Homes and Garden Journal

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Avoiding Garage Cabinet FAIL

It’s not uncommon for recently purchased garage cabinets to disappoint their owners, often because of some mistake or some oversight made by the owner — that is, there is a garage cabinet “operator error” equivalent. With a little prior planning, however, cabinets can provide a lifetime of efficient and beautiful service for any owner. All s/he has to do is beware of (1) the potential for installation mistakes; (2) basic maintenance guidelines; and (3) the necessity of monitoring the cabinets’ contents.

Installation mistakes are relatively rare, but careful attention needs to be paid to the way the storage cabinets are attached to the walls. Nailing –- or, better yet, screwing — wooden cabinets to the wall needs to be done so that the nail or screw catches a strong support member. Wallboard or plasterboard, of course, cannot provide the needed support, and cinder block walls will require an anchor.

Garage cabinets that sit on the floor only need to be secured in earthquake country, but one should be careful to place them in an area where water damage can be avoided if conditions exist that make flooding a possibility.

If the cabinets fall, get wet or the surface is somehow otherwise compromised, that leads to the second problem –- not maintaining the cabinets. “Maintenance” is normally reserved for machines with moving parts, and the lack of moving parts might hide the need to maintain the integrity of the storage cabinets themselves. Consider: If a metal cabinet’s enamel finish is scratched, it can start to rust. If the veneer of an MDF cabinet is breached, it can easily absorb moisture and begin to lose structural integrity. A wooden cabinet may be unprotected should a swarm of termites come through the neighborhood. Inspecting cabinets from time to time and making sure the surfaces maintain their integrity and aren’t exposed to corrosive influences or direct damage will keep them serviceable for a long, long time.

Photo By: Rubbermaid Products

What gets put into the cabinets requires some care, as well. Putting oily rags or organic waste directly into a closed space invites “spontaneous combustion” and might result in a fire that might damage not only the cabinet but also the house. Another problem is caused by too heavy loads –- ones beyond the holding capacity of the shelves or the cabinet itself –- as this can break or weaken the cabinet. Finally, placing hazardous chemicals or flammable items inside cabinets (without putting them in separate, secure containers) invites trouble.

We want you to enjoy garage storage success, and with a little bit of forethought and ongoing attention, the three mistakes most likely to lead to garage cabinet FAIL –- installation, maintenance and dangerous contents -– can easily be avoided.

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