Learn how to make simple, affordable basement shelving to organize bins and totes easily. Whether you are storing things seasonally or for keepsake, knowing the best storage and organization tips prior to starting will ensure that you transform your basement into a catch-all space and into an organized room for all of your family's belongings.
Creating shelving with 2x4s is an affordable and easy way to get your plastic totes off of the floor as well as stackable so that you can easily access the things you need. Instead of having your basement (or garage) become a catch-all for things that don't belong in the main part of your home, you can make DIY 2x4 shelving to store all of your things.
Whether you have an abundance of storage space or a limited space to work with, organizing your things so that it's easy to retrieve in the future can save time and hassle while allowing to keep things accessible.
Before your venture to making your own, I wanted to share with you some of my best tips in the process of designing your basement space, making your DIY basement storage, and how to label and organize your plastic totes based on things I've learned along the way.
In This Post
Take Inventory of Your Stuff
I would recommend taking a full weekend (two 8 hour days) that are dedicated to going through all the stuff you have in storage. Allowing yourself a weekend to do this will ensure that you know what you have and will also allow you time to purge anything you don't need.
I would recommend getting a few empty bins that you already have and organizing them based on activities. Go through all of your bins and make a pile for trash and donation.
Trust me when I say that if it's questionable, throw it out. You won't miss it. Once the inventory is over, you will litererally feel the weight lifted.
As you begin to see the piles stack up, you'll be able to also better understand the types of storage you need for your space.
Next, you'll want to determine how heavy your biggest pile will be and take note while doing inventory. This will be important as part of your design shelving.
Choose Storage Totes and Containers
Before buying new storage totes and containers, here are some considerations to take into account.
Use Clear Storage Bins
Decide whether you can reuse your current storage containers or if you want to invest in new ones. I would recommend investing in clear containers so you can clearly see what is inside of the times. This has been a game changer in terms of making it easier to find what you are looking for.
One year, I decided to get rid of all our mismatched bins and get bins that all looked the same. After a few iterations of trying to find the right storage bins, I finally figured out that I preferred clear storage totes so I could see what was inside.
There are multiple brands (like Sterilite) that have the ability to be stacked. Generally, they are more expensive than the cheaper storage bins, but they are worth the money.
Stackability of Storage Bins
There are several brands that I've been able to find that are stackable, which means that they all have a consistent look while also being able to be stacked neatly on top of one another.
For example, the bins you see below have been stacked on one shelf. We were able to measure the size of the biggest tote and realized that the proportions of the storage containers of different sizes fit perfectly.
If you can, choose the same brand of totes if possible.
Creating shelving feet that allow the first shelf to float will be great in the event of a basement flooding. This will prevent a disaster from happening and losing your personal items.
While it might seam great to have different color storage bins for different seasons without clear totes, I find that I have a lot of old stuff that I would have gotten rid of sooner if I had seen it through the tote.
Here are some design considerations before making your own basement shelving with 2x4s. While shelving units are fairly simple to make, here are some things you should consider when designing one for your space.
OSB vs 2x4
We planned to make ours strictly out of 2x4s. I know there are some tutorials that show using plywood or OSB for the storage totes to sit on. The reason why we didn't want to do that was to limit the amount of dust that accumulated. The dust would accumulate instead on the tops of the storage totes. Since we could easily lift them out and dust them, it was a better option that climbing shelving.
Having shelving to hold the storage bins up off the ground allowed me to not only not have to bend down to see what was in the shelving, but also protect the ground from any mildew between the ground and the storage bins.
We created some shelves using 2 x 4 in order to stack the shelves on higher ground in the event of a basement flood (yes, we've had this happen before before the shelving).
Multiple Levels for Shelving
In order to maximize the storage capacity of your basement or garage, you may want to think about designing the shelves on multiple levels. You can choose whether they need the same width and depth, but I would ensure that you measure your storage totes before proceeding.
Since you'll most likely be building it with the shelving sideways, you'll want to make sure you have enough clearance to put the shelf against the wall.
I would recommend measuring the height of your basement and account for any beams that are present where you are constructing your shelf as well as the final placement.
I would recommend getting regular 2x4s that are 8ft to 14ft long, depending on your space.
Treated wood is made for the outdoors, and OSB is usually cheaper. treated lumber should not be used because it's treated with chemicals and can give off gas.
How to Make DIY 2x4 Shelving for Basement
Labeling Storage Totes
I used this machine to create labels for our basement totes. What's great about these is that their vinyl labels are removable, so if I ever need to relabel, it's super easy to do.
Otherwise, you can also use this tried and true labeler to make it easy without any additional steps for cutting.
Intake for New Things to Store
Once you finish organizing and placing your storage totes onto the new shelving, you'll need to make sure that you have a system in place that will allow you to organize the items to where they belong. By having a catch-all for "things to organize", it will allow you to drop things when you don't have time to organize them while also giving your future self a way to do so when you have time.
Buying Shelving Instead of DIYing Shelving
While you can personalize and make your own shelving at an affordable price, you can also buy ones that are precut (and even put together). However, you'll be paying more for these options (with potentially less quality). Below are some options that will provide you the ability to store larger totes that I think will do the trick.
Summary on DIY Basement Shelving
I hope you found these design and how to tips for basement storage and organization useful. These tips will allow you to maximize your basement's storage areas and ensure that you can keep your space clear of clutter for your family's items.