Overhead platform is top solution for garage storage

Overhead platform is top solution for garage storage

Overhead platform is top solution for garage storage

by Tim Carter — Aug. 2, 2008 12:00 AM

Tribune Media Services

Question: I think overhead garage storage is the answer to my clutter problem. In our garage, there is a giant void over the hood of both cars. I need a DIY garage-storage system that will support furniture, boxes and other household items. How would you support a platform like this without any poles or columns? Is a project like this safe?

- Bill M. Drexel Hill, Pa.

Answer: There are many garage storage systems on the market, using pulleys, ropes, cables, hydraulics and so forth to take advantage of that space you describe in all garages.

Two years ago, we moved my daughter back from college with all of the stuff she had in a one-bedroom apartment. We priced an off-site storage facility, and the annual cost for the needed space was more than $1,000.

Driving home from the storage business, I thought about my garage. When I got home, I discovered I could easily fit in a platform 16 feet long and 6 feet wide, and have a vertical space of 45 inches. Thanks to the height of the garage ceiling, the underside of the platform was still 81 inches off the floor — plenty of room for me to walk beneath the platform without hitting my head.

The most important aspect of my storage platform was the suspension system I designed. The platform itself was made from 2-by-6-inch lumber and 1/2-inch-thick plywood. I spaced the 2-by-6s 16 inches on center so the platform would be sturdy. This platform is suspended from the ceiling with slotted steel corner irons. This hardware item commonly is used to hang garage-door tracks and openers from garage ceilings.

There is not one pole or column that holds up my overhead platform, although I did use several as temporary supports as the platform was being constructed.

To eliminate sway, I attached one end of the overhead platform to a wall by screwing the one end joist to the wall studs. This connection made the platform rock solid.

Overhead platform is top solution for garage storage

I connected slotted steel irons to the roof structure with through bolts, not lag bolts. Furthermore, I made the connection high on the slanted roof rafters, not the horizontal bottom chord of my roof trusses. The sloped parts of the rafters are in compression, while the flat bottom chord is in tension.

My engineer friends told me it was a bad idea to add loads directly to the bottom framing member or the chord of the truss, but that adding the load to the sloped rafters acted like weight from shingles or snow above.

My calculations of the weight of the platform as well as the weight of the items being stored indicated that the total added load was less than 1,500 pounds. Because my trusses are approved for the weight of three layers of shingles plus any snow load, and I have only one layer of shingles on my roof, I feel comfortable my platform will not cause the garage roof to fail.

I recommend that you consult with a residential structural engineer before you build your overhead garage-storage platform.

The engineer will check your garage and draw a plan showing you the parts you need and how many slotted steel irons are required. The cost of the consultation probably will be less than two months’ rent at a storage facility. It is the best money you will spend on this project.

Want to build or remodel houses? Discover modern building material sources and time-tested building practices at Tim Carter’s Web site, www.askthebuilder.com .

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