How Much Can My Garage Ceiling Hold?

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Your garage ceiling may be your most important asset, but it’s not something you ever really think about until it starts to crack or fall down. The good news is that you can use this valuable space to store things you don’t use frequently enough, and maximize your space by planning correctly. 

But you also need to remember that your garage’s ceiling can only hold so much weight. It’s extremely important that you don’t put too much of a burden on the ceiling structure. 

In this article we’ll explain about the weight your garage ceiling can really hold and what gives a garage ceiling its weight rating.

What Is the Weight Capacity of Your Garage Ceiling?

blue car parked beside red garage door

Depending on what you have, the ceiling on your garage can hold a lot of weight. Your garage ceiling can hold three to four tons. For example, if you have a metal roof that can handle a 2,000 pound weight limit, you have a capacity of three tons. 

On the flip side, if you have wood that can only handle a weight of 2,000 pounds, you have a capacity of only one ton. So if you have a garage that is 90 feet long, you can still fit more than 25 tons of stuff inside if you keep things reasonably organized and separated. 

What is a weight capacity? A weight capacity is a number that shows how much weight a ceiling can hold, divided by its length. Your maximum weight capacity is found on your garage door. The numbers range from 1 ton to 5 tons.

How Was Your Garage Ceiling Built?

Before you assess your garage ceiling and design your garage, take a look at how it was built. Did you hire someone to build it, or did you do it yourself? 

The answer to this question will affect how much of a chance your ceiling has of holding up during the weight of time. With an easy-to-build built-in garage or storage facility, most of the weight of the ceiling falls on the floor – which can make the ceiling appear like an added expense or unnecessary feature. 

There are various reasons about why the garage floor weighs more than the ceiling, but the most important are the supplies you used to build it. 

If you used the wrong quantity of lumber to build the garage ceiling, you could be responsible for a lot of the weight. The more lumber you used, the heavier your garage ceiling will be.

Ceiling Trusses and Rafters

When you build a garage, you will often be faced with the design dilemma of whether to build up or out. Usually, people opt to build up because it’s more cost-effective and provides a more defined structure. 

But sometimes it can be better to build out and maximize the garage’s true volume, and use smaller, hollow trusses that can hang down from your ceiling. Your garage ceiling’s weight rating will be based on the size of your roof trusses, which should also be based on your garage dimensions. 

Floor Truss

Floor trusses are what many garage builders use to build a garage ceiling: they support the roof above it. They’re made from steel, which can weigh thousands of pounds. 

FLoor trusses support the weight of the ceiling. When calculating the weight your ceiling can hold, take the weight of the floor trusses into account. Also, remember that your floor trusses will have bolts to lock them into place. 

Joists

A joist or joist-and-beam structure is used to hold a ceiling in place. A joist usually consists of a straight line of wooden joists with a series of nailing or screw holes running through them to connect each joist to the ceiling. 

The joists are placed against the concrete or asphalt slab and held in place with wooden braces. Joists can have a weight rating ranging from a minimum of 1,200 pounds up to 2,700 pounds.

Design

If you are designing your own garage, you can make sure it’ll hold just about any weight you need it to. One way to do this is by including the weight of the garage doors.

There are different approaches to determining a garage ceiling’s weight. One method uses volume to determine the weight capacity and another relies on the tip weight. You can calculate the tip weight by measuring the height of your garage door. As long as you have a good idea of what you wish for the ceiling to hold, you’ll be good to go.

Live Loads and Dead Loads

First, you have to understand how your garage ceiling is structured. You have your ceiling slab which usually sits on the concrete slab. Next, you have your concrete floor. 

Then you have your rafters. Finally, you have your gable beam which connects all the other sections of the garage ceiling. 

This is how your garage ceiling usually comes in and where it typically stops. The weight limits of your garage ceiling comes from factors such as the rafter weight, the floor slab and rafter trusses on the roof. 

In fact, in most cases the garage ceiling in your home will only hold about 60 percent of the dead load that the entire house can have. That means you have about 30 percent of your total load that will be supported by the garage roof.

Typical Loads

If you want to know how much your garage ceiling can hold, it’s best to take a hard look at the average weight of materials that are commonly used to make garage ceilings. 

A typical weight for metal roofing materials like pressure treated wood is 12 pounds per square foot, while your typical concrete is around 14 pounds per square foot. 

Ceilings that are metal-framed and contain the same dimensions will generally hold a similar weight. Depending on the amount of time you have to build a garage, you may be able to get away with a relatively lightweight roofing material, which could be a good thing for a smaller garage.

 A light metal-framed garage could hold between 1,000 and 1,500 pounds, while a double-pane metal roof can hold up to 4,000 pounds.

What Size Lumber Was Used?

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The simple answer is that the size of lumber you use is based on the amount of space you have to work with (or the “capacity” of your project). The size and thickness of the lumber needs to support your weight requirements.

It’s very important to think about the size of the lumber you’re going to use for your garage ceiling. Not surprisingly, the ceiling has to fit your ceiling joists, or the ceiling will fall down. 

It’s also important to think about what exactly you’re going to use the lumber for. If you want to hang a bunch of hooks up, you might want to go with a thinner lumber, since you’ll be hanging a bunch of stuff from the flat surface.

How to Disperse the Weight

In other words, never try to load up one part of your garage ceiling. For example, it would make no sense to hoist a super heavy engine block in the right side rear corner of your garage ceiling, but only have house plants hanging in the other three corners. 

Weight distribution, especially for a garage ceiling is extremely important. It affects everything from the staring on the ceiling to the garage floor. 

FAQ

Are Roof Trusses Load Bearing?

Garage trusses are known as universal building components, and can hold a lot of weight. Garages are often put together from a flat truss which can hold a lot of weight, and can handle simple wall construction. 

The weight of a garage ceiling can be measured by looking at the roof trusses that form the roof of your garage. This is a structurally load bearing area of your garage ceiling which is designed to support the roof of your garage, and therefore the weight of any hanging overhead items.

If your garage ceiling has the same design as the roof trusses, then you can use the weight ratings to determine the weight of your garage ceiling.

Are Roof Trusses Load Bearing?

A garage ceiling needs a sturdy roof truss to withstand a lot of weight. As you can imagine, a garage has a lot of moving parts, so this type of structure is a key component to any garage building. 

The main thing to consider is that, even if the entire roof structure is designed to withstand this amount of weight, the interior rafters, wood cross beams, and slats have to be able to support the weight. 

This means that if the ceiling hasn’t been built strong enough to handle the weight of the overhead elements, it can give way easily and cause a large amount of damage to your garage and vehicle.

Conclusion

And that’s it. We hope you were able to get a ton of information from our article about “How Much Can My Garage Ceiling Hold?” As long as you calculate your requirements vs your garage ceiling weight limits, you should have no trouble making use of the extra real estate.

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