Tool Storage Guide: Best Ways to Store Tools
When most look at a garage, they think kids toys, lawnmowers, cars, dirt, out of season decorations, dust & unorganized tools. Many Men see a man cave, a place to hang out with their buddies, show off their space, put a beverage fridge, TV and watch the game.
A garage is all about perspective and does not need to be unorganized! Many garages offer serious potential but simply do not have the proper storage or organization. In this guide, we will go through the common garage storage accessories, common benefits, cost and issues with each product. Also, provide our professional recommendation on the ultimate garage setup!
Typical Garage Environment/Storage Conditions
When looking at storing valuable tools in a garage, it is important to remember what environment you are storing tools in. Most tool collections are valued in the thousands of dollars. In many cases even larger with a simple saw being valued over $300. Thinking about what environment you are storing your valuable tools in is paramount in order to protect your investment.
Moisture is the most common danger to a tool collection. It can cause premature rust and even in severe cases damage to electrical components. This will also lead to premature tool failure.
Luckily, moisture can be fixed by ensuring wherever your tools are to purchase a dehumidifier for the space to remove the moist air. Removing this moist air will help prevent corrosion. It will also prolong the life of your tools and help protect the shell of your building. Whether that be a garage, tool shed, basement, or storage closet.
Product Recommendation – Dehumidifier
At your local home store, look into a dehumidifier for a garage. This will help keep moisture under control in your space. A dehumidifier will work to remove excess moisture from the garage and minimize mold and mildew development. Also, help protect your tools from developing rust and corrosion, prolonging tool life.
A dehumidifier can help with tools. Also, it will help remove moisture and prevent rust on a vehicle that is parked in the garage as well. Especially a vehicle in the northern states where heavy rain, snow, and the salty environment is present.
Dehumidifiers help remove excess moisture from a vehicle, helping prevent excessive moisture buildup and rust development. Keeping moisture levels controlled in a garage is a large advantage and for the investment can save thousands of dollars in savings throughout a lifetime.
A major thing to consider when purchasing a dehumidifier for a garage is where the unit is going to drain to. Many smaller units collect the moisture into a bucket that has to be emptied every time it becomes full. This can become a cumbersome, daily activity for most and will become overlooked, especially with the busy life of most homeowners.
Most units also have the capability to drain to a hose than can be run outside so the unit never needs to be emptied. This offers a huge advantage and maintenance-free machine. With some larger, more expensive units offering a holding tank, but also have a pump that is able to pump the collected water and moisture to a nearby drain, sink, etc. This is a great advantage for homeowners with a nearby sink, allowing the dehumidifier to pump up to a drain, or a long-distance offering additional flexibility.
Dehumidifier Investment & Cost
When looking for a dehumidifier the largest feature to pay attention to is how many pints dehumidifier can remove is a 24 hour period. For example, some smaller dehumidifiers may only be able to remove 50 pints of moisture per day, where a larger commercial unit could remove up to 150 or 200 pints per day. For a typical two-car garage that is insulated should be able to handle an 80-100 pint dehumidifier.
With a dehumidifier of that capacity, that equated to approximately 10 – 12 Gallons of moisture/water per day. For a larger garage or an area that has excessive moisture, a large model may need to be considered. Depending on the pint capacity purchased, a typical homeowner can purchase a dehumidifier for a couple of hundred dollars with a large unit becoming closer to $1000.
Pegboard is a common material used for a garage and tool storage. With pegboard being so common in a home, there are many different accessories available at a very low cost. These accessories include shelving, hooks, racks, small storage bins, etc.
Pegboard is very versatile. It offers an avenue to store any common small tool collection. From misc screwdrivers, drill bits, wrenches, extension cords, misc. nuts and bolts. It can also be a great backsplash to an existing workbench.
Pegboard is commonly simply made of compressed sawdust with no sealer or veneer like other garage storage products. With pegboard being made of compressed sawdust, this makes the material extremely susceptible to moisture. Remember, garages are common to have moisture issues and are sometimes uninsulated spaces, making leaking and moisture issues even worse.
With these unfavorable storage conditions, this allows pegboard to swell and shrink with the seasons. Over time this causes failure, especially when high weights are distributed to their shelving.
Pegboard can vary in price depending on the size, but for the most traditional spaces fall between $25 – $50. This is one of the lowest price points for tool storage materials and can offer a great solution to the average homeowner looking for a smaller tool solution.
Product Recommendation – Peg Board
When looking at pegboard, a home store will have various options. Including the common compressed sawdust and particleboard, compressed sawdust and particleboard with a vinyl covering and lastly, plywood pegboard.
Compressed Sawdust & Particleboard
Compressed sawdust is a light solution for a quick fix or for a homeowner that needs simple amounts of storage. This material will hold up for the average homeowner needing small amounts of storage. The major downside of this material is that over time it will not stand up, eventually flake apart, dry rot and deteriorate.
This is a great solution for someone who has a minimal amount of tools but overall needs some sort of storage solution. The advantage to this is the material is extremely low cost, with most boards going for under ten dollars.
The better and slightly more expensive alternative to standardized pegboard is the same material with a vinyl sheet on one or both sides helping make the product more rigid, durable and withstand the additional wear and tear. The benefit to this is that many manufacturers will offer different color selections to best match your garage.
The best solution to pegboard tool storage is to find a pegboard that is made from solid plywood. Plywood will not only last longer but is also more stable, durable and will provide a long term solution to tool storage. Plywood can typically be coated in either stain or paint in order to best match your desired finish.
Overall pegboard can be a good solution for the most common storage solutions but still leaves tools open for the dust to accumulate and can be unsightly if not organized properly. For certain tools, dust and dirt contamination can be just as damaging as moisture.
Pegboard is a great solution for the DIY friendly person that has a smaller tool collection and does not need to store a huge amount of tools. Open shelving can work for smaller tool collections but will begin to become cumbersome with larger collections.
Open shelving can be a great solution and offering a bit of storage to larger tools and items, such as crates, boxes, large plastic containers, saws & even out of season decorations. Open shelving is fairly inexpensive to install and can offer a lot of flexibility and additional capability to a regular pegboard.
This method can be compromised of various materials to fit a specific space, can be cut to fit and customized to fit any space and storage solution. Depending on the material and the number of brackets installed, proper wood shelving can be built to last and withstand heavy forces and be the proper solution for a garage storage needs.
Open shelving can offer a great solution to the storage of larger items. However, it is not ideal for smaller tools such as wrenches, sockets, screwdrivers, hammers, etc.
When anchoring your open shelving to the wall, be sure to properly anchor the shelving system to studs in the wall and
Open shelving can be a fairly inexpensive solution to storage. It can last a very long time. Open shelving, depending on the size can vary between $10 – $100. It is important to properly anchor the shelving to the wall with screws and brackets.
Properly installing brackets will add additional cost but ensure that your shelving system will last for a long time no matter what weight is installed on.
Overall open shelving can be a great way to install large tools, boxes, bins, etc. but not practical for smaller collections. The price point of the smaller shelving units is comparable to pegboard and other storage solution.
Product Recommendation – Open Shelving
For open shelving, the best product is standardized shelving from your local home store. The shelving will be pre-cut to length and width making installation, transportation and managing the material much easier. The shelving may be located in the lumber section or the closet solution/storage section.
The precut shelving should come in various depths and lengths depending on your needs, with the most common length being 12 inches deep and 8 feet long, but most stores will offer longer lengths or could even custom order or cut lengths depending on what you need.
Slat wall is a combination between the versatility of pegboard & the capacity of open concept shelving. They are is similar to pegboard that it offers a level of flexibility, but also offers a storage solution to smaller tools.
Slat walls are much stronger than pegboards with the finish being coated in a laminate to prevent moisture infiltration and to prolong the life of the storage material.
Slat wall commonly has a laminate material on the outside. This helps prolong the life of the material vs pegboard that is simply compromised of compressed sawdust.
The benefit of slat wall is that with the prolonged durability. The additional laminate material offers added strength, prolonged life. Also the added weight limits and flexibility for storage.
Slat wall is a great solution to any garage storage solution and can offer a great compromise and upgrade between the pegboard and open shelving. Slat wall, with its unique shape, can carry incredible weights and can support a variety, weight of tools from small wrenches & screwdrivers to large cabinets for saws, jackets, yard tools, even large tools such as plastic containers, generators, vehicle equipment, etc.
With slat wall offering more flexibility, additional strength and a better quality of materials, it does bring a slightly higher price. But, it’s not a significant raise with most slat wall panels being around $50 – $75 for a 4’x8’ sheet.
For an average garage, a few sheets of slat wall will offer a tremendous amount of flexibility. Covering an entire wall may only be around $100 – $300. With the versatility this material offers, this would be around the same price point as a combination of pegboard and open concept shelving.
Overall slat wall is a great addition to a garage, basement or other tool storage solution. It offers the most flexibility for tool storage solutions. Slat wall is incredibly strong and can support almost every home daily items and tools. With storage, comes the ability to add cabinets which will offer additional flexibility and cleanliness to storage.
Product Recommendation – Slat Wall
Slat wall is an incredible product that has many manufacturers, styles, etc. Very similar to pegboard there are a few different styles, with the cheapest and most common being sawdust and particleboard and the higher end selections either having a vinyl wrap on the exterior or being made of solid plywood. Going to your local home store can be confusing and cumbersome, check out our favorite slat wall below!
The benefit of the Proslat product is that the material is rot-resistant, durable and can even be washed easily. This makes the product great for all sorts of tool storage. It can be guaranteed to last for years to come in your garage or shop! The best part about the slat wall?
With the material lasting so long and being so durable, this allows homeowners to remove and relocate the slat wall to various parts of a home or different houses if needed!
Repurposed Kitchen Cabinets
When remodeling other areas of a home, repurposing kitchen cabinets can be a tempting idea. Simply rehanging the cabinets into a storage area such as your basement or garage can be tempting and may offer a great short term solution but in most cases is not the solution to tool storage with a different part of the home.
Kitchen cabinets offer an uncompromised storage solution for kitchen utensils, plates, dishes, cups, etc. However, they are not designed to carry the added weight of heavy steel tools, and garage materials.
The large benefit of repurposed kitchen cabinets is that the cost to install and repurpose is most of the time free of charge and mostly involves sweat equity. With new screws, hardware and pulls can help brighten the kitchen hardware for garage storage and provide a lot of added versatility to the garage.
Kitchen cabinets seem like a great solution for a garage. With the added abuse from tool storage and changing moisture conditions of a garage, cabinets may look great at first. However, depending on their build quality and material, may not be the best long term solution for garage storage. Cabinets are designed to store plates, dishes, paper towels, cereal, and other lightweight items.
Where in a garage, these cabinets would be holding power tools, heavy ratchet sets, gardening items, fuel, oil & other heavy garage related items. Storing these heavy items can cause failure in the cabinets. This is because they are not designed to hold the added weight. Kitchen cabinets are also typically constructed from wood and fiber-based wood products that are very susceptible to moisture, mold, rot and mildew growth.
This can create an added headache in the future or even worst, an unsafe condition if the cabinet suddenly fails. Repurposed kitchen cabinets may seem and work for a short term solution but long term will not support the added stresses for tool storage.
Steel Cabinets & Toolbox
Steel cabinets and toolboxes are built for tool storage. They are typically constructed of steel, aluminum or other durable metal. They are built with heavy-duty hinges and added support brackets for additional strength and durability. Toolboxes and steel cabinets can be purchased in various different sizes. This depends on the size required and typically have different features, etc.
With these cabinets designed to hold tools, some even come with integrated power plugs to allow you to charge batteries, lights, and even speakers. A flexibility that is not offered in any other tool storage solution.
Many clients say they do not need lights in their toolbox; but nearly every client that has them, say they cannot live without them. This integration and is specially designed for tool storage allows for a long-lasting custom setup to last a lifetime.
The durability of steel cabinets and toolboxes is unmatched and unrivaled to any other tool storage solution created. Steel storage 0.c0abinets are mainly welded with steel brackets, structural bolts and other heavy-duty hardware made to last the test of time.
The large benefit of steel cabinets is with that besides their lasting construction they are also able to withstand moisture and unfavorable garage conditions. This can typically cause mold, mildew and other issues. Steel will not warp, the paint will not crack and will continue to last a lifetime.
Product Recommendation – Steel Cabinets & Toolbox
When it comes to steel cabinets and toolboxes there are only a few manufacturers we suggest. The biggest decision now do you need a tool chest for ratchets, screwdrivers and other small items or do you need larger storage for bottles, rags, miter saws & brooms. Either way, the construction for these will be the same. They are both made out of durable steel and are able to withstand years of abuse.
When purchasing, be sure to pay attention to the thickness of the steel. This is commonly known as the Gauge of the Steel. The gauge may be a bit counter-intuitive, as the smaller the Gauge of steel, the thicker and more durable and resilient the material is. For example, 12 gauge steel is much thicker than 18 or 20 Gauge Steel.
When it comes to steel storage cabinets, there are many options out there with some being better than others. Our personal favorite is available on Amazon and is manufactured by Gladiator.
These cabinets are extremely durable, provide outstanding protection to your tools and will help organize a large selection of saws, rags, canisters, cleaning supplies, etc! The best part of Gladiator Garage Storage cabinets? They ship directly to your garage to organize your space, saving you a trip to the store!
Gladiator offers a full selection of garage storage solutions from smaller upper two-door cabinets for smaller items, large full-length pantry cabinets for large saws & equipment and lower cabinets with pull out drawers for pens, paper, wrenches, etc. With whatever cabinet style tool storage you desire, Gladiator will have you covered.
Steel Tool Chests
With a different kind of storage requirements comes to different tool storage products. Cabinets are great for larger bulkier items that are fixed in one location. However, if you find yourself needing a tool chest with drawers to wheel around your shop it is best to look for a Tool Chest.
A Tool Chest will offer incredible storage needs for wrenches, screwdrivers, tape measures, carpentry tools, mechanic tools, etc. Tool Chests are incredible for a garage. They can be wheeled around and brought directly next to what you are working on vs you walking back and forth every time to grab a different size wrench.
These Tool Chests are predominantly outfitted with large, durable drawers. When searching for a Tool Chest, be sure to pay special attention to drawer construction. Look for steel drawers with grease-able steel drawer hardware. Durable drawers will ensure they slide easily even when weighted down with hundreds of pounds of tools.
This same requirement applies when looking at the Tool Chests wheels. This is because a wheel will need to be sturdy in order to properly wheel around the shop with ease.
FAQs About Tool Storage
Pegboards are boards with holes that are made for attaching different tools. They can be made of different materials such as wood, metal etc, and hooks can be installed so they can hold the items.
If toolboxes are too messy for you, and you want to keep everything at close touch, you can always get a pegboard or install a cabinet with doors that will allow you to select the tools according to size.
There have been tons of devices that will help keep your cables from getting messy, but I find the easiest way to organize them is to tape them in a circle every time I finish doing the job with them. You can also add a board with hooks that will hold them in one place if you want to have them at once place.
With all of the options available and the various costs associated, we feel that steel cabinets and tool chests are the proper way to store garage tools. They offer unbelievable protection against mold, mildew, and rot.
Steel Cabinets & Toolboxes have a great deal of durability against scratches, chips, dents and can withstand a lifetime of abuse. As a firm believer of “you get what you pay for” steel cabinets and tool chests are hands down the best solution for storage in a garage. With other options offering lower-cost solutions, ultimately causing more headache over the long run and causing more money.