Garage Wall Systems (Complete Guide)


Is your garage full of clutter, and you can’t get a car inside? Can’t find anything? 

Garages have a lot of wall space, and there are many options to use that area. It’s good to get stuff away from the floor and to the walls. Let’s look at some popular options for wall organization. 

Garage wall systems include pegboards, slatwalls, french cleat walls, and rail/track systems. 

2 car garage can compromise 10-15% of your home’s overall square footage in an average house. So it’s essential to use the space effectively. 

Pegboards

Pegboards are made of wood-based composite materials such as MDF, solid wood, plywood, or metals like steel. Plastic is also used. It’s a grid of pre-drilled holes. Hooks or pegs made of metal are used to mount items and are easy to reposition.

Pegboards are a fast and practical way to store and organize everything. There is a multitude of different hooks and brackets to accommodate nearly anything you want to hang.

Metal and plastic pegboards are available in a variety of colors or plain galvanized steel. So they are easy to blend in your home decoration.

Pegboards can hold 50-200 lbs if properly installed. Metal pegboards are the sturdiest.

Pegboards come in standard sizes or can be cut from large sheets to the extent you need.

Pegboards are covered better in this article.

Slatwall

Sometimes called also slotwall in some countries. Slatwall uses panels with horizontal grooves to hang up things. 

Slatwall is a popular way to organize tools and equipment. Slatwalls are great for storing almost anything from your small items and tools to heavier objects. You can quickly and easily change objects’ places with or without additional accessories. 

Slatwalls are available at hardware stores or online. Materials include PVC, Aluminum, Steel, or reinforced wood.

Slatwalls can look great in your garage and are available in many colors. They also offer lots of hanging capacity. And can also be used to finish a wall covering the studs without a need for drywall.

PVC is suitable because it’s easy to clean and doesn’t rot and is resistant to water, mold, mildew, and extremely durable. Moderns Slatwall systems are modular and easy to install compared to wooden slatwalls. Using steel or aluminum adds fire resistance if you use your garage as a workshop or work with flammable materials or weld. 

Reasons to Get a Slatwall

Adaptable

Slatwalls are incredibly versatile for hanging almost anything, and you can freely choose your layout. Most systems use a fixed layout. Meaning when you add something new, you first have to make room for it. With Slatwalls, you have a large area to choose how to put your things in it. 

Free Space

Slatwalls keep your garage neat and organized and save a lot of floor space. You’ll have more room for your car and the area around it, so you won’t scratch your car so easily. If you have to keep your vehicle outside because of all the clutter in your garage. Organizing stuff to the walls lets you take the car inside.  

Looks

If you want a cohesive look for your garage. Slatwalls are a great choice. There are many styles and colors available, including brushed aluminum which looks great.

Durable 

PVC or Metal Slatwall is very durable and will last many years to come. 

Slatwall Accessories

There are hundreds of accessories for slat wall systems. 

Peg hooks

Available at many different types, shapes, and lengths.

  • Single hooks are ideal for storing small tools and other hangable objects.
  • Double hooks can support more weight and bigger items. 
  • Long utility hooks for things like ladders and hoses or similar stuff.
  • Special hooks over 25 inches for heavy equipment like tires, kayaks, or big objects.
  • Garment hooks for clothing and helmets 

Shelves

  • Must have accessory for items you can’t put on a basket or in hooks. There are shelves with slots and perforated shelves for boots etc. 

Bike Hooks

  • Great for storing bikes on walls. There are vertical and horizontal bike hooks. 
  • Bike hooks save a lot of space and protect your bikes from getting tipped over.

Baskets

  • Baskets with a bracket that fits in Slatwall. Very useful. You can store almost anything in these. 

Tilt-Out Storage Bins

  • These are great for small items such as screws, nuts and bolts, and other similar stuff. 

Toolbars

  • Toolbars keep your tools organizes and are also available as a magnetic variety.

Slatwall Weight Capacity 

How much weight can Slatwall hold?

Depending on material or manufacturer, 50-100 lbs per square foot.

For a 4 x 4 section, that’s up to 1600 lbs of storage capacity. 

  • Un-reinforced Slatwall is usually an MDF panel that does not have metal inserted into the slat. 
  • The metal reinforcement slat will hold much more weight, so get a Slatwall with reinforcement if you need to hang heavy objects. 
  • Slatwalls made from MDF support 10-15 pounds per bracket. Reinforced slatwalls with metals inserts support 50-60 pounds per bracket—big difference. 

Plastic channels only prevent help to protect Slatwall from chipping and don’t add any weight-bearing capacity. 

Remember to get slatwalls that use universal hooks and shelves so you can buy accessories from every manufacturer. 

Are All Slat Walls the Same?

Most slatwalls are made for retail stores by different companies with their own manufacturing processes and they are usually very similar what you can buy for your home.

Things to Look Out for in Slatwall

Metal Inserts

Make sure the Slatwall you buying has metal inserts. That way, you get a much higher weight capacity. Slatwalls made from MDF support 10-15 pounds per bracket. Reinforced slatwalls with metals inserts support 50-60 pounds per bracket. 

Materials Used

Modern slat walls are made from different materials like MDF(medium-density fibreboard) which is the cheapest to steel or aluminum. Which is the most expensive. Other materials include wood and PVC plastic. Better materials mean better durability. 

Appearance

Slatwalls are available in a range of colors, styles, and finishes. And you can always custom paint them yourself if you wish to add some unique style to your garage. 

Are Slatwall Accessories Interchangeable? 

Slatwalls are pretty standardized, and if you find a hook or accessory that you need. It’s almost always going to work with your Slatwall. 

If the manufacturer advertises something like a ‘slat wall accessory,’ it’ll work no matter who made your Slatwall panels.

Garage track and rail systems usually use proprietary accessories, so you are locked into the one manufacturer system.

Watch out with slatwalls if you see the manufacturer has a proprietary accessory design or something similar.

Example Gladiator Gearwall accessories are proprietary and won’t work with any other system.

How to Install Garage Slat Wall

Slatwalls are easy to install directly to studs, concrete, or drywall.

If you are installing concrete. It is recommended that furring strips are attached to the block walls. 

Always check the manufacturer installation instructions.

Always install slatwalls to the studs or directly to the concrete wall. Don’t use drywall anchors. They cannot support the weight you need to store heavy objects. 

  • Measure and plan where you are going to put the Slatwall panels. 
  • Cut the panels face down if needed to the proper length. If cutting the panel with aluminum inserts, use a carbide-tipped saw blade. 
  • Use a stud finder to locate the studs (try to come at both sides of studs to find the stud’s center. 
  • Locate any electrical outlets, wires, or plumping behind the drywall, so you don’t drill into those. 
  • Try to position panels so you can screw it as many studs as possible.
  • Use a level tool to ensure the panels are straight. 

Use countersunk flathead screws for installation. Use 1 1/2″ screws if attaching directly to studs. Use 2″ screws if installing over drywall. 

Attachment should never be made through the slats. Attachment should be through the channels/grooves. Fasten screws into every other groove. Pre-drill holes for the screws according to the screw size.

French Cleat Wall 

Credit

What Is a French Cleat?

Very similar to a Slatwall or track system but usually made from wood. Easy to DIY. The difference is that this uses cleats instead of slats to secure objects to the wall. One cleat is attached to the wall with the angle facing up, and the other side is screwed to the back of the item you want to hang facing down. So they interlock together. 

You can customize your French cleat to cover an entire wall or only where needed, like above your workbench. 

You can buy commercially made French metal cleats at any hardware store or home improvement center.

Why Is It Called a French Cleat?

No one knows. Some believe a Frenchman invented it in the 1800s when building ships. 

The cleat is a common woodworking term. 

What Is Cleat in Woodworking?

cleat is a strip of wood or metal attached to one part of an object to hold it in place while attaching another part.

The cleat is a strip of wood that has been cut with an angle lengthwise.

Are French Cleats Strong?

Yes. It’s an excellent way to secure cabinets and cupboards to the wall. Ideal as mounting tool holders in a workshop, garage, or shed. 

What Is the Best Angle for French Cleat?

A 30-45 degree angle usually works best. Traditional French cleat uses 30 degrees.

45 degrees is most used nowadays. 

What Kind of Wood Is Used for French Cleats?

Usually ¾-inch thick plywood. But you can use other strong wood too. Don’t use MDF. It’s not suitable for cleats. 

How Much Weight Can French Cleats Hold?

Anchored adequately into the studs or the concrete wall and quality screws. About 100-200 pounds

How Do You Make French Cleat?

If you have basic knowledge of carpentry and table saw, you can easily DIY French cleat walls.

Choose the Right Material

Get some grade A or B plywood, but not the cheapest grade (C and D). Grades C and D often contain knots and weak spots. 

If you are storing heavy objects, go with thicker ¾-inch plywood that will offer better support.

If you are only storing lighter objects, you can choose ½-inch plywood to provide a leaner look for the cleat wall. 

  • Apply Finish to Full Sheets Before Cutting
  • Prefinish the plywood and trim board. It gives you a smoother finish and saves time. You just have to coat the cut edges. 
  • You can use chip/particle board as a backboard for your cleats. You can stain it beforehand so it will look great and gives a little contrast to the cleats. You can use a topcoat with water-based polyurethane. 
  • Use 4-inch foam rollers and wipe excess stain off with cotton rags. 

Cut the Angles

This is easiest with a table or miter saw. If you don’t have a table saw, ask the staff to cut the cleats for you from where you purchased the plywood. 

The width of the cleats is up to you and where you want to install the cleats. 

Locate the Studs

  • Use a stud finder to locate the studs (try to come at both sides of studs to find a stud’s center. 
  • Locate any electrical outlets, wires, or plumping behind the drywall, so you don’t drill into those. 
  • Try to position the cleats so you can screw them as many studs as possible.

Level the Wall Cleat

  • Draw a guideline with a level and pencil. Position the level where you want the bottom of the lowest cleat on your wall, and draw a line along with the level’s top edge. Now you have a guideline for the first cleat. After the first cleat is in place, if you are installing multiple rows. Just position another cleat above the first and draw a guideline for the next cleat row. Rinse and repeat. 
  • Make sure that the first row is perfectly straight !!
  • You can also attach the first cleat with one screw from the other end, use a level to make sure it perfectly straight, and mark the guideline. 
  • You can also Space the cleats with a 2×4 block and secure them with a pair of 1-1/4-in. Trim-head screws spaced every 16 inches. Keep the screws 1 inch. from the top and bottom of the cleats
  • Drill Pilot Holes 
  • Use a 7/16-inch countersink bit to drill the pilot holes. The countersink bit will drill a hole with a slightly wider indentation at the top, which will allow you to recess the #10 screw heads just below the surface of the cleats.

Complete the Wall

Install as many cleats as you need and sand the cleats a little bit of smoothing splinters away. You can add a clear coat of water-based polyurethane to protect the wood. 

Design the Tool Holders

Design the tool holders you need and other accessories as shelves etc. You can build all sorts of custom tool holders for any tool imaginable. 

Remember to install short upside-down cleats to the back of each tool holder. 

Support large, heavy units with double cleats 

  • Layout all your tools or other items to help you decide what type and size holder will work the best.
  • Go to the hardware section of your home center. Looks for racks, hooks, and shelf brackets and build accessories from them.
  • Build small shelves for tools. They only need vertical support that covers one wall cleat. 
  • Bigger shelves may need to span two or more cleats. 
  • You can also use a cleat wall to hang up cabinets and cupboards. 

Garage Rail/Track System

Very similar to Slatwall, although with tracks, you can install only one or two rails if needed. Some models are stackable.

Rails are available at different lengths. Some standard lengths are 48, 56, and 84 inches. When the tracks or rails are in place, you can use various hooks, holders, and baskets, or other accessories available. 

Track systems are great for storing tools and bikes and even cabinets to walls. Track systems work very similarly to slatwalls and cleatwalls. The only difference is the way that hooks, for example, are connected to the rails. 

Track systems are made of plastic or steel rail and plastic covering.

Track Accessories

Single and twin hooks and other accessories with different weight limits to 25-50 lbs. 

J, L, Dual, Tool, Wide, Big, Twin, S, Scoop, Utility, Cradle, Deep, and Loop hooks are usually available for Track systems.

There are also Fishing rod hooks, vertical and horizontal bike hooks, small and big storage bin holders, wire & mesh baskets, and ball caddies.

Manufacturers have starter kits for various things like sports, gardening, golf, and multi-purpose kits available. 

Garage Track/Rail System Installation

You can usually cut track system wall panels to the size you need using a table or hand saw. Table saw is recommended to make straight cuts every time. 

Always check the manufacturer installation instructions.

Always install track systems to the studs or directly to the concrete wall. Don’t use drywall anchors. They cannot support the weight you need to store heavy objects. 

  • Measure and plan where you are going to put the track pieces. Cut the tracks if needed to the proper length. 
  • Use a stud finder to locate the studs (try to come at both sides of studs to find the stud’s center. 
  • Locate any electrical outlets, wires, or plumping behind the drywall, so you don’t drill into those. 
  • Try to position rail so you can screw it as many studs as possible.
  • Put the track up with one screw and make sure the track is on the level. 
  • Use as many screws as you can to secure the track/rail system to the studs. 
  • Fit the endcaps and start adding accessories.  

Track System Weight Capacity

Depending on the manufacturer, these hold up to 50-75 Lbs per linear foot. If it’s connected to walls studs properly. 

What to Consider When Buying Garage Wall Systems?

When deciding what type of system is best for you. Consider these things.

Aesthetics 

There are many styles and colors available nowadays, so you can pretty much get any look in your garage you want. With slatwalls, you can cover and finish the entire wall for a nice clean look.

Storage Space Needed

With slatboards and cleat walls, you can cover entire walls if needed. Slatboards can look great too. If you don’t need so much storage space, then pegboards and rail/track systems are a good choice. 

It’s always a good idea to have more storage space than needed for the future so you’ll have more flexibility later.

And lots of storage space always adds up to the house value when selling

Quality and Durability

  • When buying a pegboard. Opt for metal and plastic boards. They are much better than perforated hardboards. 
  • Slatwalls opt for metal reinforced slats.  
  • Rail and track systems from big manufacturers are quality products when appropriately installed. 
  • French cleat wall can take a beating when made from high-grade wood and adequately coated.

Load Capacity 

This varies. Just consider if you need to hang a lot of heavy objects and choose the system accordingly. But if you are going to add any kind of wall systems in your garage, make sure you or future owners can hang just about anything that’s needed. 

Pegboards are great for smaller stuff, and some tools and Slatwall and track systems can handle bigger objects. French cleat wall is very sturdy and more DIY. 

Ease of Installation

Sometimes is better to call the pros. Especially if your garage walls have lots of light switches, receptacles, junction boxes, or similar, and you need to cover the entire wall. 

The most systems can be installed DIY, and it’s a pretty straightforward process if you have the tools. 

Variety of Accessories

There are hundreds of accessories available for all wall systems listed in this article. Just remember that with some manufacturers, you are locked into their products. 

Expect the cleat wall because it really is DIY for accessories too.

Easy of Usage

It’s easy to change objects places in Slatwall or track systems. With pegboard, you usually have to shift items a little bit more around. 

It’s recommended to use 2 different systems at the same time. Say, for example, pegboard and Slatwall where needed. 

What’s the Best Wall Storage System?

Generally, it’s best to use what suits your needs. For example, you could use both pegboards and Slatwall or a track system in your garage. Pegboards are great for smaller tools and other similar things, and Slatwall or track system for bigger and heavier objects or shelves.

You could use pegboard near your workbench and Slatwall everywhere else. 

French cleat wall you can build yourself, and it’s a good choice for a shed or basement. Cleat wall is also great for heavier objects. The cleat is a clever way to put up easily removable cupboards. 

Rail and Track systems use a similar concept as Slatwall. 

But the standard Slatwall hooks and accessories are not compatible with rail and track systems. 

 

Garage Wall System Prices 

Slatwalls

Slatwall panels start from $70 and range to $400 bundles with accessories.

Depending on the material, $4 – $20 per square foot.

Slatwall is a good investment, although more expensive than pegboards.

But you get lots of versatility, aesthetics, and durability. 

Pegboards 

Depending on material and size, they start from $20 and range to about $300

+ accessories 

French Cleat Walls

Depending on the size of your cleat wall and the DIY nature of the project. Materials start from $10

+ accessories 

Rail/Track Systems

Depending on the manufacturer and how many tracks and accessories you need. They start from $20 and range to hundreds. Look for bundles with accessories included. 

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