On a fresh sunny weekend, open all the doors and windows in your garage. Air it out while at the same time emptying it out. Your first step should be to de-clutter. While moving items outside, make different areas for everything you would like to discard, recycle, donate and keep. In your “keep” area, start organizing as you work. Group like items together such as sports equipment, holiday decorations, tools and power saws/drills, gardening supplies, automotive tools and supplies, recycling materials and garbage cans, etc.
Choose one or more charitable organizations to donate your used items to. Discard anything that is broken or damaged. Make sure you properly dispose of any used paint and aerosol cans, pest or yard chemicals, etc. at your local waste management center. Recycle any and everything possible, from old newspapers, plastics, wiring and the like. In addition, find a recycling center to take all electronics like computers, radios and televisions. These items should not be discarded into a landfill.
If the floor in your garage needs a little assistance, there are many options to give it new life. You may just choose to spot clean any oil, grease, dirt or spill stains or you might prefer a more drastic change. Keep in mind that a good power washing could give you the results you are looking for. If not, here are a few options from which you may select. Choose wisely based on the amount of moisture your garage may or may not contain. A professional will be capable of assessing the situation and helping you choose the best option to enhance your flooring.
Preparing your floor properly for any type of floor covering is very important. Depending on the damage, it could be extensive. After scrubbing, cleaning and rinsing the floor you need to address any cracks. For small cracks, you can use a concrete/mortar-repairing compound that comes in a tube like caulk. For larger cracks or small holes, you need actual concrete patch mix to tackle them.
Rubber floor mats are a great choice and you can order them sized to fit your space. These mats are usually non-skid, fire-retardant, easy to clean, and help reduce the amount of dirt you would track into your house. If you have a work area in your garage, then rubber floor mats can be an added security because they are non-conductive.
Floor tiles are another option and are available in many styles. You can choose tiles that are interlocking or ones that have a self-adhesive backing including vinyl and rubber floor tiles. You can even use carpet floor tiles in play areas for your children inside your garage.
Painting the floor is also a very durable solution and probably has the longest preparation time. Some concrete flooring needs to be etched before painting. (Etching is a procedure that opens the pores of the concrete so the paint will absorb better.) You can easily test for that by sprinkling a small amount of water on the floor. If it is absorbed quickly, then it is probably all right. If not, you will need to apply commercial concrete etcher to the floor. After this dries overnight, you will notice the surface has a gritty look, similar to sand paper. (This serves to avoid slippery surfaces.) The next step is to apply a primer coat. Allow this to dry the proper amount of time. You are then ready to apply your paint. To get the most out of your effort, it is best to use epoxy paint to give you a tough finish that will stand up to everyday wear and tear and hold its own against stains, cracking and peeling. It is important to follow all manufacturers’ instructions.
A main organizational objective is to plan the layout of your garage before you begin adding storage. The idea here is to design your new, organized garage in a manner in which it will be easy to access the items you use frequently. Objects used less often should be stored up high on shelves, behind closed doors or hanging from the ceiling or rafters. You can hire a professional that is familiar with garage organizing that will be able to show you the best use of space.
Creating separate “zones” to arrange and store similar items is the key to organizing your belongings. You should begin by grouping like items together and in an area where they will be easily accessible or will give you an uncluttered work area. Possible placement ideas include storing holiday decorations, along with other items you will not need often, up and out of the way. Try placing your garbage cans and recycling center near the outside door to have easy access to wheel it out to the curb or load into your vehicle. You can position your children’s sports equipment or toys in a lower area, near the door to make them readily available at a moment’s notice. If installing a work bench/area, position it in vicinity out of your vehicles range. A gardener may want to add a gardening bench with outdoor yard tools near the entrance or side door for easy access. As you can see, the objective is to position your zones in a manner that is best for your daily needs.
Storage solutions abound. Whether you are looking for something high tech or practical, there are plenty of products available to you that will aid in condensing your items so that they take up as little space as possible. Hired professionals will be able to zero in on the style and storage resolutions that will enhance your family’s lifestyle.
Once you have your garage layout to your liking, now you may begin installing storage units, shelving, tables, cabinets, drawers, pegboard, wall slats, hooks and pulleys. It is a good idea to purchase clear containers as well. Fill with items you would normally keep in boxes, this way you will effortlessly be able to see what is inside. Otherwise, make sure you label more than one side of the box in permanent marker or with a labeling system.
Overhead Storage Solutions
A perfect foundation to arranging your garage is to install overhead storage. If your garage has rafters in the ceiling, it is simple to screw down several sheets of plywood on top for added storage. You can easily reach items with a tall stepladder and it is an ideal place to store items you do not intend to discard. Overhead storage is a good place for sports equipment, snow sleds, skis, surfboards as well as holiday decorations you only need to access once per year.
Furthermore, there are storage pulleys (manual or electric), garage lifts and ceiling or wall hooks, which work perfectly for bicycles, kayaks, canoes, surfboards and other large valuables. This will put items that are not needed everyday up and out of the way to free up floor space. Younger children’s bicycles should be stored on wall hooks that are lower to the floor so they can be removed easily without your assistance. Garage lifts can hold up to 100 pounds and are useful for storage boxes or bulkier items.
Do not forget normal rack storage that can be installed easily by screwing them into your ceiling rafters. This is a viable option because your items will still be visible and easy to reach. The rack can hold an impressive amount of weight and is a good location for those clear storage boxes.
Walls and Below
Keep in mind that little hands may easily attain items in your garage. You should include storage containers/cabinets that can be locked in order to store hazardous items safely out of reach. Always remember to secure dangerous chemicals, yard fertilizers/sprays, paint and solvents, and especially, power tools and saws under lock and key. A simple locked cabinet or container can save your little ones from a major disaster or a trip to the emergency room.
The ever-popular pegboard, solid wood wall slats or the modern looking wire grid are solutions for your hand tools, gardening tools and other items you need to reach on a regular basis. Putting these items on the wall will free up space used by toolboxes or containers. It is also easier to return an item to its proper place.
Most likely, you will install worktables along the walls. Be sure to measure the height that is most comfortable for you to work on so they are not too tall or too short for you. There is also the alternative of installing foldaway tables or workbenches. These are a great idea if you do not have the need to work on long-term projects. Folded out of the way, your newly organized garage will seem more spacious.
Wall hooks are an ideal option for storing brooms, mops, and yard tools such as hoes, shovels and rakes, making them easy retrieve. Alternatively, you can purchase a tool caddy on wheels to store them in and move about as needed. You can also use wall hooks for storing sports equipment, making it easy to grab on the run. Another idea for your gear is a sports equipment organizer that you can move out of the way during the off-season or just pick it up and take with you on the way out the door.
A vertical storage system should not only include plenty of shelving but also doors to mask your storage containers/boxes. This will give your garage a clean look. You can store automotive supplies and cleaning supplies/buckets here that would be used on a regular basis. You may want to stow sports equipment here for quick accessibility or belongings you do not want to toss. There are companies that can build custom vertical storage units to suit your needs. Another possibility is to add a lock for storing any harmful materials or supplies behind closed doors.
Let us not forget the floor. Your main goal is to leave as much floor space vacant as possible to allow your newly organized space to look tidy. However, it may be necessary to install drawers and storage that is low and easily accessible. An ideal place for floor storage would be under any worktables or benches you have installed. A built in toy box to keep your little tykes toys from being crushed by your car is also a great idea.
Let’s face it; sifting through the clutter in our garages does not a joyful weekend make. However, just imagine the pride you will have when you can actually see the floor, drive your vehicle into your garage again and everything has a place. If you are not sure how to proceed, hire a professional that is knowledgeable in the various storage options. Not only will they understand your needs but also they will have several build-to-suit options available. Whatever you choose, a tidy garage will make you the envy of the neighborhood. You and your family will also enjoy the added bonus of not only de-cluttering, but also the ability to find your valuables in an instant.