10 Overhead Garage Storage Rack Features to Consider Before Buying

Hanging storage racks from the garage ceiling requires a bit more thought than buying other types of garage storage. That bit of thought can save you, your family, and your possessions from a crushing accident. Don’t buy garage overhead racks until you understand the right way to install and load these shelves. Here’s how to shop for overhead garage storage racks:

  1. How much does the rack cost
  2. What are the pros and cons of garage ceiling storage?
  3. What is the best garage overhead storage rack for your garage?
  4. Can you handle the rack assembly and installation?
  5. Should you get a stationary or a lifting platform?
  6. How much weight will you need to store on this rack?
  7. How will you arrange the items on the rack for best distribution?
  8. How to add overhead garage storage over the overhead door!
  9. Do you need an adjustable leg feature to account for a ceiling slope?
  10. What is the distance between joists in your garage ceiling, and how does that affect installation?

Understand your options before shopping to get exactly the garage hanging storage that’s right for you.

A NewAge VersaRack with bicycle stored underneath
A NewAge VersaRack with bicycle stored underneath

1. How Much Does a Garage Overhead Rack Cost?

Garage Ceiling Racks range from $65 to $600. The cheapest I found is a HyLoft rack with a 45 in. x 45 in. platform, a 250 lb. capacity, and height-adjustable legs. The most expensive is a SafeRacks with a 48 in x 96 in. platform, a 1200 lb. load capacity, and height adjustable legs. The HyLoft has great reviews with the occasional “this piece bent under weight” complaint. The SafeRack has no reviews. A $479 SafeRacks model that accepts 600 lb. and includes under-platform storage hanging hooks does have high ratings.

An EZ Slide rack before the totes are added
An EZ Slide rack before the totes are added

2. What are the Pros and Cons of Ceiling Storage?

How much weight can you hang from the garage ceiling? So long as you install your rack in the ceiling joists, you can hang a large storage rack from the ceiling. How much? Check out our article: How much weight can you hang from the garage ceiling?

Overhead garage storage is a wonderful magic trick that creates storage space from useless air. You don’t need wall space to store tons of stuff, and the racks get your stuff off the garage floor! Overhead racks make something out of virtually nothing. So long as you use the ceiling joists double check your assembly and installation, you can make safe new storage space with overhead racks.

A SafeRack Overhead 4 ft. x 8 ft. platform installed into the ceiling
A SafeRack Overhead 4 ft. x 8 ft. platform installed into the ceiling

3. What is the Best Garage Overhead Storage Rack?

The best overhand garage rack depends on your situation, so here are the things to check when you’re comparing products. The best overhead storage rack will have the features you need for your garage.

  1. Is this overhead rack easy to assemble (or come pre-assembled)?
  2. Is this overhead rack easy to install?
  3. Do you need two people to install the rack?
  4. Does the rack have a good reputation amongst current customers?
  5. Are the length, width and height appropriate for what you want to store?
  6. How strong is the manufacturer warranty for this overhead garage rack?
  7. Do you want retractable storage that brings the storage to you on the floor? If so, does this rack require power, and can you supply that power with your garage electrical setup? If the rack is hand cranked, do you feel comfortable supplying the arm strength to move the rack?
  8. Is the rack suited to your ceiling, especially if the ceiling is slanted?
  9. Is the rack engineered to allow you to hang items from the bottom under the platform?
  10. Will the rack be positioned in a tight spot and therefore need to be relatively short?
  11. Will the rack be installed over any valuables or where people are walking? If the worst happened, would something or someone get hurt from the rack dropping?
  12. If shipping the overhead rack, does the company have a good reputation for not damaging the contents during shipping?
  13. Does the manufacturer recommend installers who will take responsibility for the installation quality?
  14. Do customers state that the instructions are easy to follow?
  15. Is there a reputation for consistently safe manufacturing?
  16. What tools do you need and which are supplied?
  17. What is the rack’s load capacity?
  18. If you are concerned about regional craftsmanship, is the rack manufactured in a country you trust? Is the rack made from materials created in a country you trust?
A SafeRacks platform installed over a car
A SafeRacks platform installed over a car

4. Can You Handle Garage Overhead Rack Assembly and Installation?

You can purchase pre-assembled garage overhead racks, which will save you an hour or two. You need at least two people to install the racks. The Gladiator 4 x 8 Gearloft overhead rack, for instance, requires 44 screws, 12 lag bolts, 14 nuts, 6 locking pins, and 4 spacers. While assembly of an overhead rack is simpler than assembling a garden cart, you need to be extra careful tightening screws and ensuring locks are fully engaged. You will need a drill, wrench, stud finder (if ceiling joists are not exposed), tape measure, ladder, pencil and masking tape for the typical rack assembly.

This SafeRacks has more storage underneath than in the platform
This SafeRacks has more storage underneath than in the platform

5. Stationary or Lifting Storage

You can get stationary or motorized overhead garage storage. The stationary storage might come with adjustable legs, but you need to decide on one length and then that’s it. Motorized storage hangs from wires which pull the rack up and bring it down like a garage storage elevator. If you need frequent access to your stored stuff, a motorized rack might make the difference between loving and hating your new storage area.

Use a pulley to life this FlexiMounts overhead rack to the ceiling.
Use a pulley to life this FlexiMounts overhead rack to the ceiling.

6. How Much Weight Does the Shelf Hold?

Garage overhead racks generally hold between 300 and 600 lb. of stored items. The rack and hardware adds another 25 to 50 lb. to that load on the ceiling joists. Concerned about weight? Check out our article on garage ceiling weight here.

7. Evenly Pack the Racks for Safety

When loading storage onto the overhead racks, distribute the weight evenly. Uneven weight on a ceiling shelf creates unstable stress on the connecting beams.

Move the EZ Slide hangers closer together or further apart.
Move the EZ Slide hangers closer together or further apart.

8. How to Add Storage with Short Clearance Depth

What if you want to put the storage above the open garage door? There’s not much clearance here in the average garage. You’re in luck even if your garage does not have enough clearance for a hanging overhead rack. As long as you have enough clearance height for a storage tote, you can use a sliding tote rack on your garage ceiling. This type of overhead storage hangs the tote rather than a flat platform. You install the beams such that the tote rim hangs between two racks. For this type of overhead storage, you need only enough clearance for the height of the tote box.

9. Choose Between Fixed and Adjustable Leg Height

If you are installing your racks on a slanted garage ceiling, look for adjustable height in the legs. This way you can level the racks even if they’re starting point is uneven. The Gladiator GearLoft racks have adjustable height legs. (source)

10. Overhead Rack Dimensions You Can Buy

Overhead garage racks must be installed into ceiling joists, which are usually 16 inches apart. Larger racks can safely be installed with up to 24 in. between each joist. Check your joist distance before deciding on the size of rack you’ll buy. After that consideration, I would go as large as you can afford. Getting stuff off the garage floor is worth it.