About Garages

I suppose that the garage was a natural progression from the barn.  After all it was once called the horseless carriage.  Today this progression appears to be heading toward that of a first floor attic with a huge door. 

When it was used to keep the horses and the wagon it was because these items were essential to living.  Certainly our automobiles aren’t any less essential, maybe even more so.  Still I see many a garage with the cars parked outside and filled with everything but.

What a garage should be is the shelter and home for the vehicle that provides you with transportation and is, next to your house, the second biggest investment you have likely made. 

Think about emptying out that garage and treating your car to the kind of shelter it deserves.  You might find it nice to be able to pull in out of the rain, too.

There are a lot of products out there to help you organize your garage and the things you need to keep in it.  Probably one of the first things you should consider is covering that concrete floor with something besides stains.  You will be amazed at how a simple thing like painting the floor will keep the dirt down. 

There are a lot of choices open to you and they range in cost.  There are businesses that specialize in sealing and painting concrete, but there are also coverings that you can apply yourself.  I went down to the local Lowes store and picked up a product sold by Rustoleum.  One package is good for a one car garage so I picked up two.  It comes with a video and instructions for cleaning that are pretty straight forward.  Cleaning is all important to the success of this product so if you try it, be certain to clean thoroughly.

When I emptied out the garage to clean the old concrete floor I had to keep telling people driving by that, no, I wasn’t having a garage sale.  I scrubbed the concrete with a product called Simple Green and then rinsed off the floor.  The kit came with a white powder that you mixed with water and washed down the floor with as well.  Then you had to dry the floor.  The coating you put down after cleaning is a water-based epoxy which comes in two parts.  After mixing and stirring you paint the perimeter with a brush and then use a roller for the rest of the floor.  The stuff gets quite warm when you mix the two and you have a limited time to apply it.  You are given the choice of sprinkling on colored chips or just leaving it the color of the epoxy.  I did mine in grey with the paint chips scattered across the fresh coating. 

It takes 24 hours to cure enough to move in the things you want to store in the garage except you vehicle.  For that you need to wait a week for the epoxy to cure completely.  While you are waiting you can install shelving, a work bench, and maybe some cabinets.  It is a great time to get things organized.  You probably should give some thoughts to how you could better light your garage as well.

When my floor cured and I parked my cars in the garage it was great.  The floor covering helps reflect light and stays far cleaner than bare concrete.  It also is very easy to clean up, which is important for me with all the work I do on cars in my garage.  Oil, brake fluid, whatever, it all cleans up very easily with the epoxy finish.

Was it perfect? No, I did have problems with tire lift.  That’s when the coating lifts after the hot tires sit on it for a while.  Now my garage floor was pretty old when I decided to coat it and I have no idea what kind of things were spilled on it in the twenty years prior to my labor.  There are other companies out there that claim they have solved the lift problem and one of them is called UCoatIt (http://www.ucoatit.com/).

Closet Maid had some fantastic wire shelving for garages that hold a great deal of weight.  I like the wire shelving because it lets a lot of light through so you can see what is on your shelves, but some things are small enough that the wire needs a thin board across for.

Putting up sheet rock or similar wall covering is perfect for painting to get more light around your garage.  If you can, you should add more electrical outlets for the bench and nay equipment you now want to add.  I put in an air compressor that required a 220 volt circuit.  I also put in a bench  since I had a deep enough garage to add it and still get my vehicles inside.  I designed a bench where it was supported by triangulation so that I did not have to have any legs touching the floor.  That allowed for much easier cleanup and a lot more storage options.

It was also a great opportunity to pick up a roll-around tool cabinet.  With all the work I do around the garage it is important to organize the tools that facilitate it.

Once you have freed your garage from being relagated to a storage container and allowed it to provide your car with an environment that protects it and allows you to work on it in a lighted organized environment you will find that you car will thank you, too.

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11 Responses to About Garages

  1. mark says:

    Jim, Good narative on the evolution of the garage from barn to storage for household stuff. How do you think commercial garages have evolved? From filling stations to mega dealerships & national specialty chains (aamco transmission, firestone, goodyear, midas, etc)? How has this paralleled the roll of the automobile in our evolving society? Do you think a person and their personality could be judged by the contents and use of his / her garage? How do you think it reflects?

  2. I know it’s been many years since you posted this, just curious how the floor is doing now. My neighbor did the same thing but he parks his airplane in it and no vehicles, it looks great. So my other neighbor went out and purchased tiles and that looks fantastic. I’m in the middle of researching to do the same for portions of our garage. Garage Floor Tiles BTW: I helped my sis in law use the coating for her basement and it looks great and water runs off easily.

  3. jimsgarage says:

    Since I needed all the ceiling height I could get I decided not to try tiles. They do offer a lot of great options as regards floor patterns. Some styles concern be due to fluids leaking past the crack between the tiles.
    There have been great strides made with the epoxie garage floor coverings, but it always comes down to how complete a jog you do preparing the original floor.

  4. I can completely understand where you are coming from. There are plusses and minuses for each garage covering. I’m curious to know how well your floor is standing up after a couple of years.

  5. jimsgarage says:

    Ryan –
    This garage floor was twenty or more years old when I decided to coat it with Rustoleum Epoxie. Over the years it had many mysterious stains that I did my best to remove. After a couple of years I had tire lift problems.

    Since then I have done three other garage floors with the Rustoleum product. These were newer concrete floors and the Rustoluem product was improved. The next garage floor did have tire lift, but very little. The second was 900 square feet and has been fine for several years. The latest one is also fine.

    Older floors get soiled with all kinds of things and they have a chance to soak in deep. There is more competition in the epoxie coatings too.

    There are a lot of products out there now. More choices than ever. I think the most impressive floor I have ever seen was the stone tile floors at Penske in Charlote. Way out of my price range though.

    Jim

  6. Jim

    Thanks for the update and I do agree if you have the money those tile floors are impressive. The epoxy floors are very good looking floors that’s for sure.

    Happy New Year

  7. wil oc says:

    i’m looking for ideas for the walls of my garage. i already insulated,just not sure what to use to cover the walls, of ccourse price is important, but any ideas would be great. thank you. wil oc chicago

  8. jimsgarage says:

    Wil –

    One of my favorite materials for garage wall is called Homasote – http://www.homasote.com – I have used it directly over studs with nothing else. It has insulating properties and it extremely durable. Once installed you can pound on it hard with your fist and not put a hole in it like you would sheetrock. It is lighter, more expensive. You can paint it or leave it natural, although I think they put their name all over the sheets these days. If your garage is atteched to your house it should already have sheetrock on the wall(s) common to the house.

    Other than that you can use most anything you find to your liking. Think ahead of where you will need shelves and benches and consider the need for peg board in some places.

    I like being able to paint wall coverings so that I can get more light reflected around the work areas. My garage came with sheetrock walls all around so that is what I have.

    Hope this helps and thanks for visiting.

    Jim

  9. Jim

    I heard of that material but never knew it’s name, thanks for sharing Homasote. I sure wish I had known about this 7 years ago because I would have put that on my walls instead of sheetrock. The rock doesn’t look bad, but it does take a beating. Oh well, I guess I could just replace it.

  10. Brunild says:

    Sorry for necroposting but I can’t help myself. It looks like a linoleum! I will give it a try —my garage floor is anything but clean right now. Two ugly oil spots and one scratch mark are enough for me.

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