Is It Cheaper To Buy A Garage Shelf Or Build Your Own?

Deciding to purchase prefabricated shelves or construct your own might be essential when planning your garage organization. It all comes down to your requirements, level of expertise, and amount of free time; each choice has its benefits and possible savings.

If you’re trying to decide between buying pre-fabricated garage shelves and doing it yourself, this article will walk you through the steps you need to take, including comparing prices and looking at the customization options. By the conclusion, you will have a better grasp on which path works best for your project’s needs and budget.

Is It Cheaper To Buy A Garage Shelf Or Build Your Own?

Deciding whether it’s cheaper to buy a garage shelf or build your own depends on several factors:

  • Cost of Materials: Building your shelves typically requires buying lumber, screws, brackets, and other hardware. The total cost can vary based on the quality of materials and the size of the shelves.
  • Tools Needed: Consider whether you already own the necessary tools like a saw, drill, level, and measuring tape. If not, you’ll need to factor in the cost of purchasing or renting them.
  • Skill Level: DIY shelves require some level of woodworking skills. If you’re confident in your abilities and enjoy DIY projects, building your shelves can be a rewarding and cost-effective option.
  • Time Investment: Building shelves takes time, from planning and measuring to cutting and assembling. If time is limited or you prefer a quicker solution, buying pre-made shelves might be more convenient despite potentially higher costs.
  • Customization: DIY shelves offer the advantage of customization. You can tailor the dimensions, design, and features to fit your garage space and storage needs perfectly.
  • Quality and Durability: Consider the quality of pre-made shelves versus those you can build yourself. Sometimes, DIY shelves can be sturdier and better suited to heavy-duty storage, depending on the materials used.

While buying a garage shelf may provide convenience, building your own can be cheaper if you already have the tools and skills needed. It also allows for customization and potentially higher quality. Ultimately, the decision hinges on your budget, time availability, and preferences for customization and craftsmanship.

How Much Does It Cost To Build A Garage Shelf?

The cost of building a garage shelf can vary widely depending on several factors such as the size of the shelf, the materials used, and the complexity of the design. Here’s a general breakdown of costs:

  • Materials
  1. Lumber: The cost of lumber varies by type (pine, plywood, hardwood, etc.) and quality. For basic shelves, pine boards are commonly used and are relatively inexpensive. Expect to pay anywhere from $1 to $3 per linear foot for pine boards.
  2. Hardware: This includes screws, nails, brackets, and possibly wood glue. Estimate around $10 to $20 for hardware depending on the size and complexity of the shelf.
  • Tools: If you don’t already own them, tools such as a saw, drill, level, and measuring tape will add to the initial cost. These tools can range from $50 to several hundred dollars depending on their quality and brand.
  • Optional Finishing Materials: If you choose to paint or stain the shelves, factor in the cost of paint or stain, brushes, and other finishing supplies. This can add another $20 to $50 or more depending on the size of the project and the quality of the finish you desire.
  • Miscellaneous Costs: These might include sandpaper, wood filler (if needed), and any additional decorative elements or storage bins.

Example Cost Estimate

Let’s consider building a simple 8-foot long by 2-foot deep shelf with basic pine boards:

  • Lumber (3 pieces of 1x10x8 pine boards): Approximately $30
  • Screws and hardware: Approximately $15
  • Optional paint and brushes: Approximately $20
  • Total: Around $65
  • This estimate can vary significantly based on your location, the cost of materials in your area, and any specific design choices you make. Additionally, if you already own the necessary tools, your upfront costs will be lower.

Building your garage shelf can generally be cost-effective compared to buying pre-made shelves, especially if you have the tools and skills required. It also allows for customization to fit your specific storage needs and preferences.

What Is The Cheapest Option For A Garage?

The cheapest option for organizing a garage depends on your specific needs and budget constraints. Here are a few cost-effective options to consider:

  • DIY Wooden Shelves: Building simple wooden shelves using basic lumber and hardware can be one of the most cost-effective solutions. Pine boards are relatively inexpensive, and with basic tools (which you may already own or can borrow), you can create customized storage solutions tailored to your garage space.
  • Wire Shelving Units: Pre-made wire shelving units are another affordable option. These are available at most home improvement stores and come in various sizes and configurations. They are easy to assemble and provide decent storage for items like tools, boxes, and other garage essentials.
  • Plastic Shelving Units: Plastic shelving units are lightweight, durable, and typically less expensive than metal alternatives. They are easy to clean and resistant to moisture, making them suitable for garage environments where humidity and occasional spills may occur.
  • Pegboards and Hooks: Installing a pegboard with hooks and baskets can be a very cost-effective way to organize tools and small items on your garage walls. Pegboards are inexpensive, easy to install, and offer flexible storage solutions.
  • Reusing or Repurposing Furniture: If you have old bookshelves, cabinets, or other furniture pieces that are no longer in use, consider repurposing them for garage storage. With a fresh coat of paint or some modifications, they can serve as functional storage units at minimal cost.
  • Stackable Storage Bins: Investing in stackable plastic storage bins can help organize smaller items efficiently. Labelling them can make it easy to find what you need quickly, reducing clutter in your garage.

When choosing the cheapest option, consider factors such as durability, ease of installation, and how well the storage solution meets your specific organizational needs. Sometimes a combination of these options can provide the most cost-effective and efficient garage organization solution.

What Is The Best Size For Garage Shelves?

The best size for garage shelves depends on several factors, including the dimensions of your garage, the items you plan to store, and your personal preferences. Here are some considerations to help determine the ideal size:

  • Height: Garage shelves typically range in height from floor-level to ceiling height. Consider how much vertical space you have and whether you want shelves that extend to the ceiling for maximum storage capacity.
  • Width: The width of garage shelves can vary widely. Common widths range from 18 inches to 36 inches per shelf. Consider the size of the items you need to store and how many shelves you want side-by-side for optimal organization.
  • Depth: Depth is important for determining how much storage space each shelf provides. Standard depths for garage shelves range from 12 inches to 24 inches. Deeper shelves are useful for storing larger items or multiple smaller items stacked behind each other.
  • Accessibility: Ensure that the shelves are deep enough to accommodate the items you plan to store while still allowing easy access. For example, shallow shelves may be suitable for storing tools and smaller items that you need to reach frequently.
  • Clearance: Leave enough clearance between shelves to accommodate the tallest items you plan to store. This ensures that you can easily place and retrieve items without difficulty.
  • Overall Layout: Consider the overall layout of your garage and how shelves will fit into the space. Plan for any obstructions such as garage doors, windows, or utility connections.
  • Customization: If you have specific items to store, consider customizing shelf sizes to maximize space efficiency. Adjustable shelves or modular shelving systems can provide flexibility to accommodate changing storage needs over time.
  • Example Sizes: A common size for garage shelves might be 72 inches high, 36 inches wide, and 18 inches deep. This provides ample storage space while fitting into most garage configurations.

The best size for your garage shelves will depend on a balance of available space, the types of items you need to store, and your organizational preferences. Taking measurements and planning the layout before building or purchasing shelves can help ensure they meet your needs effectively.


Your budget, available time, and unique organizational needs will determine whether you purchase pre-made garage shelves or construct your own. Though they may be more expensive and offer fewer personalization options, pre-made shelves are convenient and usually need little to no assembly. However, if you’re handy with tools and know-how, you can build your shelves to meet your garage’s dimensions and your storage needs for a lower cost. Making the most of vertical space with adjustable shelves or making sure everything is easily accessible with well-planned dimensions—the point is to design a garage that works for you and makes your life easier.

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