Design and Construct a Garage Loft

What You'll Need
Measuring tape
2x6 ledger board
3/8 or 1/2-inch lag bolts
Joist hangers
Heavy-duty joist hanger nails
4x4 posts
Standard sub-floor plywood (3/4 inch)
2x6 or 2x8 boards

A garage loft is easy to design and build and an effective way to take advantage of unused space. The height of your garage ceiling will ultimately determine the height of your garage loft, but a loft can add hundreds of cubic feet of storage or studio space. Here’s how to get started with your project.

Evaluate Space

First, assess the amount of space you have to work with. Ideally, your loft will be high enough that you can walk under it and low enough that you can walk on top of it without having to stoop down. Keep these measurements in mind when creating your design. You’ll also want to think about your intentions for the space. For example, holiday decor storage requirements are much less than those for a work space.

If you have to give up a couple of feet because your garage ceiling hangs low, decide where you want to lose those feet. You can sacrifice space up top, down below, or divided equally in between.

Frame

framed in space in a home

With the design complete, the first step is to frame in your addition. Attach a 2x6 ledger board to the rear wall of your garage using 3/8 or 1/2-inch lag bolts. Use one bolt for each stud, getting it at least 2 inches into the wall stud. Remember that over-tightening the bolt will strip the wood and result in a loose connection.

Attach the joists using standard joist hangers and heavy-duty joist hanger nails. It is very important that you use the correct nails for this job. The joists should protrude from the ledger board at a 90-degree angle. Place the joists at 16 inches on center.

Floor

Once the framing is complete, add the flooring. Standard sub-floor plywood 3/4 of an inch thick makes a sturdy loft floor. Your floor will be secured by 4x4 posts which run from floor to ceiling.

Measure an equal distance between each post. Use metal post bases that allow you to connect the 4x4 posts to a concrete floor using an expansion anchor drilled into the floor.

Install a beam that will run from one end of the loft to the other. Use two 2x6 or 2x8 boards to construct the beam. The beam will be bolted to the posts. The beam will be used to support metal joist hangers, which in turn support the opposite ends of the floor joists.

Tips

  • Use metal angle irons with holes to suspend a nifty pipe storage rack just beneath the loft.
  • Install a staircase with a handrail for safe access and guardrails along the loft to keep stored items from falling.
  • Throw an area rug on the loft floor and a couple of bean bags to create an extra entertainment or reading area.