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Organize Basement Storage

To organize your storage look to your basement!  I hope you are fortunate enough to have a basement.  Even apartment dwellers may have rights of access to your apartment house's basement.  Your basement may provide a vast new source of storage organization space.  Look to your "joists" and you may have found your storage organization solution!

When we moved to our current home we almost had a contractor come in and finish the basement.  This might have been nice, but in retrospect I believe we are very glad we did not do this.  A basement can be a large "very open" and pleasant place to pursue your hobbies, perhaps small businesses, and certainly your household chores, such as doing laundry, etc.  In fact, in our case even though it is convenient on the first floor, we plan to relocate our washer and dryer to our basement.  Had we finished the basement many of the things we have done since we moved in may not have been possible.  Don't get me wrong, we have worked on making the basement more livable.  In this respect  the entire basement is insulated, which is very important.  First the basement was heated electrically, and now it is retrofitted with a heat pump to heat and air condition our entire home.  At least insulation may be required for this "organize your storage" solution.  If your basement is too cold, plastic may become brittle, perhaps things might even freeze.  I hope this is not the case for you or your household utilities may be in jeopardy.

Organize storage photo showing OSB mounted on joistsThis is simple but it did take me a while to think of it, and very important, there are safety issues with this storage solution.  The key to organizing your storage is using the space between your many basement joists to store all your precious items. (The storage photos are clickable thumbnails.) The best and easiest way to implement this is purchasing a 4' x 8' piece(s) of oriented strand board (OSB).  Half inch works fine.  Just cut the board into 1' x 4' strips. You will get 8 strips per board.  One foot has worked well as choice to store most items.  Household storage planDouble check your joist spacing "typically" it should be 16 inches, but, you will find joists maybe warped, installed on a slight angle, or certainly in special cases near stairwells they will not have a uniform spacing.  I used 3 deck screws per joist and pre-started the 4 rows into the OSB, making it very easy to then hold the OSB overhead and drive the screws into the joists.  I started installing these 1' x 4' segments near the periphery of my basement and worked my way in toward the steel beam running down the center of the house.  I also worked my way out from the beam leaving a larger gap between the center two rows.  Typically I had a 14" to 16" spacing between these strips, allowing a 14" x 14" x 6" box to easily slide up and in between the joists.  Remember your joists are typically 1 1/2" wide and spaced every 16", leaving you a 14 1/2" space.  Believe or not some of my joists are warped and misaligned enough that a 14 inch box was a very tight fit!

Heating and Air Conditioning ductwork

If you have HVAC ductwork you may already have storage cubby holes along your steel beam.  It you use these spaces stick to very light items for storage.  Make sure your HVAC contractor supported your duct work well.  In my case I would say there was a lack of appropriate support for the duct work.

Storage bins

What really makes this system work well is buying some 14" wide, by about 6" high boxes.  The other dimension is sort of up to you and even the layout spacing you have chosen for your OSB boards.  I typically used a 14" x 14" box.  With the 1 foot wide OSB you could definitely go with a "longer" box, perhaps 14" by 18", BUT remember, you have to consider the spacing between your OSB boards to accommodate easily sliding the storage boxes up and between the joists.  The prices for boxes at business supply stores always surprise me, but they have to pay shipping too.  But for this storage tip you may want to buy enough boxes to justify the shipping.

I have trimmed the storage boxes.

If you can see it in the photos, I have trimmed the flaps off the boxes, this just makes it much easier to handle them and I used a utility knife or BOX cutter.  The height of the joists is typically 9" (yours may be different), so a 6" tall box worked well for me.  Please measure your joist spacing and height before picking your boxes.  But it is easy to trim the height of box.  It is not so easy to make it narrower!

Storage organization ideasIts critical that you label each storage box!

Use a permanent marker.  Decide on the best way to orient you boxes and view the labeling.  One problem you will frequently run into, is utilities, like wiring and pipes.  Align the edge of your OSB near these interfering items and plan how you will load and unload the boxes.  Even though the boxes in the photo to the right are labeled from the "front", they must be pushed back to remove them from their storage location.

When I ran out of OSB

Think about a step stool, you will need it!

I have built one row of storage supports from a 2" x 3" x 8' which I "ripped" in half on my table saw.  I spaced these two strips about 10" on center.  This is not nearly as safe as using the OSB.  It is much easier for something to vibrate and perhaps slip through.  Remember if someone in your house "cranks" up the bass on the stero, or plays the drums, your storage boxes may move and perhaps fall!

The safety issue

If you live in an earthquake prone area this organization concept may not be such a good idea.  You might want to come up with a way to secure each storage box.  In addition you may want to reserve an area in your basement, and basement ceiling, where you have no storage at all.  A place where, in an emergency, you know you can go and not have things falling down all around you.  Hopefully that does not include your house!

Another neat organizer!

Final organization tip

Consider using a spreadsheet to document the layout and content of all your storage boxes.  Using the spreadsheet cells to label content and then leave some cells open to represent the spacing between your boxes.  I have not done this, and guess what, I have a stiff neck!  There also tends to be glare from overhead lighting, making it difficult to read the labels I have written on the boxes.  A spreadsheet layout diagram would resolve these problems. (Bob, get it done!)

I hope you have found this basement storage organization tip useful.  This works especially well for organizing your workshop or organizing your sewing area.  I still have tons of unutilized storage space.









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BHT Revised: 22 Oct 2016


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Copyright 2003-2016 Robert Matheson.  All rights reserved.  Email Bob at BobsHowTo.com - . 

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