Garage Makeovers–Part 2: Remodeling the Garage

Posted by Mike Mincemoyer on Aug 7, 2014 10:45:00 AM

Remodeling Your GarageIn our last article, Part 1: Getting the Ideas Going, I posed many questions that should be considered before beginning the garage makeover project.   One group of questions dealt with remodeling and enhancing the overall garage and that is where this article picks up.

In this part of the series, I cover the common areas that are often part of the remodeling portion of a garage makeover.  

Garage Remodeling/Enhancements

Insulation, Heating & Cooling

Most garages have minimal insulation when constructed.   Often, outer walls have little or no insulation.  Only walls that are shared with the main home will be insulated.   If you are planning to heat or cool the garage, you will need to add insulation to make these efforts effective.

Garage insulation For heating and cooling, you may be able to tie the garage into the home’s main HVAC capabilities as an additional zone (a separately controlled room with its own thermostat and settings), but most homes will not have that option.   Instead, the garage may have its own heat and cooling source.  Some examples are:

1)     Wall mounted, electric or gas heaters

2)     Portable air conditioners

3)     Ductless or “mini-split” HVAC systems

The ductless systems often are the easiest way to add heat and cooling to a garage where it’s not feasible to tie into the existing HVAC systems.   These systems are often highly efficient products and will have an Energy Star label.

TIP:  Many home improvement stores sell heaters specifically designed for heating a residential garage.  There are portable air conditioning units that can be used for just temporary cooling of the garage.

 

Lighting, Electrical & Plumbing

Garage Wall OutletGarages tend to start off with one or two, ceiling mounted lights and a one to three electrical outlets.   If you are lucky, you may also have a functional utility sink.   Newer homes may have a dedicated electrical circuit for a refrigerator or freezer.

Adding or improving the garage’s lighting not only improves the usability of the garage, but also the safety.   If your garage currently only has 1 or 2 ceramic fixtures, I’d recommend upgrading to the new, energy-efficient fluorescent light fixtures that are flush mounted and use the T8 bulbs.   This can lower the total electricity used and greatly enhance the light level.

If you are adding a workstation, gardening center or work bench, you may also want to add some area or spot lighting.

For electrical wall sockets and switches, a garage makeover may be the perfect time to ensure the garage has its own dedicated circuits (not shared with rooms inside the main home) and break large appliances or tools, such as air compressors, out onto their own dedicated circuit. Switches and receptacles near door or stairs can be upgraded to contain integrated night lights.

If you have or are adding a sink into the garage, keep in mind there are far more options available than just the standard utility tub or laundry sink.   An option that was popular when we were still providing garage storage was a stainless steel sink integrated into the garage cabinets (often in wall mounted, base cabinets with countertops designed for garage work centers). 

Get the plumbing out of the way early in the process and keep in mind that garages can often experience freezing temperatures.   PEX pipe, insulation or heating tape may be necessary to protect against water line ruptures.

 

Garage Doors, Garage Door Openers & Windows

Garage wall paintGarage doors and their openers are the workhorses of the garages.   While designed to open and close thousands of times, you may want to consider some maintenance or upgrades.  There are now openers that are quieter and some do not use much space.   The compact openers can open up cubic feet of storage area that can accommodate ceiling mounted storage units (more on this in Part 4).

If you’ve insulated or added heating & cooling, take a look at the R-value of your garage doors and windows. You may need to upgrade your doors or add insulation panels to your garage doors.

 

Walls, Ceiling & Paint

If you garage is already entirely drywall, you are ready to paint.  But, if you still have open stud walls, you have some options.   For a clean, finished look, drywall is often the easiest and cheapest way to go.  If you want to add wall mounted organization, you can substitute slatwall panels which are available in many colors and even some wood grains. Some manufacturers include storeWALL and HandiWALL – you will just need to find a local dealer.  One additional solution is using peg board panels, which can usually be painted the same as drywall.

If you ceiling is still open to the rafters, now is the time to drywall or panel the ceiling.   Get all wall and ceiling work completed so that you can easily move onto the painting.

While most garages are still all white or off-white in color, I have seen many who use a different color for the ceiling (usually still off-white), walls (beige, grey or other non-white color) and the window/door trim (often a true white).   The effect is a more decorative room and the non-white walls appear cleaner than their all-white counterparts.

TIP: If you are getting a garage floor coating, do not install the base trim until the coatings are installed.

 

A Proposed Garage Remodel Project Plan

If you garage remodeling project is going to entail some or all of the areas I’ve mentioned above, I would recommend the following approach:

1)     Get your overall design and plan together.

  1. Make sure your measurements are correct.
  2. Know the goals you are trying to achieve and ensure the plans cover them all.

2)     Speak to the professionals who you are using to get their input.

  1. Be careful when approaching the electrical and plumbing as a DIY project.   You must complete these to the local and state building codes and these changes may require inspections.
  2. If you need to find plumbers, electricians and other contractors, you can always look on services such as Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor.

3)     Complete electrical and plumbing work first, followed by lighting changes.

4)     Complete all insulation, heating and cooling modifications.

5)     After picture of garage remodelUpdate garage doors, garage door openers, man doors and windows.

6)     Complete all wall and ceiling work.

7)     Paint the walls, ceiling and trims.

 

What’s next?

In our next part of this garage makeover series, we will cover the garage floor coverings, as it’s beneficial to complete the flooring prior to moving into the organization and storage.

 

Mike Mincemoyer is the President of Stronghold Floors. When the company was a PremierGarage franchise, Mike was the primary garage designer for their central Pennsylvania-based company.     

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