Section I: Organizing, Sorting, & Storing LEGO Bricks

LEGO storage is an ongoing challenge for many LEGO enthusiasts… Families with young kids might just want to reduce the chance of stepping on a LEGO brick in the middle of the night. Older builders with very large LEGO collections need a well-organized storage solution to help understand what you have, and quickly find what you need.


I started looking for the perfect way to organize and store my LEGO bricks after purchasing the LEGO Architecture Studio set in 2013. My collection has grown a lot since then, especially when writing my book, The LEGO Architect.

As I started organizing my collection into cabinets with drawers, I created labels for each new part. I shared my LEGO Brick Labels with LEGO enthusiasts around the world—the collection has since grown to include labels for over 1000 LEGO parts!

In talking with many LEGO enthusiasts, I’ve learned that there are many different approaches to sorting and storing LEGO pieces — I’ve even had a chance to visit a few of their homes to see how their collections are organized. These experiences inspired me to write this LEGO Storage Guide. I initially thought that it would be a single page with a few top-rated storage solutions, but decided that an in-depth guide would be more valuable. I hope it helps you get more organized,.. and be more creative!

Why focus on LEGO bricks?

This section focuses on the best ways to organize and store your LEGO pieces. Why?.. because the majority of LEGO collections contain a lot of unused LEGO pieces that are not sorted by set.

70% of LEGO collections are dominated by LEGO bricks that are not sorted by set.

70% of LEGO collections are dominated by LEGO bricks that are not sorted by set.

In a survey of almost 200 LEGO enthusiasts, I learned that it doesn’t matter if you have a small or large collection—either way, it’s probably dominated by individual LEGO elements that are waiting to be used in an awesome creation.

Organization vs. Storage vs. Sorting

It’s not easy to decide how to organize your collection, and find the perfect storage. Let’s start by making sure we understand the difference between these three related terms.

  • Organization — A set of rules that help you decide which container to put each piece in.
  • Storage — The large or small containers where you keep your LEGO pieces.
  • Sorting — The process of putting each piece in the right place.

In other words, you will sort your LEGO bricks into your storage based on your system of organization. Let’s get started…

Getting Started

Organizing your LEGO collection might seem daunting. For many people, it feels like a chicken and egg problem: you need to try different storage containers in order to pick the perfect organization system for your collection, but you don’t want to buy storage containers until you decide what you need. This guide helps you pick the right organization based on your needs, rather than trial-and-error.

Let’s organize your LEGO collection in three easy steps:

  1. Understanding your LEGO Collection — Let’s learn about the primary LEGO builder in your home, how many LEGO bricks you have, and where you want to store your collection.
  2. Organizing your LEGO Collection — We’ll determine the right level of organization based on the size of your collection and your needs.
  3. Finding the best LEGO Storage Solutions — I’ll show you the best LEGO storage options for LEGO collections of any size.

While personal LEGO collections are the focus of this guide, these recommendations may be relevant for teachers who use LEGO in an academic setting (such as using the LEGO Mindstorms kit to teach Robotics), people running BrickLink stores, or for professional LEGO artists.

Let’s get started by learning more about your LEGO collection…

12 Responses

  1. C Harvey says:

    My son is just getting into lego (he’s 4) so we have a nice little plastic lego suitcase that he can take round to different places (cafe, nan’s house etc.) And thats all lovely – but – this week something happened.
    I was walking down one of our local streets and a woman was putting out a GIANT box full of lego onto the street for anyone to take home. I asked her if she wanted any money for it but she said no.
    So, now I have this. Hidden in our house.

    I cant give it to our son because thatd just be chaos. Its way too much lego for him. But, there are definitely sets in there… Star Wars, Harry Potter, Pirate Ships, Lego Tecnik(sp?).
    So, I thought maybe if I can work out whats hidden in there, I can pull those sets together and pass them on. What do you think? Is it worth it? Will people want them?
    I’ll keep some bits for us, but it seems like a waste to let the themed sets get lost in there, when he wont be interested in these films for years yet.

    • Tom Alphin says:

      This is a very complex question, since it all depends on what you and your son want to actually do with the LEGO in this giant box.

      If you have a lot of spare time and limited income, it might make sense to painstakingly sort out the parts so that he can build each set as if it was brand new. You could share the sets with him slowly, and let his growing skill with building LEGO models dictate when you give him the more complex sets. But I need to stress that it requires a TON of time to sort out the parts for each set, and there will inevitably be missing parts that you need to order on BrickLink or from website, and used parts can be more expensive than you might expect.

      If you are shorter on time, but want to simply unleash his creativity, I strongly advise that you do a single ‘quick’ sort of all the parts, putting similar parts into separate containers. Sorting by color is not advisable, since little kids often don’t care what color the pieces are, and rather focus on building the right shape/form.

      Some good starter categories would be: bricks, plates, tiles (smooth pieces), Curved pieces, Angled/Slope pieces, Technic, minifigs/animals/accessories, Other. You can subdivide further as needed, but too finely grained sorting will not make sense for a younger builder anyways.

      And please be patient with him – 4 year olds can build amazing things with LEGO or Duplo, but they can also get frustrated – setting aside the smaller parts for now might be a good idea.

      Happy Sorting!

    • Staffan says:

      I had a similar experience, a co-worker of mine gave me his kids huge collection when they went off to college (despite me trying to convince him to keep it for the grandkids). I ended up sorting by color (and later also by shape, in plastic bags), putting in two IKEA trofast closets with 16 bins or so, adding some simple doors and a combination lock. My kids are 4&5, so they soon forgot to ask about what was in the new locked closet in my bedroom 🙂

      Nowadays I occasionally build a set from the closet, and give it to them in a gallon ziplock bag with instructions and say it is from my secret lego friend. They love it! I think if I just gave them all of it they would just get overwhelmed and get much less enjoyment out of it. And they learn a lot by building from instructions, while spending probably around 95% of their lego time free building. Downside is that I spend spend 75% of my total free time either assembling sets or breaking down their old builds and sorting it into their custom lego table (also based on IKEA trofast), but it is so worth it.

      So C Harvey, I would recommend to keep it all for your kids. Assemble and put away somewhere hidden, and you’ll have the base birthday gifts solved for many years. They grow up fast!

  2. Sydney says:

    Thank you for the information. My son (11) has decided he wants to rebuild many of his sets (over 10k in pieces). So going through a couple large under bed totes to sort through seems daunting. We’ll keep the sets in individual boxes so he can build/take apart/rebuild, but getting to the actual sorting is the toughest tast. Any tips on what to sort INTO?

    • Tom Alphin says:

      Sydney, since you are sorting into containers for temporary use, with the long-term goal of re-building the actual sets, I would opt for something cheap or free – such as shallow takeaway containers. Cheap or repurposed containers will take up a lot of space in your house while you are sorting and re-building the sets, but once you are done you should have a fairly small pile of loose bricks which you can decide how you want to store long-term.

      Even 1-gallon ziploc bags with the lip folded down are a reasonable choice to sort quickly into a bunch of coarse categories. (part type is a better way to sort than color – it’s impossible to find a specific small part in a bin of just red pieces.)

      Good luck!

    • LegoGuru2000 says:

      Sydney – In our house we keep set bricks separate from the rest. Set bricks being those bricks that came with a set (that are not extras) and the rest being bricks obtained in bulk, from garage/yard sales, basically anything that is not part of a full set. We do this so once I or one of the kids wants to re-build something we don’t have to spend a lot of time (can be hours depending on the set size) just getting the bricks needed for the build. It takes less time to dump all bricks for a set (typically contained in a ziplock bag) out and sort them than trying to gather all of bricks from various containers. The downside to this is that you can’t use those bricks in other builds so this method isn’t for everyone.

  3. Pop Evans says:

    Super helpful and informative!

  4. Gloria says:

    This is so awesome! Im just starting my lego collection, i used to have a lot of them as a kid(im 34) and i loved them, but life got in the way(im a cancer survivor) and i stoped building, now my sister got me the classic lego box bricks on a roll for christmas and im having so much fun, also its helping me with my anxiety, and now that i decided to start my collection this is helping me to plan how to storage them, now is small, but i hope it will grow soon

  5. laura says:

    Wow! Thanks for this guide. Its very informative.

  6. Interesting spread of data. My collection at 1.7M (over 40 years) is almost exactly 50/50 sets and bulk. I’ve been keeping spreadsheets since 1996 so I know of which I speak! Maybe because I was building/buying before the internet, a local PAB wall, or bulk buy opportunities.

    • Nat says:

      There will always be exceptions or outliers. I was kinda curious, so I did a quick check of my records:
      – unbuilt: ~29k pieces
      – built/displayed: ~41k pieces, plus a couple hundred collectible minifigs and a couple dozen other minifigs
      – total collection (including the two previous): 301k, + collectible minifigs, + pieces bought individually or in bulk
      – So about 10% are unopened sets and about 13% are sets on display (also a few thousand pieces in MOCs at the moment, which aren’t included in the “built” total).

      So I’m roughly in line with the modest data set that Tom collected, including tracking the data bump in collections of around my size, where built is still well ahead of unopened, even though the trend line is for those two to have swapped places. I’m actually surprised at how closely I match the dataset.

      Though I really don’t know the true total: I was keeping close tally of part orders when Peeron was still a going concern, but since then, while I save copies of my Bricklink and Bricks & Pieces orders, I don’t actually tally them anywhere. And that won’t capture everything (the bucket of Lego a coworker gave me, pick-a-brick wall buys, some Bricklink orders after I stopped updating Peeron and before I realized that Bricklink purges old data and I wouldn’t be able to go back and get the data later, purchases at local used Lego stores). Not to mention the thousands of minifigs that are not counted (collectible minifigs) or only partially counted (official Lego part totals). So I’m sure the true total is at least 310k, and I could believe it is pushing as much as 350k. Which pushes my percentages down a bit.

      So my

  7. Pascal Gauthier says:

    My collection is comprised of various Lego sets, roughly 300 of them. They are sorted by individual bags, to match the sorting in the provided Lego booklets. I may have some 8000 blocks that are stored in 2 bins, for my son to play and create whatever he feels. That’s with those that he spend most of his time. On my side, I mainly build sets (or disassemble them after a time).

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