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How to Make a Garage Pantry

Lorna Hordos
Mount sturdy bookcases to the garage wall as useful, non-tipping pantry shelving.

With limited kitchen storage, it can seem like your family goes through groceries and household supplies at an abnormal rate -- making a garage pantry more than practical. A well-stocked pantry saves time making so-called “quick trips” to the store. Shop when dry goods, soaps, personal items, toilet paper and non-perishables are on sale to save money and form a stockpile, but not until you consider some garage-pantry-building basics.

A Heated Debate

Before building a pantry in your garage, consider the temperature. If your locale dips below freezing or gets hot enough to fry bacon on a metal roof, temperature control or at least well-insulated walls are necessary to avoid exploding juice jars or rancid flour. To keep vehicle exhaust from entering the home through venting and ducting, building codes require that a garage's heating, ventilation and air conditioning be separate from the rest of the house. Contact a certified HVAC professional about solutions, such as a ceiling-mounted, forced-air heater, window-mounted air conditioner and outside venting.

Walk-In or Not?

Making a pantry can be as simple as mounting shelves to sturdy wall studs and hanging dust-deterring curtains in front. But if you’ll be constructing walls for a walk-in pantry, obtain a building permit, if required, and familiarize yourself with construction codes or building restrictions available from your city's planning department. By building a pantry in the corner, two of its walls are already in place. Gauge your pantry’s size based on your family’s size and storage needs, factoring in a hallway-width access area and two-by-four framework -- just don’t squeeze out your car in the process.

Smart Shelving

Your pantry’s shelves are the key to a design that functions well. Tall, 12-inch-deep or so shelves at the bottom house large items, such as bins of sugar and flour and packages of paper towels. Don't store food items on the floor; check with your municipality to find the amount of space under the bottom shelves mandated to store food. Shelves that sit higher than eye level should be shallow to make their contents easily visible. If you build shelves beyond your reach, you'll require a stepping stool -- store only lightweight things up there for safety. If you do your own canning, customize shelving depth and height to accommodate your jars. To avoid sagging or collapsing shelves under the weight of heavy items, don't space upright supports too far apart for the shelving material. Mount spice racks for spices and install hooks for various uses including hanging bagged supplies.

The Finishing Touch

If you ripped 3/4-inch plywood or used lumber rather than a laminated shelf system, finish the bare wood for easy cleaning. Top a coat of primer with a couple of coats of eggshell or semi-gloss latex paint. Porch and floor paints also hold up well to scuffs.