Advice on hanging plywood in garage for french cleat tool storage

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Forum topic by wdr1 posted 11-10-2020 07:01 PM 1126 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 744 days

11-10-2020 07:01 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question garage plywood safety

Our garage has is unfinished, with studs exposed. There’s an area that is 8’ tall by 10-12’ wide that I’d like to use to create a french cleat tool storage space. From what I’ve read, I could put french cleats directly to the studs, but I’d also have to run stringers, and it’s probably not a lot less work to just hang plywood. I’m thinking of hanging 3/4” plywood.

Some general questions:
- Is 3/4” appropriate? It’s heavy, so I assume I should make sure it rests on the ground, even though the garage floor isn’t level?

- What’s the best way to fasten it to the studs? Some folks recommend certain screws, other nails, some deck screws, etc. Obviously with its weight & the tools, I don’t want it to fall on the wife or kids.

- What’s a reasonable spacing for fasteners? Is like every 2’ okay?

11 replies so far

View controlfreak's profile


1636 posts in 577 days

#1 posted 11-10-2020 07:15 PM

Do not let the plywood touch the floor. It will draw moisture from the concrete and if a leak happens it will be sure to suffer. Even though I have a wood floor I kept the plywood up 1/2” Screw to the studs and it should hold as much as you can put on it. I used 1/2” ply with 3/4” cleats and have a lot hanging on it. I glued the cleats on and shot finish nails in to hold it until the glue dries. Use construction screws long enough to find good purchase but not so long that they can reach electrical wire that may be in the stud centers. Now is also a good time to decide if you want insulation for temperature or sound. Fastening every 2’ on each stud should be fine. You may also want to add some box extensions if required by code for switches & outlets.

View xedos's profile


187 posts in 276 days

#2 posted 11-10-2020 10:17 PM

Ditto on NO WOOD on the floor !.

Personally , I’d use 5/8”, but 1/2 is fine. I’d also use a shear wall nailing schedule, which is 6” & 12” O.C. for spacing of fasteners. Closer on edges. I’d also use construction screws – 2.5” long. Nails would be fine too.

View tmasondarnell's profile


146 posts in 2765 days

#3 posted 11-10-2020 10:46 PM

You could used either screws or nails. Nails have a better shear strength while screws will be resist the plywood from pulling away from the wall.

Unless you are going to hang your jointer off of the plywood, you don’t need to overthink this too much. The key think would be to use a nail or screw schedule that is adequate (one every 12” or 18”).

However, do not use drywall screws. they are notoriously brittle.

View pottz's profile


13887 posts in 1960 days

#4 posted 11-10-2020 11:31 PM

as said dont over do it 1/2 osb is what i covered all the walls with screwed about very 18”.i used 1-5/8 cabinet screws because they have a washered head are very strong.3/4 ply is way over kill.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View tomsteve's profile


1132 posts in 2195 days

#5 posted 11-11-2020 12:03 AM

- Is 3/4” appropriate? It s heavy, so I assume I should make sure it rests on the ground, even though the garage floor isn t level?

if the floor is uneven, what you can do is determine how high off the slab you want the ply. say you want it an inch off the slab. pick a stud and measure an inch up and mark it. now measure up 48” and mark the stud.
now measure down from the top of wall to that mark. goto both ends of the wall ,measure and mark down whatever that # was from top of wall. snap a line the length of wall. that will be the top of ply.

View gerrym526's profile


299 posts in 4784 days

#6 posted 12-01-2020 09:33 PM

Everyone seems to be focused on what thickness of plywood will be needed. And, as we all know, the thicker the plywood, the more expensive a sheet becomes.
I think a more practical and economical solution is to decide in advance where the cleats will be mounted and use 2×4 or 2×6 blocking between the wall studs. This technique is used by smart framers to prepare the wall for mounting kitchen cabinets (some full of cans-very heavy). When it comes to mounting the cleats, you use long screws (or deck mounting screws like Ledgerlocks), and drive them into the blocking to support the cleats.

If you use that method, you can cover the wall with 1/4” plywood, simply for good looks-it’s less expensive, and not very heavy.

Hope this helps. I’m blocking the framing of my new workshop building going up now, and walls will be drywall, so the blocking provides the mounting strength for the cabinets I’ll install.

-- Gerry

View CaptainKlutz's profile


4015 posts in 2470 days

#7 posted 12-01-2020 10:17 PM

+1 Blocking (stringers) reduces the need to use more 1/4” sheet.
But it also makes it harder to run power wires in wall once covered.
So plan ahead and be sure have enough power in wall.
Don’t forget to add insulation if shop will be heated/cooled.

+1 watch out for electrical code requirements, as might need box extensions if original install didn’t plan for drywall.

Check local building code, as codes change over time.
- Closing in garage wall to redefine purpose might need a permit.
- Decades ago bare framed walls were allowed by code on walls not adjacent to habitable space. Today most codes mandate all garage walls need fire rated drywall or fire rated sheathing.

Best Luck.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View pottz's profile


13887 posts in 1960 days

#8 posted 12-01-2020 11:25 PM

id still go with 1/2 ply or osb because i often attach things in between studs or blocking,1/4” aint gonna cut it for what i it once and be done.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View controlfreak's profile


1636 posts in 577 days

#9 posted 12-02-2020 02:31 AM

Plywood is like 100% blocking on the wall so you never need to guess after the fact, just saying.

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3639 posts in 4413 days

#10 posted 12-02-2020 02:50 AM

I’ve got a french cleat 4×8 wall with 1/4” screwed over sheetrock on studs. I’ve got 1/2” strips for the hangers about every 10 inches across the plywood. It holds a ton of weight. The standard deck screws (yellow or green) The nice ones without the philips heads are nice. It should be no problem if you use 1/2 or 3/4” plywood directly over the studs. You could hang hundreds of pounds from it. I recently posted a shop reorganization blog post video and a small part of it shows and describes it. And it’s just way beyond what my pegboard wall used to be. It’s definitely worth it, not hard to make and doesn’t cost much.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View david2011's profile


120 posts in 4683 days

#11 posted 12-02-2020 06:18 AM

The walls of my shop are covered in 1/2” birch veneered ply. I used Power Pro Torx drive wood screws rather than sheet rock screws to hang the ply, placing a screw every 16” vertically on each stud. The Power Pro screws are much tougher and less brittle than sheet rock screws. I’m not concerned about the ability of the ply to hang the cleats but will make sure to hit the studs whenever I can. Once you drive a screw through the cleat and the ply the main direction of load is in shear rather than tension so there isn’t a lot of pulling force exerted.

The building code where I live required sheet rock under ply only if it was 1/4” or thinner. Thicker ply was exempt from the drywall requirement.

-- David

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