If a new year brings thoughts of better habits and a fresh start, there is no better place to look for changes than the oft-neglected garage. If your garage is a dusty disorganized mess — or even if it just needs some sprucing up — read on.
Get Stuff off Your Garage Floor
The single best thing you can do to start rebooting your garage is to get things up off of the floor. Storing things on the floor is a huge waste of space and it makes it hard to keep your belongings clean when they are resting on the dusty cement.
Rhino Shelf is one of the best wall shelves we have come across. Ultra-strong and easy to install. Just grab some 2x4 from your local lumber yard and you're good to go. Rhino Shelf is really deep and really strong so feel free to load it to the max! Each 4' section holds up to 650lbs so this is your go-to shelf for heavy things.
Fleximounts is a really great system in general and my favorite ceiling mounted storage system. Ceiling storage is perfect for all those not-too-heavy items that you only need occasionally, like holiday decorations or other seasonal items. Just be sure to spread the load across your joists and don't overload them, it is a ceiling after all and gravity is not your friend here.
The Partsam Electric Winch will hoist 220 to 2,200 lb., depending on which model you buy. It is hands down the highest quality winch we've been able to find, especially for the price. Use this much-higher-quality hoist over dedicated ladder and bike hoists/pulleys, i.e., rope-based ceiling storage. The Partsam is more reliable.
After you get your stuff off the floor, you should consider some cabinets. Wall mounted cabinets are great for smaller that would otherwise roll off shelves or get lost in the shuffle and items that need securing such as weed killers, insecticides and other chemicals that should be kept from children and pets. The Suncast Commercial Wall Cabinet is one of the best wall cabinets we've found. It's metal reinforced and holds 50 lb. per shelf.
Hobbyists should also consider workbenches with cabinets and drawers to create a great and organized workspace. The Seville Classics Workbench has ball bearing drawers and holds 500 lb.
Install Rubbermaid FastTrack rails across your garage wall studs, then insert hooks, bins and baskets to get all the stuff off your garage floor and onto the wall. Once the rails are installed, you can move the hooks around with a simple unlock and re-lock 5-second move. This is one of the most cost-effective garage wall organization systems and comes with a wide variety of bins and baskets as well as a huge assortment of hooks.
Garage wall systems save you a ton of time and headaches. You don't need to use the drill after the tracks or panels are installed. Gladiator GearWall covers more area, while Gladiator GearTrack is easier to install. We recommend Gladiator GearTrack and GearWall systems for their durability, cost, and versatility.
If you want a pegboard system go with a steel solution like Wall Control. It's tough and magnetic. Using a simple magnet to hold things in place like project instruction or to do lists can make all the difference.
Of all the garage storage methods, garage shelves and cabinets will hold the heaviest amount of stuff. Rhino Shelf is one of the best wall shelves we have come across. Their shelves are ultra-strong and easy to install. Just grab some 2×4’s from your local lumber yard and you’re good to go. Rhino Shelf is really deep and really strong so feel free to load it to the max! Each 4 ft. section holds up to 650 lbs. so this is your go-to shelf for heavy things. Check out Rhino Shelf on Amazon.
Fleximounts is a really great system in general and my favorite ceiling mounted storage system. Ceiling storage is perfect for all those not-too-heavy items that you only need occasionally, like holiday decorations or other seasonal items. Just be sure to spread the load across your joists and don’t overload them, it is a ceiling after all and gravity is not your friend here. So long as you do feel confident installing ceiling storage in your garage, Fleximounts is hands-down the best ceiling rack choice. Check out the latest prices here.
Ceiling racks aren’t the only game in town. They are plenty of ways to hang and store things from the ceiling, including winches and pulleys. But don’t buy just any winch or pulley, as only a few offer real quality construction. See the slideshow for our recommendations.
Cabinets are one of best ways to get garage stuff off the floor. They hold the items on the wall while protecting them from dust. Wall mounted cabinets are great for smaller stuff that would otherwise roll off shelves or get lost in the shuffle and items that need securing such as weed killers, insecticides and other chemicals that should be kept from children and pets. Suncast makes the best garage cabinets. They’re incredibly strong, have adjustable shelves, and are easy to assemble. Check out their Commercial Wall Cabinet here.
Hobbyists should also consider workbenches with cabinets and drawers to create a great and organized workspace.
There are lots of garage wall organization systems to choose from and a lot of good things to say about many of them. The important thing to remember is: accessories! All brands have their own set of mini-shelves, hooks, and other attachments for specific purposes. So my advice is to find a system that meets your needs and stick with it. We really like Rubbermaid FastTrack and Gladiator GearTrack. Learn more about FastTrack and Gladiator, and view the slideshow for more wall storage ideas.
Light Your Garage
There are some great bright solutions for your lighting needs. Ultra bright LED is the way to go for garage lighting. New LED lights are bright and energy efficient and best of all they are inexpensive. The numbers on the box are less confusing than they first appear. View the slideshow to learn about watts, lumens, LED brightness, K and CRI.
We love the Honey Bay garage LED lights because they’re bright, cost effective, and you can link up to 20 of them together. This means that you only need to plug in one light. The other lights plug into each other. That saves a ton of wiring and annoyance when lighting your garage. Check out these garage lights on Amazon.
U.S. light manufacturers stopped making old school incandescent light bulbs in 2014. LED lights are more energy efficient and brighter, making them the best choice for garage lighting...
Because there are a few different types of bulbs on the shelves, It is helpful to know about the different numbers used to compare them. Read the next slide to find out Watt you need to know, (pardon the pun).
Watts are a unit of energy. Back when there was only one kind of bulb, watts were used to compare bulb brightness. That is no longer the case. Nowadays, a "watt" means only one thing: how much money/energy will the bulb use. So how can you tell how bright a bulb will be? See the next slide. It will be i-Lumens-nating...(I really can’t help it)
"K" is the color temperature of the light. Bulbs used to be "soft white" or just "white." Now there’s a number for the color. The lower the number, the “warmer” the light. For example, "soft White" is now "2,700." 2,000 to 3,000 K is a warm white. 3,100 to 4,500 K is a cool white. 4,600 to 6,500 is daylight. 4,600 and greater K is best for the garage. There is one last number that can appear on a bulb package. Read on.
Color Rendering Index measures how close a color appears under this lamp compared to under daylight. A CRI of 100 means the light produces color the same as if you were looking at the object in daylight. All the lamps we recommend have good to great CRI of 80 and above.
Not only are LEDs energy efficient, but they also last around 50,000 hours. That is many many times longer than an old-school bulb would last, which was only about 750 hours. (That’s over 66 times longer, fyi). LED's are very cost effective, but vary in quality, so look for the Energy Star designation. This indicates that the bulb has met several quality-control tests and should last quite a while.
This 40 watt Honey Bay LED Garage light puts out 4800 lumens. An old school 40 watt bulb puts out 450 lumens. Ever try reading under a 40 watt bulb? Much less doing car repair? So what else is there to know about these new fangled lights? Read on ‘K?.
You need only one electrical outlet to run 20 Honey Bay LED lamps. Plug one light into an outlet, then plug the next light into the first light. Plug the third light into second. Run as many as 20 lights all from one electrical outlet.
Clean Your Garage
Now that you have a nice bright garage, you can see all that dust! Untreated garage floors are dusty by their nature. Microscopic particles are constantly being abraded off the surface and kicked into the air. You breathe it in, it gets on everything, and you track it into the house. It’s just pretty gross; no wonder you don’t want to go into your garage unless you have to.
I know right? There’s lots of reasons to get a broom even though you already have an awesome vacuum cleaner. Sometimes you need the bristle action to remove stubborn things and sometimes debris is simply too big to suck into a vacuum. This one is designed for garages and rough surfaces. It also addresses the most annoying thing about using a broom: when the handle becomes loose and starts to rotate. O'Cedar uses a technology that prevents the handle from coming loose.
We did a lot of research on garage vacuums and found this one to be the best. It can be mounted on the wall, has really a long power cord and hose and can be used with the optional rollers in case you need to pull it around. It’s powerful, durable and works wet or dry.
A densifying sealer like PS104 actually strengthens your garage floor and seals it below the surface. This greatly reduces dust and protects your floor from harsh chemicals that cause damage. If you like the look of plain concrete flooring you can use the densifying sealer on its own but you can -- and should -- use it in combination with other flooring options such as staining or painting.
Epoxy paints and sealers require much more prep work than the average person is willing and able to do, so you might want professional help. But, if you’re after a high-gloss glass-like finish on your floor this is the way to go. Don’t kid yourself all those pictures of gleaming garage floors were done by pros.
Every garage should have a vacuum to keep it clean. Standard household vacuums are not designed for garage crud. After a lot of research, we found the best garage vacuum to be the Vac Master VWM510. Learn more about the VWM510 in the slideshow. Not sure what vacuum has the features you need? Take our Garage Vacuum Quiz to get personalized garage vacuum cleaner recommendations.
Control Your Garage’s Temperature
Guess who wants to work or play in a garage that’s too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter? Not me, and you neither I imagine. Before we talk about heating and air conditioning, we have to address insulation. There’s no point in using energy to change the garage temperature if there’s a constant exchange of inside and outside air.
Covering garage windows with plastic is very cheap compared to replacing and properly insulating them. Use the 3M Window Insulator kit to block out cold air coming through open areas in the windows. Spread across the window frame, seal to edges, then shrink using a standard hair blow dryer. Plastic covering helps keep the room cooler in summer, warmer in winter. Comes in patio, 1-window, 2-window and 5-window sheets per pack.
The Owens Corning Garage Door Insulation Kit insulates two metal garage doors. It helps stop heat loss while lowering noise entering and leaving the garage. This package insulates one door.
Attach a weatherstrip to the bottom of the garage door where it meets the floor. The Clopay door seal fits most garage doors. Or, put a seal on the garage door floor threshold. Universal is one of the better seals to install where the garage door meets the floor.
Mr. Heater is the ETL-certified liquid propane forced hot air heater that warms 1,250 sf. of garage space. This is a cordless heater that warms the iciest garage with 60,000 BTU. One tank runs 14 hours. The battery requires re-charging, but it will charge while also heating your garage.
Mount the Dimplex DGWH4031G to the garage ceiling or wall. Give it a little space because this monster shoots out 13,400 BTU of ice-melting warmth, producing temperatures up to 77 deg. F. Insert the plug into an electrical outlet. Note that many garage forced air heaters are direct-wire and don't have plugs. The Dimplex is the best forced air garage heater that doesn't require you to directly wire it to the house's electrical.
This is the Air King plug-in fan designed specifically for garages and loading docs, and meets multiple industry standards. The cord is 9 ft. long, the fan has 3 speeds, and it weighs an industrial grade 26 lb. Mount it to the garage wall.
Portable air conditioners max out at 450 sf. of cooling. Most garages are much bigger than this. To make an A/C unit work, insulate the garage first. Put the A/C unit near your work area. You could even get two A/C's and a fan. The Della 14,000 BTU cools 450 square feet, and is one of the best portable air conditioners we've found. Manage your expectations, though. Keep the A/C near your work area. Consider getting two units and a fan to really cool off. The better the garage is insulated, the more effective the A/C will be.
Unless you complete insulate all aspects of the garage floor, doors, windows and ceiling, it’s going to be more difficult to heat or air condition a garage than a house. Inside and outside air will continue to mix, fighting your heating and cooling efforts. As long as you understand this, it can still be worth your while to run a heater in the winter and an air conditioner in the summer.
Unless the garage is small, you’re not going to change the entire garage climate. A space heater and an air conditioner will affect the air nearby without changing the climate of the entire garage. A portable air conditioner will cool nearby but it won’t cool a 2 car garage with a loft. If you’re working in the garage then both a heater and an air conditioner might be worthwhile. Just don’t expect these devices to be as effective as they are in a fully insulated house. Often a powerful fan works in the summer, and might be the way to go for your garage too.
Make Your Garage More Secure
Many garages are the weak link in an otherwise secure home, especially if you have an interior door. Here are some quick ways to make your garage less vulnerable.
Secure the emergency pulls on your garage doors. Check out this scary video about how easy it is to break into your garage here.
A surprising number of people have a false sense of security, thinking that because the garage door is locked the house is safe. Secure the garage’s interior door to the home. The best solution for an interior door is a push-button lock door handle with an auto lock feature. A few seconds after the door closes, the lock sets itself. You can’t get locked out as long as you know your push button code, so the auto lock protects your home without locking anyone out.
This Schlage door handle automatically locks five seconds after the door closes. Push the buttons to unlock it. This way, the door is always locked, and you're never without your "key."
Wi-Fi cameras are great for checking in on the dogs, but don't depend on them for security. They can be slow to start filming when motion is detected. A good garage security camera will include a digital video recorder (DVR), night vision, motion detection, and use household electricity. This camera system also requires no cloud monthly fees to view your videos.
If you have an insecure dip-switch based garage door opener and don’t want to replace the whole unit then this is what you need. Pop open the remote to see if it has little switches. If so, it's easy to hack. It also addresses signal interference problems with older remotes.
If you want to monitor your garage inexpensively GarageDoorBuddy is there for you. It works independently of other devices and lets you know if your garage is open or closed. It will save a history of 25 alerts in the app before deleting the oldest to make room. You can use it in conjunction with GarageDoorBuddy remote (sold separately) so you can open and close the garage door from anywhere. You need one monitor for each door but you can monitor them all from the same app and have the app on as many devices as you want.
Sometimes burglars will break into your garage and wait for the police to come and, know they don’t normally check the garage, and then take their time breaking in through the connecting doors. Always assume a burglar might be in the garage, and keep that interior door locked.
There are a number of connected garage solutions that will alert you when the garage door opens and/or remind you to close the garage door. If you have Apple computers, make sure the devices you get are Home Kit compatible. Home Kit has strict security guidelines meant to protect you against insecure devices that might be easily compromised.
Another garage vulnerability is the code the automatic garage door opener uses. Garage door openers have been around for a surprisingly long time. In the 1960s they became popular enough that people realized that one opener could open all the doors for that brand. Burglars figured that out as well. Dip switched were the first attempt to thwart thieves and still allow homeowners to reprogram their remotes when they bought a new one. This technology is totally outdated and if you have an older garage door system you should really consider upgrading. You want to look for garage door openers that feature Rolling Code or similar technology like Intellicode, Hopping Codes or Security Plus, as these technologies are much harder to hack.
Consider window curtains or window glass frosting. Thieves like it when they can get a glimpse inside where they want to break in. If they can see expensive tools or other valuables they are much more likely to take the risk of breaking in.
Add cameras that turn on when motion is detected. Companies like Nest, Wyse, and others all make cameras that you can connect to your home Wi-Fi. They can be triggered by motion or an event like your garage door opening or your doorbell being rung. Some are also audio activated and allow you to interact with the person on the other side of the camera.
Make Your Garage More Beautiful
There are lots of different ways to make your garage more attractive. They range from having a shiny glass-like finish on the floor to simply having a clean well lighted place where it is easy to find the things you want and easy to pursue whatever hobbies interest you. The floor plays a major part in making your garage environment a place to be in. A dull floor sucks all the light out of the room while a decorative tile or stain can add that needed push to make the whole place come together.
This needs to be used after staining but can be done alone to give a shiny finish to your existing floor. It also adds a slip-resistant surface which helps keep folks safe when the floor is wet.
If you're after a high-gloss glass-like finish on your floor epoxy is the way to go. Don't kid yourself though, all those pictures of gleaming garage floors were done by pros.
For a race car pit stop floor, install garage floor tile. Tile can be amazing to look at, and it will cover up a vast array of garage floor sins. Snap together tiles create a strong and very cool looking surface that requires zero prep work. Learn all about PVC and polypropylene garage floor tiles here, and look at how beautiful they can make your garage here.
A great alternative to painting is staining. Choose a water-based rather than an acid-based stain. Water stains offer a wider range of colors than acid. Water also offers more consistent results. This is because acid stains work by reacting to the free lime in the concrete and you have no control over that. Free lime diminishes over time making the resulting color appear less rich. Acid stains are also toxic and require more protective gear. They need to be neutralized after they are applied. All this makes water-based stains a much better choice, especially for DYIer.
Make Your Garage More Functional
Once you declutter and clean you’ll have some extra room to pursue your interests. Some folks add an indoor garden or workbench for building things. If you have a hobby that you want to keep out of the house, the garage can be an ideal space for those activities.
Get that equipment out of the guest room and into the garage where you can use it. A garage gym is a great idea for a personal or family workout center. You’ll be more fit and you can use that guest room for, you know ... guests.
If you love to build things or are just getting started, the garage makes a fine woodworking home. Just be sure to get a Vac Master and the Jet air cleaner. A clean shop is a happy shop.
Steve Jobs started in a garage. What do you and Steve Jobs have in common? You both had garages. Don’t let the similarity end there. If you need some office space the answer may be in the garage.
Whether it's for you or your aspiring kids, some soundproofing, lots of practice and (hopefully some talent) can transform your garage into a great music studio and/or rehearsal space. Louie Louie was recorded in a garage!
Expand your living quarters into the garage! Many find it is worth the effort to grow their home rather than relocate. An extra living room can be used as a family entertainment annex or a quiet space for reading or writing.
It takes a bit of effort but if you need an extra bedroom, garages can be an excellent place to start. Extra bedrooms come in handy, if the kids are growing up and need their own room, you're having another child or you need a place for guests or extended family.
Create a woodworking or art studio. The garage can offer the ideal space to have a hobby and craft area. Messy pastimes such as woodworking are best kept out of the house.
Create a playroom just for kids, just for men, just for women, or any mix you like. Entertain in the remodeled garage. Make it a man cave, a lady lair, a children’s playroom or a place to play poker.
Create an indoor garden. Use indoor lighting and hydroponics to grow your own vegetables.
Create a home gym with free weights and gym stations. Add a shower, a water fountain, and some good speakers.
Create a music studio with electricity, sound insulation, and proper lighting. Install a slatwall organization system to hang your instruments.
Create a bedroom. You’ll need electricity and plumbing for lighting and a bathroom.
Create a home office with carpeting, lighting and a phone system.
Make Your Garage Healthier and Safer
Garages are an oft-neglected source of allergens and other health and safety concerns. Dust and fumes can create breathing problems. Moisture buildup caused by extreme temperate changes can cause mold and mildew. Slippery stains make the floor unsafe for everyone.
The air in your garage is most certainly full of fumes and has a lot more dust and mold than the air in your home. So much so that it is against most building codes for your house and garage to share an HVAC system. If you have a messy hobby like woodworking or you spend significant time in your garage, you need a professional quality air cleaner.
Snow containment mats are an inexpensive way to keep ice, snow and road salts off the garage floor. Excessive moisture can lead to mold and mildew problems. Wet floors can be a hazard causing slips and falls. Road salts and deicers combine with water and cause damage to untreated floors. Containment mats allow you to easily pour out water and damaging deicing chemicals back outside where they belong.
Many sealers and epoxy finishes leave a glossy surface that becomes slippery when wet. An anti-slip floor treatment prevents the hazards of having a slick surface where you or your family can slip and fall. Choose a urethane coating that is clear to show off your nice staining job or choose a color to add a touch of personality to your concrete garage floor.
Add an anti-slip surface to the garage floor. Floors can get slippery when wet or oily, especially after applying a surface sealer or paint. Wait for the paint or sealer to fully cure before adding an anti-slip treatment.
Put down snow containment mats. Put one of these bad boys under where you park your car to keep road salts and snow from messing up your concrete floor.
Make Your Garage More Practical
Make sure your garage storage solutions work well and solve your problems. Making a “painting station” is a cool hack but if you only paint once every 5 years it’s a bit useless. Specific storage solutions for your needs abound! Start with what you love and work from there.
Whether you kayak or golf or store the gear for your kids’ little league team, there is certainly a specific storage product that will make your life easier and keep your expensive equipment from getting damaged.
For sports equipment you can install a kayak sling, a golf bag stand, ball cages, an ski hooks.
Store bicycles on wall mounts, ceiling hooks or a wall storage unit.
Store safety equipment in tilt-out clear plastic bins.
Store tools on pegboards or a wall storage system.
Store garden tools on a wall storage or a rail system.
Make Your Garage Multi-Purpose
Rather than remodeling the entire garage, you can add areas for specific tasks. Add a potting station to prepare plantings, for instance. In my youth I pursued archery and having a target in the rear of the garage was a great way to safely shoot my bow. We simply pulled the car out of the garage and voila! That’s also how I started to learn to drive but that’s another story.
Make Your Garage Smarter
Everything is smart nowadays, from refrigerators to toilets (don’t believe me? Check this out.) So why not your garage? Smart garages can do lots of things like open the door as you approach and close the door as you leave. You can integrate your garage into other smart devices so that air conditioners and lights turn on when you get home. You can also integrate home security such as cameras. The latest is allowing delivery people to put packages in your garage so they won’t get stolen.
If you want to replace your current garage remote with a smart app on your phone then GarageMate is for you. It communicates over a secure Bluetooth connection. You can grant guests access and then remove it. It will work with voice control like Siri, Alexa and Google Home. It has a range of about 50 ft and you can control all your garage doors in one place. NOTE: This device is not compatible with garage door drives that have a yellow learn button.
Meross makes a number of smart home connectivity products. Their garage door monitor and remote works with Alexa, IFTTT, and Google Home without a subscription. It keeps a history of who opened the garage and when. NOTE: Beware the yellow learn button. Almost every 3rd party device tells you that if you have a yellow learn button it is not compatible. You should check this first. Garadget has a work around so if you feel comfortable doing a little wiring they have instructions.
GoGoGate2 gives you smart garage capabilities along with temperature monitoring. It will also integrate with wireless cameras for added security and home automation. Beware the yellow learn button. Almost every 3rd party device tells you that if you have a yellow learn button it is not compatible. You should check this first. Garadget has a work around so if you feel comfortable doing a little wiring they have instructions.
Chamberlain is the granddaddy of smart garage doors. They invented the MyQ system , which allows you to monitor and schedule your garage door opening and closing. MyQ which is very easy to install (no wiring needed) and to integrate into your current wi-fi network and smart home system, but it does not work with Alexa. MyQ integrates with Nest, Xfinity Home, Wink, and Google Assistant. The subscription to work with Google Home and IFTTT is $10 per year. It integrates with Apple HomeKit without a subscription but you need to buy the MyQ Home Bridge to make it work. They also promise integration with Amazon Key in the near future.
GoGoGate2 allows you to remotely control your garage door or operate gates. It is one of the few products that remotely operates automated gates. It’s a low-cost garage controller that works with Amazon Alexa (without a subscription fee). It also will work with any wireless camera for added security. It also features temperature monitoring.
Garadget is a great contender if you want to make your current old garage learn new tricks. The best part is that Garadget is compatible with almost every home integration system including Smartthings, Alexa and google home, right out of the box. If you have a newer remote with a yellow “learn” button (aka Security 2.o) found on some Chamberlain/Lift Master products, you will have to do a workaround involving a simple bit of wiring to get Garadget and other brands to work with it. Just be warned. The Garadget folks can help you work around that.
Let this year be the year you begin making the garage of your dreams. You don’t have to do everything all at once. Start small and don’t be intimidated. Whether your garage is stuffed to the rafters with stuff you can’t even get to, or you have a functioning garage you want to make nicer, start from where you are. Know what your goals are and move towards them one step at a time.