as one car width wide (9.5 feet) and 5 feet deep. I have a high ceiling (almost 10.5 feet) so I think I could add two shelves (say one at 8 feet and one at 6.5 feet) which would still leave me 6.5 feet under the lower shelf.

So what I'd like is a set of two shelves 9.5 ft wide by 5 ft deep in my garage. I'd like them to support a good amount of weight so I know that means I need to put a 4x4 post from the ceiling to the floor in the one corner not attached to a wall. I have this general idea of how to do this, but I can't find any complete plans. Can anyone help ?!? I'd really appreciate it.


Big Dave 05-26-2006 06:26 AM

First of all I would scale them back to a 4'x8' shelf so that one sheet of plywood would be needed per shelf. I would frame a platform out of 2x4's. Run a 2x4 around the perimeter on edge for strength then fill in the field with 2x4's at 16 inch centers. As you said mount the two sides that touch the walls with some screws at each stud location. You would be better off to support the shelfs from the floor but if you can't then you can go into the attic and hang a 2x4 or 4x4 from the ceiling lagged to the side of a ceiling joist. The latter idea will not support much weight because most ceiling joist are only sized to support the weight of the sheetrock. You could also attach 2 or 3 angled braces from the front corner of the shelf to the wall at the back. Be sure to place them where a stud is in the wall.

Hope this helps, Dave.

paul_2 05-26-2006 03:41 PM

Thanks for the tips. The only problem with not going to a full width of 9.5 feet is then the left edge would not line up with the center of my garage. There's already a support post down the center line and if the shelf was only 8 feet wide the left side support would prevent me from pulling the car (partially) under the shelf if needed.

I agree the way to go is to run the support post from ceiling to floor. I'm not really sure how to do this however. The ceiling is finished and the floor is concrete. I know that there are metal brackets that accept a 4x4 post and have 4 holes for screws - is this what I should use. I'm slightly nervous about drilling into the concrete floor as well. Will I crack my floor? Is there another way to securely run the 4x4 post from ceiling to floor?


Bonus 05-27-2006 01:10 AM

If you want to go full width, build it like Big Dave said, only make your frame longer and add a piece of plywood. Make sure to have one of your 2x4's under the join of the plywood. You don't need a 4x4, a 2x4 will do just fine as a post. Screw the 2x4 post to the outside of your 2x4/plywood shelves so they are level, and then add another 2x4 screwed to the post under the bottom shelf (from the shelf to the floor), and then another between the two shelves, this will support the weight. At that point see if you can move anything, I bet it will be very solid. If you're worried about it, go ahead and attach the post to the concrete with a steel bracket and screws. You won't damage your floor by drilling into it, but you probably don't need to.

Big Dave 05-27-2006 06:38 AM

Like Bonus said when you build the shelves and you attach the 2x4 to both of them there will be no need to attach it to the floor. I would run one 2x4 from floor up through both shelves, inside or outside.


robertcdf 05-27-2006 11:11 PM

Hold on for a sec here. How much weight are you planning on putting up there? IMHO 2x4 is not enough. I have built a loft in a shed and had to use a double 2x8 beam to span 16' and LAGGED (not screws) into the studs on the back wall. If I was building this I would at LEAST use 2x6 joists and a double 2x6 beam sitting on a 4x4 post. If you want to put a few hundred pounds on EACH shelf I would upgrade to 2x8's for the beam at least. And please lag your "ledger" board instead of just screws. I would use (2) 5/16" lags at every stud. Predrill these holes so as not to split the studs.

paul_2 05-28-2006 05:43 AM

Good tips - thanks. Yes, I am going to put several hundred pounds (at least) per shelf. I'm probably going to scale the depth back to 4 feet as Dave said above, then I can use one sheet across.

I know I need to use a ledger board - I can't emphasize that for purposes of this question, please 'state the obvious'. I haven't done anything like this before. Just so I'm clear, the ledger boards will be the TWO horizontal boards (per shelf) that get attached to the wall prior to me placing the completed shelf frame up on the wall. here are my questions.
1) when you say use large pieces for the joists, do you mean the legder boards OR the horizontal (long way) runs of the shelf frame OR both?
2) for ease of install, I was going to build the shelf frame without the plywood, attach it to the ledge boards, then attach the plywood. Will this compromize the strength?
3) When I place the shelf frame resting on the ledger boards, I was going to attach the back edges to the ledger boards using screws down through the shelf. Then I was going to additionally use screws (or lag screws) from the shelf frame back into the studs in the wall as well.
4) I was going to attach the post from the ceiling to the floor last since I was building the shelf frame separately, then attaching it to the wall.
5) The back edge and the right edge of the shelves will be resting on the ledger boards. The front left corner will be supported by the 4x4 post that I'm planning to screw into the ceiling and the floor. Will I need another post at the front right corner as well? If so I was going to just screw it into the beam running down the wall using lag bolts and not bother going to the ceiling or bolting it into the floor.
6) I'm not too crazy about drilling into the concrete floor and the ceiling. Is this absolutely needed for the post at the left front? Could I just run it from the top shelf down to the floor and just rest it on the floor as Bonus said?

Thanks for your advice!

robertcdf 05-28-2006 10:09 PM

I would build these shelves by lagging a 2x6 to the back wall. Then I would add blocking where your beam will be attaching to the side wall (this may require removing drywall). Attach a double hanger to this blocking Then I would add 1 2x6 joist at the side wall and one at the other end of the ledger (you will have to temp this up) Then I would attach 1 2x6 (1/2 of your beam) to these joists and in the hanger (simpson strong tie model number "LUS26-2" <--These may not be available anymore). Add 1 more 2x6 to complete your beam and NAIL (not screw) these 2x6's together with 3 nails every 16" O.C. I would then level your shelves then level (or plumb bob) from the outside corner where the 4x4 will be and attach a simpson strong tie post base model number "ABA44" to your garage floor then I would put your 4x4 post in and use simpson strong tie model number "LPC4" post caps. Now that your perimter and beam are in and stable fill in with joists @ 16" O.C. Using simpson strong tie model number "LUS26" for hangers and use "LS50" for all corner connectios. Sheet with plywood as needed 7/16" OSB SHOULD be fine but you can upgrade to a think ply if you desire. Then build your second shelf the same way and just add a short 4x4 post (using simpson strong tie "LPC4") between your first and second beam.

I hope this helps some I am not very good at explaining details I just build it without thinking. It should be an easy project made easier if you have someone help you. Sit down and draw it out before you start and you will be able to "see" it a little better. Once you have your drawing you can figure your material list. And look back at your drawing for refernce.

I told you to use a post base to attach your post to the floor so if you bump the post with a car or something else your shelves dont come crasing down on your brand new corvette :D

Keep us posted on how it goes or if you have other questions.

paul_2 07-16-2006 09:03 PM

Finished project
First off, sorry for the belated reply. We've had a baby since I had finished the project and things have been hectic.

But I just wanted to thank all of those who replied to my original request for information, my final design kind of culled various ideas from a number of the suggestions and I'm very happy with the way the project turned out. I have two huge shelves (10 ft x 4 ft) and they are real solid. The look to be able to support a bit of weight.

Here's a link to a picture of the finished set of shelving
The picture isn't that great, there is another post sitting directly behind the metal pole in the foreground on the right side that you can just make out.

What I did was the following:
1. started with two ledger boards (2x6s) per shelf that I attached to the studs in the drywall. I used lag 3/8 lag bolts at every stud location.
2. I built the frame for the shelves as suggested above by building a frame out of 2x4s and then putting supporting 2x4s every 16 inches in the interior. I used metal connectors for all of the 2x4 to 2x4 connections as well as in the corners for extra support.
Interesting Note ( Someone actually thought of this as I was doing this luckily) since I end up also bolting up the frame to the studs in the wall (see 3 below) make sure that the interior 2x4s don't ALL match up to the stud locations - otherwise you want be able to put the lag bolts in the frame into the studs in the wall.
3. I then put both frames up on the ledger boards in the wall and put a few key lag bolts in the studs in the wall as well. I put lag bolts at the ends, in both corners, and since the long dimension of the shelf is so long, I put two more in the middle. The brunt of the weight is still supported by the frames resting on the ledger boards, but I figured that the extra support of the lag bolts in the frame itself would resist any tendancy for the shelf itself to come away from the wall.
4. once bolted to the wall the frames were supported enough to build the posts in the front corners. For those, I like the suggestion above of using one 2x4 lag bolted to the front corner. I used a second 2x4 in between the two shelves and down to the ground. I then screwed the two 2x4s together. I did posts for both of the front corners, even though it probably wasn't necessary. I also used PT 2x4 for the posts for extra strength and water resistence since it is a garage.
ALSO (yeah I tend to overbuild), for the lower end of the two posts, I used a metal support that is drilled into the concrete floor of my garage.
5. Once I had the framing done, I just screwed 1/2 CDX plywood onto the shelves. Since the shelves are > 8 feet long, I needed to make sure that the joint in each shelf was over once of the support 2x4's on the shelf.

That's were I really got a feel for how sturdy this set of shelving is. I had to crawl all over both sets of shelves to screw in the plywood. I'm not exactly a lightweight and while screwing everything down, I couldn't feel it moving much at all.

That's it - it was a really fun project and I learned quite a bit doing it. Thanks again for all those whose guidance made it possible.

CactusRox 08-16-2010 06:42 PM

Hey Paul - looking to do something similar with my garage. The image you submitted is no longer available - do you mind reposting it so I can see how it looks? Thanks.

Scuba_Dave 08-16-2010 07:06 PM

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