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15 Practical Van Racking Ideas To Maximise Storage

Van Racking Ideas

These days, vans have gone from being merely cargo vehicles to versatile workstations. For many professionals, like plumbers, carpenters and electricians, it makes sense to have your tools in your van to make them easily accessible at any time. If you’ve got a bunch of stuff to keep and are seeking great van-racking ideas to help you keep them organised, this article is for you. Stick around as we go over some van storage concepts and tips to help you get the most out of your van space while keeping things organised.

15 Van Racking Ideas To Maximise Storage Space

Now let’s get into these great van-racking ideas we mentioned earlier. We have 15 of them that work great for panel vans, box vans and Caddies.

1. Stack Items High

High Van Racks

If you’re looking to maximise room, especially in a small van, the first thing to keep in mind is to take advantage of the vertical space. Instead of spreading items across the floor or low shelves, consider stacking them vertically to make the most of the limited room.

You can install sturdy van shelves or racks, strong enough to carry items. These shelves will be great for small tools and supplies like pipe wrenches and screwdrivers. If you want, go the extra mile to label these shelves and their compartments, so you know where to find what.

2. Incorporating Slide-out Drawers For Easy Access

Adding slide-out drawers to your van racking system is a no-brainer if you’re looking to maximise space in the vehicle. You can either install these drawers beneath countertops or within the shelving units in the van and use them to organise and store expensive tools. The great thing about drawers is that they help optimise space while keeping everything within easy reach.

3. Put Larger Objects At The Bottom

This racking strategy not only keeps things organised; it ensures safety in the vehicle. By putting larger and heavier items at the base, you create a stable foundation that prevents cargo from tipping when you’re driving. Putting larger objects at the bottom is particularly a great idea if you tend to use the smaller items, as they are easily accessible at the top.

In addition to the storage space, towing is another great way to carry items around. See our towing capacity chart for vans to learn how much your vehicle can tow.

4. Hang Items To Van Walls

Items Hanged On A Van Wall

An alternative to installing van shelves is just hanging items on the wall. Use hooks or magnetic strips to store smaller tools, freeing up floor space for larger objects in the process. Hanging items on the wall also keeps them visible at eye level, making it easy to find whatever you’re looking for.

5. Create A Locked Compartment For Expensive Gear

Creating a locked compartment for expensive stuff is another important aspect of van racking. Your most expensive tools should not just be lying around, so you can designate a specific area within your van to store them. This can be in the form of a cabinet made from steel or heavy-duty plywood. Be sure to make this compartment easy to reach, so it doesn’t become annoying every time you need to use these tools.

6. Build Cabinet Near The Side Door

Cabinet Near Van's Side Door

When it comes to great ideas for van racking, incorporating a cabinet into your side door is up there. This plan can help free up some room while making tools accessible when you need them. Additionally, positioning the cabinet near the side doors helps prevent clutter and you can even easily store everything from pipe wrenches and hammers to clamps.

7. Create A False Floor

Whether it’s a carpenter or a plumber’s van storage, creating a false bed can create room for flat, large materials. You can do this with a lightweight, durable material like plywood, aluminium sheet or composite panel, but be sure that the chosen material can support the weight of the load.

Consider incorporating a hatch at the bulkhead so you can have easy access to smaller materials from the side door. Keep in mind that when creating a false floor, the height you take out at the bottom will reduce your standing height in the van.

8. Create A False Roof

Rather than create a false floor, you can opt to create a false roof. The concept is basically the same. Plan a design for the roof that incorporates compartments, van shelves or racks. Make sure to use sturdy, durable materials that can hold the weight of the items you’ll be storing here. At the same time, you don’t want something that excessively reduces the payload of your van.

If you’re a contractor or a tradesperson who tends to drive a van frequently, you should be aware of the UK’s driving hour regulations.

9. Use A Roof Rack

A roof rack is another great option for anyone looking to make the most of the storage capacity and free up space in the van. And the best thing about roof rackings is that they’re easy to install. Just select one that’s compatible with your van and mount it firmly to prevent it from shifting when driving.

The roof rack is like an external shelf that’s great for storing items that you don’t use frequently. On the downside, it exposes your items to the elements, so make sure to use a weatherproof storage container.

10. Use Old Soda Bottles For Screws & Fittings

For plumbers, carpenters and electricians, don’t throw away your old soda bottles just yet, as they can store more than just drinks. You can use them to create plastic tubs where you can store small items like screws, fittings and top connectors. Simply cut the top of the bottle open and you’re set.

11. Create A Partition Wall

When it comes to van racking ideas, creating a partition wall is up there if you’d like to group the cargo in your van into different sections. You can separate tools, equipment and supplies on different sides of the wall, making them easier to find. Create the wall using a combination of lumber and wall panels. It makes sense to use lightweight materials for this to avoid adding to the gross weight of your van.

12. Create A Slide-out Bench

If you plan your van storage design well enough, there may be room for a workbench. This is a great idea if you tend to work in or next to the van. Make the bench out of thick plywood and incorporate foldable legs so it doesn’t take up much space. You can also consider making it a slide-out bench, which you can wheel out from under the shelf and return when you don’t need it.

13. Install A Ladder Rack

If it’s an electrician or plumber’s van storage, odds are you have to carry a ladder around frequently. Seeing as this can take up plenty of space on the inside of your van, why not store it outside? Install a ladder rack on the roof or the rear door of the van to keep it securely in place while freeing up space for other tools and equipment.

14. Use Fold-Up Tables

To go with the slide-out bench we mentioned earlier, you should consider creating a fold-up table. This table can easily fit near the rear or side door of the van, serving as a workstation. When you’re not working, you can fold it right up and it won’t take up much space.

15. Install Organisers On Sliding Doors

The side door of the vehicle doesn’t have to serve as just an entrance; it can also be a storage compartment. All you have to do is attach an organiser, like a mesh pocket or netting and store small items in them. Magnetic organisers are also great for metal objects.

Check out our guide to the different types of vans and their uses.

Additional Tips For Optimal Organisation

LED Shining On Van Racks

In addition to the van-racking ideas we’ve put together, some additional tips can help you keep things safely organised, no matter the size of the van.

Group Similar Items Together

It goes without saying that grouping similar items together is one of the basic principles of organisation. For one, it makes your van appear neat while also making it easier to find stuff when you need them. You can group items together in van shelves, boxes or racks.

Keep Heavy Objects Close To The Door

Taking out and returning heavy objects is one difficult task that becomes even more difficult when your van is crowded with items. Instead of having to move several things around every time you need to take out the heavier items, it makes sense to keep them close to the door. This way, you can easily access them when you need to.

Install LED Lights For Visibility

While some vans already have lights in the storage area, others do not. If your van doesn’t already have lights, consider installing LEDs for better visibility. The strategic placement of these lights can make it easier to locate tools and other items, especially at night. Another great thing about LEDs is that they consume next to no power, so your van’s battery doesn’t suffer.

Clean & Declutter Regularly

Cleaning and decluttering can do a lot of good, even in the van storage world. Take time to trash unnecessary items or just take them to the tip to prevent clutter. You’ll also want to wipe down surfaces, vacuum floors and organise storage compartments regularly to keep everything in the right place.

Distribute Weight Evenly

One final hack to keep in mind is distributing weight evenly. Overloading one area of the van is a mistake that could have serious repercussions. It causes an imbalance, which affects the vehicle’s performance. In serious cases, it may even cause the van to sway, leading to an accident.

Van Storage Shelving Options

When it comes to van shelving materials, you have a few options, each with its own benefits.

Wood Racking

Wood racking is a great option for anyone looking to give the interior of their van a warm, natural look. At the same time, wood is generally affordable and versatile, as you can cut it into shapes to fit the dimensions of your van interior. What’s more, wood is light and less likely to add to the weight of your van.

Aluminium Shelves

Like wood, aluminium is lightweight and less likely to alter the weight of your van. Aluminium van shelves are also great if you tend to work with liquids, as they are moisture-resistant. Aluminium shelves should be your go-to option if you’re looking for a sleek modern appearance in your van interior.

Steel Racking

Steel shelves offer more durability than the other options. They are usually resistant to warping and corrosion, ensuring a long lifespan with next to no maintenance. Steel racking also offers more security when you need to store valuable tools and equipment. On the downside, steel is heavy and shelves made from this material will impact van weight.

SDVH offers small van hire to cater to the needs of tradespeople and contractors in the UK. You can also check out our large van fleet for more spacious vehicles.

Frequently Asked Questions

The best material for van racking is steel because of its strength and durability. While steel may be heavier and more expensive than the other options, its ability to withstand rugged conditions makes it perfect for van shelves. Wood and aluminium are also great if you’re looking for lighter materials.

No, vans do not come with rackings. If you want one, you’re going to have to install it yourself. However, some vehicle makers offer special packages for specific industries, which have optional van shelves and other types of racking. These packages are great if you’re a tradesperson or contractor looking for an organised storage solution.

No, using racking cannot increase van weight limit. However, a racking system is still useful because it helps keep tools and objects organised in the vehicle, allowing for efficient use of the van’s payload capacity. Just make sure to consider the weight of the racking itself, as it counts towards the total payload capacity.

Yes, installing a van racking will affect a van’s warranty in most cases. Most warranties do not allow modifications or the addition of any extra accessories to the vehicle. However, some vehicle makers offer factory-installed racking options or aftermarket accessories that won’t void your warranty. Just be sure to read the terms and conditions of the warranty before installing anything.

Yes, you can install racking in a leased van if the lease agreement permits. Keep in mind that some lease agreements do not allow any form of alteration to the vehicle, while others do. If you’re in doubt, just contact your leasing company to inquire before making any drastic changes to the vehicle.


So, there you have it; a bunch of van-racking ideas that can help maximise storage in your vehicle. Whether you’re looking to make the most of vertical space or you need a spot to store work tools, you now know what to do. And the best thing is, you don’t even have to spend a lot of money to bring most of these ideas to life.

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