How to Install Overhead Garage Storage

Skill Level: Intermediate | STANLEY Pro Project Guides

overhead

Installing overhead garage storage is a great way to gain storage space while sacrificing zero floor space. Mounting the structure to the ceiling of your garage can be tricky, so you’ll want to make sure you’re carefully laying out your project.

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What You'll Need 
• 5 hanger boards 1-1⁄2 in. × 3-1⁄2 in. × 30 in. 
• 5 joists 11⁄2 in. × 3-1⁄2 in. × 45-1⁄8 in.
• 1 floor 3⁄4 in. × 4 ft. × 8 ft. CDX plywood
 
• 1 ledger 1-1⁄2 in. × 3-1⁄2 in. × 8 ft.
• 1 front joist 11⁄2 in. × 3-1⁄2 in. × 8 ft.
• 1 ceiling cleat 1-1⁄2 in. × 3-1⁄2 in. × 8 ft.
                           

Hardware

• 12 lag screws, 1/4 in. dia. x 3 in 
• 2-1/2 in. all-purpose screws
• 17 L-angles for 2x4 construction
 
• 6 joist hangers for 2x4s
• 1-1/2 in. joist hanger nails
• 1-1/4 in. all purpose screws
              

Step 1: Lay Out Joists and Hangar Board Positions

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Clamp three 8-ft. 2x4s together, edges up and ends flush. Starting from your left, strike lines at 23-1/4 in., 47-1/4 in., and 71-1/4 in. Make an X to the right of each line. On two of those boards, extend the lines and Xs onto the face; label these boards as the ledger and the front joists. Extend the lines to the other face of the front joist. Label the third board as the ceiling cleat.

 

Step 2: Lay Out the Ledger

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Use a 4-ft. level to draw an 8-ft. -long level line along the wall 30 in. from the ceiling.

 

Step 3: Find the Studs Along the Line

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If your garage isn't painted, you can easily identify stud locations by the vertical rows of nails or screws. Otherwise, use a stud finder to mark where your layout line crosses each stud.


Step 4: Position the Ledger

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With a helper holding one end, align the bottom of the ledger to the layout line with the X marks to your left. Drive a 2-1/2-in. screw through the ledger into the stud closest to the one end of the board. Check for level, and then drive a screw into the stud closest to the other end.

 

Step 5: Secure the Ledger 

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Predrill and install one lag screw with washer into each stud along the length of the ledger. If a screw falls over an X, you'll need to counterbore the screw hole so the screw head will be below the surface where it won't interfere with the joist. Make the counterbore with a 3/4-in. spade bit, then predrill the screw hole through the counterbore.

 

Step 6: Lay Out the Ceiling Cleat

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Use a 4-ft. level to make a plumb mark on the ceiling above each end of the ledger. Use a framing square to make a line on the ceiling square to each end. Then use a chalkline to extend these lines 48-1/8 in. from each end. (That extra 1/8in. will make it easier to slide the plywood floor into place.) Snap a line parallel to the wall between the ends of the two lines. Use a stud finder to mark where the line crosses joists in the ceiling.

This project assumes that the ceiling joists in your garage run perpendicular to the ceiling cleat. If the joists run parallel to the cleat, you have two choices: You can adjust the width of the storage unit to the nearest joist. Or you can make five 2x4 cross-cleats to span two joists. Use 3-in. lag screws to attach the cross-cleats through the ceiling into the joists. Then lag-screw the ceiling cleat to the cross-cleats.


Step 7: Install the Ceiling Cleat

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With a helper, align the ceiling cleat to the inside of the line, with the Xs to your right as you face the wall. Hold the cleat in place with a screw into a joist at each end. Predrill, and then install one lag screw into each joist. 


Step 8: Cut and Install the Hanger Boards

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Using a circular saw or power miter saw, cut the five hanger boards to length. Position each along its layout line, covering the X and butting into the ceiling, then attach it to the cleat with a 2-1/2-in. screw. Check for plumb, and then add a second screw.


Step 9: Install L-Angles Where Cleat Meets Hangers

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Use an L-angle with 1-1/4-in. screws to attach the back face of each hanger board to the bottom of the ceiling cleat.


Step 10: Install the Joist Hangers

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Using 1-1/2-in. joist hanger nails, install three joist hangers on the ledger and three on the front joists positioned so the joist ends will cover the X at the three inner layout lines. It's important to install the hangers before you install the front joist because the hanger boards are not yet stable enough to hammer against. Use a scrap of 2x4 as shown to make sure the hangers are properly positioned.

 

Step 11: Install the Outer L-Angles

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Strike a line 1-1/2 in. from each end of the ledger (the thickness of each joist) and the front joist. Install an L-angle at each of the ledger and the front joist.

 

Step 12: Position the Front Joist

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With a helper, align both ends of the front joist to the bottom outside edges of the outermost hanger joists and then clamp the joist in place.


Step 13: Attach the Front Joist

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Clamp the front joist to another hanger board. Check that the front joist is level and then make the connection with four 2-1/2 in screws. Clamp and then screw each connection.


Step 14: Install the Joists

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Cut the five joists to 45-1/8 in. long. Then slip three of the joists into their joist hangers and secure them with 1-1/2-in. joist hanger nails into the angled hole on each side of each joist hanger. Put the outer joists against the L-angles and secure with 1-1/4 in. screws.


Step 15: Install the Remaining L-Angles

Use L-angles and 1-1/4 in. screws to secure each side of each hanger board to the front joist.


Step 16: Install the Floor

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Put the plywood in place, climb aboard, and snap lines to locate the joists below at 24 in., 48 in., and 72 in. Secure the plywood with 1-1/4-in. screws about every 12 in. into the ledger, front joist and joists.