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MarchieB 05-23-2007 06:49 AM

Garage Shelf : Load capacity of beam
Hi I'm building a shelf above my garage door and had a question about the size of lumber to use.

The shelf will have a 16 foot width but only be 2 feet or so deep. The sides and back will be attached to the garage studs with appropriate fasteners.

The issue i have is that i want to use the smallest lumber i can to create more space from the top of the shelf to the roof.

Would two 2x6's laminated and bolted together be strong enough to span the 16 feet across the unsuported face? Or do i need to use 2x8's or larger?

Thanks Marcello

NateHanson 05-23-2007 07:08 AM

Depends what you're putting on the shelf.

A 16' 1x3 will hold up a shelf of christmas lights and packing peanuts, but it probably won't hold that spare engine block and rear axle for your 78 chevy nova. :)

Can you support the shelf half-way with a 2x4 attached to a rafter above the middle of the shelf?

MarchieB 05-23-2007 07:39 AM

Actually the block is for my '72 Monte Carlo :laughing:

The heavyiest thing going up would be a set of winter tires w/ steel rims or summer tires w/ alum. rims depending on the season. Other wise seasonal stuff.

The only issue about the 2x4 support from the celing is that it is already drywalled and finished and i don't really want to go and hack it up to get to a rafter.

RippySkippy 05-23-2007 08:10 AM

Well if your going to store engine blocks, you should at least use one from the Chevy there's a gem!:thumbup:

Plywood with a piece screwed on the bottom to make a T or a solid wood edge quite strong. It also depends on the number an placement of supports, and type of fasteners used. If the shelf is 16' X 2', one sheet of 3/4 in BC Plywod @ $25 per ripped in half would do the shelf, add your 2x4 supports or edging and your good to go. At mimimum you need to support the center whether it be from the ceiling or the wall above the garage door.

Which way to the ceiling joist run? If they are perpindicular to the garage door, you can screw a 2X to the drywall into the ceiling joist and hang a support dow from won't look crappy if you paint it and make sure it's parallel to the shelf and wall.

MarchieB 05-23-2007 06:38 PM

1 Attachment(s)

Plywood with a piece screwed on the bottom to make a T or a solid wood edge quite strong
Not totally sure what you mean by "make a T"

in any case let me clarify this a bit with a picture

The only issue that i am having is what size of lumber to use for the main beam that will span 16 feet (area with the ???) would two 2x6's laminated and bolted together be sufficent to span the 16 ft. or should i use 2x8's , 10's ect. The shelf is approx 16ft width and a 2-3 ft depth

the only reason the is an issue is because i want to leave as much room as possible between the top of the shelf and the ceiling. if this wasn't an issue i would just go with 2x10's and not worry about the strength.

just to carify further it will be bolted on both sides to the garage walls i just didn't put that in the drawing on the far right side.

RippySkippy 05-23-2007 09:04 PM

Nice picture...and it really helps to understand where you're coming from. I was thinking much lighter than you have drawn...think of a 2 foot wide plywood, with a 2x4 screwed to the 2x would make it look like a T as you look from the end.

I would really try to support the mid point or split the distance into 3rds to the ceiling. If you can get up in the attic, you can lay a 2X across 3 or 4 bottom chords, drop a threaded rod through the ceiling with a support plate and nut on the bottom...then again that's just an option. It would be strong and adjustable.

Jeekinz 05-24-2007 10:01 AM

Use 1/2" or larger threaded rod to support the front of the shelf to the rafters.

Big Mackey 05-24-2007 06:18 PM


Originally Posted by MarchieB (Post 45968)
i don't really want to go and hack it up to get to a rafter.

I would use a stud finder to find the rafters, then screw a big L bracket to attach a 2x4 center support to the rafter/ceiling.

I would actually use a couple rafter/ceiling supports.

I think the only person that could answer your question about what size lumber to use is a structural engineer.

Good luck!

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