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10 Do’s and Don’ts You Need to Know BEFORE Buying Garage Cabinets

If you spent half as much time picking your garage cabinets as you did your kitchen cabinets do you think you’d find a better product?

If you’re like most people this answer is a big, fat…. YES!

The garage is the ‘red-haired-stepchild’ of your home (and I mean no offense to red-haired stepchildren reading this). It gets no respect. As a matter of fact, garages aren’t even tallied as ‘square footage’ when you go to sell your place.

But in today’s space-constrained world, garages are proving to be more important than ever. Adding garage cabinetry is a smart way to gain storage or a workspace you have no place for in your overcrowded home or basement.

And if you’re looking to buy garage cabinets you don’t want to ‘settle’ for the first cabinet and workbench line you come across only to find it’s a pile of junk a couple of years later. And this is EXACTLY what this post is geared (and yes that bad vehicle pun was intended) to help you with.

Let’s look at 10 do’s and don’ts you need to know BEFORE buying garage cabinets. You not only want to make an investment which stands the test of time, but is designed to get rid of the frustrations you live with today like trying to park your vehicles inside and have a little space for storage leftover.

#1– DO ‘look inside the garage cabinet ‘box’ and make sure it’s going to support your heavy things

Let’s face facts. What you’re storing in the garage IS NOT as light as what’s on your shelves in the kitchen cupboards (light boxes of cereal or thin glasses) or what’s on the shelves in your closet (sweaters, jeans and t-shirts).

No, what’s sitting on your garage shelves are paint cans, automotive parts, bags of potting soil, bottles of anti-freeze and windshield washer fluid. And it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out….

The stuff sitting on your garage shelves are waaaay heavier than what’s being stored in the house!

And while ½” thick and ¾” thick shelving works fine in your closet or kitchen pantry; your garage storage must be beefed up. You need thicker shelves, so they don’t bend or crack (and I’m sure a few of you are living with this problem in your garage RIGHT NOW!). Make sure you have 1” thick shelves vs. ½” shelves used in the ‘old’ kitchen cabinets the last owner decided to ‘slap up’ in the garage to ‘get some extra storage on the cheap.’

1 Do - 1 inch thick garage cabinetry shelves dublin columbus ohio | innovate home org | #HomeOrganization #garagestorage #garagecabinets

#2– DON’T buy a cabinet which doesn’t have a back panel

Here’s a dirty little secret I’m going to share with you, but you need to promise not to tell anyone.

Many home (and closet) organization companies who sell (quote/unquote) garage cabinetry sell the exact same product they use INSIDE your home for the garage. And as you know, the temperatures and humidity in your garage are just a little (or a lot) different than your climate-controlled home. And as a matter of fact, these garage organization companies don’t sell a complete garage cabinet ‘box’ either. They sell a system of ‘shared support panels’ and thinner shelving (with no panel to protect the back of your walls).

And while this system is perfectly fine in your closet (which isn’t storing dirty bags of soil, gardening tools and your kid’s muddy footballs and field hockey sticks), the environment of the garage is much more ‘rugged.’ OK, I’m being P.C. when I say that! Some of the stuff stored in your garage is downright nasty.

In the garage DO NOT settle for an ‘inside’ organization system which isn’t a complete cabinet and doesn’t have back panels. Sure they’re ‘cheaper.’ However, they won’t stand up as well to the rigors of how your family ‘lovingly’ (sarcasm intended) uses the garage. And you won’t be lovin’ looking inside your cabinet doors a few years later. Be prepared for nicked-up, dirty interior walls you can only ‘try’ to repaint when you get the time (‘er that likely will be NEVER!)  

Insist on quality cabinet boxes with full back panels. You can clean them. They’ll still look nice years down the road.

#3– DO buy cabinets which keep your kids and grandkids safe

Usually the first thing you have in mind when you buy garage storage cabinets is well…. storage. And while storage is key, if you have little kids (or grandkids), safety is another factor you need to put on the top of your list.

And you know the nightmare (and call) you never want to get. That call is when you’re told your child or grandchild drank a poisonous liquid which was (unlocked) inside your garage cabinets.  

However, this catastrophe doesn’t have to be your reality. Invest $25 dollar for a lock on your cabinet door which keeps these toxic products from their cute little hands. Wouldn’t a $25 lock give you peace of mind, without being a big burden on your wallet? Besides locks are FAR cheaper than emergency room visits.

3 do buy garage cabinets with locks to protect kids grandkids | Innovate Home Org | #CustomStorage #KeyLock #Lockedcabinets

#4– DON’T overlook the guarantee which comes with the cabinets  

You can tell ‘cheap’ from quality cabinets when you investigate the ‘fine-print’ of the guarantee. And while you can get a plastic garage cabinet for under $100, when you see the guarantee is a ‘blink-of-an-eye’ 1 year ‘long,’ you know you’re getting what you paid for with plastic. And that would be…not much.  

On the other hand, for heavy gauge steel and durable laminates you’ll see lifetime guarantees do exist for quality garage cabinet lines. And if you’re having the project professionally installed, a competent contractor should have the confidence to stand behind their work (and provide a long labor warranty also).

4 don't overlook garage cabinet warranties on product and labor Innovate Home Org | #Cabinets #Garagestorage #Lifetimewarranty

#5– DO understand the ‘math’ of a garage storage plan   

OK, if you’re ever bought a big ‘ol SUV or truck and found out (after you’ve excitedly driven it off the lot) it won’t fit in your garage, you know not taking  garage measurements (and doing your ‘math’) can really mess you up.

And thinking through the ‘math’ of garage storage cabinets is nothing you should blow off. And here’s why.

Before buying a cabinet, you need to know if it will fit (width, depth, and height) the items you want to store. You need the cabinets are sized to ‘work around’ windows, outlets, and soffits. Then look to see IF you have enough room to open the cabinet doors when your SUV or truck is stored inside with the garage doors shut.  You see no one wants to pull their rigs out just to get to their storage – especially in a freezing cold Columbus Ohio (or anywhere which gets snow for that matter) winter.

If you want to learn more ‘garage math’ (and avoid buying the wrong sized cabinets) click on the image below titled How to Use Basic Math to Make a Smart Garage Storage Plan.

5 do understand a garage math storage plan Using Basic Math for a Smart Garage Storage Plan | Innovate Home Org | #garagecabinets #StorageSolutions

#6– DON’T assumed ‘repurposed’ kitchen cabinets will ‘do just fine’ in the garage

The idea of repurposing old furniture is wonderful. However, using the right product in the wrong setting is downright dangerous.

In fact, hanging an old wood kitchen cabinet with ½” thick shelves onto your garage walls is one bad idea. You see if this cabinet falls from the weight of the paint cans you stored inside onto your spouse’s brand-new sports car, this WILL NOT be a good day for you. You may be sleeping in your garage if this happens.  

And using old wood kitchen base cabinets which become the victim of dry rot or become bug-infested sitting on a damp garage floor (when these cabinets were made to be in the wonderfully climate-controlled house) is not smart when you think about it.

While ‘repurposing’ is environmentally responsible (and can save you a few a bucks), using kitchen cabinets in the garage with its wild temperature swings and humidity IS NOT a winning way to repurpose.

6 don't assume repurposed kitchen cabinets are a good idea credit blog | Innovate Home Org | #Storage #Messygarage #garagecabinets

Image Source: Garage Living

#7– DO insist on easy to adjust shelves

Hey – if you’re like me, when it’s not easy to move shelves up and down (and some of the bolted-together metal garage shelving systems certainly resemble this remark) these shelves are going to stay EXACTLY where they are for the rest of their lives (OK, maybe they’re not living things, but you know what I mean).

Simple adjustability in garage cabinet shelving is critical to effectively store and eliminate wasted space. And if your shelves as are immovable as your teenage daughter’s scary tastes in boyfriends, you know you’ll have wasted space.

Make sure your garage cabinet shelves can easily be moved up and down BEFORE you fork over your cash.

#8– DON’T assume all garage workbenches (and the doors and drawers which come with them) are created equal

Have you ever looked on the Internet and the product you wanted to buy looked FAB-U-LOUS! Then you saw it in person. Then you said, “What a pile of junk?”

This same ‘buyers remorse’ (or to get ‘business school fancy’ with you I could say ‘caveat emptor,’ which is Latin for, let the buyer beware) also applies to a garage workbench and cabinet storage system. Who wants drawers which ‘wobble to and fro’ when you open them up? Or the workbench top which looks like it’s seen more than a few bad miles after a couple of years?

8 don't assume all garage workbench tops are the same high pressure laminate or butcher block | Innovate Home Org | #Workbench #Laminate #Butcherblock #GarageBench

Before buying a garage cabinetry and workbench system look ‘inside the box’ (‘er that would be the workbench drawer boxes). What’s the construction of these drawers? And I just love the dovetail drawer boxes with ball bearing slides in this luxury garage system. Ask what the workbench surface is made of. Does it use a sturdy material like a HPL (high pressure laminate) or a thick butcher block top?  

8 dovetail drawer boxes in quality garge workbench system columbus ohio | Innovate Home Org | #Workbench #Garagecabinets #ColumbusOh

Don’t be fooled by pretty pictures which don’t live up to their hype. Dig deeper into the construction of your future workbench.

#9– Do look for inventive ways to hang tools and sporting equipment to keep them from being trampled by your family ‘herd’

You know it’s a bad day when you step on the bottom of the rake sitting on the floor of your garage and it slaps you in the face. Or it’s a bad day when you learn your lovable (yet gawky) teenage son has crushed your favorite fishing pole when he was texting and walking through the garage at the same time!

Tools, ski poles, golf bags and your favorite fishing rod on the floor of your garage are accidents waiting to happen. And this doesn’t have to be the case…at least…for you.  

Instead of leaving tools and sporting equipment ‘out in the open,’ use a slatwall hanging system (and keep them protected and out of harms way) INSIDE your garage cabinets. They won’t get dirty. They won’t get trampled. They won’t get damaged inside the friendly confines of a sturdy cabinet.  

9 hang tools sporting equipment inside garage cabinets columbus ohio | Innovate Home Org | #Hangtools #garagecabinets #SportingEquipment

#10– DON’T forget about your kids balls you’re CONSTANTLY picking up while trying to park your SUV or truck

This can be soooo frustrating. Before pulling your truck into the garage you have to play an (involuntary) game of ‘pick up sticks’ (or balls). While you’ve asked your kids time and time again (OK, now you realize you really do sound like your ‘Old Man’ – ouch!) to put their balls away, half the time they roll off the open garage shelves anyway (even when they do listen to you and put them on the open shelves).

What if you could rid yourself of this frustration once and for all?

Well – actually – you can. This ‘ball stay’ (which is the ‘industrial-strength’ version of the rubber ball keepers at the grocery store) is a smart idea to keep the balls from rolling out on the garage floor. In addition, it will even make your spouse happy because the garage actually looks neat.

10 don't forget about kids balls on the garage floor use a ball stay | Innovate Home Org | #Garagefloor #garagecabinets #Homeorganization

So, how can we help you make better garage cabinet and shelving choices?

Given the sheer size of your garage (and the lack of space inside your home), the opportunity to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of storage through cabinetry and workbenches has never been greater (or more important).

However, as you can see from this article not all garage cabinets and workbenches are created equal. There are smart options, and not so smart ideas (as you’ve seen from the 10 do’s and don’t above). And while these points may be helpful to you –they don’t necessarily address YOUR specific storage needs and how to maximize YOUR space. But here’s the good news.

If you’re in Columbus Ohio and want someone to create a garage storage plan one of our garage designers would be happy to not only measure your space (and do the ‘garage math’ talked about above so the cabinets work effectively for you), but give you a Free 3D garage cabinetry design as well.

And if you’re saying, “Hey Mike I don’t live in Columbus Ohio,” I can still help you. I have a network of friends (and yes, even wacky guys like me can have a few friends) in the garage storage system business across the country I can refer you to as well.

Now, isn’t it time to see how quality garage cabinets can help you?

If you need help with garage storage in Columbus Ohio, and want a Free 3D garage design call 614-545-6888 or read more on our garage design blog.

Thanks for reading and putting up with my (sometimes) wacky humor.




If you’d like more information on garage, pantry, entryway or custom closet design (with a bit of bad humor along the way) follow me on LinkedIn @MikeFotiLinkedIn.



Mike Foti

Mike Foti is the President of Innovate Home Org, a division of Innovate Building Solutions. You can learn more about Mike here.

Mike Foti

Mike Foti is the President of Innovate Home Org, a division of Innovate Building Solutions. You can learn more about Mike here.

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