Five Ways to Fix Up Your Garage

31 May 2017
Blog

Does Your Garage Need a Remodel? 

Father's Day is coming soon, and maybe Dad would like to have a remodel done in the garage.

Maybe the whole family would go for that: getting rid of the dust, dirt and debris; putting in cabinets, shelves and racks to store everything; even redoing the floor. You don't have to create a "garage mahal" or a man cave; just make the garage look better and make it more useful. Instead of living with stained flooring and a mishmash of cabinets and rickety shelves, you want things clean and organized. You want a debris-free extension of your home – not a possible hideout for scorpions and desert rats.

Rosie on the house Cleaning out the garage

What follows are five possibilities for a garage redo. Do them all or maybe just a couple.

1 | Start by cleaning the garage

Take as much stuff as you can out of the garage and sort it into piles to donate to charity, things to toss, and things to keep. This is a necessity if you want to do other improvements, because you may have to move junk from one side of the garage to the other or out onto the driveway while you do the rest of the remodel. This might be a good time to replace an old water heater or water softener that may be about to break down.

2 | Install new, clean flooring

The cheapest option might be to polish the old stained concrete floor and then re-stain it. But you can also put an epoxy coating over the floor for from $2 to $4.50 a square foot, according to John Schaefer of Garage Floors and More in Prescott. (The minimum size for a two-car garage is 20 feet by 20 feet, but in larger homes garages can be 24 by 24. More and more homes in Arizona have three-car garages.)

Epoxy is not a paint; it's a very durable coating that won't be damaged when you drop a hammer on it or move a heavy tool box around. The process takes about three or four days and can be done in phases so that you can continue to use part of the garage during the remodeling. First, a coating is put on; then chips are scattered over that, so the finished floor has the look of granite.

Schaefer stated that you can seal the perimeter of the garage to help keep out insects or small animals. "The garage looks great and becomes less dusty; you can clean it with a mop dampened in water mixed with a little vinegar," he says.

3 | Repaint and repair messes

Rosie on the house Garage storage and floor

Remember when the water heater "exploded" and sprayed the walls or when you had a ceiling leak during a monsoon? Well, all those mishaps left their marks that may need fixing including dry wall repair, replacing molding and door frames, and repainting. Most jobs you can do yourself, but you could hire a handyman to help.

4 | Cool off the garage 

If you really want to make better use of your garage year-round -- particularly when you have a workbench out there -- you probably want to cool it off.

Don't install a vented power fan because it can draw air out of air conditioned space in your house. The best way, but more expensive way, is to put a mini-split air conditioner in the garage that will keep the space 20 to 30 degrees cooler in summer. A mini-split, however, can cost a few thousand or more. You also have to insulate the overhead garage door if that has not been done already. An insulated garage door will probably cost about $200 more than one with no insulation. And depending on its size, a new two-car garage door will start at about $1,000 and go up from there. There are kits you can buy to install insulation on your old door.

5 | Install new cabinets and storage devices

Rosie on the house Cal Closet 1

If you haven't got cabinets in your garage, you probably need them. There are lots of choices out there ranging from units that you buy and assemble yourself to those designed by an expert.

Bob Trotter of California Closets in Tucson says he has done garages for as little as $500 to $1,000, but has also done $70,000 jobs.

He recommends buying cabinets with laminate or melamine surfaces that cover the cabinets both on the inside surfaces as well as those outside. "If the interior of the cabinets is simply particle board, the heat in Arizona can cause particle board to deteriorate," he says. "But properly made, cabinets can last a lifetime." (Laminate and melamine are something like Formica.)

other Cabinet advice:

  • Have the cabinets installed on legs about 4-6 inches off the floor – not sitting on the floor. That way you can clean under them. It also makes it harder for bugs to climb into cabinets.
  • If you have toe-kicks instead of legs, it's possible for small animals or snakes to get behind them, thus wiggling under the cabinets.
  • If you have a specific budget in mind, be upfront and tell a designer ahead of time.
  • Be sure that whoever designs cabinets for the garage understands exactly how much "stuff" you need to store. Let the designer see all the things that you need to keep in the garage and ask them to build enough space to deal with it.
  • And yes, if you remodel your kitchen, you can successfully put some of your old kitchen cabinets in your garage.

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