When does a wall become a super-duper storage devise? The answer is easy — when it has been covered with a layer of perforated hardboard. Perforated hardboard is the generic term Peg Board which is what called by it’s first manufacturer. Peg Board was originally designed to accept a few styles of specially made hooks, eyes, brackets and clips, but has evolved into a storage system that includes clips, shelves, storage devices of all shapes and forms and other fixtures and hangars constructed of both metal and plastic. Why perforated board instead of shelves or drawers? Well, for one thing perforated hardboard is versatile and inexpensive, but best of all it is easy to modify. Your storage capability can change as your needs do. Perforated hardboard can be used over the workbench or across from it, in a basement, and even on the inside of a closet door — or any door for that matter.
4 foot x 8 foot sheets are available in two thicknesses — 1/8- and 1/4-inch. If you don’t need such a large piece don’t worry. Some lumber stores offer half- and quarter-sheets, but shop wisely here, the cutting fee for smaller pieces can end up costing almost as much as a whole sheet. Because it is made from hardboard the finished product is brown in color. No, we aren’t suggesting that you paint yours, but you can if you wish. We should note that — depending on the location and use — painting can prove to be an ongoing maintenance headache. The good side is that, if you do choose to paint your perforated hardboard, or any hardboard for that matter, you will find the material to be a very “friendly” easy-to-paint surface — even with the holes. In some areas prefinished sheets are available. But, don’t hold your breath — painted product is not widely available. Painting silhouettes of tools onto the surface is a great idea for schools, business and industry, but we caution you that for a home shop this practice can prove to backfire.
We mentioned that perforated wallboard is available in two different thicknesses, but we didn’t explain that the thicker quarter-inch material is not only more heavy duty. But, the holes are larger allowing for heavier weight accessories. Thicker board — larger and stronger brackets and accessories. Where we currently use quarter-inch board to hang, among other things, a commercial grade electric circular saw, the weight of such a tool would literally tear through eighth-inch board.
We strongly recommend against the use of perforated hardboard outside, guaranteeing a good seal over a highly perforated surface could prove to be nearly impossible. On the other hand, regular hardboard is great outdoors once it has been sealed with a high quality oil base primer and then with one or two finish coats of good quality paint. Canned spray paint works great indoors, but should not be used outdoors.
In the past installation was considerably more difficult than it is today. When we put pegboard over the work bench in the Ark we first framed the area to be covered with half-inch thick wood strips which acted as spacers, thus allowing the hooks on the hardware to fit between the board and the wall. Also, we used Today, installation is made easier by the use of spacing cylinders. The cylinders are three-eighths of an inch to a half-inch long and are slightly larger in diameter the holes in the board. Mounting screws are threaded through a hole in the board (either an existing hole or one that you create), through the hole in the cylinder and then into the wall. The spacers are a big advantage over wood strips because they are considerably less expensive (a few cents compared to several dollars), far easier to install and leave more holes available for use by hardware — placing wood strips at sixteen inch center can eliminate twenty-percent of the holes. If you are a died-in-the-wool super-hard-core do-it-yourselfer you can cut your own spacers from scraps of quarter-inch plastic or metal tubing.
If you are installing a panel on the inside of a closet door be careful to leave an inch margin between the door and the frame at the top and side edges. This clearance prevents the panel from being wedged between the door and the door stop trim in those three locations. You also have to be sure that hooks and hardware used will clear clothing hanging within.
We once created a small “workshop in a closet” using perforated panels and it worked out great. We found that there was no limit to what we could do. There were connectors for practically every use. Then we decided to include a first aid kit. None of the brackets seemed to fit the bill. We ended up using Velcro. We applied one piece to the first aid kit and the other piece to the perforated hardboard. And the rest of the story is that……we aren’t purists!