Garage Cabinets – 10 Questions You Need to Ask to NOT be Fooled by Cheap Imitations
So, your garage is an unmitigated disaster (as opposed to a mitigated disaster). Dusty, half-filled paint cans are everywhere. Poisonous wasp sprays, weed killer and fertilizer are in the open – and, unfortunately, accessible to the kids. Your tools and golfing equipment are scattered everywhere. And the kids’ balls are constantly rolling off your low-budget open shelves into the middle of the garage floor. You GET TO play ‘pick up,’ once again.
Your spouse has told you in no uncertain terms they’re sick and tired of ‘attempting’ to maneuver around this mess. You know you need a garage organization system to get your arms around this chaos. However, you don’t want to waste money on cheap cabinets which break down in a year or two.
You need cabinets which maximize storage AND are a good value. However, you don’t even know the right questions to ask to make sure you’re making a sound purchase.
If this challenge describes your situation you’ve landed on the right article.
Learn 10 practical questions you need to ask so you don’t get stuck with junky cabinets which don’t stand the test of time (and are able to stand up to the abuse your family puts them through).
Question #1– Are the garage cabinet shelves thick enough?
What you’re storing in your garage weighs a bit more (to put it lightly – pun intended) than the cans and cereal boxes in your kitchen cabinets or the sweaters on your closet shelves. So, why is it many people ‘repurpose’ old interior cabinets (with ½” thin shelves), and slap them up in the garage? Then they assume they’ll stand up fine with the wild temperature and moisture variations of their garage.
This kitchen cabinet repurposing strategy ends up looking like a train wreck.
You need 1” thick shelves designed to stand up to the rigors (and weight) of paint cans, jugs of windshield washer fluid and bags of sand or mulch.
Before you buy any garage cabinet system, find out the thickness of the shelves and how much weight they’re designed to support.
Question #2– Can your cabinets keep the kid’s balls inside without rolling onto the garage floor?
If you’re constantly picking up the kids balls before you’re able to pull in your garage after a long day’s work, you know an organized place for ball storage would be a HUGE plus. However, if you’re like most people you don’t realize there’s a smart way to make this happen INSIDE garage cabinets and create a neater looking garage.
And this smart idea is using a product called a ‘ball stay.’ A ball stay uses flexible ‘bungy-style’ cords to keep balls out of sight and secured inside the cabinet. Now the only thing you’ll need to learn how to do is to train the kids to put them away (OK, I know this WILL BE the toughest task of all!).
Question #3– Are your garage cabinets designed to keep your kids and grandkids safe?
While you can pick up cheap plastic garage cabinets for next to nothing at your local home center store (and in question #6 you’ll learn more about how low cost these cabinets are)– and they are simple to open – the problem also is they’re simple to open. OK, if you’re not sure why I said this redundant statement, here’s why.
You see you’ve got the most dangerous chemical you use stored in your garage. Pesticides, fertilizers, poisonous sprays, you name it. The worry is what will happen if one of your daredevil kids (or grandkids) decides to travel up ‘Stupid Hill’ and do something dumb with one of these chemicals? You may be headed for an emergency room visit you (and the kids) can do without!
This is why for anyone who has young children with access to a garage it’s smart to add one locking garage cabinet. Make sure your cabinets are designed to keep the kids and grandkids safe – and your chemicals out of reach.
Question #4– Can the inside of the cabinets be customized to fit your things – whether they’re large or small?
If your spouse gets nervous with any clutter, I can relate. The desire for a ‘simpler life’ – or certainly one which ‘on the surface’ appears neater is becoming stronger with our hectic lifestyles. And working to create the minimalist garage which keeps the lid on visual clutter is a goal many would love to achieve. And this is where garage cabinets which have the flexibility to be customized on the inside can be uber-valuable.
You see when your cabinetry can be designed with cubbies for shoes, or wide-open spaces to hang rakes or golf clubs, you’ll not only achieve this minimalist garage, but also ensure your tools and sporting equipment aren’t messed up when you’re ready to use them.
Question #5– What’s the warranty?
Cheap garage cabinets come with little to no warranty. I don’t know about you, but I prefer enjoying my free time on the weekends and NOT morphing into an ‘unpaid’ handyman fixing things around the house. And when you buy low budget garage cabinets without good warranties, you need to be realistic and expect you’ll be the one stuck repairing them down the road.
That’s one reason I love laminate garage cabinet systems. You see when they’re professionally installed you get a lifetime guarantee on materials AND labor (or at least you will if this project is in Columbus Ohio). Then you’ll know there’s one less product you’ll need to worry about maintaining.
Question #6– What are the garage cabinets made of? How much can I expect to pay for them?
In garage cabinets the ‘old adage’ – you get what you pay for is certainly true. At the starter level plastic garage cabinets will be your lowest cost, but also of the lowest quality. A 34” wide x 71” tall x 17.5” deep cabinet (unassembled and uninstalled) will cost $150 at a home center store. Since they’re made of plastic – and aren’t very rigid – the heights are limited and will only hold up to 55 lbs. ‘equally distributed’ per shelf. Yes, they’re cheap, but you shouldn’t expect to store too much in them.
If you want a ‘step up’ product, metal cabinets are heavier duty – although you should expect a few dings and dents along the way. For a 36” wide x 18” deep x 72” high metal cabinet (unassembled and uninstalled) you’ll look at $315 in cost.
And if you want a cabinet which is far sturdier and you don’t have to put together or maintain, a professionally installed laminate garage cabinet with 1” thick shelves can be the ticket. If you look at a 36” wide x 19” deep x 72” high laminate cabinet, installed you’ll have a cost of $750.
Question #7– How much flexibility will I have with the height, width, and depth of the cabinets?
To max the storage in your garage you’ve got to be strategic with the size cabinets you use. Here’s a few things you’ll want to think about:
- Are the cabinets wide enough for your oversized tubs filled with Holiday decorations? You may need 36” or 48” wide cabinets for these tubs.
- Are the cabinets deep enough to fit your coolers? In some lines you’ll find cabinet depths up to 23”.
- Are the cabinets tall enough to effectively use the volume in your garage? Many plastic and metal lines stop at 72” high. This leaves a lot of unused space at the top.
Question #8– Can you open the garage cabinet doors AND stand behind them WITHOUT needing to pull out your SUV, car, or truck?
You bought a ‘be-u-tiful’ set of 36” wide x 19” deep, double door garage cabinets for your 20’ deep garage. While your parked SUV is only a foot away from the cabinets you love the marvelous look (and vastly improved organization). And then one fateful day made you rethink how wonderful your garage cabinet design actually is.
You see, it was ‘booty-freezing’ outside on that December day (a ‘balmy’ 2 degrees in Columbus Ohio). You needed your toolbox from inside one of the cabinets. Then you tried to open the cabinet doors and realize with your SUV parked inside (and the garage door shut) you couldn’t do it! Yikes! You said the following….
Aw shucks (OK – you said something more ‘flowery’ than that, but I can’t print it on this ‘family-friendly’ blog).
You never considered this problem. Fortunately, there are 3 possible solutions – IF YOUR CABINETS AREN’T ALREADY INSTALLED. Two aren’t very costly, but one you’ll pay dearly for. Here’s the 3 solutions:
- Solution #1 – Buy cabinets with smaller doors – If you purchase 30” wide double door cabinets vs. 36” wide double door cabinets, your doors will only be 15” wide (‘er 15” wide x 2 doors = 30” total inches) vs. the 18” wide doors needed for the 36” wide cabinet. The smaller the width, the less garage depth you’ll need for the doors to open with your ‘rigs’ parked inside.
- Solution #2 – Use a sliding garage cabinet door system – In this case you can make the cabinets as wide as you like and NOT have to worry about doors swinging into your SUV.
- The ‘big expense’ solution #3 – Trade in your SUV and buy a ‘smart car’ – Sure you might feel like a ‘clown stuffed in a Volkswagen,’ but at least you’ll be able to open up your garage cabinets (OK – this likely isn’t likely the most cost-effective or smart strategy!).
For my money I’d be opting for solutions #1 and #2 – long before consider solution #3 (and that’s assuming I could squeeze my adult body in the ‘smart car’ in the first place!).
Question #9– Will these cabinets add to – or take away from – the curb appeal of your home?
Nobody wants to be the Beverly Hillbillies of the neighborhood. But’s that’s how you’ll look with partially deteriorated, repurposed kitchen cabinets in the garage or “Little Tike-Esque” plastic garage cabinets you got ‘on the cheap’ from your local home center.
When buying garage cabinets see how their colors, textures and look coordinate with the materials used on the outside of your home.
Refuse to be the Jed Clampett of your neighborhood. Better alternatives to plastic or repurposed particle board kitchen cabinets are aluminum and garage cabinets made with laminate fronts.
Question #10– Will the cabinet materials resist dings, dents, and dips?
I’ve seen metal garage shelves bent into a ‘V-shape’ after being overmatched by fertilizer bags. And the sides so dinged up you would have sworn they went through a hailstorm.
And I’ve seen cheap particle board repurposed cabinets sagging from the weight and moisture they were practically hanging on by a thread.
So, when you’re thinking through the best garage cabinets (and a material which stands the test of time), consider how well they’ll take the abuse of your changing seasons and the TLC your family WILL NOT give them. Ask about warranties to see if the cabinet manufacturers put their money where their mouth is.
So, how can we help you choose the best garage cabinetry for your Columbus home?
I know there’s a lot of choices in garage cabinetry. And I know they can be overwhelming. However, if you’re in Columbus Ohio and would not only like input on this project – but also a Free 3D Garage Design as well, we’d love to help.
For help call 614-545-6888 or click for a Free Design Consultation.
And if you’re not in Columbus Ohio, in the comments below tell me where you live, and I’ll try to find a friend in our home organization industry association to help you.
Thanks for reading – Mike
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