French Cleat vs Pegboard – Why French Cleats are Better

If you are trying to decide between a French cleat system or pegboard, I completely understand! I was in the same boat for a while and did my homework on each solution in order to come to a conclusion. I have used pegboard most of my life but never really liked it. I have found many things not to like about it and decided to take a different route.

That’s when the French cleat system caught my eye. At first glance, this type of system seems to be a much better way to organize tools. It seems to be a sturdy solution that can help layout your tools in a way that just works better than pegboard.

French cleat and pegboard side by side

I recently installed a new French cleat system on the back of my workbench. Normally, I would have installed pegboard and called it a day but I wanted something better this time. It did not disappoint and I am enjoying the way it has allowed me to organize my hanging tools.

If you are considering either of these, I’d like to present some reasons why a French cleat system is the clear winner. Below are my reasons that I went with the system. I’ll also give a few reasons why you might want to choose Pegboard instead.

Reasons To Choose French Cleats

Supports More Weight

French cleats are incredibly strong and can hold a large amount of weight. Whether you choose to organize your tools on it or hold cabinets onto the wall, French cleats can get the job done. Pegboard on the other hand will not be able to withstand the weight of some of the heavier items that you could organize on a French cleat system.

Either system is fine for small tools but when larger items are involved, French cleats are going to hold up over time better than pegboard will.

Easier to Organize

Pegboard can often be difficult to organize without becoming messy looking. There are unlimited ways that you can lay out your pegboard system but it may be a challenge getting it to look exactly the way you want.

Pegboard with messy tools

With a French cleat system, you can build any type of organizer that you can dream up and easily attach it to a cleat. Whether it is a drill or a screwdriver holder, a little ingenuity and you can build an organizing tool holder from scratch that will suit your needs.

With a pegboard system, the hooks are sometimes difficult to work with and position in a way that holds each tool perfectly. You can purchase ready-made organizing systems that attach to pegboard but these are an additional cost and don’t always work the way you wish.

It’s easier and perhaps more fun to just build it yourself and know that it is exactly the way you want it.

Fully Customizable

French cleats allow you to be creative in the process and have fun doing it. It is 100% customizable and if you can dream it up, you can build it and organize it. Each French cleat system that I have ever seen is different from the next one. Everyone has different needs and different tools to organize so building a system that is customizable just makes sense for someone who wants their tools organized in a way that works best for them.

I enjoy thinking up new ways to hold a specific tool and then creating it. It’s satisfying to see it come to life and then get hung up onto my cleat system, keeping my tool nice and securely organized out of the way. Customizing a system like this is part of the fun and what makes this system so special. It’s more than just an organizing system but a way for the DIYer to create something specific to their needs.

It Looks Better

French cleats without tools
My French cleat wall in my garage

This may be subjective but I believe French cleat systems look much better than a pegboard system. In my opinion, tools hanging on pegboard doesn’t suit me as a way of organizing tools. The more tools you get, the more crowded and unorganized a pegboard wall will look.

With a French cleat system, it can look pretty slick especially when you have customized lots of different tool holders that are unique and customized specifically for your tool. I have had friends and family come into my garage and be in awe of some of the tool holders that I have created for my cleat system. It is certainly a conversation starter which makes the process more fun.

No Pegs and Hooks to Fall Out

My number one reason for choosing a French cleat system is to avoid those pesky falling hooks! If you have ever used a pegboard organizing wall, you know that the hooks can easily fall out when you grab a tool. While there are ways that you can make them more secure, I have found that they just don’t work as well as advertised.

Pegboard falling hooks
Pegboard hooks fall out and become unstable over time

You don’t have to worry about this with a French cleat system since everything is built into the wood cleats themselves. Nothing will fall off the wall as you remove tools because everything is securely held in the 45° angle cleats. This makes for a pleasant experience when you reach and grab a tool knowing that everything else will stay secure.

Most of the tool holders on my cleat wall are very sturdy. When I reach to get a tool, I know that nothing is going to fall off the wall.

When I used to have pegboard walls, I would hold my breath each time I reached out to pull a tool off knowing that something was going to fall. It was often the hook that my tool was hanging on that would fall off and land behind my workbench. I appreciate the cleat system because I no longer have to worry about this.

French Cleats Might Be Cheaper Than Pegboard

A French cleat system can be put together from scrap wood that you already have lying around your garage. You may already have enough wood to build an entire wall of cleats without having to purchase anything else.

This system might be cheaper for someone who already has all the tools needed, and already has enough wood to complete the project.

When comparing the costs of these two options, it’s important to consider the organizing systems needed. With a cleat wall, you’ll have everything you need with the wood you purchase. You’ll be building everything custom. The only additional expense will be screws or nails, and wood glue.

With pegboard, you’ll need to purchase hooks and other organizing systems that are designed to fit into the 1-inch hole layout. You can build custom organizing systems be they aren’t as straightforward and it’s usually easier to just buy what you need.

Reasons To Choose Pegboard

Honestly, I wouldn’t choose pegboard over French cleats unless you are strapped for time and just want to make it easy. Pegboard will allow you to set up an organizational system for your tools in only a few minutes. If you are looking to solve the problem quickly, pegboard may work just fine for you.

It’s Easy To Install

Pegboard is easy to install and will not take nearly as much work as designing and cutting out cleats. With pegboard, it is a ready-made product that can simply be mounted to the wall on furring strips or other supports immediately after purchasing. Once the pegboard is on the wall, it’s just a matter of positioning the hooks in locations where you can organize your tools most efficiently.

All of this can be done in a matter of minutes if you have the pegboard and tools to mount it.

It’s Quicker to Set Up

Pegboard is much quicker to fully set up than a cleat system will be. Once the pegboard has been installed on your wall, pegs can be positioned and tools can be hung in a relatively short amount of time. Compare this to a French cleat system in which it takes some time to build the system.

Organized pegboard wall with tools

First, you will need to cut each cleat to be perfectly cut to length and beveled on one side. This will take a little time and planning and may also require tools that you don’t even have. A table saw will work best for beveling edges but can be done with other tools. Either way, this process takes some time, and the pegboard could’ve already been installed and finished while you are still cutting cleats.

Once the cleats have been cut to length and beveled, you will still need to install them and space them appropriately. Once installed, building each organizing unit still takes some time. You will not be able to purchase French cleat tool holders and these will be built to be customized for your needs.

To me, this is the fun part of the process but it’s also time-consuming so if you are looking for something to quickly get your tools organized, pegboard may be the best route for you to go.

It’s Affordable

Pegboard is very affordable and can be purchased in large sheets of 4 x 8 feet for an affordable price. Beyond the pegboard itself, you usually will need some type of furring strips which could be two by fours and these are also relatively inexpensive.

Pegboard hooks and other organizational systems are the only additional cost and will not set you back too much either. A complete set of hooks that will usually do the job for most or all of your tools can be purchased for a decent price and will take care of most of your needs. When all is said and done, pegboard is a very affordable way to organize your tools.

Deciding Between Pegboard and French Cleats

I’ve presented my reasons for why I think French cleats are the best route to go. It gives a very clean, organized look, it’s sturdy, affordable, and fun to build! I grew up with pegboard and while it certainly gets the job done, a French cleat system is a step above what a pegboard can offer, in my opinion.

Of course, French cleats won’t always be the best option. It will depend on the functionality you are looking for as well as the location in which it will be installed. Pegboard is often the simplest way to add organization to a space. If you are adding organization to a shed, or other outdoor space where looks aren’t a concern, pegboard will work great.

On the other hand, if you want a sturdy system that looks great and is highly customizable, French cleats will be the best choice. It will make your workshop look like a professional space. Beyond that, it’s a fun system to create and just gives you another reason to spend more time in your workshop.

Bottom Line

Pegboard or French cleats are both great ways to organize tools on your wall. Which one you choose will depend on your preferences as well as the type of tools you intend to organize. A French cleat system is very strong and will hold heavier items than a pegboard will. It looks great, it’s fun to build, and gives you the satisfaction that you have created each tool organizer with your own two hands.

I am a stickler for organization so building a French cleat wall was a very fun project that I did in my garage. I enjoyed the process and now enjoy the benefits of having my tools safely organized within an arm’s reach away.