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Even if you can’t afford to insulate and air condition your garage, several basic things can be done to turn it into a more useful and attractive part of your home. Probably if you’re like almost everyone, you need to clean up the clutter and throw out the junk. But here are major steps that can transform your garage into a great storage area, workshop or maybe even an office, besides keeping it as the main storage place for your cars.

Before starting, take measurements for your garage and cars and map out where you can install cabinets and how big they should be. Decide where to hang the tools and stash the bikes and other toys. Do you want a workbench or filing cabinets or maybe even a desk?

If you’re planning to have cabinets built, tell the builder or cabinet designer what budget you have in mind and work out a specific plan for where cabinets will go. Also tell the builder or designer specifically how much you must store so you will have cabinets that are big, tall and deep enough for all your belongings.

In the do-over process, you might also want to hire an electrician to provide better lighting in your garage and more electrical outlets.

Start by covering the floor

As in many homes, your current basic gray concrete garage floor is probably stained, cracked and dirty. Sweeping up the dirt and hosing down the concrete isn’t enough. Instead put down epoxy flooring that can cost from $3.25 to $6.50 per square foot, according to John Schaefer of Garage Floors and More of Prescott. (The average two-car garage has about 400 to 450 square feet of space.) You can choose among more than 16 different colors for the new flooring. The actual process will probably take about a week:

  • First, you clean out the garage and remove everything. You may have to rent a temporary storage pod for your driveway to hold tools, boxes, equipment, bikes, suitcases, golf clubs and all the rest.
  • Workers will grind down the floor and prime it on their first day on the job. Cracks will be fixed. You may want a garage door company to replace the seals on the garage door.
  • The next day, they cover the floor with the epoxy flooring. After that, they apply a clear polyurethane top coat to make the floor more stain resistant. The clear coat will probably take 48 hours to completely dry.
  • Finally, move everything back into the garage. But if you’re adding cabinets now, you might want to keep everything stored in that pod until the cabinets are installed.

Next do the cabinets

It’s probably best to put in the cabinets after the floor is redone. Exposed particle board will be less expensive but will not give you the years of service that melamine will offer. Exposed particle board will break down over time and not hold up well in the Arizona heat.

You should also investigate building some special storage walls or areas that include hooks or shelves for hanging tools or materials that are used all the time. 

If you are the type that likes to hose out your garage floor with water when you clean, consider putting the cabinets on legs about four to six inches off the floor so that you can wash under them rather than having them sit right on the floor. If cabinets are put on the floor and get wet from floor cleaning, it may damage them.

If you’re planning to store bikes and sports equipment overhead, be careful about where you hang these bulky items. You don’t want to interfere with the garage door and its operation.

OK, the work is done; you’ve moved all equipment and tools back into the garage. Now, take a vow to keep the garage clean and ship-shape in future. Remove the cars and hose down the wonderful new floor now and then; buy a shop vacuum and regularly keep dust, twigs and leaves off the floor. After all, you’ve probably made your garage the envy of all your neighbors and you definitely want to keep it that way.


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